We are often asked how things are recovering after the December bushfire. I’m happy to say, really well! Already all fire affected properties have been cleared up. The Sep Ck bridge now has a footbridge and … Paddys Path, the vital link between Wye and Separation Ck, has reopened. Yess!!
Over 40 landowners and their families joined a community working bee, and now hundreds of seedlings welcome you at each end of Paddys Path.
Bird nesting boxes are starting to appear in local trees.
There is a back story about how this happened. Told here for the first time.
It all sounds so simple, but as permanent residents Sibylle and I decided after the fire that we had two choices – we could be victims or we could be part of the solution. We decided to work behind the scenes to make things happen, and Paddy’s Path and the planting are some that we had a part in.
Roderick explaining how truffles grow under ground under the oaks on his farm.
Roderick Poole’s Truffle hunt and Truffle degustation meal was a highlight of our year so far and a life ambition realised for both of us. It seemed an impossible dream to actually see how truffles are grown and harvested, and Roderick delivered it beautifully (without us having to get onto a plane and fly to France).
About 25 locals and visitors gathered in the kitchen of Roderick’s homely Wongarrra farm, half way between Wye River and Apollo Bay for a welcoming truffle on soft boiled egg, a cup of coffee and a talk by the amazing Michelin star French chef, Romu.
Romu has worked in Paris but is now sharing his skills and passion for French food in Australia. He has published a truffle book so is the right man for today. His explanation of how truffles are best used in a variety of dishes was wonderful and inspiring. Later we had his full seven course degustation meal, wow, to die for.
Romu explaining how to cook with truffles. We had 7 small courses including ice cream with truffles.
But first we joined Roderick in the Oak grove seeing how truffles are harvested. Riley, the clever rescue Border collie who has been trained for truffle hunting did a magnificent job. He sniffed around and and then suddenly would drop with his paws showing the exact truffle location and sure enough, there it was, the black lump (often called Black Diamonds because they are expensive) with the enticing aroma. Within a few hours Roderick had unearthed several kilos ranging from as small as a pea to a whopper the size of a potato, weighing almost 200gm!
Riley the truffle hunting dog
After the hunt we had a tour of the farm, a model of healthy food production and a panoramic view of the coastline.
Back at the long festive table, we indulged in course after delicate course based on Truffle created by Romu. Our favourite was the 6 hour slow cooked beef cheek. The Pinot Noir from the local Gosling Ck winery was a perfect complement. We followed our noses through the 7 course guide complete with recipes and and at a whim we could visit Romu in the kitchen at the other end of the big space and watch him in action, focused, and with a sense of humor for the observers.
Wongarra Farm oak trees with truffles underneath
Roderick is planning to make these regular winter events but we lucked in to be at the inaugural Truffle hunt and meal. 5 stars Roderick and Romu!
Some weeks ago, some German guests who stayed at our Sea Zen accommodation Yella and Samuel shared gadget ideas with us. We showed them hidden stuff about screens and water supply. They showed us their drone and the magic gadget that heals insect bites instantly.
Here are their pics taken by drone on their day out to the Cape Otway Lightstation. Apparently it can fly 5km out to sea and return to the same place by pressing a button. It can also be pointed at your car as you drive along. A good reminder of how spectacular the view is along our Otways coast.
I’d be getting nervous here in case it didn’t come back!
Have you ever wondered what happens in the bush 3 months after a hot fire?
My daughter and I decided to find out. We walked deep in the bush on a foggy day.
Bizarre fantasy land
It was a bizarre fantasy land, bare soil and silent trees, no birds.
The trees initially looked black and lifeless, but on closer inspection they were swelling and renewing. Bursts of green triangles, soon to be leaves. Bark splitting from the swelling, with strips peeling off, red inside, black outside. The black trunks streaked with vertical white stripes.
I suddenly stopped. Right at eye height was a cluster of blue-purple bubbles. They shimmered in the wind. The eucalypt sap pushing out must have done this.
Here is a clip of the shimmer and micro world.
And in this micro world, more signs of life with a lone bull ant explorer prowling the tree trunk. Sure enough, nearby the ground had fresh pockmark holes of an active bull ant colony. It must have been deep enough to have survived the fire.
Nearby green shoots of native grasses pushed up through the baked soil. In other places fungi under logs somehow survived the heat too.
Then I remembered the ghost camp. A place on a hill deep in the bush where years ago, campers had abandoned their tents. My daughter wasn’t sure if it was just a tall story.
A hill looked familiar and we followed old wheel marks to the top. No tents could have survived the fire. It took a while and there sure enough, there it was. A roll of aluminium foil. A grainy pile that would once have been muesli. On the ground three lines in a triangle. Remnants of fiberglass poles that once held a tent, and another three marking the second tent. ‘So there really was a camp!’, my daughter surprised that the ghost camp really existed.
Ghost camp traces. tent poles make a triangle
Here was the abandoned camp before the fire, from a different angle!
Back on the road, it was possible to see the outline of old logging tracks, invisible in the normal bush, now revealed in a once in a generation event. We could also start to piece together how the fire had burned. In some places the trees had brown leaves, scorched by the fire but unburned. In others near the road, not a trace of a leaf at the tops as the fire had burned hot and high, taking everything.
In the silence we could hear just our footsteps, but no, there were small signals of more life. Tiny forest wrens were exploring the logs, little bell chirps around us.
Slowly the forest is coming back to life. It will be fascinating to watch in the months ahead.
Dramatic scenes in early April as Japanese drummers came to Wye River beach to celebrate the sculptures by expert sculptor Shoso Shimbo. The sound overwhelmed the sound of the sea.
The sculptor put finishing touches to his work by adding new flowers to the work which was made from remnants of the fires. A kind of symbolism of renewal.
Here is how the drummers looked through the archway of the sculpture.
We from Sea Zen enjoyed the closing ceremony. It was also nice to revisit the other work, a spiral labyrinth made from items from the ashes, and the 10 smaller works in the shop and the pub. Some cultural enrichment for us personally, and our thanks to the Lorne community and the Lorne Sculpture Biannale folks.
Drummers stay at Sea Zen too!
It’s a small world, and I’ve discovered Mia and Nik from the Wadaiko Rindo drummers are past Sea Zen guests! Here they are second left, front and back, with the other drummers.
Anyone who wants an impressive performance, I can recommend them – contact Mia at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sea Zen may be in wilderness, but we are surrounded by outstanding restaurants where you can celebrate a special occasion with a fantastic meal!
The Age Good Food Guide 2016 edition agrees. Hot off the press a week ago, it lists four places with prestigious hat ratings within an hour’s drive of Sea Zen.
The list includes the amazing Brae at Birregurra that has burst into the world’s top 100 restaurants after just a few years. Brae was also named the Regional Restaurant of the Year while owner Dan Hunter was named Chef of the Year.
Looks like our local roads department has brought in a new lawn mower. The best places to see kangaroos when you stay at Sea Zen are – on the walk up the Dollar track behind Sea Zen in the village of Separation Creek, it’s about a one and half km walk. Or you can do a 10 minutes drive to St Georges River (back towards Lorne) and they are always on the paddock hill with the horses at dusk. Good luck!
A walk in the forest or along the beach may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve mental health, according to a recent study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature.
Previous studies found many city folks with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people who visit natural landscapes.
In the study reported in the New York times, researchers studied blood flow to brains for subjects in peaceful settings versus busy city settings. “Our study strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers” one of the authors said. More here
6 Sarsfield St, Wye River, 3234 Vic
Tel 0408 006 992
What our guests say
26 July 2017 We needed some time to relax and our stay at Sea Zen did the trick. Beverley and Anthony.
16 July 2017 We love the place! After all it’s been our third visit! In fact we feel totally at home (without the hassle of home). Un-compromised style and luxury. Thank you and we are planning our fourth trip. Cassandra ad Peter.
7 July 2017. We had a fabulous time and the steam room was awesome and your place is so lovely. Thank you for our hospitality and we do hope we can com again. PS. The coffee machine is a lifesaver for a coffee addict like me. Love it!!! Jane and Yoros.
15 June 2017. Great weekend away. We absolutely loved every minute. Thank you for your hospitality and sharing your sanctuary with us. Luke and Zoe.
9 May 2017. Having had a magical time at Treetops we were looking forward to Sea Zen and it did not disappoint. The location is perfect, views stunning and thoughtful items left were for us were wonderful. Could spend hours and hours watching the world go by. Michele and Mick.
20 April 2017. We slipped into relax mode quickly thanks to all the comforts that made our stay extra enjoyable. Thanks for all the guides and the info on local things to do – very very helpful. Loved the steam shower! Jackie and Dino.
10 April 2017.Thanks so much for our wonderful stay. We loved the glow worms out in the forest, the steam shower and the spa inside. We loved every minute of our 7 year anniversary of being together and now we leave as an engaged couple! Thank you. Ebony and Adrian.
29 March 2017. Who would have thought you could get such luxurious accommodation that is pet friendly. You’ve thought of everything. When we opened the bottle of champagne we didn’t expect a bottle stopper, but there was one! We can’t wait for our next visit. Kate and Drew and Tilly.
3 March 2017. It has been amazing! I still can't believe we can see the ocean from the bed. Sea Zen went way beyond anything expected. You guys have literally thought of everything one might need. We have already decided Sea Zen will be our regular holiday destination. Shannon and Kylea.
20 Feb 2017. Thanks so much. I am writing this from my favorite spot, the window seat, window wide open listening to the waves and admiring the spectacular view - with a gin and tonic in my hands. perfection! Amanda and John.
12 Feb 2017. This was where we spent our first weekend away together in 2012. We had an amazing time then and we topped it this time! Thanks for letting us bring our puppies so they could help me get down on my knee to propose to Jess and she said, YES! Heath and Jess.
20 Jan 2017. We had a wonderful time. Can't wait to tell our family and friends back in London. The views simply breathtaking. You have been wonderful hosts. Sharon and Mitchell.
10 Jan 2017. A big thank you! We loved the steam shower followed by the relaxation spa whilst listening to the ocean. We'll be back. Nathan and Shae.
8 Dec 2016. If ever anyone says who fulfilled my dreams…I would say it was ‘you guys’. From the moment we saw the place to the time we discovered each small little thing you’ve done to ensure we enjoy every moment, I couldn’t leave without a tear. We both like different things and your little gestures got us together. Thank you for everything. Gopi and Suchila.
11 Nov 2016. Your empathy and support has gone above and beyond in what is to be our last trip with our elderly “furry child”. I carried her to the water and she loves the beach. With all our hearts, Thank you. Nothing was unthought of or left out. Kath, Brendan, Grace and Bentley.
18 Nov 2016. Sea Zen was definitely the highlight of our trip along the Great Ocean Road and we really appreciated all the little touches like the birdseed and the tomato sauce for the BBQ! We are recommending this to everyone! Sarah and Alex.
10 Nov 2016. We had a wonderful time, especially hand feeding the King parrots. Couldn’t believe it when they landed on my head. We have already told our family about our stay and can’t wait to be back. Dan, Vivian and Monty.
21 Oct 2016. Much thought and effort was put into making Sea Zen truly the most Zen’est place on the Great Ocean Road.. And thanks for sharing your foodies tips. They are perfect and we can’t wait to return to try the rest of them. Jening and Linda.
16 Oct 2016. This short trip will be something we will never forget. You’ve been more than accommodating throughout the entire process and I cannot wait to tell our friends and family about this amazing property. You will most definitely be hearing from us in the future. Take care, Bianca and Jason.
1 Oct 2016. Life is so busy and it is impossible to find a place where you can stop thinking about all the things that need to be done. But I have found that place! Sea Zen has such beautiful energy. The steam shower – amazing. The window seat – amazing. The styling – amazing. Our batteries are recharged. Kerry and John.
5 Sept 2016. This oasis beholds a magical energy from the entrance it instantly takes your breath. To capture such tranquillity as you walk in to the soft sound of music and the ocean waves puts your body and mind into relax and meditation mode. Over 20 years we have been coming to this part of the Great Ocean Road and stayed at many places, but this is the one I have been searching for…Absolutely the best! It is already in my diary to come back next year. Sonia and Paul.
30 Aug 2016. I fell in love with Sea Zen just by looking through photos on Airbnb and wow the moment we stepped in! It’s gorgeous! The house, the view, location, decoration and it’s dog friendly. We are already planning to come back at the end of the year. Love, Emily, William and Mocha.
Jun 2016. Amazing stay! Beautiful small details like the bath salts for the (HUGE) hot tub (seriously huge, my partner of over 6ft was overjoyed), Japanese style teapot and cups and, my favourite, the big container of bird seed to feed the King parrots on the balcony! There were plenty of maps and information to offer us suggestions on what we might like to do when we weren't relaxing luxuriously in front of the fire, and Rex even popped past with some delicious koala shaped bread, fresh baked! Contact with Rex before our stay was prompt and helpful, could not have asked for a better host. It was hard to leave that beautiful king bed to go and see some nature, but the glow worms and the Otway Fly was worth it. Absolutely perfect for a romantic getaway, you'll leave refreshed and relaxed without a doubt!”