This free guide to the hamlets of Wye River and Separation Creek is brought to you by residents Rex and Sibylle from Sea Zen who have over 20 years owning and living in the villages.
This guide is unique, with links to local stories that illustrate what it is really like living here. Read the guide online or download a copy here.
The Wye General Store and Cafe has the best coffee on the Great Ocean Road. A hearty breakfast and nutritious lunch. The cafe is often packed with families at weekends. Also a good choice of basic provisions.
The Wye Beach Hotel serves lunch and dinner. Good pub fare with a spectacular view overlooking surfers on the ocean break.
Further afield the Bespoke Harvest degustation meal at Forrest is a standout. Also Maple Tree at Lorne, Chris’s Beacon Point and Fishnchips or fresh lobster at the Apollo Bay fisherman’s co-op overlooking the harbour. Local stories:
The perennial favourite is Paddy’s Path, a pretty 20min walk on the hillside between Wye River and Separation Creek. The alternative beach walk between the hamlets is an opportunity to enjoy the rocks and pools on the way. Folks often go via the path and return via the beach.
The Riverwalk follows Wye River past the caravan park and a few km up into the edge of the rainforest.
The Wye Track heads steeply into the forest from the end of Dunoon Av, and kilometres later meets connecting forest roads.
Birds Track to the south of Wye rises over a high ridge and down to the Ocean Road, a good 1 hour workout with pretty views.
The Wye Road can be reached from Separation Ck, is well formed passing through rainforest and eventually meets up with the road to Forrest.
There is a wide choice.
Budget price at the Big4 caravan park which has cabins and camping spots.
The majority of visitors stay in the wide range of holiday houses for rent, many of them pet friendly, easily found on Homeaway.com or Airbnb.com. Set your price from budget to high end.
Our property Sea Zen is a romantic stay for couples with interesting Japanese design, also pet friendly.
Over 20 species of birds are seen in the hamlets daily, typically King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas, Currawongs and Kookaburras, one of the joys of holidaying locally. Some birds like the huge Black Cockatoos are seen in warm months. Along the coast are Herons, Gannets and Gulls and in the river flats large groups of ducks.
Koalas often set up residence in trees around town, often just metres from local houses. When walking in the forest tracks it is common to see Wallabies and sometimes Echidnas. As is typical in Australian bush there are the odd snakes, harmless when left alone. Local stories:
Wye River was settled in 1885 in a struggle to survive when isolated from towns and roads. As piers opened up access, timber milling flourished for a while, then with the opening of the Great Ocean Road, tourism became its lifeblood. Local bushman Paddy Harrington epitomised the struggle to live and adapt to the changing times, fleeting wealth and descent into poverty. Local stories go into fascinating detail:
Fires touched Wye periodically over the past century, but none as serious as Christmas day 2015 when fire engulfed the town with 118 houses destroyed and no lives lost. The fire increased the resolve of the local community to continue, and now many new upmarket houses have replaced old houses. Fewer trees has opened up views and there is a feeling of optimism in town. The forest is steadily regenerating and in most places there is little evidence of the fire. Local stories:
Wye River beach is broad and sandy, patrolled in warmer months with volunteers from the very active Lifesaving Club, which boasts over 400 members and a thriving Nippers program, amazing for a small holiday town. The clubhouse doubles as a town meeting place, hosting over 50 meetings after the bushfires. The beach is very busy in summer and always has a few keen surfers out on the waves. Rocks at each end of the beach are ideal for rock pool rambling and a good casting place for fishermen.
Separation Creek beach is quieter all year round, an advantage not lost on the locals. Local stories:
Many families on holiday in Wye and Sep bring their dog, many of which get their first water experience on the local beach. About half the holiday houses are pet friendly. Local stories:
Wye River is located midway along the most spectacular part of the Great Ocean Road. High cliff tops, tight corners, isolated beaches and glorious views.
A favourite road trip is the scenic route from Wye River via the clifftop Ocean Road south to Carisbrooke, where the Falls are the closest to the Great Ocean Road.
Turn at Skenes Creek, then wind up through the rainforest to the foodie town of Forrest for a degustation lunch at Bespoke Harvest.
Then continue on through picturesque farmland in Pennyroyal valley to Lorne, a coffee, then more clifftop scenery on the Ocean Road back to Wye River. Magic.
Local stories of favourite drives:
Although the community only has about 60 full time residents, there is a much larger group of landowners who come at weekends and the two groups gel into a strong supportive community. Visitors are welcomed into local activities.
The CFA is the core of locals with a very active group of about 20 members and 60 support members. The two annual CFA fetes in January and Easter are huge fun events and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for firefighting equipment.
The Surf club has over 400 members and arranges comedy nights and fundraisers in summer.
A Progress Association is active in lobbying for improvements and to protect the local environment, and after the 2105 fire a vigorous Resilience committee helped steer the community and government agencies together in rebuilding.
Otway Coast Tourism is a group of local business owners who meet to improve the local tourism experience.
There is a cycle of social rebirth over generations: folks first come as kids to camp, then bring their own young families back for holidays and even buy a place of their own in this wilderness paradise.
The best way to experience Wye and Sep is to come on holiday, relax and feel the vibe. After two days you start to unwind. Three is better and even a week if you can. Studies show a walk on the beach soothes the mind and body.
Contact us if you have any questions about Wye or Sep. rex@Seazen.com.au
Click to download this guide