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It’s all happening at Wye River.  On 22 Jan 2020 Emergency Services minister Lisa Neville opened the new 5km walk from Separation Creek north to Jamieson River.  She stunned the 120 person crowd by ALSO announcing a new walk will be built this year from Wye River to Kennett River. A double whammy, great!
Lisa has been a tremendous support to the community as it recovers from the 2015 fires.
The crowd was interested to hear the news.  A few seconds later they cheered, and headed off with Lisa to try out the new walk.
The new walk starts just 200m from our door at Sea Zen.

start of walk

You can go the full 5 km or just part of the way.  Our neighbour Tim walked the full 5km to Jamieson, and came back along the rocks, a good workout that took him two and a half hours. He was breathing easily, with a smile from ear to ear.

The new walk to Kennett will be similar – above the road with spectacular sea views all the way.  It will add to the existing menu of walks, each with their own journeys of nature discovery: the river walk, the beach walks, the forest walks and now the Jamieson walk.

Should you holiday overseas or locally?

We recently came back from a short trip to New Zealand. It was unsettling.  The airports were eerily quiet with no Chinese visitors.  People on the plane flinched when someone kept coughing into the air without using a handkerchief, mindful of Coronavirus concerns.

We have postponed all plans for further international travel for now.  We feel now is a better time to stay locally.  It’s nice in the village, with the friendly local cafe staff, still best coffee on the Great Ocean Road.

Now is a great time to have a relaxing stay at Sea Zen, with peace of mind.

There were some startled diners at the Wye café on Australia Day. A flashmob had descended without warning.

Flashmob? Unannounced  a group arrives, performs, disappears – and that was what happened.

Mike Brady of Up there Cazaly fame just stood up and started singing ‘Stand by me’.  In a few moments members of the local community sidled up and joined in.  Some surf club members, some community volunteers, some Fireys and some locals. Sibylle was there too.

Soon the startled diners were clapping and singing too.  Another local Imogen Brough, a finalist from The Voice added harmony.

In a few minutes it was over, and the performers dissolved back into the crowd, the diners including our Sea Zen guests were left laughing in disbelief.

It is the kind of thing that happens easily at Wye River, a little laid back community that will have a go at anything.  See the 4 min video here.

I organised the flashmob for fun, and also as a message of hope for the 2020 bushfire towns.  We’d lost 109 houses in 2015, one third of the town, but over 4 years we grew back stronger.  The other towns could too.

The Flashmob video was viewed 7000 times in the first week on Youtube.  If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends.

When you stay at Sea Zen, you can experience the laid back vibe at the Wye General café.  We can’t promise a flashmob, but you never know, and we can definitely guarantee the best coffee on the Great Ocean Road!

We are blessed with a rich variety of wildlife at Sea Zen. We treasure them even more after the terrible wildlife carnage in the fires in the east of the state.
More happily, here is a dark intruder from yesterday, hopped in from the rainforest:
The day before this large Heron was looking for frogs next door. (Yes we have frogs, I was startled by one on the top of the water tank last Monday as we had the tanks filled to the brim)
We are also fortunate to have our own deserted beach at Separation Ck.  Lucky Sea Zen guests have the beach to themselves most of the time! Here it was a few days ago.

At the same time, the Wye Beach was very crowded.

Our new bush path from Separation Creek to Jamieson Creek has been well used by visitors this summer, even before it is officially open.
The best part is the stone seat at the lookout overlooking the local villages, beautifully done.


A few weeks ago we heard the welcome wail of a family of Yellow Tail Cockatoos visiting the coast for summer.  We love these gentle giants, the largest of all the cockatoo family.
They come to harvest Banksia cones a few metres from the Sea Zen balcony, just like this.
This family are taking over the tree looking for the tastiest cones.
They also enjoy ripping apart huge pine cones, so as soon as they have had their fill in our tree, they are off.
These magnificent birds have a wingspan of about 1.2 m and fly in an unmistakable slow bouncy flight.  It looks effortless, but they cruise along at around 50 km/hr.  One lucky day, we drove along the Great Ocean Road beside a family of three for about 5 kilometres.  Magic!
A spectacular new 5 km walk is being constructed between Separation Creek and Jamieson River.  It follows an old access path above the Great Ocean Road, past the Wye Road and the Godfrey wreck, with sea views all the way to Jamieson River.
It starts at the east end of Olive St, not far from Sea Zen, and ascends these beautiful new slab steps.
At the top of the steps is this spectacular new lookout, overlooking Separation Creek with Wye River in the distance.  Our dog Tanook likes it!
The walk is being constructed by a Parks Victoria contractor, with a completion date due in early 2020. The approx route is shown here:

We have long enjoyed Simon Stewart’s superb cooking since his time at Bespoke in Forrest. So it was with anticipation when we checked out Yield in his new restaurant in Birregurra, just an hour from Sea Zen at Wye River.

Yield Birregurra

Yield Birregurra

The entrance looks deceptively small and old fashioned, a taste of Birregurra from 100 years ago.  Like Dr Who’s Tardis, the inside opens up to a generous interior space.  It has welcoming Mint green walls and generous rustic tables.  Each table is subtly different and some with a bench seat on one side are softened with a fluffy sheepskin rug.

Inside portrait900

The menu is fixed, and of local seasonal produce.  There are seven courses, previewed with Spelt sour bread baked a few hours before and accompanied with local Olive oil for dipping.


The entrée courses are a series of Tapas style adventures.

Spelt, haloumi, croquets, rillettes

Spelt, haloumi, croquets, rillettes

The Kale and goat’s cheese croquettes are small packages of delight, briefly deep fried and garnished with fine cheese, exploding into complex flavours of cheese and vegetables as you bite into them.

The local Haloumi is beautifully cooked and adorned with little piles of walnut and cheese that balance the firm texture of the cheese.

The pork rillettes is a base of shredded slow cooked pork, with a richness that is offset by the colourful Daikon topping and like all of the dishes, individual pieces of art.

The quantities were just right, small tastes that kept us waiting with anticipation for the main courses.

The mains


Local carrots from Simon’s garden were the waitress’s favourite.  I thought, how can simple carrots be her favourite?  Then I tasted them.  Yes carrots, but more, with subtle flavours mixed with buttered popped local sorghum.  Simple, but exquisite.

Lamb shoulder

The main dish, the lamb shoulder had been slow cooked till tender, served with red lentils and cabbage, worth the wait.

Dutch cream potatoes

Even the roasted potatoes were a discovery.  The rich creamy flavour of the Dutch cream potatoes was offset by the subtly different purple variety.

A feature of the experience is the explanation of each ingredient of each course by Simon’s wife Kara.  Some ingredients are from the herb garden out the back, some from Simon’s larger home garden at nearby Colac, the rest from many farms and producers in the area.

Of course everything is seasonal and at its peak which is why the menu changes with the seasons.  So French, so Japanese!


To finish we had the rhubarb paste on a bed of whipped yoghurt, topped with Meringue and pepitas.  Like all the dishes, it was balanced for the palate and a pleasure for the eye.


The set menu was $75 per head for lunch, a little more for dinner.  Matched wines  are an extra $40.

The wine list had good variety from local and further afar. Several of us chose the excellent local Geelong Sarge Shiraz.  I was the driver and had  a fruit soda made on the premises, tasty and refreshing.




Yield Birregurra is an hour’s picturesque drive from Sea Zen in Wye River, 20 minutes from Colac and 40 minutes from Lorne.

Attached to the restaurant is the Provedore shop with a wide selection of local produce for purchase, perfect for xmas hampers.  We bought more than we expected.

Like those precious meals at Bespoke, we will be back to Yield many times.

Contact and Bookings

43 Main St Birregurra

www.yieldbirregurra.com.au     5236 2611.

Fixed menu, $75 per head lunch. Bookings essential

Review – Rex Brown, Sea Zen


My friend Mike Brady of Cazaly fame clapped his hands in Sea Zen as he listened intently. “As I thought, no reverberation, the angled walls soften the sound, very Zen.”  Mike had come to check out our Sea Zen accommodation.  He knew about us, but although a neighbour, had never been inside.

As well as a composer and singer, he has learned a lot over the years how sounds behave in small spaces like recording studios.  “Parallel walls give a horrible reverberation, I hate it” he said.

I never realised that the angled walls had a softening impact, but he is right and helps explain why Sea Zen has that calming effect.  As an owner it’s nice to find so many of our guests enjoy the tranquillity of their break away from the hurly burly of the city.  The soft Zen experience is all part of that.

Check out the walls

You can see the 3D plan here, and Mike is right, lots of angles, and even the ceiling and floors are stepped.
Floor plan

New 360 degree view

You can also check out the walls using our new 360 degree view from inside Sea Zen.  It’s almost like being there.  Just click here to get the 360 degree experience, especially handy for our past Treetops guests to get a feel for Sea Zen.

I enjoyed watching Mike sing “Up there Cazaly” at the Grand Final on TV.  It has become an anthem of joy for the occasion.  Mike is also a continuous innovator and 2 weeks ago released a new reflective song on Youtube here.

New cleaning and booking company

We farewelled our past cleaner Lesley, who is off on a caravan tour of Australia after years of excellent service.   Our new partner is Holiday GOR who have taken over the cleaning and are taking many of our bookings, from October 2019.   They are professional managers who have been servicing the area brilliantly for over 20 years.  They are doing a great job for us.

Finally, we have an amazing massage therapist in Wye, who comes to you in Sea Zen



Helen Buchanan, who lives in Wye has 25 years of experience in advanced remedial and relaxation massage.  She specialises in hot stones and relaxation massage.
Sibylle had a massage in Sea Zen yesterday and came away almost floating!  One of the best massages of her life, she said.

hot stones

hot stones

A massage with Helen is the perfect addition for that special escape at Sea Zen where you can indulge all the senses.
Treatments with Helen are eligible for private health rebate.  You call her to arrange a time that suits both of you while you are staying, subject to Helen’s availability of course.  Tel  0433 131 147.

More information about Helen

There was great anticipation when we heard that a new MoVida restaurant was opening in Lorne.  The two in Melbourne are well regarded for high end Spanish food and the Lorne experience lives up to expectations.

The new restaurant is at ground level under the Lorne Hotel, just 20 mins from our Sea Zen accommodation at Wye River.  It has a brilliant outlook through the gums to surfers in the bay, and the setting inside is relaxed.

MoVida is refreshing Spanish dining with tempting Tapas, larger meals and a wide range of Spanish wines and sherries.

Our server Jamie helped us navigate the choice of pre meal sherries, from the light and dry to the more deeply nuanced offerings.  He gave us a sample of several, making the choice easy.

There is a set meal with wines for around $60, but we opted for our own selection of Tapas and shared mains.  We started with the Concha Tapas, delicate pastry shells around an explosion of subtle tuna flavours.  We followed with Prawns wrapped in a tasty crust and then barbequed Octopus on skewers.  The sherry was an excellent counterpoint.

Tapas Movida

Tapas Movida

For shared mains we had the slow cooked beef cheek with cauliflower puree, a delight of deep complex flavours, followed by the roast capon, another captivating contrast.  A delightful meal in delightful surroundings.

Do we recommend Movida?  Definitely, 5/5. Around $60 per person.

See the Menu below, for the day we dined in May 2019.

MoVida Lorne menu

MoVida Lorne menu

Apart from the view, one of the things Sea Zen visitors remark on the most is the birdlife.  While the king parrots are favourites, an endless source of fascination is the Superb Fairy Wren.

Fairy Wren

Male Superb Fairy Wren

Male Superb Fairy Wren

The male’s brilliant blue plumage make it stand out when it ventures out from protective scrub.  It is always on the move, usually with a drab brown female not far away.  The call is a high pitched trit trit.  You can often see it in the garden next to the Sea Zen side balcony.

I find it pesky, because the male often visits our house at the back of Sea Zen, and has an ongoing fight with – itself!  It spends hours jumping at its reflection in the back window, and also at its reflection in our car side mirrors.  Within a day, there are white droppings all over the car door.  But it is all worth it to see these loveable little birds parading close.

Some facts: they mainly eat insects.  They have a tiny ball nest in bushes with a side entrance.  The male and female raise a family together, but are both promiscuous, and unpaired males who have mated with the female will help raise the young.

Balmy Autumn

We have enjoyed balmy days with smooth seas, and cooling nights.  A time to light the wood fire inside, as the fire agencies burn off in the forests to prepare for next season.

The coming months are a time to enjoy a crackling wood fire inside, and to see if there are any truffle hunts planned at the nearby  Wongarra Farm.