While the Great Ocean Road sees day trippers and bus tours clumped around the 12 or so Apostles, the smart set knows that an hour's drive further west yields equally stupendous scenery, up-close-and-personal wildlife, roadside honesty boxes with organic produce and a string of historic villages with renowned cafes and accommodation.
Top of the list is pretty Port Fairy, where Drift House has been offering design-led accommodation since 2013, complemented by warm service from its owners, Colleen Guiney and John Watkinson, at a truly boutique level rarely found in Australia. Its four suites in a 1840s bluestone house have been feted internationally, and now, the Edwardian cottage next door has been transformed to add two new, equally fresh suites to the best address in town.
Secluded and sunlit, find rumpled linens, rattan rugs and curtains that echo fisherman's nets layered over razor-sharp architecture by Melbourne firm Multiplicity. Every suite is different: most have a fireplace, while Suite 5's cheeky secret is the former hallway, now metamorphosed into a tartan-tiled shower. Deep tubs and limewashed original timber floors complete the look.
Also new is its glass-walled salon amid fragrant gardens. In its role as a breakfast room (formerly, guests received a breakfast hamper in their rooms), this season's spread sees poached quinces, fresh strawberries, local sourdoughs, home-made relishes and regionally sourced charcuterie. And its millennial take on a '70s conversation pit, lined with reindeer pelts, Warrnambool sandstone rescued from a demolition site and featuring a flickering fire, should find a fan base come the port town's blustery winter.
The boutique hotel is five minutes' walk from Port Fairy's main street, its surf beaches and riverside marina. It's a 3.5-hour drive from Melbourne on the inland highways – if you can't push it for a weekend getaway, there's still the Queen's Birthday long weekend coming up.
From $445 a night, B&B. The new Suite 6 is wheelchair-friendly, and Drift House allows children above 14. See drifthouse.com.au
Belinda Jackson was a guest of Drift House