Johanna Alpacas B&B review: Coast and country

Read our writer's views on this property below

Jo Hegerty warms to the alpacas at a B&B with views to the sea.

Hearing the car's tyres on the driveway, Josie, the resident kelpie at Johanna Alpacas Bed and Breakfast, comes bounding out to investigate. I open the door and she almost climbs in with excitement. Malcolm, who runs the bed and breakfast with wife Sue, shoos her away and takes me to meet their alpacas, chewing their collective cud and staring at me from beneath heavy lashes.

There's Nelson, with a lush black fleece and a cute snub nose; his mum, Mahogany; sister, Maggie; plus Iris, Lily and Heather.

Sue and Malcolm have been breeding alpacas for just a few years. After making a tree change from Geelong, they wanted to do something with their land, did some research and decided to breed the South American camelids. "I've become very fond of them," Malcolm says, which is clearly an understatement.

Suddenly, we both realise it's almost dark and I haven't even taken my bag out of the car. The accommodation is attached to the house by a walkway but due to the lie of the land, it's on a higher level and feels separate. The architect who designed the local-hardwood house originally intended this to be the master bedroom.

I feel more like a personal guest than a customer as Malcolm shows me around. He points out the bubble bath by the spa on the porch, then gives me a quick tour of the room. It is split-level, opening onto a bed and sofa, with an ensuite-cum-kitchenette on the lower level.

The room has a seaside feel, with blues and greens and a painting of a seagull in a wooden frame. There are photos of the alpacas and balls of their luxurious earthy-toned wool in a basket by the sofa. Malcolm shows me where to find an alpaca blanket, gives instructions on the satellite TV and points out the breakfast provisions and emergency supply of two-minute noodles for people who arrive late and can't muster up the driving power to seek their evening meal.

"We get a lot of people doing the Great Ocean Walk," he says, "and all they want to do is eat something hot and lie in the spa for a while."

Once I've assured my host that I have everything I need, I read through the information folder next to the knitting kits. There's a history of Sue and Malcolm's herd, the area and the bed and breakfast, as well as Sue's recipe for scrambling fresh-laid eggs in the microwave. They've thought of everything, including a compendium of the birds you might see on the property and recommendations on where to eat, such as the lovely Aire Valley Restaurant, serving locally sourced produce.


The next morning, I see Malcolm isn't joking when he says there are views from every window. By the shower, floor-to-ceiling glass provides a spectacular vista of the hills and ocean, with gum trees, a birdbath and an old wheelbarrow filled with succulents in the foreground. Even the shower has a view down the gullies to the sea. I make Sue's scrambled eggs and soak up the view at the mosaic table, binoculars at the ready.

After breakfast, Malcolm lets me into the corridor between the paddocks and I feed baby Lily.

Today, I will visit the beach that shares my name, Johanna. She's feisty and moody, four kilometres down the hill and was named after the schooner she destroyed before the Cape Otway Lighthouse was built.


Johanna Alpacas B&B

Address: 50 Red Johanna Road, Johanna.

Bookings: Phone 03 5237 4204 or see

Getting there: About three hours from Melbourne via Colac, or three-and-a-half hours via the Great Ocean Road. Red Johanna Road is off the Great Ocean Road between Glenaire and Lavers Hill.

How much: $135 to $190 a night.

Summary: A quiet, unusual and picturesque B&B. Ideal for exploring the Otways. Not suitable for children.

Verdict 16

The score: 19-20 excellent; 17-18 great; 15-16 good; 13-14 comfortable.

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