Morley house, Wye River review: A bear out there

Read our writer's views on this property below

A lofty retreat not far from the beach provides peace and activity all at the same time for Larissa Dubecki.

We went to bed a family of four, but by morning our numbers had swelled to seven with the arrival of a koala and two kookaburras that were obviously known to management. The elderly koala eyeballing us through the kitchen window was unfussed by the squealing excitement of two pre-schoolers; the kookaburras flew at a plate of food like a couple of landlords collecting the rent. Morley, a house overlooking Wye River with a balcony the size of an inner-city terrace, sure knows how to put the icing on the getaway cake.

Morley Avenue is the Toorak Road of Wye River, as a couple of locals put it – a vertiginous street that veers off behind the pub and is occupied largely by stilt houses of varying shades of grandeur hiding among the bush block trees. Morley, as the house at No.22 is simply known, has the steepest driveway I've ever encountered – finally, the cliche family-wagon SUV justifies itself – followed by a two-flight wooden staircase up onto the deck, where the views across to Separation Creek and into the wild blue yonder are indescribably gorgeous. You can't eat a view, but you sure can try.

About 20 kilometres past the holidaymaker frenzy of Lorne, Wye River is a quiet, natural, beauty – a settlement clinging to the hills above the Great Ocean Road as it snakes through to Apollo Bay. It's a rugged paradise, a description that doubly suits Morley. It's not the Coco Chanel of Wye real estate, but it's got that warm, lived-in, wipeable family feeling that makes it close to my ideal beach house.

It's a timber split-level home, with three bedrooms (one with two bunks), a modern bathroom and another toilet and laundry on a mezzanine level. An old wooden oar hangs over the living space, where three durable blue couches ought to reduce squabbling about cushion space. A few kvetches – linen isn't provided (which they make clear on the website) and you'll need to bring towels, too, an unfortunate oversight that left the four of us sharing the four-year-old's Red Riding Hood robe. So much for the privations. On the positive side, the kitchen is stocked generously enough to gladden the sternest MasterChef heart. Appliances include a pizza maker, capsule espresso machine, sandwich press and rice cooker, plus a multitude of pots and pans and sharpened knives. Hooray.

The good-size kitchen spills onto the open-plan living area with its big combustion wood stove, surround-sound stereo and a telly equipped with a full package of Foxtel channels.

What to do? Well, there are the usual board games and jigsaw puzzles. The other half heads off surfing, and the kids monkey around, filled with the thrill of unexplored territory. As for me, when I'm not saving the baby from his latest adventure I prefer to do as little as possible. Sitting and staring out to sea can be all-consuming. Up here, I could stare forever.

And then we ate There are two options in this mini-town: the Wye General Store for cooked breakfasts and simple lunches, or the pub, which is good for a drink although the food isn't anything to get excited about.

The deal maker Grab the papers, takeaway coffee and a loaf of the store's superb bread and head back to breakfast on the balcony. Watch out for marauding kookaburras.

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Stepping out If you have to leave the Morley eyrie, the beach is good for surfing in the right conditions, and Morley has a couple of canoes the owners are happy to lend out. There are rock pools for the kids to explore and even the occasional whale journeying by.

VISITORS' BOOK

Morley

Address 22 Morley Avenue, Wye River.

The verdict Comfy coastal hidey-hole with killer views.

Price From $379.50 a night, minimum two-night stay.

Bookings See greatoceanroadholidays.com.au.

Getting there Wye River is on the Great Ocean Road, via Geelong.

Wheelchair access No.

Perfect for Families taking an itinerary-free break.