Phoenix Apartments, Lorne review: Weekend Away

Read our writer's views on this property below

Peter Spinks visits Lorne where even pet kittens are smitten.

THE SETTING

Backed by the Otways' eucalyptus-scented temperate rainforest and fronted by the shores of picturesque Louttit Bay, Lorne has been a hit with holidaymakers since the Great Ocean Road opened in 1924.

Its wonderfully long surf beach, with rolling sets of clear-blue breakers on most days, attracts shoals of surfers and boogie boarders alike. The flora and fauna, unique to the area's distinctive microclimate, make local walking trails some of the finest in Victoria.

THE SPACE

Properties promoting holidays with pets give the impression that accommodating a kitten would be a cinch. Not so.

The "pet-friendly" premises listed by Lorne's Tourist Office happily accept dogs but most turn up their noses at the prospect of taking in cute and cuddly Smittens, my daughter Janelle's recently adopted white-tortoiseshell kitten.

Fortunately, cats do rate as pets in two of the Phoenix apartments. Surrounding a courtyard fountain and pond, the self-contained apartments each have a balcony and polished wooden floors. It's pleasing that they are close to local shops, restaurants and the beach, where we take bewildered Smittens for a short stroll on her leash.

THE KIT

Advertisement

Apartment 4's open-plan lounge-dining-kitchen area feels a touch Spartan but is sufficiently large for an extra double bed to fold down from the living-room wall.

Our separate bedroom, with queen-size bed, boasts a built-in cupboard big enough for a year-long stay. The bathroom-toilet has a deep bath-cum-shower.

The balcony offers a modest ocean view but lacks sunshine.

THE COMFORT FACTOR

Our ceiling seems a touch high to be cosy during winter, despite the presence of a wall-mounted hydronic panel heater. The well-appointed kitchen has a stainless steel freezer-fridge, oven, cooktop and microwave.

Linen and fluffy white towels are provided.

While Smittens races around exploring every nook and cranny, we flop into the comfy settees and flick on the TV before switching to one of Janelle's DVDs.

THE FOOD

Feeling chilly and ravenous after an hour or two of full-on boogie boarding, we head across the road in search of warm and filling fare. The sweeping ocean views and upmarket menu at Frangos & Frangos are tempting but the heat from the log fire is lost on the open windows.

So we opt instead for the less flash but warmer Cumberland Milk Bar where scrambled eggs on toast, chicken panini, thick wedges and cream and hot drinks soon replace the lost calories.

Reserve time for Mark's Restaurant, renowned for a la carte dishes such as flash-fried whitebait or confit of stingray tossed through pasta. Alternatively, the beach-side Lorne Beach Pavilion is well-situated for watching the waves roll in while tucking into fresh seafood.

For snacks, Louttit Bay Bakery offers a selection of baked bagels, focaccias, ciabattas and muesli loaves.

WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR

As well as the beach and walking tracks, there's fishing and the country atmosphere. This weekend, we admire the Lorne Sculpture Biennale's large metal and wooden creations dotted around the foreshore before getting our hands dirty creating small clay figurines that we paint and then place in a roped-off community-art area.

THE VERDICT

If you have a cat, love sun and surf and appreciate being within easy walking distance of the local cinema, wine bars and restaurants, then consider staying in apartment 3 or 4 (the others do not permit pets).

HOW TO GET THERE

The drive of roughly 160 kilometres to Lorne takes less than two hours from Melbourne if you follow the Princes Highway (M1) to Geelong and on to Winchelsea (A1). Pause for tasty waffles and coffee at the Winchelsea Motel before taking the C151 via Deans Marsh to Lorne.

ESSENTIALS

Phoenix Apartments, 60 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne.

Phone 03 5220 0500. Details: phoenixapartmentslorne.com.au

Apartments start from $145 a night, depending on season. A pet surcharge of $20 applies. Check-in is 2pm; check-out 11am.