Read our writer's views on this property below
Jeff Glorfeld discovers a pet-friendly ocean-front retreat that feels like home.
If you've ever sifted through the happy snaps of anyone just back from a seaside holiday, you'll know that the No.1 requirement for a good time is a west-facing outlook. This is because, clearly, a beach getaway is only as good as your best sunset picture. Sure, there will be images of scenic wonders and happy times, but the ones people will linger over are of sunsets exploding in myriad shades of crimson and orange.
Based on this criterion, then, Seahouse in Marengo is a failure, with its wide south-easterly view. On any other basis, however, this two-level cedar house perched on the edge of the continent a couple of kilometres south of Apollo Bay is completely fabulous.
After arriving in picturesque Apollo Bay, about 200 kilometres south-west of Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road, continue on for a few more kilometres until you reach Marengo, a tiny suburb of modest homes and stunning holiday accommodation. Seahouse is about as close to the ocean as you can get without taking off your shoes and socks.
Park the car on the stout wooden deck, climb the few steps to the front door and home for the next few days is revealed. Where to start? How about the bowl of fresh water on the floor a few paces inside - because Seahouse is stridently pet-friendly. Instead of chocolates on the pillow, there are dog biscuits on the mantelpiece.
The living area is open-plan, centred on a red-brick column that rises up from the ground floor and contains a clever fireplace insert. Wood floors and timber-lined walls give the room a warm feel and high ceilings help draw the eye to Seahouse's most outstanding feature - a curving wall of windows and sliding glass doors that give uninterrupted views of the ocean, crashing on to rocks about 30 metres away, with a comfortable, cushion-lined window seat providing the ideal spot on which to curl up with a good book and while away the day.
Downstairs are two bedrooms - one with a queen-size bed, the second with two singles (and a cupboard filled with an assortment of books) - a bathroom with combined spa bath and shower and a laundry room with outside access, good for those coming in with sandy feet.
On arriving in the area, before proceeding on to Marengo, our first stop is the Apollo Bay Fishermans Co-op. Well supplied with fresh mussels, prawns and locally caught fish, we head to Seahouse. Anticipating a seafood feast that evening, we resist the lure of the window seat and decide to put on our walking shoes and explore our neighbourhood.
With the dogs on leads, we cross the small lawn at the back of the house and step on to the Great Ocean Walk, which runs for more than 100 kilometres from Apollo Bay to within sight of the 12 Apostles. Within minutes we've left Marengo behind and the only houses are mere specks on the rolling hills. After half an hour or so of easy walking, we take a side path down to a secluded beach where the dogs can chase balls and run in the surf. The weather in this part of the world is notoriously fickle but we've arrived on a fine late-spring day. Late in the afternoon, we return to Seahouse to make use of another of its splendid features, a wide verandah that wraps around the ocean-facing side of the building.
It's well equipped with chairs and tables, ideal for sitting with a glass of wine and a book. It has a sturdy, secure railing, so kids and dogs can safely enjoy the space, too, although we keep an eye on the dogs because beyond the verandah the property isn't fenced.
When it's time for dinner we find a well-equipped kitchen with plenty of pots, pans, glassware and cutlery, plus a pantry cupboard with an impressive collection of spices and seasonings. Looking ahead to breakfast, there is a plunger and plenty of coffee provided.
Later, with the kitchen chores finished and a fire blazing in the fireplace - and enough wood laid on to last a week - we lounge on comfortable sofas and are lulled by the murmuring surf. For those who need more entertainment than that, there is a good flat-screen TV with DVD player (and a few DVDs, too) and a CD-playing portable stereo.
Seahouse is impressive, attractive and wonderfully located. It's also popular - we got our booking only through a cancellation. It's not some pristine showplace, either. It's a well-used house that invites you to live in it, and relax.
Seahouse Coast Cottage
Address Panorama Crescent, Marengo.
How much $290 a night for two people, plus $60 for each additional person; four people maximum.
Summary Superb Victorian beach retreat for pets and their companions.
Getting there Marengo is a 5min drive from Apollo Bay and about a 3hr drive from Melbourne, either along the Great Ocean Road or via an inland route through Winchelsea and Forrest in the Otway Ranges.
The score: 19-20 excellent; 17-18 great; 15-16 good; 13-14 comfortable.
All weekends away are conducted anonymously and paid for by Traveller.