Weekend Away: Sugarloaf, Stephanie's at Onion Bay review.

Read our writer's views on this property below

Julietta Jameson finds a stylish base for exploring Victoria's Great Ocean Road.

THE SETTING

Stephanie's at Onion Bay is at Sugarloaf on the Great Ocean Road, not far from Apollo Bay, the smaller, quieter and delightfully daggier sister of holiday spot Lorne. Sugarloaf is a residential blip, named after a sand dune someone once thought looked like a Sugarloaf. When we say "on" the Great Ocean Road, we mean right on it - at a spot directly adjacent to the ocean itself. It's perfectly placed for day trips up to the Cape Otway Lightstation or the 12 Apostles, the Otway Ranges and their pretty little towns. But it's also like temporarily renting your very own slice of this incredible coastline. You can stroll across the road to a yellow sand cove called Onion Bay.

THE SPACE

Half of Stephanie's is the residence of two retired school teachers, one of them Stephanie, the other her husband, Michael. The rental half of the property comprises three self-contained holiday apartments, with separate entrances and facilities. The modern, architecturally designed property is glass fronted to allow maximum views and is meticulously kept by the couple. There's off-street and undercover parking. The pick of the guest spaces is ours, the Seascape Room, which fronts on to the Great Ocean Road, affording that spectacular Southern Ocean view. The others look out on to Stephanie's lovely back garden. We arrive on a stormy afternoon and immediately plonk down on the sofa to watch the weather paint a changing picture. Sadly, the inclemency will prevent us from using the balcony, but pretty much the whole open-plan apartment has an ocean view, even the bed.

THE KIT

There's a TV, DVD player, CD player, barbecue on the back balcony, cooking facilities, fridge and dishwasher, plus a spa bath in the bathroom. Stephanie's also boasts thoughtful touches in the bathroom cupboard, such as cotton wool balls and toothpaste.

COMFORT FACTOR

Our apartment has a pellet-burning heater that works up a roaring fire and reverse cycle aircon. The apartments are cosily furnished and include Stephanie's signature touch of fresh flowers from the garden. The hosts' welcome is as bright and cheery as the blooms. But importantly, after introductions and some instruction (there's a compendium for further study), they leave their guests alone. The big bed is plush and made up in beautiful linen. Our only gripe is the outside stairs which got slippery in the rain. (We took a slide.)

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FOOD

The kitchen, though small, has all you need (and more). There's a pod coffee machine and a selection of teas, plus eggs, bacon and butter. In the morning, Michael delivers a loaf of his freshly baked bread and preserves made by Stephanie. Yum. We visit the Forrest Brewing Company at Forrest in the Otways and pick up some sensational Silvertop Ale. The Apollo Bay pub does great counter meals and the bottle shop has a good selection of wines. Being a holiday hub, there are plenty of takeaway options in Apollo Bay. The Stephanie's compendium contains menus.

WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR

That amazing drive, of course. Onion Bay across the road is fabulous for a morning walk. And our main reason to visit was Chris's Beacon Point Restaurant, a five-minute drive up the Otways. The Greek restaurant, hatted in the Good Food Guide and boasting extraordinary views, is true destination dining.

HOW TO GET THERE

Apollo Bay is about a two and a half hour drive from Melbourne, via the M1 and Great Ocean Road. Sugarloaf is about half an hour south of Lorne.

ESSENTIALS

Stephanie's at Onion Bay, 5084 Great Ocean Road, Sugarloaf. The Seascape Room is $210 a night, minimum stay two nights. The Carisbrook and Garden Rooms are $150 a night, no minimum stay. Bookings at stay@stephaniesonionbay.com or phone (03) 5237 0284; see stephaniesonionbay.com.

The writer was a guest of Stephanie's at Onion Bay and Great Ocean Road Marketing.