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Lorne, VIC

Popular and sophisticated town on the Great Ocean Road.

It is a comment on Lorne that in the week around New Year, when it has a run of Festivals, the population of the town increases by between 10-14,000 people. It is not only a very fashionable seaside resort but a very popular one. The town wanders around the shores of Louttit Bay and is attractively located between the eucalypt-clad slopes of the Otway Ranges and Bass Strait. Lorne's popularity causes inevitable crowds but the number of heritage buildings, particularly in the main street Mountjoy Parade, ensure that it retains a certain charm while the numerous sidewalk cafes, restaurants and chic shops give the town a certain, sophisticated Mediterranean ambience. It is essentially a holiday destination with a fine golf course, excellent fishing (snapper, garfish, salmon, trevally, couta, whiting, barracuda, trout and bream are all caught in the area) and superb bushwalking in the scenic Angahook-Lorne State Park.


Lorne is located on the Great Ocean Road 142 km south-west of Melbourne and 67 km from Geelong.


Origin of Name

In 1871 a township was named after the Scottish nobleman, John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll and the Marquis of Lorne, on the occasion of his marriage to Queen Victoria's fourth daughter, Princess Louise.


Things to See and Do

Beaches and The Shipwreck Walk
Most people come to Lorne to enjoy the sandy beaches, the summery atmosphere and the parks that edge the beaches with their mature pines. The northern end of the main beach is known for its good surf and is popular with surf anglers. The southern end of Louttit Bay is quieter and more popular with families. There is a good recreation area with picnic and barbecue facilities. Along the shoreline to Point Grey there is the Shipwreck Walk, a one hour walk enhanced by a series of plaques which provide information about the many shipwrecks which have occurred along the coast. Check out http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/Tourism/Discover_Surf_Coast/Walking_Tracks for more details. There is a useful brochure - Historical Walks Lorne - which provides details of the ships wrecked off the coast.

Historic Buildings
There is a useful brochure Lorne Heritage Walk which is available from the local Visitor Centre and on line at http://visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/media/34174/lorne_heritage_walk_-_final_artwork_-_carol_baker3.pdf. It includes the following:

1. The Swing Bridge
This cable suspension bridge over the Erskine River was built in 1937. It belongs to a style of bridge that is rarely found in Australia. The money for the bridge was raised by popular subscription.

2. Lorne Theatre
Located at 30 Mountjoy Parade the Lorne Theatre was built in 1937 as a response to the increasing tourism created by the completion of the Great Ocean Road. The brochure notes: "The building’s upper façade ... gives the street a trace of Jazz Modern – horizontal and vertical panels with strips of colour holding a traditional vertical sign. In the foyer one can see near intact surfaces and details as one progresses over the terrazzo floor up the stair with its simple metal balustrade into the classic single–screen space." It still shows movies today.

3. St Cuthbert's Presbyterian Church
St Cuthbert's Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church is located at 90 Mountjoy Parade. It was designed and built in 1892 by a cabinet maker, Albert Sanger. It is a weatherboard church with an asymmetrical Italianate tower which follows an essentially Classical design. The transepts were added in 1912 and the vestry in 1918. The interior is lined with Baltic knotty pine which was probably shipped to Australia as ballast.

4. Ravenswood
Located at 70 Smith Street this elegant home is a reminder of the kinds of wealthy holidaymakers who were being attracted to Lorne by the end of the nineteenth century. It was built by Albert Sanger in the 1890s and featured a handsome veranda with great ocean views, fine timberwork and, idiosyncratically, a tower topped with a flagpole. The original owners were the Buick family who came from Ravenswood near Bendigo. For a time it was part of Fintona Girls School but it is now in private ownership.

6. All Saints Church of England 
All Saints Church of England was built in 1880 and towed by bullock teams to its present site at 188 Mountjoy Parade in 1884 so that elderly parishioners could access the church. This remarkable feat is commemorated in a stained glass window behind the pulpit in memory of the pioneer Valentine family. It is a simple church characterised by pointed leadlight windows and steep roof. The weatherboard lining on the outside and the timber boarding covering the interior are typical of a building in an area where timber was a major industry.

7. Banuke
Banuke, located at 6-8 Beal Street, was built in 1903 for a sea captain. It is a classic Edwardian seaside home with "broad verandas, a broad hipped roof, encircling broken back veranda, timber- framed casement windows and a rear skillion wing. The front timber posts and woven wire fence and gates with perimeter plantings, and a random grassed area and rubble retaining wall, are in keeping with the property’s Edwardian character."

8. Merrilbah
Built around 1912 at 220 Mountjoy Parade, Merribah has views of Louttit Bay from its veranda which has widely spaced columns holding an elegantly tapered beam. It also has a distinctive small projecting gable and triple-light windows which are placed asymmetrically.

9. Leighwood
Located at 222 Mountjoy Parade Leighwood, which was built in 1916, "may be the earliest local version of the Californian bungalow, the style that swept across Australian suburbia in the 1920’s." It is notable for its dark- stained walls and simple gable roof, its square lattice balustrade and tapered brackets atop the posts.

10. Kincraig
Located at 236 Mountjoy Parade and built in 1888, Kincraig was designed by Geelong architect, Joseph Watt, and features "a grand bay window, cast iron columns, brackets and the lace work (rinceau or interlocking leaf work) and the balustrade fretwork ‘Chinese Chippendale’".

11. Jura
In 1919 the hugely successful Campbell family from Victoria's Western District built this seaside holiday home and named it after the Scottish island of Jura. Built on the corner of Mountjoy Parade and Francis Street, Jura is a huge building with concrete columns "supporting two levels of veranda and a spreading orange tile roof above. There is unseen interest behind its roughcast walls: they are made of Knitlock – a concrete block system patented by Walter Burley Griffin and used by him in some of his own designs; Jura is possibly the largest surviving example of its use. Heritage Victoria points out that "The interior of Jura with its dark stained timber floors, skirtings, picture rails, ceilings beams and built-in window seats and unpainted finishes is a fine example of Klingender and Alsop's reputation for applying Arts and Crafts principles of truthfulness to structure and materials to produce an unpretentious and informal atmosphere entirely suited to the design of a beach house."

12. Wee-loo
Built in 1921 at 246 – 248 Mountjoy Parade this Arts and Crafts holiday bungalow was built for Margaret Dennis of the Western District to a design by her brother. In 1957, Wee-loo passed to the Presbyterian Church to be used as a holiday home for ministers and missionaries. Divided inside, the two separate apartments have family names: Wee-loo and Willaring. It is now in private hands.

14. The Grand Pacific Hotel
The Pacific Hotel at 268 Mountjoy Parade was built by Henry Gwynne in 1879 of 30,000 bricks brought by sea from Melbourne and a large number locally-made bricks.

The opening day in January, 1880 was spectacular with Cobb & Co bringing guests down the coast. It is situated at the tip of Point Grey and faces out onto the sea by the jetty. It still enjoys one of the best views on the coast.

Erskine House
Located at 35 Mountjoy Parade and now part of a hotel/motel complex, is Erskine House. It is central to the history of Lorne having started as a two-roomed house in 1865. In 1868 the owners, the Mountjoy Brothers, converted it into the Temperance Hotel. In 1874 it was being used as Lorne's first post office and the town's first church services were held here in 1879. It was bought by the state government in 1973. Erskine House is surrounded by 6 ha of manicured lawns and gardens and now operates as an accommodation centre with lawn bowls, croquet, tennis courts and a putting green. Rudyard Kipling stayed here in 1891. The Heritage Listing of Erskine House notes: "Erskine House is historically and socially significant as the oldest and largest surviving guest house in the state. Through its fabric and siting, as well as through its documented history, Erskine House provides a reference to a long tradition of such establishments in Victoria, and more broadly to the history of the development of resort accommodation and leisure activities in the state. Erskine House is also historically significant for its association with the history of Lorne and in particular with its development as one of the best-known seaside resorts in Victoria. Erskine House is also of historical significance and has social values as a popular holiday destination for a wide cross-section of Victorian holidaymakers, and for the local Lorne community as a major institution and local employer.

"Though much altered and of limited aesthetic and architectural significance in its own right, Erskine House demonstrates aspects of guesthouse design of the late nineteenth and twentieth century through its evolved form including remnant nineteenth and early twentieth century elements and 1930s buildings. Other elements of particular interest include the driveway alignment, the landscaped character of the grounds with extensive recreational facilities, and a relationship with the beach. The 1930s extensions are relatively intact and are demonstrative of guest house design of the inter-war period, a time when Erskine House attracted record numbers of guests. These buildings are also of architectural interest as relatively intact examples of the work of Geelong architects Laird and Buchan." See https://www.onmydoorstep.com.au/heritage-listing/4375/erskine-house for a more detailed explanation of the building's importance.

Teddy's Lookout
Located at the end of George Street, Teddy's Lookout , named after a ranger who went there to round up stray cattle, offers sublime, panoramic views over the town and coastline. The rotunda which dates from the 1880s and three short walks to other lookouts on the headland.

Lorne Historical Museum
The Lorne Historical Society Museum is located 16 Mountjoy Parade displays memorabilia and over 2,200 photographs covering the town's history. It is an excellent place to learn about the construction of the Great Ocean Road. It is open the first Sunday of the month from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm or by request, tel: 0417 517 253.

Established at 35 Allenvale Road in 1987, QDOS can grown into a notable artistic centre. The website explains: "Qdos Arts is the epicentre of the vibrant arts scene in Lorne. What began as a studio, then a gallery, cafe and sculpture park to celebrate the visual, performing and gourmet arts has grown into a complete respite for creative souls with master classes, even Japanese-inspired treehouses to stay. Owner/Artist Graeme Wilkie whose appreciation for the tranquility of the Japanese aesthetic led him to develop this unique concept of a 'living art' experience in a quintessential Australian bush setting. Light is also a theme in the gallery with lofty rooflines and glass to draw in the bushland views. Leading artists are represented and the visual feast is matched by the creative gourmet offerings of the café. The grounds form a natural amphitheatre watched over by the gallery and treehouses, in which major sculptural works blend with towering eucalyptus, a stillness pervades the 'Monet' style pond visited by a myriad of bird and wild life. It is open from 9.00 am - 5.00 pm from Thursday to Monday except for the winter months when it is open Friday to Monday, tel: (03) 5289 1989. Check out http://www.qdosarts.com/ for more details.


Other Attractions in the Area

Great Otway National Park
The Great Otway National Park, which now encompasses the Angahook-Lorne State Park, covers 103,000 ha of coastline and mountainous hinterland from Airey's Inlet to Cape Otway. It includes the Otway Ranges, the Great Ocean Road and Great Ocean Walk, and is characterised by particularly beautiful cliffs, coves, sandy beaches, dramatic lookouts, bushwalks, waterfalls and rock platforms. Literally dozens of rivers and creeks form deep valleys and gullies and bring the region's high rainfall to the coast. Some of the notable rivers include the Erskine, Cumberland, Kalimna and St George.

Vegetation in the park ranges from dry heathland to cool temperate rainforest. Messmate, blue gum, mountain grey gum and mountain ash predominate in the hinterland while the wetter areas feature an understorey of blackwood, tree ferns, satinwood, blanket-leaf and musk daisy-bush.

It is known that the area is inhabited by at least 170 bird specie iincluding the rare crested penguin and peregrine falcon. Ground fauna includes eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, marsupial mice, echidnas, ringtail and brushtail possums  and bandicoots.

Near Lorne the National Park has two major picnic areas: the Sheoak Picnic Area is 4 km along Allenvale Road and includes barbecue facilities, toilets, picnic tables, fireplaces and drinking water and the Blanket Leaf Picnic Ground is located 7 km along Erskine Falls Road and includes fireplaces, picnic tables, toilets, drinking water and information boards.

Walking Tracks in Great Otway National Park
Erskine Falls and Straw Falls Walk
Erskine Falls car park is located 10 km north-west of Lorne at the end of the Erskine Falls Road. The falls which tumble 30 m into a tree fern gully are nearby. There is a viewing platform above the falls (it is 300 m from the car park) and a series of steps lead down to a second viewing platform at the base which is 700 m from the car park. Another 500 m further are the 15 m cascade known as Straw Falls and it is a further 1.3 km to Splitters Falls. For more information check out http://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/lorne/waterfalls-erskine-falls-and-straw-falls which describes a walk from Erskine Falls to Lorne with takes around 3 hours and is defined as strenuous.

Cora Lynn Cascades Walk
The Cora Lynn Cascades Walk passes through fern gullies and rocky gorges and can be approached from three different car parks. The Blanket Leaf Picnic Ground Car Park is 4 km return to the falls: the Cora Lynn Cascades Car Park is 7 km return and the Allenvale Mill Car Park is 8 km return. The cascades are particularly beautiful and there is more information at the Regional Tourism website: http://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/the-otways-coast/lorne/great-ocean-road-journey/waterfalls-cora-lynn-cascades.

Kalimna Falls Loop Walk
The Sheoak Picnic Area Car Park, which is 5 km from Lorne on the Allenvale Road, is the starting point for the easy-going Kalimna Falls Loop Walk which follows the route of an old timber tramline (some of the log sleepers can still be seen)  to the Lower Kalimna Falls then to the dense tree ferns around the Upper Kalimna Falls. The total walk is around 8 km in a loop (16 km in total) and takes around 6 hours. If you only go to the Lower Kalimna Falls it is 5.8 km and two hours one way. Walks Victoria has a detailed description. Check out http://www.walksvictoria.com.au/kalimna-falls.htm.

Sheoak Falls Walk
The Sheoak Falls and Swallow Cave (it is called Swallow Cave because swallows nest in the crevices in spring) can be easily accessed from Sheoak Falls Car Park. They are only 1.1 km from the car park (2.2 km return) and the walk takes about an hour. The Swallow Cave is further along the track. There are useful interpretative signs along the way.

The Phantom Falls Walk
Departing from the Allenvale Mill teh walk to the Phantom Falls is 3.5 km return and takes around 90 minutes. After crossing the St George River the walk climbs a ridge and then drops to a pool below the Phantom Falls. The walk can be continued to Teh Canyon, with its sheer ten metre high walls of The Canyon and the diversion to the Henderson Falls.

Cumberland Falls Walk
About 6 km south of Lorne along the Great Ocean Road is a picnic area at the mouth of the Cumberland River and from there it is possible to take the Cumberland Falls Walk (6 km return) which follows the river to Jebb's Pool and cliff top scenery to the Cumberland Cascades (not to be attempted when the river level is high). The walk is regarded as strenuous and takes around 3 hours to complete.

Lookouts on the Great Ocean Road around Lorne
North of Lorne are Cinema Point (10 km north) which is the highest point on the Great Ocean Road. Many consider that its panoramic views are the finest along that coastal route. A similarly impressive viewpoint lies few kilometres further south and is known as Cathedral Rocks Lookout.

To the south Mount Defiance Lookout, Wye River (17 km south) and Cape Patton (27 km south) all over impressive views along the coast.

Surf Coast Walk
For those who want to really stretch their legs, the Surf Coast Walk is 44 km and runs from Point Impossible near Torquay to Fairhaven. Over the entire distance walkers can expect to experience rugged coastlines around Bells Beach, diverse heathlands, beaches and sheltered forests. It is worth the effort and passes through the coastal towns of Torquay, Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. This is a beautiful stretch of coastline and walkers can pick and choose exactly how much they want to attempt. See http://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/surfcoastwalk for additional details. There is also a downloadable map.

Carisbrook Falls
Located 29 km south-west of Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road, the Carisbrook Falls are reputedly the highest in the Otway Ranges. The falls are only a short walk from the car park which is clearly signposted beside the Carisbrook Creek bridge. The lookout (it is difficult to get any closer) is only a 600 m return walk and the falls can be seen across the valley. Check out http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/australia-carisbrook-falls.html for more details.



* Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Gadubanud Aborigines for tens of thousands of years.

* Captain Louttit, who was shipping wool from Portland to Melbourne, sought shelter in the bay that now bears his name in 1841. At the time he was supervising the retrieval of cargo from a shipwreck.

* The coast was surveyed in 1846. During that year Captain Louttit returned as master of the Apollo. He registered the names Apollo Bay and Louttit Bay.

* In 1849 William Lindsay, a timber-cutter, became the first settlers in the area.

* Through the 1850s timber cutters arrived to exploit the timbers of the Otway Ranges. Sawmills were built and tramways constructed to transport the timber. Lorne became a port for the vessels that transported the finished timber to Melbourne.

* The telegraph arrived in 1859.

* Through the 1850s and 1860s Lorne saw the 'Osprey' (1854), the 'Rebel' (1855), the 'Otway' (1862), the Anne' (1863) and the 'Henry' (1878) all wrecked off the coast.

* The Mountjoy brothers, after whom Mountjoy Parade is named, arrived in 1864. They farmed the area, built a two-roomed house in 1865 and in 1868 converted it into the Temperance Hotel. Although much altered it is still in operation.

* The town site was surveyed in 1869.

* In 1871 it was laid out and it was named after the Marquis of Lorne.

* In 1872 the Deans Marsh - Lorne track was surveyed.

* In 1874 Erskine House became the town's first post office.

* The Lorne Hotel and the Lorne Pier were built in 1876.

* 1879 saw the building of both the school and the Grand Pacific Hotel. That same year Cobb & Co and the Mountjoys began operating overland coach services to Winchelsea which connected with the railway.

* All Saints Church of England was built in 1880 and moved to its present site in 1884.

* In 1881 sea baths were built on the main beach. The population at this time was recorded as 149.

* In 1891 the English author Rudyard Kipling travelled through the Otways, stayed at Erskine House and, making the point that flowers are beautiful wherever they grow, wrote about Lorne and the Otways in a poem called Flowers:

Buy my English posies!
You that will not turn -
Buy my hot-wood clematis,
Buy a frond o' fern
Gathered where the Erskine leaps
Down the road to Lorne -

Buy my Christmas creeper
And I'll say where you were born!
West away from Melbourne dust holidays begin -
They that mock at Paradise woo at Cora Lynn -
Through the great South Otway gums sings the great South Main -
Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!"

* Starting in 1919 the Great Ocean Road was built and the area began to open up.

* By 1922 the Great Ocean Road had reached and holidaymakers from Melbourne began to come to the area.

* By 1924 a regular passenger service was travelling the Great Ocean Road from Geelong to Lorne.

* Guesthouses began to appear in the tiny township in the 1930s.

* By 1936 there was a small fishing industry which expanded in the 1940s.

* In 1983 the Ash Wednesday bushfires swept through the district destroying 76 houses.


Visitor Information

Lorne Visitor Information Centre, 15 Mountjoy Parade, tel: (03) 5289 1152 or 1300 891 152.


Useful Websites

There is an excellent guide book on the entire coast. Check out http://www.rodneyhyett.com.au/guide-book.html for details.

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