Saturday, 13 September 2014

Country comforts in Warrnambool; an ideal base for Great Ocean Road exploration

Staying in country towns in Australia can be fraught with danger if you have not done your research. You can find yourself in bed and breakfasts with eccentric hosts who insist you eat breakfast between 8.30 and 8.45; rustic cabins with nowhere nearby to eat and heating that doesn't work; or hotels where rowdy pub patrons keep you awake half the night. 

There are no such problems, thankfully, at the Quest Apartments in Warrnambool, a medium-sized town that is often used as a base by tourists exploring Victoria's popular and spectacular Great Ocean Road. 
The apartments are situated on the main street of town, a block away from the major hustle and bustle. You can easily walk to pubs including The Whaler and Seanchai (The Storyteller), and popular eateries like Piccolo and Nonna Casalinga, as well as to the railway station, should you be arriving by train. 

A slightly longer walk away are Lake Pertobe and Lady Bay, with a fine swimming beach

Apartment accommodation can frequently be soulless, but again, Quest Warrnambool steps up to the mark with friendly reception staff and rooms that ticked all my key boxes: comfortable beds, windows that open to let in fresh air; cooking facilities and a fridge, TVs with Foxtel channels and free wi-fi.

Other facilities include free car parking, a solar heated swimming pool and a barbecue area. 

My one-bedroom apartment was up a level of stairs, which meant dragging a suitcase uphill; otherwise I could find nothing to complain about. And for those staying more than a day or two there are washing machines in the modern and well-equipped bathrooms (nice big towels, too).   
Because I was staying early in the week, and many of the restaurants were closed, the team at Piccolo (pictured below) delivered a meal to my room; six delicious (and giant) scallops on the half shell with a lemon and tarragon crust, a mammoth chicken schnitzel with prosciutto and Jarlsberg cheese, and a decadent chocolate brownie & honeycomb ice cream sandwich with salted caramel sauce (not for those on a diet). 

Throw in a bottle of local Newton's Ridge 2012 Pinot Noir and it was an outstanding meal for a weary traveller. 

Breakfast packs can be provided by Quest but with several cafes within strolling distance there are many options for those who do not wish to self cater. The locals also assured me that for lunch you can't go past a hamburger at local icon Kermonds. 

There are 42 apartments here overall, ranging from studios to three-bedroom family facilities - and I can warmly recommend them. The in-house magazine is also pretty good. I am a regular contributor!

Quest Warrnambool Apartments, 15 Liebig Street, Warrnambool. (03) 5564 1200. Studio apartments start from $129 with one-bedroom apartments from $169. 

Piccolo Restaurant, 73a Liebig Street, Warrnambool. (03) 5562 2888.

# The writer was a guest of Great Ocean Road Tourism and Quest Warrnambool.  

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