The intriguing architecture of the Pole House on the Great Ocean Road – just a short trip from Melbourne – makes it a worthy sight to see on Australia’s most famous ocean drive.
The destination – the Great Ocean Road
Australia’s most iconic drive – the Great Ocean Road – winds its way along Victoria’s coastline. Just short trip from Melbourne you can smell the sea air, hear the waves crash and sight-see until your heart’s content. There’s epic surf beaches, rolling green hills, rocky headlands and endless turns. Not to mention the incredible view out to the deep blue Southern Ocean.
There’s many iconic locations to stop and take in along the Great Ocean Road. Bells Beach is home to a surfing contest that hosts the world’s best surfer each year. A the Memorial Arch you can reflect on the effort made by thousands of World War 1 soldiers to carve a road into the rocky coastline. The cosy seaside towns welcome you with fresh fish and chips, hot coffee and locally made icecream. It will leave you with no doubt why Melburnians choose these destinations for their summer holidays.
There’s a whole section of the coast dotted with lookouts – as each view becomes more spectacular than the next. From the steps of Gibson’s Beach to the mighty Twelve Apostles, and on to the spectacular Loch Ard Gorge, named after a tragic shipwreck. All framed by towering limestone cliffs and a raging Southern Ocean.
An icon of the Great Ocean Road
Amongst these well-known and well-visited sites, is something you may easily miss as you cruise along the Great Ocean Road. Rounding the headland at Fairhaven it’s easy to be distracted by the stunning views along the winding coastline. Views are all the way to the township of Lorne in the distance. But a quick glance up to the right, not long after you pass by the Surf Lifesaving Club – reveals a little known wonder.
The Pole House is recognisable to many Australians, due to being featured on many TV shows and magazine. But not many international visitors know that it is there. However, it’s worth a look! The remarkable architectural design of the Pole House sees it mounted high over the trees, in a proud place on the hillside overlooking the ocean.
Here’s why you should add the Pole House to your must-see list when you tour the Great Ocean Road.
The original Pole House was built in 1978 by Frank Dixon. The house sat 40 metres above sea level on one solid concrete pole. The house was marvelled at for its architecture and design. It took in 360 degree views and became a focus point for people driving along the Great Ocean Road.
Kids travelling with their parents would play games of who can spot the Pole House first. Some travellers would pull over to stare in wonder at the home perched high above the trees. The owners would sometimes come to the window and wave down, feeling like celebrities inside their remarkable house.
The Pole House was the first home in the state of Victoria to be built in such a way – structurally supported by one solid beam. It is believed to still be the only one today.
Surviving bushfires and a re-design
The original, mostly wooden, house built atop the concrete pole in 1979, actually survived three bushfires. Such are the hazards of Australian bushland – the house was surrounded by trees, with acres of national park and bushland close by. It even survived the infamous 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires which destroyed most of the neighbouring coastal homes in the area.
However, decades later the home was starting to fall apart due to coastal conditions in which it was built. In 2013 the new owners made a decision to demolish it and replace it with a modern construction that reflected the original design. It was re-designed and re-built with the intention of withstanding the sometimes dangerous and destructive natural surrounds.
Stay at the Pole House
Currently The Pole House is holiday accommodation that can be rented and enjoyed throughout the year. It was recently renovated to add modern luxury to the original design. It is now promoted as more of an experience than as just accommodation. Wake up to the sound of crashing waves. Sit and marvel at the incredible views. Watch as the sun sets and the clouds change colour at dusk.
Nearby the Pole House on the Great Ocean Road
If you are planning a stay at the iconic Pole House on the Great Ocean Road, here are some options to explore nearby.
View the Memorial Arch
The Memorial Arch is just a short walk or drive down the Great Ocean Road. Head to the beach and follow the sand until you reach the Memorial Arch visitor area. Viewing platforms beside the road give the best angle for photos and viewing the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch. This is one of the most iconic photo locations on the Great Ocean Road, with the arch built over the road and the sign hanging from it. You’ll also find a memorial statue acknowledging the returned soldiers who built the road, and other plaques and information boards detailing the road’s history.
Visit the seaside town of Lorne
Just a ten minute drive from the Pole House is the popular seaside town of Lorne. Melburnians love to take summer holidays to this seaside haven, but it is great for a visit year-round. You’ll find lots of great shops and cafes, with a definite beachy vibe. There’s some great walks around Lorne, from the foreshore to the Pier or in the hills behind you can walk to Erskine Falls. On summer days the beach is great for swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, and of course, hanging out and relaxing on the sand.
Explore Melbourne’s Surf Coast
The Pole House is located on Melbourne’s Surf Coast. The beach below is popular with surfers, so sit back in comfort and watch the action below. If you are keen to catch a few waves yourself, Urqhuarts Bluff, Anglesea and Lorne are great spots for beginners. For more advanced surfers, you’ll have a pick of many beach breaks and point breaks along the coast. It’s worth a drive to see where the waves are best.
Road trip to the Twelve Apostles
If you can’t visit the Great Ocean Road without seeing the famous limestone stacks – then plan a road trip during your stay at the Pole House. Cruising along the winding road, it will take you about 2 hours to reach the Twelve Apostles. For ultimate views of these famous rock formations, park at the Visitor Centre and walk out to the lookouts. You can also explore other locations along the coast such as Loch Ard Gorge and Gibson Steps.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au