The History of Whitecrest and Apollo Bay


Apollo Bay has a rich and tragic history. It was originally part of the traditional lands of the Gadubanud or King Parrot Aboriginal people of the Cape Otway coast. The first Europeans in the area were whalers who established a whaling station at Point Bunbury on the western end of the bay in 1840. In 1845 Captain Loutit sheltered his vessel, the Apollo, from a storm and named the bay after his ship.

“The Shipwreck Coast”

Many ships were wrecked along the victorian coastIt wasn’t always the safest place to shelter ships though.  Apollo Bay is part of Victoria’s “Shipwreck Coast”, where a total of 638 vessels were lost. Only 240 of them have ever been discovered. You can see the remains of the SS Casino off the shore at Apollo Bay, and the more adventurous can dive on shipwrecks off the Bellarine Peninsular and in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay.

Timber Cutting and Farming

Apollo Bay was settled by timber cutters in the 1850s who established nearby sawmills, opening the area up for farmers who established a small settlement called Middleton. In 1873 a Post Office was opened, but five years later it was moved to the larger township of Krambruk. Krambruk is now known as Apollo Bay. Almost all access to the area was by sea as there were no major roads linking settlements.

The Great Ocean Road

The spectacular Great Ocean Road that you will travel on to reach the resort was completed in 1932 and Apollo Bay became a tourist destination and a fishing port.

In 1936, the first telegraph link from the mainland to Tasmania was established via a submarine cable from Apollo Bay. The Telegraph Station was closed in 1963,  but it is now a museum you can visit during your stay.


Whitecrest Resort is located in the area called “Wongarra”, which is thought to mean “a wild pigeon or parrot”.

Wongarra was first established as a farming and timber community around 1890. Small dairy farms later served the growing community at Apollo Bay.

The oldest farmhouse in the area was built by Edward Stephens and became the Grandview Guesthouse in 1920. It was a hub of the small community and contained a room used as a church, the telephone exchange and a post office supported by a flying fox going up the hill. The self-sufficient farm grew everything required by the guesthouse. A small school was opened closer to the beach.

Later other farm houses were turned over to accommodate holiday makers and travellers.

The Whitecrest Luxury Resort

The Whitecrest Luxury ResortWhitecrest, a self contained luxury resort, was first established in the Wongarra district in 1983.

Originally the dream of Bernie and Betty Carr (one of the originators of the Apollo Bay Music Festival and creators of Buff’s Restaurant).  ‘Whitecrest’ began life as the  ‘Sea Ranch Guesthouse’ and soon became a very popular seaside destination.

After a decision to refurbish and construct six more apartments in August of 1989, the resort was renamed “Whitecrest”. This new resort rapidly developed an enviable reputation both in Australia and internationally.

By September in 2004 additional resort facilities including a swimming pool, tennis court and a recreation room (with billiards and table tennis facilities) had been added.

Whitecrest is now a luxury resort, with self-contained accommodation.  The only genuine resort in the Apollo Bay area.