Wye River is a small town in Victoria, Australia. It is also the name given to the waterway which flows through the town and into the sea at this point. Situated some 155 km west of Melbourne, on the Otway Coast part of the scenic Great Ocean Road, the Wye River township is a popular tourist destination about 15 km west of the resort town of Lorne, Victoria. It became a popular place for Melburnians to holiday after the Great Ocean Road was officially opened in 1932.
The site was occupied by white settlers in 1882. Brothers Alex and Donald MacRea and their cousin Alex MacLennan were looking for an area suited to farming and fishing and chose this site. The MacRaes settled near Separation Creek, establishing a farm which they named The Wye after a river in Wales and Herefordshire. Alex MacLennan settled a little further west at a site he named The Kennet (later the town of Kennett River) after another UK river.
Wye River Post Office opened on 19 January 1914 though before 1945 it was reduced to just a telegraph office for considerable periods of time, mail being delivered from Lorne. A school was established in the local hall in 1920, but closed in 1921 after the closure of a sawmill resulted in a loss of population. It was re-established in a converted residence in 1931, operated part-time with the Aireys Inlet school from 1935, and closed permanently in 1942.
On Christmas Day 2015 on the town's darkest day in history a bushfire destroyed at least 98 homes in Wye River. At nearby Separation Creek another 18 homes were destroyed. No lives were lost at either town.
The area is known for scenic coastal views, beautiful beaches, Otway Forest walks, wildlife including koalas and birds as well as the Great Otway National Park. Active tourism opportunities include fishing and excellent surfing.
The official tourism organisation representing Wye River is Otway Coast Tourism.
There are many self-contained holiday rental houses available. Wye River is an all season tourist destination where visitors enjoy beaches in summer and drives, food trails and water falls in winter. Tourists travelling with dogs are encouraged in many places.
There are two caravan parks, the Seasonal Foreshore, located close to the main beach, and the BIG4 Wye River Holiday Parkin the valley, which is privately owned and operates all year round.
In recent years, the numbers of southern right whales and humpback whales seen around the shores are increasing as the whale populations recover as well as other species such as bottlenose dolphins.