Winning Victoria’s Top Tiny Tourism Award for 2023 has helped put this coastal village on the map as a destination in its right.

Story + Photos Ricky French

It wasn’t the towering sandstone cliffs that plunge dramatically into the sea that drew Samuel Roig-Sclafer to Aireys Inlet. It wasn’t the lush forest of Great Otway National Park that convinced the Frenchman to start a new life in this tiny town on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. Nor was it the relaxed, coastal lifestyle. It was love.    

Samuel met local girl Asher Healey in 2017, and the couple started running the Lighthouse Tea Rooms soon after. In 2022 they opened Le Comptoir, a restaurant and deli where Samuel dishes up traditional French meals inspired by his grandmother’s home cooking. The couple are key cogs in a burgeoning hospitality scene that’s contributed to Aireys Inlet being named Top Tiny Tourism Town in 2023’s Victorian Top Tourism Town Awards. It went on to win silver in the Australian Tourism Awards, held in September. 

“The landscape is amazing, but so are the people,” Samuel says. “It’s such a supportive community.” 

Split Point Lighthouse is the natural vantage point to get acquainted with the town. It was built in 1890 to warn ships off Victoria’s notorious “shipwreck coast,” where hundreds of ships foundered trying to thread the needle between King Island and the southern Victorian coast.

This story excerpt is from Issue #152

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2024