Travel Diary #11: From the countryside to the Great Ocean Road

Family Great Ocean Road Trip Australia

As you could read in our last diary, we arrived in Port August, South Australia after our trip through the outback along the Stuart Highway. We couldn’t find an nice camping over there and thanks to the fantastic app, Wikicamps, we end up in Wilmington. We’d never heard of it and it is completely ‘off the beaten track’ but we are glad coincidence brought us there! It is just a very small town, with one main street and some old but beautiful colonial houses. It feels a bit as if you’re in the wild west.

Wilmington, on the Australian countryside

We end op at the Beautiful Valley caravan park that is indeed surrounded by an amazing valley. And there are possums all over the campground, a very special animal that we had never seen before. That night, at 20h (just after sunset when all the possums leave their nests in the trees) the owner takes us to different spots on the campground where we can feed them some bread.

Possum Australia Wilmington Tree
One of those cute possums on our campground in Wilmington, hiding in its nest in the tree.

Luckily the campground has a cozy kitchen completely secluded from the cold and rain outside. What a difference with the heat of Darwin and Katherine! The nights are very cold and as we are camping, we shiver in our sleeping bags. It is almost as if it is autumn in Belgium, while we are in Australia during summer! During the day we can warm ourselves in the camping kitchen with a nice wooden stove. From two very nice people, we get some extra sleeping bags. The kids are upstairs in the rooftop tent and are OK, but we lie on the ground in the annex. So the extra sleeping bags are very much welcome!

Wilmington Valley Sunset Australia
Hanne admires the sunset over the valley and looks for kangaroos with her binoculars.

Not too far from the campground is a nice walk up to the top of Mount Maria. While walking, we see more then 20 kangaroos and once we reach the top we have an amazing view over the valley! Before we drive over to the wine region, we quickly pay the two little museums of Wilmington a visit. A little retro toy museum and a puppet museum where the kids get an explanation on hand puppets.

The vineyards of the Barossa valley

Unfortunately it is still pouring rain, just when we are travelling through one of the nicest wine areas of Australia, the Barossa Valley. We pass by Lindemans, Jacobs Creek and many more, but because of the cold and raint weather we don’t feel like stopping. Because it rains so hard and our annex under the rooftop tent leaks water, we decide to sleep all 4 on top. After an amazing night without any sleep we know now that is not to be repeated ?.

Luckily on the second day the weather is better! Close by our campground there is an old copper mine, so we pay it a visit. We are almost alone there but it is a nice walk (5km) with some information signs telling the history of the place. And once we leave again, without the rain, we get to see some vineyards as well!

Drone Image Copper Mine South AustraliaDrone image of the old copper mine, with different shades of green due to the oxidation.

Cody keeps on surprising us

We still need to change the registration of our car and apparently that is only possible in the province of New South Wales. Foreigners can’t change it online, as we discovered afterwards. Therefor we go to Mildura, the shortest way to NSW, a town on the border of South Australia and New South Wales. And it feels again as if we are driving through the outback with a lot of dust and long endless roads.

And again, after our break down, Cody lets us down… apparently, our French friends from whom we bought the car, never paid their registration. We bought the car with a registration good until august 2019, which was a consideration for the price. You could think we should have informed ourselves better, but when you hold the paper in your hand with the date on it, you think it is ok. As it turns out to be, there was no stamp on there. How could we have known? So we drove around without any registration or insurance for more then a month!

The car needs to be registered all over again and therefor also must have a mechanical check up. Luckily this can be done on the same day and Cody passes the test without any problem! Thank you again Patrick! Ending the day with paying more then 1300 dollars instead of the estimated 200 dollars caused a lot of extra frustration, stress and financial worries. But anyway, after an night of self-pity and some deep sighs, we get up the next morning to continue our journey with new hope and a good mood.

Kingston on Murray

One our way to Mildura, we camp just next to the Murray river, a strange landscape we ad never heard of. The river is filled with death trees which gives the view a surrealistic and somewhat spooky effect. But the river is filled with life: pelicans, cockatoos, snakes, … Luckily we don’t see the last ones.

Sunset Camping Murray River Wine Relax
Enjoying the sunset with a glass of wine.

In the morning hundreds of birds wake us up. You can tell the Australians are well prepared to stay here. They all have a boat with fishing gear or jetski, kayaks, … A nice stop on our way to the ocean and one we would definitely want to come back to on a next Australian trip!

Murray River Kingston Sunset Trees Australia
The sunset over the surrealistic Murray River.

The Great Ocean road

After 4500km through the Australian inland, we finally reach the sea again! It almost feels as if our adventures have come to an end, while we are only halfway. Cape Bridgewater is one of the whitest beaches in Australia! It is beautiful and an indication of all those other amazing beaches we are about to see in Australia. However, when we are there a very cold wind blows so we don’t do more then a short walk. Swimming in the sea will be for later!

Cape Bridgewater Beach Trip Australia
Finally! We reach the sea after a dusty journey through the outback of Australië!

From Cape Bridgewater we drive via Port Fairy to Warrnambool, the beginning of The Great Ocean Road! We stay in Port Fairy for 1 night and meet our first koala almost above our tent! High up in a tree, but it is there and it is a mummy with her baby.

We are so happy to be back by the sea and we notice the same with the kids! Swimming isn’t possible yet (it is still too cold) but for them playing in the sand is more than enough! We buy our groceries, do some homeschooling and working online and make ourselves ready for the start of the Great Ocean Road.

Dag 1: Warrnambool – Apollo Bay

From the moment you leave Warrnambool, you have lookout points to admire the beautiful views. The ocean, waves crashing against the cliffs, all we see is raw natural beauty! The more you get towards Melbourne, the more people we come across and the more beautiful it gets…

One of the highlights is the Loch Ard Gorge, where the waves reach a beautiful protected beach in between high cliffs. The kids have so much fun running away from the big waves, but we still have to pay attention they don’t fall into the water and get dragged into the ocean.

Loch Ard Gorge Great Ocean Road Fun Kids
Lots of fun at the beach of the Loch Ard Gorge, surrounded by high cliffs!

One of the most iconic views of Australia is the view on the Twelve Apostels in Princetown. Beautiful indeed but also very crowded with busses loaded with Asian tour groups. We should have come here in the evening, when most of the tours are gone and the light is beautiful! But with the kids and the rooftop tent it is a bit difficult. It would get really late as we still would have to set up the tent and annex after sunset. Anyway, we enjoyed the view and we met our Dutch friends again, the ones we also met in Katherine and Uluru. A small world after all…

Twelve Apostels Great Ocean Road View Trip
The Twelve Apostels, now remaining with 7, but still offer a spectacular view!

We drive on to Apollo Bay where we find a nice campground beside a lake. Camping in the middle of nature, it stays one of the nicest aspects about travelling around with a car and tent in Australia.

Dag 2: Apollo Bay – Wye River

The next morning we continue our journey along the Great Ocean Road. A lot of people drive it in 1 day, but we really would recommend, if you have the time, to take 3 days or more. The road goes one just next to the ocean, delivering the spectacular views we had hoped for when planning this trip. We visit a beautiful lighthouse and the surfers of Bell’s Beach (known from the legendary movie Point Break). We’ll never get bored of those fantastic long beaches here in Australia!

Surfing Bell's Beach Australia
Admiring the surfers of Bell’s Beach.

Our second campground is just next to the beach! We had hoped to camp on or next to a beach while travelling through Australia. The kids almost run to the sea to take a swim and cool off after a fantastic drive. In the evening we barbecue with sea views, but by the time we want to start our meal, it starts to rain again. And during the night, our tent chances again in a toddler pool… Luckily the kids stay dry up in the rooftop tent.

Dag 3: Wye River – Melbourne

On our last day along the Great Ocean Road genieten we are spoiled with some more breathtaking views of the road meandering between the rocks and the sea. And then the road leads up to Melbourne!

Drone Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
Drone image of our car along the magnificent Great Ocean Road!

A short visit to Melbourne

When the skyline of Melbourne looms at the horizon, we are glad we are able to pay the city a visit, all be it a short one because we lost to much time when our car broke down. Just outside the city centre is the BIG4 campground. You can easily take a bus and tram into the city centre, although it is a trip of almost 40 min. Quite an expensive campground but it has everything that is needed.

It is an enjoyable 21 degrees when we visit the city. Everybody knows Melbourne, but who can sum up the highlights? It is not like with Sydney where you can easily name some famous buildings or must sees. But after looking up some information, we know what to do.

Melbourne City Square St Pauls Cathedral Christmas
The beautiful Christmas tree on the city square in Melbourne.

We visit the central square with the St Paul’s cathedral, where we get to feel the Christmas vibe for the first time. It is a strange feeling, those weeks before Christmas while being in Australia in the summer. We miss our Christmas Tree (or at least the girls in this family do ?). Melbourne is beautifully decorated, so ideal to get in the Christmas mood! After that we head over to Hosier lane, a nice little street filled with graffiti and street art, good for a lot of fun.

Hosier Lane Street Art Melbourne Kids
Lots of fun with the street art in Hosier Lane, Melbourne!

Looking for something to eat, we stumble upon a burger restaurant serving some amazing fries! Actually not really fries, but fried pieces of avocado, sweet potato and zucchini topped with sea salt. Delicious after eating camp food for weeks! After our quick visit to Melbourne, we hit the road again up north on our way to Sydney!

2 thoughts on “Travel Diary #11: From the countryside to the Great Ocean Road”

  1. Pingback: Travel Diary #12: The endless beaches from Melbourne to Sydney · The Global Wizards - Family travel blog

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