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After our 2 nights in Canberra, a direct flight takes us to Adelaide. One of the biggest attractions in Australia is the Great Ocean Road, which lies outside of Melbourne. It’s not the most direct route, but we had a fantastic time taking 6 nights and seven days along the way.
Two Days in Adelaide
February 22nd – 25th (3 nights)
We stayed three nights in Adelaide at this wonderful Airbnb.
Diving in Rapid Bay
Our first day in Adelaide, friends of ours picked us up and we drove out to Rapid Bay, on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The drive was very scenic, but our reason for heading out there was to go DIVING! Our friend Tony is not only an incredibly excellent diving instructor, but he also is in a diving club that goes out every Thursday for a dive. Tony chose this spot for us because we were looking for leafy sea dragons. “Leafies” are only found in western and southern Australia, and Tony sees them almost every dive.
But, luck was not with us – we didn’t see any. We were also keeping an eye out for blue-ringed octopus, an extremely deadly animal, but we didn’t see any either. The dive was interesting though. Tony led us through the remnants of an old pier, where the columns were covered with coral. We get a bit spoiled by our tropical cruising, but I was impressed with the number of fish we saw. Tony was super disappointed not to be able to show us a leafie.
Walking Tour of Adelaide
Our second day in Adelaide we kept calm until evening. We took off for a walk around Adelaide, including North Terrance and the Rundle outdoor mall.
One of the biggest events in Adelaide, Adelaide Fringe, was in town, and David and I had tickets to one of the more risque shows that night (so late – 9:40 pm!). Afterward, we participated in another Fringe event – Parade of Lights. We walked down North Terrace again, this time in the dark, enjoying the light shows.
The next morning we picked up our rental car and took off!
Looking for more to do in Adelaide? If we had another day, I would definitely go to check out the things to do on Kangaroo Island. r, if you are traveling with kids, check out Best Things to do in Adelaide with Kids.
Adelaide to Melbourne Road Trip
All along this road trip, your view will change from a lazy, golden farmland, to seaside surftowns, to rain forest, to a bustling metropolis. It’s well worth the drive over and you can bookend the drive with two major Australian cities. Part of this trip is the Great Ocean Road, a huge tourist attraction. The GOR starts outside of Warnambool and ends in Tourquay (or is it vis versa?).
Most people do the trip from Melbourne, citing that it’s easier to turn off the road to the ocean-side attractions. However, we never had trouble getting across. On the GOR itself, you start to see a lot of tourist buses, and attractions get pretty crowded.
Day 1 – Adelaide to Robe – 335 km
February 25th, 2018
The longest day of driving, there’s just not terribly much to see along this stretch. We made two stops: the Pink Lake and Larry the Lobster.
The town of Robe is adorable and well worth a walk around and out to the point for sunset.
We had a great dinner at the Vic Street Pizza Project and stayed at a budget motel – Robetown Motor Inn. The motel staff was very friendly and gave us lots of advice, and the facilities were pretty great (should have taken advantage of the pool and hot tub!).
Day 2 – Robe to Portland – 233 km
February 26th, 2018
Start off the day early with a stop in Beachport to walk out on the 772-metre (2,533 ft)-long jetty. It may be nice and warm on shore, but the point of the jetty gets wind-swept and chilly! Thankfully there’s a shelter to sit and warm your ears up before you make the trek back!
The next stop is the Tantalooma Caves. While there are a variety of cave choices available, Tantalooma is a quick side trip and we thought it was a great stop. It reminded us of the caves we saw in Bermuda. The tour is every half hour, but if you just miss the tour (like we did) you can spend about 15 minutes doing the walk up to the viewpoint. If you are lucky, you’ll see wallabies hanging out in the shade.
The tour guide was FANTASTIC, giving us a ton of information and then letting us roam free in the cave.
The big activity of the day is Mount Gambier, the second most populated city in South Australia (behind Adelaide of course). We recommend three stops: the Blue Lake Lookout, the Centenary Tower, and the Umpherston Sinkhole.
After Mount Gambier, you cross the border from South Australia to Victoria. There’s a visitors center just over the border, well worth a stop.
We hit a bit of a food funk here, not being particularly wild about any of our three meals in this day. But, our AirBNB was just ADORABLE, with cute beach decor and a killer view.
Day 3 – Portland to Warnambool – 104 km
February 27th, 2018
Spend your morning in Port Fairy, another adorable seaside town. We did the Art Walk, although about half of the galleries were closed. Most of them are not open every day, and some only open on the weekends. My favorite stop was the Preston Studio and Gallery, full of paintings of flowers and seaside shots. Second favorite was Rebecca’s Cafe, where we had a great lunch.
After lunch we walked out to the Port Fairy Lighthouse On Griffiths Island, enjoying the seaside view. We didn’t see any of the rumored wallabies, but we did see a giant stingray feeding in the shallows.
Onward to Warnambool, where we walked the Warnambool Pier and Ritchie Point before heading to Pippie’s by the Bay for a seafood platter fit for three (or four) people. Be sure to check out the tourist information center next door, and the art gallery between the two.
Day 4 – Great Ocean Road – Warnambool to Apollo Bay – 168 km
February 28th, 2018
Here’s where it starts to get busy. There are five main attractions: The Grotto, London Bridge, The Arch, the Twelve Apostles, and the Gibson Steps. The Twelve Apostles parking lot is jam packed with tourists buses mid-morning, so get your butts up as early as possible.
We took a detour up and around Apollo Bay through Beech Forest, hoping to stop at one of the waterfalls, but we got rained out. This is where you see the rainforest climate dominate.
We caught up with friends in Apollo Bay. Originally, we met Colin, Trevor and Marcus way back in La Rochelle when they were crewing a Lipari. We all went out to an excellent dinner at Casalingo together.
Day 5 – Great Ocean Road – Apollo Bay to Tourquay – 92.5 km
March 1st, 2018
Before you leave Apollo Bay, stop at Mariner’s Lookout, which gives you a view over the harbour.
The other most popular stop along the GOR is the Koala Kafe, where you have a pretty good chance of seeing a koala out in the wild. Also, the tour buses bring bird feed for their guests, and freely give it out to attract the colorful birds. To avoid the crowds, walk a bit further down Grey River Road to find your own koala.
Stop at Lorne for lunch, where you can have a treat at IPSOS, a Greek restaurant, followed by an ice cream while you walk along the Mountjoy Parade. At the north side is the Great Ocean Road Story, a museum dedicated to the returning servicemen who built the road, and it’s history.
Great Ocean Road Memorial
To the east of Lorne, along the GOR, is the Memorial Arch at Eastern View, another memorial to the builders of the Great Ocean Road.
Tourquay is another great beachside town. We stayed at a beautiful AirBNB and had fish tacos and poke for dinner at Fishos. The beach faces east, and is a pretty happening place as the sun sets down.
Day 6 – Tourquay to Safety Beach – 81 km
March 2nd, 2018
David and I aren’t surfers, but that’s no reason to miss out on the Australian National Surfing Museum. Lots of surfing history, and David and I found ourselves glued to the documentaries they were showing in the theater.
Instead of taking the “fast way” to Melbourne, we opted to go the long way around by taking the Searoad Ferry across the Victory Bight of Port Philip Bay. It was an absolutely gorgeous day out, and the trip was fun, but we didn’t spot any dolphins.
Safety Beach was the last cute, seaside town on our stop. It’s a big summer destination for Melbournians (Melbournites?), with a nice beach and view out into the bay. We caught up with friends of ours to watch the end of the Friday night sailboat races and stayed for dinner at the Safety Beach Sailing Club.
Day 7 – Safety Beach to Melbourne – 85 km
March 3rd, 2018
Now we’re back into city life, dropping our car off and checking into our place in Melbourne. Stay tuned to read about our 4 nights in Melbourne.
Big Thanks To
Our friends Tony and Sara picked us up from the airport, dropped us off at the car rental, and took us out diving!
Colin, Marcus and Trevor, who entertained us in Apollo Bay. Colin gave us this very sweet gift – personalized towels!
Cruising friends Mark and Diane live in Safety Beach and took us in for the night. Diane has been sailing at the Safety Beach Sailing Club for 48 years!
Checking Out Schionnings
While in the Melbourne area, we caught up with Gaye and Clint, who I met on an online group. They have been building a Schionning G-Force in their backyard for the past 5 years. Wildfire is due to launch soon, and you can follow along on their facebook page.
Gaye and Clint introduced us to Ros and Peter, in Safety Beach, building a Schionning Wilderness over the past 14 years! They still have a ways to go, but are a wealth of knowledge!
It was really interesting to see the Schionnings in the process of being built.
For 7 night of paid accommodations, we averaged $84.50 USD per night.
Thankfully, we had amazing friends who took us in for two nights.
Our rental car was a mere $110 USD. We only spent $100 USD on petrol.
Entertainment costs include the ferry, Fringe, and museums: $145 USD
Eating out 3 meals a day plus drinks (both adult and morning) and ice creams: $75/day USD.
Total costs not including airfare: $1,550 USD
Looking for another great Australian road trip? How about driving from Brisbane to Sydney, hitting a ton of great stops along the way.
If you don’t feel like driving all the way from Adelaide to Melbourne, just stick with the highlights of the Great Ocean Road.