2019 is drawing to a close and so I thought I would end with my personal highlight (OK, so the blog shortlisting was pretty incredible too!) and relive this incredible trip.
I know its been a minute since the Summer, but it has taken me a long while to get this trip into words …… but in my defense it was a long trip! I found that every time I went to write about it I got lost in the photos and memories, and several hours later I was no further forward!
I was going to write this in 4 parts but seen as its Christmas I though I would spoil you (you are welcome!) and give you it in 3 parts, so grab your mulled wine and mince pie, get settled in and reminisce with me.
We had booked 4 weeks off work to travel Australia and knowing that we were not likely go back again we wanted to squeeze in as much as possible in the time we had. So we printed off a map (yes printed…old school!….I do love a pen and paper too!) headed to our local Starbucks and spent an afternoon marking up the places we would like to go , then it was just a case of connecting the dots to make it all happen, which was easier said then done! Check out my previous post “Road Trip – Going down under” to see the full itinerary.
First stop was Adelaide, we stayed at the Majestic rooftop garden which was a great central location. While it was a lovely place I have to say there wasn’t really an awful lot to do in Adelaide. We had earmarked all the top tourist attractions and nothing really jumped out as being that exciting. The weather for our first day was perfect and sunny, mild temperature and clear blue skies, which in hindsight set us up for the failings of the weather to come our way! I had been forewarned by a local Aussie before the trip to pack my winter warmers and expect wet, cold blistery weather, so this delightful day was quite a surprise. We made the most of it and walked down to the central market and China town to see what all the fuss was about and while yes it was a great market, unless you were looking to stock your fridge full of fresh goodies it was not really a tourist attraction, nevertheless we grabbed a fresh fruit smoothie and headed on our way to the botanic gardens. The gardens boasted some impressive architecture in the Bicentennial Conservatory, the Santos Museum of Economic Botany and my favourite the Palm House. Despite the misleading weather it seemed that during winter most of the attractions were closed (it was a Saturday too so found it even more strange!) and so we headed over to the restaurant, were I had read that they have wine tasting sessions……nope closed!
Determined to have that glass of wine we casually strolled through the gardens and found a nearby wine bar called The Cellar to have a drink, it was dark by the time we left and so we headed to Rundle Street, which is where you will find most of the bars and restaurants. Live music drew us down a side alley which lead to a little gin bar called the Howling owl, where we had our next tipple. The jet lag and alcohol started to set in and so by 8pm we were ready for food and tried Betty’s Burger, which was a retro diner and a popular little joint, I guess you could compare to the likes of an In and Out Burger. Well fed we headed back to the hotel as we were beat! The next morning we scoped out a pancake restaurant called The Original Pancake Kitchen for breakfast which was super busy but totally worth it! We felt the need to try and walk off the breakfast and so had a wonder around the town to take in the beautiful architecture and the fun street art. We stumbled across a chocolate shop called Haigh’s and filled our boots with chocolate goodness for the journey; little did we know at the time that Haigh’s were dotted around the whole of Australia and so begun the first of many visits back to this establishment!
We had an early start the next day with a drive down to Cape Jervis to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island. Now, I don’t do well when it comes to sea travel and even with fair weather conditions the journey over was choppy to say the least, lets just say that I was suitably acquainted with the toilet bowl upon on arrival to Kangaroo Island. If you are partial to a little sea sickness be prepared before you get on board, it’s a ropey journey! This was the first stop on the trip that I was very excited about, after months of looking at rolling hills filled with kangaroos; seriously just google Kangaroo Island, this is what I had in my head, I couldn’t wait to be among nature. The first stop was a short drive from the Penneshaw jetty to stay in Kingscote for the night. The day was drawing to a close and as the sun was setting we decided to stop and just admire the sunset, the sky was so pink and the area was so peaceful, we just sat and watched having a little cwtch (that’s a cuddle!) ; no words exchanged; no words needed, just taking it all in. Tired from the journey and the seasickness we decided to get a chippy takeaway, but much to my disappointment they were not what us Brits would call chippy chips, oh no, they were skinny chips! I mean what the…..! We hit the sack early, but determined to seize everyday we got up at 5.30am the next morning to head down to the jetty to watch the sunrise and boy was it worth it. It was bloody cold and blistery but the colours that filled the sky and reflected off the rippling waters were just amazing. The seals started to claim their spot on the rocks and so we got on the road to our next stop which was Flinders Chase with a couple of stops along the way at Emu Bay and Stokes Bay. The Bay stops were lovely and would have been even nicer if the weather was better but as it stood it was just a stop for a little stretch of the legs and back on the road as there wasn’t anything there; not even a coffee shop!
Upon arrival to Flinders Chase National Park it started to rain, and I mean really rain! The guide informed us that they may have to close the remarkable rocks route as with the conditions it would be too dangerous. We hot footed it down there to the remarkable rocks and my god it was windy and pretty horrid weather but we battled on and guess what? the rocks were quite remarkable, I never thought I would be impressed by a rock (actually granite formed from a volcanic eruption) but the forms and curves were pretty interesting and the orange tones from the live Algae made it quite beautiful; but also slippy in the wet conditions so be weary of that! The rain had stopped and so we headed to our next port of call; Admirals Arch and walked down the trail against the blustery winds to the arch and were met with cute little Fur seals frolicking on the rocks. The weather didn’t let up so we headed down the incredible ‘Ribbon Road’ to our cabin accommodation. I had seen the pictures of ‘Ribbon Road’ online but it’s not actually called that and so I couldn’t find it anywhere on a map to mark it out to make sure we got to see it, as it turns out, its one of the main roads that runs through Kangaroo Island. I must warn you if you plan on visiting Kangaroo Island that you will see a huge amount of road kill, in fact I think I saw more dead kangaroos and wallaby’s than live ones on the first 2 days; which was quite depressing and not really what I had pictured.
Once arrived at our cabin in the Western KI Caravan Park & Wildlife Reserve we dropped our bags and eager to see some live kangaroos we headed to a nearby place called Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. It was a nature reserve so you got to experience the wildlife in its nature habitat, however that unfortunately meant that even though we could see the koalas they were pretty high up in the trees. We had our first proper kangaroo encounter as we walked through the reserve and managed to get quite close, let me tell you they are big buggers! One stood right up inquisitively and it was huge with bulging muscles! Back at the cabin lodge park there was a koala walk through trees and so I grabbed my camera and we headed off following the trail. To my delight there were about 10 koalas grazing and sleeping in the trees and they are just as cute as they look in the pictures. On our walk back to the cabin we were stopped in our tracks by a koala passing right buy us and climbing the tree right in front of us, it was an incredible experience to be so close in the wild with no one else around.
The next day we were supposed to be leaving at by ferry at 7.30pm, however the weather had other ideas and the ferry was cancelled so we were stranded on the island until further notice! Trying not to panic about the rest of our onward itinerary, we now had another day to fill so we headed to another nearby wildlife sanctuary and I held a snake, OK, so it was only for a second but it still counts! We were simply told to keep an eye on the ferry website to see when the ferry was back up and running and then it was fingers crossed that you could get on it as there was a backlog of people trying to get off the island ; not going to lie it was starting to stress me out a little now! We decided to head back to Kingscote to be nearer the ferry terminal in the hope that we could get on the first one out the following morning. On the way we made a stop at Vivonne Bay, again very pretty but just a sightseeing spot, then onto Seal Bay. A little like Kangaroo Island Seal Bay didn’t actually have many seals there, in fairness the weather didn’t help it was chucking it down, but we were determined to not let it affect our trip and still do all that we had planned (aside from leaving the island it seemed!) There were a few seals nestled in the bushes getting shelter and one crazy seal that was just rolling round on the beach looking like he was having a great time on his own! It wasn’t until the morning that we it was announced that the ferries were now back up and running, so I popped my sickness tablet and away we went onward on our journey.
Great Ocean Road
Albeit delayed by a day, we arrived at Victor harbour which is a quaint little town and ready for our blue fin tuna swim experience; which, you guessed it, due to the bad weather had been cancelled. Not going to lie, this one I was actually a little relieved by because the sea water would have been unbearably cold! So instead we grabbed breakfast and walked the pier to see the traditional horse drawn tram, we didn’t quite make it to ride the tram but it was nice enough to just watch it pass us by.
Back on the road with a 4 hour drive ahead of us to Beachport…….. not going to waste keyboard energy on this one. The accommodation was right at the beach but unfortunately there was absolutely nothing to do in Beachport, no restaurant so we decided to get a Chinese takeaway and a bottle of wine and just relax at the cabin and the food was just so bad. I tried to salvage the night by drinking my wine in the Jacuzzi bath and unfortunately it become apparent that I was not the only guest in the bathroom; it was full of bugs and flies. Needless to say we left about 8pm and drove to find other accommodation!…….and that was Beachport!
In the morning we woke up to more grey skies and drove to a little town called Port Fairy; which was a gorgeous little town of beautiful houses right on the water each with their own dock and most with boats outside. We looked up the price of one of the houses that was for sale and lets just say it was a little out of our budget! Another lovely place with not much going on so we grabbed a coffee, had a little walk and headed off. We had read that this part of the coastal journey was great for whale watching especially at this time of the year and so we stopped at the 3 main whale watching points of Portland, Warrnambool and Logan’s beach. No luck at Portland and Warrnambool but in Logan’s Beach we spotted some fins and splashes but it was really too far out to see anything of real interest.
Time was getting on and we had a 3 hour drive ahead of us to get to the Twelve Apostles, we arrived at the Bay of Martyrs, which was the first stop on that scenic trail and it was incredible, the views were just stunning. The next stops were the London Bridge and the Grotto, but we were keen to get to the Twelve Apostles for sunset so knowing that our hotel was only a short drive away in Port Campbell we decided to skip those and go back in the morning. Arriving at the car park for the entrance to the twelve apostles it was clear it was busy, I imagine that when the weather is nice it must be rammed with people. Port Campbell was a very small town but with plenty of restaurants and couple of bars, we found a little Italian restaurant called Nicos and the pizza was very good. It was there that we had our first bottle of Pressman’s Cider which is an Australian Cider and it was delicious! This was also where we discovered ‘The Thirsty Camel’ which essentially looked like a car wash centre but on closer inspection we found that it was infact a 24hr drive through off license (booze shop!) lined with beer fridges! So we gather that the Aussies like to have a drink, but they must also like a gamble too, becasue so far each town we have stayed at the hotels have had ‘pokie’ rooms, sounds rude but pokie is what they call a slot machine!
Woke up to the sound of heavy rain on the roof of the duplex accommodation and decided to stay in bed for a little longer than planned! Luckily after a few hours the rain had stopped and so we headed back to the London Bridge and the Grotto. Reading the information plaques that are around the sites you can see why they called it the London Bridge at the time, but now it only has one arch due to erosion so it isn’t very London Bridge like anymore! We decided to try our luck and go back to the Apostles in the hope that it would be quieter, and as luck would have it, it was, which made it a much more pleasant experience.
It was then time to get back on the Great Ocean Road to continue the road-trip to a place called Triplet falls for a forest walk. The drive scenery was completely different to what we had been experiencing, it went from blue ocean to woodland and tall trees and varying shades of green. The forest walk was a bit of a strange one really, as you make your way back up from the falls you stumble across some creepy old carriages all covered in moss and sinking into the woodland floor, there was something very eery about it all. To be honest it was a nice walk but being Welsh I have seen much better! The weather just about held it together and the onward drive was stunning; albeit a little tight and very windy, I managed to keep my travel sickness at bay and we headed to Apollo Bay.
Other than being convient places to get a nights sleep on the planned route, another reason for stopping at all these little towns was that we wanted to have some experience of being a local and going to the local pub, supermarket to buy dinner and just wonder the area. Unfortunately, as nice as Apollo Bay was, with its beautiful clean coast and crystal clear blue waters, it catered far too much for tourists. We felt that the town was missing a nice cafe bar with comfy lounge chairs, there were plenty of coffee shops but they were more your greasy spoon with hard plastic seating rather than a nice cafe. A sophisticated wine bar wouldn’t go a miss either!
It was nice to have a break away from all the coffee chains, so far we hadn’t seen a single Starbucks or Cafe Nero which was a nice change. We walked the main road of shops up and down and decided that we would get a good steak from the local supermarket and a nice bottle of sparkling wine and a cheese board to spend the evening in our accommodation. The Seafarers Getaway was gorgeous, a little self catering cabin with a terrace out onto the hill where you could find lamas grazing and a view out to the ocean. The perfect setting for our last evening on the Great Ocean Road enjoying a nice home cooked meal. We sat and watched the sun go down and decided to sleep with the blind open to wake up to that view…. and a couple of lamas starring in!
The owner of the cabin had recommended the local bakery, that was famous for its warm jam filled donut, so we checked out and headed over to get one for breakfast before embarking on our last let of the Great Ocean Road……. to be continued!
Stay posted part 2 coming soon……..