Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road is a popular route that is the gem of road trips in southern Australia. This trip was organised by Jetabout Holidays in collaboration with Tourism Australia, to assess the latest condition in the Southern Australia region which was largely unaffected by the recent catastrophic bushfires that impacted especially eastern Australia.

But the current Covid-19 virus outbreak situation added another dimension to the trip – “Are Australians unwelcoming of us Asians as the virus originated from Wuhan in China? Will we be stigmatized or profiled?”. I have great news for all who might have the same concerns. From the moment we touched down to the moment we departed, we have never felt in anyway unwelcome or otherwise. Australia is still beautiful and opened for business. Come join us on this fabulous road trip Down Under.

Road Trip Route Map

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

We logged about 1300km on this 9D8N road trip with Melbourne as the start point. We leapfrogged along the towns of Geelong, Port Fairy, turned north to Halls Gap, Mt. Gambier, Robe, finally ending at Hahndorf before driving to Adelaide to catch our domestic flight to Melbourne for the return flight to Singapore. The following are some driving insights from the road trip :

  • Tip #01 – Do rent a bigger capacity vehicle to better handle the long drive and for greater comfort and safety. We rented the Ford Mustang 5.0GT for a day under the Hertz Adrenaline Collection to enjoy the muscle-car experience before switching to a Subaru Forester for the rest of the trip.
  • Tip #02 –Roads in Australia are generally safe as it’s paved and well-maintained. Australia drives on the left side of the road and take note that different state has different practices, for e.g – the fine for speeding offences in Victoria are the highest in Australia and Tasmania the lowest. Do observe the speed limits especially around residential and school zones. Moral of the story – know the law and obey the law.
  • Tip #03 – You will need an international driving license, if your driving license is not in English. But you must also bring your local driving license as it will be required for verification by the rental car company.
  • Tip #4 – Contact Jetabout Holidays as you will be assured of reasonably priced deals in road trip packages as Australia is one of their area of specialty. They also work only with reliable car rental firms with complete insurance coverage for peace of mind.

Day #1

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Upon arrival at Melbourne International Airport, we proceeded to pick up our rental car, a Ford Mustang for the 1st day. It was an eye-opening experience to drive this iconic luxury sports coupe. Just a light nudge on the throttle will have you nipping at the speed limit. For a unique motoring, its a must-do.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

This sports car is part of Hertz Adrenaline Collection which also includes Audi performance cars. In Hertz’s own words “You might need a moment to get your breath back”. Certainly so, indeed.

Melbourne South Market

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The South Melbourne Market was our first stop after arrival. Established in 1867, this market has become an iconic landmark venue. But take note it is only opened from Wednesdays to Sundays.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Even the market interior is trendy and chic, with its instagrammable wall mural which celebrates people from all walks of life.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A light Aussie breakkie with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee in Australia so far has yet to disappoint me. Its always good, great or fantastic. I rate this cup of caffeine heaven from Cottle on Coventry, just steps from the market as simply sublime.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Just a freshly baked light croissant with chicken for me. I generally don’t take heavy breakfast but the aroma and freshness tempted me every time.

Melbourne’s Arty Lanes with Jaime Murcia.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Right after breakkie, we meet up with Jaime Murcia, an accomplished Australian photographer, author and based in Melbourne. With him, the streets come alive as he presented us to the ‘inner belly” of Melbourne creativity and heritage.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

One of the gems of Melbourne’s cafe scene is Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar on Bourke Street, described as “one of Melbourne’s most iconic destinations, in a city that prides itself on coffee and fine food”.The café was established in 1954 by Leo and Vildo Pellegrini – migrants brothers from Italy.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

An ‘old and new” feel with this composition at 314, Little Collins Street. This Italian cafe serves baguettes, coffee and hot food, with gluten-free choices, and a kids menu.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The lanes may looked similar and like an “organised” mess. But there is a character that runs through each, you just need to slow down and feel it.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

I like this expressive wall art, fun, playful and vibrant. Honestly, on our quick stroll through the lanes, i unable to recall them clearly as they are situated close within an enclave and just steps from one another. Names like Hoiser Lane, Center Place, Duckboard Place, AC/DC Lane, Croft Alley etc, are must-see.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

At Jaime’s fave hangout place – The Butterfly Club in Carson’s Place, off Little Collins Street. This place is a small theater in the heart of Melbourne, which have plenty of shows, award-winning foyer bars and an enormous collection of kitsch. It like being in the city’s inner sanctum. Without Jaime, such places will be out of most visitors’ radar.

Werribee Open-range African-themed Zoo

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

After the photowalk, its a 35min drive to the family-friendly open-range African-themed Werribee Open Range Zoo at K Road. Visitors can hop on a bus tour, which has several scheduled 35–40 minutes runs daily and accommodate up to 140 people per bus. You can expect to see animals such as the hippo as well as animals of the grassland, like zebra, waterbuck, giraffe, ostriches, rhinoceros, as well as the camel and oryx.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

It was a lovely Sunday, hot but slightly cool with the balmy wind, if only Singapore has such wonderful weather.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The zoo open-bus rides slowly across the zoo’s open plains with commentaries from the driver-cum guide.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The open range zoo viewed from a distance – no cages, no netting. The closest experience to a trip on the Serengeti. Not quite the real thing but way better than seeing caged animals anytime.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

At the hippo exhibit, I was so lucky to be able capture it yawning so widely as it usually rest dormant in the water with its head on the surface.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

It was challenging to photograph the Gorilla in its island enclosure as it was either hiding under the shade or scampering quickly about. But its exciting to see them through my telephoto lens. Brings to mind the late Dian Fossey living among them. Takes a special breed of people to do that.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

These cabins are the zoo’s answer to glamping where overnight guests can enjoy a day of animal encounters, feast al fresco, enjoy a night walk and marshmallows around the campfire. Termed “Slumber Safari” with generous doses of creature comforts.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The quad-shared family room. Nice and clean with an attached washroom. Most city folks can’t do without such comfort amenities.

The Port City of Geelong

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Geelong Waterfront is one of Australia’s most beautiful waterfronts. Having visited almost the entire country, Geelong certainly impresses and occupies a special place in my heart. From her humble beginnings as a port founded in 1836, the city has now attracted a series of prestigious awards under Australia Award for Urban Design. You will want stay and play here.

Geelong Bollards Trail Walk

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Geelong is renowned for its baywalk bollards. These Lifeguard Statues on Geelong Harbour are just one of the more than 104 painted sculptures. They represent a fun chronicle of the city’s past, touching on a range of Australians who have contributed to the history, from indigenous inhabitants to contemporary characters.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The vibrant bollards are the work of artist Jan Mitchell, who was commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong to modify old timbers and piles from a city pier demolished in the 1980s and transform into works of art that many can enjoy.

The Geelong Pier

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A stroll along the picturesque Geelong Waterfront, which you will see The Pier Geelong, is a must-do. This venue has secured the popular vote for wedding photography in Victoria.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Anyone visiting Geelong can’t missed the Cunningham Pier, probably the most prominent structure on the waterfront. The pier was a vital part of the town port when it opened in the mid-1850s with rail being used to load and unload cargo. Originally known as Railway Pier, the modernisation of Geelong’s ports after the war saw many larger ships move to Corio Quay.

Waterfront Views @ Novotel Geelong

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The stunning view of the waterfront from my room balcony at Geelong Novotel. This is the hotel any visitors will love.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The sun sets about 8pm in summer, making the day that much longer. But who’s complaining in such a lovely environment?.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The hotel is just about a 45min drive from the Werribee Zoo. When you reached Geelong, you will feel refreshed and want to stay longer. Signs you are in love with the city already.

Day #2

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A lovely sunrise to wake up to. You can see that Geelong is very much a water sports and yachting community. But don’t look too long as the Novotel Geelong serves one of the best hotel breakkie I have come across. Fuel up for the day as the adventure just about to begin.

Sweet Time @Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From Geelong, its a relaxed 1.45hr drive to the GOR Chocolaterie, in the heart of the picturesque surf coast region, you can satisfy your sweet tooth in the owners’ Ian & Leanne’s love of chocolate and passion for creating memorable experiences.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Chocolates and more chocolates! This is as close to the Wonka Candy Company as it is. If time is on your side, you can join daily hosted tasting sessions, hands-on chocolate making classes for all ages, one of the many special events, or simply ogle at Chocolatiers at work through wide viewing windows (like i did).

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Yes, just 1 spoonful at a time. There many tubs to sample. Do mind the sugar rush. The factory has 250 different types of chocolates in its collection.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A ONE meter long chocolate bar ? Seriously, constipation from heatiness comes to mind or worse, diabetes! Jokes aside, this is more for locals, unless u have a very long luggage.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Nice swanky packaging to encourage you to part with your cash. But the chocolate are delicious really.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Check out their in-house made ice creams and sorbets, all churned daily to the factory’s special recipe.

Split Point Lighthouse @Aireys Inlet

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From the chocolate wonderland, a 2.5hr drive took us to The Split Point Lighthouse “which overlooks the rough coastline where hundreds of ships have crashed. It is still a working lighthouse for vessels navigating the treacherous waters of Bass Strait and operates nightly by an automated system. The lighthouse is open daily for tours, weather permitting.(Lighthouse webpage – https://splitpointlighthouse.com.au/)

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Stone throw from the lighthouse, The Eagle Rock located at Aireys Inlet can observed from the boardwalk. The monolith is fringed with “forest” of Bull Kelp and the habitat supports a wide array of marine life from wrasse and mullet to Cat Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks, skates and rays. Its also a sanctuary for marine birds while migratory whales can be spotted when in season.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Lighthouse Tea Room located just steps away is the natural place for a quick lunch before hitting the Great Ocean Road. Not a good idea to have a heavy lunch as driver will get very sleepy along the drive.

Start of The Great Ocean Road

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

While we had fun thus far, this Great Ocean Road (GOR) gate at Torquay is like a “reset” button. From here, the “mother” of all scenic drives start here. Driving along this breathtaking coastal route of GOR is a must-do! It is touted as one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives with the Australian National Heritage listed 243 kilometres stretch of road between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. This Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road encompasses many famous surf breaks, coastal rock formations, forests, tourist holiday towns and of course the famous 12 Apostles.

Aerial view with the 12 Apostles Helicopters

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Aerial views of the 12 Apostles, Shipwreck Coast and Port Campbell National Park are something of a must-do for most visitors to this iconic location and the 12 Apostles Helicopters is the natural and only choice. Their rates are reasonable despite their monopolistic position.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helicopter taking off on yet another sortie, fulfilling bucket list for many visitors.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Over The Bay of Islands, definitely the most popular sight on the coast. We were blessed to enjoy the flight as the helicopters don’t operate during inclement weather.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Bay of Islands on the return leg of the aerial jaunt, which lasted about 15min.

Bliss @ The Southern Ocean Villas

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From The 12 Apostles Helicopters, it was just an easy 15min to our accommodation for the night at Southern Ocean Villas, a beautifully full-fitted loft villa, with all the amenities of home. You might choose to buy groceries from Port Campbell town for a cookout at this villa as they even have a rice cooker, apart from other kitchen amenities.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Night comes gently here at the South Coast. The serene calm and chilly air makes it a cosy experience.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Some of the unit comes with double queen and loft which are perfect for big families or larger group of 6-8.

Day #3

The 12 Apostles

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Day 3 morning saw waking up to an overcast skies and light drizzle, not the best way to enjoy the iconic Twelve Apostles but it’s still better than doing nothing. The Twelve Apostles is a group of limestone stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. Seven of the original eight stacks remain standing at the Twelve Apostles viewpoint after one collapsed in July 2005. Though the view from the promontory by the Twelve Apostles never included twelve stacks, additional stack not considered part of the Apostles group are located to the west within the national park.

Loch Ard Gorge

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Just 3 minutes drive from The 12 Apostles, The Loch Ard Gorge is one of the best-loved stop-off points. An easy 5-6 min trek via a deck of stairs bring you down to this beautiful bay.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The picturesque gorge is home to an inlet of clear, blue water. It’s flanked by two yellow-washed cliff faces and tufts of vibrant greenery. It has an interesting and colourful history that spans back hundreds of years.

London Bridge

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From the Loch Arc Gorge, a 15min drive takes you to the London Bridge, which has upper western and lower eastern viewing platforms to enjoy the stunning vistas. This venue is one of two points in the national park where you can might see little penguins returning to shore (the other is from the main 12 Apostles viewing platform). The population of 80 – 100 birds at London Bridge is much smaller than at the 12 Apostles but the viewing platforms are closer to the birds. Before 1990, the London Bridge was a double-spanning bridge connected to the mainland. The span closer to the shoreline collapsed suddenly on 15 January 1990, leaving two Japanese visitors stranded on the outer span, to be rescued by helicopter.

The Grotto

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From the London Bridge, another easy 5 minutes drive took us to the Grotto. The winding stairs lead you down to them, which looks like a beautiful tide pool.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Grotto is a giant arch rock formation bends over a sinkhole caused by erosion eating away at the limestone beneath. You can either view the nature wonder from above or head down and explore it at eye-level, which I think is the best, weather permitting. Signs are put to bar entry to the spot but many chose to ignore in favour of an Instagram moment.

12 Apostles Gourmet Trail

What better way to pair the nature sights with food made from local produce. You can’t miss The 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail  which let you savour a selection of food and beverage destinations scattered among the hinterland.

Timboon Cheesery

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From the Grotto, we departed the coast to the beautiful and cosy Timboon Cheesery to check out their cheese and farm cuisine. Some award-winning dairy and cheeses from Schulz Organic Dairy and Timboon Dairy satisfy your hunger pangs.

Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Our lunch of cheese and vegetable soup of the day were awesome. Not too heavy and yet fulfilling. You will love the 3-cheeses platter which is ideal for what the cheesery can offer. We finished the entire meal with no leftovers.

Timboon Ice Creamery

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Hardly anyone will say no to ice-cream and this venue assures you one of the most delicious ice cream you will ever taste. Their ice-cream is churned with milk direct from the neighbour’s farm, cream fresh from local dairies and local ingredients. Their love and passion for their products are what make their ice-cream a true ice cream experience.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

What flavour would you like? 24 premium flavours, farm-fresh and locally made. Whatever you choose, it’s all good.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Nice ambience for a sweet tooth moment. You can buy a tub to eat along the drive if you to prolong the yummy treat.

Cheese World

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Just another 30min drive brought us to the Cheese World. Owned and operated by the Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory, Cheese World is the outlet for their award winning Warrnambool Heritage Cheddar cheese range. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Warrnambool cheddar range is manufactured right across the road from Cheese World by the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory. Full details of their cheese can be refer here.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Cheese World café serves breakfast, light lunches and snacks. Cheese platters and Ploughman’s Lunches are their specialty. Make sure you try their famous milkshakes made with their own Sungold milk or a local Timboon ice cream cone.

Coastal Town @Port Fairy

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

When we arrived at the venue, the chilly coastal wind picked up strongly with the evening glow receding quickly, leaving us only a few minutes to check out the pier. This Shearwater sculpture, of 10 birds, located at either side of the entrance to Griffiths Island, depict the birds criss-crossing each other as they come into land at Port Fairy.

Ashmont Motor Inn @ Port Fairy

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Ashmont Motor Inn and apartment was our home for the night. I don’t really fancy motor-inn in general as some can be drabby, but this accommodation is pretty nice and well fitted.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

My room at the upper floor. Excellent sleep quality indeed. Very much like a hotel.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The unit comes with a full-fitted cooking section should you prefer home-cooked food. Should you missed Asian food at this stage, you might like check out Yellow House Cafe and Thai Restaurant just a few minutes drive from this motor-inn.

Day #4

Tower Hill Nature Reserve

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From Port Fairy, its just a 20min drive to the beautiful Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Declared Victoria’s first National Park in 1892, Tower Hill is the ideal place to experience the Australian bush, magnificent scenery and landscapes. You can spot lots of native birds and animals like emus, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and seasonal reptiles.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A wild kangaroo and her joey feeding on the pasture near the reserve info center. It heartening too see many roos still thriving and in abundance.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

After a short walk from our parked car, we quickly spotted a koala, one of 8 we saw during our 1.5hr stroll there. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A fantail among the bushes. So lucky I manage to photograph this one. While you hear them everywhere, their quick movement and darting among the bushes make photographing them a challenging task.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

This wildlife reserve sits in a large volcanic crater. It is one of Victoria’s most fascinating and significant geological formations where volcanic cone-shaped hills rise from the lakes.

Gastronomic Adventure @ The Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Just about an hour drive from the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, our next adventure is of a gastronomic one, at the Royal Mail Hotel at Dunkeld, which houses the Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel, a fine-dining experience, encompassing the four stories of the hotel – food, wine, people and place.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Our evening venue for an 7-course fine-dining degustation by renowned Australian MasterChef Robin Wickens.

28,000 Bottles Wine Cellar

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The hotel wine cellar – The world-class wine list showcases bottles from the impressive 28,000 bottle wine cellar. Three types of wine matches are led by their sommeliers – cellar, iconic Australian and French. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Award winning cellar, for the last 3 consecutive years, bar none. This is the most precious cellar in the southern hemisphere indeed.

Royal Mail Hotel Organic Kitchen Garden Visit

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Kylie Schurmann, Assistant GM of the hotel, brought us on a tour of the hotel in-house kitchen garden. In the picture, she showed us their watercress section.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The beautiful hotel organic kitchen-garden that provided the fresh ingredients for their farm-to-table cuisine. Two full-time gardeners man this 1.2 hectare garden. It is Australia’s largest working restaurant kitchen garden and up to 80% of the produce showcased on the various Royal Mail Hotel menus is grown here and harvested daily by the kitchen team.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Purple tomato or Indigo Rose tomato grown at the garden. The deep purple pigment develops in parts of tomatoes exposed to sunlight, while the interior flesh remains red.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The is the flower of Artichoke ! So beautiful, though I can’t say the same for the vegetable though.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Our lunch came beautifully prepared, like the Salmon Rose Toast, You are in a place that takes great pride in its cuisine offering. Expect the unexpected.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Even the honeycomb and ice cream dessert turned out beautifully and superb.

Gegustation By Australia MasterChef Robin Wickens

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The evening degustation with wine pairing enclosed and sealed, upholding that exclusive and premium feel that permeates the entire dining experience.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The degustation appetizers. The gastronomic journey begins.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The menu read “buffalo, red cabbage tart, purple tomatoes, buckleberry “. But in the mouth, its an immense mingling of texture and flavour. Such is the prowess of a great chef.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Confit Ocean Trout, dried tomatoes, brandade, rocket”. Sounds esoteric but picture-perfect as it tasted.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

With the Masterchef in person at his kitchen after the culinary ride.

Wilderness Luxury @ Royal Mail Hotel Dunkeld

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Deluxe Mountain View rooms offer intimate views of the Grampians National Park on the property. Recently refurbished, luxuriously appointed and architecturally designed to capture the beauty of the natural setting.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Truly a luxurious Australian experience, all within the comfort of the well appointed room.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The shower experience in the spacious bathroom with excellent bath amenities lifted the memorable-quotient several notches.

Royal Mail Hotel Private Forest Reserve

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The 400-year old heritage River Red Gum tree at the hotel private reserve. It has fallen sometime back but it revived with new branches sprouting from it. An amazing landmark available only to the hotel guests.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

How many roos can you spot among the bushes ? These wild kangaroos are really alert of strangers in their home ground and will quickly hop away.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

This dead River Red Gum Tree, in the reserve, looking “characterful” despite being dead, giving new meaning to the “life after death”.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

These are the 2 famous mountains at Dunkeld – in the foreground, is Mt. Sturgeon (533m) while the one in the background is Mt. Abrupt (827m). Both mountains feature trails walks that can be challenging.

Day #5

Conquering the Pinnacle @ Halls Gap

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From The Royal Mail Hotel, a 45mins drive took us to the iconic Pinnacle Walk and Lookout, which is one of the highlights of the entire Grampians region. Reaching the peak rewards you with stunning views of Halls Gap and the Grampians’ many peaks.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Looking at the “rockscape” can be therapeutic, with the cool air contrasting with the hot sun makes it a more comfy trek. We embarked on the more challenging 2.1km walk from Wonderland carpark to The Pinnacle, instead of the easier Sundial car park.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Out from the “caverns”, its amazing all this are natural formation. The duration taken to reach the peak was 2-hour (1 way).

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

You will marvel at the seemingly precariously perched boulders as you climb towards the Grand Canyon, a smaller cousin of the American canyon.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

An Aussie couple having a “picnic” with one of the resident crows at the peak. It did not occur to me that this was their “personal spot” at the peak as we sat down to rest. Relieved they did not express their displeasure.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Check out the stunning view of the Halls Gap and the landscapes below. The cooling air was also another reward.

Eco-Lodges @ DULC (Down Under Log Cabin)

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From the Pinnacle Wonderland carpark, it was just a short 10 min drive to our accommodation for the night, at the fabulous DULC Ecolodge. This lovely luxury cabin is an end-destination by itself.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

This husband-wife owned and managed property has only 5 cabins of single and two storey cabins which are designed to blend into the bushland environment. You will appreciate the rough-sawn timbers, polished concrete, wooden floors and floor to ceiling windows have been designed with environmental sensitivity, with each cabin linked by raised footpath.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The fabulous bed and furnishings were all top-notched. After a energy-sapping trek to the Pinnacle, this is the perfect place to rest.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Each unit comes with a jacuzzi tub that comes with premium Molton Brown bath amenities that’s really a luxurious treat. You will want to soak longer.

Day #6

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Day 6 saw us checking out from DULC early, but not before being greeted a resident Kookaburra at the lodge reception ground. Such is the lovely nature ambience in Australia unspoilt bushland.

Reed Lookout and the Balconies

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A 20min easy drive from DULC took us to the Reed Lookout and the Balconies. A ten-minute walk to the summit for views of Victoria Valley, Lake Wartook and the Serra, Victoria and Mount Difficult ranges

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

We were up close to the clouds? no, not really, just that the clouds were low.

360° Panoramic view @ Boroka Lookout Point

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A 10-min drive from Reed Lookout took us to the Boroka Lookout. This easily accessed venue gives an amazing Grampians panorama, a perfect picture with 360-degree views of Western Victoria. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

From the Boroka Lookout, you can see below the town of Halls Gap, Lake Bellfield and Fyans Valley. Turn around to view the ranges of Mount William and Wonderland.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The rock formation beside the lookout deck looked like a monster with an opened mouth, amazing indeed !

MacKenzie Falls

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Another 17min drive took us to the MacKenzie Falls, which is one of the largest waterfalls in Victoria. We were a little pressed for time to our next destination, so we did not take the steep trail which will take slightly more than an hour round trek.

The Sweeping Meadows of Gritjurk

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

En Route to our next destination at Mt.Gambier, we chanced the upon the lovely plains around Gritjurk, using highway A200. This was one the loveliest land route that brought back memories of New Zealand. As the road was quiet, i did a drone aerial shot of the surrounding area.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

One of my fave pics of the trip so far, a landscape of the meadow with grazing cattle and a solitary tree capped by a cloud against clear blue skies.

The Blue Lake @ Mt. Gambier

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Finally after a 3-hr drive, we reached Mt. Gambier, where the famous Blue Lake is. Early each November, the lake’s sombre blue, which is in evidence during the winter months, mysteriously changes to an intense deep turquoise blue almost overnight. The colouring remains until late February, when it gradually changes. From late March, it returns to a distinct sombre blue colouring that remains until the following November. (source- South Australia tourism).

The Umpherston Sinkhole

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The other attraction in Mt. Gambier is The Umpherston Sink Hole. This is one venue that has to be seen to be believed. Observe its size and depth from the viewing platforms at the top of the sinkhole, then, walk down into the sinkhole along the terraces and behind the hanging vines. From the base of the sinkhole, look up and be awed by the amazing sight. This venue will need a ultra-wide angled lens to take in all that beauty or using panoramic mode on a handphone.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Originally beautified by James Umpherston around 1886, the sinkhole is opened at all times and from dusk each evening the area comes alive with possums as they venture into the floodlit gardens to feed.

B+B @ The Colhurst House

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Our accommodation for the night, the Colhurst House. The lovely house has 5 elegant rooms in the beautiful two story 1800`s mansion set among well manicured gardens. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

This lovely mansion is centrally located in Mount Gambier, close to shopping, entertainment and dining amenities. My room is The Black Room, which is a Queen bedroom with lovely westerly view to the church spire that catches the afternoon sun.

Day 7

Tantanoola Cave

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A 20min drive brought us to the Tantanoola Cave, which is one of the smallest one we visited. But its unique in that the cave warden allowed us to bring our tripod and even let us and a small group of visitors, explore the compact cave system which takes only 5min to walk around.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A very nice compact cave with great lighting. This spectacular cave, set into a cliff face, is believed to have been exposed by the constant pounding of the ocean. Over time the sea has retreated leaving behind a cavern of shells, pebbles and seal bones. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The park around the cave conservation park is also a nice place for a stroll among the floral and fauna. In the early morning, you might catch sight of grazing wallabies among the garden.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

One of many honey bees pollinating the flowers at the conservation park.

Very Long Jetty @ Beachport

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Enroute from Tantanoola Cave to our next destination at Robe, a fishing port 1-hr drive away, we dropped the beautiful coastal town of Beachport for a quick lunch. The quaint town houses the 2nd longest jetty in South Australia at 772 metres (used to be 1.2km). Great places for a stroll out to sea and watch anglers fishing and their catch.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

This jetty is considered as one of the most beautiful jetties in South Australia and extends over the waters of Rivoli Bay and offers some beautiful scenic spots across the bay. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Enjoy your lunch at one of the several eateries around the jetty and enjoy the sea breeze and people watch.

The Obelisk @ Robe

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Robe is a fishing port and one of the oldest towns in South Australia. The town’s historical buildings, ocean-going fishing fleets, lakes and dense bush give it a distinctive laid-back vibe. One of the most famous landmarks is The Cape Dombey Obelisk (common known as Robe Obelisk), which most, if not all, visitors to this town will make a beeline for.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Doorway Rock, a distinctive rock formation that is constantly pounded by the waves of the great Australian Bight. Before long, the arch might have succumbed to the forces of nature.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Subaru Forester have been an exceptional ride on the trip so far – powerful, economical, spacious and loads of safety features built in, making the long drives a comfortable experience.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Obelisk sits atop a rugged coastline, which is rapidly being eroded by the harsh elements. The sea south of Robe meet the Southern Ocean which is notorious for having some of the strongest winds and largest waves on Earth. Various researches have been on safeguarding the obelisk but regretfully, the odds are stacked against the monument. The cost of repairing/moving the obelisk could run into tens of millions of dollars, of which the state government, does not want to shoulder.

Lakeview Motels and Apartments

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The Lakeview Motels and Apartments, which boast wonderful view of the Lake Dunn, will please most visitors.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The chilly wind coming in from the lake will send you to sleep in double quick time. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

As with accommodation on the trip so far, the serene ambience of Southern Australia assures a memorable vacation.

Spectacular Salt Lake @ Coorong National Park

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Enroute to our next destination at Hahndorf, we stopped by the Coorong National Park after a 1.5hr ride. This park was established in 1966 and is a spectacular saline lagoon stretching 140km and is significant under the Ramsar Agreement as a migratory wader and waterfowl sanctuary.

Beerenberg Farm @ Hahndorf

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Our last stop before reaching Hahndorf was The Beerenberg, which produces its 1st batch of strawberry jam in 1971. It is a popular family-owned farm, tourist destination and manufacturer of the best tasting jams, chutneys, sauces and dressings in Hahndorf. 

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The farm is especially popular with families which let their kids enjoy nature and freshly plucked strawberries in their mouth at the same time.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Nice strawberries on the farm. Do select the mid-sized for the sweetest taste and not the largest ones. The farm charges AUD4/person for the farm entry and AUS10.95/kg for the picked strawberries.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

A honey bee pollinating the flowers at the farm. Without bees, the eco-system will collapse and many related businesses will suffer.

German Heritage Village @ Hahndorf

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Hahndorf is a small town in South Australia and oldest surviving German Settlement. Settled by 19th-century Lutheran migrants, it’s known for its original German-style architecture and artisanal food.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

German influence permeates Hahndorf and is seen in the traditional fachwerk architecture of the original surviving buildings. There are also many restaurants in the town serving German cuisine, with a wide food menu and beer menu.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

When at a German restaurant, what else but a pork knuckle on a bed of red cabbage and mashed potatoes.. Köstlich !

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

Our hotel garden has a heritage pear tree that was fruiting and had a big colony of rainbow lorikeets having a run on the house at the tree. Exciting nature right our doorstep indeed.

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The lovely manicured garden around Studio by Haus is perfect for anyone keen in floral and insect photography.

German styled hotel @Studio by Haus

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

The accommodation at the Studio by Haus was very cosy with well appointed room and excellent en-suite shower. Perfect way to wrap up a trip.

Conclusion

Melbourne Adelaide via Great Ocean Road

This fantastic Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road road trip served to debunked the notion that the bushfire have rendered the continent less visit-worthy. What we have seen and enjoyed throughout the road trip was not one bit compromised in anyway by the bushfire.

The locals we met along the way, from staff at immigration checkpoints, supermarts, restaurants, resorts and attraction owners right to the people on the streets, were friendly and warm. At no time did we experienced any negativity. If there are any places you are considering to visit when the Covid-19 situation subsides, the fabulous Southern Australia region should be your No.1 choice.

Many sincere thanks for coming along my pixels journey.  Should any readers be keen to go on a similar self-drive trip, please feel free to drop me a message or check out Jetabout Holidays package HERE! For my other adventures Down Under, you can click here for more reads.

Footnote: All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and Jetabout Holidays and all rights reserved. The opinion expressed is factual, objective and that of the author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *