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 ascertain the latest condition in the Southern Australia region, which was largely unaffected by the recent catastrophic bushfires that impacted especially eastern Australia.
But the Covid-19 virus outbreak added another dimension to the trip – “Are Australians unwelcoming of Asians as the virus seemed to have originated from Wuhan in China? Will we be stigmatized or profiled?”. I have great news for all who might have similar concerns. From the moment we touched down to the moment we departed, we have never felt in any way unwelcomed or otherwise. Australia is still beautiful and open for business. Come join us on this fabulous Melbourne to Adelaide road trip via the Great Ocean Road.
Road Trip Route Map
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 selected 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 but 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.
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 breaking the speed limit. For unique motoring, it’s a must-do.
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
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.
Even the market interior is trendy and chic, with its instagrammable wall mural which celebrates people from all walks of life.
A light Aussie brekkie with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee in Australia so far has yet to disappoint me. It’s always good, great or fantastic. I rate this cup of caffeine heaven from Cottle on Coventry, just steps from the market as simply sublime.
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*.
Right after brekkie, 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’s creativity and heritage. (* it’s with regret that Jaime passed away on the 31 Aug 2021, after a hard battle with cancer.)
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.
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.
The lanes may look similar to an “organised” mess. But there is a character that runs through each, you just need to slow down and feel it.
I like this expressive wall art, fun, playful and vibrant. Honestly, on our quick stroll through the lanes, I was 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.
At Jaime’s fave hangout place – The Butterfly Club in Carson’s Place, off Little Collins Street. This joint is a small theater in the heart of Melbourne, which has plenty of shows, award-winning foyer bars, and an enormous collection of kitsch. It is 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
After the photo walk, it’s 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 sit 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.
It was a lovely Sunday, hot but slightly cool with balmy wind, if only Singapore has such wonderful weather.
The zoo open-bus rides slowly across the zoo’s open plains with commentaries from the driver-cum guide.
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.
At the hippo exhibit, I was so lucky to be able to capture it yawning so widely as it usually rests dormant in the water with just its head on the surface.
It was challenging to photograph the Gorilla in its island enclosure as it was either hiding under the shade or scampering quickly about. But it’s 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.
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 comfort.
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
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 the Australia Award for Urban Design. You will want to stay longer and explore more of the beautiful venues.
Geelong Bollards Trail Walk
Geelong is renowned for its bay walk 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 its history, from indigenous inhabitants to contemporary characters.
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 them into works of art that many can enjoy.
The Geelong Pier
A stroll along the picturesque Geelong Waterfront, where you will see The Pier Geelong, is a must-do. This venue has secured the popular vote for wedding photography in Victoria.
Anyone visiting Geelong can’t miss 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
The stunning view of the waterfront from my room balcony at Geelong Novotel. This is the hotel any visitors will love.
The sunsets are around 8 pm in summer, making the day that much longer. All the more time to play with.
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.
A lovely sunrise to wake up to. You can see that Geelong is very much water sports and yachting community. But don’t look too long as the Novotel Geelong serves one of the best hotel brekkie I have come across. Fuel up for the day as the adventure is just about to begin.
Sweet Time @Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
From Geelong, it’s 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. Certainly a sweet start for Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road.
Chocolates and more chocolates! This is as close to the Wonka Candy Company as it gets. 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).
Yes, just 1 spoonful at a time. There are many tubs to sample. Do mind the sugar rush. The factory has 250 different types of chocolates in its collection.
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 very long luggage.
Nice swanky packaging to encourage you to part with your cash. But the chocolate is delicious really.
Check out their in-house made ice creams and sorbets, all churned daily to the factory’s special recipe.
Split Point Lighthouse @Aireys Inlet
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/)
A stone throw from the lighthouse, The Eagle Rock located at Aireys Inlet can be observed from the boardwalk. The monolith is fringed with a “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. It’s also a sanctuary for marine birds while migratory whales can be spotted when in season.
The Lighthouse Tea Room located just steps away is the natural place for a quick lunch before hitting the Great Ocean Road. Best to avoid heavy lunch as the driver will get very sleepy along the drive.
Start of The Great Ocean Road
While we had fun thus far on the Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road trip, this Great Ocean Road (GOR) gate at Torquay is like a “reset” button. From here, the “mother” of all scenic drives starts. 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
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 are the natural and only choice. Their rates are reasonable despite their monopolistic position.
A Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helicopter taking off on yet another sortie, fulfilling a bucket list for many visitors.
Over The Bay of Islands, is definitely the most popular sight on the coast. We were blessed to enjoy the flight as the helicopters don’t operate during inclement weather.
The Bay of Islands on the return leg of the aerial jaunt lasted about 15min. This aerial event promises to be one of the highlights you enjoy on your Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road.
Bliss @ The Southern Ocean Villas
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.
Night comes gently here at the South Coast. The serene calm and chilly air make it a cosy experience.
Some of the units come with double queen and loft which are perfect for big families or a larger groups of 6-8.
The 12 Apostles
Day 3 morning saw waking up to an overcast sky 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 stacks not considered part of the Apostles group are located to the west within the national park.
Loch Ard Gorge
Just a 3-minute 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 brings you down to this beautiful bay.
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.
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 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.
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.
The Grotto is a giant arch rock formation that bends over a sinkhole caused by erosion eating away at the limestone beneath. You can either view the natural 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 establishments scattered among the hinterland.
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.
Our lunch of cheese and vegetable soup of the day was 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
Hardly anyone can resist ice cream and this venue assures you one of the most delicious ice creams 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 makes their ice cream a true ice cream experience.
What flavour would you like? 24 premium flavours, farm-fresh and locally made. Whatever you choose, it’s all good.
Nice ambience for a sweet tooth moment. You can buy a tub to eat along the drive if you to prolong the yummy treat.
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.
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 referred here.
The Cheese World café serves breakfast, light lunches, and snacks. Cheese platters and Ploughman’s Lunches are their specialities. Make sure you try their famous milkshakes made with their own Sungold milk or a local Timboon ice cream cone.
Coastal Town @Port Fairy
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, depicts the birds crisscrossing each other as they come into land at Port Fairy.
Ashmont Motor Inn @ Port Fairy
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.
My room at the upper floor. Excellent sleep quality indeed. Very much like a hotel.
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.
Tower Hill Nature Reserve
From Port Fairy, it’s 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.
A wild kangaroo and her joey feeding on the pasture near the reserve info centre. It’s heartening to see many roos still thriving and in abundance.
After a short walk from our parked car, we quickly spotted a koala, one of 8 we saw during our 1.5hr stroll there.
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.
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.
Just about an hour drive from the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, our next adventure is of gastronomy, 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.
Our evening venue for a 7-course fine-dining degustation by renowned Australian MasterChef Robin Wickens.
28,000 Bottles Wine Cellar
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.
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
Kylie Schurmann, Assistant GM of the hotel, brought us on a tour of the hotel’s in-house kitchen garden. In the picture, she showed us their watercress section.
The beautiful hotel organic kitchen garden 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.
Purple tomato or Indigo Rose tomato was grown in the garden. The deep purple pigment develops in parts of tomatoes exposed to sunlight, while the interior flesh remains red.
This is the flower of Artichoke! So beautiful, though I can’t say the same for the vegetable though.
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.
Even the honeycomb and ice cream dessert turned out beautifully and superb.
Gegustation By Australia MasterChef Robin Wickens
The evening degustation with wine pairing is enclosed and sealed, upholding that exclusive and premium feel that permeates the entire dining experience.
The degustation appetizers. The gastronomic journey begins.
The menu read “buffalo, red cabbage tart, purple tomatoes, buckleberry “. But in the mouth, it’s an immense mingling of texture and flavour. Such is the prowess of a great chef.
Confit Ocean Trout, dried tomatoes, brandade, rocket”. Sounds esoteric but picture-perfect as it tasted.
With the Masterchef in person at his kitchen after the culinary ride.
Wilderness Luxury @ Royal Mail Hotel Dunkeld
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.
Truly a luxurious Australian experience, all within the comfort of the well-appointed room.
The shower experience in the spacious bathroom with excellent bath amenities lifted the memorable-quotient several notches.
Royal Mail Hotel Private Forest Reserve
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.
How many roos can you spot among the bushes? These wild kangaroos are really alert of strangers on their home ground and will quickly hop away.
This dead River Red Gum Tree, in the reserve, looking “characterful” despite being dead, gives new meaning to the “life after death”.
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 trail walks that can be challenging.
Conquering the Pinnacle @ Halls Gap
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.
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.
Out from the “caverns”, it’s amazing all these are natural formations. The duration taken to reach the peak was 2-hour (1 way).
You will marvel at the seemingly precariously perched boulders as you climb towards the Grand Canyon, a smaller cousin of the American canyon.
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.
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)
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.
This husband-wife-owned and managed property have 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 that have been designed with environmental sensitivity, with each cabin linked by raised footpath.
The fabulous bed and furnishings were all top-notched. After an energy-sapping trek to the Pinnacle, this is the perfect place to rest.
Day 6 saw us checking out from DULC early, but not before being greeted by a resident Kookaburra at the lodge reception ground. Such is the lovely nature ambience in Australia’s unspoiled bushland.
Reed Lookout and the Balconies
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
We were up close to the clouds? no, not really, just that the clouds were low.
360° Panoramic view @ Boroka Lookout Point
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.
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.
The rock formation beside the lookout deck looked like a monster with an opened mouth, amazing indeed!
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
En Route to our next destination at Mt.Gambier, we chanced upon the lovely plains around Gritjurk, using highway A200. This was one of the loveliest land routes that brought back memories of New Zealand. As the road was quiet, I did a drone aerial shot of the surrounding area.
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
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
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 an ultra-wide angled lens to take in all that beauty or using panoramic mode on a handphone.
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
Our accommodation for the night, is the Colhurst House. The lovely house has 5 elegant rooms in the beautiful two-story 1800s mansion set among well-manicured gardens.
This lovely mansion is centrally located in Mount Gambier, close to shopping, entertainment, and dining amenities. My room is named The Black Room, which has a Queen-sized bed with a lovely westerly view of the church spire that catches the sunset and the town church spire.
A 20min drive brought us to the Tantanoola Cave, which is one of the smallest we visited. But it’s 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.
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.
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 in the garden.
One of many honey bees pollinating the flowers at the conservation park.
Very Long Jetty @ Beachport
En route 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 townhouses the 2nd longest jetty in South Australia at 772 meters (used to be 1.2km). Great places for a stroll out to sea and watch anglers fishing and their catch.
This jetty is considered 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.
Enjoy your lunch at one of the several eateries around the jetty and enjoy the sea breeze and people-watch.
The Obelisk @ Robe
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 (commonly known as Robe Obelisk), which most, if not all, visitors to this town will make a beeline for.
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.
The Subaru Forester has been an exceptional ride on the trip on the Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean Road trip – powerful, economical, spacious, and loads of safety features built-in, making the long drives a comfortable experience.
The Obelisk sits atop a rugged coastline, which is rapidly being eroded by the harsh elements. The sea south of Robe meets the Southern Ocean which is notorious for having some of the strongest winds and largest waves on Earth. Various measures have been conducted on safeguarding the obelisk but sadly, the odds are stacked against the monument. The cost of repairing/moving the obelisk could cost in excess of tens of millions of dollars, which the state government does not want to shoulder.
Lakeview Motels and Apartments
The Lakeview Motels and Apartments, which boast a wonderful view of Lake Dunn, will please most visitors.
The chilly wind coming in from the lake will send you to sleep in double-quick time.
As with accommodation on the trip so far, the serene ambience of Southern Australia assures a memorable vacation.
Spectacular Salt Lake @ Coorong National Park
En route 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
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.
The farm is especially popular with families which let their kids enjoy nature and freshly plucked strawberries in their mouths at the same time.
Plumb and juicy 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 AUD10.95/kg for the picked strawberries.
A honey bee pollinating the flowers at the farm. Without bees, the ecosystem will collapse and many related businesses will suffer.
German Heritage Village @ Hahndorf
Hahndorf is a small town in South Australia and the oldest surviving German Settlement. Settled by 19th-century Lutheran migrants, it’s known for its original German-style architecture and artisanal food.
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.
When at a German restaurant, what else but a pork knuckle on a bed of red cabbage and mashed potatoes…Köstlich!
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.
The lovely manicured garden around Studio by Haus is perfect for anyone keen in floral and insect photography.
German styled hotel @Studio by Haus
The accommodation at the Studio by Haus was very cosy with well-appointed room and an excellent en-suite shower. This would be our last rest stop on the Melbourne to Adelaide via Great Ocean road trip.
This fantastic Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road road trip served to debunk the notion that the bushfire has rendered the continent less visit-worthy. What we have seen and enjoyed throughout the road trip was not one bit compromised in any way by the bushfire.
The locals we met along the way, from the 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 experience any negativity. If there are any places you are considering visiting when the Covid-19 situation subsides, the fabulous Southern Australia region should be your No.1 choice.
Many sincere thanks for coming along this Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road. Should any readers be keen to go on a similar self-drive trip, please feel free to drop me a message. 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 all rights reserved. The opinion expressed is factual, objective, and that of the author.