Leaving Adelaide to drive east...
25.01.2014 - 28.01.2014 32 °C
We picked up our home for the next 8 nights... our wee campervan!
Although road trip number 3 - Adelaide to Melbourne - doesn't compete with the first two in terms of mileage, it does take in one of the world's greatest drives... the Great Ocean Road.
This section was also more about the journey itself than the end destination each day. Because we were campervanning and staying in camping sites, our destination for each day wasn't fixed. This bit was about rocking up somewhere at the end of the day, and this depended entirely on how far we'd managed to get and how much there was to see along the way.
Off we set, soon into the Adelaide Hills from the city centre. We stopped at Hahndorf, an early German settlement, which sounded great in the tourist bumph. It was bloody awful. So touristy and busy. It probably didn't help that it was a Saturday and the day before Australia Day...
Here we go again!
We didn't hang about, and back on the road the landscape soon became very barren and flat.
Ant spotted some pelicans on a lake so we pulled over for a closer look - the first ones we'd seen on our travels.
We found a great campsite right on Lake Albert in a small place called Meningie, and settled in to our first evening and night in the camper. We cracked open one of the McLaren Vale reds!
It got quite chilly at night but before hunkering down, we walked to the lake's edge and admired the night sky, spotting a couple of shooting stars.
Apparently it's an Aussie institution to listen to the radio station 'Triple J' and their hottest 100 which plays for most of the day. When in Rome, we thought... but after not recognising the first 5 songs coupled with bad radio reception, we quickly gave up on that one.
As we were driving we thought there were mini dust storms on the side of the road, until we realised it was clouds of midgies. The fly nets came in handy for our first stop, Jack's Point - a pelican look out and salt flat. It was pretty hot, with loads of flies and the midgies (which sounded like high speed motorbikes when we walked through them!).
Cape Jaffa was our lunch stop and stroll along the rickety looking jetty.
A weird large lobster en route
Beachport was another stop, a busier seaside spot which had some live music going on and a bit of a buzz to the place. Tonnes of Australian flags everywhere so I thought I'd get in on the action... and Golden Gaytimes are divine!!
We didn't get as far down the coast as we would've liked, but the upshot was finding a fantastic campsite in the small town of Millicent.
It was super quiet and we had pick of the sites... I bloody love this big country with its tiny population... so we chose a spot with an amazing view towards distant hills. Out came the chairs and beers to kick back for an hour or two, watching the Galahs (grey and pink parrots) in the trees and enjoying the view.
Ant cooked up some steaks and veggies on the site's hot plates... we needed a good meal inside us... turned out to be quite a chilly night in the ol' camper...
We'd read about Mount Gambier's Blue Lake but weren't quite prepared for just how blue it really was. Anyone familiar with Dorset's Blue Pool near Corfe will know it doesn't always deliver on its promise... and to be fair neither does Mt Gambier's as it's grey in winter. But, being summer, it was a shimmering brilliant blue and just made us want to dive in as the day was already ramping up to be a hot one.
Mount Gambier is also home to the Umpherston Sinkhole - a collapsed cave which has become rich ground for all manner of flora. Particularly impressive was a curtain of vines hanging over the edge. There was a warning sign for bees and we spotted a hive so didn't venture too far in... but on the way out were rewarded with a close encounter with a possum... very cute!
The small estuary hamlet of Nelson made for another great lunch stop and we had a walk along the estuary beach to the ocean. We loved being able to pull over anywhere we fancied for a brew or a quick snack... tonnes of freedom... kings of the road! Ha ha.
Our first State crossing by road
Ant has done all the driving in Oz so far, he enjoys doing it and I prefer being a passenger, but I took the opportunity to drive the van for a bit to give him a break.
We ended up in Port Fairy for one night in a decidedly average campsite and there were quite a few kids circling the pitches on their bikes so it wasn't as peaceful. We cracked open the other bottle of red we bought on the wineries tour... the £20 one... to go with our chilli. Who says you can't enjoy the finer things whilst camping?!
We awoke like sausages cooking on gas mark 5. Who turned the temperature up? It had been a much warmer night and by 8am the van - and its contents - were roasting. We've found the Aussie weather to be completely bonkers and it can be hugely changeable. We've been lucky and missed several heatwaves as they've swept around different parts of the country and on the whole it's been quite temperate. But it's amazing how, in the same location, one day it can be 21c and the next 38c.
Port Fairy reached 38 degrees and after a walk around the cute town and part of an historical buildings trail, we were struggling with the heat. There was nothing for it but a dip in the sea to cool off... cue steam coming off our skin.
The video shop is not dead. Even the DVD sign written in a 1950s style.
Tower Hill reserve is set into the crater of a dormant volcano which last errupted 7,000 years ago. It's a lovely spot and great for wildlife spotting... when it's not blowing hot desert winds and feeling like an oven. We did see a couple of emus but nothing else and as we were continuing to melt, we drove around the reserve rather than tackle any walking.
Driving from the west, Warrnambool is the last main town before the Great Ocean Road. It's best known for whale watching in the winter months. We spotted an inviting cove for a dip... we didn't let its name 'Stingray Bay' put us off. Gulp.
The water was bloomin' freezing! Probably like Bournemouth's in the late spring/early summer but as the air temperature was so hot, it was really refreshing and such a respite from the heat.
With the heat also comes the flies, they'd been a pest for the last couple of days... at breakfast... lunch... dinner... basically any time we got out of the van... grrrrr. It's one major drawback in Australia in the heat.
Next instalment... The Great Ocean Road!