The Roadtrip: Melbourne to Adelaide
Places to Visit: Great Ocean Road, Mount Gambier, Adelaide, The Grampians
Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
If you want to see more of the Australian landscape, the Melbourne-Adelaide road trip may be something that you can consider. A direct drive from Melbourne to Adelaide will take you between 9 to 10 hours, but what's the point of going on a road trip if you don't experience what's along the way, right? We always feel that road trips are not just about reaching the destination itself. It is about the journey along the way. And I'm sure many of you would agree (coz that's what make road trips so much fun!) So if you have 5 days to spare for a trip, let's get on board!
Day 1: Melbourne - Great Ocean Road - Mount Gambier
If you haven't been to GOR (Great Ocean Road), you should. Its a meandering scenic drive (Malaysians should be familiar with Balik Pulau - it's kind of like that). You can see vast seaside landscape and limestone cliffs. If you love ocean and breathtaking views, this is definitely your cup of tea. Famous attractions along GOR is The 12 Apostles, London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge, and along the way you may stop at Lorne, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell, Port Fairy and further up is Warrnambool. If you don't want to go for the long scenic drive on your Adelaide road trip, you can always take the inland road, and exit at Port Campbell. From Port Campbell, 12 Apostles, London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge are just nearby. If start driving in the morning, you can have a relaxing drive, and reach Mount Gambier by evening.
The 12 Apostles
Day 2: Mount Gambier-Blue Lake-Umpherston Sinkhole-Centenary Tower-Tantanoola Caves
Mount Gambier is a beautiful place - a town once was an active volcanic site. Expect to see gorgeous lake, vast vista of landscape, a secret garden and stunning cave. The 3 places - Blue Lake, Umpherston Sinkhole and Centenary Tower - are all within the city of Mount Gambier. Tantanoola Caves will be along your drive towards Adelaide. Here are some sneak peeks of these beautiful places.
The water in the lake is blue or turqoise only in the summer; while in the winter, it is said to be grayish. So do visit Blue Lake in the summer and you'll be blown away by how blue it looks! If you're lucky, you can see it in turquoise, which only happen when the weather gets very hot.
This sinkhole feels like a secret garden! You'd be walking in a park and before you know it, you'll see a large hole with a lush garden inside it. Imagine getting inside the sinkhole and experiencing how deep it actually is. Well, no need to imagine as you can walk down yourself to the gardens.
Landscape should be experienced with a bit of walking, shouldn't it? Well bring good walking shoes as you're going to be walking up the slope to reach Centenary Tower. From this tower, you'll be able to see the whole landscape of Mount Gambier. Nice vistas - one side towards the countryside, while another towards the town and the lakes. You'll know if the tower is open or not if you see the flag is raised. If it's not open, you can still walk up the hill. And if it opens, you have the opportunity to get inside the tower for a small fee of AUD2.50 per person.
Tantanoola Caves Conservation Park
Yes, a real cave with real stalactites and all! It's amazing to see natural wonders like this up close, and being inside one made it an even richer experience. It's also great opportunity to review those long-forgotten geography lessons! The cave is wheel-chair friendly as it has smooth surfaces to walk on, which also makes it stroller-friendly. Entrance fee is AUD10 for Adults and AUD8 for concession.
Details on Tantanoola Caves here.
Mount Gambier to Adelaide Coastal Drive
We accidentally took the coastal route from Mount Gambier to Adelaide, because we had initially planned to use the inland road from Tantanoola Caves. However, the unplanned route was well worth it. Did you know that South Australia produce salt? Yes, they do. Via the coastal route, you'll pass by Salt Creek and you might be able some salt flats.
Day 3: Adelaide CBD & Glenelg Beach
After driving through the landscape, a visit to the city is a nice change. We spent a full one day in Adelaide, driving around the CBD to understand its layout, and then walking along Rundle Mall and Northern Terrace. Along Northern Terrace, you'll find University of Adelaide, the State Library, Immigration Museum and South Australian Museum. Here are some snapshots of Adelaide:
Rundle St / Rundle Mall
Rundle Mall is a pedestrian mall, like Bourke St. You'll see many familiar shops here (just in case you miss Melbourne already!) The tram is actually on King William St, which is the center spine of the CBD. This is at the corner of King William and Rundle St.
I must say that the sand at Glenelg Beach is pretty soft in texture! And you can see this from the forms created by people's footsteps on the sand. The middle entrance of the beach is also directly accessible by the street shops and plaza. Have a swim, picnic or just walk around. You'll enjoy it.
p/s: If you have friends in Adelaide, try asking them about crabbing activities.
Additional attractions: If you're in for a bigger budget, you might want to visit Kangaroo Island. We didn't go but have heard a lot of nice things about it. We spent this third visiting some friends in Adelaide, other than experiencing the CBD and Glenelg Beach.
Day 4: Mount Lofty - Hahndorf German Village - to the Grampians
From Adelaide to The Grampians, we stopped by Mount Lofty and Hahndorf.
You can see an overall view of Adelaide from Mount Lofty.
Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills
Hanhdorf is Australia's oldest surviving German settlement. Here you'll find some buildings/shops that was built in the 1800s. Walk along the main street, visit shops and have coffee while you're there.
Day 5: The Grampians - Daylesford - back to Melbourne
The Grampians is another national park in Victoria. Unfortunately, due to heavy rain the previous week, many of the major attractions were closed due to landslide. Nonetheless, you can visit other accessible places like Halls Gap, Lake Bellfield, and Brambuk the National Park and Culture Centre.
Lake Bellfield, Grampians
Cultural Centre, Grampians
On your way back to Melbourne, you can stop at Daylesford to rest for a bit. Daylesford is known for its mineral spring water, so take the chance to taste some of those water.
Food for Traveling:
We didn't eat out during our trip to Adelaide, as my road trip mates were very much well-prepared with some delicious home-cooked food. Here's a tip that we can share for fellow WWM friends planning to do a road trip. You can pre-cook the food, then freeze them. During your trip, bring a cooler and fill it with ice to store your frozen food. When you get to your accommodation, you can reheat them or continue to store them in the freezer, and repeat the process as you need. All of the place that we stayed - caravan park and motels - had microwave oven, so reheating will be no problem.
If you want to eat out, you can get a list of Halal-eateries in Adelaide from here.
So there we go, a Melbourne-Adelaide Road Trip: crossing landscapes, towns, lakes, sinkholes, hills, caves, city, beach, summit, and nature - in 5 days. Do share with us your road trips as we would love to hear from our fellow walkers out there :)