Driving from Adelaide to Melbourne

Great Ocean Road Travel Blog

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We arrived in Adelaide Sunday evening which gave us enough time to check into our hotel before walking over to a main restaurant strip. Adelaide is pretty small and has wide streets in a grid pattern so you can see all the way through the city to the hills that surround it. It feels very quiet compared with Sydney, but the good thing about it is that it is surrounded by lots of good wine/food regions.

 

The next morning I searched really hard for a decent café and Barb spent some time at the Art Gallery of South Australia which she really enjoyed. We picked up our rental car around noon and headed off for the historic Penfolds Magill Estate Winery on the eastern edge of the city.

Monday is a good day to visit wineries because there are almost no tourists. After a tasting at Penfolds we set off for the Mclaren Vale region further south-east.

 

We actually ended up going the wrong direction for a while but then got back on course and made it to Mclaren Vale in time for a tasting and to book in at Serafino winery for accommodation and then visit Hugh Hamilton winery too. Mclaren Vale is smaller than the nearby Barossa Valley and has more boutique wineries. I’ve also been told the landscape is prettier. It is fairly hilly and there are a number of interesting shops and cafes besides the wineries. Hugh Hamilton’s cellar door was circular, situated in the vineyards and had windows all around so it was very spectacular.

 

After a quick brekkie on Tuesday, we visited d’Arenberg winery and then Coriole winery which was recommended to me. Coriole had a really beautiful English garden and was more “off the beaten path.” Since that winery supports the arts, Barb bought a book of poetry from them and we also had some of their delicious olives. (A lot of smaller wineries also grow olives.) Somebody there recommended we visit Samuel’s Gorge winery which was another we wouldn’t have found on our own.

It had a rustic feel and felt a bit like a museum in the cellar door.

 

That afternoon we had a long drive through South Australia before we made it to the coastal town of Robe. The drive took us through some really barren ground without any farms or anything for a very long time. We did pass some pink salt lakes which were beautiful though. Robe is a pretty, quaint town and we had no trouble finding accommodation that overlooked the sea. It reminded both of us of Maine a bit. We were also able to get some really good fish and chips for dinner.

 

In the morning we checked out their main street and an old bookstore then drove round the coast to get some photos of their iconic beacon. I really had to force Barb to leave because I knew there was a lot left to see. Our next stop was the Coonawarra wine region directly east. This region is a bit smaller and flatter but has some well known wineries like Wynns. Besides Wynns, we visited Leconfield, Magella and Balnaves which won 2008 winery of the year by James Halliday.

 

We then had to drive due south to Mt Gambier.

Mt Gambier is built around old volcanos, so we drove up to the crater of one which now contains the very vibrant Blue Lake. After stopping here it was long before we crossed into the next state of Victoria. As we were more or less along the coast at this point, we passed more towns. We stopped for a photo near Warrnambool at a cheese factory and museum and then again to get a photo of the entrance to the Great Ocean Road district.

 

It was when we arrived in the town of Port Fairy that I was really glad we had pushed ahead. Port Fairy had even more charm than Robe and really nice restaurants. Barbara had bought a lonely planet guide so was able to read up on what all these towns had to offer. We got a great deal on a b&b that was right by the sea – we each had separate rooms with king beds, a big bathroom, lounge, kitchen and massive balcony all to our selves. Neither of us wanted to leave that place.

 

On Thursday, still in Port Fairy, we stopped at this really nice Art Gallery/Seaside Café where I had the best breakfast ever – fresh squeezed juice and salmon frittata with caper berries.

It was only about an hour before we got to Port Campbell where the famous 12 Apostles are. Leading up to this site are a number of cliff rock formations with names like the London Bridge and the Grotto. The cliffs are receding every year so the rocks do change in shape as parts collapse.

 

We continued along the coast until we got closer to the tip of the Great Ocean Road and Otway National Park. You really get thick into the woods here and it is very hilly and the road is very windy. At the end of the afternoon we turned off on a side road to the very point where the cape Otway lighthouse is. This was good because until this point the only wild kangaroo Barb had seen was the roadkill. Within the space of a minute on this road we saw a koala with its baby and then a wallaby with baby in pouch. We also had to stop for cattle crossing the road.

We looped around this cape and then headed back to the main road to stop in Apollo Bay for the night.

 

Apollo Bay was the beginning of a beautiful long strip of beach towns in which we were continuously driving on just the edge of a winding shore line with spectacular views. We had a clear day so the blue of the water was really stunning especially against the rust colour of some of the roads.

 

We stopped in Lorne for a swim and a beer on the beach. The water was cool and calm. There were some amazing properties in Lorne with houses perched high above the beach. From Lorne it wasn’t that far to Melbourne so we drove pretty direct the rest of the way.

 

We arrived Friday evening in Melbourne and after checking into our hotel on Albert Park, I took Barb to see the St. Kilda district which is my favourite part of Melbourne.

The restaurant/bar selection here is endless. We had a seafood dinner and then a long walk back to the hotel through the park.

 

On Saturday I had an early morning swim at the hotel and then we went for breakfast on Degraves street which is this tiny pedestrian lane that’s lined with cafes. Afterward we went to the massive Queen Victoria Markets and then back to Federation Square where the National Gallery of Victoria is. Barb really enjoyed this Gallery so we stayed a while and then walked around until dinner at one of my favourite restaurants Gingerboy. The food is served tapas style but the cuisine is South East Asian street hawker and interior is really modern and interesting. We caught the tram back to the hotel after dinner for an early night and we flew back to Sydney early Sunday morning.

 

It was a great trip that covered a lot of ground. It really is amazing the infiniteness of Australia’s beautiful coastline and beaches.
I would definitely love to go back to Port Fairy and see the other wine regions around Adelaide.
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Hugh Hamilton winery
Hugh Hamilton winery
Coriole winery
Coriole winery
Samuels Gorge winery
Samuel's Gorge winery
Samuels Gorge winery
Samuel's Gorge winery
Coriole winery
Coriole winery
Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne
Esplanade, Melbourne
Esplanade, Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne
Degraves st
Degraves st
Melbourne
Melbourne
Federation Square, Melbourne
Federation Square, Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne
55,583 km (34,538 miles) traveled
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Great Ocean Road
photo by: Morle