After surviving the desert, it was time to head south and begin our road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne…this is our story:
Day 25: Here we go again, part 2
After landing in Adelaide and picking up our rental car, we got on the road to head to Kangaroo Island, our first stop on the road trip. But, after about 30 minutes, we noticed a teeny, tiny, little problem…the Google directions indicated we were supposed to take a ferry–something Ben didn’t account for when planning this road trip. As the passenger, I frantically Googled information on Kangaroo Island, the ferry, alternative routes, etc, and we soon came to a very sad conclusion: there was no way we were making it to Kangaroo Island. The last ferry out there was booked (unless we wanted to leave the car behind but that wasn’t an option), and we only had a single hotel night out there, so we just needed to scrap that plan. We were disappointed, but this trip has already made me so zen that I basically just laughed and then we sat in the car on the side of the road trying to find another place to sleep that night. Luckily, there was availability at a nearby hotel–a country club to boot!–so we didn’t have to sleep in the car. The McCracken Country Club was in need of a refresh, but ultimately a great last minute find, especially for $65/night! We were too tired to go find dinner elsewhere and decided to eat there…and I somehow managed to roll a pair on some dice and got my meal for free! Plus we had gotten coupons from the front desk for two free drinks + $25 towards food…we ended up paying like $3 for dinner? WIN. After our very #firstworldproblem stressful day, we went to use the hotel’s indoor, heated pool and hot tub as a reward. Life is so hard.
Day 26: Rain, rain, go away…until you do, we’ll drink
After a quick breakfast, given the thwarted plans for Kangaroo Island and the tragic rainy weather, we decided to spend the day enjoying the alcoholic beverages of the McLaren Vale region of Australia–and what a great day indeed. We stopped by D’Arenberg Winery first and got to enjoy a taste of countless wines (sparkling wines, whites, reds, and dessert wines) in a very relaxed setting. Our very favorite was their sparkling red wine, called Peppermint Paddock, and we bought a bottle to enjoy somewhere along the road trip. Then we went on to Fox Creek Winery, and while the wines were good, they weren’t as wonderfully delicious as those we tried at D’Arenberg for the most part…this was our punishment for starting at the best. That said, their Postmaster red blend was quite good, so we got a bottle of that in the end. We also got ourselves a meat and cheese plate there for lunch (lest we get drunk from too much tasting!) and it was very yummy–fully recommend it!
After a quick afternoon coffee/Coke Zero break at The Tin Shed, we decided to switch things up and head to a local brewery, Goodieson. They make quite a few beers for such a small, local operation and we enjoyed most of them (some were a bit too hoppy or dark for my taste), but our favorite was their Barrel Aged Stout, which they only make in small quantities. I typically hate stouts but this one was delish. We bought a large bottle for the road as well–sensing a pattern? We clearly can’t control ourselves.
Afterwards we grabbed dinner at Giovanni’s Ristorante & Pizzeria (after all those drinks, I had a hankering for some pizza), which was on the route to our hotel. The pizza was decent, but it was no New York slice…I’m really going to have to get over my food homesickness. That night’s motel (yes, motel with an “m”, the location of far too many Criminal Minds episodes) was pretty decent for a basic accommodation, but my favorite part? Mattress heating pads! Such a cozy sleep.
Day 27: Cows and sheep and cows and sheep
Something I didn’t realize ahead of time? This part of the country has a LOT of pasture land, so our scenery for most of the day’s drive was field after field of cows and sheep and cows and sheep and cows and sheep. We made some pit stops along the way, for gas, food, and coffee, but ultimately it was a pretty uneventful day.
Day 28: So many kangaroos!
Today’s #brekkie is worth mentioning–we stopped at Metro Cafe in Mt. Gambier, South Australia for a bite before starting our very busy day, and it did not disappoint (except for their Wifi…that totally sucked). I got the classic Bacon & Eggs on sourdough toast, and it was #MmmMmmGood; Ben, being the total #millennial that he is, got Avocado on Rye. The croissants looked so good that we got a couple to go for the next morning (good idea on our part because they were, in fact, delicious).
After stuffing our faces, we headed to our first stop of the day: Umpherston Sinkhole. Every sane part of my brain was thinking ‘Hmm, probably not a good idea to go visit a famous hole in the ground that could very well suck you in to your death at any moment’, but the tourist in me won–and I’m glad. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and something worth detouring for if you’re ever in the area. Somehow, they managed to turn a scary geological phenomenon into a Garden of Eden-like place. I could imagine myself sitting in there for hours reading a good book, which is saying something. I bet it’s gorgeous in the summer when the flowers are blooming.
Afterwards we headed to the infamous Blue Lake, which, as the name might imply, has a gorgeous blue color during certain times of the year. We went during the off season (when it normally appears gray), so we weren’t expecting much, but I think we got a good glimpse of that infamous blue color:
Next up: The Princess Margaret Rose Caves. There’s a cool story about how these caves were found, but I’ll leave that for you to find out when you make it out here for a visit. Ton of stalactites, stalagmites, and helictites to see here, all really incredible:
As we were leaving the caves for our next stop, Ben managed to spot a huge herd of kangaroos that were well camouflaged in the grass on the side of the road! Here’s an adorable picture of a couple who popped up to look at us:
We then slowly made our way to Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve before heading to our Airbnb and hit the wildlife jackpot. Though totally unplanned, we arrived there shortly before sunset, just in time to see all of the animals come out to play. We saw kangaroos, wallabies, emus, rabbits, swans, and plenty of other birds…what a perfect stop! Ben already posted some of the pictures, but they’re so good that I’m posting them again:
And my favorite part:
Once it was dark, we headed to our Airbnb in Warrnambool, a town whose name I still can’t pronounce right 50% of the time. (Btw, this is a great place to stop if taking a similar road trip…it has more than 2 places to eat!) I have to admit to a small tragedy that occurred on the way…I hit a bird with the car 😔 In my defense, it was dark and raining by that point, and the dumb bird walked RIGHT in front of our car as I was driving by. I was slightly traumatized but got over it a bit when I realized it was an Australian magpie and not a rare, endangered species. Now that I’ve read this, my guilt has subsided even more.
Our Airbnb was a private room in a house belonging to an older, retired couple who were very kind. They recommended their favorite Thai restaurant, Cattleya, for dinner, and it did not disappoint. In fact, I may go out on a whim here and say that this was officially the best Thai food I’ve ever had in my life. We had the Chicken Spring Rolls as an appetizer, and they were good but not magical. However, my Thai Fried Rice with Green Curry & Chicken and Ben’s Red Duck Curry were to die for (I took Ben’s word for his since duck is on the very long list of things I don’t eat #pickyeater). If this is what I’m to expect once we get to Thailand, I can’t wait.
Day 29: Finally, the Great Ocean Road
One major benefit of coming to South Australia in the winter? It’s whale season! We were told that a mother and calf had picked Logan’s Beach in Warrnambool as their temporary home, so we made a pit stop there before getting on the road, and sure enough we saw them! The weather was horrible (cold, windy, and rainy, even hailed at one point!), but we managed to enjoy them for a bit. Here’s one of them, belly up, I think:
Australia’s Great Ocean Road is a ~150 mile/240 km stretch of road between Warrnambool and Torquay with gorgeous ocean views and great stops along the way (similar to the Road to Hana). There are tons of posts out there about it already so we won’t reinvent the wheel here. Plus, because of the tragic weather, we weren’t able to make some of the stops, so we aren’t necessarily the example to follow. That said, we did make some key stops worth noting:
Childer’s Cove: This was just a quick stop because it was way too windy, but it was a beautiful cove and looks like it would be a totally amazing beach to hang out at in warm weather.
Bay of Islands: This was our first opportunity to really get a look at the limestone formations that are so common in this area of South Australia. An employee at a Visitor Center earlier in our trip told us to stop here so that we could enjoy them without all the tourists (as you normally find at the more popular Twelve Apostles stop), and I’m glad we did. It was still too cold to stay out for as long as I would have liked, but again, probably a great stop in the warmer months. (We sadly had to skip the infamous Twelve Apostles stop because of the weather–it was pouring–but that’s just a good excuse to come back!)
Wreck Beach: This is one of the less known stops along the Great Ocean Road and also one of the harder ones to get to, but it sounded so cool (a beach with anchors from old shipwrecks) that we had to try. We bundled up and prepared for the trek down the 300+ steps there and encountered some serious ‘puddles’ along the way that made it nearly impossible to make it. Ben managed to hop all the way down (I got halfway before I had to stop to avoid completely soaking my shoes) and took some great shots, but we weren’t able to walk down the beach to the actual anchors as we had originally planned because of the high tide…wompwomp. Still really cool and 100% worth a try in the summer months or even in the winter if it hasn’t rained recently.
Marriner’s Lookout: I wasn’t too keen on this stop (ok, let’s be honest, Ben basically had to guilt me to the top) because of the rain, but the views were pretty great (I was too grumpy at the time to admit it):
And THEN, after this, we saw the greatest. double rainbow. EVER.
Teddy’s Lookout: We had to drive up a pretty terrifyingly steep hill to get here, but the views from this lookout point were amazing too (and there were still some rainbow remnants!):
Split Point Lighthouse: There were other lighthouses along the way but we didn’t have time to stop at them all and chose this one simply because of convenience. We got there too late to do a tour and go to the top, but it was pretty nonetheless. Plus, the views from behind the lighthouse were pretty fantastic too.
All in all, a successful visit to Australia’s Great Ocean Road despite the crap weather. I look forward to doing this again in the summer sometime!
Our Airbnb that night was in Torquay, just a short drive (1.5hr) from Melbourne, our next stop. More on that next time!