It didn’t start well. We were due to drive out of Adelaide on Christmas day, so late afternoon on Christmas Eve (before we went out in the evening) I went to collect the car from the rental company near Adelaide airport. I had paid $350 for 5 days rental, but when I got there they informed me that I would have to pay another $430 for the one way drop! There was no mention of this on any of the paperwork I had, but I was told that this was always the case, so there I was at 5pm on Christmas eve being told I could only take the car if I paid the money – I tried complaining, but it was clear I had little choice. To make matters worse, the car they gave me was smaller than the one I had booked, and actually came from Melbourne, I took the car, but clearly I wasn’t going to let this drop.
Adelaide was the hottest city in the world on Christmas day, and we drove out in 40°heat. It’s all very well having air con, but when its that hot outside, you just cant get cool.
We drove on the highway to a place called Hanhdorf, a German settlers town, we didn’t stop, but it was very pretty, and quite Germanic, but unsurprisingly – not much going on.
It was Christmas day, but there wasn’t much snow to be seen, fortunately we passed some salt flats along the B1 coastal road, so we stopped for a festive photo!
We pushed on, the B1 was a very long road, it was very hot and there was little or no traffic, we drove for 20 minutes in one section without seeing another car (and I was pushing it).
Eventually, we had a stop on a beach town called Robe, this had a beautiful beach and there was a small crown of people enjoying an Aussie Christmas in the sun. We only stopped to have a look, then we pushed on to Beachport, where we made an unscheduled detour to go on the Bowman scenic drive, a short but beautiful drive along the cliffs, when we got back to Beachport to take a comfort break, the temperature dropped and a sea mist came in, a first for us and a breif respite from the heat.
Then on to our last stop – Millicent, our cabin home for the next 2 nights, and time for our Christmas dinner, tinned chicken and veg, as we couldn’t keep anything cold in the car, it was surprisingly – bland, but we’d been on the beech, seen salt flats and had an amazing 400km drive, so the microwavve xmas pud and a bottle of wine made it all seem better!
Boxing day. We set out for the town of Mt Gambia. Here we visited the Umpherstone sinkhole, a giant sinkhole that has been turned into a mini botanic garden, then on to the aptly named Blue Lake. The water turns a deep vivid blue for a few months every yeat, and nobody seems to know why.
We then drove to Mt Schank, a long extinct volcano, you park half way up, walk a steep path to the top for some amazing views, then if you want you can walk the entire rim – so we did, and I only had a couple of incidences of vertigo.
Then back to our cabin via a scenic drive in Millicent through a wind farm, which is better than it sounds.
Next day we drove to Stawell (pronounced stall) and the Grampians national park, by now the weather had changed and it was cool and wet. As we drove through the mountains we saw wild Emu’s, but no Kangaroos, we stopped at a few look outs and waterfall sights, but it was very busy, especially because of the school holidays.
Stawell was a very nice town, but our hotel was – basic (but then, we have a basic budget). We went on an early evening drive to hunt for kangaroos (with thoughts of the elusive tigers on our minds). Two minutes out we found them, getting up from a long hard kip under a tree.
Ever onwards, this time through the Grampians and Halls Gap for some breathtaking scenery, then on to Warnambool for our first Aussie backpacker hostel, which was really – rather good, but the kitchen got crazy busy at tea time, we mustered up a chilli and looked on enviously at the group of 4 German girls who managed to put together a beautiful looking feast. In the late evening we walked along the excellent front, for yet more beautiful views, then an early night.
Late afternoon Warnambool
The next day we started along the great ocean road, down through an amazing road, with multiple look out points. But it was busy, coach loads of tourists were everywhere, however the views were amazing and the Seven sisters were beautiful
We then detoured for one night to Lavers Hill and our stop at “Fauna Australia”. This is basic accomodation, but with a mini wildlife park attached, they have tiny wallabies, birds, bats, possums and more iportantly Koalas, that you can get up close to and feed. This was a lovely experience, but at night on the advice of the owner we went to Melba Gully at night, unortunately I forgot the torch so I had to use my phone which was rapidly running out of charge. 10 Minutes walk in the dark I turned the flashlight off and there they were, hundreds of glow worms, extremely beautiful and another first for us.
We made it back to the car in the dark, relatively unscathed other than a few insect bites, and hit the sack ready for our last day on the road.
Another big drive so we didn’t do too many stops and we had to make sure we got the car back on time in case we got hit with more charges. We did stop at the Great Ocean Road memorial arch, we thought it would be a natural rock at sea, we were wrong about that.
Then it was the final push into Melbourne city, we had an apartment on the north side of the CBD, we dropped our bags at our very nice studio apartment on the 24th floor, then I took the car back, again complaing about how I had been ripped off.
All in all a great 5 days, it was nice to be behind the wheel of a car, as road trips go, it was pretty good!
Oh and FYI – today (21st Jan), I got my money back from the rental company (yay!)