Great Ocean Road and South Australia Wrap Up

The scope of this portion of the trip evolved greatly over the course of planning for the trip.  At first, it was nothing…maybe a day trip on the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne.  Then it was drive the Great Ocean Road in a day to Adelaide and do day trips from there to Kangaroo Island and the Barossa Valley.  It didn’t take me too long to figure out that was a horrible idea.

The final itinerary ended up at 7 nights, and I’m glad it did.  This was one of my favorite portions of the trip (especially South Australia).  Alyce really liked it too, though it may have lost a point or two in her book for being more rustic.


The Great Ocean Road (“GOR”) is a 150 mile coastal highway commissioned by Australia to put soldiers returning from World War I to work.  It is also the world’s largest war memorial, being dedicated to soldiers that passed in WWI.

The GOR connects several coastal towns along the coast of Victoria, most of which subsist on money brought in from GOR tourism.  The GOR swerves along the coast with plenty of lookouts and attractions to stop and visit.

South Australia is not geographic description but the name of one of the 6 Australian states.  It’s capital is Adelaide, and the population of the entire state is 1.6 million…which is very small when you consider that it’s size (by area) is about the same size as California and Texas combined.  Plus, 1.2 Million of the 1.6 Million reside in Adelaide.  For reference, Louisiana’s population is nearly 3 times larger at 4.6 Million.

We heard several times in South Australia that it was free settled.  What does that mean?  The rest of Australia was settled by convicts who were shipped there from England.  South Australians chose to move there on their own volition.  I guess that’s why the South Australians seemed extra friendly (amongst an already friendly country).

Getting out on the road and seeing a small portion of Australia (it really is a huge country) was something I’m very happy we did.  Seeing the cities are really neat, but getting out on the road is where you truly get a feel for a place like this.

Day 1 (Apollo Bay)

We woke up and went and ate breakfast for the last time at the Park Hyatt Melbourne.  Then we finished packing, and I set out to walk to get our rental car.

We rented from Hertz, who was fine.  They gave us a brand new Toyota Camry for our rental car…literally, brand new.  The car had 10km (6miles) on its odometer.

I drove back to the hotel without any issues (driving in cities always makes me a little more nervous).  We loaded our stuff, and were off.

Not too far outside of Melbourne, we took a quick detour to Shadowfax wines.  This area isn’t too famous for producing wine, but James Halliday (the wine critic of Australia) spoke highly of this place, so I figured we could give it a shot.

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Shadowfax was a nice quick stop.  They poured all of their wines for us and several were very good.  We even tried a red sparkling wine—not rose but a deep red.  Apparently red sparkling wines are all the rage amongst the casual drinkers in Australia….I wasn’t a huge fan.  We bought a bottle of (non-sparkling) red to take with us – on top of the bottles we brought from New Zealand.

Another hour or so of driving and we had made it to the GOR.  There wasn’t a grand sign or anything.  You’re just on it.  Though, they did eventually have a nice sign.


We drove the road, which was curvy at times, and stopped at several beaches and lookouts along the way to take pictures.  We reached our destination for the night – Apollo Bay – around 5:00.

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Our home for the night was the Beachfront Motel.  It was ok, certainly nothing fancy.  My only complaints were no internet or air conditioning.  Alyce called it camping; I’m convinced she has no idea what camping is.


We walked the main road through town trying to scout a place to grab a bite to eat.  We ended up somewhere that was pretty blah.  I don’t even remember the name.

Walking back we stopped at the IGA (a nice Australian grocery chain) for some drinks/snacks and were very impressed with the meat and cheese selection.  Had we seen that earlier, we absolutely would have just picked up some meat and cheese for dinner (to go with our surplus of wine).

After getting back to the room, I set out to walk and take some pictures.  This night had what may have been the most impressive sunset of the trip.  I snapped some shots then went back to the room…Where we opened a bottle of wine to attempt to put a dent in our supply and drank some while watching Sopranos.

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Day 2 (Mt. Gambier)

We were up early and on the road for 10:00 a.m. with a lot of ground to cover and a lot of things to see.

This stretch of the GOR had several of the better known attractions.  We also had another 2 hour stretch to get to our destination after the end of the GOR.

Not long after leaving, we took a detour to see a lighthouse – which turned out to be a complete bust when they wanted $20 a person just to see it…..Nope.  I knew there was a fee, but I thought it would be something reasonable.

The detour wasn’t a complete bust though, as we saw plenty of wild koalas hanging out in the trees on the road to the lighthouse.  We didn’t get to hold them, but seeing koalas in the wild was much more exciting than seeing in a zoo.

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Back on the GOR, we reached the 12 Apostles, which is probably the biggest attraction on the GOR.  It is a beautiful stretch of coast with 12 giant limestone pillars that are what’s left of hundreds of thousands of years of the Southern Ocean eroding the shore away.  It was a pretty cool spot.

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We stopped at several other named sites along the rest of the GOR – London Bridge, The Arch, among others.  It was a nice drive getting to the end of the GOR with plenty of scenery.

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Past the town of Warrnambool, we were no longer on the GOR.  This was pretty much a highway drive to Mount Gambier, where we’d be staying at the Barn hotel.

Mount Gambier is known for its blue lake.  We unfortunately did not make it to the lake…Honestly, we just forgot about it until we were on our way to Coonawarra….This was a pretty long day.

After a solid 8 hours of driving and exploring, we were finally at the Barn.  I ended up really liking this hotel.  I thought the room was very well laid out, which is often more important than pure size.  The hotel grounds were also pretty nice, and we took advantage of the laundry facilities.  Plus, we had internet and air conditioning.

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Dinner plans were to just walk to the hotel steakhouse, which we did.  I got the 28 oz rump steak, which was their specialty.  Alyce got a filet.  All of the meat was very good.  My steak was huge, but I managed to get it down.


Despite really not feeling like it, we did laundry after dinner (this was a long day).  This would be our last opportunity to use a washer dryer on our own for the rest of the trip, so we would have been fools to pass.

Once the laundry was all finished, we called it a night and got some needed rest.

Day 3 (Coonawarra)

Today, we had just a quick hour or so drive to Coonawarra allowing us to get in a pretty full day of wine tasting.  This was the main reason for grinding out the extra two hours to Mt. Gambier the day before.

Checking out of the Barn was quick and easy, and we were in Coonawarra before we knew it.

Coonawarra is a “moderate to warm” wine region, which was a surprise to us because it was pretty damn hot while we were there (mid 90’s during the day in the middle of harvest).  Though, that apparently was an unusual hot spell.  Barossa valley is considered a hot climate for reference.

Cabernet is the varietal most associated with the region.  The region produces a cabernet styled somewhere between a Bordeaux and a Napa Cab…probably a little closer to Napa in style.  Plenty of other grapes are grown in the region as well; we tasted some nice Shiraz’s and Merlots.

Part of what makes Coonawarra a world class wine region is its “terra rossa” soil – or red dirt/clay.  The region has a pretty interesting story as to how it formed, but you just need to know that it the dry red dirt that gives the red grapes its concentrated flavor.

Along with McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra produces Australia’s best red wines.  So, we were pretty excited to start tasting our favorite style of wine (after the cooler style of New Zealand – which we ended up really liking as well), and it did not disappoint.

Our first tasting was at Parker Coonawarra Estate.  The tasting here was either complimentary or was a small nominal fee waived with purchase.  I don’t remember which, but it was this way pretty much everywhere we tasted in Australia – and New Zealand as well, Waiheke excepted.


The pourer here was a friendly lady; she poured their lineup for us.  All of the reds were good.  We particularly enjoyed the merlot, which we bought to take with us.  We were also somewhat surprised to taste some good white wines here, similar to how we were surprised by how good the red wines were in New Zealand.

The Coonawarra region is pretty small, due to the limited distribution of the terra rossa soil.  As such, our next stop Majella Wines was pretty close by.  We really enjoyed all the wines we tasted in Coonawarra, but Majella may have been our favorite.  We bought an excellent cabernet to bring with us.

Between tastings we stopped for a lunch at Fodder, which is known for their pizza…so we had to give it a shot.  Even Alyce ate pizza for lunch today.  It was good and reasonably priced.  Not a bad spot to stop for lunch.


Penley Estate was our final planned tasting for the day.  Penley had a more interesting tasting room than the others.  The wines here were very good too, and we bought another cabernet for the road.

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After a big lunch, we did not need a huge dinner.  We decided to rectify our mistake of a couple nights back (Apollo Bay dinner) and go to the IGA for some meats and cheeses.  They had a nice selection, and we loaded up for our dinner at our accommodation.


Our accommodation for the night was Highbank’s Room with a View.  This was a neat little cottage in the middle of vineyards, and – as you’d expect from the title – it had great views.  The cottage is two floors and can be rented in its entirety, or you can just rent the second floor (as we did).

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We enjoyed the cottage.  It had most things you needed – except internet.  It did have AC, but it struggled to keep up with the heat until it cooled down outside.  The owner (Dennis) is from the US and was very friendly.  He has been working in the Australian wine industry for quite some time now; Highbank is a wine he makes.

He stopped by that evening, and we chatted for a while.  It was very interesting to listen to his insight/perspective on the Coonawarra wine region and Australian wine in general.

We ate up our meats and cheeses, then I went outside to take some pictures.  The night ended with a viewing of a couple Sopranos episodes.


Day 4 (Kangaroo Island)

Kangaroo Island…A little island just off the coast of Southern Australia; it seemed very intriguing when I first noticed it in planning.  It is supposed to be pretty natural and untouched, as well as having great wildlife.  Plus, I always enjoy going to places a little more off the beaten path.  But, this was a good ways off the regular path.

I first looked into doing a day trip from Adelaide.  Tours of this type are offered, and we saw the vans coming off of the ferry as we were leaving…But you’re doing it wrong if you experience Kangaroo Island this way.

Then I looked at 2 nights, and that wasn’t really worth the hassle and expense of getting there either.  It seemed like 3 nights was the minimum to make it worth it.  I wouldn’t recommend less, and I would have loved to have had a week to spend there…

The Room with a View had come with some nice breakfast provisions – bacon, eggs, bread, butter.  We got up early and ate breakfast.  We were on the road before 10:00 a.m., which was good because we had a ferry to catch.

It was a pretty long drive to the ferry from Coonawarra – roughly 5 hours.  We passed through hills and vineyards.  I would have loved to have stopped at one or two if I had known for sure we’d have time.

We arrived at the ferry dock about 90 minutes before departure and killed some time by watching a TV show on the Ipad.  When it came time to board, Alyce had to walk on while I drove the car on the ferry.  They do it this way because they pack the cars on the ferry very closely…so much so that the passenger may not even be able to open the door.

And on the subject…only certain car rental companies allow you to take your car on the ferry to Kangaroo Island.  Be sure to check the terms and conditions of the rental company; I know Hertz allowed at the time we rented.

The ferry ride itself was about 45 minutes from the time it left.  This ferry was much smaller than the ferry in New Zealand; it was more of what you picture a ferry to be but in pretty good condition.

Having made it to the island, we still had almost another 2 hours to go in addition to stopping at the grocery.

The IGA grocery stores had impressed us so far with their selection; I had seen one in Parndana (a smaller town on the way to our rental) and assumed we could get what we needed there and not have the groceries sitting in the car for too long.

Pulling of the main road in to Parndana was kind of strange.  It was like pulling in to a ghost town; we did not see a soul.  I was pretty nervous that the grocery store would be closed, despite confirming it was open with the visitor center upon arriving to Kangaroo Island.

It was open, but the selection was pretty barren and mostly non-perishable items.  This was potentially a problem, as our only option for eating at the rental was to cook our own meals.

Fortunately, the lady who owned the store was very friendly.  She walked us around and pointed out stuff we could use.  She also said they had a couple more items in the back.  I don’t think their selection is ever that vast, but this was a holiday weekend and the store had been mostly cleared out.

We left with a roasted chicken, lots of eggs, bacon, ham, cream, coffee, and spaghetti sauce.  As we were checking out, we chatted with the lady who owned the store.  She said they had moved here to raise their kids away from the mean streets of…Adelaide?

I explained that, compared to where we come from, people would be moving to Adelaide for the far safer, more laid back environment.  She laughed and agreed, but Kangaroo Island worked for them.  I certainly wouldn’t object to spending more time there.

Another hour of driving, and we were on unpaved roads.  This was the start of directions by odometer from the retreat owners.  We were going way off the beaten path in the off the beaten path location.  I was once again wondering if I had gone too far in planning…Nope.  Continuing with the general theme of a little extra journey being worth it, there was no doubt that it was here.

Winding our way through a farm and some locked gates, we finally arrived at Cape Forbin Retreat after a long day of traveling.  This was the view when arrived (not that the picture does it justice):


The retreat itself was pretty isolated.  This made me hesitant when booking, but it was also the factor that won me over in the end.  The retreat owners (who live in Adelaide and use the retreat as a weekend/holiday home, renting it when their not using it) were very helpful in answering any questions we had.

The retreat was far away from any stores – or even the main highway.  We did not get any cell service in the house; there was some reception up on top of the nearby hill.  All electricity was supplied from solar panels or the backup generator, so you had to conserve it.  Water came from captured rain water, so conserving was necessary there too.  There was no AC, and the power would go out in the middle of the night when the solar battery would run out.

Yet, this was without a doubt my favorite individual place of the trip.

I could have spent a week there without leaving the property.  There were plenty of trails to walk and things to do.  Or if you’re more of a beach bum; this was your private beach:

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We were immersed in wildlife like nowhere else we went on this trip – or anywhere I’ve ever been.


The night sky contained more stars than I had ever seen; it was even more impressive than the Maldives would be.


Alyce really liked the retreat too, though she struggled a little more with the wilderness aspect of it than I did…Remember, it was only a couple of days prior that we were staying in the Ambassador Suite of the Park Hyatt Melbourne.

The retreat itself, had a very nice deck with a table and a gas grill.  Inside there was a nice living area and dining area.  The kitchen was well equipped.  There was a bedroom downstairs and a couple beds in the upstairs loft.

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The retreat did have one modern amenity, and it was the one we treasured above all others at this point…Internet.  There was satellite internet/wifi, which worked without issue the entire time we were there (other than the brief power outages while waiting for the generator to kick in).  Without internet (and phone service), we never would have stayed there.

After we unpacked the car, we popped open some white wine – we had a lot of drinking to do at this point.  Alyce made the spaghetti and chicken we had bought along with some rice noodles we had left from New Zealand.

Just when we were getting ready to eat, a visitor showed up – a wallaby.  I knew the likelihood of seeing some wildlife was high, but I didn’t realize it would be so soon – and so close.


The owners left a jar of grain to feed the wallabies, but cautioned you to not feed them more than a handful so as to not disturb their regular feeding patterns.  We did our best to oblige…Alyce may have snuck our favorite wallaby (nicknamed Fatty) an extra handful or two over the trip.  This could help explain Chunk’s current physical state.  Speaking of which, Fatty really reminded us of Chunk.

Before long, there were wallabies and kangaroos all over the place.  Only a few came right up to the cabin, but the rest were not too far away.  We switched to red wine and had dinner with the wallabies/kangaroos out on the porch while watching the sun set.


Then it got dark…and I mean dark.  You don’t realize how much light the blinking light on the back of router puts out (even two rooms over) until it is the only light in the house and it goes out.

The night sky was incredible to look at, though you couldn’t see where you were walking at all without a flashlight.


We watched a Sopranos episode before going to bed.  This wasn’t the best night of sleep I’ve ever had.  At one point a possum was beating on the windows trying to break in.  Fortunately, the owner warned us of this, otherwise I would have thought for sure a person was trying to break in.  I found him at one of the windows, and he was certainly a little thing to be making all that noise.

Shortly thereafter, the battery died and the power went out.  I literally couldn’t see my hand in front of my face at that point.  About 15 minutes later the generator kicked on, but it doesn’t kick straight in.  It cycles on and off several times before finally starting up for good.

Alyce slept through all the commotion – surprisingly.  I got some earplugs, which let me get some sound sleep.  I wore them all night for the next two nights and had no problems.

Day 5 (Kangaroo Island)

I was up pretty early, so I went outside and watched the sunrise while catching up on internet/blogging/working on pictures.  There were also some kangaroos out and about before disappearing for the day. It wasn’t a bad way to spend the morning.


Alyce was up before too long.  We ate a nice breakfast and then got a start on the day.

Today was going to be our day of exploring Kangaroo Island.  We planned to visit the major attractions in Flinders Chase National Park.  Even though it was not that far away distance wise, it took us about an hour to get there.

Flinders Chase required a modest entrance fee, and that got you a map and the friendly cashier to help you plan your activities for the day.  I had no problem paying the fee.

First, we stopped by the lighthouse and took some pictures.  That was followed up by walking the path to Admiral’s Arch.  The path had a lot of really neat coastal views along the way – including seals, which we had seen plenty of by this point.

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Next up was the second big attraction of the park: the Remarkable Rocks.  This is a giant rock formation perched up on a hill.  It was pretty neat; the rocks were huge.

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The park also had plenty of other trails we could have walked.  You can even try to spot a duck-billed platypus in certain areas of the park at dusk/dawn.

We drove back to the retreat and were popping open some white wine to help us cool down.  At this time, we had another visitor outside – a goanna.  A goanna is kind of like an iguana or giant lizard native to Australia.


The goannas like to be fed too…Unfortunately for him, his food of choice was meat – and there was no shot we were sharing any of that.  He was pretty persistent (also reminiscent of a certain obese bulldog when it comes to food), and – guess what – Alyce gave in gave him some chicken scraps from the roasted chicken carcass we had.DSC02263

This only made him more persistent.  He was climbing up the screen on the back door, creating all kinds of ruckus.  I left the door open with the screen door closed because it got warm without any air circulation.

A couple minutes had passed, and I noticed that our goanna friend wasn’t making any more noise.  I got up to see if he left. He had not…

He was in the house, having busted through a pretty thick screen door.  I started laughing; Alyce jumped on the sofa in no laughing mood at all.  I eventually set up a trail of chicken scraps out the back door, which he followed.  I informed Alyce that it was safe to venture down from the couch.


Everything was back to normal at that point – well mostly anyway.  Alyce poured herself a nice big glass of wine to ease the nerves.

Around dusk the wallabies and kangaroos start to come out of their hiding spots, the exception being fatty who is never that far away from the house.  The goannas are on the opposite schedule and head home for the night.


We ate dinner (leftover spaghetti) outside with the wallabies again.  It was another neat night.  I even tried to break out the telescope, but had no idea what I was doing as the instructions were in Russian…Apparently the owners are not too good with it either, wishing you the best of luck with the Russian instructions.

Day 6 (Kangaroo Island)

Today’s agenda was that there was no agenda.  We were hanging out at the retreat, and we each free to do as we pleased.

After a lazy morning, I set out to try out some of the walking paths and got some really cool views/pictures of the coast.  Alyce took it easy and watched My Cousin Vinny.

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It was pretty warm out, so I didn’t last too long.  I took a cold shower back at the condo to cool off, and followed that up with some white wine.  Alyce had started Father of the Bride, so I watched along while editing some pictures.

Fatty set a new record for showing up early this day.  He was “hiding” (I use the term loosely) in the bush right outside the house in the middle of the day.  If you walked outside, he would hop right up to see if you had anything for him; we refused telling him he needed to find his own food.

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The goannas passed by, but none was as in near as feisty of a mood as the goanna the day before.

We finished the movie and had a breakfast dinner followed by our best effort at putting a dent in our wine supply.  We did ok, but we still had two bottle left and would be stopping in a wine region the following day.


Before hitting the sack, I attempted to get some pictures of the night sky.  I had never tried this before, so I didn’t do too god of a job.  I would have been able to do much better with another night.

Day 7 (McLaren Vale)

We were up early and eating breakfast/packing to get a good start on the day.  Plus we had a ferry to catch.

Fatty was out this morning, we went out to say goodbye and gave him a going away present of some grain.   He ate it right up.


We timed the drive to the ferry pretty well and did not have too long of a wait. The drive to McLaren Vale from the ferry landing was only about an hour.

McLaren Vale is a “warm to hot” region…It was hot on the Justin scale.  Like Coonawarra, it is known for producing world class red wines.  It is probably the second most well-known wine region in Australia behind the Barossa Valley (located north of Adelaide).  You could even argue that it is the premiere wine region of Australia.

We had time for a tasting before a tour scheduled at Mollydooker.

Kay Brothers was a vineyard that supposedly produced some very good wine, so we decided to stop in for a tasting.  Upon arrival, we saw some barrels being delivered to the winery, which was a first.


Inside there was a really nice guy pouring wine.  He said he did some tours in Australia during his free time, and it showed.  He poured us plenty of their wine, all while telling us about a variety of subjects – from wine to Australia.


He even gave us tastes of a couple special wines they usually don’t pour, but were open because the critic from Robert Parker was there a day or two earlier.  They were very good…So good in fact I bought one to bring with us to Bali.  Overall, it was a great tasting experience, lasting about 75-90 minutes which is very long for just a tasting.

Next up was Mollydooker, which gave an actual tour in addition to the tasting – something that is pretty rare in AU/NZ.

We were given some bottles of water (because of the heat) and a bright orange vest (because we’d be getting right in the middle of the action) upon arrival.  It was the middle of harvest, so they were busy.  But this also provided us with some unique opportunities.

The tour started off in the vineyards, telling us about their growing/watering philosophy which was a new one on me.  From there we made our way to the sorting area and saw the workers in action.


Now for the really cool part.  We got to taste grapes fermenting at several steps along the process – some just started and some a week or two into fermentation.  We took our sample right out of the fermentation tank spout.  The wine (grape juice?) actually tasted pretty damn good at that point – like a nice sugary drink.  This surprised me as I guess I was expecting something not so pleasant.

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Next we moved to their lineup of current wines in holding tanks awaiting bottling.  We tasted through the entire lineup, including their high end wine  “Velvet Glove” which was surprisingly good for not even being bottled yet.


I thought we were done at this point.  Nope.  We and the British couple also on the tour were led back to the office to taste some wines from the bottle.  They opened and poured two of their nicer wines, which were very good as well.  We chatted while sharing some wine, and then it was time to go.

This is when the tour guide told us to pick which bottle of wine we wanted to take with us (both were ¾ full).  That was definitely a first.  The British couple passed on taking a bottle, so we left with over $100 of wine to drink (not that we were in need of it at this point).

So what did this really cool 2.5 hour, 2 bottle of wine tour cost?  Nothing.  I felt really bad that we did not buy a bottle to take with us, but I explained that we barely would be able to finish the wine they gave us.  They were unconcerned and told us to buy some Mollydooker wine back in the States (which is actually their primary market).

Since being home, we have noticed their wine at several shops and have bought some bottles of it.  Overall, this was one of our favorite wine tours we have ever done – and we’ve done a good bit.

We were getting hungry by this point and just wanted some good meats and cheeses, which we were able to pick up at the local grocery.  We shortly after arrived at our accommodation for the night, Amande Bed and Breakfast.

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This was not an actual B&B, but a duplex behind the owners main house amongst some vineyards.  It was a cute place – yep, that’s not a “me” description, but it fits.  The owners were a mid 30’s very friendly couple.  They offered to help us in whatever way we needed.

The room itself was perfectly fine.  It had a little kitchen and came with very good breakfast provisions.  There was also a nice balcony outside.

We ate our dinner and put as much of a dent in the two bottle Mollydooker gave us as possible.  We still had to pour out a decent bit the next day, which made me die a little bit inside.

Following dinner, we packed for our first flight in over a week, while watching a Sopranos episode.

GOR/KI Concluding Thoughts

This was a very enjoyable portion of the trip.  Although we’re city people at heart, we’ve learned through all this traveling that we really enjoy getting out on the road too.

The Great Ocean Road had some dramatic coastal scenery.  The towns were nice little towns, but they were nothing I’d go out of my way to visit just for the town itself.  They were mere stopping point along the GOR journey.

I had looked briefly at doing the Great Ocean Road as a day tour.  And while we did not do it that way, I think it could be done.  It would be a long day, buy you could mostly hit up the major sites then drive back to Melbourne on the much quicker inland route.  A tour bus (which I’m rarely a fan of) might not be a bad option here if you’re planning a day trip.

Is it worth the time to travel the Great Ocean Road?  I think it was, and it was no-brainer as part of the journey onward to South Australia.  If you’d be doing a round trip from Melbourne, it’s a little tougher call.  Basically, you could look at our pictures and think to yourself if you really want to see those scenes in person.  If you answer yes, then it’s worth; no, it’s not.  I’m glad we did it, but I don’t know that I’d go out of my way to do it again.


As far as the towns along the way, Apollo Bay was a fine stop.  If I were just doing the Great Ocean road then heading back to Melbourne, I’d probably spend a second night (if any) in Warrnambool.


We trucked on to Mt. Gambier because we were heading in that direction anyway.  Mt. Gambier was nice town.  I would’ve liked to at least glimpsed at the Blue Lake.  We also really like our hotel, The Barn.  I don’t know that I’d ever plan a trip to Mt. Gambier as a destination, but it was a very nice spot to stop at if in transit.

Coonawarra was a very good wine region.  It’s a little bit out of the way to get there from either Adelaide (~4.5 hours) or Melbourne (~5.5 hours) in a there-and-back sceneraio.  But, if you are transiting between the cities and like wine, it is absolutely worth stopping for a day or two.

I loved Kangaroo Island.  It had some great scenery and even some vineyards, which we did not visit.  But, the great thing about it is that you are truly immersed in nature in a pretty pristine region of Australia.  Australia realizes how unique this little island is and guards heavily what is allowed on the island in an attempt to keep it that way – for example, locals need a permit to take their dog to it.

If anyone reading this does ever make it to Kangaroo Island, I’d highly recommend that you find a rental a little more off the beaten path as opposed to staying in one of the towns.  I had considered staying in Kingscote, and I think we would have had a dramatically different experience had we done so…and not for the better.  The isolation and nature is the charm of the island.

I wished we had more time to spend on KI (as the Aussies call it).  When looking in to possible destinations for our next trip, South Australia/KI was the first possible return destination I looked in to, but I couldn’t make it work.

I could have spent a week alone at Cape Forbin Retreat.  That said, the island is deceptively large, and there is plenty to do all over it.

McLaren Vale produces some very good wine and is located just an hour outside of Adelaide.  We only had time for two stops, but we had one of our friendliest tastings anywhere here and the tour may have been the best tour we’ve ever been on.  I don’t know if everywhere would be as good as what we experienced, but I’d sure like to put that theory to the test someday.

Overall – and as I mentioned already – this was a great portion of the trip.  I felt like we were really starting to get in to some of the best that Australia has to offer – especially in South Australia.


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