14 August 2015

Road trip Australia: Whyalla-Melbourne

On the Murray river
We left Whyalla and it's friendly people, knowing that we had less than two weeks left in Australia. Time to make the best of our last ten days of road tripping. We drove to Alford, about a 150km out of Adelaide, slept there and went into the city the next morning. Luckily, we heard that you can park for free for a couple of hours next to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and take the free tram to visit the city center. Australian cities are notoriously difficult with cheap parking options.

After more than two weeks in rural areas or even more remote landscapes, seeing and experiencing a city was nice. Even just buildings with more than one story were exciting. And the sheer amount of people and population density was overwhelming at first. We visited Adelaide Central Market first and then walked through smaller streets over to Rundle Mall, the city's pedestrian shopping area. As an art festival was happening that weekend as well, we could enjoy some nice performances before heading out of the city again.

A fine vintage from the Barossa valley
Back in Whyalla, we had a few discussions about our route between Adelaide and Melbourne. As we had plenty of time, we decided not to simply follow the coast, but head inland, follow the Murray river for a couple of days before heading down south towards Melbourne. The next day, after a good night's sleep next to Greenock, we drove onward through the Barossa valley, a famous wine region. As we didn't drink a lot during the previous we were eager to at least taste some more of the local vintages. As most of the wine tasting places were closed on Sunday, we stopped at a bottle shop and bought two local wines, a white and a red, in boxes of two litres. Yes, wine in a box is usually low quality in Europe and the US. But I already learned in Argentina and Chile that this doesn't need to be the case. Even respectable and tasty wines can be sold in a box. In a vacuumized plastic bag that sits in a box, to be more accurate. And the same goes for Australian wine. We definitely enjoyed our four litres of boxed wine. Especially as they came at the very affordable price of 13 AUD (9 EUR) per box.

In the Victoria high country
Loaded with wine, we drove through Blanchetown, Waikerie and Kingston on Murray and finally camped next to beautiful Lake Bonney. We followed the river and it's fertile agricultural shores for another three days before turning south around Yarrawonga. We swam in lakes and the river, ate plenty of fresh fruit and enjoyed life in Australia at it's best. As we started to miss mountains a bit, we headed to Tolmie, a little town in the foothills of the Southern Alps. We then used plenty of backroads to get to the start of the Great Ocean Road in Torquay.


Along the Great Ocean Road
Yes, the Great Ocean Road is touristy, but for us, it was worth every single mile of the journey. The only downturn was that we had to drive all of it in one day, as there are no free or affordable campsites along the road. So we drove all the way from Inverleigh, just outside Geelong, to Hawkesdale, 50km north of Warnambool. But the rock formations and coastal scenery was magnificent and we even managed to see some koala bears around Cape Otway. A big loop through the Grampians and Ararat finally brought us back to Melbourne, where we had to drop the car 30 days after picking it up in Perth.

Koala bear
We got to Melbourne on Monday afternoon and I immediately introduced Lisa to one of my Melbourne favourites: 4$ pizzas at Bimbo Deluxe. We both liked it that much after cooking ourselves for a month that we went there twice within two days! We planned to stay with a friend of a friend till Wednesday, but bad timing made it only possible to stay for one night. So the next morning we hurriedly looked for a hostel close to Southern Cross station, as this is where the buses to the airport leave from. Having found a hostel, we went to clean our car and return it. In the end, we didn't have much time to spend walking around the city. I didn't mind as I already spent almost a week in Melbourne back in early 2014 and Lisa got some cramps in her upper thigh so she wasn't too keen on walking. But well, we can always come back again.

4$ pizzas in Melbourne
We both enjoyed our road trip though Southern Australia very much and would love to discover more of this fascinating continent. For instance the whole North and Northern Queensland. But that's not for now. Australia is, together with New Zealand and other developed nations a travel destination that will still be accessible even in our seventies. So for now, we might venture to less accessible places and return down under once we're old!

More pictures from our road trip between Whyalla and Melbourne

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