Great Ocean Road To Adelaide

As our time away from Alice wound to a close, we spent the last two days driving into Adelaide and exploring the city. The drive from Naracoorte towards Adelaide is through rolling farm lands, but not a lot of tourist attractions until you get closer to the city. We stopped in Hahndorf for a quick lunch. The town was founded by German immigrants, a fact that is clearly a source of pride. It would definitely be worth a long day trip from Adelaide. The food was great (bratwurst, chocolate, and beer) and the shops looked interesting.

However, we did not have time to stop for long. We were on a mission. Our friend had an appointment to hold a koala at the Cleland Wildlife Park. You may remember us talking about Paul’s Place on our first vacation. Cleland Park is the more organized and coordinated version. Maggie got to hold a koala and pet a wallaby, a grey kangaroo, an echidna, a bandicoot, and an emu. We also saw some big red roos having a bit of a fight. It was a great place to spend several hours walking amongst the wildlife. After interacting with all of the animals, we drove to Adelaide and went out for Belgian beer and mussels before calling it a night.

We spent our last day exploring the city, starting with a tour of the Haigh’s chocolate factory. The tour was short, but it was neat to watch them make truffles and learn about the history of the company (plus, the free chocolate was excellent). We’re bummed that even though they have an online store, they won’t ship to the NT.

After the chocolate, we toured around the Art Gallery of South Australia. Ashley and Maggie were excited to see an exhibit on haute couture (Drew thinks it’s all meh) and a smaller one focusing on lace. From there, we stopped at the National Wine Centre and tasted some okay wines. They have all of the wine hooked into machines that dole out tastes (or glasses) and add it to a chipped card. At the end, you pay for what you drank. It’s an interesting system, but we found it hard to navigate through 100 wines when they were not grouped in any logical way (style, region, etc.). We finished up the day by strolling through the Botanical Gardens.

We head back to Alice tomorrow for a few more days of sight seeing before sending Maggie off to Sydney. Pictures from Adelaide are here and we’ll have more soon!


Great Ocean Road Day 3 – Port Campbell to Naracoorte

Today we left the ocean behind and turned inland for our trip up to Adelaide. Ashley is shockingly becoming a beach person, and she was quite sad to say good bye to the water (not to mention the beach combing opportunities).

We were up early to get to the Twelve Apostles for sunrise. These striking limestone rocks jut out from the shore in a remarkable fashion, and are a testament to wind, waves, and time. The sunrise was made extra spectacular by the extra clouds that blew in over night, although they put a bit of a damper on the rest of the day.

From there we saw, in order, Loch Ard Gorge (above), the Arch, London Bridge, and the Grotto. At each, the cliffs were an impressive and the sea pounding. It wasn’t quite raining at this point, but it certainly wasn’t sunny either, so we jumped back in the car and headed west.

We decided to stop for lunch (and one last look at the beach) in Port Fairy. It’s a cute town just past the end of the the true Great Ocean Road. There was a small farmers market, so Ashley bought a few pieces of jewelry, while Drew provisioned us with macarons for the rest of the journey.

From that point on, there was nothing between us and our cozy cottage but kilometers of highway. A long drive through the rain (yes, real rain!) mean that we did not hop out of the car to take pictures or stretch our legs. We did pull over for a quick glass of wine in Coonawarra, but nothing was tasty enough to take home. We’re in for another long day of driving tomorrow, but at the end of it is a koala experience and Adelaide! More pictures (especially of the sunrise) are here.

Great Ocean Road Day 2 – Apollo Bay to Port Campbell

After a good night’s sleep, we got up early to continue our vacation. Ashley walked along the beach and found several interesting shells and a handful of beach glass. After packing the car, we continued to drive west, into Great Otway National Park.

Our first stop was Maits Rest – a short hike through a rainforest studded with giant trees. It was nice and peaceful, especially as the undergrowth was full of giant ferns.

We next drove towards the Otway Lighthouse. The road there is well known for koalas, and there were lots of places to pull over and look. We found several spots with half a dozen hanging around, so we had a lot of fun taking pictures. One energetic koala slid halfway down his tree before deciding he liked it after all and climbed back up.

Melba Gully is another rainforest enclave, and we enjoyed this trek as well, although it had several steep patches to it. We’re pretty sure this sign is telling us to be careful not to slip, but it could also be telling us to party!

Next, we headed deeper into the park for Otway Fly. This is a treetop walk, so you end up 100 feet off the ground. It was definitely an experience to be up so high. Even though you know you’re secured to the steel pylons, when the wind is blowing it’s hard to tell if you are swaying or the trees are.

Our last stop was at the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. We tasted an excellent whisky and sat on the porch to enjoy some homemade ice cream to end the day. Now we’re hanging out in Port Cambpell for the night and planning our 12 Apostles visit for tomorrow. The rest of the pictures are here.

Great Ocean Road Day 1 – Torquay to Apollo Bay

It’s our first day traveling down the Great Ocean Road.  Built as an engineering project to employ soldiers returning from WW1, it runs from Melbourne to Adelaide. Technically the true “Great Ocean Road” only runs from Torquay to Warambool, but highways connect both cities. The road is a curvy thing that rides along the shore line, providing stunning views of the Southern Ocean as well as rolling green farmland.

We left Melbourne early enough to avoid rush hour traffic and arrived at Torquay around 9.  The town is famous for its surfing as well as being the birthplace of Quicksilver and Rip Curl. We pulled over for our first grand view of the ocean at Point Danger, which also stands as a memorial to honor fallen soldiers. Next, we zipped down the coast to check out Bells Beach, which is a world famous surfing hangout.
Anglesea is home to a golf course that has a court of kangaroos living on it (Yes dads, we went to the golf course. No, we didn’t play). Our friend Maggie is visiting, and she was super excited to see her first wild ‘roo.  She also got to see her first koala, kookaburra, and a bunch of parrots (more on that below).
We took a small detour and investigated the beach at the  Airey’s Inlet. The rocky beach reminded us of the beaches near Laguna in California. The tide was going out but the waves were breaking heavily on the rocks. It was great to take off our shoes and walk along the beach barefoot.
After a quick lunch in Lorne, we made our first foray into Great Otway National Park to check out Erskine Falls and Teddy’s Lookout. The fall was very dramatic and we enjoyed the giant ferns that surrounded it. We didn’t like the number of stairs we had to climb to get back up from the bottom however! Teddy’s Lookout was absolutely stunning – the picture at the top of the post is from our view there.
Our last stop before Apollo Bay (our destination for the night) was Kennett River. The caravan park there is known for having easy to spot koalas and for parrot feeding.  Everyone was excited to see a grey fuzzy bum up in the trees…until we brought out the birdseed.  The sulfur crested cockatoos got a bit too aggressive with Ashley, but the king parrots were very friendly.  All of us had several birds perched on us happily munching away at the available seed. Continuing the tradition of birds eating off of Drew’s head, Ashley decided his hat would make an excellent feeding bowl so a female parrot was very happy to sit and have a nice afternoon snack.
We made it into Apollo Bay after driving through more curving roads and breathtaking scenery. Tomorrow promises to be just as beautiful and exciting as we journey to Port Campbell. More picture of the day can be found here.