At the gateway to the Great Ocean Road lies the lovely city of Geelong. We arrived here after a long drive from Ballarat, and discovered a cute and relatively big city. After all, Geelong is the second largest Victorian city behind Melbourne.
It’s always better to have no expectations to avoid disappointment. This is possibly the biggest mistake we have made this year. Thinking that once 2020 will be behind us, Covid will be over and life will get back to some sort of normality. But 2021 proved us awfully wrong, and what we got was more of the same, if not much worse.
Grampians National Park is a nature reserve in Victoria, Australia. It’s known for its sandstone mountains, wildflowers and wildlife including echidnas and wallabies. Near the village of Halls Gap, the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre gives insight into local Aboriginal history and rock art.
Ballarat is a city in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia. What makes it attractive is its unique history – it was the center of a gold rush migration during the 19th century. Not far from the city centre is Sovereign Hill. It is an open-air museum which depicts Ballarat’s first ten years after the discovery of gold. However, this is not a typical museum. As a replica of the town during the Victorian gold rush days, it comes alive with real characters from the old days, taking all visitors back in time.
While Melbourne is one of the two big cities in Australia, it does have a magical feel to it if you dare to explore. We started with a cruise on the Yarra River that goes across the city suburbs, under monumental bridges and giant commercial ports. We ended up back where we started, close to Federation Square and its numerous art galleries, walked past the streets of the busy central business district and hopped on and off the trams.
Melbourne is the capital of the southeastern Australian state of Victoria. At the city’s centre is the modern Federation Square development, with plazas, bars, and restaurants by the Yarra River. Overall, there is an artistic and colonial feel to the city, much like most european capitals. So how would it feel visiting the big city in the middle of a road trip where you spent most of your time out in the wild? Well, we’re about to find out.
Frankston is a suburb of Melbourne in Victoria, known as “the gateway to the Mornington Peninsula”. Further south is the holiday town of Mornington where you can drive on the white sandy beach and taste a bit of the magic this peninsula has to offer.
While in lockdown, we are at least allowed to go out and exercise within 10 km from home. This gives us an opportunity to explore our own backyard. It’s not much, but we appreciate it more than we would have in normal circumstances.
Our last few days in Tasmania until we need to board the ferry back to mainland Australia. We took the long and winding road towards Launceston, Tasmania’s second major city. The main highlight in town is clearly Cataract Gorge, a piece of wilderness just minutes away from the city centre.
Bay of Fires was given its name in 1773 by Captain Tobias Furneaux – an English navigator who accompanied James Cook – as he saw the fires of Aboriginal people on the beaches. It is known all over the world for its extraordinary clear blue seas, brilliant white beaches and striking orange lichen-cloaked boulders.
Heading up north on the eastern coast of Tasmania, we are heading towards one of the biggest attractions on the island – Freycinet National Park. Freycinet has a global appeal – it is iconic, memorable and breathtaking by all means. The park is best known for the stunning beauty of Wineglass Bay with its crystal-clear waters and white beach, making it one of Tasmania’s most celebrated views.
Port Arthur is a village and historic site in southern Tasmania, Australia. Sitting on the Tasman Peninsula, it was a 19th-century penal settlement (considered to be the worst of the worst…) and is now an open-air museum. Unfortunately we found ourselves underwhelmed…
Bruny Island is located off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania, Australia. To get to the island we had to take a 20-minute ferry to discover a unique and isolated landmark with very few locals, many more tourists, and stunning views.
Hobart is the lovely capital of Tasmania, and it truly is lovely. We arrived to the city late afternoon and went straight to the Waterfront Piers to walk by the water and have an early dinner in one of the many restaurants. The following day, Saturday, is market day at the famous Salamanca Market. There’s lots to see and do.
Heading south to one of Tasmania’s oldest national parks and also one of its most diverse – Mount Field National Park. After an interesting encounter with a friendly echidna, and a glimpse of a sneaky platypus, we took a leisurely walk through the towering tree ferns and giant eucalypts to Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Both are stunning and the whole walk is kids-friendly, meeting plenty of pademelons along the way.
After an eventful day at Franklin-Gordon National Park, we arrived to Lake St Clair Park for a late afternoon stroll by the lake, skimming rocks on the still water, and taking an endless amount of photos. Black and furry possums greeted us on the way back to the caravan.
Cutting through the heart of Tasmania, we’re crossing from the wild West Coast inland through national parks and new adventures. First stop in Queenstown, a nice town surrounded by dramatic hills and mountains, which was once the world’s richest mining town. Next, we make a few stops at Franklin-Gordon National Park, which appears to be very special.
Our next stop is Strahan, a historic and very touristic town, considered to be one of the highlights of a visit to Tasmania. It offers plenty of “Award-Winning Wilderness Experiences” though we found it completely overrated. Thankfully, we climbed up Henty Dunes for a real slice of adventure and fun-filled Sandboarding.
Heading inland, we finally arrive to one of Tasmania’s best known highlights – Cradle Mountain National Park – known for a range of features, including wild landscape, beautiful rainforest and alpine heathlands, glacial lakes and a wide variety of wildlife. The unique mountain range and Dove Lake at the foot of Cradle Mountain is one of the best sceneries you will ever see.
Stanley is a little town in North-West Tasmania. The main attraction is a natural wonder – The Nut. The unusual hill above the ocean is a result of volcanic activity millions of years ago. From the top we get stunning views of the bay, white beaches and turquoise water – one of those places that wherever you look it is absolutely breathtaking and you have to take just one more photo, and then another one.
As the clouds disappeared and the sun came out, we arrived at a stunningly beautiful beach with white sand and turquoise water. With clouds coming and going, we experienced this special place in different shades and colours. Boat Harbour Beach.
Apparently in Tasmania you’re allowed to park overnight pretty much anywhere, unless it specifically says you’re not welcome. Free overnight camping is very popular – with no power or water supply, in the middle of nowhere, close to the beach and next to other caravans and motorhomes, so you’re never really alone.
Traveling around Australia is great fun, no doubt about it. One of the best sides of it is traveling on remote roads, experiencing nature and enjoying the space while you are out there. It all changes dramatically once you get to the big city. Melbourne is one of them.
Phillip Island is known to be the home of the little penguins. With idyllic beaches, captivating coastlines, and family fun activities, there is so much to see. Just after sunset, tens of little penguins, cute as can be, are marching out of the water and slowly making their way up the hill and back to their burrows where their chicks are waiting, starving for food.
The most southern point in mainland Australia is a very special one. Wilsons Prom. If you haven’t been there yet, it’s most definitely worth it. While we weren’t sure what to expect, we definitely did not expect such a WOW feeling. The scenery is absolutely stunning, the beaches are gorgeous with massive boulders decorating the coastline and creating such a unique view.
We got to a nearly deserted camping area at Cape Conran and immediately fell in love in this place. So much that we decided to make this our first real camping stop for the night – no water, no power, self contained. We made our first camp fire and clearly the kids were super excited and pulled out a bag of marshmallows from the pantry.
Moving on to the town with the glorious name of “Eden”. We were looking forward to get to Eden, obviously, to discover whether it is as mystic as its name applies. It is also the most southern point and our last stop in New South Wales, as we get closer to the border with the neighbouring state – Victoria.
We’ve already travelled 500 kilometers since we started the trip, and arrived to a little haven called Batemans Bay on the far south coast of New South Wales. Our caravan is parking at one of the relatively upmarket caravan parks – with a pool, tennis courts, mini golf, a jumping pillow and renovated showers. Not something we are planning to do a lot during the trip.
I heard strange stories from people who traveled around the land down under, without seeing not even a single kangaroo. That’s impossible, there are so many of them all across the country. What could be more challenging would be to see them close to the water. This is where Pebbly Beach comes in handy.
Heading further south to the South Coast and the amazing Jervis Bay. We parked at a lovely caravan park in Huskisson right on the beachfront, surrounded by many boomers. What striked me was the way they looked at our young children, with so much love, kindness and longing for the old days.
A hundred and fifty kilometers south of Sydney is the beautiful town of Kiama, our first stop. Shops, cafes, beaches, lighthouse (oh, there are many of them around Australia) and the don’t-miss Blowhole. The weather is nice, white clouds paint the sky, the swell gently approaches from the big open-wide ocean and as it hits the coastal rocks of Kiama.
Road trip around Australia – sounds good right? Absolutely. But before we can actually head off, we’re on a mission to shrink the content of the caravan by 50%. At least! Clearly, we should have made ourselves familiar with the concept of Becoming a Minimalist, way before we started packing.