Welcome to part 2 of our Adelaide to Melbourne road trip. Before we cross the border into Victoria and hit the internationally acclaimed Great Ocean Road, we still have a tiny bit more of South Australia to show you. If you haven’t caught up with part 1 yet, follow this quick link.
Ok, are you ready? Let’s go.
Port MacDonnell & The Border.
From Mount Gambier, follow the B66 for 20 minutes past Mount Schank to Port MacDonnell. At Port Mac (to the locals) visit the Maritime Museum. 30 shipwrecks lie beneath the waves along this coastline and the museum tells their story.
At Cape Northumberland, 4km out of town, watch the colony of busy fairy penguins at dawn and dusk and explore ruins of the first lighthouse built in South Australia in 1858.
The border between South Australia and Victoria is 20-minutes from Port MacDonnell. Stop for the obligatory pic with “one foot in each state” and adjust your watch.
* Victoria’s time zone is 30 minutes ahead of S.A.’s.
Nelson & Portland.
Nelson, on the pristine Glenelg River, sits moments from where the river mouth opens to the Southern Ocean. Boating, kayaking, fishing and sheltered swimming areas are all available. Swimming in the ocean is discouraged due to the strong undertow.
Before crossing the bridge into Nelson, take a right onto Old Bridge Road and follow the Nelson Progress Association’s History Walk. From oil, gas and water drilling to bridge building, the history walk shares Nelson’s development from the early 1900s.
Check Nelson River Cruises seasonal schedule on their site to take a leisurely cruise on the Glenelg River. Offering a 3.5-hour cruise to the Princess Margaret Rose Cave, said to be the most decorated cave per square metre in Australia, cruise through limestone gorges with 20 metre high cliffs rising on both sides.
Portland was settled in 1834 making it the oldest European settlement in Victoria. Portland quickly prospered from fishing, pastoral and agricultural industries.
History and architecture buffs will appreciate the 200 National Trust buildings. The cable tram takes you on a journey along the foreshore, to the Botanic Gardens, Portland Powerhouse Car Museum, Maritime Discovery Centre, onto Whalers Bluff Lighthouse, and the WW11 Memorial Lookout Tower at Anderson Point.
Great South West Walk is a 250km loop between Portland and Nelson. The track runs through 4 national parks, follows the coast along Discovery Bay Coastal Park and inland along the Glenelg River. Pass stunning natural attractions while taking in the fresh air. You may need a few days for this.
At the Portland Visitor Information Centre, pick up your map for the Great Ocean Road. With estimated travel times between locations, mountain bike and hiking trails, and suggested tourist attractions, the map is invaluable.
* Look out for discounted offers on entrance fees, accommodation and day tours from each township.
Port Fairy, Warrnambool & Cheese.
Officially The Great Ocean Road begins (or ends) at Warrnambool, but Port Fairy, an hour out of Portland and 25 minutes from Warrnambool, is too pretty to leave off the Great Ocean Road map.
Port Fairy begins the famed 130km Shipwreck Coast stretching to Cape Otway. There are believed to be over 600 wrecks along this part of Victoria’s coastline. With 240 of them known, there are more than 360 yet to be discovered.
Port Fairy township’s Norfolk pine lined wide streets, 19th-century cottages and old stone churches exude a bygone era of a less frantic time. This changes dramatically when you reach the fishing port, one of Victoria’s busiest.
Crayfish and abalone fishermen offload their catch and guided tours leave from here to the seal colony at Lady Percy Island. In winter, Port Fairy is the place to look out for breaching Southern Right Whales as they come in to breed.
It’s been over 40 years since the Port Fairy Folk Festival first rode into town on the back of a truck – literally. 2018’s festival over the long weekend in March (9th-12th) promises to outshine all previous festivals with over 100 acts in 20 venues.
With a population of 2,500 Port Fairy Folk Festival doubles (approx.) that number and this year new camping sites with clean toilets and hot running water are available just 500m from the main venue. To book your site, you’ll need tickets. Find out how to do that here.
Performances by Tex, Don & Charlie, All Our Exes Live In Texas, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Mental As Anything and hoards more, this year’s festival is guaranteed to deliver “Music & Art for your Mind & Soul”.
Warrnambool was settled in the 1840s and became an important port during the Victorian Gold Rush (1850s). Australian Gold shipped to Britain through this period paid Britain’s foreign debts and contributed to their enormous commercial expansion in the late 1800s.
Visit the famous Middle Island Penguin Colony, almost extinct due to foxes until a local chicken farmer suggested using Maremma dogs as guardians. The dogs, already protecting his chickens, were a success, increasing the penguin population tenfold.
* Visiting Middle Island is only possible with a guided tour and the proceeds ensure the penguins’ continued safekeeping.
At Allansford, 10 minutes out of Warrnambool, experience South West Victoria’s dairy heartland. Allansford Cheese World, owned and operated by Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory is home to the award-winning Warrnambool Cheddar.
Explore the local region’s early 1900s dairy and farming industries in the museum, take a breather in the café, purchase local wines, jam, honey, chocolate, sauces and of course local cheese.
* Enjoy free cheese tastings and if you’re the lucky last at 4.30pm, you get to take what’s left on the cheese boards with you.
Peterborough, Port Campbell & The Great Ocean Road.
Continue through Nullaware on the B100 surrounded by rich farmland. The first sight of the Great Ocean Road’s rugged coastline appears at Bay of Islands, approaching Peterborough.
With a population of under 200, Peterborough is a serene retreat for families to base themselves and take in the surrounding attractions. The Great Ocean Road Tourist Park features a range of cabins, powered and unpowered sites, a camp kitchen, barbecue area, games room and television room. The park is located by the estuary and is perfect for fishing, diving and swimming.
Nearby, Port Campbell presents the famous 12 Apostles, giant limestone stacks battered by the aggressive Southern Ocean. The golden stacks are recognised internationally from above, but the 12 Apostles Marine Park offers a whole new world below the surface. Arches, canyons, gutters and deep sloping reefs provide habitats for kelp forests, sponge gardens and marine life. Seabirds, seals, penguins, lobsters and reef fish all thrive here.
The beach at Loch Ard Gorge, named for the famed shipwreck of Loch Ard, can be reached via the Gibson Steps following the 70-metre cliff face. Memorials tell the story of the 52 passengers and crew who were lost leaving only 2 survivors as the Loch Ard crashed into Muttonbird Island.
What was once London Bridge, is now known as London Arch after erosion finally ended the land connection in 1990. 2 tourists were stranded on the arch as the collapse occurred later being rescued by helicopter.
On a day trip from Port Campbell, follow the 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail. Cheese, wine, whiskey, beer, snails, olives, ice cream, fudge and berries are produced in the region and open to the public to taste this delicious part of Victoria. * Check seasonal artisans opening times when planning.
Johanna, Glenaire & The Otways.
The Great Ocean Road travels inland from the end of the Port Campbell National Park bypassing Johanna, a beachside town well known to surfers.
To get a closer and more leisurely look at the Johanna, Glenaire and Cape Otway coast The Great Ocean Walk from Apollo Bay back to the 12 Apostles has been purposely designed for the best views of the area. Walking the 104km trail in an east-west direction is mandatory, overnight campsites are provided and intermittent connections to the trail allow for much shorter walks if preferred.
If walking treetops is more your thing, take a short detour at Lavers Hill to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. 600 metres long and 25 metres in the air, the Treetop Walk includes a 40-metre tower to view the expanse of the Otway Ranges.
For the more adventurous, an exhilarating 2.5 hours spent Ziplining the treetops is available. Training and guides are provided and the Zipline tour includes the treetop walk.
* Book online or check your Great Ocean Road Visitor Centre Touring Map to save.
Apollo Bay, Wye River & Lorne.
Apollo Bay is about the halfway mark of the Great Ocean Road. A pristine open bay backed by the Otway Ranges, Apollo Bay is a playground to hike, bike, kayak, fish, swim and explore. The laid-back pace makes for a relaxing stay and Apollo Bay is surrounded by local produce on land and from the sea.
Don’t miss Apollo Bay Bakery’s famous scallop pie packed full of juicy scallops and baked fresh daily.
A special mention has to be made of Sandpiper Motel management for hanging around for our late arrival. The many photographic opportunities to this point certainly impeded our arrival time so thank you for waiting for us Bronwyn, Karen and John.
It’s clear Sandpiper Motel management have done some travelling in their time. The comfortable rooms are well designed and include many hidden extras, a surprise and delight, especially at the affordable price.
A brief stop at Cape Patton Lookout is essential for your Instagram account before pulling into Wye River for a cold one at the Wye Beach Hotel. Imagine spotting Southern Right Whales, Humpbacks and Bottlenose Dolphins while sipping on a beer. Keep your eyes peeled, this is a breeding ground and numbers are increasing.
With 10 waterfalls within 10km, Lorne is located perfectly for the Falls Music & Arts Festival (formerly Rock Above the Falls). The first event in 1993 pulled in 11,000 people spilling over into nearby land. As the multi-day festival has evolved so has it spread to Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia with bands and artists travelling between locations.
Outside the Falls Festival, Lorne has a permanent arts community. Galleries offer changing exhibitions and the annual Sculpture Biennale in March presents over 40 works along the foreshore.
Lorne’s local produce, wine bars & cafés are good reasons to spend some time relaxing and the many walking trails through the Otway National Park help work off the additional baggage.
Airey’s Inlet, Anglesea & Torquay.
Split Point Lighthouse has made Airey’s Inlet famous through crime novels, children’s TV and a Bollywood movie but we think Airey’s Pub should get the credit. Sitting on a crest with outstanding views, the pub has been through the wars.
Lost to the 1983 bushfires of Ash Wednesday, trade continued out of a tin shed until developers started sniffing around. The fear of a town with no pub encouraged a group of locals to chip in and breathe life back into the Great Ocean Road icon.
An on-site brewery, sunsets to die for and a well-executed fresh local menu contribute to what makes Airey’s Pub a must visit, but it’s the owners who clearly love what they do that makes visiting a joy.
Anglesea, famous for its flora and fauna, is part of the Surf Coast Walk from Torquay to Airey’s Inlet. Kangaroos and Wallabies are a daily sight at dusk on the greens of the Anglesea Golf Course. Over 100 bird species, just under 30 different mammals and 80 different types of orchids thrive in and around Anglesea.
Wineries and local producers through the Surf Coast Hinterland make up the Otway Harvest Trail and surfers flock to “Guvvo’s’ beach at the west end of town when the swell’s up.
Torquay is our last stop on the Great Ocean Road and the doyen of the Surf Coast. Home to the longest running surf competition in the world, originally the Bell’s Beach Classic now the Rip Curl Pro, Torquay is also Rip Curl and Quicksilver’s hometown.
*The surf industry employs over 25% of Torquay’s 17,600 population (*Forbes article Nov. 2016) and you can see it throughout town. The Rip Curl Pro still rewards the winner with a Bell Trophy and AC/DC’s Hells Bells opens the competition each morning.
You now have a decision to make. Here are 3 options to get to Melbourne from Torquay.
1. Take the Geelong bypass and be in Melbourne in an hour.
2. Explore the city of Geelong on Corio Bay before taking the Princes Highway to Melbourne.
3. Continue from Torquay to Queenscliff and take the car ferry to Sorrento and explore the Mornington Peninsula.
Whatever you decide, we know there’ll be an adventure in it. Roadtripping from Adelaide to Melbourne: it’s a thing we love….We’d love it if you shared this article on social media using the simple icons below & for updates & news subscribe to our Shenanigans report by filling in the form above. Don’t worry, only admin sees your email address. Thank you for your support as always!