So much has happened since we took off on our big Australia road trip.
They say time flies when you’re having fun, and here we are already 6 months into our family adventure.
The planning, the anticipation, and all the excitement builds before departure and before you know it you’re living your dream.
The great Aussie road trip, doing the lap, is a dream of many and not a day goes by that I don’t pinch myself and realize how fortunate we are.
We always imagined we’d do this later in life, but later may never come and there really is no perfect time. So here we are, making tracks and creating memories.
This post comes to you from our camper trailer in sunny Sawtell on the Coffs Coast of NSW. Not where we thought we’d be at this stage. Originally we were planning to go clockwise around Oz but we decided to reverse our trip and now we are heading north for the winter.
Thank you all for following along. We love getting your local tips along the way, and we hope we’re showing you pieces of Oz that you’ll someday be inspired to visit.
- Distance travelled – 17,000 kilometres
- Fuel Cost – $3,400
- Types of Accommodation – Hotels, apartments, cabins, camping, hostels, camper trailer, house-sitting.
- Hottest Day – 43 degrees Celsius in Melbourne at Aussie Tennis Open, January.
- Best Guilty Pleasure – Coffee, whilst driving, is a MUST for me.
- Biggest Purchase – Camper Trailer: $28,000
- Team song in the car – One Republic Counting Stars
- Meltdowns in the car – Lost count!
- Internet & Phone Costs – $2,100
- Worst Place to Drive – Melbourne CBD. Between their hook turns (turning right from the leftmost lane) and trams, get me outa there!
- Biggest Bummer – Kalyra’s broken arm last week. She fell off the flying fox at a playground in Armidale. Bugger!
- Bike Tyre Punctures – Three.
- Scariest Moment – Savannah escaping from our hotel in Melbourne (we eventually found her in the lobby)
That’s a quick run down on the basics. Let’s get into our major award winners now.
Best of Australia Road Trip So Far
We planned to visit Vic for one month, and they finally kicked us out after three. What a revelation. So many great destinations in a small area.
And all within easy access of Melbourne. e.g. Phillip Island, Wilsons Prom, Grampians, Bright, The Bellarine, Great Ocean Road, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Echuca. Victoria, we owe you an apology, and we wrote it here.
Melbourne. No contest really. Hobart is the only other major city we’ve visited, and though it’s nice, it has nothing on Melbourne. This city has it all, just try and ignore the crazy weather, and your growing waistline from all the coffee and cake.
Squeaky Beach, Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria. Hang on, ask me again in 5 minutes and I’ll have another answer. Impossible question.
I could have said Hyams Beach or Wineglass Bay or Hazards Beach or…the list goes on. But those beaches already get enough promo. So I’m giving my vote to Squeaky. Shhh…just don’t tell the Victorians I told you. I sat on this rock where the below photo was taken for an hour and was blown away at the beauty of this place.
Bright, Victoria. We’ve visited many great towns and Bright had a lot of competition, but we love the alpine scenery, the cafe scene, the walks, the bike rides, the river, and the kids playground is viewable from the awesome Brewery – which has the best cider ever by the way – how could you not love this place?
Tough category. We’ve had some GREAT meals in some top locations over the past 6 months, bit I’m finding it hard to single out one establishment as an OMG you must eat there.
So I’m going to offer some memorable family moments and general dishes: Curried Scallop Pies in Tasmania are the bomb! Eating takeaway pizza with a bottle of wine on St Kilda Beach in Melbourne whilst watching an awesome sunset was memorable. The bustling night food market at Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne is tops. Takeaway fish & chips on the water in Sorrento, Victoria. Sometimes simple is the best!
Bridge Road Brewers, Beechworth, Victoria. Australia is slowly getting better in offering more independent breweries and this one in Beechworth ticked a lot of boxes. Great craft beer, great story, great setting, great pizza and kid friendly.
Another tough category. Can I just say Melbourne? There was this place on Smith Street in Collingwood that Caz loved (name now escapes us sorry). And the Old Echuca Post Office Cafe in Echuca made awesome coffee! Oh, and the Raw Ingredients Cafe in Queenscliff makes the best chai latte ever!
Night Market, Queen Victoria Markets, Melbourne. This place was a global street food extravaganza with offerings from all over the world. It was like any night food market you’d find in Asia, and one of the best places to eat in Melbourne. Runs over the summer months. Get there!
Best Wine Region
Mudgee, NSW. It took me 40 years to visit Mudgee and I grew up just 4 hours away. It won’t be another 40 before I go back. Great wines AND town. Highly recommend a visit over the more famous Hunter Valley. We loved being able to cycle between vineyards. And don’t miss the brewery in town. Post coming soon!
Great Ocean Road, Victoria. Finally found out why this drive is so famous. It matched my expectations and we got lucky with the weather. Amazing scenery, great towns, walks, waterfalls, rainforests, wildlife. Many people drive this in one-two days, we took 8 days. Check out our 16 highlights.
Wine Glass Bay to Hazards Beach loop, Tasmania. When you can combine two of Australia’s best beaches in the one walk (Wineglass Bay and Hazards) you know it’s good one. And to be standing alone on famous Wineglass Bay was incredible. Get up early to beat the crowd folks!
Mantra Apartments at Lorne, Great Ocean Road. Lorne is a great town to visit, and we loved this Mantra property. Awesome location right on the beach and the rooms were very accommodating. Post coming soon!
Apollo Bay Eco YHA, Great Ocean Road. Apollo Bay is a nice town, without being great, but we really enjoyed this hostel. Eco and family friendly, great kitchen and public areas, and just a real homely place with a nice vibe. Post coming soon!
Best Caravan Park
Big4 Beacon Resort, Queenscliff, Victoria. We’d never heard of The Bellarine Peninsula until we got a tip from a friend. This park and peninsula became our home for 3 weeks. It doesn’t have the prime beach front setting like many in Oz, but they do a lot of things right – great activities, good indoor & outdoor playgrounds, great kids club, lovely cabins, friendly staff, and handy to many nice towns and only 1.5 hours from Melbourne.
Best Sporting Event
Aussie Tennis Open, Melbourne. Although it was 43 degrees celsius when we attended with the kids, we loved seeing live tennis for the first time. Such a great atmosphere. Three highlights were the family day prior to the tournament starting, seeing Raphael Nadal practice, and Caz got to watch Roger Feder play on Centre Court. We’ll be back!
Best Family Attraction
Dubbo Zoo, NSW. Our new favourite Zoo experience in Australia. When you can sleep inside the zoo, and ride bikes around to see the animals, you have one HAPPY family. Awesome variety of animals and wide open spaces.
Phillip Island, Victoria. We thought Phillip Island was all about seeing the Penguin Parade, but it offers so much more. We spent 8 days here. Stunning beaches and coastline, lovely walks, great family activities, wildlife, top vibe and easily accessible from Melbourne.
Bruny Island, Tasmania. Rugged coastline, awesome cliffs and sea caves, wildlife, fun and informative guides. Tasmania at its best!
Best National Park
Freycinet National Park, Tasmania. Imagine pristine beaches like Wineglass Bay, Hazards Beach, and Friendly Beaches, stunning walks, amazing bays like Coles Bay and Honeymoon Bay, and the incredible Hazards Mountains and it is easy to see why we love Freycinet.
Strahan, West Coast Tasmania
We witnessed this stunning sunset after our amazing cruise down World Heritage Gordon River.
Best Wildlife Experience
Wild Kangaroos on South Coast NSW. It’s amazing how many wild kangaroos we saw on the south coast. They’re on the beaches, on the golf courses, by the side of the road, in the camp grounds, in the National Parks. Was such a great experience for our kids.
Best Historical Site
Port Arthur, Tasmania. One of the best places to visit in Tasmania. Moving, interesting, sad, troubled, beautiful. Port Arthur has a violent and troubled history as a penal colony for some of Australia’s hardened convicts.
MONA, Hobart, Tasmania. We’re not museum people. Normally we would run the other way. So to capture our attention a museum has to be interactive, different, fascinating, and maybe a little weird. MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, was all that. The founder David Walsh has described the museum as a “subversive adult Disneyland.”
There you have it.
And that’s just scratching the surface. We have lots more to come.
To follow along the rest of our Aussie road trip as we explore Northern NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia, get subscribed to our free weekly newsletter so you don’t miss our next posts.
Plus, we have a new HUB page coming soon on our site where you’ll be able to follow our Australia road trip more closely, as well as HUB pages for each individual state where you’ll have access to our best content and tips for each state once we’ve visited them.
Tell us in the comments:
What place do you most want to see in Australia?