I decided to share our adventures from our time in Victoria Australia in August of 2002. Yes, that was a long time ago and yes, my memory is a little foggy. I always keep a travel journal on our adventures, so I am able to piece together the trip in some detail, but this post will admittedly not go into as much detail as my other destination posts. I will make up for that lack of detail by adding a few more pictures than I usually post. (Also note that digital cameras were fairly new back then, so while the digital photo quality is not as impeccable as you see now, you’ll get the general idea of how beautiful this trip really was.)
(FYI, the details from our entire two-week trip to Australia and New Zealand can be found here.)
After looking at the options for seeing natural wonders in Victoria, we went with the following itinerary.
- Two nights on the Great Ocean Road
- One night in Halls Gap, near Grampians National Park
- One final night in Melbourne
We rented vehicles in Melbourne, Cairns, and Christchurch. My husband did all the driving. This was an adventure, driving on the wrong side of the road for us, with the steering wheel of the vehicle also on the wrong side of the car for us. A few unforeseen difficulties arose, but he got used to it eventually.
- As we left the airport, I knew what highway we needed, and that we needed to go south. However, when we got to the intersection, the signs pointed to two different towns, but didn’t indicate whether they were north or south. We took a 50/50 gamble and got it right, but it was a little stressful when you’re minutes into driving a car on the wrong side of the road from the wrong side of the car for the first time.
- Driving in downtown Melbourne was extra tricky. I’m not sure if it is still like this, but there were trams downtown that affected traffic. In order to make a right turn, you had to be in the far left lane. At one point I had to direct my husband to our hotel downtown using only left turns.
- Roundabouts were not very common where we lived at the time, but they were quite common in Australia. They took some getting used to, especially on the left side of the road.
Great Ocean Road
Our first two days in Victoria were spent on the Great Ocean Road. We drove from Torquay to Warnambool along the southern coast of Victoria. When we asked someone what ocean we were witnessing, they said it was the Southern Ocean. It didn’t seem to bother them that we are taught that there are only four oceans, and the Southern Ocean is not one of them. Jet lag came upon us by Apollo Bay, so that is where we spent the first night.
On our second day we came across a small temperate rain forest, Cape Otway lighthouse, some waterfalls, and more great scenery. The graphic signage in Australia really cracked us up.
Then we came upon the Twelve Apostles. The views on the Great Ocean Road were really stunning. Pictures don’t do it justice.
Our second night was spent in Warnambool, a town known for its great whale watching. Sadly we didn’t see any whales.
Grampians National Park
From the Great Ocean Road we drove north to Grampians National Park. Once there, we headed out on a fairly grueling 5.8 mile hike on the Mount Rosea trail. The views were really fantastic. Oddly enough, the scenery reminded us a bit of the Black Hills of South Dakota, which are only an 8 hour drive from our home.
After spending the night in Halls Gap, we drove back to Melbourne via Ballarat, an old gold mining town. We did some souvenir shopping there. We spent our last evening in Victoria wandering a bit in downtown Melbourne.
- Traveling in winter was definitely great for keeping down tourist traffic on our trip. However, the biggest downside was that our days ended very early. It would have been nice to have early evening time to explore some more, but it was too dark to do so.
- A note on the exchange rate: When we went in 2002, the exchange rate was $1 US = $2 Australian. As of the writing of this post, the current exchange rate is $1 US = $1.28 Australian. So we were able to get much more lodging, food, fuel, and souvenirs for our dollar than we could if we took that trip today.
- Back in 2002, eco-friendly toilets were the norm virtually everywhere we went, with two separate buttons for whatever business you performed in the restroom. All these years later, and this technology is still hardly present at all here in the US.
- According to my journal, we had to pay for ketchup in Australian restaurants. Go figure.
Looking for more fun things to do in Australia? Check out this post from AllTheRooms.com about family travel in Darwin, Australia!