This is my first post for 2014 and I am delighted to say that it is about travel! Last week, my family and I flew down to Victoria to embark on a five-night holiday through the Great Ocean Road and in Melbourne. Despite my parents having been to Melbourne many times before (my mum was even born there!), I had only been there once eighteen years ago and my younger sister had never been there! We tend to travel overseas more than we do interstate, so it was nice to enjoy a different part of Australia for a change. We had a wonderful time. Let me premise this blog by saying that we are definitely not a ‘road trip’ type of family. My dad hates driving just as much as my mum, sister and I hate being stuck in a car for hours on end. However, the Great Ocean Road is an exception. It proved to be an absolutely breath-taking experience.
Day 1: Great Ocean Road (Melbourne → Apollo Bay)
We started our journey picking up a rental car from Tullamarine airport and driving to Geelong. This car trip was filled with my mum retelling stories of her childhood in Victoria. She seemed to have a tale for every suburb we passed, which was very amusing. When we reached Geelong, it was much quieter than I expected. Victoria was amidst a record-breaking heatwave at the time, so we had to keep time spent outside the car to a minimum. In fact, during our travels on this day, the temperature reached 48°C! I have never experienced heat like that before in my life – and hope to never again! We continued to drive along the Great Ocean Road for the rest of the day, stopping at picturesque locations to take photos. The road hugged the stunning coastline for most of the drive, which was fantastic. Eventually, we ended up at Apollo Bay, where we were booked to stay the night. Dad said we were going to stay in a hotel, but to all of our surprise, we arrived to someone’s house that has been divided into accommodation. It was called ‘Angela’s Guest House‘. It actually turned out to be quite nice, but I do not know how my Dad, who has ample experience in planning holidays, could think that somewhere with a name like that could possibly be a hotel!
Day 2: Great Ocean Road (Apollo Bay → Camperdown)
We left Apollo Bay in the morning and continued driving along the rest of the Great Ocean Road. This half of the drive was much more inland, but the scenery was still beautiful. There were many koalas along the way, particularly towards the Cape Otway Lighthouse. Tourists were blocking the road to take photos of them. We could not resist stopping and taking photos too, even though we see koalas all the time! The highlight of the day was undoubtedly seeing the Twelve Apostles. We were in awe of them. Nearby, we also stopped at many other great sites, including the Bay of Martyrs and London Bridge. At all of these stops, we were incessantly shooing away more flies than I have ever seen before! It was extremely irritating. Now I truly understand the practical value of unfashionable cork hats. We made it to the end of the Great Ocean Road at Warnambool, which is a lovely town that reminded us a lot of Toowoomba in Queensland. From there, we just drove along an inland highway to Camperdown, where we spent the night before driving back to Melbourne the next day.
Day 3: Melbourne
We arrived back in Melbourne just before lunch and checked into our beautiful room at the Crown Promenade. The weather was still ridiculously hot, so we decided to spend most of the afternoon combining our loves of air-conditioning and shopping at DFO South Wharf. The shopping was good. However, I am going overseas in a couple of months, so I managed to (miraculously) control myself. We spent the evening exploring and gambling at Crown. It was fun, except for the fact that I played my favourite game, Roulette, and lost the free $5 I got for signing up to Crown’s Signature Club. The house just won it straight back… Surprise, surprise.
Day 4: Melbourne
For our first full day in Melbourne, my mum, sister and I ambitiously thought it would be a good idea to walk all around the city in 42°C weather. We explored many of Melbourne’s beautiful laneways, arcades and the Bourke Street Mall. It was thoroughly enjoyable to just stroll around. At around midday, we decided to walk up to the Queen Victoria Markets. What a mistake! By the time we finally made it there, the heat was unbearable and many of the market stalls had already closed. I became very grumpy. Fortunately, there was a pet store nearby, so we went inside and fawned over the super cute bunnies. This definitely lifted my mood – at least until we stepped back out into the excruciating heat. We then slowly made our way back to Crown and spent the rest of the day there.
Day 5: Melbourne
Our day started by walking along Southbank to the Royal Botanic and Queen Victoria Gardens. We then decided to walk across the Yarra River to Federation Square, where many people were watching the Australian Open. It was great to finally see what I consider to be the most recognisable place in Melbourne. Closeby, we had a wander through Hosier Lane, which is known for its remarkable street art. And it certainly did not disappoint! I really wanted to experience a Melbourne laneway café, so we had a delicious lunch in Centre Place. The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping at Harbour Town. We got there by catching the free City Circle tram, which was a fun, touristy experience. And, in true Earl family style, we gambled the night away again at Crown.
Day 6: Melbourne
Lygon Street was our first place to visit on our last day in Melbourne. Whilst we did not eat anywhere along the street, it was still good to take in the relaxing atmosphere and resist the charm of the restaurant staff who tried to draw us in to eat at their establishment. We then had a thorough walk through the Melbourne Museum. It was very impressive. Coming from a family with strong ties to horse racing, I was pleased to get a photo with Phar Lap. We also saw ‘Great White Shark 3D’ at the IMAX, which I thoroughly enjoyed because I love sharks. After having a look around the Royal Exhibition Building and the Carlton Gardens, we gradually walked back through the city to Crown, from which we left for the airport and sadly flew home.