Camper van mania

Our flight to Adelaide was so easy, but we found it so strange that a 3 hour flight could take you to the other side of a country – we are used to arriving in Spain in less time. We weren’t impressed by the temperature, more high teens than early 30s so out came the hoody and leggings. The airport is actually really close to the city centre, so we took a taxi to our hostel. The hostel looked pretty dodgy and on arrival the reservation that we had made had been cancelled the night before. Now, I had called them to try and cancel a few nights earlier, but left the reservation as it was due to a hefty cancellation fee. After some back and forth with the people on reception (with a language barrier) we left the hostel and looked elsewhere for a room. After checking my emails, it turns out Booking.com had cancelled the booking for us free of charge as I am now such a “loyal” customer 👍🏼. Again, using Booking.com we found another hostel which was slightly more expensive but had good reviews and was in a good location – crisis averted. I’m all for spontaneity, but I do like to have a bed for the evening prior to 3pm. The room was really nice and it was great to have a double room for once, so we ended up staying 3 nights even though it was slightly over our budget. That evening, we went for a Chinese (kind of had to as we were staying 5mins from China town at a place called Ding Hao. The food was good and a reasonable price – I even treated myself to a glass of wine which was cheaper than beer for once. Even though we were stuffed, we went to Chocolateria San Churros for a chocolate fondue and then went back to our room to sleep off the food coma, but had to stop for a few photos of the beautiful sunset on the way. 


Our second day in Adelaide was pretty chilled and started with a self guided tour of the city, mainly of the shopping areas. The city is only 1mile square and on a grid system so, as the taxi driver said, you would have to be very stupid to get lost. After browsing the shops and doing some chores, we went to see a free game of cricket at the Adelaide Oval – Adelaide Red Backs vs NSW. The sun actually showed its face, so with a glass of wine (and a beer for Jack) we sat and enjoyed the cricket for a couple of hours. It wasn’t quite the same though as the stadium only had about 100 people in there (it was a Tuesday afternoon). After enjoying a chilled day, we picked up some supplies from the supermarket and made a mean bangers and mash (fuel in preparation for an early start the next day). After dinner, we went for a wander to see the giant Christmas tree in the dark – neon lights are not my fave, but the tree was cute. Although, it still doesn’t feel Christmassy. We also stopped at Gelissimo for ice cream which was yummy! We’ve probably had ice cream 50% of the days we have been away 🙈. 


We booked a dolphin swimming tour for our final day in Adelaide, only downfall was that we had to leave the hostel at 5.50am – eek!! We took the tram to the harbour and froze whilst we waited for the boat to arrive. We were then allocated wetsuits, which were still wet so actually made us even colder! This definitely wasn’t the weather we were expecting when we packed our bags. The cold weather and sea was definitely worth it when we threw ourselves into the water, held onto the swimming line and caught our first sight of wild dolphins swimming below. My mask fogged up a billion times, but it was so worth it. I’m so glad we managed to see wild dolphins rather than those in captivity. We had lunch by the beach after we had dried off and warmed up, then headed back into the city for a tour of Haigh’s chocolate factory (a family run Aussie chocolate company). We got shown the factory, given the history and handed free chocolate so we were very happy, especially as the tour was free! A must do if in the area as it’s only about 20 mins. The factory also has a shop which sells the normal products plus “seconds” which are rejected chocolate sold for cheap – result! So the whole tour cost us $7 and that included tea and coffee. Since we have arrived in Oz, everyone has been going on about Dominos. Obviously we have it in the U.K. (I’m a big fan) but over here its so cheap. We spent $20 on a stuffed crust pizza, garlic bread and a big bottle of Fanta. In the U.K. this would’ve easily cost £30. We also could’ve ordered a cheaper pizza -$7 for a Hawaiian – but it was cheap enough to have what we wanted. 


We had a great chilled stay in Adelaide, but were really excited to pick up our camper van and explore the great ocean road. Once the camper was in our control, we headed to McLaren Vale, an area of vineyards not far from Adelaide. Enjoying the two wineries which we visited, we purchased 2 bottles (a white and a red) for a total of $45. We figured we needed wine for Melbourne and for the camper – obviously. It was also too good not to buy. You could easily pay $40 for a bottle in a restaurant which tastes like crap. On recommendation from the woman in the vineyard, we pitched up at a campsite and made our first attempt at sorting the camper for the evening. On the drive to the campsite we spotted a kangaroo just chilling by the roadside, it amazed us just how close it was and didn’t seem scared at all. 5 mins down the road, we spotted kangaroo road kill – maybe they should be more scared after all. After a number of watches of the prerecorded video which Jack had taken a copy of (thanks for the idea mum – the ball comes into mind) we managed to get everything sorted. It was so chilly, but we braced the cold to walk to the beach to have a beer in memory of a very special person who would’ve loved to be reading this blog. We then practically ran back to the warm camper. After thawing out, we used the camp BBQ and had a dinner of chicken, jacket potato and salad 👌🏽. It was an early night for us in our newly made bed as I had a lot of driving to do the next day and was also getting a cold 😷. 


Day 2 in camper van land was chilly. Although we’ve been used to hostels, it was weird walking outside in the cold to get a shower in the morning. The showers were good though so we can’t complain. There’s also something about making breakfast and eating on the little table which coverts to our bed – easily pleased 😂. Our first drive of the day was from McLaren Vale to Meningie for lunch. We parked up by the lake and Jack made cheese and salami rolls 😍. There really isn’t anything to do in Meningie so we carried on another 2 hours to Robe. Robe was a cute fishing town which seems to be popular with families and has a few nice beaches. After visiting the sites and trying not to freeze (I know 17 degrees does not compare to London at the moment, but it’s cold for us), we cooked pasta and chilled for the evening. It is so nice to have your own mode of transport and to go back to a slower pace of life that we definitely didn’t have at the end of the east coast.


The next morning we set off around 9.30am and drove to Mt Gambier in search of the Blue Lake, which turns a beautiful shade of blue over the summer (does what it says on the tin 😂). It is also set amongst smaller lakes all situated in an inactive volcano – it really was quite pretty! Whilst doing our bit of sightseeing, we also went to a sinkhole (planted with flowers) which sounds boring but was actually very cool (we did also see another kangaroo during our drive). The town is quite small and not much is really going on, but we were able to have our very first Hungry Jacks (the Oz Burger King) which was worth the wait. Mt Gambier was nice and did the job as a stop along the way to the Great Ocean Road. 


On Day 4, we embarked on another longer drive, from Mt Gambier to Warrnambool (the start of the Great Ocean Road). We set off around 10am and stopped for lunch in Port Fairy. Port Fairy is a really pretty town with some really cute beaches. Finally, the sun decided to show itself so we sat for a while and caught some rays. Getting back in the driving seat was pretty tough as although the driving is easy (the camper is an automatic and not much bigger than a van), the roads were so boring – all motorways which look the same. I was also being so cautious as I don’t think I would be able to live with myself if I hit a kangaroo!! Once we arrived on the campsite, Jack cooked up a mean curry before we chilled in the sun- first time we had been able to use our camp chairs! We headed out again around 7pm to visit a waterfall just outside of Warrnambool – Hopkins Falls – and then caught our first glimpse of the Great Ocean Road. The sign was enough to make me giddy as this is what we had been talking about for months. We didn’t really want to start our trip until the next morning, however I had read that just after sunset, tiny Fairy Penguins hop back on shore at the London Bridge lookout point. So that’s where we went. It was absolutely freezing, but we watched the sunset (which was absolutely beautiful) and then hung around for 20 mins. This paid off as we managed to see the tiny little things on the beach, huddling together and making sure that they were all there. We think they were missing someone as there seemed to be a bit of confusion 😂. It was so worth the wait and we were so glad we made the trip after dark. 


After a comfortable night in the back of our van, we woke up to sun and headed out towards the Great Ocean Road (properly this time, not a quick visit). Before getting too far, we topped up our supplies in Coles and filled up with petrol (yet again!!). We thought hiring the camper van was expensive, but the constant refilling of the tank is crazy! We drove straight onto the Great Ocean Road, which started very green surrounded by cows and sheep and then came to our first lookout – the bay of islands. The contrast between the blue sea and the orange cliffs is something else. We then continued to The Grotto and then onto Loch Ard Gorge. Both were pretty, but were the same rocks just in different shapes- still interesting though. Next up were the extremely famous twelve apostles. The viewing platforms were mobbed with Chinese tourists and day trippers from Melbourne but we still managed to get a good picture. The rock formation was amazing and it is even more beautiful than the pictures. I don’t know why no one mentioned this before we left, but Australia has a real problem with flies. They are everywhere and especially like Jack! It was very funny watching all the tourists do the fly dance whilst trying to take a picture – we deffo all look as stupid as each other. It was finally warm which made the day so much better, however the heat melted our phone charger so we are now down to 1 cable for 4 devises- that’s after already replacing one cable and losing a charging block. After having lunch in our van, we drove down to Cape Otway which is part of the Great Otway National Park. The lighthouse is meant to be one of the main attractions, so we made our way there but decided not to go in as we only had 30 mins before it closed and they wanted almost $40 to visit which we thought was ridic, that’s a nights accommodation for us! We carried on to our campsite which has the slogan “camp with Koalas”. Did we see any bloody Koalas – no! We did see some horses and chickens, maybe they thought that would make up for the lack of Koalas. I’m not overly sad about the Koalas (despite my bitterness above) as we have seen loads, but it would’ve been cool to say we “camped with Koalas”. We also had to pay $1 each for a 3 minute shower. Obviously we didn’t shower out of sheer principle. 


After packing all the major sights into the previous day, we didn’t really have anything planned for day 5 in the camper. So, we hit up the local tourist information office and headed to the local waterfalls. The first one was called Triplet falls and was a pain in the ass to get to. Stupidly, I thought putting the attraction into the satnav would be easier than using Jack’s map skills. God was I wrong! We took a turn off the main road which seemed promising and although it was an unmade road, it seemed sensible that a waterfall would be at the end. It wasn’t until we had to make a turn which explicitly stated it was for 4WD vehicles that I started to get worried. We took the turn anyway, made it about 10 minutes in and realised that the satnav was actually increasing in kilometres to get to the waterfall. There were some pretty hairy bits of the dirt track and I’m really not surprised its not meant for normal cars, let alone a campervan! We admitted defeat and turned the camper around whilst trying not to get stuck in the mud or fall off the edge of the cliff – obviously my amazing driving came into its own at this point. We laugh about the whole fiasco now but at the time there were a number of curses being made by both of us 😂. The funny thing is, after another 5 mins on the main road, we spotted the tourist sign for the falls, followed it and it took about 10 minutes. I’m sure the locals were laughing at us. Anyway, the waterfall was an hour round walk with about a billion steps and really wasn’t worth it as you couldn’t even see it properly. I think were probably spoilt with waterfalls at Atherton Tablelands so had high expectations. We headed to another waterfall which was around the corner called Hopetoun Falls. Again, this was a let down, so feeling defeated, we headed to our next stop in Lorne. On the way we stopped off hoping to see some Koalas and we hit the jackpot with a massive one sitting really low down in the tree! Feeling satisfied, we headed to Lorne and set up camp for the evening. We ate out in a pizza restaurant called Pizza Pizza (original!) and had a look around the pretty fishing village. It was nice being somewhere with more of a town centre rather than just a campsite. We really enjoyed our evening here  and can see why it is a popular stop on the Great Ocean Road. 


As with the day before, the drive from Lorne to Geelong was what we thought the Great Ocean Road would be – full of twists, turns and hills with the road right on the edge of the sea. It was pretty exciting and made a great picture. The drive was only an hour or so in total but we broke it up with stops in Angelsea and Torquay. Torquay is a surfing town (obviously the name is taken from Torquay in Cornwall) and has a great beach which we checked out. The weather was sunny but not warm so we opted out of swimming in the sea (which was freezing by the way). We had a nice evening in Geelong filled with pasta, cheese and the red wine we purchased from the cellar door in McLaren Vale to celebrate our final night in the camper (and that I hadn’t killed us with my driving).


The camper is due back at 11am tomorrow so it will be an earlyish start for us. I’m a bit sad that our week in the camper is over but excited to check into our apartment in Melbourne and even more exciting to wash our clothes (yes, I’m down to my last pair of underwear). 

Love as always xx

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