Well, I have to admit Melbourne surprised me big time! I wasnt sure what to expect exactly from this city but it definitely wasnt the “family friendly”, exciting, clean and fun city that kept our family busy during our week-and-a-bit stay.
We chose to stay a little way out of the city at the BIG4 Dandenong. Nice and handy to our mates at the Jayco factory where we grabbed ourselves a new Fiamma wind out awning for our camper to replace our bagged-type awning. They delivered it too as we were only across the road!
Another great thing about staying at this park was we were once again treated to the company of Ramona and Brian (from “Home is where our van is” fame) who we had met back in Eden. It was great catching up again with them and had the pleasure of meeting their daughter and grandkids. Cooper and his new friend Haydee had a few opportunities to play together in the park and got along like a house on fire. I know Cooper had a ball and still talks about meeting Haydee and her little brother Phoenix who is only a little younger than Leo. Watching 2 toddlers interact, both with cheeky personalities provided some great photo opportunities and some even better entertainment. (thanks for the company guys)
Whilst our stay in Melbourne was relatively short, we spent most days out and about seeing the popular tourists spots like the Brighton bathing boxes, St Kilda beach and even had a brief visit to the real “Ramsay St” (the mythical street from the Neighbours TV show).
Driving through Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs weren’t as daunting as first thought, once we got familiar with the main roads we were whipping in and out of the city quite easily but wary of the peak hour chaos.
The city of Melbourne really has a “cultured” feel about the place. Old buildings that have been well looked after, the city trams giving the place an ambience of yesteryear and the modern “kitsch” styles of art in Federation Square and along the famous “cappuccino strip” of Lygon Street. It just seemed to have a fun and stylish feel about unlike that of other capital cities we have visited.
Jane and the kids spent a full day catching public transport into and around the city. Hopping aboard the “city circle” tram which circles the city and stops and the city’s most popular attractions. A full day was spent visiting the museum, Flinders Street Station, Federation Square the Docklands, Chinatown and just browsing the inner-city laneways and enjoying the artwork in general.
Melbourne really is the shopping, food and art capital of Australia. There is something here for everyone- honestly!
Leaving Melbourne and finally driving the much anticipated Great Ocean Road!
We left the BIG4 at Dandenong and headed south along the Mornington Peninsula. We took our time so we could see as much of the smaller towns along the way as possible. We stayed along the foreshore at Sorrento that night so we could be close by to the Sorrento to Queenscliff ferry (an alternative to driving right around through Melbourne to the other side of Port Phillip Bay). The first 2 ferry trips of the day are much cheaper when you have a caravan so we wanted to take advantage of that. The ferry ride was only 40mins and was cold and wet. Everyone else took shelter inside the lounge area but we weren’t missing out on the trip by locking ourselves inside. We were out on the top deck braving the cold wind and enjoying our short cruise over Port Phillip Bay.
We drove off the ferry into Queenscliff but were very excited to get moving along the GOR. The weather was predicted to be a bit overcast and chance of rain, so we wanted to make some distance whilst the sun was looking like staying out for a while. Our timing could probably had been a bit better - it just so happened that it was “Schoolies Week” and the small coastal towns like Apollo bay, Lorne and Torquay were pretty busy with teenage revellers celebrating their completion of formal schooling. They looked like they were having fun, but I guess for us as a family the late night partying, busy caravan parks and crowded towns/beaches weren’t something we thought we would really enjoy so we did drive straight through the towns but spent plenty of time pulled over in the stopping bays along the scenic drive. The camera sure got a workout and we were truly spoilt by the sights of the dramatic coastline, rocky outcrops and amazing colours of the cliffs.
Johanna Beach became our stop for the night. A free camp that seemed to be very popular with other families too! The only catch was there was no water and we had made the mistake of not having any in our tanks despite have 2x 90 litre tanks on our camper. Our water supply was only what was in our fridge!(we admit this was poor planning but we didn’t know where we were going to spend the night). Johanna Beach was a great spot but due to our water limit it was only a 1 nighter. We left early the next morning and we stopped at the 12 Apostles (not quite that many standing now). We were there before the mad rush of tourists and coaches- so we had a chance to enjoy the place almost to ourselves for a few photos.
We enjoyed the GOR so much and agreed that it was done a little too quickly, we have decided to re-do the GOR again, early this year (2013).