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The Roadtrip Part Three

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We survived the night in the koala-infested outback – all of us kept our limbs too which was great news. The rest of the group continued to embrace the great outdoors while I yearned for a bit of civilisation. The weather, however, made it worthwhile as we ate our breakfast in the sun and prepared our picnic lunch.

The plan for the day was to dip our toes into South Australia by driving up to Mount Gambier on the border, where we would also be able to view the Blue Lakes. This was another place Erin and I had checked off on our roadtrip in January but I was looking forward to seeing them from a different angle.

The Blue Lakes earn their name by the colour of the water that resides in huge craters just above the town of Mount Gambier. Formed over centuries, the pools are fed minerals from volcanic matter that then causes the surface of the lake to be a vivid blue colour. During the summer months, the lakes turn from a turquoise colour to a bright blue, almost reflecting the blueness of the sky. While we were there in October, the pool was yet to change colour, but was still a pretty impressive prospect.

For any Geo-Cachers out there, this is also a good spot to make a discovery.

From Mount Gambier, we made our way to the Grampians and on the journey we were rewarded with stunning scenery. Some of the way, we drove along dirt tracks and long straight roads. The heat of the day was getting to us and we were desperate to get to our destination so that we could partake in some form of ice-cream. We had also been promised a waterfall with a pool beneath it which we could cool ourselves in.

After around three hours of driving, we reached Halls Gap, were the Grampians National Park tourist centre is located. We stopped off to see if we could find a map and more of an idea where we were going, and saw that the area had been recently devastated by bush fires.  The visitors centre at Halls Gap is dedicated to conservation, educating visitors to the area and providing advice and information to those who are looking to explore the surrounding ranges.

We hopped back into our van and drove up to MacKenzie Falls. On the drive we saw the extent of the bush fires in the blackened bushes and trees which covered the sides of the road. Other than the devastation, there were actually some beautiful views down the valley and to the surrounding flat countryside.

There is a gentle walk down to the bP1000645 2ottom of the falls which encompasses sights of the smaller falls that lead to the bigger falls. As with Erskine Falls, we met hikers coming up from the bottom of the falls warning us about the climb. They looked even more exhausted than those we’d met at Erskine and after our climb down, we saw why. It took around ten minutes to reach the bottom, but we were rewarded with a vast and picturesque fall. There was a pool at the bottoms of the fall which discouraged swimming. We did, however, take a dip into the pool to cool down from the long climb.

P1000645 3We were lucky enough that the sun started shining as soon as we had made it to the bottom of the falls and we were therefore able to stay there for a few hours, paddling and sunbathing. The walk back to the top was just as difficult as we had been told. Stef and I powered on, convinced we wouldn’t get to the top unless we got there as quickly as possible. It was a blessing to get back into the air conditioned van.

Back to Halls Gap, and to a popular Halls Gap institution, Coolas Ice Creamery. There are 24 flavours of ice cream to choose from, and I thoroughly recommend their home made waffle cone. While ice cream is perfect for a sunny Australian afternoon, it was actually pouring down with rain when we went to get our ice creams. It didn’t diminish the experience though.

We jumped back on the WikiCamps app and found a couple of possible sites to make camp for the evening. There first site we drove to, completely off the beaten track, was like something from the Blair Witch Project. The general consensus was that we didn’t want to stay there and instead we drove for another fifteen minutes to a rather more civilised looking campsite. We parked up and walked around to discover what the campsite offered and found a few long drops littered around the site along with bucket showers. Once again, I was unenthusiastic about the facilities but we made do.

P1000646After our final night in our van-top tent, we awoke to a glorious morning in the Grampians and prepared for our journey back to Melbourne. We packed up the tent, took care of breakfast and used the tap we had parked next to, to wash our hair, with the help of a plastic bowl. The day could have been incredibly boring compared to the past few days but we managed to pick up a puncture on the way back to Halls Gap. Luckily, some very kind men came over and help us change the tyre and directed us to a good tyre place in nearby Stawell where we could buy a new tyre and get it replace.P1000648

Using our feminine wiles (which was actually all down to Dayna and her ability to Highland fling), we managed to only pay $20 for the new tyre and the labour to get it replaced on the van.

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Our return to Melbourne was slightly against the clock as our puncture had thrown us off schedule, but we got back just in time and handed our van back over to the guys at Wicked Campers.

I would recommend that anyone who is visiting Melbourne should take the time to visit the Great Ocean Road. The places you visit whilst there and the things you see will stay with you for a long time after you leave. I enjoyed it enough to do it twice, in two very different ways; whether you travel the whole road in one day, or take your time, you are sure to have some excellent adventures.

 

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