The Great Ocean Road

In December 1998 we explored the south coast of Australia between Adelaide and Sydney. The highlight of our trip was meant to be the Great Ocean Road west of Melbourne, but that turned out to be much more modest than we had expected - the best moments we spent on this vacation were in the green hills northeast of Melbourne (Upper Yarra Valley) and the Adelaide hills east of Adelaide. We weren't too lucky with the weather, either, with temperatures in the mid twenties most of the time but warming to mid thirties towards the end. The mercury hit 42°C (108°F) on the day that we went to the Grampian mountains so we weren't able to do much walking there. December is high summer in Australia, of course.

Our two weeks went like this:

  • 19: December: Rydge's Hotel, Melbourne.
  • 20: Fruit Salad Cottages, Marysville
  • 21: Dalrymples, Marysville
  • 22: Begin Great Ocean Road. Overnight at Stanmorr B&B, Lorne.
  • 23: Leave Great Ocean Road. Two nights at Quamby Homestead. Tour of Grampians on 24th.
  • 25-28: Spend Xmas day driving 700km west towards Adelaide.... Xmas dinner on Mount Lofty. Spend three nights at ???????????.
  • 29: Drive 3 hours to Barossa Valley. Find a family already occupying the Miner's Cottage we had booked. Drive 3 hours back to ????????? for another night.
  • 30: Return to Barossa wine valley. Two nights at Collingrove Homestead. Tour the wineries...
  • 1 January: Two nights in Adelaide at Director's Studio apartments. A$78 a night including breakfast!
  • 3: Fly back to HK via Sydney.

This tree near Marysville, northeast of Melbourne, had taken on an almost human shape. Now, what are the chances of this happening naturally?

The "Great Ocean Road" should be renamed the "Great Disappointment". Maybe it's because we had such high expectations of this drive that we found it so much more modest than we expected? The highlights of the drive were towering stacks like these - the most famous ones are called the 12 apostles but this photo shows some others further west.

Between the great Ocean Road and Adelaide we drove inland and stopped at a homestead called Quamby. This (below left) is the back of the main building - we stayed in what used to be the servants' quarters. We enjoyed our stay here, largely thanks to the efforts of our wonderful host, Edna.

After Quamby, we drove 700 km towards Adelaide, reaching the Adelaide hills by nightfall. We were delighted to find this cabin in a lush valley, a cherry orchard at our doorstep. This is one of the few places whose address will not appear on these pages. Imagine if all my devoted readers decided to visit this place! Let's just say it's close to Mount Lofty, and this high elevation is responsible for the significant rainfall and the corresponding lushness so untypical of South Australia.

We spent many days here!

A short drive from our cottage took us to Cleland Wildlife Reserve. It was nice to see animals in such large enclosures but we much preferred the sanctuary we had visited in Port Douglas, Queensland during our previous trip. Anyway, here's a koala.

Collingrove is (in Australian terms) a historic building, owned by the National Trust. The house and everything in it, like this statuette, belonged to the Angas family, one of the first families to settle in the Barossa,

Collingrove has a great hot tub - vigorous bubbles, not too hot and a strong smell of wet oak resin...

There are more than 50 wineries in the Barossa valley - this is one of the prettiest (). But the best wines come from wineries like Hennschke, Rockford, Peter Lehmann... we brought back more than 20 bottles...

One of the best things about Australia is the bird life - so many exotic birds! Our favorite right now is the Kookaburra - it has such a funny laugh. This photo shows a kingfisher but the Kookaburra looks a little the same.

After 3000 km and two weeks, the tour's over, folks! A final kiss...