For the second half of our time in Australia we would be heading south and exploring sights around Melbourne and Sydney, the two most populous cities in Australia.
Day 359 –Tantanoola > Geelong via Great Ocean Road
The Next morning, we left Adelaide proper and made our way east and stopped at a rest stop in Dartmoor Recreational Reserve that had showers. The showers were extremely cold but we needed a shower so we took it fast and continued our drive towards the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243-kilometre (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford. The road is dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I and is is the world's largest war memorial. Much of the road hugs coastline affectionately known as the Surf Coast between Torquay and Cape Otway and has spectacular coastal viewsand rock formations. We got to the first stop near Peterborough called the Bay of Islands Coastal Park. We stopped to take pictures and moved on to the next spot called the Grotto and the London Bridge that was nearby. Next stop after that was the Arch followed by the Loch Ard Gorge before moving on to the famous Twelve Apostles.
It had been raining and cloudy all morning but it started to clear up once we reached the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, thankfully. By the time we got to the end ,where the Twelve Apostles formation was, the sun was starting to set and it was getting colder but still slightly clearer than the morning. We spent some time taking pictures but there were a dozen large tour buses so we didn't have the place to ourselves. We walked around a bit to the other viewpoints and decided to start driving to our camp site for the night before it got really dark. We made it to a highway rest stop just outside of Geelong. We made dinner and called it a night. The Great Ocean Road is often compared to the Big Sur drive along the coast of California. We’ve driven both and you can’t go wrong with either, but I would give the nod to the Great Ocean Road just because of the striking rock formations off the coast and the ability to see cool wildlife, like koalas and penguins along the way
Day 360 – Geelong > Melbourne. The camp site in Geelong was only a hour away from Melbourne and we didn't have to return the camper until 15:00.Our camper lives revolve around finding places to shower and finding free Wi-Fi, so we researched a place to shower and found a library in Melbourne with a hot shower. We headed there and it was very nice after the cold shower we had yesterday. After our showers, we noticed there was Wi-Fi coming from the bank across the street so we headed there to use it. We were trying to find another free camper from Melbourne to Sydney but there weren't any. Luckily the last minute flights weren’t as bad as we thought it would be and driving in a rented campervan would have cost the same, so we booked the roundtrip flights to Sydney and back to Melbourne late on the 29th so we can catch our red eye flight on the 30th to Queenstown. We found an Airbnb that was reasonably priced and luckily they responded very quickly that they could accommodate us. We washed the camper and took it to the return office. Then we called an Uber and headed to the Airbnb. We dropped off our bags and walked down the street to an asian grocery store nearby. We originally wanted to try out the restaurant on that block but a lot of places seemed closed. We picked up some groceries and made steaks for dinner. We spent the rest of the night planning out our New Zealand routeand booked an Airbnb for Sydney.
Day 361 – Melbourne. We had planned on doing a walking tour of Melbourne today but we woke up to rain so we decided to stay in bed and do more research and planning for NZ. We booked a campervan from Jucy for $334 for 9 days with pickup from Queenstown airport and dropoff at Christchurch. We also booked a few activities and an airbnb in Christchurch. We made some lunch and just relaxed in bed. I went for a run while Diem stayed in and caught up on some notes.
Day 362 – Melbourne > Sydney. Travel day so we packed and grabbed lunch at local Viet restaurant. Ordered Uber to airport. Flight was 1.5 hours with Jetstar. Once in Sydney, we ordered an Uber to airbnb and checked in. Then walked to grocery store. Cooked dinner and host gave us a glass of wine and watched some TV with her. Went to room and to bed.
Day 363 – Sydney. Took bus into town Went to a Salvation Army thrift store to find some winter pants/sweaters for New Zealand. Then walked to the central park for lunch that we packed that morning. Walked through the park and bu the Cathedral on our way to Town Hall where the free tour group was meeting up at 14:30 . The tour took us through downtown to Queen Victoria's statue back to the park where the Anzac Memorial was and the Cathedral. Then to an old alleyway where there were a bunch of birdcages hanging and down to the harbor just in time for sunset. We ended on the pier overlooking the bridge and opera house. After, we walked to the steps of the opera house to catch the remaining moments of the sunset and then walked to a bus stop. Took about an hour to get back, made dinner, and called it a night..
Day 364 – Sydney. Slept in today and relaxed in bed. Left around 13:00 to go to Bondi Beach. Walked along the boardwalk past the oceanfront pool down to the walkway. It was a nice sunny day but still chillly so we didn't stay long. We wanted to catch the sunset from Macquerie Park. We made it there just before 16:30 and enjoyed he view for a bit. Then took the bus back, made dinner, had some wine with the hosts and bed.
Day 365 – Sydney > Melbourne. Checking out today. We did laundry in the morning since checkout was at 13:00. We took the bus to the airport and stayed at the airport cafe for a few hours until our 22:00 flight to Melbourne and then 6:00 flight to Queenstown.
Day 366 – Melbourne > Queenstown Our Flight left on time and was supposed to be only 4 hours arriving at 11:30 but there were high winds so they had so detour to Christchurch. Our plane finally left to head back to Queenstown arriving at 14:30. We were supposed to pick up our Jucy Campervan at 12:30, but we ended up being almost 3 hours delayed arriving at 14:30. It was freezing and drizzling when we got to Queenstown and picked up our camper. I made sure we got a Fergburger (allegedly the best burger in the world) in town and then we drove straight to the grocery store and then to our campsite outside of Queenstown. Made dinner and slept early.
Melbourne and Sydney are the most populous cities of Austraia for a reason. Both cities have beautiful attractions both within the city limits and close by enough for a day trip. The jewel of Southern Australia is the Great Ocean Road though and well worth the drive. Our Australia campervan experience was a huge success. Not only did we save a bunch of money on transportation and lodging, but we had some nice bonding time in the van and learned that we could survive pretty well in a van down by the river as long as we had a kitchen, fresh food, and Diem's cooking. we also got to see a ton of the Australian countryside.
See the full gallery including our second week and a half in Australia here: Australia.