I’m obviously a bit of a travel sadist as I was ready to be on the road again & very much looking forward to ‘The Great Ocean Road’ – WOW – it does not disappoint – we could have stopped 20 more times to take photos & be awed by the view! As the road hugged the coast closer, the scenery became more spectacular, the roads became windier, and G started feeling ill. (Admission: The majesty of the Great Ocean Road is slightly ruined by a toddler threatening to puke in the seat directly behind you). We stopped a few times – but really had to find our next place before dark (we were staying in a remote place, no phone signal, no internet & GPS didn’t recognise it… so we thought arriving in daylight was essential!). We persuaded G back in to the car, advised her to take deep breaths, look out of the window etc etc. Anyway – the inevitable happened – this might sounds nuts… but I feel weirdly proud of G for puking into the small paper bag I handed her…. the bag was full… not a drop on her or the car… perhaps one of those things only a mother can appreciate??!
We arrived at Tall Trees (near Apollo Bay) in the daylight (yay!) to find lamas grazing in our garden, right outside our front door … G was delighted. (She then referred to them as ‘my friends’ for the rest of our stay… which is making me worry about depriving her of social interaction!). It was great to stay somewhere so different after so many beaches… up in the trees it was weird how cold it was – duvets needed on the bed & coats on when we went for our morning forest walk to spot wildlife. Unfortunately the only wildlife we encountered was a weird leach thing that decided to attach itself on to my ankle 😫
After 2 nights we were packed up, strapped in and ready to go….. the car however was not . . . it was dead! Not a cough, not a whimper! Adam’s valiant attempt to push start the thing by rolling it down the gravel track hill we were on only revealed one of those life lessons you can only learn by trying . . . it turns out you can’t push start an automatic! We were incredibly lucky that the chap that owns the place had jump leads and helped Adam get the car going… and we were on our way to Port Fairy.
The drive to Port Fairy required a brief stop for lunch to break up the journey… we checked the map and selected the quaint sounding Princetown which kind of looked like a town next to a beach on the map – it was in fact 3 shops at the top of a hill… the sea was nearby allegedly? After this stop the drive became quite simply jaw dropping… the rocks in the sea & rugged coastline… our photos do not do it justice! Among other formations, we saw; 12 Apostles, London Bridge, Bay of Islands….
We were only in Port Fairy for 1 night, so I booked a holiday park. To be honest holiday parks are not a huge amount cheaper than an Airbnb… but it means guaranteed entertainment for G in between 2 days of driving… so we arrive and unpack in 5 minutes (how did we ever cope without packing cubes . . why didn’t we have them before??) and the 4 of us head to the ‘heated’ pool. G is coming on leaps and bounds and can swim a good few metres without holding on to us now! Not quite sure what stroke she is aiming for, its sort of a butterfly, breast stroke, doggy paddle combo . . but it works. F and I were in the toddler pool – with him giggling his head off as he splashed! Then as I cooked dinner – G heads off to the giant jumping pillow (Adam in tow) & she is in heaven!
We wanted to head off early the next day…. so were on Port Fairy beach just after 9am… planning on an hour’s drive before stopping for lunch in a place called Portland (who knows what this will be like) and possible playground energy zapper before another couple of hours drive. Glad we were early because as we left the beach at 10.30am the sun was too hot to sit on the beach comfortably!
The day kind of went to plan… lunch in Portland at a random cafe (after the first 2 we’d selected from TripAdvisor were shut…. something we’re finding increasingly as we head in to rural areas… times are ‘ish’ – or they just close when the surf’s good etc). We made a slight detour to see the Blue Lake at Mount Gambier… twas indeed very blue and worth the stop, but we didn’t look at it for long as the sun was baking hot and heading for 40 degrees!
Along this drive at some point… we noticed our iPhones had done something a little odd & set their clocks back half an hour… strange we thought… then arrived in Robe to find the house clock ‘wrong’ by the same amount…. we had no idea (and there were no signs) to tell us this. Who knew South Australia is half an hour behind??? This means at some point on the later part of the drive our crappy Mitsubishi Outlander became a Delorean and we traveled back in time. 😂😂😂 (Sorry that was Adam referencing 1980’s Back to the Future . . . couldn’t resist!)
The lovely Airbnb host had left gifts for G (as it was her birthday) – a bucket & spade and a T-shirt (not my taste at all, so of course G adores it!).
On the morning of G & Adam’s birthdays – we were up a 7am & G discovered a pile of balloons in the living room … …and a huge ‘Happy Birthday” banner across the wall…. she was delighted – yay! ‘Are we taking the balloons to my party?’ she asks – erm, awkward 😳 She was soon distracted when we told her we were going to the Sealife Centre to see some fish… we knew it opened at 10am so off we went… to find a sign scrawled on the door ‘opening at 11am’. Those approximate opening times again! In order to avoid meltdown & to be able to fit it in – I suggested we go the highly recommended Ice cream shop in town …. off we go… and it’s closed (the website actually says it opens at 10ish 😂😂)….. aaarrggghhh plan C… we saw a playground on our way from fish place to ice cream shop … so I proposed this and G shouted ‘playground – yay!!’ Phew 😅 An hour in the playground and it was time to go to the Sealife centre again … the car is once again dead … so I walked with G, pushing F in his chair to the Sealife centre – while Adam made phone calls and got someone out to fix it! Adam jogged up to the Sealife Centre after half an hour… had 10mins there… and then jogged back to the car to wait for the roadside assistance! Happy Birthday Adam! Meanwhile – G had a whale of a time – pardon the pun – we were the only people there & the lady that ran it was clearly knowledgeable & she wanted to help educate kids about the sea & maintaining their environment etc.
We then walked back to Adam & the car (still waiting)… but luckily there was a cafe next to the playground… and so the location of Birthday lunch was decided for us! Extra lucky – it was a really nice place that we would have missed if the car hadn’t played up! The car dude turned up, fixed the car… and we drove home!
Something I didn’t mention previously – is that our AirBnB hosts – as well as leaving things for G – had left us a bottle of wine (turns out they own a vineyard and wine label) the wine was REALLY good!! They don’t have a cellar door as we have become used to … but when I said how much we enjoyed it, they offered to bring a few different bottles of wine to us for a tasting… they even brought their 10 year old daughter with them who played with G while we drank wine – win : win!!
We’d planned to go to the beach the next day…. but woke to thunderstorms and decided to get on the road…. torrential rain followed and we couldn’t see too far ahead of us due to the rain and low clouds!
Within an hour this had cleared and another beautiful day presented itself! We stopped at Meningie – which appears to be the only place to stop on the way to Goolwa – for a traditional picnic & playground break. The birds here were amazing – but Adam kept getting dived at by this beautiful bird (later identified as a Noisy Minor Bird)… we soon found why – Adam’s seat, at the picnic table, under a tree, was directly under it’s baby perched on a branch! We also counted over 30 cockatoos in another tree – Awesome!
From the start of our Australian journey , Adam and I kept expecting a kangaroo to bounce out in front of us (though it tended to be wombats that we saw at the side of the road 😢). For the most part, the roads have been pretty quiet, traffic wise and we haven’t seen much (live) wildlife while driving. However today this kangaroo managed to time its hop on an often deserted road between 3 cars coming our way & us! It made it across safely … but what an amazing sight.
Goolwa is a quaint little town just outside Adelaide… and we stayed on a renovated paddle boat.
It was lovely – moored next to a bird sanctuary – we were visited by black swans in the morning & saw pelicans, moorhens, turns, seagulls. Turns out Adam is a closet twitcher & it looks as though G might follow in his footsteps!
We had a little wander around Goolwa and although there wasn’t a huge amount to see and do, however we did stumble across a wine tasting! 🍷😆
We are very aware that we are coming to the end of our trip… so feeling a little sad…. but also excited as one of the major things I had been looking forward to was upon us…. Kangaroo Island!
I hadn’t given the short crossing to Kangaroo Island much thought… in fact I only booked the boat the week before. Good news: We turned up over an hour early… and managed to get a place on the officially full earlier boat! Bad news: Turns out it was a little rough 😣 G added a boat to her travel sickness list & hit the hat trick. She got it all in the bag again though! 😆
The place we were staying was in the middle of the island – so about 1.5hrs from the boat. After 20 mins it was clear that if we valued our eardrums we had to pull over & feed F. So we pulled over & as I fed F, I spotted an Echidna snuffling away in the grass opposite. We keep checking off those well known Aussie animals on our list!
We arrived at our accommodation around 5.30pm… and usually we are pretty slick at getting the kids fed, bags unpacked quickly and a glass of wine into our hands by 7.30pm… however we were met by the fantastic force of nature that is Jenny (our Airbnb host)… Within minutes of arrival G had a day old chick in her lap . .
We then met the 5 kangaroos that live there . . .
(they can bound off at any point – but guess they know they’re on to a good thing – our favourite Elsa was raised there after being orphaned on the road), we met Olaf the alpaca (spot the naming theme?). We were then taken for a walk and saw several koalas in the trees (including a really cute baby).
Turns out the wood fired pizza oven was still hot from the night before… so Jenny had kept it going & made us some dough in case, you know, we fancied pizza! She had G rolling out the dough & Adam chopping chorizo in no time! I got the tough job & opened a bottle of wine that we’d bought back at our Robe wine tasting. It was such a fun, sociable evening – now one of those awesome memories that will make me smile for years. At around 8.30pm – a little voice piped up and said ‘please can I go to bed now?’ and G’s neglectful parents eventually put her to bed! Adam and I enjoyed wine for a while longer after G had gone to bed, we ticked off another infamous Aussie animal, a huge Hunstman Spider on the wall bigger than my hand, but fortunately we were one and a half bottles of wine down, so it bothered us a little less than it otherwise might have.
Adam: Sorry . . I have to interrupt here to tell you one of my favourite moments of the entire trip. It was early morning the day after we arrived on the farm, I came out of the kitchen in to our play area to see not one, but two kangaroos barging through the door, knocking Averil out of the way, Georgina falling over the host’s pet dog, Buddy and hot on everyones heals a big shaggy alpaca . . . this is not a sight I am soon going to forget! Fortunately I had my iPhone in hand . . . .
It turns out that Jenny had told Averil to feed the kangaroos through the patio door, but she failed to mention to only want to open it a tiny bit . . . otherwise the Roos would let themselves in!
We only had 3 nights on Kangaroo Island – and it is probably the main place I feel I cut us short on time. There was so much to see & do – such a spectacular little island – I wish we could have had 5 nights or even a week there! We packed in as much as we could – visiting ‘Raptor Domain’ (rather than having visitors all day – they do 3 talks about the different animals and you can book on to 1, 2 or 3 talks. We did all 3 – meeting the venomous creatures of Australia, then the birds, then the reptiles.
We were the only people for the final talk so it was really interactive. We got to hold lizards, snakes, birds, eagles and we learned that not every animal in Australia is trying to kill you . . . it just can if it wants to!
The following day we managed to create a little gourmet tour – visiting a cheese farm, gin distillery & honey farm. (Adam suspects I knew about the gin place and was a key reason for our visit to Kangaroo Island – I swear I didn’t but was VERY pleased to add it to our list of things to do!)
Unfortunately Adam was not well on our last day – so we had a quiet one – but G could not have been happier – she got to hang out at the farm! Jenny had rescued a few eggs that were hatching, but had got too cold and were in danger of dying – so we got to see an egg cracked open to reveal a chick – and then kept it warm & looked after it (and a few others).
Jenny was out for the day – so G felt she was in charge of looking after the animals! I felt really sad leaving Jenny’s house – like I was saying goodbye to an old friend – bit weird after all this time to feel sad about moving on!
The only reason G wasn’t in pieces was because I told her there was a giant jumping pillow and playground at our next place.
The boat ride back to the mainland was thankfully smooth, we even glimpsed some dolphins and seals as we waited to board the ferry … and we docked at 5.30pm. I really enjoyed the drive into Adelaide as there were loads of wild kangaroos grazing in fields which was great to see. As it was a 1.5hr drive to get to the holiday park… we decided to give G&F their very first McDonalds experience – lucky things 🍔🍟😂
The cabin at Adelaide Shores Holiday Park was lovely (although we did try and get in the wrong one at first 😳 thank goodness we didn’t make it in – but seriously, why have two cabins numbered 15!!). It was perfect for our needs – beach & pool & jumping pillow to entertain G and 10 mins from the airport.
To make things easier we dropped of our hire car in the day and that night got a 3am taxi for our 6am flight to Tokyo . . although I wish someone had told us the airport didn’t open until 4am 😂😂. We suspect some security guard watching the cameras took pity on the family of four with all their bags standing outside the locked doors in the cold as after just a few minutes of us looking confused and wondering what we should do, the doors clicked and slid open and we entertained ourselves with a completely empty airport until some other people arrived.
Next stop Japan . . .