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Early Retirement Travels - Week 7 Australia

Another great Great Ocean Road view

The Great Ocean Road doesn’t always do what it says. While day one had us following the coast, our second day took us inland shortly after leaving Apollo Bay.

Driving through the Otway National Park, surrounded by ancient rainforest was a treat. Different, but every bit as good as driving along the coast. The Great Ocean Road route gives you coast, rainforest and some rolling farmland to boot – three for the price of one, a bargain not to be missed.

We stopped at Maits Rest and followed a walking route through the rain forest. It’s a different world, colder, darker and seriously damp. If you stand still for too long the moss may start to grow on you. After the inland detour, the route pops back out on the coast, and before long we're at the famous Twelve Apostles. In fact only seven are left, but they're impressive nonetheless. With so many stunning vistas, we spent the afternoon jumping in and out of the car at the various lookout spots.

Our Great Ocean Road drive finished at Warrambool. Two days for the trip felt right. We’d had sunshine, pouring rain, beaches, cliffs, rainforest, farmland, lighthouses, seaside towns and more in between. It’s billed as a must do trip and it doesn't disappoint.

The original plan was to keep the rental car and drive the fastest route to Adelaide after finishing the Great Ocean Road. The cost of a one way rental soon changed that. Instead we returned the car to Melbourne and flew down to Adelaide for a third of the cost.

It turned into a good plan as we detoured via the Grampians National Park on our route back to Melbourne. They may not be the highest mountains, but reaching to over 1,000 metres they're another reminder of the different landscapes in Australia. It’s much more than the Bondi Beach image that many of us default to.

Adelaide was another place we hadn’t originally planned on. We added it on the recommendation of two Adelaide locals, Paul, who recommended it via comments on my blog, and Jodie whom Sally used to work with.

It has the feel of a smaller city than it’s 1.3 million people might suggest, with lower rise buildings, lots of parkland and fewer tourists. After our early morning flight from Melbourne, we explored the city centre, enjoyed the Immigration Museum (free to enter), before a relaxing walk along the river.

On Thursday we met up with the same Paul that recommended Adelaide, and his wife Jill. We got on so easily, it’s difficult to imagine we hadn’t met in person before. They took us for a walk in Belair National Park so that Sally could see Koala’s – she saw lots, followed by lunch at Paul’s “cycle ride coffee shop”, before visiting two wineries for tastings in the afternoon.

It was a fantastic day. We’ve enjoyed so much about Australia, but it’s difficult to beat the times spent with friends, both old and new. Saying thank you to Paul and Jill for taking the time to show us around doesn’t seem enough. Perhaps we can return the favour one day.

The wine tasting with Paul and Jill clearly whetted our taste buds, and we booked a wine tasting trip to the Barossa Valley for the next day. Sally was in her element, two wineries in the morning, lunch, then two more wineries for tastings in the afternoon. I wasn’t complaining either! We’re probably not much wiser about wine, but we had a fun time, and not even a headache in the morning.

We arrived at our last full day in Australia. A visit to Adelaide Central Market in the morning, followed by a trip to the very pleasant beach suburb of Glenelg in the afternoon. We metaphorically and literally watched the sun set on our Australian adventure, looking out to sea while sipping a cold beer (wine for Sally). It all seemed rather fitting.

Time and our travels move on though, and the 3:30am alarm soon sounded to make our early morning flight to Hong Kong. Around twelve hours later we’re knocking on the door of one of my Dubai running friends, Brian, and his wife Theresa, who moved to Hong Kong a month before. Did I mention how great it is mixing travelling with friends? I think I may have!

Daily diary and costs

I'm including a list of what we did during our week and the approximate costs - I'm using this part of my blog as a mini diary for myself, but feel free to read if you're interested.

Week 7 - what we've done:

Monday - Great Ocean Road Day 2.

Tuesday - Grampian National Park and drive back to Melbourne

Wednesday - Adelaide. Early flight from Melbourne to Adelaide. A little exploring of the city on foot.

Thursday - Adelaide. Met up with Paul and Jill. Belair "koala" walk, Paul's bike café lunch, wine tasting.

Friday - Adelaide - Barossa Valley wine tasting trip.

Saturday - Adelaide. Central Market in the morning, Glenelg in the afternoon.

Sunday - Flight to Hong Kong, Saw Brian and Theresa.

Week 7 - we spent a total of £1,182 / $1,666 for 2 people on:

Accommodation £408 / $575

Meals/Coffee/Snacks £316 / $445

Transport £243 / $342 Flight from Melbourne to Adelaide, 2 day's car hire plus fuel, airport transfers

Attractions/Fees £204 / $288 Wine tasting trips

Toiletries £6 / $9

Laundry £1 / $1

Telephone £4 / $6


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