This Is Definitely Australia’s Most Underrated Roadtrip
Everyone should do the drive between these two capital cities at least once.
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Fewer things in life give you as much freedom and exhilaration as getting behind the wheel and taking off on the open road. We trace the two options when it comes to Australia’s most underrated road-trip: Melbourne to Adelaide. From the short, direct route, to the meandering five-day epic along the Great Ocean Road. We give you tips on places to stop, amazing natural things to see and other insider information.
Route #1: The Long Road
Stop one is the rugged Surf Coast. Take a quick dip at Bells Beach in Jan Juc, home of the renowned Rip Curl Pro surf competition or visit the world’s largest surfing museum at Torquay.
Take your time along the Great Ocean Road. Rain, hail or shine it hands down lives up to the hype. Don’t miss the lighthouse at Aireys Inlet (made famous by the cult classic Round The Twist), the Lorne Sea Baths for some flips on the in-ground trampolines, the Twelve Apostles (obviously!) and the secluded beach of Loch Ard Gorge.
Just after Wye River, take a right to Otway Fly. It’s an hour off your path, but the hidden park perched high up in the rainforest offers a daring zip line and a tree top walk. While you’re in the neighbourhood, visit the gorgeous Triplet Falls.
Restock your car snacks at Cheese World, a tuckshop stuffed with delicious local cheeses, just before you hit Warrnambool. Their cafe gets an honourable mention for the best milkshakes in the region, made with delicious Timboon Ice Cream.
Take things slow as you pass the quant and quiet fishing village of Port Fairy. Stroll or drive the town’s historic streets, visit an old-time candy store or treat yo’ self with baked goods at one of the main street cafes.
Fifteen minutes out of Portland is Cape Bridgewater, possibly one of the best beaches in Australia (no joke), made that much more beautiful by the fact that few people know about it. Rugged cliffs and sand dunes surround the sweeping surf beach. Keep an eye out for whales or dolphins, and if you’re energetic take a cliff-top hike to the mainland’s only colony of fur seals. Over the hill is Bridgewater Lakes where you can wakeboard and waterski ’til your hearts content.
Around the town of Mount Gambier, the limestone earth has formed some incredible sinkholes and caves. The most picture-perfect one is the Umpherston Sinkhole which has been turned into a lush sunken garden oasis. Or try the Blue Lake or Little Blue Lake if you’d like swim or cliff-jump.
In charming Robe, check out the award-wining Mahalia Coffee Roasting House, the Ice Cream and Lolly Shop and Long Beach, which is one of the few beaches in Oz that you can actually drive your car on; you don’t even need a 4WD.
No Aussie road trip would be complete without seeing something “big”. Standing 17 meters high is The Big Lobster in the coastal town of Kingston. Eat like a king while you’re there.
You should also take a solid walk through the Coorong National Park, where white sandy beaches, rolling sand hills and salt lagoons meet. The wetlands here attract an abundance of birdlife and animals; it’s pretty much the Kakadu of the south. You’ll wish you were staying longer. Victor Harbor is busting with cafes, art galleries, wildlife parks and watersports. It’s driven more towards families but trust us, you won’t be bored.
Celebrate the end of your trip by tasting some of Australia’s best wines in picturesque McLaren Vale region. Please don’t go past the Shiraz; it’s the area’s specialty.
Route #2: For The Time-Poor
If you’re short of time, don’t be deterred. Even the inland route is scattered with plenty of wonders that you can see in a day. Head towards Ballarat to browse the retro clothes and collectables at The Mill Markets. It’s open seven days a week and is right on the highway, so you can’t – and shouldn’t – miss it.
When you see the jaw-dropping Grampians on the horizon, consider a rest stop (and a cheese platter) in the rustic setting of Best’s Wines Great Western. Or if you have an hour to spare, turn off at Ararat for a meal at the “true blue” Barney’s Bistro or take a dip in Lake Fyans. Both are not too far out of the way and worth the time, we promise. Even though this is the short route, there are plenty of places to sleep over in the Grampians, if you start feeling the effects of all that driving.
Before Stawell, take a snap for your ‘gram at Sister Rocks, a gigantic and eerie rock formation on the side of the highway which has been heavily graffitied from top to toe. Keep a look out for the Giant Koala in Dadswells Bridge, too. As mentioned, Australians all love a “big” thing, and the weirder the better.
By now you must be hungry, yes? How about a Spaghetti Bolognese Pie? Grab one to go from Conway Pies on Pynsent Sreet in Horsham. You’re welcome.
Take note as you cruise through the farming town of Dimboola – you now have some homework to do. The town is the setting for a famed eponymous 1979 film based on a 1969 play about a local wedding. It’s a hoot. Five hours in, high five your mates as you cross the border into South Australia and cruise into Bordertown. If you’d like to see a family of albino kangaroos (and who wouldn’t?), stop by the Bordertown Wildlife Park.
For another Kodak moment, pose with the ‘Land Rover On A Pole’ in the town of Keith. It’s a commemoration of a land clearance scheme in the ’50s which expanded local agriculture. It’s so very Australian.
The towns of Tailem Bend and Murrary Bridge will spoil you with breathtaking views of the mighty Murray River, but the jewel of this region is a beautiful pink lake that plays tricks on your eyes. The colour comes from algae so it’s sadly not safe for swimming, but it’s heaven to see.
You are so close – last stop, Hahndorf: a delightfully strange and super trendy German village on the outskirts of Adelaide. It’s Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. Who knew?
With locations all around Australia no two YHAs are the same: from train carriages, to old movie theatres, a former prison cell, a tropical bungalow or a purpose-built eco-hostel, YHA is the number one choice.