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Published: December 21st 2017
We arrived into Victoria slightly ahead of schedule. In true Mau and Donal style, we forewent the opportunity to have a lazy day and decided instead to squeeze in a visit to the Grampians National Park. What's another 360km at this stage! The Grampians turned out to be one of the most beautiful places we have visited with lots of hiking opportunities and breathtaking panoramic views! Sunset from Mount William (the highest peak at 1,167m) was a definite highlight, helped by the fact that we got to share the evening with just one other couple (and a bottle of red). Note: Donal was the designated driver so no prizes for guessing who enjoyed sunset more!! Our second highlight was an early morning hike up Mount Abrupt the next day as it provided the best views of our Grampian adventure and thanks to our early alarm call we had it all to ourselves!
The next leg of our road-trip was the Great Ocean Road, one of Australia's most iconic and scenic driving routes. We were literally stopping the camper van every few minutes to enjoy all of the coastal highlights - London Bridge, the 12 Apostles, the Gibson steps, etc. none
of which would be out of place with the likes of the Cliffs of Moher and the Kilkee cliff walk at home! We stopped in some of the picturesque coastal towns and beaches along the way for walks and of course coffees (with Mau now rating her cappuccinos on a scale of 1 to 5, the search for a 5 in Australia is still ongoing).
We spent our last night with our camper van in the coastal town of Geelong just south west of Melbourne. We treated ourselves to some sinful but amazing fish and chips, before facing the daunting task of packing up the backpacks once again (first world problems we know).
After bidding our farewells to Stewie (the camper van) in Melbourne, we made a mad dash across the city to meet Donal's relatives for some Sunday afternoon drinks and catchups.
Having heard lots about Australia's cities over the years, and having had friends and family move here, we were excited to explore Melbourne and see what all the fuss was about. We both fell in love with the city. It's hard to define what it is that lures you in. It's a combination of
a lot of things: the weather and the outdoors lifestyle that this enables; the laneway culture; the fantastic tram system, the people, the nearby beaches...the list just goes on. Donal's Uncle Tossie captured the essence of Australia well when he described it as "Tír na nÓg".
Walking through Melbourne's laneways, we got a great feel for the history, the cafe culture, foodie vibes and famous street art. Our trip to the Immigration Museum gave us some great insights into the melting pot that is Melbourne; from its convict history to the many people who have immigrated here over the years - some seeking better economic opportunities and better climates; others fleeing wars, conflict and famines, etc.
23 days and 6,608km later, our Darwin to Melbourne adventure has come to an end. When we started planning this road trip we were looking forward to Ayer's Rock and Melbourne but as we travelled down through the continent we were completely blown away and surprised everyday by how much Australia has to offer - from national parks, vineyards, beaches and underground towns, to the Great Ocean Road and everything in between, it really has been an amazing road trip. Thankfully this
isn't the end of our Australian adventure. Our next stop is Cairns where we start our second road trip down the east coast to Sydney.
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