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Published: December 28th 2018
#12in2Vans was born out of this trip to Melbourne, Australia, where 2 generations of extended family come together for a road trip to the Great Ocean Road and beyond. Returning from 2 weeks from New Zealand, i was raving about how fun travelling in our own motor-home was, having the freedom to roam around wherever and whenever we wanted. Stories of us playing card games and sleeping in the vans, coupled with doing our 'business' within the van and having to clear our own poop thereafter brought a sense of curiosity to my parents and relatives. I remember vividly that it was just a coffee-shop conversation after dinner, one which eventually turned into reality, after putting the dates and itinerary together. The initial group of 6 became 8 then finally 12 where my whole family (barring my dad and 1 of my bros) jumped onto the bandwagon and took off together on this trip of a lifetime. 3 young couples, my brother and 5 middle-age adults in their 60s rented 2 caravans and off we go for #12in2Vans!
It wasn't a normal road trip or holiday that Steph and I are used to travelling to, as we had to cater
to the wide interests and wants of all in the group. Our route took us from a day in Melbourne, through the Great Ocean Road, to the Grampians, then back to Brighton and the Yarra Valley, before 2 nights to round off the trip in Philips Island. We also managed to slot in 2 nights of farm-stay and universal activities like berries-picking in fruit farms and light trekking for everyone. Though it was only a short week abroad in an environment not found in Singapore, our group of 12 quickly adapted to life in the caravans and embraced the idea of a "home on wheels". We had the 3 young couples in Van #1 led by myself, and the rest in Van #2 capably led by my brother with the older generation. Below are the key moments and highlights from our trip: 1. Bellevue Farm-stay + Master-chef in the making
If I were to pick my favourite part of the trip, it would be the 2 nights in Bellevue farm-stay
, a home away from home. We spent 2 cosy nights here with incredibly lovely hosts. I LOVE (in caps) this place due to multiple reasons. The warmth of the
place, both the hospitality and literally from the fireplace, kept us all comfy and nice. We arrived late into the farm stay but Warren was waiting for us at the entrance, preparing to get us in and orientate us to the lovely home. The home was massive by Singapore standard, with an well equipped kitchen, large common space, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The farm was surrounded by lush greenery, as we found out the next morning, waking up to clear blue skies. The farm animals seemingly were waiting for our arrival, you name it, they have it: a Camel, Deer, herd of Sheep, Alpacas, Horse, Pigs, etc. The combination of good weather, lovely environment, having all "stars-aligned" prompted us to take our pre-wedding shots there, and they turned out amazing thanks to my brother’s photography skills (check him out here!
). The farm feeding session was also extremely interactive and informative, as Warren brought us around the farm to the various animals' delight. No surprise there as the Alpacas were our favourite animals. Also loved how my entire extended family of 12, especially my mum, had so much fun interacting with their new found friends. We hardly have farm animals anymore in Singapore,
let alone so many different species! We capped off a memorable day having a mini master chef competition, cooking dinner with each 'couple' serving 1 specialty dish. It was a fun night seeing everyone cooperating and chipping in in various capacity. If anyone is in the area, I highly highly recommend paying them a visit. Stay 2 nights, 1 week, even more if you can! 2. The Grampians - Mackenzie falls
I looked forward to the Grampians and especially loved the experience of us walking together to the waterfalls. This brought back good memories of us siblings trekking in Philippines back in 2017. Our uncle (ah Tio) joined us as well! It was a steep descend, albeit with steps. The sweetest bit of the walk was when it brought us directly into the face of the waterfall, like right smack in front of it! Standing there, staring at the grace of the waters gushing down the cliff, with the mist spraying on us is a feeling that makes one crave for the outdoors so much. We managed to walk further following the stream of waters, before returning back up to reunite with the aunties who opted to walk
on the flatter trail to the lookout point. 3. Hall Gap Caravan Park - sleeping with the Roos
Sleeping at night in Hall’s Gap Caravan Park
. Why was it memorable? Because we had special company in the form of troops of kangaroos having their dinner by our ‘bedside’! The beauty of the park is that it is nestled in the nature and these cute creatures come out on their rounds nightly. A perfect mash of wildlife and nature, humans and structures. The night sky full of stars beacon-ed us to take photos with them and we complied, having fun with tiny trail lights in the cooling night. 4. Yarra Valley
We had a full day of vastly different activities starting with the Warratina Lavender Farm
in the morning where the oldies managed to get supplies of lavender-produced products ranging from honey to sachets and balms. It wasn't quite the season yet for the flowers to bloom fully so we moved on to the next stop shortly for strawberries picking at Yarra Valley Gateway Estate
. The season was short but sweet (pun intended!) as we 'hunted' down the bright red colours among the sea of green. We enjoyed the fruits of our labour (pun intended
again!) immediately after, munching on the sweetest of fruits that day. Afterwards, it was a scenic lunch affair at Domaine Chandon
vineyard before capping off with chocolate treats at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
in the evening. 5. Philip Island
Last but not least, getting up close to animals (again!) this time round with Koalas, more Kangaroos, Wallabies, Owls, in the Philip Island wildlife park
, and then little penguins at night with the famed Philip Island Penguin Parade
. We waited very long in the cold and had prime seats right at the edge on the beach but alas the little penguin took another path from the ocean towards to dry lands and did not walk directly in front of us. Nonetheless on the boardwalk way back, we managed to catch many of them waddling towards their homes! It’s really amazing how these small creatures can survive in the vast oceans in the day and return home unscathed at the end of the day.
The trip ended in the early morning when we drove all the way back to the airport. The funniest thing in life is how much you miss something only when it’s taken away from u. Just like my mum, who had difficulty adjusting to sleeping
in the caravan at the start. She complained about how cold it was in the first night but when the same question was posted in the last morning, she said she had the best sleep ever! What an irony! Hahaha. I guess.. Treasure the good times while we have them!
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