Camper Van life style
The next day in the morning after breakfast we checked out and we went to car rental to pick up our car. As you know us, we don’t like traveling as tourists, we prefer the local vibe, that’s why we decided to travel around Australia by camper van. We had never travelled by camper van before, so it was a new exciting experience for us.
What you need to know about driving around Australia, is that the steering wheel is on the same side as in UK and Ireland but the road signs are in km/h like in Ireland (not like in UK or US). For me, it was a normal drive but for Elodie it was something new. Alright, we picked everything from car rental office (camping chairs, cooler, pillows), so it was time to go to discover the region of Victoria. The first stop of our journey around Australia was 12 Apostles, which are located 275 km from Melbourne. To get there it took us around 4hours.
12 Apostles and Gibson Steps
12 Apostles is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, located by the Great Ocean Road. Created by constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland beginning 10–20 million years ago, the stormy Southern Ocean and blasting winds gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs. The caves eventually became arches and when they collapsed rock stacks up to 45 meters high were left isolated from the shore.
When we arrived there, we parked at the visitor’s center. If you are interested, you can get inside and see the exhibition to learn more historical facts. You can also skip the visitor center and go straight to the main attraction. We took the second option. On our way we noticed unusual signs like beware of snakes etc. After 5 minutes walk, we finally saw 12 Apostles our right-hand side. The view was great, but there were many tourists around and we wanted to get down to walk around the beach, touch the water, be in a less crowded place etc.
Before we arrived to 12 apostles, Elodie checked some nearby places. One of the places on our list was Gibson Steps, located 2km from 12 Apostles. We took few pictures and we came back to our car quickly to reach our next destination before sunset.
It was very easy to find a free spot around the carpark so we took our gimbals, cameras and started walking towards Gibson Steps. If you are too lazy, there is a small designated viewing area looking out over the ocean next to the carpark, but we kept walking to the beach. After 1 minute walk from the viewpoint, we found 86 step stairs to get down to the beach.
The steps were carved into the face of the cliff by local settler Hugh Gibson. That’s why the place has been called Gibson steps. When we went down, finally we had a chance to walk around. To be honest, we enjoyed this place more than the previous one.
We took more pictures, walked around the beach, went for a swim and spent around 2 hours there.
In the end we decided to stay overnight at Apollo Bay to enjoy the views of the Great Ocean Road.
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Next Day we woke up in the morning and we took national road to Sydney.
From Apollo Bay to Sydney by National Road
Many people advised us go to Sydney by coast. We agreed but we also wanted to spend more time in Sydney, that’s why we decided to go to Sydney by national road and find places to stop around. By coast we decided to go on our way back to Melbourne. When I was checking the map and the distance left for Melbourne, in my mind I was thinking: “Alright it’s only 870km, so it will take us only 9 hours of drive”. But the reality was different.
When you drove around Australia, no matter where, there are cameras and speed limits everywhere. If there are no camera, there’s the police and it’s very easy to get fined for exceeding the speed limit. Even on the highway the speed limit is 110km/h. Imagine yourself in a car with 27 degrees outside. It’s not a comfortable journey. Also, you can drive 100km without encountering anything on your way (no gas station, place to make a stop etc.). It is very important to make a break when you feel tired, you want to change the driver and you don’t think: “Ok, I’ll stop at another place” because you don’t know when there will be the next opportunity to do so.
One of our stops on the way to Sydney was Baileys of Glenrowan winery. This winery exists since 1870. When you arrive there, you can still see the historic buildings, which includes the original winery, Clydesdale stables and Blacksmith’s forge.
In the end of your tour, there is of course a wine tasting session, where the employees can answer all of your additional questions about the wine making process. Elodie’s favorite wine was Block Shiraz and mine Fronti Rose.
After our local wine tasting we stopped to do groceries and after 1 hour of searching we found a camping spot to stay overnight.
On the next day we had another full day of drive. The good thing in our journey was that there were only 370km left to the capital so our goal was to arrive in the afternoon. This time we decided to stop at Kosciuszko National Park.
This Park is a 6,900 square – kilometer big and contains mainland Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, after which it is named. We stopped there for hiking and of course to take few pictures.
After our lunch we hit the road again and finally we arrived to Sydney. This time instead of sleeping in a camper van we stayed at my Mum’s friend Wanda. I was so happy that we arrived to Sydney on time because we have arrived one day before St. Patrick’s Day in Sydney. How does the celebration of this day look like? I’ll tell you in the part 3 . Stay tuned!
Did you have a chance to visit places which we visited? I’m curious about your experience, don’t hesitate to share your opinions in the comment section below.
Some people asked me how to prepare for a road trip with a camper van. Let me share with you my tips.
How to prepare for a road trip by camper van:
- Make sure that you have packed all your camping accessories from your list, such as camping chairs, table, fork, knife etc.
- Make sure your gas tank is full before you start your road trip as the next gas station can be can far away.
- Make sure that all doors can be locked from the inside.
- Put all your registration papers in 1 place inside the van.
- Check your GPS if you have updated maps.
- Take as many CDs with music as you can.