For twelve months, the three of us have been discovering the world, tantalising our cultural senses, taking in the sights and sounds of the modern, historical and natural world. It has been a wonderful adventure but … We were well and truly ready for something a little slower paced.
Searching for some quiet time, and a familiar place in which to recharge our batteries, we are heading for Melbourne on our great kombi camping adventure.
Australia is a never-ending playground, with so much diversity; you can literally enjoy snow, sun and sand, and wildlife all here. Our pick this visit is the Great Ocean Road along the coast to the west of Melbourne.
The famously beautiful, unforgivingly rugged coast line of Victoria. We have been dying to hit the Great Ocean Road for some time, but we weren’t too keen on a giant camper — we were after something different. So we hit up Hire a Kombi to add some vintage character to our trip with ‘Applejack’, the 1978 Baywindow Kombi camper!
Snuggle in, toast some marshmallows and read on about Riley’s Great Kombi Adventure!
If life ran smoothly, we wouldn’t appreciate the good times. The trip to Australia tested our patience and certainly broke my spirits for a moment there. After a sprint through three international terminals chasing planes, changing destinations and missing two flights, we managed to nab seats to the Gold Coast. Not ideal, but at least we are en route to Australia — right?
By the time we made it to Torquay, in sunny Victoria, our eyes are all bloodshot, and we are smelling like a teenage boy’s laundry basket. We were indeed ready for a hot shower and a good Aussie steak; don’t forget the red wine! A lovely dinner and meeting up with some good friends puts the spring back in our step. Before we embark on camp life, we soak up an afternoon/night at Peppers Torquay, located on a large golf course right next to the beach, and enjoy a sleep in a proper bed. I even blow dry my hair! And we gear up for the coming days.
Dad was bouncing about with so much excitement, dying to hit the road to Hire a Kombi to pick up Applejack, our home for the next few days.
As we drive up to the farm, we see dozens of kombis waiting their turn for a restoration. We meet George, the owner and passionate lover of kombis, teamed with his wife Alyce. They share their vintage campers for hire, each having its own characteristics and all holding a story of their own. Turns out our Applejack played cupid in George and Alyce’s love story. Alyce ventured around Australia solo after George gave Applejack some life for the journey. Riley was stoked to play with Mae and Kim, loving the clean air, space and swing while we enjoyed the company of George and Alyce.
Before long, we are tooting off on our way to stock up for the trip; clearly it has been some time since my last camping trip and I buy the entire grocery store — oops!
The warm morning is glorious. We meet our friends at The Heads Wharf restaurant for a seafood affair and a beer. Our boys played, soaking up the sun, while we caught up on lost time. It was quickly decided that our friends would pack up and camp with us for the night — but first a stop at an Australian highlight of the Surf Coast Shire: Bells Beach. The sun is still shining, surfers are out and so are plenty of tourists snapping selfies with the beach as their backdrop.
Anglesea is the next town before we begin wrapping around the rugged coastline heading for Wye River. The campsite is tucked in beside the echoing sounds of the river. The men set up camp, light the drum fire and pull out the marshmallows.
The boys are zonked after lots of laughter and playing. They hit the pillow fast. We relax in the peaceful surroundings with a wine, enjoying Conan’s soft guitar strums, before we snuggle in. The night brings rain, singing us all to sleep.
Conan and Kai are up at first sign of light and are off for a morning walk, while Riley snoozes and Dad makes bacon and egg rolls for breakfast. After breakfast, Kai manages a kick of the footie while we pack up and Riley runs amuck in the mud. A quick wash off and we are back on the windy road.
Apollo Bay is next on the map; we stop for a bite and a wander around. Riley enjoyed the large playground to stretch out his little legs.
The weather shuts in on us just as we pull up to Hopetoun Falls. During a break in the rain, we make our way through the lush foliage. It is pretty cold but, when we arrive, there are kids swimming under the falls! I was horrified and slightly worried about the pressure of the water, but they seemed to be having a lot of fun.
Soon we are back on the road to see Johanna Beach and then onto Campbell Point for a night. The weather was horrid, but the town was bustling with loads and loads of tourists. Our campground for the night was awesome — lovely clean bathrooms and a common room with a kitchen, telly, pool table, and games for kids. Perfect for Riley to burn off some car ride energy while the rain was taking over.
Side note: we ate at the local pub and I have never experienced staff with so much kindness and patience. They brought Riley a box of toys and entertained him while we ate!! What a good ol’ town.
We woke before sunrise and drove to the Twelve Apostles, but we weren’t the only ones with this idea. The place was already riddled with tourists. We chilled out, ate our breakfast and waited for the crowds to thin out — never happened. I do love that these places are popular with tourists; however, it was hard to enjoy with bus loads arriving all the time.
We managed to walk the Gibson Steps, without a snake bite, and then decided to move on and away from the crowds back to Port Campbell to explore more and enjoy a good meat pie. There is no doubt the Twelve Apostles, or what remains of them, are astonishing, especially at sunrise.
Our next stop is the quaint town of Lorne. We loved this little place. A wicked beachfront park, cool cafes/restaurants and shops, awesome weather and great people. Riley was happy to run freely at the park with dozens of other children all out for the school holidays. Lock and I enjoyed the sun — finally. I could really live here.
It was a day in the sun, on the grass along the water, snacking on calamari and enjoying “real” coffee. It was a good day! Topped off with a brilliant in-kombi meal from a local take-out while the Saturday night bachelorette parties stumble past for a quick “kombi selfie”.
Morning brings more good food choices, really good coffee and, thankfully, the end to the rain. Double coffees send us on our way to Aireys Inlet where we briefly visit the lighthouse with stunning views and swirling in a field of wild flowers, before returning Applejack to George and Alyce.
This has lead us to buy our very own 1962 Splitty screen VW bus to trip around Australia in.. Before we leave Melbourne, we are treated to a lovely lunch and catch up with nana Lizzie and Derek, then put on our skates to chase a plane.