Thursday, 17 May 2012

Perth-Esperance Road Trip

Western Australia is an isolated part of the country, a huge area with one major city and a lot of wilderness! Fly into Perth and get on the road with this roadtrip from Perth to Esperance. From there you can continue East or head back to Perth to see the Great Australian Bight and the southwest corner of the country in more depth.

Day 1: Perth- Augusta

Perth is a city apart. Not just in the sense of a unique atmosphere and setting, but also literally- it is geographically one of the most remote cities on earth, with no other major centres within 2,000 kilometres.The city has a sunny, mediterranean-type climate and is set on a river within stone's throw of some amazing beaches, There are multiple options to pass the time in Perth, so consider spending some days there before hitting the road. Visit the Art Gallery of Western Australia, wander the banks of the river, explore Kings Park and climb the DNA tower for amazing views, or chill out on the famous Cottesloe Beach.

Perth from King's Park
by eGuide Travel Flickr Creative Commons

Head out of Perth and down the coast on Highway 1, heading through the southern suburbs such as the beachside Rockingham and Port Kennedy. At Mandurah, the estuary and Peel inlet is a wonderland of wildlife. It is home to a school of friendly dolphins and many types of water birds, and is a great place for family water-based fun as the waters are tranquil, unlike many of the beaches on the Indian Ocean coast. Have a go at catching some prawns or crabs, or find a boat and get out on the water.

Dolphins on the Peel Inlet

Continue through the town of Bunbury, where you should get off Highway 1 and onto State Route 10. A highlight along this route is Busselton, where the longest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere (in the form of a jetty) juts out into the beautiful Indian ocean from a white-sand beach. Some great surfing is to be had in the area.

Busselton Jetty
by Johnny Akira Baune Flickr Creative Commons

From Busselton, take State Route 104 to get back onto the State Route 10 and go east, then continue east on Highway 1 towards Albany. This will take you past the coastal Walpole-Nornalup National Park, which features a 600-metre long treetop walkway, and incredible way to get amongst Australia's flora and fauna. Denmark, just before the final stop of Albany, has a great bakery and picturesque surroundings.

 Treetop Walk
by Phil Whitehouse Flickr Creative Commons

Day 2: Albany- Esperance

 Albany, Western Australia's first settlement. It is now a good-sized but still rurally-focused city on a lovely section of coast. Albany's Princess Royal Harbour is one of the most impressive natural harbours you will ever sea, and is a base for whale-watching and other water activities

Albany Beach
by Robert Young Flickr Creative Common

Continue on Highway 1 from Albany through Wellstead and Jerramungup. A notable National Park along this section of road is the Fitzgerald River National Park, an amazing place designated as a World Biosphere reserve. It is home to many rare and endangered animals, and a huge range of wildflowers- in fact these grow in abundance everywhere between Albany and Esperance.

by Lakshmi Sawitri Flickr Creative Commons
Ravensthorpe along this route is an interesting old coppermining town. If you are keen to go out of your way to the coast, turn off just after Ravensthorpe and head to Hopetoun. This is a charming beach town and popular holiday destination, becoming livelier in the summer months!

Esperance is is situated on a safe harbour, with the Archipelago of the Recherche just offshore. Surfing, scuba diving and swimming are all popular in the area. The wine industry is strong in this area, so after you have settled in to a holiday park like one of these, get out and about to taste the food and wine of the region!

 Esperance Seafront
by Tamsin Slater Flickr Creative Commons

For great deals on a variety of Perth motorhome rentals, have a look here!

Melbourne- Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road

Australia's southeast has some beautiful stretches of coast and vibrant cities. Experience them with this 3-day road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide.

Day 1: The Great Ocean Road- Melbourne to Warrnambool

Melbourne is the stately and laid-back counterpart to the hype of Brisbane and Sydney. With a New England feel and a more temperate climate, it is an exceedingly pleasant place to shop, wander and visit! Before departing on your trip, if you have a few days in Melbourne spend some time exploring and taking in the unique and multicultural atmosphere. Hot spots to visit include Chinatown, the retail precinct of Docklands by the water, Federation Square, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Aquarium and any of a number of galleries and museums.

by Patrick Nouhailler Flickr Creative Commons

On the way out of Melbourne, take Princes Highway/M1 to Geelong. This is an industrial centre with a bustling port, so not the prettiest of all spots on the coast! It does, however, mark the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, so follow the signs through town to get on this legend of a road.

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia's greatest scenic routes. The journey will be a pleasure on this stretch of the trip! There are many holiday parks along the way so if you want to see everything more closely, break this part of the road trip into two days. From Geelong, you will hug the coast, passing through many small towns. Take some time to have a coffee with the friendly locals! At Apollo Bay, check out the wood carvings that decorate the foreshore, a depiction of the region's relationship with the sea.

After Apollo Bay, you will leave the coast for a while (don't worry, it's coming back!) and pass through Great Otway National Park. You can take a side road out to the coast and the isolated, beautiful lighthouse at Cape Otway, or explore the walking tracks and numerous waterfalls in the Park.

 Cape Otway
by Sherman Geronimo-Tan Flickr Creative Commons

The beautiful towns, coves and beaches continue along the road- too many to describe individually! One of the stunners of the Great Ocean Road however is the Twelve Apostles rock formation. Standing tall in the wild southern ocean, these rocks are one of the most-photographed natural phenomena in the country. Visit the visitor information centre for some insight on the formation of the incredible coastline.

 Great Ocean Road
by edwin.11 Flickr Creative Commons

Port Campbell has a somewhat tragic history of shipwreck, the most notable of these being the foundering of 3-masted clipper Loch Ard in 1878- there were only 2 survivors, and their tale is told along a signposted walkway above Loch Ard Gorge near Port Campbell. These tragic past events do make for excellent diving around Port Campbell though, so get in the water if that's your thing!

 Loch Ard Gorge
by Gavin Llewellyn Flickr Creative Commons

Warrnambool, your stop for the night, is a popular beachy tourist destination. The shipwrecks continue here, and the Flagstaff Maritime Museum is a fascinating place to visit where you can learn the stories of the coast and its victims. Once a month, there are markets held at the showgrounds, and there is a viewing platform in the town for the Southern Right Whales which visit every year in winter.

Day 2: Warrnambool- Kingston SE

Head out of Warrnambool on Princes Highway/A1. On the way out, have a look at the Tower Hill Reserve- a lake and several small hills nestled inside an inactive volcano. It is an amazing haven for wildlife, with koalas, emus, kangaroos and many types of birds abundant.

 Tower Hill Reserve
by Sydney Oats Flickr Creative Commons

The road continues to hug the coast until Portland, Victoria's first permanent settlement. It is now a decent-sized centre, so reprovision here if you need anything! Many artists have made Portland their home, and there is an art centre that can be visited with a gallery and a theatre. There are over 200 buildings in the town classified by the National Trust, a gem for those interested in the history of the region.

 Portland Town Hall
by Matt Flickr Creative Commons

After Portland, the road heads inland for a while, for a pleasant drive along the Princes Highway . One attraction along the route is the Princess Margaret Rose Cave in Lower Glenelg National Park, 18km off the highway. Just after crossing into South Australia, go left onto Vorwerk Road, left again onto Main Road, right onto Border Road which skirts the border on the Victoria side then go left onto Princess Margaret Rose Caves Road. The cave is an underground wonderland, dripping in stalactites and full of stalagmites, cave coral and other amazing things. Guided tours are available.

Next town on the route is Mount Gambier in South Australia. This city is most famous for its stunning lakes in extinct volcano craters, especially the stunning Blue Lake. There are many dining restaurants in town and lots to do- if you want to spend a while here, visit the Lady Nelson Visitor and Discovery Centre on Jubilee Highway East.

Between Mount Gambier and Kingston SE, there are two routes- Highway 1 and the coastal Southern Ports Highway which starts at Millicent. Both pass through several charming small towns, and the coastal route will have you venture past beaches and lakes. The two meet up again at Kingston SE, your suggested destination for the night. On the shores of Lacepede Bay, the 'SE' is to distinguish this town in the southeast of the state with another one of the same name. Don't miss the giant lobster affectionately named Larry on your way into town, and this is the perfect spot for a casual picnic dinner, as Kingston SE is home to one of Australia's best fish and chip shops, Macs Takeaway. Kingston Caravan Park is a great place to lay your head!

 Larry the Lobster
by Alpha Flickr Creative Commons

Day 3: Kingston SE- Adelaide

Leave Kingston SE and continue on the trusty Highway 1.

This last stretch of the journey will take you past some amazing wetlands. Coorong is a national park and lagoon ecosystem. The lagoon extends over 100km along the coat between Kingston SE and the Fleurieu Peninsula, separated from the ocean by a sand dune. It is a sanctuary for birds, fish and other wildlife- recognised by BirdLife International as an 'Important Bird Area.' The lagoon and Park are a unique and interesting part of Australia, and great for recreational activities such as fishing, camping and boating, so be sure to take a look as you pass. You can take guided tours by the native people (the Ngarrindjeri people) leaving from Meningie.

 The Coorong
by Mick Morrison Flickr Creative Commons

After Meningie, head inland to skirt Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina. You will come across the famous Murray River at Tailem Bend, and cross it at Murray Bridge. The Murray is Australia's longest river at nearly 3,000 kilometres, and was a vital waterway for many years as the main route for transporting people and goods inland. Although its glory days of steamers and riverboats are largely over, the Murray is deeply ingrained in Australia's culture.

 The Murray River
by thinboyfatter Flickr Creative Commons

Keep going along the highway into the city of Adelaide. Set on the River Torrens and extending to the coast, Adelaide is unique in that the city centre is entirely circled by parkland. It was constructed by design, and the city centre is a grid of 5 squares with the parklands surrounding it. Adelaide has wide streets, plenty of things happening, beaches to the west and rolling hills to the east. Places to visit include the Adelaide Central Markets, the zoo and Botanic Gardens, the historic Edmund Wright House, the South Australian Museum and of course the city parklands. Adelaide is considered the Wine Capital of Australia, and is home to the National Wine Centre of Australia where you can taste all manner of Australian wine. A fitting end to the journey! There are a number of holiday parks to park your campervan.

by bram.souffreau Flickr Creative Commons

Check here for great deals on Melbourne campervan hire!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Splendour in the Grass Campervans!!

OK Go at Splendour
By Bradii - Flickr
Splendour in the grass Festival tickets are sold out and the Campervans will be soon, so get in quick!!  July 27th-29th are the dates and Byron Bay, Australia is the location.

If you've already bought your tickets but not rented your Campervan yet, get onto it.  Campervans and Motorhomes are allowed at the Festival's campsite as long as they are no longer than 7.5 metres.  If you want the comforts of a  fully set-up home away from home. Then pick up your Campervan in Brisbane (an hours drive away), Byron Bay, or any other place... check out the site.

The Campground, North Beach Campground, is a nice easy walk to the Festival. 

Campervan over Tenting?

Who wouldn't? Here are a few reasons why Campervanning is definitely an advantage over Tenting
  • It may be Byron Bay, but it's still July. Rain may fall, and if it does, who's gonna be dry and cosy? The Campervanners. 
  • You don't have to share a toilet or shower with all the other smelly campers.
  • The bed will be alot more comfortable than what a tent can provide. 
  • You can cook delicious meals on the Camper's built in stove and perhaps microwave. 
  • Campervanner's can brew up a coffee in down time
  • Refrigerate your food and avoid expensive festival food.
  • Drive in with all your gear in your van, and drive out exactly the same. 
  • No Tent pitching catastrophes or time wasting. 
  • Lock up your valuables in the Campervan rather than a flimsy tent.
  • Tenters aren't allowed to bring couches to kick back on, but yours will be built in.
  • No need for torches, lights are also built in.
The list could go on and on.. 

You need to get a ticket for every person staying in the campground, it's not a one ticket per site kind of gig.  Campervan's don't have to cost the earth either, get yourself a little JUCY or Wicked Camper or similar and you'll be away running.

Find a Campervan at Campervan Hire Sale Finder! Quickly before they all run out!