1,500 miles in four days- that has got to be a new road trip record for Mo and I! Over Easter weekend, we took a trip to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road and decided to make a fun drive out of it. Overall, we were really happy with that deicion and we got to see so much more of Australia by driving. We were blown away by the amount of kangaroo, wallaby and wombat roadkill along the way!
To give you a better idea of our road trip, this was our route. We started in SYDNEY (top right corner), drove to MELBOURNE, and then did the Great Ocean Road, which started in TORQUAY and ended at the BAY OF ISLANDS.
One might think Melbourne, being the second most populated city in Australia, would be very similar to Sydney, but it was actually quite different. Sydney is well-known for its towering skyscrapers, bustling atmosphere and beautiful beaches, whereas Melbourne has a European feel to it with a passion for food, wine, art and of course… coffee. Discovering the hidden alleys with cafes, shops and graffiti art work was a great way to spend our time in Melbourne. Even our hotel had a modern, artsy look to it!
St. Kilda (Friday night)
Nine hours after our departure, we arrived in Melbourne on Friday and took a walk to Federation Square, a common area with restaurants, bars, the visitor centre, and futuristic looking buildings, to stretch our legs before taking a short cab ride to St. Kilda. This beachfront town is a great place for a relaxing walk and to watch kite surfers while enjoying a beautiful sunset over the ocean. We walked down the beach and to Luna Amusement Park. This amusement park has free admission and was built in 1912. The Scenic Railway is still in operation today! We watched the sunset at St. Kilda’s pier before a enjoying a relaxing and delicious Italian dinner.
We woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to take advantage of our only full day in Melbourne. We started with breakfast on Degraves Street, an alley lined with small cafes. Mo ordered homemade walnut banana bread, served with ricotta and honey, and I ordered a quinoa muesli with fresh fruit. We were both extremely impressed with our food and eating in the small alley was quite the experience!
After our breakfast and exploring these hidden alleys, we ventured out into the central city area to see the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Ian Potter Centre (the National Gallery of Victoria’s Australian art collection), Federation Square, the Queen’s Gardens and the iconic Flinder’s Train Station. We walked up and down the numerous streets filled with vintage shops, high fashion shops, and everything in between. We explored “the Block,” a hidden treasure of Victorian-era architecture and more elegant shops. We stopped in Hugh’s Chocolate shop to take a picture of the chocolate bilbys that are common in Australia for Easter. We also walked through the Royal Arcade, a building constructed in 1869 with more shops and an elaborate clock that statues of Gog and Magog (Greek mythology) strike every hour. We then walked up to the Queen Victoria Markets, a shopping market that opened in 1878, to browse the endless amount of stalls.
Sound like a lot of walking and shopping? It was! I somehow managed to not spend my life savings and came out of the day with just one souvenir- a “keep cup.” This little glass travel cup for coffee was originally designed and created in Melbourne. The perfect way to remember Melbourne- artsy, colorful and delicious coffee!
The graffiti art in Melbourne is a big part of its art scene, however, unless you know where to look for it, you would never even know it exists!
We set off on Saturday evening for a two hour drive to Phillip’s Island, which is known for its nightly Penguin Parade at Summerland Beach. Every day of the year at sunset, hundreds of the world’s smallest penguins (about 12 inches tall), emerge from the sea and waddle up the beach to their burrows in the dunes.
After we explored Phillip’s Island and experienced the Penguin Parade, we drove back to Melbourne for our last night in the city. Sunday morning we had another impressive breakfast and I had the BEST flat white I have had so far in our three months here. Needless to say, I took one to go as we checked out of our hotel and drove to Hillsong for their Easter service.
The Great Ocean Road (Sunday and Monday)
Straight from church, we started our drive to the Great Ocean Road! Our first stop was Bell’s Beach in Torquay, a beach that is known for having some of the biggest waves in Australia. We found out that the Rip Curl Pro Surf Competition, the biggest surf competition in the world, was going on and got to watch for a few minutes before continuing the first leg of the coastal drive to the small town of Lorne. We stopped for a quick lunch and continued our drive along the Great Ocean Road. There are multiple places to pull over on the side of the road to take in the absolutely stunning views. The sun came out for us and we even saw a rainbow on the beach in Apollo Bay! What a beautiful way to end Easter Sunday.
Monday morning we started the day by joining our families via FaceTime for their Easter celebration! It was great to see everyone together- even though it was 7AM for us! This was our full day to explore Port Douglas and the iconic sights of the Great Ocean Road.
Fun fact: I got absolutely SOAKED after that picture of me was taken! (thanks for the head’s up, Mo) 😉
Bay of Islands
It started to rain, so we decided to explore this little town about an hour off the coast. It had a great little whiskey distillery and Gorge’s chocolate shop… what more does a town need?
Drive back to Sydney (Tuesday)
It was another amazing trip, jam-packed to take full advantage of Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road!