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The Great Australian Road Trip – Part I – Sydney to Melbourne

This title is looking a bit ambitious, but I think I’ve started something that I’ve always wanted to do, be it even as a dream. Putting the term onto the page has confirmed the ambition and begun the adventure of a lifetime. I have decided to (eventually) drive around Australia. So what better time to get started than right now? Thus, the first section of my great Australian Road Trip has been completed, and this post is just the beginning of what will be an absolute legendary journey. So buckle up, cause this is gonna’ be one hell of a ride!

How to travel entire Australia by car

 

Last week I ended my time in Sydney with a week to kill before heading down to Adelaide. My only real plan was focused on the Best Jobs competition, and when it ended I was a little lost. I decided to contact some friends around Australia to see what they figured I should do. Through reaching out on FB I quickly realized I needed to get down to Melbourne and visit the G Adventures office. Through my four years with G I had continual contact with the incredible staff at the ‘Outpost’ and had created a virtual relationship with a number of the people at the Aussie office. Their hounding was the perfect excuse to hit the road and head south. And what better way to do so than driving, really? I know right, the easy answer at that point… road trip!!!

But to drive solo is not the best idea and road trips are always better with people you know. Enter Pascal Ostyn. Pascal and I have known each other for almost three years, starting as adventure tour guides on the exact same day in Buenos Aires oh so long ago. Since that fateful day we have becoming increasingly good buds and I was stoked to hear he was in Australia, on top of that Sydney, with an open schedule and eye on Melbourne. A fellow G Adventures Tour Leader needs no convincing, I immediately contacted him and three days later we were packed into a small Toyota ingeniously nicknamed Ke$ha (ask Diedier and my last group about that one), and headed for Melbourne.

1700km and six days later, Pascal and I made it. The video above sums up the journey in about one minute! 🙂 I hope you like it!!

What started out as wet and cold ended in sun and warm smiles. We left Sydney in flood conditions and decided to hit the coastal highway hard going as far as possible in an attempt to out run the rain. That afternoon we did eventually make it landing in Batesman Bay, NSW under clear(ish) skies. With no idea of where to stay, we turned on a whim and decided to attempt staying at a caravan park with advertised dorm rooms. We were greeted by big smiles and two practiced patrons of adhering to the weary Australian road trippers needs, hot shower and warm bed before an early start to the next day.

From Batesman we cruised through some beautiful coastal forests and national parks always sitting as close to the ocean as possible. Southern NSW and Northern Victoria have some absolute stunning beaches and we were lucky to have the time to stop and explore as many as possible. With a good map, good car, and good navigators, you can go almost anywhere.

We eventually ended day 2 at Lakes Entrance pulling up pretty late at another caravan park, this one recommended by the gracious hosts from Batesman’s Bay. After some beers and an early night we arose to early morning sunshine and fresh coffee. Nice. Time to hit the road. This day brought with it our most ambitious attempt at distance and scenery crossed in a 12 hour period, from the coast of Lakes Entrance over the Australian Alps to the small town of Merijig, Victoria. Go!

What a day!! The Great Alpine Road is something everyone visiting Australia should experience at some point. Winter or summer no matter, however it being winter we were forced to hire chains (not needed) for a portion of the highway. The road is fantastic! The scenery incredible and the winding curves a sport motorists dream. I highly recommend the drive at some point.

costal roads northern victoria
beautiful costal roads

We arrived late that night in the tiny mountain town of Merijig, home to one of my favourite Aussie miss Lesley Dunlop. I met Les a decade earlier in Golden, British Columbia and she quickly became my first international friend. For more on that awesome story check out Back in the Day Aussieland vs. Canadia. Lesley is a rockin skier and lives at the base of Mt. Buller one of the local Aussie snow fields. It being winter, Pascal and I figured we should take advantage of her generous offer to host us for a couple days and get some skiing under our belts while we’re at it. Luckily Buller was open. The conditions are meager to say the most. Unfortunately winter has not taken full force here in Australia and we were greeted by three runs open on fake snow with a morning temp of about 8c. Not ideal, but good enough for a couple turns.

 We spent the rest of the time in Merijig exploring the mountains and rivers and having a bit of down time after the hecticness of daily travel and life on the road. Even the traveller needs a day to chill and sort life. I personally refer to those days as life maintenance days. I get one every month or so. Sometimes I do laundry those days. :

After a couple days chilling in north east Victoria we finally decided to pack our bags once again and head for Melbourne. It was a Friday afternoon and we were only three short hours away from beer o’clock with the amazing crew of G Adventures staff. Enter party! That night was one to remember. We were greeted with open arms at the Outpost and had an absolute stunner of an evening. Thank you guys for such an awesome experience I hope to return soon time!!

The next day was spent hungover with only partial plans to continue the road trip one more day, hitting the southern tip of the state and Phillip Island. We eventually decided to do it and why not… pick up some stragglers on route. Pascal and I were joined the next day by fellow G crew, Taylor, El, and Chelsey. The five of us hit the road headed even further south, destination PI. What another awesome day and quintessential Aussie experience. The Island is set up incredibly well for tourism and after buying a ‘full day’ three excursion pass we had a basic itinerary sorted. Beach, Koalas, Wallabies, Boomerang Throwing, Bull Whip Cracking, Wine Tasting, and Penguins!! Awesome!! All of the above mentioned were thoroughly enjoyed by all five of us and it will go down in the books as a wicked Aussie experience.

Upon the return to Melbourne Pascal and I decided to end the first portion of the Great Australian Road Trip, we handed back Ke$ha to your local community Hertz dealer and after a teary embrace handed over the keys as well. From Melbourne Pascalavista will be stating a trip up through central Aus ending eventually in Darwin. I will head to Adelaide to meet the staff of SATC (South Australian Tourism Commission) and start sorting some of the details of my upcoming Wildlife Caretaker role. It was sad to say goodbye to my buddy, but also good to know that we are both moving onto other adventures and new stages of life. The best thing about good friends is knowing that no matter what, they are still going to be your good friends, location, life, job, age, whatever, those connections are ones that last a life time and sometimes the most important connections you could ever make. I guess for cheese sake you could say it’s not a goodbye, but a… see ya later.

And at that I’m out. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first portion of what will become an incredible journey and epic adventure. The Great Australian Road Trip has begun. Where to next?

Peace.

G.

Follow Greg’s exciting adventure around Australia – From the Best Job in the World to the completion of the Great Australian Road Trip!

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