Australia is big. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. While it may look like Canberra and Geelong are fairly close to each other, in reality it’s 9 hours of driving on a very boring highway at 110km/h. Cruise control is essential, and is consistently my favourite upgrade to the van. Check out the page ‘Where we’ve been’ to see just how big this trip was compared to some of our others!
We set off on a Friday morning with no real plans for that evening except to make it to Victoria to see friends and family over 4 days away. We had breakfast at Jugiong at Long Track Pantry on a surprisingly cold morning. Can’t really recommend the food there sadly – it filled a gap, but nothing fantastic for both of us. It was in Jugiong that I remembered I hadn’t checked the oil levels in several months and ended up putting another litre in outside the service station.
The next proper stop (as opposed to the 6 bathroom breaks on the way, as standard when travelling with Rosie) was in Wangaratta for a lovely lunch at Cafe Martini. Recommended, good food. It was afterwards when we were filling up the water bottles from the new water tank under the van that we had a slight set back – the tank was still giving off a slight chemical taste to the water, despite several flushings prior to the trip. All good though, we weren’t really planning on roughing it this trip anyway.
Heaps more bathroom stops and hundreds of kilometres later, we were on several B and C roads heading towards Ballarat for our first stop. One thing I will say about rural Victoria – you guys don’t put up many signs for Ballarat. Thousands of signs pointing to Bendigo, but almost nothing for Ballarat until you’re almost on top of the town. That may have something to do with Google Maps taking us a back way though – we might stick with Here Maps from now on as it seems to more consistently understand that a zig-zag pattern through the countryside may be a shorter distance, but isn’t actually quicker when you’re in a slow giant van.
But eventually we made it to the pretty little town of Ballarat. We’d found a good deal for a caravan park in the centre of town while driving down – Big4 Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park – but the best thing was we had splurged the $60 or so for an ensuite site! Your very own toilet and shower is just fantastic, particularly after the very big night we had. We ended up making friends with a DJ and following him to a couple of clubs that Friday night. I’m sure we woke literally everyone in the caravan park as we drunkenly tried to make ramen noodles at 3am.
After a shaky breakfast after which someone may have vomited a little, we drove the remaining couple of hours down to Geelong and had a great walk along Southside beach, which we’d figured would have less people than Bells. We were wrong. There were hundreds of people on the beach, and it seemed like an equal number of dogs as well. Geelong seems very dog-oriented. We did walk past the nudist area for this beach, but it didn’t really appeal considering it consisted of one ‘aggressively nude’ older gentleman that seemed to want to chat and show off to everyone.
Onwards into Geelong to visit some close friends that had just had a baby. 9 weeks old and a lovely little not-potato, both mum and dad were doing great. Tired, but great. We didn’t stay long, and headed up the road to my sisters place where we’d be staying the night. Van mattress on a spare bedroom floor is a great way of ensuring a comfortable sleep, much better than any blow up mattress I’ve had the displeasure of using.
Cue a lot of drinking all across Geelong. Not my favourite town to be honest, it does seem like a poor man’s ‘hipster Melbourne’ in that people can be standoffish or downright rude sometimes if they don’t know you. Great food though and we went to some very interesting bars.
The next morning we managed to get away leaving a very hungover sister and started the long slow trip back up to Canberra. We weren’t sure how far we’d get or where we’d be staying, but we caught some lunch at a great winery, Fowles Wines, and decided to stop at Lake Hume on the NSW/Victoria border to stay overnight. Too tired to consider going out and seeing friends in Albury, we ended up just chilling by ourselves at the very pleasant Lake Hume Tourist Park. A little tip if you’re staying there though – the powered sites are much nicer than the unpowered sites and are only $3 more. Worth it even if you’re not going to use the electricity or water provided.
After a relatively quiet night where the possums were thwarted by our new zippable rear wheel garbage bag, we headed the 4 or so hours up the highway making our way home. Where our house sitter had left the house much cleaner than we left it! Thanks Annie!
All up, Google is telling me we drove for about 17 hours and a total of 1,521km which seems about right. Averaging about 13L per 100km using the Fuelio Android app, that’s not a cheap trip. About 200L of fuel @ an average of $1.32 per litre. We could have done it a lot cheaper in our other car, but were would have been the fun in that.