We arrive in Adelaide early, and our football buddy Jack’s aunt and her husband, Sue and Ray, kindly collect us and welcome us to their wonderful home in West Beach. It’s incredible how people you’ve never met before can be so kind to you. They cook us an awesome BBQ (Peb tries Kangaroo, I decline – they’re too cute!) and recommend a route for our second camper, which they take us to collect the following day.
First, we had to the Barossa Valley wine region, stop at the well-known Jacob’s Creek, and do wine tasting at the cellar door of a family-owned winery Chateau Dorrien. Next we stop at Whispering Wall, a 110-year-old reservoir dam where you can whisper at one end and it will be heard clearly at the other end – astounding!! We camp at the Murray River Showgrounds and watch a local basketball game here.
Then we head down to the Grampians National Park in Victoria, stopping en route at the pioneer village Tailem Town to admire old cars, Bordertown to see the only known colony of white kangas, and Pink Lake, a baby pink salt lake. Victoria is pretty flat and unimpressive until suddenly the Grampians is upon you, where all of the wildlife and scenery seems to have gathered in one spot – huge mountains, thick forests, the spectacular MacKenzie falls (which Peb of course gets in), and dramatically high lookouts with outstanding views. We camp in the picturesque town of Hall’s Gap, nestled between mountains, and where there are more kangas than residents, about 40 of which are eating the cricket pitch – we get close enough to feed them grass.
We camp in Ararat, a beautiful town where it hasn’t rained in 2 years. It rains. We stop for coffee in Ballarat, a gold rush town, and I read up on the history of Australia and am astounded by how young a country it is! We head down to the Great Ocean Road and camp at a freeway rest stop during an epic storm. The rain brings the spiders in – a huntsman and a red-back in the toilets there – eek!
The Great Ocean Road is the longest war memorial in the world – built by the returning soldiers of WWI for their many fallen comrades at a time when Aus had only been established fully for 20 years. The scenery is beautiful as the road bends around turquoise ocean, steep cliffs, and dense forests. Stop at the memorial arch, Erskine Falls – a beautiful waterfall in a deep valley, the Wye river to look at starfish, and Kennett River where we go koala spotting at the Grey River Road and spot about 10 lazing high up in trees. We camp at Kennett River Caravan park and the money paid is well worth it when we hand feed bright green and orange King Parrots at breakfast (two land on my head) and spot a couple of lovely koalas who have come low down in the trees and are about 4 feet above our heads in the campsite.
At Marengo beach, we do seal-spotting through binoculars, go for a walk in the damp, cosy rainforest at Mait’s Rest, and camp in Princetown among 50 kangas, this time eating the football oval.