24 Jan 2018
Our summer adventure starts in the beachside town of Robe, heading inland to bustling Warrnambool before ending up in gorgeous Geelong.
Hello Sunshine, old friend
As the winds and rains of winter recede and tendrils of warmth tickle the frosts away, the G’DAY family is preparing for the great Australian summer. It’s what travel dreams are made of. From the sizzling, hot sands of our world-renowned beaches to perfect days spent cruising, diving and fishing on our many lakes and rivers, we’re a nation that loves our hot months. Road tripping during a long, hazy summer is an iconic Australian rite of passage. Pack your bags (and your sunscreen) and explore the huge backyard we call home.
Our summer adventure starts in the gorgeous South Australian beachside town of Robe. Travelling along the Limestone Coast we’ll head inland ever so slightly to the bustling country city of Warrnambool before ending up just shy of Melbourne, in Geelong – an art-lover’s paradise. Days spent adventuring and evenings topped off with the height of cultural sophistication: the legendary Aussie barbecue. Hello summer, we’re ready for you.
One of South Australia’s oldest towns, Robe is a firm favourite for travellers heading along the Limestone Coast towards the Victorian border. Settle in at the Discovery Parks - Robe site and get set to experience the best of the region. There’s plenty of history and stunning locations to discover: and the Coonawarra wine region, Naracoorte Caves, Cape Jaffa and vast tracts of national parks are nearby. Add gorgeous beaches, fishing and fresh seafood to the mix and it’s a difficult place to leave.
Just a 30-minute drive from Robe township, a visit to the award-winning exhibition at Cape Jaffa Lighthouse makes for a fabulous morning jaunt. Discover the history of the treacherous coastline that has claimed so many lives. It was the wrecking of the barque Margaret Brock on an uncharted reef that resulted in the lighthouse. The museum provides a fascinating insight into South Australian history – and the view is pretty gorgeous, too.
Mount Gambier Blue Lake
Hit the road and make a beeline for the regional city of Mount Gambier. The summer months are the perfect time of year to visit the eponymous Blue Lake. The caldera of an ancient volcanic eruption, its waters turn a brilliant cobalt blue colour in the summer months. While you’re there, stop by the jaw-dropping Umpherston Sinkhole. Visit at dusk and watch possums scamper.
Lower Glenelg National Park
Get your kayak and camping gear ready for a stay in Lower Glenelg National Park. The Glenelg River is the main attraction here, winding through stunning natural beauty. Get back to basics and camp, walk, hike, fish, and kayak along limestone gorges from the river to the sea. Stretch your car cramped legs and go for a tramp ahead of your next big drive.
Just a 20-minute drive out of Mount Gambier lies Piccaninnie Ponds. This freshwater dive site is – quite literally – a hidden gem. On the surface, it looks like innocuous wetlands but crystal-clear waters filtered through limestone reveal a pristine environment and gaping underwater chasm. Famous with cave divers, you’ll need a license and permit to dive this site, but you can snorkel over this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.
Skirting Lake Eliza, take a slight detour inland and visit South Australia’s iconic Naracoorte National Park. Officially one of the state’s best fossil locations, the cave complex underneath the park hosts a staggering 26 individual caves. Eerily beautiful, this World Heritage site takes you into the heart of our country.
The regional crown jewel of Victoria, Warrnambool makes for a brilliant country-city escape. This former port town is surrounded by epic beaches, seascapes, lakes, and rivers. With art galleries, shopping and culture in abundance, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you busy tasting the best the region has to offer.
Pack a barbecue picnic and prepare the kids (both big and little) for a day of serious fun and adventure. Featuring over 20 hectares of park with forts, sandpits, waterways, canoes, flying foxes, giant slides, and mazes, it’s the perfect way to unwind with the kids and unleash any pent-up energy from long travels.
December to April is the perfect time of year to tour Middle Island. Made famous for its Maremma dogs which guard the resident Little Penguin population against fox predation during the penguin breeding season. You may only visit the island with a registered guide and tour, so take the opportunity to experience a wonderful and heart-warming Australian success story.
Making the pilgrimage along the Great Ocean Road to see the world-renowned apostles rising from the sea is a must, even for seasoned road trippers. The road itself has a fascinating history and is a thrilling, sometimes nerve-wracking drive as it can skirt close to cliff edges, beneath which the roaring surf breaks against spectacular limestone coastline.
Geelong is the cool little sister to the bustling Victorian capital Melbourne. Shopping is glorious, with plenty of cafés, restaurants and art galleries to spend hours in. A calmer alternative to a city escape, Discovery Parks - Geelong is perfectly situated as the gateway to the Great Ocean Road (and amazing surf). Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, you’ll be perfectly set to enjoy the best of urban and regional touring.
Did you know Geelong is the home of cold beer? Refrigeration was invented by engineer and journalist James Harrison. The invention was commissioned by Geelong Brewing Corps in 1856 to create the beloved icy cold beer to this day. Raise a toast at Little Creatures Brewery to the patron Saint of Australian beer. It would be churlish not to.
With a new attraction in the form of Victoria’s longest and biggest waterslide opening in 2017, summer is the perfect time to visit this aquatic adventure park. Little kids and big kids will have a blast with archery, mini golf and over 20 rides and attractions to keep the whole family happy.
Fancy a spot of twitching? Serendip Sanctuary is a 30-minute drive out of Geelong. There are over 150 bird species to experience close up, safely hidden in bird hides. The Wildlife Walk is frequently populated with cheeky emus and grey kangaroos. Keep an ear out for the distinctive sound of the Brolga – Australia’s native crane.
No matter how you choose to navigate your summer road trip, you’ll be guaranteed some cracking weather and the beauty of the Australian landscape. Start in Melbourne and make your way to Geelong, pausing for a beat to take in the galleries and scenery before heading west and snaking along the Great Ocean Road. Or perhaps you’ll begin your adventure from the warm sandy beaches of Robe, stopping for a peek into Naracoorte’s underworld and a refreshing plunge into the abyss of Piccaninnie Ponds. Sticky with sand and sunscreen, rest assured that Discovery Holiday Parks will have a place for you to rinse the heat of the day off while the barbecue sizzles – happy summer days begin and end with us.
This travel feature was published in G’DAY Magazine.