Camperman: Campervan Hire Australia

Adelaide to Melbourne Drive

© Roderick Eime

Adelaide to Melbourne Drive

1,500 km | 24 hr drive time

10 Days of Adventures

You would be forgiven for thinking you are in Tolkien's Middle Earth on this journey. It is the stuff of fantasies. Coastal walks by the turquoise sea, beach camps beneath a glittering sky, ancient rainforests, glow worms, strange mountains and rock formations, the Great Ocean Road, limestone caves, wine tasting, cheese tasting, steam trains and paddle steamers are all part of the adventure. You'll meet emus, kangaroos, cockatoos, koalas, wombats, echidna's, dolphins and seals along the way.

Let the journey begin!

Start in Adelaide

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McLaren Vale

40 minutes south of Adelaide, with wineries, stunning countryside, and delicious food is the region of McLaren Vale. The town itself, though not photogenic, is useful for its eateries, cellar doors, and artisan food makers.

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Highlights

  • Wirra Wirra, a big barn of a cellar door with dessert wines, Riesling, viognier, and Church Block red blend. During winter there’s a roaring fire inside. During summer you can play boules on the lawn.

  • Coriole, an 1860 cottage cellar door with a beautiful garden where you can sample local olives, home-made bread and Adelaide Hills’ cheese with your wines.

  • Blessed Cheese Café have more than cheese. Good coffee, cakes, tarts, wraps, salads, burgers, and cheese platters, and always with an emphasis on local produce.

  • Barn, an 1840 cottage, bistro, wine bar, cellar door, and art gallery.

  • Goodieson Brewery, if you fancy cleansing the palate with a beer.

  • D’Arenberg, for lunch and wine tasting with views.

Kangaroo Island

This detour adds 110 km (2 hours and 10 minutes) to your campervan journey, but a visit to Kangaroo Island really is a must. Kangaroos are not the only wildlife here. Echidnas, wombats, emus, koalas, dolphins and seals have made this beautiful island their home. It’s like a wildlife sanctuary without any fences.

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Kangaroo Island is a microcosm of different landscapes, pristine native bush, coastal hideaways and farms. One third of the island is protected by the Flinders Chase National Park.

A 1 minute video of Kangaroo Island gives you an impression of its highlights.

Getting There

Taking your campervan on the SeaLink ferry to Kangaroo Island is not problem, but you must pre-book.

Staying on Kangaroo Island

There are three private-owned camping sites suitable for campervans on Kangaroo Island, which you can book ahead. There are also state run campsites in Flinders Chase National Park which are first-come first-served, no bookings. Rocky River campsite has toilets, hot showers, gas barbeques and picnic tables.

Kingscote is the main town on Kangaroo Island.

Highlights

  • Kingscote’s pubs, eateries and fresh seafood.

  • Island Pure Sheep Dairy where you can take a tour and try their yogurt and cheese.

  • Island Bee Hive where you can learn about bee keeping and buy honey products.

  • The 5pm pelican feeding at Kingscote Wharf.

  • Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre where you can visit the local penguin colony.

  • Kingscote tidal pool for swimming.

  • Kangaroo Island Spirits Distillery for their gin, vodka, brandy and liqueurs.

Flinders Chase National Park covers one third of Kangaroo Island and is a place of exquisite beauty.

Highlights

  • Remarkable Rocks

  • Admirals Arch, where you might see some seals.

  • Tours through the 1858 Cape Borda lighthouse.

  • Rocky River Campsite, a wildlife hotspot with friendly kangaroos, wallabies and geese, and a lot of walking tracks from the visitor’s centre.

Elsewhere on the island, visit;

  • Emu Farm Eucalyptus Oil Distillery, completely powered by renewable energy and selling Eucalyptus oil products.

  • The Oyster Farm Shop, a little shack by American River selling sustainable Kangaroo Island seafood (cooked while you wait or take it away fresh) and excellent oysters.

  • Seal Bay where you can observe Australia Sealions playing and snoozing on the beach.

  • Kelly Hill Conservation Park, where you can explore limestone caves and wetlands.

  • Dudley Cellar Door on Dudley Peninsula near Penneshaw has a deck with eye-popping views, oysters and prawns, pizza and fine wine.

  • Kangaroo Island Dive Adventures where you can dive or hire a kayak, encountering leafy sea dragons, seals, dolphins, and other marine life.

  • Paul’s Place Wildlife Sanctuary where you can have close encounters with the wildlife, always a special experience. (Check their website for opening times.)

  • Raptor Domain on Seal Bay road where you can see magnificent birds of prey, such as owls and eagles, in flight.

Fleurieu Peninsula

Fleurieu Peninsula is set in rolling green hills, dairy pastures, orchards, farms and vineyards framed within a rugged coastline just 45 minutes south of Adelaide. With scenic drives galore and over 22 conservation parks, the Fleurieu Peninsula is a rewarding destination for those in a campervan. So, slow down to country speed and enjoy the journey!

The Fleurieu Way takes you through pretty coastal towns, while the roads winding inland will lead you over rivers and into farmlands, roadside stalls with free-range eggs and fresh produce, country towns, and conservation parks.

Local produce includes olive oil, cheeses, almonds, breads, cured and smoked meats, seasonal fruit, seafood and pheasants.

Stop at a tourist information centre for maps at McLaren Vale, Strathalbyne, or Goolway.

This short video of Fleurieu Peninsula provides a sample of the highlights. For more information visit the local tourist information centre.

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Deep Creek Conservation Park

  • Hike part of the Heysen trail, one of Australia’s most spectacular coastal walks.

  • There is camping here suitable for campervans should you wish to base yourself here for a while.

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Victor Harbour

  • See penguins! Walk the causeway bridge or take the horse drawn tram to Granite Island and take a penguin tour at dusk or visit the Penguin Interpretive Centre during feeding times in the morning or afternoon.

  • Ride an old steamtrain to Goolwa and other destinations in the Fleurieu.

  • In town you can pop into art galleries, a toy factory, cellar doors for some wine tasting, or find somewhere to eat.

  • Take a Big Duck Boat tour around Granite Island to see seals, sealions, dolphins and birds.

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Port Elliot

  • Sheltered Horseshoe Bay at Port Elliot is a safe swimming beach.

  • Drop into local art galleries.

  • There is a Big 4 campervan park overlooking the ocean in Port Elliot if you wish to base yourself here.

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Goolwa

  • Take a paddle steamer river cruise from Goolwa Wharf.

  • Ride the Cockle Steam Train between Port Lincoln and Goolwa.

  • At Alexandrina Cheese Company, be sure to try the gouda, the edam, the feta, and the vintage cheddar.

  • Visit the local art galleries. The area has been inspiring artists for decades.

  • Spot whales from the coast between Goolwa and Port Lincoln.

  • Hire kayaks or canoes and explore the waterways of Coorong National Park.

  • Drop in to the Goolwa tourist information centre for maps and information.

  • Wander through town and choose somewhere to eat.

  • View classic vintage cars at the Goolwa Motor Museum.

  • Visit the Steam Exchange Brewery for some local beer.

  • Learn to surf.

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Strathalbyne

  • Stop in at Strathalbyne, a charming 19th century Scottish village with a village green, river, ducks, rose gardens, and a string of antique shops.

  • Enjoy the local art.

  • Enjoy a long lunch at one of Strathalbyn’s restaurants.

  • Tour the nearby Langhorne Creek wine region.

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Coorong National Park

Coorong National Park is a tapestry of lagoons, sand dunes, and wetlands. Walk through towering white sand dunes, stroll along a jetty, enjoy the prolific birdlife, and explore the walking trails and long stretches of beach. There are campsites here suitable for campervans.

For a visual impression of the Murray River Lakes and Coorong region, watch the 1 minute video:

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Robe and the Limestone Coast

Robe is a charming seaside village with campervan sites. If it is Easter or Christmas, book way in advance. With good eateries, fresh seafood, a relaxed surf culture, little art galleries, and magical beaches, Robe is an ideal place to hang out for a while.

The Naracoorte Caves National Park is an hour from Robe where you can explore the Naracoorte Caves, an underground labyrinth of delicate calcite formations and 350,000 year-old World Heritage listed fossils.

Coonawarra Wine Region is one hour and 20 minutes from Robe, or 25 minutes from the Naracoorte Caves National Park if you plan to do them in the same day.

The region is famous for reds and the cellar doors are conveniently clustered around the historic town of Penola. Here’s a cellar door map.

Wynn’s was the first and most famous winery in the region and they have tasting platters to go with the wine if you’re peckish. You could gather tasty local picnic produce from shops in Penola or sample one of Penola’s restaurants or cafes. While you’re in Penola, stroll down its oldest street, Petticoat Lane, to admire the pretty stone cottages.

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There is a caravan park in Penola and a supermarket if you wish to spend the night and replenish supplies.

For a visual impression of the Limestone Coast, watch the video:

Mount Gambier or the Grampians

From here, you can detour inland to include the Grampians (230 km and 3 hours from Penola, or 2 hours from Port Fairy) or continue on the coast to Mt Gambier (midway between Robe and Port Fairy) with its sapphire blue lake. Both destinations have campsites for campervans.

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Grampians

It’s a place of endless views, misty mornings, romantic sunsets, rugged rock formations, and it’s incredibly photogenic particularly at dawn and dusk when the colours pop. The best way to experience its beauty is on one of its many spectacular walks.

Halls Gap is at the heart of the Grampians, and offers good coffee, eateries, art and Aboriginal culture.

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For a visual impression of the Grampians watch the 1 minute video.

Some of the walks worth mentioning:

  • Pinnacle walk. Reached from the Sundial or Wonderland parking areas, the trail takes you to the pinnacle rock formation with a lookout that gives you eye-popping views.

  • The Balconies walk. An easy walk from Reed Lookout parking area to exceptional views of the Victoria Range and valley to the south, and Lake Wartook and the Mount Difficult Range to the north.

  • McKenzie River Walk from Zumsteins parking area is a pleasant track that meanders beside the river, and over it, to Fish Falls.

Where to Stay

  • In the Grampians National Park: Staplyton, Plantation Smiths Mill, Borough Huts, Boreang, Jimmy Creek and Buandik campgrounds have some sites suitable for campervans. Bring your own drinking water.

  • There are also private-owned campervan sites at Halls Gap and other Grampian locations.

Mount Gambier

The Blue Lake in Mount Gambier is a water-filled crater of an extinct volcano. In winter (April to September) the lake is a dark sombre blue, but in late spring (November) it mysteriously changes to vivid blue, which lasts throughout summer to late March. A walking track around the lake has many viewing points.

Aquifer Tours take visitors in a glass-panelled lift down the original dolomite well shaft and through a tunnel to see the Blue Lake up close. You’ll learn about the aquifer system, hear stories of local history, European settlement, folklore and Aboriginal legend.

Where to Stay

There are a number of campsites for campervans at Mount Gambier.

The Great Ocean Road

This marks the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, one of the most spectacular scenic drives in Australia.

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A) Port Fairy

(2 hours from both Blue Lake in Mount Gambier and Halls Gap in the Grampians)

Port Fairy is a quaint seaside town of whitewashed cottages built by whalers and fishermen in the 19th century.

Browse through boutiques, antique shops, and art and craft shops. The Port Fairy Folk Festival, one of Australia's largest music festivals, is held each year in March. Enjoy a long lunch at one of the pubs, cafes or restaurants. There’s a surf school, a glass blowing studio, day spa and fishing charters.

There are several caravan parks in Port Fairy and nearby Warrnambool. Belfast Cove Caravan Park provides privacy with tidy 7 foot hedges around each campervan site. If your trip coincides with the Port Fairy Folk Festival in March, you’ll need to book way in advance.

B) Twelve Apostles

(1 hr from the Great Otway National Park, 1 ½ hours from Port Fairy)

Snaking round the coast, you’ll see the craggy towers of the Twelve Apostles rising out of the ocean. You can take photos from the boardwalk or Gibson’s steps and explore the paths at London Bridge, Bay of Islands and Loch Ard Gorge.

C) Great Otway National Park

Explore the ancient rainforests, fern gullies, heathlands, glow worm caves, waterfalls, lakes and beaches of Great Otway National Park.

Melba Gully, the Jewel of the Otways, is a dense rainforest of Myrtle Beech, Blackwood and towering tree-ferns. At night it twinkles with glow worms. Madsen's Track Nature Walk is an adventure into a magical world of ancient, mossy trees and cool fern gullies. It is 35 minutes round trip.

Where to Stay

There are excellent camping opportunities throughout the Park, 8 are suitable for campervans. Johanna Beach campsite is nestled in the sand dunes, Sharps and Hammonds are close to walks, and Aire River West has fireplaces.

D) Apollo Bay

(40 minutes from Great Otway National Park and 3 hours from Melbourne)

Apollo Bay is a fairly large coastal town with plenty of good restaurants, fresh seafood, and beaches.

For amazing views head to Marriners Lookout at the northern end of town off Marriners Lookout Road. For a scenic drive head up Barham River Road along the Barham River through lush rainforest to Marriners Falls.

If you’re staying the night, Apollo Bay has plenty of caravan parks.

E) Lorne

(50 minutes from Apollo Bay, 2 hours from Melbourne)

With a lively arts community and fresh sea breezes, Lorne has been attracting holiday-makers for more than a hundred years. Cast a fishing line off Lorne pier. Stroll the boutiques, cellars, galleries, Qdos Arts outdoor sculpture garden, the restaurants, and some of Victoria’s oldest cafes.

There are beautiful walks around Lorne, such as the Sheoak Falls and Swallow Cave.

If you feel like staying the night, check your campervan in to one of Lorne’s caravan parks.

Lorne

Between Lorne and Melbourne, enjoy the rugged coastline as your campervan meanders along cliff tops. Ride the waves at Anglesea, Bells Beach, Jan Juc, and Torquay. Torquay is also home to Surf World Museum, which celebrates Australia’s surf culture.

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Geelong

Midway between Melbourne and Lorne, Geelong is a bay-side city with sophisticated restaurants, a thriving art scene, entertainment, lots of events, and a relaxed atmosphere. It is also the home of Little Creatures Brewing and they do free brewery tours (closed public holidays).

Nearby Bellarine, on the peninsula, has been building a reputation as a food and wine destination. The Bellarine Taste Trail takes in the wineries, restaurants, cafes, breweries, fresh produce, goat’s cheese, olive oil and seafood of the region.

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For a visual sample of Geelong watch the 2 minute video:

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