Great driving holidays – Melbourne to Nagambie (Victoria)

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

WE decided to try out somewhere close to Melbourne, our hometown, but somewhere where it felt like we were on holiday.

So after a bit of research we chose Nagambie. This small town is only 90 minutes north of Melbourne, a great little place with all the services you need and a great little Victorian road trip. It has a great pub and an incredibly good bakery. In fact, people head from Melbourne to Nagambie for one reason – just to go to this bakery! There is nothing better than a loaf of extra-fresh bread.

We stayed at Nagambie Lakes Leisure Park. It’s an accommodation venue out of this world. It’s also funny because the park is almost bigger than the town. And to be perfectly honest, you needn’t leave the park either; aside from going to the bakery, that is.
This park has absolutely everything. It’s all new, luxurious and surrounded 360 degrees by water with the river on one side and the lake on the other. The park also has its own boat ramp, swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball, two playgrounds, jumping pillow … the list is endless.

Just around the corner from Nagambie Lakes Leisure Park is beautiful Chateau Tahbilk winery and what a day we had there. Did you know that the cellar they use is more than 100 years old, still original and still working to capacity? Damn fine wine is produced and we bought about three dozen bottles. It’s actually worth pointing out that, at the moment, all wine is really cheap so you can guarantee yourself some awesome cellar door specials.

There isn’t much more to do around Nagambie, but relax, there doesn’t need to be! So if it’s relaxation you want, Nagambie is the place for you.

The Great Australian Doorstep screens on Channel 7TWO in Australia


Great driving holidays – Melbourne to Warrnambool (Victoria)

By Melbourne / Victoria /

IF you are looking for a great weekend away from Melbourne in your caravan or campervan, then Warrnambool is the place. There are always some great Melbourne campervan deals on the go.

Only a four hour drive from Melbourne, it’s easy driving with plenty to see along the way. There is great coffee in Colac and plenty of rest areas to stop off for a bit of driver reviver – pull over for a snooze if you’re a tad tired.

Once you get to Warrnambool, make sure you stay down on Lake Pertobe.

We stayed at Discovery Holiday Park, which has a fantastic location as you can walk to absolutely everything. The kids, especially, will love the Lake Pertobe playground. But you can’t really call it a playground as it’s more like 30 playgrounds all in one! It is easy to kill a day here and, besides, it will ensure the kids sleep very, very well that night after all that running around and activity.

The Whale nursery is also a great spot. Unfortunately on the day we rolled up there weren’t any whales, but this is the place where they come to give birth and at certain times of year it can be really busy in those waters. Would certainly make for some awesome photos. And if it’s deep sea fishing you are after, then this is definitely the place to be. Proline Charters will take you out chasing Blue-Fin Tuna! This was one of the most exciting things I have ever done! The sudden whizzzzz of the line when the lure takes off makes for a massive adrenalin rush. Then it’s all about the battle to haul the fish in. All in all, a great day, with a good lunch and a few beers while cruising about 22 nautical miles off Warrnambool.

While the boys are fishing, Mum can take the kids to the Flagstaff Hill Shipwreck Museum. This super venue depicts early life back in the 1800s when Warrnambool was one of Australia’s busiest ports. There’s plenty of room to run around, pack a picnic and take in the atmosphere of a life from more than a 100 years ago.

Catch The Great Australian Doorstep on Channel 7TWO

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Daylesford Delights – a road trip from Melbourne to Daylesford

By Melbourne / Victoria /

BEING Sydneysiders, we didn’t want to visit another city on a romantic getaway from work and children, but after a friend’s big recommendation we hopped on a cheap flight to Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne after snapping up a hot last minute  Melbourne Car Hire deal from www.drivenow.com.au.

The escape from Melbourne’s hustle and bustle was a breeze for a great Victorian driving holiday  – we picked up the Western Ring Road off the Tullamarine Freeway and followed all signs to Daylesford and an hour and a half later we entered the sleepy country town in Spa Country. It was Saturday morning so there was a gentle hum about the place, busy, but not hectic. The moment we set down our gear at Campari, our accommodation, the R&R truly kicked in.

About 200 metres from Lake Daylesford, and easy walking distance to town, Campari is well priced and cosy.

We spent the first day poking around Daylesford’s quaint shops and sampling some seriously good food. We enjoyed a late, lazy, lunch at Frangos & Frangos (www.frangosandfrangos.com). After kicking off with the F&F Tasting Plate (a selection of local delicacies for two), we then sampled another sharing dish – beware the diversity which will have you deliberating for too long!  – and we finished off with the Gelati Trio before getting back on our feet to keep scouring this town’s offerings.

There are a few places worth the time investigating. Benjamin Bandicoot is a must for gorgeous gifts, so too is Ex Libris Prints which specialise in 17th-20th Century antique prints of Australian, architectural, decorative and botanical subjects. Even if you’re not buying, this shop is worth dropping into for a browse. Sweet Decadence @ Lacantro offers exquisite handmade chocolates and chocolate novelties, cakes, biscuits – all made on the premises.

Being smack in the middle of Spa Country, we thought a massage would be a must for the Sunday but soon found out bookings are made months in advance for the popular Hepburn Spa Mineral Springs Bathhouse and Wellness Retreat so we called Jenny at Abandon Stress who offer a mobile service and arranged deep tissue and relaxation massages for the following day.

After that late lunch we didn’t need a huge gastronomical adventure, so Saturday night dinner was ideal at La Finca Tapas Bar.

After a sleep in Sunday, treatment massages early afternoon we were then back at Tullamarine by 4pm for our flight back to Sydney by dark.

Top 5 to-dos for Daylesford:

1) Frangos & Frangos for modern Australian, Mediterranean, European cuisine.

2) Ex Libris Prints for a gallery of antique and contemporary prints.

3) Sweet Decadence for your sweet tooth.

4) Get a massage! Check out Abandon Stress for an alternative to the region’s retreats.

5) The Avant Garden bookshop for bookworms.


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Driving holidays – Melbourne to Kangaroo Island

By Australia / Melbourne / South Australia / Victoria /

This is a must-do trip with your camper, enjoying the spoils on offer along the Great Ocean Road and keeping the navigation simple – stay in on your left-hand side!

A shopping trip at Torquay should be first on your list and the best bargains are found in the warehouses located behind the main surf shop strip. Good quality wetsuits, fins, mask and snorkel are mandatory and easily packed in the camper.  For the more adventurous, a surfboard is worth the effort too.

Stay on the Great Ocean Road from Torquay to Warrnambool.  There are many great places to stop along the way but Apollo Bay and Port Fairy are highly recommended – plan to stay at least one day at each town.

A terrific little (and not well known) camping ground is at Yambuk about 30km west of Port Fairy which is sensational, with a beautiful ocean beach and inland river.

It caters for all water sports and all ages. Seafood lovers will be in heaven at Port MacDonnell, a popular and busy fishing port. The local seafood is well priced and very fresh. Camping at the council campground is recommended, with well priced camping, nice grassy sites and a short walk to the beach. Diving/snorkelling enthusiasts should visit the local Mt Gambier caves.  Permits are required (bookings required prior to arrival via SA National Parks). Piccinini and Ewans Ponds are both world renowned for their spectacular formations, clear water and ease of accessibility. Try to book in and do it around midday when the sun is directly overhead, giving maximum light to these underwater delights.

For architecture enthusiasts, or those who simply enjoy panoramic ocean views, Robe will not disappoint. Camping at the local campground on the hilltop will provide awesome ocean views and five star facilities. We recommend you make a straight run for Kangaroo Island from Robe and catch the afternoon ferry to the Island. Check you have a full fuel tank, as fuel supplies are limited on the Island. If arriving late there are a number of nice campsites at Antechamber Bay with good wind protection and plenty of wildlife. Wheatons Beach has magnificent views of the ocean and plenty of designated camping sites along the coastal road.  For those seeking a bit of fast action, the quad bikes at Vivonne Bay are worth a go.

No trip to Kangaroo Island is complete without a visit to Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch (approximately 10km apart).  Take the camera and get creative – the rocks provide a great contrast to the wild ocean. The office desk photo is easy to arrange here. The Island is abuzz with wildlife and don’t be surprised to meet a wallaby, koala or even echidna along the way. New Zealand seals and penguins also call the Island home. Be sure to have the camera on the ready for some great wildlife shots. Regular ferries run from the Island but it is recommended to book in advance (www.sealink.com.au).

Pack for all weather conditions, but expect awesome scenery, great food and meeting friendly people and wildlife along the way.



Driving holidays – Melbourne to Lakes Entrance (Vic)

By Melbourne / Victoria /

Melbourne to Lakes Entrance

We decided to check out our own “doorstep” and spent a few days looking around the Dandenongs, within an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD. It’s a leisurely cruise in the campervan, too, with loads of great sites as you wind your way up these hills east of the city. It’s such a beautiful place in Autumn. You just have to go to the Cuckoo Restaurant, it’s a damn good day out. Great food and very entertaining.  We parked the vehicle and took the Puffing Billy (pictured) up there – a place I haven’t been since I was 7. You forget what is right on your doorstep, you really do.

A grand entrance

Then we headed off to Lakes Entrance, which is an easy drive, nice open roads, flat and perfect for just cruising along. Lakes Entrance is so under-rated. Only four hours drive from Melbourne, it’s an easy weekend getaway with so much to do. We went fishing, didn’t catch anything; there are little boats you can hire and drive yourself (anyone can do it if I can!). If fishing’s not your thing, you can just cruise the waterways and check out the nice homes. The ocean beach is quite something and we were lucky enough to see whales. Well, my wife Sheree did, I didn’t have my glasses on. And as for the restaurants, well, what can I say. We ate out nearly every night with so many different types of restaurants and food flavours to choose from. It’s a really relaxing cruisy place. Will definitely be going back.