A short drive in your car rental will bring you to some of central Auckland’s best beaches.
> Experiences > Beach
PARK IN PROFILE: BIG4 Beacon Resort, Queenscliff, Vic
Where: 78 Bellarine Highway, Queenscliff.
10 words or less: Stylish modern cabins, marine parks, bike trails, kids heaven.
The lowdown: Pick up your Victorian campervan rental and head south for the Bellarine Peninsula and you will discover the beautiful BIG4 Beacon Resort. Adventure is the name of the game for visitors to the Bellarine Peninsula, as BIG4 Beacon Resort in Queenscliff is the ideal spot for an action-filled family break. Cycle one of the scenic bike trails, test your surf skills at a local beach or stay at the park and join the aqua aerobics classes or weekly yoga class. There are also plenty of ways the kids can burn some energy including an inflatable trampoline, tennis court and adventure playground. Of course, a holiday can’t be all work and no play. An on-site day spa allows you to reward your efforts with a massage and pedicure. Accommodation at the park ranges from grassy sites for the tent or caravan, through to two and three bedroom villas and cabins complete with all the conveniences of home.
PARK IN PROFILE: Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park, NSW
Where: Corner of Ross St and Pacific Parade, Lennox Head.
10 words or less: Great surf, quiet, quaint, great views, perfect for R&R
The lowdown: Pick up your Gold Coast campervan rental and head south for a leisurely one hour cruise to the peaceful coastal village of Lake Ainsworth, between Ballina and Byron Bay. This venue is home to some awesome scenery and great surf. The award-winning BIG4 Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park is set among the tea-trees alongside the lake and the nearby surfing opportunities are world-class and known for its right-hand point break. The point break is beautiful, but powerful and dotted with local surfers competing for a wave. Although it’s not a break for those starting out, the beach is a hotspot for spectators. Set up base at BIG4 Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park in options ranging from deluxe villas to unpowered campsites. If surfing isn’t your thing, grab some friends or friendly neighbours for a game of beach cricket, 10-pin bowling or enjoy a lazy day with a fishing line at the lake just metres away from the park. For your camper there’s a range of options for both powered and unpowered slab and grass sites. Weather permitting you can enjoy an outdoor movie in the park, there are barbecue facilities, laundry, camp kitchen and TV and video room.
If you’re visiting Victoria or just looking for a great day or weekend away from Melbourne there’s plenty of places to visit just a stone’s throw from the city. Here’s our collection to tackle with your Melbourne Car Rental from the Bellarine Peninsula to the Great Ocean Road…..
Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale
|How Far:||105km south-west of Melbourne (90 minutes)|
|Getting there:||Across the West Gate Bridge on the Geelong freeway and continue down the B110 Bellarine Peninsula Highway|
|Point Lonsdale sits at the head of Port Philip bay on the edge of the Rip, the Bay’s narrow entrance. This quiet unassuming seaside town, has family friendly bayside beaches whilst on the surf back beaches there are amazing rock pools to swim and explore in and miles of empty beach to get lost on. Off-beach there’s plenty to do including tennis courts and a shopping strip with cafes, super-market, surf shop and restaurants.
2 Holiday parks in Point Lonsdale offer casual visitor accommodation. The Royal Caravan Park sits snugly beside the bayside beach and offers powered sites and camping facilities. The Beacon is listed as a Queenscliff Caravan Park despite sitting beside the roundabout immediately adjacent to Point Lonsdale. This multi-awarding winning park is superbly equipped to keep the kids occupied and parents amused. Accommodation on offer includes 2-3 bedroom chalets, powered sites and camping areas. Campervans are very welcome.
A mere 3km further down the road is Queenscliff. The ultimate holiday destination for the well heeled of early Melbourne society, Queenscliff grew up first as a military and fishing centre into an favourite Edwardian summer retreat with it’s wide streets and ferry connecting directly with Melbourne. Today Queenscliff offers fine cuisine, arts and crafts and a newly modernised marina located close to the cross-bay ferry terminal that takes you to Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula. A 60 metre tower offers commanding views of not only the Rip, the bay and on a clear day across to Melbourne.
Visit the marina when the fishermen return and you’ll likely see 2 giant sting-rays that cruise beneath the boats to pick as the catch is gutted and boxed. Enjoy a coffee or lunch at 360 Restaurant at the base of the tower or browse through the growing number of shops located around the marina.
|How Far:||110km south-West of Melbourne (95 minutes)|
|Getting there:||Across the West Gate Bridge down to Geelong on the M1 freeway, follow signage for the C123 Portarlington road.|
|Sticking with the Bellarine Peninsula another great seaside town with a vibrant working harbour is Portarlington. Home of the Port Philip Bay Mussel industry Portarlington hosts one of Australia’s largest Sea food festivals each January with the Mussel fair. This food fest is supported by a range of food varieties, live music, street performers and amusement fair ensuring that there’s fun for the entire family. Wander down to the harbour and purchase the freshest mussels in Australia straight off the boats.
Come winter time Portarlington turns its attention to music with the National Celtic Festival, Australia’s largest Celtic celebration that’s turning 11 in 2013. With Celtic music talent from around Australia and international acts from Ireland, Scotland and Canada the Portarlington National Festival has grown into the biggest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Check out the Iron Duke Hotel for some great food.
Great Ocean Road
|How Far:||125km south-West of Melbourne (105 minutes)|
|Getting there:||Across the West Gate Bridge on the Geelong freeway, jump on the recently opened Geelong by-pass and on to Torquay and Anglesea|
|There’s so much to take in on a journey down the Great Ocean Road that the only true way to explore and give it justice is over a long weekend. Pickup a rental car in Melbourne and head out across the West Gate bridge on the M1 freeway to Geelong and on to Anglesea and Aireys Inlet, the official gateway and start of the road.
Much has been written on the Great Ocean Road, this 243km journey carved into the cliff tops by returned World War I soldiers that snakes its way from Aireys Inlet down to Port Campbell and on to Warrnambool along some of the most stunning coastline in Australia. So popular is this road with overseas visitors that signs regularly remind drivers to keep to the left along the road.
There’s plenty to see and do. Lorne is one of Victoria’s most popular holiday destinations and for those looking for a quieter Ocean Road adventure it’d best to avoid visiting this seaside resort at Christmas, January and over Easter.
Don’t go past Cape Otway lighthouse without a visit. 14kms off the Great Ocean Road beyond Apollo Bay where it cuts inland through the Otway Forest the lighthouse is worth a visit on its own with the added bonus of kolas aplenty sitting in road side trees particularly around the cattle grid close to the lighthouse entrance.
Of course the star attraction along the Great Ocean Road is the 12 Apostles. Set in the Port Campbell National Park these sandstone stacks continue to be one of Australia’s most popular tourist destination despite having suffered much in the way of erosion, the most recent being London Bridge falling down leaving a couple of lucky and surprised New Zealand tourists stranded on the wrong side of the collapse. Whilst there may no longer be 12 Stacks, the 12 Apostles are a photographer’s delight and helicopter rides available at the rear of the visitors centre provide a whole new aspect to shot from. What are less well known are the Fairy Penguins living at the base of the 200 feet cliffs that front the stacks, Arrive at sunset or first light to view these uniquely Australian little creatures and the opportunity to photograph the Apostles in amazing Light.
Port Campbell is just a few kilometres up the road. There’s motel accommodation and holiday parks for those with caravans or who have rented a campervan (check out DriveNow’s latest Melbourne Campervan Hire deals). The local pub serves a great ‘catch of the day’ and sea food platter – hot or cold.
Continue down the coast to Peterborough through the Bay of Island coast Park to Warrnambool or cut inland up to the Princess Highway for your return leg back to Melbourne.
THE weather is heating up as we move into the Southern Hemisphere warmer months and that means we can start thinking about hitting the road in you Australian car rental and heading for the beach. After all, Australian road trips don’t get much better when there’s a beach on the end of it!
With hundreds of hotspots to park your wheels (and your beach towel), we dig up five great beach destinations within 2 to 5 hours away in your DriveNow car rental.
Apollo Bay, Vic
The journey: Only two and a half hours from Melbourne (along M1/ Great Ocean Road).
The lowdown: With lots of sunshine and warm weather, what better time is there to relax and enjoy the southernmost town on the Great Ocean Road? Both surfers and swimmers can enjoy the 3km beach that fronts the main strip of shops in Apollo Bay. A popular summer destination, if you are looking for an adventure you have the entire Great Ocean Road to explore further.
Minnamurra Beach, NSW
The journey: Not even two hours south of Sydney (along National Route 1/Metroad 5) and you will bump into Minnamurra Beach.
The lowdown: Also known as ‘Mystics’ Beach, this beautiful coastline has one of the best surf beaches on NSW’s south coast. If surfing in paradise isn’t enough, the area is also home to a rainforest as well as two famous blowholes that are a must-see for travellers. Everything you need for some summer fun.
Castaways Beach, QLD
The journey: Two hours from Brisbane (along Bruce Hwy/M1).
The lowdown: Castaways Beach is one of Noosa’s eastern beaches. Dog lovers and families will have a ball here as many sections of the beach are dog-friendly. Nestled between Sunshine and Peregian Beaches, other beach activities include fishing, surfing and, of course, soaking up the sun.
Bay of Fires, TAS
The journey: Three and a half hours from Hobart (along Midland Hwy/National Hwy 1).
The lowdown: This pristine coastal area showcases a dramatic landscape, full of wildlife and in an area steeped in history. Summer is the best time to witness its bright blue water and white sandy beaches. With a range of activities, this beautiful and untouched landscape promises to smack you in the senses – in a relaxing way, of course.
Red Banks, SA
The journey: Three and a half hour drive from Adelaide (along B23).
The lowdown: One of Kangaroo Island’s best-kept secrets, Red Banks will spoil you with a quiet beach and bright red and orange cliffs. We recommend you sit on top of the cliffs on a summer evening and watch the sun set. Be sure to have you camera ready as the last golden rays of the day shimmer over the bay and light up the magnificent cliffs for a sight not to be missed.
SPRING is in the air and the sun is shining, so what better time to cruise the NSW coastline in your Sydney car rental and catch some aquatic attractions along the way.
Here’s DriveNow’s top five coastal road trip suggestions from Sydney:
1) Jervis Bay, 200km along Princes Hwy/National Route 1 (about a three-hour drive). Spring is one of the best seasons to spot whales in this picturesque bay, where the magnificent creatures rest during their southward migration journey. Dolphin Watch Cruises boasts the best whale watch cruise in Jervis Bay, with multiple tourism awards and five viewing decks.
2) Montague Island near Narooma, 350 kms from Sydney along Princes Hwy/National Route 1 (a five-hour drive). This paradise island has the largest colony of Little Penguins in Australia. Learn about its history and conservation programs with the Eurobodalla’s evening Penguin and Whale Watch Tour – the perfect time to see the furry little creatures returning to their burrows.
3) Nelson Bay, 200 kms from Sydney along F3 Sydney-Newcastle Fwy/National Hwy 1 (a three hour drive). The Bay is a popular destination for dolphin watching, with tours running every day of the year. Sea’scape cruises to popular dolphin watching areas, while also giving travellers the exciting opportunity to travel alongside dolphins in their natural habitat on Sea’scape’s underwater boom net rides!
4) Coffs Harbour, 530kms north of Sydney along National Route 1 (a six-hour drive). The always entertaining Pet Porpoise Pool in Coffs Harbour is home to several dolphins, seals and other marine animals. Be sure to not miss the chance to get up close and personal, and even score a kiss from one of these friendly sea creatures.
5) Byron Bay, 770 kms north of Sydney along New England Hwy (a 10-hour drive). Paddle alongside whales, dolphins and turtles with a Cape Byron Kayaks. With guided tours operating twice daily, adventure out into the wilderness to learn about the area’s history, get close to migrating humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins – all from a kayak.
THERE is not a lot at Arno Bay, but that’s exactly what we wanted.
A great pub, a few local shops and a caravan park so close to the water that at one point I thought the waves were going to crash into the campervans and caravans! It is truly a ‘get-away’ place.
If you are in South Australia and choose an Adelaide campervan rental, getting there is easy. Pick up your camper in the city and head north-west about 530km.
Or, like we did, you can take the car and passenger ferry from Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula, just north of Adelaide, and cross the Spencer Gulf to Lucky Bay in under two hours. After negotiating Adelaide’s peak hour traffic only hours beforehand, Lucky Bay, with its awe-inspiring outback scenery, was a welcome sight. Arno Bay was an easy 20-minute drive from there.
We fell in love with the place – and we weren’t the only ones. The people on the site next to us had planned a three-week stay, but five months later were still there. It’s just that sort of place. A stunning waterfront, great fishing, bush walking, views, history – even sea lions. And for the adrenalin junkies, sand boarding looks awesome and the kids had a blast.
The oceanfront is very safe for swimming, kayaking or snorkeling and there is a new playground right next to the caravan park – perfect for families. Do as much or as little as you like, just make sure you add Arno Bay to your bucket list when looking at a great driving holiday in South Australia.
PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT
The Great Australian Doorstep airs on 7TWO, Southern Cross TV and Aurora on Foxtel.
Where is Tin Can Bay? Just near Gympie in Queensland, that’s where, and only a leisurely three-hour drive in a campervan rental from Brisbane or a quick-fire 45-minute cruise if you pick up a Car Rental in Noosa.
And boy, what a great little spot it is. Tin Can Bay is a very sleepy little coastal village, with some of the most stunning scenery. The beautiful harbour area is just fantastic dotted with a ton of yachts and people enjoying the area. It’s great for fishing, water sports and a super spot to explore the area.
The best part, though, is the wild dolphin feeding which happens every day. The dolphins come ashore to meet and greet you (there’s my wife Sheree, pictured right), and for just $5 you can get a bucket of fish and stand in the water as they scoot around you – it really is worth the wait, too, and we had to wait three hours for them. It just depends on how hungry they are at the time. But never fear, the local restaurant which is perched on the waterfront right where the dolphins come in has some of the best food ever, including the biggest ‘Big Breakfast’ you could ever imagine which almost took three hours to devour!
It’s a quiet place, but yet there’s loads to entertain visitors including two great bush walks and plenty of great fishing spots. We stayed at the Tin Can Bay Tourist Park, boasting a sparkly and new salt water pool and hospitality that’s second to none. Big grassy sites and nice clean amenities, it’s all you can really hope for as a campervanner enjoying road trips in Queensland. The park is home to many wildlife species including a huge flock of parrots who come by to see what you might have on offer – every afternoon! So when you are driving up the Bruce Highway, do yourself a favour and take the 15-minute detour out to the coast to visit Tin Can Bay. You will not regret it.
PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT
The Great Australian Doorstep, visit www.greataustraliandoorstep.com.au
Despite the devastation of recent flooding and cyclones in Queensland, the sunshine state is still, and always will be, one of the country’s best destinations for a road trip whether it’s by rental car in Brisbane or a Brisbane campervan rental and you can rest assured the pathways are clear in the bottom half of the state which is brimming with magical experiences and, as Queensland Tourism’s Shelley Winkel faithfully points out, “is incredibly resilient”.
None more so than the beautiful Gold Coast region. After grabbing your hire car or campervan rental in Brisbane, head for a one-hour southerly spin on the Pacific Motorway and you’ll be drenched in the sunshine and soft sands of the Gold Coast before you know it. Whether it be luxurious venues like the Sheraton Mirage Resort or a more family friendly holiday park such as Main Beach Tourist Park, there’s a world of options for accommodation.
Then, of course, there’s no shortage of theme parks for the more adventurous or amazing resort-themed shopping villages and well known restaurants in the heart of the Gold Coast. For others, it’s simply a chance to park your vehicle and head for the beach!
Late night shopping is a winner along Orchid and Elkhorn Avenues where names like Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and Prada lure shoppers from far and wide – this shopping strip is usually open until about 9pm-10pm each night. Also check out the Carara Markets each weekend.
One can’t scoot around the part of the world without experiencing the thrills and spills of all the “worlds”, the ultimate parks on the Gold Coast where as one journalist recently described it as being a place where “adrenalin junkies unite as one and families throw diets, caution and the real world out the window”. Now that can only mean maximum fun! Highlights include Sea World (Main Beach), Warner Bros Movieworld and Wet N Wild (Oxenford), and Dreamworld and Whitewater World (Coomera).
For the latest flood news and cyclone updates visit the Queensland Government’s official Queensland floods webpage: http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/ or visit the Bureau of Meteorology: http://www.bom.gov.au/ to check weather forecasts for your holiday destination.
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