It’s time to move on from Melbourne. Rach has always had a bucketlist item to hire a VW combi and do a road trip in Australia. Right now, all of the cards seem to have aligned up for this to be the time to do it:
- We are in Australia…..Check!
- We have the option to do a road trip on an iconic stretch of road……Check! Our destination is Adelaide, and we have the 150 miles of Great Ocean Road en route.
- We can hire a VW Combi…………Che…..hmmmm……wait….
As it turns out, hiring a classic VW combi was quite a large ask! There seemed to be no availability to hire anything from camper van companies in Melbourne let alone VW Combis!
After around 3 days researching and 6 phonecalls later, our saviour came in the unlikely form in a call to Wicked Campers who had some of the most competitive rates and a number of vehicle sizes to choose from. Sounds too good to be true? ….well….yep…….kind of.
Wicked Campers is a company which seems to have been born out of a cross between ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and ‘Scooby Do’!
All of the vehicles are fully spray painted, head to wheel, in cartoony, psychedelic (and probably offensive to some) designs………it’s absolutely brilliant brand advertising……there isn’t any chance you’re not going to be noticed driving them around town.
We arrived, paid for the week, took a deep breath, and stepped outside to see what our wheels-stroke-home was going to look like for the next 8 days.
‘Not too bad’, I’m thinking to myself as I see the side of the van. Then we get the 360 tour of the vehicle, and it gets a bit worse……..
Oh well……considering some of the other designs in the car park we probably got off lightly :-). The inside of the van is covered wall to wall also, but the design here has been a collaboration of the previous renters and a lot of sharpie pens!
We start our journey and leave Melbourne. Apart from the final destination, we don’t really have a plan on the stops we are intending to make along the way. The idea was to just enjoy the view along the Great Ocean Road, and if we see a place we like the look of, pull over, have a look around, and stop over for a day or 2 if we both like it (or we’re just to tired to keep driving)….it was absolutely stunning!
There was also a sense of comradery with other Wicked Camper Drivers. Whenever we passed one there was always a beep or a wave passed between us. For each of them I couldn’t work out if it was supposed to be a ‘Another party Van! Hey!’ or ‘We couldn’t rent a VW combi either’ :-)
Having wheels was also a really nice chance to visit some of the less touristy routes and towns. Our first night stop was at Apollo Bay, where we stayed for an extra day as the feeling of the town was really nice…and it was sunny…..and there was a beach! :-)
After the ‘mini break’ we continued on. We stopped at Port Fairy, to see some sleepy koala bears and the iconic Twelve Apostles National Park, followed by a trip to Portland (where we had the best ice creams ever), Mt. Gambier (where we saw a ‘Sink Hole’ for the first time and the volcanic ‘Blue Lake’ – which seems bluer than the sky), Keith (a tiny town in the middle of nowhere), and then finally into Adelaide.
Throughout the roadtrip, we noticed that the van definitely had its pros and cons. For one, do you know how many times I said, “Where’s the van? Where did we park it?”….well, lots of times actually…..but the amount of times I said it and it not being a joke…..zero times! It’s impossible to lose!
The con was the amount of kids who are drawn to the van due to the colours and the cartoon characters. We felt really bad each time we parked up in a town or car park and had to see parents tutting and quickly ushering their kids away before they started asking questions…..“Let’s go, that’s not Scooby Do kids!”…..sorry all :-)
We were warned before leaving Portland that, as we were crossing a state-line from Victoria into Southern Australia, we would not be allowed to take over any fresh produce. “If you have any tomatos or veg, cook it up into a sauce first, you’re allowed to take over cooked food but not fresh!”.
After carefully checking our food supplies, eating as much fruit as could for breakfast and discarding the rest, we drove to the border fully expecting a checkpoint similar to the movies I’ve seen about criminals escaping from America into Mexico……instead we were greeted by this……
….a sign and a plastic bin at the side of the road. Drop your stuff and move on please! :-)
Another thing I realised is that hiring a sleeper van doesn’t save you that much money in terms of accommodation. We stayed at caravan sites throughout the trip. We could have risked just pulling up anywhere to sleep, but despite it being illegal in Oz, there would be no kitchen, electric, or shower facilities which were pretty much essential for us first timers. The sites ranged in price but some of them were more expensive than hostels (which have all of the above plus a room and a bed). I’m not complaining though, the views along the trip were completely worth it!
When we finally arrived in Adelaide we decided to treat ourselves to a hotel with a proper bed for the night – a reward for sleeping in a van for a week!
We booked the first one we could find in the centre which was reasonably priced, and when we arrived we had hit the jackpot. It was a full apartment room, with Kitchen, lounge, balcony, washing machine and dryer, and the hotel had a sauna, pool, and steam room to boot. It was brilliant! Especially after living in a 4×3 space for the past week….but we felt like such phony backpackers! we hadn’t been in anywhere so extravagant since we were both fully employed responsible adults! :-)
And to finish off our trip, as always, a couple of days wandering the city after we washed and returned the van. Thank you Wicked Campers, Great Ocean Road and all the places and people we bumped into in between! :-)