Melbourne, Sydney (2017)

2 major cities, in between Great Alpine Road, Ballarat, Phillip Island

North and south of Melbourne

On our way to Melbourne we take a little detour to the north and pitch our tents for two days in the small town of Ballarat. After all the beach and sea impressions we wanted to see something different. Ballarat, a former gold mining town and an important station on Australia's way to democracy (there is a democracy museum), is now a university town, but has remained quiet. Five caravan parks offer accommodation.  Even without pre-booking there should be no accommodation problems. So much for the theory. The selected BIG4 place was completely booked. With a lot of luck we found an overnight stay in a small BIG4 park, directly at Souvereign Hill. The site is located in a "corner" between children's trampoline (Jumping-pillow) and a house with such a narrow driveway that only a "tiny camper-van" like our Hitop, fit inside. On inquiry we learn that on Saturday a "flea market" for old-timers etc. is organized. More than 3000 vendors plus a multiple of visitors explains the tight accommodation situation. 

Ballarat is known to tourists for Souvereign Hill, a more or less faithfully rebuilt gold mining town where costumed "gold miners" go about their day's work during the day.

The Ballarat Golf Club was a pleasant surprise. On the eve of a major pro-am tournament, we were able to play the course, which had already been prepared for the big event. The photographer of a wedding party snapped us another photo in her decorations. 


On Sunday morning we drive towards Melbourne, but at short notice we decide to explore the south first and head for Phillip-Island, about 100 km south of the city. Normally a quiet island, only accessible via a bridge. Besides a penguin colony and sea lions, there is a motorcycle race track and a golf course. Again, we have trouble finding a parking space, because just this weekend a motorcycle Grand Prix is taking place. About 50% of all motorcycle racing fans in Australia are here today, roaring through the few streets with their machines and of course spending the night here.

We are compensated by, finally once again, bright sunshine and 27 degrees. Our caravan park has a direct beach access, which we (as the only?) also use.

Settlers Run - Golf with a nice person

For this day there is only golf on the program, namely on the very nice Settlers Run Golf & Country Club, which Sabine really wanted to play because it is designed by the "White Shark" Greg Norman. There is a tournament ahead of us, so we include the following young man in our flight. Chris (26) has only been playing golf seriously for a few months, but already has a good technique and damn long strokes. He lived for some time in Ingolstadt, Germany, where he worked on promotion at Audi and met his German girlfriend while there. He continues to work for Audi (software engineer) via home office and confers with Ingolstadt once a week. As a small gift, Audi had given him top golf equipment to bind him to the company. That worked out well.

He gave us some tips regarding sightseeing. In return we invited him to a round of golf at Hitscherhof.

The Mornington Peninsula - Flinders

On Tuesday we drive the Mornington Peninsula almost completely. At the outermost point, Point Nepean, incoming settlers used to be quarantined. The buildings and facilities can be visited. The sandy beach is several kilometers long and encourages an extensive walk. Along the way we look at many golf courses. The density is enormous. We have to decide which one we want to play on Wednesday. Unfortunately it turns out differently, because on almost all courses tournaments take place in one case even a Mensday with 200 participants.

The search for accommodation turned out to be more difficult than expected. Finally we ended up at the Foreshore Campground in Rosebud. You have to imagine it like this: A 4-lane road runs parallel to the beach. The "green strip" in between with trees and bushes is the "campground". It extends over a length of maybe 20 km over 3 villages. We find a place in section 11. There are toilets and showers but no kitchen. A few thousand people are here. Many of them as permanent campers. The good thing is that you practically live on the beach, which is very shallow here. It is no problem to wade a few hundred meters into the open sea. The water reaches at most up to the knees.

Flinders is the name of the golf course in the town of the same name. From every hole you have a sea view. Many courses run along the cliffs. Above we fight with the small white ball, below in the sea the surfers fight with the waves.

Melbourne with Katrin

It worked out. We arrange to meet Katrin at the China Town entrance at 19:00. This is a good time, because we can do a city walk before.

But first we have to clean up the camper. We have chosen the caravan park near the Britz station as our last accommodation in Melbourne. It is the direct destination after the departure in Dandenong. Once across the city to Braybrock. The traffic is not without and the streets are totally full.

At the campground we meet two very nice girls from BaWü, also on the road with a camper, to whom we bequeath our now no longer needed remaining supplies.

Together we make ourselves an hour later on the city to then enjoy a free city tour with the S-Bahn.

We get off at Federation Square (was recommended to us by Chris the day before) and first enjoy the view of concert stages, relaxed people in deck chairs and the training rowers on the Yarra River.

At 19:00 we meet Katrin at the entrance of Chinatown. Her mother (former colleague of Primary School Hermersberg, Gerda Reinfrank from Saalstadt) has made the contact and the three of us meet for a "blind date". Katrin moved to Australia in 2009 and now works as a freelance photographer.

It will be a great evening with fun food (queueing and ordering on the street), interesting conversations and a crowning conclusion in the rooftop bar at Mme Brussels (belongs to the 4 best rooftop bars in M.) Thank you Katrin!!!! Thanks to Katrin's advice we also manage the second last bus to the caravan park. The last night in "our" Hitop 1ES-2ZF!

Unexpected often comes ...

Slowly we have to say goodbye to our independence and our "Britz-tiny-campervan-2". At the campground we give away our remaining food to a couple from Perth. The couple has just picked up their campervan (same model as us) and doesn't know how to set up the bed. Klaus quickly explains the procedure, in addition we give them free vinegar, oil and spices. The camper return directly at the airport (shortly before departure) is completely relaxed, although we do not know if the bumper was bent before.

Landing in Melbourne, we get a fancy little Toyota Corolla. We trust Avis again, with whom we have had only good experiences so far. The luggage just fits in and... Surprise - it is an automatic. We drive the 2.5 hours directly to Wangaratta to our next accommodation (for the first time since 6 weeks no camping site). The fields and meadows along the route are all yellow and dry, we hadn't noticed that before. In Wangaratta we find our accommodation at the end of the village thanks to Google Maps. A new building, very modern with a kind of corrugated iron cladding. Our room turns out to be an extension in the same style, consisting of wozi, bathroom and bedroom. It is stunning. The garden area is also impressive, very lovingly designed with many sculptures or sculpture. A real stroke of luck thanks to AirBnB. Our host Marg is a lively lady in her prime. We are allowed to use the family's bicycles and explore the city with them. (In Victoria, helmets are compulsory, so there are no photos of this excursion). We are surprised. The city is great, offers with the Murrey River a stunning river landscape with many bike paths and the obligatory fishing opportunities. The city itself offers a lot of art and "history".

Unfortunately we have to leave Marg to drive to our next golf destination. Howlong is the name of the golf resort that offers us accommodation and "unlimited golf" at a special price for the next two days.

We had already booked our tee times with our hotel reservation, so we can hit the fairways right after our arrival. The course is full, it is a holiday (Labor Day). This is also the case on the following day. The seniors occupy the course from 8:00 to 11:30. We crawl behind and get to enjoy 32 degrees, which we thoroughly enjoy. The resort houses two restaurants that are open on a rotating basis. We are able to test both during our stay and are very pleased. Our "temporary membership" allows us to eat and drink there at a reasonable price. If we wanted to, we could even try the slot machines and other betting games. After the previous experiences of Klaus at tombola, sock pull (insider joke), we refrain. 

Great Alpine Road

From Howlong we are again drawn towards the sea, all the way to the southeast of Victoria. To get there we have to cross the mountains. The most beautiful route leads along the Great Alpine Road.

The Great Alpine Road is 303 km long. Until Bright the road leads through farmland, vineyards and valleys. It continues through open country to Harrietville. Here begins the climb to Mount Hotham. This section is very accident prone and requires increased attention from the driver as it is very twisty and steep with many hairpin turns. The Discovery Route offers even more of these exciting curves. That's why we take this "shortcut". It then also passes Australia's most famous ski resort. The ski resort "Falls Creek" is like the European ski resorts in summer rather dull and dead. There are only some hikers and mountain bikers. We find the vegetation particularly interesting. There are whole forests of white shining tree skeletons, eucalyptus at the tree line. It looks very spooky.

The ski slopes themselves don't look so scary, but the narrow switchbacks of the road are all the more sweaty. After hours of driving, we arrive at the sea quite exhausted. Fortunately, we had taken a lunch break at a picturesque mountain inn and fortified ourselves with a smoked trout.

Lakes Entrance

The place is an extremely popular destination for Melbournians for the weekend and especially during the summer vacations. This is reflected in the appearance of the town: Hotels, motels, souvenir stores, take-aways and the stores of the tour operators are lined up along the main street like on a string of pearls. Record-breaking 25 campgrounds are available. We book a cabin at "Echo Beach", a smaller provider. But it is reasonably priced, newly renovated and very well equipped. For some reason, we are rebooked into a larger house at no extra charge. We gladly agree.

In Lakes Entrance, the large inland lakes Lake King and Lake Wellington are connected to the sea. The lake district is fed by several rivers from the mountainous region. The offshore narrow strip of dunes that separates the sea and inland lakes is 90-Mile Beach. Some travelers are said to be reminded of the French Atlantic coast by the dune landscape. Frequent rainfall makes the hinterland fertile. We are spared.
The harbor is home to the largest fishing fleet in the country, and consequently many restaurants serve excellent fish dishes. We go to Ferrymans Seefood, a fish store with an attached restaurant. Both are housed on a ship. The cook is German, the waiter a young man from Cologne, who is on "Work and Travel". The seafood platter with was fantastic.

The lagoon is teeming with black swans, cormorants and pelicans. The dolphins, a special species here in the Lakes, unfortunately, once again, do not show up.

The local golf course is actually a nice links course but a bit outdated. With a little effort it could regain its lost place in the top 100. Instead, it's very relaxed and unhectic.

Canberra - Australias young capital

Canberra is the capital city with the seat of the parliament and the eighth largest city in Australia. It is the largest inland city and is located 286 km southwest of Sydney. Canberra was designed in 1908 as a compromise solution on the drawing board due to the rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney. Construction began in 1913, and Canberra was granted capital city status in 1927.

The city structure is based on the principles of the garden city and includes extensive natural areas, which are united in the Canberra Nature Park. This has earned Canberra the nickname "bush capital."

Actually we wanted to skip Canberra, but due to the proximity to Sydney we decided to take the route via the capital. So that we do not connect the stay only with the great golf course in Gungahlin, we visit directly after the arrival still the National Gallery of Australia. (There hangs among other things still an old Baselitz ) At the museum entrance one is welcomed by Max Ernst's "Habakuk".

On the hill of the Arboretum we catch the best view of the city. The city center looks very tidy and clinically clean. On the outskirts, construction is going on for all it's worth. New housing estates are being built everywhere. The building boom that takes place everywhere in Australia is most extreme here.

We stayed via Airbnb in the northern district of Forde in a newer house with Talcita and Simon, a couple in their thirties. They only occupy the downstairs, the rooms upstairs are for rent. We had our own bathroom/toilet and could share the kitchen. Talcita has just started her service at the Canberra Girl Grammer School right next to Parliament and is quite stressed. Unfortunately, we didn't have that much time to exchange information as we were already on the go again. The school covers both primary and International Baccalaureate and is attended by 1600 students. One group was just touring Germany in the freezing cold month of February. Simon is a professional soldier and teaches at the military academy in Canberra.

Goodbye golf - family connection in Wollongong

Two more relaxing nights by the sea, a nice golf course and all this not far from Sydney. The decision falls on Wollongong, 80 km south of Sydney.

Unfortunately, the proximity of the big city has a negative effect on the prices of the accommodations, even the Genius status at does not change anything. We try our luck again at AirBnB and get a commitment for the following days despite very late booking.

The sky is gray and the rain is not long in coming on Sunday morning. Because of the weather situation neither a short hike to the waterfall nor a sightseeing tour is possible, we visit a small winery at lunchtime.

In Wollongong we visit the golf club and book the tee time for the next day.

As agreed, we arrive at 5:00 pm at Jolande and Paul's place in Corrimal.

Briefly summarized: The accommodation is again a hit. Jolande and Paul are a super couple, both around 50 and only in the room rental business for a month. The room again exceeds expectations, the house itself is a lovingly renovated little jewel. We get along great right away and are cared for like old acquaintances. It soon turns out that Paul himself is a golfer who seems to know every golf course in and around Sydney. It is a pity that we are already at the end of our trip. The information, also about the surroundings, would have been good enough for another vacation.

Oh yes, the son of the family is married near Colmar and Jolande is Dutch - any questions?

Sydney - and return flight

General information about Australia's largest city can be found above.

To avoid the big city traffic, we returned our car after depositing our luggage at the hotel "Rendevous The Rocks". We manage the city exploration by public transport. One buys an Opal credit card with $20, from which is debited for each ride. Maximum $15/day. A good combination. The card is also valid for ferries and trains. To the airport we will therefore also take the train. A last "adventure". We will see.

On the first evening we watch the departure of a cruise ship (Spirit of the Sea). Already impressive. The following thunderstorm catches us full. In the hotel there are umbrellas. There they stand well. We still get lost and thus make sure that we really get soaking wet.  

Besides the sprawling residential areas, there are beautiful spots here, especially along the beaches and downtown. We stay overlooking the harbor with the ferry terminal, Opera House, Harbour Bridge, etc.

On Wednesday evening we meet (with umbrellas) with Victoria Rahn, who is staying here with her aunt until May and is training to be a "makeup artist". Victoria was a student in Sabine's class for many years and graduated last year. Sabine and Victoria chat for hours about old times and future plans, while I intensively study the brewery's offer.

If all goes well, we'll be back in the country starting Saturday. Sabine has already made a hair appointment, I have exceptionally waived!

Take care!