Travel Report Australia: from Melbourne to Adelaide (May 2019)
What could a 10 days phototrip from Melbourne to Adelaide with a rental car look like?
A phototrip from Melbourne to Adelaide requires some preparation. Here is our routing:
1.Day: Munich -> Melbourne (Four Points Sheraton Docklands, Melbourne)
3.Day: Melbourne -> Philippe Island (Hotel North Pier, Cowes)
4.Day: Phillip Island -> Lorne (Coachman Inn – NOT recommendend at all)
5.Day: Lorne -> Warrnambool (Comfort Inn Warrnambool)
6.Day: Warrnambool -> Robe (Best Western Robe)
7.Day: Robe -> Victor Harbor (Mc Cracken Country Club)
8.Day: Victor Harbor -> Kangaroo Island (Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge)
9.Day: Kangaroo Island
10.Day: Kangaroo Island -> Adelaide (Stamford Grand)
What you should definitely think about when traveling to Australia:
National currency: AUD. For exact rates check “Exchange Rate” calculator on this page. For payments or cash withdrawals, you can use your credit card anywhere in the country, without any problems, also contactless payment. For small amounts you should keep a little cash. We had planned 400 AUD for a week, which was more than enough.
Vaccinations: Coming from Germany, no vaccinations are required. However, the standard vaccinations are recommended, see suggestions Foreign Office.
Luggage: If you arrive by plane (longhaul), you should only pay attention to the weight limit of the airline. Otherwise unproblematic, also with regard to the photo luggage.
Visa: As a German citizen you need a visa (!), which has to be applied for online in advance. Here the official link: Visum
Important: Print and take away (!)
Driver’s license: In addition to the European driver’s license, the international driver’s license is required for Australia. We were not asked about this at the car hire counter, but if you should be checked (for example by the police), it will apply.
Clothing: In the European summer, it can already be “cool” in southern Australia. Also cold at night. For this reason, you should choose the clothes in a way that you can wear them according to the onion principle. Also a rain jacket, ideally windproof, should be in the luggage! We also added the following: a “hat”, as it is better suited than a baseball cap to keep mosquito / fly nets away from the head. We also bought long and short-sleeved stingproof shirts and – because of the lower weight – Treckking loafers instead of boots. Since many hotels in Australia have washing and drying facilities, you do not have to take too much clothes, for a week at most.
Itinerary Australia Trip Part 1, Highlights and Conclusion
Day 1: What is the best way to fly from Germany to Australia?
We took off from Munich via Nice, Zurich, Singapore directly to Melbourne. We used the great SWISS partner tariff as we have almost always done on our last trips. Always remember to enter “2” for the number of persons and choose the departure point outside Switzerland and Germany.
Day 2: How to get from Melbourne Airport to the city, to the hotel?
After a good 36h travel time we arrived exhausted in Melbourne. The entry is fast and contrary to expect the printed visa is not in demand. Also, the chocolate that we have bought as a gift for a friend, does not have to be declared (no dairy and no nut). Otherwise, it is better to properly fill out the declaration papers. The authorities understand little fun. It is 5 o’clock in the morning and so we decide to take a taxi to the hotel. Taximeter is running, driver is totally nice and so we have a nice ride. At least we thought we do!
In Melbourne and Sydney, unfortunately, there are a few taxi drivers who have a special trick fraud. When paying, they swiftly exchange one – usually the largest – bill for a smaller one and give you the feeling that you have given too little. In this way our taxi driver betrayed us by 50, – AUD. Unfortunately we only noticed it hours later, when counting the money.
Paying by credit card is just as risky as it is often faked that the device will not work and you make a manual copy. The rest one can imagine. Much trouble!
That does not mean that you should not take the taxi in Australia. In fact, next to the bus, it is the fastest and most comfortable way to get from the airport to the city and from 3+ people it’s about the same price. You should only know the tricks, take good care of yourself and then you can do it. The taxi ride from the airport to the city costs between 50, – and 70, – AUS, depending on the time of day (night supplement!).
We stay at Four Points Sheraton Docklands, which we highly recommend. Good location (quiet and next to the harbor), many shops directly opposite and only a short walk or tram ride into the city center. In addition, we were able to check in at 6am in the morning, which was great, as we could catch up a little sleep.
Highlights in Melbourne: We found the city center as a whole very nice. We could not identify a specific place that stood out. Nice is the promenade on the water and in our opinion everything around Bourke Street. Everywhere there are restaurants, cafes and old buildings and churches. Feels like a mix of Boston and Vancouver.
We also made a detour to Brunswick. A cute little suburb of Melbourne (about 6km from downtown) showing yet another Melbourne.
If you want to buy photographic equipment – the prices are similar to those in Germany – or you have forgotten something, there are two very well-equipped photo shops that really carry everything on Boure Street. One of the shops is Michaels (https://michaels.com.au), founded in 1916.
For dinner we went to “wok at the dock”. A small but fine shop directly in the Docklands, about 5 minutes walk from the hotel. The prices are OK and the food is fresh and tasty. The chef cooks himself.
By car from Melbourne to Adelaide in 8 days
Day 3: By rental car to Phillip Island
The takeover of the rental car at Hertz works smoothly and the car, a Mitsubishi Exclipse, is in top condition.
IMPORTANT: If you want to make a detour to Kangaroo Island on the drive from Melbourne to Adelaide, you must know that all providers, except Hertz and Budget, ban the ferry and also the drive to and on Kangaroo Island (there is no insurance coverage !). Therefore, before renting, clarify whether the company approves the passage and includes Kangaroo Island.
The drive from Melbourne to Philipp Island takes a good two hours and is quite tiresome due to the speed restrictions. Only the last 50km are reminiscent of the landscape of the Hamptons in the USA. A lot of green and a lot of agriculture. We stay at Hotel North Pier, which we can recommend from the location and from the hotel. Most rooms have sea views and the hotel is as charming as a 25hours or Moxy hotel.
Is the penguin parade on Phillip Island worth it?
“Penguin Parade” is a spectacle that repeats itself daily at sunset. Hundreds to thousands of little penguins come out of the water from fishing and walk across the beach to their caves.
We wanted to see that. Unfortunately, we then noticed 2 things that we did not like. First, photography and filming is prohibited and there are no tours available for photographers. Second, it has become a kind of “circus spectacle” with several hundred spectators – on concrete stands – in the evening and has little to do with “nature”.
We did not like this idea and therefore decided to omit this part. Here is a link to Tripadvisor to get an idea of yourself:
The Penguin Parade is even signposted on the island (!) And takes place at the Phillip Island Nature Park. A tip, there is also a free round trip by car, to the Nobbies Center and then the “alternative” way back to the Penguin Parade Station. This is more of a dirt road and we saw our first wild wallabies in Australia. Also a number of interesting bird species. The ride is not long, but if you drive it at sunset, you have a great atmosphere and can walk at the Nobbies Center on the boardwalks along the coast. Only the fact that the “alternative” route is also heavily frequented by the minibuses of the Chinese tour operators is annoying a bit, because they do not drive slowly.
If we had to draw a conclusion on Philipp Island, we would ignore it next time. From our point of view, there are at least 300km of unnecessary driving distance, for something that you will see several times on the journey elsewhere. The spare night we would rather spend on the Grand Ocean Route or in Adelaide.
Where to sleep on Grand Ocean Road?
Day 4: From Phillip Island to Lorne
We start early on Phillip Island. Nearly 300km driving distance. Our first destination on the Grand Ocean Road is Lorne. On the way there you pass Geelong, which we stop for breakfast at Cafe Bear & Scoops (https://www.cafebearandscoobs.com.au. Inconspicuous from the outside, but very nice and absolutely recommendable. Other travellers recommend King of the Castle, Box Office and Freckleduck.
From Geelong to Lorne it another hour and the last 20km already belong to the Grand Ocean Road, with great views of the sea.
Lorne itself is a small town, which is rather sleepy outside of the season, but has some good cafes to offer. We stayed at the Coachman Inn, which is absolutely not recommended. Run down, dirty and even for the price paid by us still too expensive. In the afternoon we went to Cafe Kaos, which offers very delicious coffee and good cakes. Dinner we had at Chopstix, and were again disappointed. Expensive and bad quality. Highlights in Lorne are the parrots, which can be easily fed by hand and fly directly to you. They are big cockatoos! Also worth a detour is Teddy’s Lookout and on to the Erskine Falls (about 9km from Lorne). There you can make a very short walk in the rainforest to a small waterfall.
Right at the entrance of Lorne there is a very nice swing bridge, which lights up at sunset. In addition, the many cockatoos, which show no real shyness and to which you get very close with the camera, especially if you have some bread with you.
Day 5: From Lorne to Warrnambool, past the 12 Apostles
Next destination is Kenneth River, more specifically the Cafe Koala, where the name says it all (https://www.facebook.com/kafekoala).
After a good 30min drive we arrive and without even asking, we get shown the direction in which we should find koalas. So we get to see our first wild koalas early in the morning.
The cafe itself offers a delicious breakfast and you shold be there before 8am to arrive before the tourist buses.
After about 1.5 hours we continue towards 12 Apostles. On the way lies the evergreen Otway National Park. The ancient rainforest lures with huge fern trees and who wants, can visit the 150 year old lighthouse of Cape Otway. We skipped it because we wanted to arrive at the Twelve Apostles Visitor Center before 11:30 am before the coaches (mostly full of Chinese) overcrowded the 12 Apostle parking lot and platforms. That’s why it’s best to be there in the morning or at sunset.
Approximately 1km from the Twelve Apostles you will find the Gibson’s Steps. The walk takes about 20 minutes if you do not want to take a car. 86 steps carved into the cliff lead down to the beach, where you will be rewarded with an even more direct view of the apostles.
On the way to Warrnambool there are other rock formations to discover: London Bridge, Razorback, the Bay of Islands and Loch Ard Gorge, and a few more, all marked with signs.
In the afternoon, we reach the coastal town of Warrnambool, where Californian right whales calve off Logan Beach from May to October. There are extra viewing platforms for this purpose. However, we did not see any whales, as we were probably too early at the end of May.
In Warrnambool we stay at the Comfort Inn Warrnambool International. Nothing special, but very clean and good rooms. For one night more than OK.
Day 6: From Warrnambool to Robe
We start the day with breakfast at Charlies on East in Port Fairy. The small restaurant is right on the sea and the breakfast is delicious. The sea view is unique.
The 4 hour drive to Robe is “boring”. Robe itself is a small nice town, which is rather sleepy in winter and bursting at the seams in summer. We stayed at the Best Western. In the absence of suitable alternatives OK and with the possibility to wash clothes.
What we really had to get used to in Australia is the opening hours of the restaurants and cafes. As a rule, the cafes close at 5 pm and restaurants open from 6 pm until 8 pm. So it happened that we got just before 5 o’clock in the Mahalia coffee roastery, just outside the city center, for a really delicious coffee and a piece of cake, so to speak as the last customer.
Then we recommend a short trip to the beach at the lighthouse to enjoy the sunset.
For dinner we went to Sails, where we got the best dinner on the tour so far. First class cuisine, especially the sashimi is recommended.
Day 7: From Robe to Victor Harbor.
It is advisable to visit one of the bakeries in Robe to stock up on breakfast before going on the ride. On the track itself, there are very few opportunities to provide food and drink or gasoline and the nearly 330km appear again endlessly long!
Incidentally, Google does not provide the correct routing, because you can drive over Wellington. To do this you use the free ferry and then drive via Milang to Victor Harbor. The route suggested by Google is 50km and a good 1h longer. On the way we discover again the pink parrots, which fly around here in swarms everywhere.
Victor Harbor is famous for its horse tram that connects Victor Harbor with Granite Island. You can either take the train or just walk over the jetty. On Granite Island, there is a small colony of penguins that you can not see during the day. The walk over the island with many beautiful views is reason enough to go to the island. For food Nino’s is highly recommended, no matter if breakfast, lunch or dinner. We stayed at the Mc Cracken Country Club, a hotel with a swimming pool and gym, for those who like sports and good dinners.
As the hotel is located in a golf course, ibises, parrots and numerous other bird species have settled here, so do a quiet evening walk and take you camera with the telephoto lens (at least 200mm) with you.
Day 8: From Victor Harber – via Cape Jervis – to Kangaroo Island
The drive from Victor Harbor to Cape Jervis takes about 50 minutes. Arrived at the ferry, it is quite leisurely. Absolutely no stress and it is enough – as written on the ticket – if you arrive 30 minutes before departure. Since the ferry is only loaded from one side, it is even worth to be the last to board. The crossing takes about 50 minutes and can be quite shaky. On the island you arrive in Penneshaw. Who wants to refuel, should do this here. There are only three gas stations on the island. The next would be in Kingscote, the largest town on the island, which is strategically the best place to stay overnight. However, we stayed in American River at the Mercure Hotel, which is less favorable from driving, but has a fantastic location. Overall, one should keep in mind that the island, except much nature, has little to offer. Restaurants are only available in the bigger places like Kingscote and many cafes on the island are only open until 3pm or completely closed in the off season. Dinner is best booked in the hotel, at least, if you stay in American River. By the way, a highlight in the Mercure is the feeding of the wild pelicans.
We check in at 12 o’clock, droppng the bags and then heding towards Seal Bay. The weather today is changeable with sun and rain and winds are very strong. Since we do not know how it will continue the next few days, we decide to visit Seal Bay with the seals on the beach right today. The ride is a good 80km and since we want to refuel and have lunch, we make the short detour via Kingscote (again about 20km extra). In Kingscote, the restaurants choice is limited. There is a fish and chips at the gas station, which is highly praised by all. The Rogers and the Lighthouse Cafe, which we choose. It’s easy and good, even for fish and chips.
As we arrive at Seal Bay, we are the only visitors. The tours to the sea lions start every 45min (guided by a ranger) or you only do the cheaper boardwalk. If you book the ranger tour, this is already included in the price.
You should take at least a 70-200mm lens. Even if you get very close to the animals, the possibilities for beautiful pictures with smaller focal lengths will be very limited. The recommendation would be as follows: Who does only the Boardwalk, should take the largest available focal length, since you have a great view, but are not very close to the animals. Who does the Ranger tour, should have at least 200mm. If you have 2 cameras with you, you can take a mix, then you are prepared for every situation. Mobile phone cameras are only suitable for landscape photography. Overall Boardwalk and Rangertour are not cheap but definitely a recommendation.
During the return trip the sky opens its locks again and we are glad to arrive at the hotel. Here we receive a friendly welcome with the words “There is no electricity today”. The entire Adelaide region had lost power since the afternoon. But they offer us a simple dinner. We think this is a good idea and have a wine by the fireplace, where more and more locals arrive (their heaters don’t work without electricity either). 2 hours later, the electricity is back and dinner is more or less normal.
Day 9: Kangaroo Island National Parks
Today we drive to the Flinders Chase National Park, which is almost 100km and we need about 1.5h to get there. The fee for the park is 11AUD per person. All major roads are paved.
First, we visit Admiral’s Arch. You can get there via a wooden Boardwalk and a few steps. The sea can be rough and the spray sometimes goes up to the boardwalk (!) The arch is very impressive and you can see sea lions both along the boardwalk and in the arch itself.
The arch requires a wide angle, e.g. 20mm. For the sea lions, however, the strongest available telephoto lens. A lens change on site is not recommended. Therefore, prioritize either of the 2 or use 2 cameras.
Then on to the Remarkable Rocks. A really impressive rock formation that glows orange in the sunlight due to lichen growth. In the off-season you have the advantage of being almost alone.
For photographers an absolute dream setting. Definitely use a wide angle. Either 24-70mm or 20mm.
Since there are not many restaurants and cafes on the island where you can stop in the off season, we eat on the way back in the National Park Cafe. In the parking lot we see some Koalas.
Via the South route, we head back towards American River, but not without stopping in Handson Bay. This is the absolute highlight next to Flinders Chase and Seal Bay. Here you can observe koala bears (wild) with guarantee, as the property is home to an eucalyptus forest. Countless wallabies and kangaroos are on the large green areas. You can easily do the “self-guided” tour and save the money for the ranger. The koalas are so numerous that you quickly stop counting.
In the late afternoon, the koalas become active and the sun is at the right angle. Definitely use a strong telephoto lens (200mm up).
We were almost alone due to the off-season and had the koalas for us so to speak, which made it much easier to photograph them, as they even walked on the ground to the next tree.
After nearly 2 hours we head back to American River. In the dusk, you should really pay attention to the street. We counted over 25 dead kangaroos and wallabies on the roadside only that day.
Day 10: From Kangaroo Island to Adelaide:
After the check out we want to visit Seal Bay again. Once there we were again the only guests and have the ranger and beach practically for us alone.
We are lucky and there are many sea lions on the beach. The Australian sea lions are threatened with extinction and it is estimated that there will be no more in 30 years at the latest. We have more than enjoyed the 45min on the beach and the sea lions have done their best in front of the camera.
Book the boardwalk first and find out what’s going on on the beach. Are there many sea lions to see? Then go back and book an “upgrade” to the Rangertour. As a result, you can be sure to get good photo opportunities. Also, be there as early as possible (open from 09: 15h), then you have the greatest chance to arrive before the tourist buses.
On the way back from the beach to the parking lot we experience a very sweet Wallabie up close and also a little shy, very blue bird.
Once back in Penneshaw, we have a quick lunch at the Hog Bay Cafe before boarding the ferry.
At 2:30pm the ferry leaves for the mainland and we drive straight to Adelaide, which takes another 2 hours. The ride is surprisingly beautiful and reminds us of Ireland or Scotland. The area is called Fleurieu Peninsula and is really a surprise. Be sure to stop at Leonards Mill on the way and either eat something or just have a coffee. A real insider tip and a great stop on the tour. Overnight stays are also offered and those who have the time should spend a night here enjoying the atmosphere and good food. After sunset we reach Adelaide and the Hotel Stamford Grand.
This is the end of the tour between Melbourne and Adelaide. Tomorrow we will continue the trip and fly to Sydney.
It’s a great tour from Melbourne to Adelaide. But next time we would leave out Philipps Island and add a day on the Grand Ocean Road or Adelaide. The drive between Warnambool and Victor Harbor is very long. We have therefore made a stopover in Robe. However, for those being fit enough. we recommend a long day of driving from Warnambool straight to Victor Harbor in one go. Then spend the extra time on the Fleurieu Peninsula. 2 nights on Kangaroo Island are absolutely sufficient, especially if you can take the ferry in the morning on the way there and on the way back in the late afternoon (for example, 2:30pm). Unfortunately, we did not see much of Adelaide, except for a restaurant and a bit of the pedestrian area. From the feeling, a day Adelaide certainly would not have hurt, especially since our hotel was right on the beach. Photographically, you can photograph on this tour a lot of landscape, as well as kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and, with a bit of luck, also platypuses and Echidnas.
Which photographic equipment for Australia?
The photographic equipment that we brought to Australia can be found below. In addition, you have the opportunity to order the used photographic equipment directly through our photo shop and to request further technical details. There are also a lot of extras.
- Nikon D850
- Nikon D500
- Apple Iphone X
- Nikon 70-200mm f/4
- Nikon 20mm f/1.8
- Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VRII
- Nikon 105mm f/2.8
- Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2
- Sirui Carbon
- Sirui Kugelkopf
Backpack / Trolley:
- Tenba Roadie Roller 21*
*The Tenba Roadie Air Case Roller 21 is really a great “camera trolley” to fit even the big telephoto lenses. As far as the flexibility of the interior layout is concerned, this is outstanding. Also the accommodation of a professional DSLR with more than 11cm height and attached lens is possible. The trolley has many storage options. The “21er” is almost perfect, if you want to have the greatest possible flexibility and the ability to take this in the plane still on board.