The Best Melbourne to Adelaide Road Trip on a Budget

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The Ultimate Guide for a Road Trip from Melbourne to Adelaide and the Barossa Valley

The Melbourne to Adelaide road trip (or Adelaide to Melbourne whichever you prefer) is one of the more popular routes for international and local tourists traveling through Australia. Even those not ready to make the entire journey will likely be driving a portion of the famous Great Ocean Road which snakes along the impressive southern coastline of Australia.

While there are plenty of places to stop along this stretch of Australia, we have narrowed it down to a few of our favorites. We also considered that things are usually quite expensive in Australia, so our list includes activities you can do for free or without the hefty price tag. (There will be a few things we recommend that do come at a price, but we think are worth it.)

The Great Ocean Road

The road trip between Melbourne and Adelaide takes you across some of Australia’s most impressive scenic views. Even if you are not planning to go all the way to Adelaide, the road trip from Melbourne to the 12 Apostles is one of the top things to do in Melbourne.

While the list is endless of things to do and see along the Great Ocean Road, we narrowed it down to the best things. We also kept in mind the budget conciousness traveler and so most of the items we recommend are free or are under $5 AUD per person.

Torquay

Your next stop should be none other than Torquay known as the surfing capital of Australia and the inventor of board shorts (thanks Quiksilver). But what is there to do in Torquay? Well besides the obvious of surfing check out these great things to do in Torquay.

Don Your Birthday Suit at Point Impossible

If swimmers feel a bit restrictive, then you are in luck in Torquay. A swimmers (bathing suit) optional beach exists between Point Impossible and White’s Beach which attracts those looking to tan their bits. Visit Victoria’s first nude beach and stroll along the white sand beaches watching the rolling waves and longboarders. Just don’t forget to bring your sunscreen for those extra white places!

Useful Information

Learn the History of Surfing at the Australia National Surfing Museum

Still not had your feel of surfing yet? Then you are in luck as Torquay is also home to the Australia National Surfing Museum. Learn all about the history of surfing in one of the most iconic surf destinations in the world. While the price might be a little bit steep, a true fan would definitely not want to miss this opportunity.

Useful Information

  • Address: 3228/77 Beach Rd, Torquay VIC 3228
  • Hours of Operation: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (except Christmas Day)
  • Cost: $$
    • Adult $12, Student/Pensioner Concession $8, Child (aged 16 and under) $8, Family $25

Bells Beach

Watch the Surfers at Bells Beach

Your next stop as you make your way to the Great Ocean Road should be Bells Beach. Bells Beach is renown across the globe as a surfers’ beach. Professional surfers and brave wannabes flock here each year to try their hand at the incredible and consistent surf year round. Spend some time watching the surfers tackle the waves before heading onwards.

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Aireys Inlet

Check Out the Splitpoint Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet

Aireys Inlet is one of the smaller communities along the Great Ocean Road. While a stop in Aireys Inlet is not required, visiting the Splitpoint Lighthouse is highly recommended. Splitpoint Lighthouse remains a beacon along the Shipwreck Coast navigating ships through the treacherous Bass Strait. Visiting the lighthouse and wandering the various nature paths nearby offer your first glimpse of the impressive views awaiting you on the remainder of your Great Ocean Road journey.

Tours can also be arranged to visit the lighthouse either as self-guided or guided. You can also visit the surrounding lookouts for views of Table Rock, Eagle Rock and Sentinel Rock.

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Lorne

Lorne is a popular holiday destination along the Great Ocean Road and one of the best places to stop and spend the night if camping or caravaning is not for you. This typical seaside town has everything you need to have an enjoyable holiday with an abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. Here are a few things to do during your time in Lorne.

What to Do in Lorne

Chill on Lorne Beach

The Lorne Beach is a popular place to relax on your Melbourne to Adelaide road trip. This 1.2 kilometer beach is an excellent place for a swim as the shore break is not as vicious and treacherous as other places along the Great Ocean Road. Lorne is also a great place for beginner surfers as the break is usally low and wide.

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Chase Waterfalls in Lorne

There is no shortage of outdoor activities and hiking trails near Lorne. If you enjoy being active, head out to one of the eight nearby waterfalls to get your heart rate up after relaxing on Lorne Beach. Choose from one of these great options:

OPTION 1: Erskine Falls, Straw Falls and Splitter Falls and Cora Lynn Cascades

The first waterfall route takes you to the Erskine Falls which is Great Otway National Park’s most popular waterfall. The fall is approximately 30 meters tall and drops into a stunning fern gully. Visiting the Erskine Falls does not require any hiking as the carpark is 150 meters from the first viewing point and the second viewing point less than 150 meters further. There is a trail to the Erskine Falls from Lorne which is 7.5 kilometers each way and passes the Straw and Splitter Falls. The Straw Falls are also easily accessible from Erskine Falls with an easy 1 kilometer return journey.

The Cora Lynn Cascades can be seen either before or after visiting the nearby Erskine Falls, but is not for the faint of heart. The trail head starts at the Blanket Leaf Picnic Area and is a strenuous 4.5 kilometer hike to the base of the cascades. The journey takes you through the beautiful nature of the Great Otway National Park passing tall eucalypts and shady tree ferns before ending at the falls.

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Option 2: Phantom Falls, Won Wondah Falls and Henderson Falls

The second waterfall route heads west from Lorne again past three separate waterfalls. The trail head to visit the Phantom Falls begins at the Allenvale Road carpark. The trail snakes along the St. George River and is a 3.5 kilometer return trail. The walk should take approximately 1.5 hours.

Next head over to the Sheoak Picnic Area to begin the 3 hour (4 kilometer) return hike to visit the Won Wondah Falls and Henderson Falls. The trail is an easy hiking trail but it can be muddy during the rainy season. The trail takes you through the Otway National Forest Park passing ferns, eucalypt trees and more.

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Option 3: Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls

The trek to reach the upper and lower Kalimna Falls is an easy hiking trail, however, to reach the upper falls it is a 8.5 kilometer return journey and a 6.5 kilometer return journey for the lower falls. The hike takes you along the route of a timber tramway used for transporting timber to the Lorne Pier between the 1890’s and 1920’s. The trail head begins at the Sheoak Picnic Area.

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Option 4: Cumberland Falls

The most difficult of them all, this six hour journey is for the experienced hiker. The trail head starts at the Cumberland River Holiday Park and takes approximately 2.5 hours return. The hike crosses the Cumberland River on several occassions, so make sure to check the river levels and weather report before heading out.

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Cape Otway

The final descent between Lorne and Cape Otway is my favorite portion of the Great Ocean Road journey. Snaking your way around headland after headland, you will be continually impressed by the vistas. It is sometimes hard to even concentrate on driving because of the dramatic, scenic views around each bend. Make sure you take time to stop regularly on this part of the drive as every bend in the road provides yet another vantage point to awe at the natural beauty of The Great Ocean Road.

What to Do in Cape Otway

Besides the scenic drive along the Great Ocean Road to reach Cape Otway, there are a few unmissable things to do. Here are the best things to do in Cape Otway.

Search for Koalas along Lighthouse Road

Finding koalas in their natural habitat and not in a zoo or sanctuary is usually quite difficult. Lucky for you (and me) there are almost always koalas to be seen along Lighthouse Road in Cape Otway. I’ve been twice and seen koalas each time.

While these small marsupials are hard to spot, there is usually a crowd of people parked along the side of the road if someone has managed to find one. Make sure you drive slowly, (but not too slowly to impede traffic) and look closely at the crevices in the eucalypt trees.

Cape Otway Lighthouse

Lighthouse Road ends at the Cape Otway Lightstation. This lighthouse is the oldest surving lighthouse on mainland Australia dating back to 1848. It was built to offer a beacon of hope to the weary travelers along the Bass Strait. While the entrance fee to the Cape Otway Lighthouse is steep, it is a beautiful place to stop if you can afford it.

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Johanna Beach

Unwind at Johanna Beach

Do not miss the opportunity to stop and even stay at Johanna Beach. Johanna Beach is a rugged, wild beach with a strong shore break. While Johanna Beach is not the best place for swimming, the beach itself with its surrounding hinterland is stunning. It is the perfect place to watch the sunset with a bottle of wine on the beach. Camping is available just behind the sand dunes at Johanna Beach, but bookings are essential on the park website. All sites are unpowered and there are a few drop toilets available for use.

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The 12 Apostles and Beyond

One of the most remarkable and visited locations in Australia is the 12 Apostles. These limestone rocks protruding from the mighty and thunderous ocean are a representation of the ever-changing world that we live in.

The Twelve Apostles on the Melbourne to Adelaide Road Trip
The Twelve Apostles on the Melbourne to Adelaide Road Trip

The attractions to see along the Great Ocean Road do not end at the 12 Apostles as there are many more things to see just beyond. Check out one of these

Gibson’s Steps

Technically Gibson’s Steps are before you reach the 12 Apostles. This once was a popular spot for accessing the beach, however, presently the stairs are under construction (February 2020). A visit here is still warranted despite the lack of beach assess as impressive views of the dramatic coastline and the southern end of the 12 Apostles are amazing.

Loch Ard Gorge

From the Loch Ard Gorge parking lot there are a variety of different walking trails and lookout points to see. Each offers a unique vantage point to the dramatic coastline and the raging sea below. You could easily spend several hours exploring the different trails and view points.

I have included a list below of all of the things to see besides the Loch Ard Gorge below.

Things to See Past Port Campbell

The Arch

Most people think the Great Ocean Road ends in Port Campbell, but there are plenty of things to see beyond this coastal community. The first stop is The Arch which is literally that. A limestone arch rising out of the sea with thunderous waves crashing about. The arch is slowly being eroded by the sea, so make sure you visit before it falls down like the London Bridge did in January of 1990.

The Grotto
Credit: Betsy Weber

Another amazing example of the power of erosion is The Grotto. The Grotto is an open cave built from the thunderous waves pounding against the limestone coast. A small viewing platform allows you to see a glimpse out to the sea through the open cave while the waves crash about. We advice getting to The Grotto early as there is usually a queue on the small viewing platform.

Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands

The last two stops on the Great Ocean Road are the Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands. Each bay provides stunning views along the Shipwreck Coastline of the dramatic cliffs, the roaring ocean and the uninhabited beach below. You will find fewer tourists here than at other attractions along the Great Ocean Road and will most likely have the place all to yourself.

Where to Stay Along the Great Ocean Road

Free Camping on the Great Ocean Road

Who does not love a free place to stay? There is plenty of free camping on the Great Ocean Road, however, most of them are first come, first serve basis.

Allenvale Mill Bush Campsite (Lorne)

Free camping is available just outside of Lorne at Allenvale Mill Bush Campsite. Availability is on a first come, first serve basis with only six available sites. The campsites are 230 meters from the carpark and drop toilets are available. It is a great place for tent camping especially for those looking to stay near Lorne.

Sharps Camping Area (Lorne)

Another popular free camping spot on the Great Ocean Road is Sharps Camping Area near the Won Wondah and Henderson Falls. This six site campground caters more to the converted campervan or RV and is reserved on a first come, first serve basis. The only downside to Sharps Camping Area is the lack of a toilet. If you are self-contained, then this is the perfect free campsite near Lorne for you!

Other Free Campsites Near the Great Ocean Road

There are a few other free campgrounds along the Great Ocean Road, however, these are more out of the way. See below for a list of these other spots.

Paid Campsites Along the Great Ocean Road

Johanna Beach

One of my favorite places to stay along the Great Ocean Road. Johanna Beach offers some of the most stunning views over unspoiled beaches. This campsite is operated by Parks Victoria and bookings are essential. The campsite has drop toilets, but no other facilities are provided.

Blanket Bay Campground

Located in the Great Otway National Park along the eastern shore is Blanket Bay Campground. With only 22 campsites, Blankey Bay fills up quickly due to its picturesque location with tall Mann gum trees, potential for koala spotting and the ocean just a few steps away. Make sure to book well in advance if you want to stay here as you continue on your road trip along the Great Ocean Road.

Hotel Accommodation

Lorne Hotel

Lorne Hotel is only a few steps from Lorne Beach making it the perfect accommodation when visiting Lorne. These stylish rooms have everything you could want or need for your stay in Lorne including A/C for those warm summer nights. This is the perfect place for those looking to unwind and relax during their time in Lorne with an excellent location, spacious and comfy rooms and if you are lucky views of the ocean!

Port Fairy

Port Fairy is a quaint old port town just past the Great Ocean Road. Having been spared from overdevelopment, Port Fairy allows you to step back in time and imagine how it would have been in the olden days. This charming town is a great place to stop over on your road trip between Melbourne and Adelaide.

What to Do in Port Fairy

Take a Self-Guided Tour of the Historic Downtown

Port Fairy started as a whaling station during the 1800s due to the demand for whale oil and other whale products. Port Fairy prospered until the end of the 19th century when the railway was built. With the addition of the railway, the town of Port Fairy suffered as it relied heavily on the activity of the port. By the beginning of the 20th century, most trade passed by Port Fairy all but drying it up.

With Port Fairy no longer a commercial hub, commercialization that ravaged other neighboring cities such as Warrnambool skipped Port Fairy preserving many of the historic houses. Port Fairy has over 50 building listed on the National Trust and the city has designed a self-guided walking tour which shows you the way.

FREE Guide: Self-guided historic walk

A guided tour is also available on Saturdays at 11:00 am departing from the visitor’s center. Don’t miss a chance to explore this charming port city on foot!

There is also a shipwreck heritage walk along the Moyne River. For more information on the walk including all of the points of interest click here.

  • Cost: Free

Visit the Port Fairy Lighthouse on Griffiths Island

Another delightful walk in Port Fairy is the walking trail to the Port Fairy Lighthouse on Griffiths Island. A trail circles the whole island and takes approximately one hour to circumnavigate. The island is home to a colony of shearwater seabirds that migrate from the northern hemisphere each year in late September. No dogs are allowed to visit the island due to the bird colony, so leave the little pups at home for this one.

  • Cost: Free

Attend a Glass Blowing Exhibition

Visiting the Eclectic Designs Glass Blowing Studio was high on our list of things to do in Port Fairy. Unfortunately, the furnace does not operate regularly, so we were unable to see a demonstration. The owners, however, were happy to share the process and field all the questions we threw at them. We still recommend stopping by if only to view what they have in stock. If you are interested in the glass blowing, we recommend reaching out in advance to see if the furnace will be ablaze during your visit.

Dine at the Oldest Pub in Victoria

The Caledonian Inn (also known as “The Stump”) holds the title as the oldest continually licensed hotel in Victoria. Established in 1844, The Stump is the quintessential pub to visit on your Melbourne to Adelaide road trip. Feast on standard pub food like parmies (chicken parmigiana), steak sandwiches, bangers and mash, and more while enjoying a frothy (beer!).

Quick fact: A pub in Australia is generally called a hotel as establishments could only obtain a liquor license if accommodation was provided and so were aptly called hotels.

Other Things to Do in Port Fairy

If you still have more time in Port Fairy consider one of these other great activities:

  • Visit the Whale Bone Gallery which displays art from the surrounding area;
  • Browse one of the many boutiques along Sackville street;
  • Explore the wharf and marvel at the old (and new) shipping boats; or
  • Head down to Southcombe Beach, if the weather is nice, just on the outskirts of town to soak in the warm Australian sun.

Where to Stay in Port Fairy

Free Camping in Port Fairy

Unfortunately, there are no free or state-run campsites near Port Fairy. The closest free campsite is Saw Pit Free Campground approximately 40 minutes from Port Fairy. Saw Pit offers basic facilities with drop toilets (TP not included), picnic tables and fire pits.

Paid Camping in Port Fairy

There are two nearby caravan parks Southcombe Caravan Park and Gardens Caravan Park which are both walking distance to the attractions in Port Fairy. Each includes access to toilets, showers, washing facilities, shared cooking facilities including outdoor barbeques and more!

Hotels in Port Fairy

Star of the West Hotel

Located above a pub, the Star of the West Hotel offers basic yet affordable accommodation. This is a no-frills type of place, so do not expect anything beyond a clean place to rest your head. The only downside is that occasionally the hotel will have musicians performing in the bar and courtyard until midnight which can be distracting.

Seacombe House Motor Inn Port Fairy

The Seacombe House Motor Inn Port Fairy is another great option when visiting Port Fairy. Located at one end of the main street, Seacombe House Motor Inn is easily accessible to all of the attractions. The rooms are spacious and well maintained and the cottage even comes with an open log fire! You won’t be disappointed with your choice if you choose to stay here.

Portland

The port city of Portland is recognized as the birthplace of Victoria. In November 1834, the Henty brothers established Portland, the first European settlement in Victoria. Since then, Portland has prospered from fishing, pastoral and agricultural industries and now the growing tourism industry. Spend at least one day exploring the things to do in Portland as you make your way along the road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide.

What to Do in Portland

Gaze at the Local Gannet Colony

Ok gazing probably isn’t what you will be doing, unless you are an avid birdwatcher, but a visit to the local gannet colony is a unique experience in Portland. Portland is home to the only mainland Gannet bird colony in Australia. These seabirds have a wingspan of up to two meters, mate for life and are relatives to the unique blue-footed boobies. A local volunteer is usually stationed at the entrance to the gannets who will guide you on an up-close and personal tour.

Follow the Norman Wade Scenic Drive to the Cape Nelson Lighthouse

The Enchanted Forest Walk in Portland, Victoria

From the gannet colony, make your way towards the Cape Nelson Lighthouse along the Norman Wade Scenic Drive. The drive takes you past a number of viewpoints and walking trails. The Yellow Rock Coastal Park trail takes you down to the beach where you can watch surfers catching waves. Next head over to the Enchanted Forest walk. This trail is an hour walk winding down towards the ocean through low brush and trees native to the area providing gorgeous views through the foliage.

The last stop on the scenic drive is the Cape Nelson Lighthouse. Although it took 30 years for the advocates of the lighthouse to finally convince the town of its need, the lighthouse still stands tall today guiding vessels as they cross the Bass Strait along Shipwreck Coast. This part of Australia’s coastline is aptly named Shipwreck Coast in light of the treacherous waters resulting in a number of shipwrecks throughout the years. Guided tours are available each day at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm which provide an in-depth look at the history of the lighthouse and even a peak inside the inner workings.

Stroll Along the Cape Bridgewater Seal Walk

The next stop on your road trip in and around Portland is Cape Bridgewater located approximately 20 minutes from Portland. Here you can visit a seal colony at Stony Hill from the lookout point (130 meters above sea level). The seal colony can be reached from the car park with a strenuous two-hour round trip walk or from the Bridgewater Blowholes with an easier three-hour round trip walk. The walk alone is worth it if you have the time as it provides spectacular views over the striking coastline.

Other Things to Do in Portland

If you still have time in Portland, consider looking up these additional things to do in Portland:

  • Visit the Bridgewater Blowholes and Petrified Forest in Cape Bridgewater;
  • Hop aboard the Portland Cable Tram in Portland;
  • Spot blue whales from May to October off the coastline; or
  • Hike the Great South West Walk (begins in Portland and is a 250km circular loop through southwest Victoria).

Where to Stay in Portland

Free Camping in Portland

Free camping is available for vehicles which are self-contained just a five minute walk from the city center of Portland at Henty Park Campground. Self-contained means if you do not have a toilet and tank for waste water, no containment. Vistors are allowed to stay for up to 48 hours giving you plenty of time to explore the area. Henty Park offers toilets, a water tap and a dump station for its guests. Showers are also available for $3 at the Portland Leisure and Acquatic Center.

Pro-tip: Don’t confuse Henty Park Campground with Henty Bay Beachfront Holiday Park which is a paid caravan park.

Hotels in Portland

Admella Motel

Admella Motel offers basic accommodation just 300-meters from Nuns Beach and the historic city center. Each room is equipped with a basic motel kitchen with a toaster, mini-fridge, and microwave. This is a great spot to stay for a night or two in Portland.

Mount Gambier

No road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide would be complete without a stop in Mount Gambier. Mount Gambier is the third-largest city in South Australia but still manages to retain a certain kind of small-town charm. We recommend stopping in for a few hours before continuing on to the Limestone Coast.

What to Do in Mount Gambier

Umpherston’s Sinkhole

A limestone cave formed by the corrosion of limestone rocks by the seawater is now home to an impressive garden. The sinkhole was originally transformed into a garden in 1866 by the owner of the property James Umpherston. The garden fell into disrepair when purchased by the forestry company, however, it has since been restored to its natural wonder. Filled with hydrangeas, tree ferns, hanging ivy and more, a trip to Mount Gambier would not be complete without visiting this spectacular garden.

Pro-tip: We recommend to skip the Cave Gardens in the center of town. It was quite depressing after visiting Umpherston’s Sinkhole. The Cave Gardens were in much need of some TLC when we were there. If you do visit, hopefully, you will find them in better shape than we did.

The Blue Lake

The Blue Lake is one of the most popular attractions in Mount Gambier. What attracts everyone to the Blue Lake is the unique blue water color. When you draw a picture of bodies of waters, you almost always use a blue crayon but it is not often that you actually see a blue lake. Most lakes that I have ever seen are actually brown and murkey.

The Blue Lake, however, only retains this color for a few months of the year. From April to November, the Blue Lake is in fact not blue but grey. There are many theories on why the water in this volcanic crater change colors, but the most plausible is the color changes with the change in temperature. Spend an hour walking along the 3.6 kilometer trail visiting all of the viewing points of the impressive Blue Lake.

Pro-tip: Skip the nearby Valley Lake if you are in a hurry as it is just your typical brown, murky lake.

Centenary Tower

Up above the Valley Lake nearby Blue Lake is a viewing point over Mount Gambier called Centenary Tower. The tower offers stunning views back over the Blue Lake, the Valley Lake, and the countryside. Visitors can only visit when the flag is flying which unfortunately was not the case for us when we visited.

Other Things to Do in Mount Gambier

While we only highlighted our personal favorites there are plenty of other things to do in and around Mount Gambier. If you have more time check out one of these things to do in Mount Gambier:

Where to Stay in Mount Gambier

Free Camping in Mount Gambier

Dry Creek Campground

Dry Creek Campground is only a 20 min drive from Mount Gambier making it the perfect place to stay if you are looking for free accommodation. There is not much in the way of asthetics as the campground is simply a loading dock area for the Glenelg River, however, there are two toilets available and an outdoor barbeque under a pavailion.

Hotels in Mount Gambier

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol

It is not every day that you get to spend the night in jail or at least I hope not. In Mount Gambier, however, you can enjoy the unique experience of staying at The Old Mount Gambier Gaol (jail) without the shackles. Spend the night in a cell or the old warden’s office. It is up to you, but do not miss this rare opportunity!

Beachport

There are two routes that can be taken when leaving Mount Gambier, one inland option through Coonawarra and one along the coastline through Beachport and Robe. We opted to skip Coonawarra and head back to the coastline with our first stop being Beachport.

Beachport is a small coastal community located approximately one hour from Mount Gambier on the Limestone Coast. While Beachport may be small, there are a few sights worth visiting as you make your way to Robe.

Walk Along the Ridiculously Long Jetty

The Beachport Jetty

Beachport’s claim to fame is holding the title of the second-longest jetty in South Australia which stretches to a length of 772 meters. Don’t miss the opportunity to stretch your legs with a walk along the jetty and to see what the local fisherman have caught for dinner.

Be Awed on the Beachport Scenic Drive

If you haven’t yet exhausted yourself of scenic drives during your time in Australia, you are in luck! The Beachport Scenic Drive offers stunning views along the Limestone Coast as you make your way around various coves and headlands. Be careful on the drive as the views are so stunning you might forget where you are!

Take a Salty Dip in the Pool of Siloam

The Pool of Siloam is an underground fed spring with seven times the saline content of the Ocean. If your joints are achy from all the driving over the past few days, make sure to stop for some therapeutic relief!

Robe

Robe was one of my favorite stops along the Limestone Coast. It is hard to say what makes Robe my favorite. Maybe it was the fact that you had all of the luxuries of a big city without the crowds. Or maybe the picturesque main drag with its colorful shops and restaurants. Whatever it was, Robe is definitely somewhere I would like to return to and a must see along your Melbourne to Adelaide road trip.

What to Do in Robe

There is only so much relaxing, shopping and sunbathing that one can do. Luckily for you, there are plenty of other things to do in Robe to bide your time and best of all, most of these are free or budget friendly. Here is a list of our favorite things to do in Robe!

Indulge in a Too Much Cheese at the Robe Dairy

Located on the outskirts of town is the Robe Dairy. Family owned with only two employees (the husband and wife), the cheese here is worth stopping in for to support the local community. There is no formal tasting, however, the owners will let you try everything in stock at no cost. This includes delicious cheese varieties, labneh, wine-flavored jellies and more!

Taste Camel Milk Icecream at Humpalicious Camel Dairy Farm

Located on the B101 in between Robe and Kingston SE is the Humpalicious Camel Dairy Farm. Stop in at Humpalicious for a tour of the grounds and the camels or if tours are not your thing stop in only for a taste of their delicious ice cream! It’s not everyday you get to say you tried camel milk ice cream!

Go Wine Tasting in Mount Benson and Cape Jaffa

Mount Benson and the Cape Jaffa region are relative newcomers on the wine scene in Australia. While Robe itself has two tasting rooms on the main shopping and dining street, there are others within an easy 30-minute drive also worth visiting.

Karrata

For those looking to stay within Robe, we recommend Karatta Wines. Karatta Wines offers a tasting of four wines for free or a premium tasting can be arranged for $10 AUD. An art gallery is also attached to Karatta that houses pieces from artists within the area.

We visited Karatta Wines when we were in Robe, however, as we continued our journey north we ventured out to others in Cape Jaffa. Here is a list of the wineries you can visit as you continue north on your Melbourne to Adelaide road trip.

Find Inspiring Views at Beacon Hill Lookout

Just on the outskirts of town is an observation tower providing you sweeping views over the small coastal community of Robe, the surrounding nature and the sea in the distance.

Get Movin’ Along the Robe Coastal Walk

The Robe Coastal Walk takes you past some of Robe’s best scenery. Walk along the rocky coastline visiting the Robe Gaol Ruins, the Obelisk, the Robe Jetty, Glass Beach and more! Make sure you bring sunscreen, plenty of water and great walking shoes. Swimsuits are optional as the water temperature is usually quite cold as there is nothing separating South Australia from Antarctica except miles and miles of ocean.

Where to Stay in Robe

There are plenty of motels, caravan parks and rental homes available in Robe where you can stay.

If you are interested in camping, then there are a couple of great options in and near Robe that won’t break the bank and are still fairly close to town.

Free Camping in Robe

The Jetty
The Robe Jetty
Credit: Alpha

Although not officially deemed a campsite, the jetty in Robe is a place where travelers occasionally stop for a night or two (and the information center is well aware). While there are no amenities, the location is an easy walk into town making it the perfect stop while visiting Robe.

Paid Camping in Robe

Little Dip Conservation Park

There are two campgrounds within this state park which are an easy drive from the city of Robe. The first is Stony Rise Campground which is only 2.8 kilometers and the second, The Gums Campground, is only 3 kilometers from the center of town. Each can be reached without a four-wheel drive, however, the track to Stony Rise Campground is a bit more dicey. Bookings are essential and can be made online here. A drop toilet is located at each campground.

Hotels in Robe

Caledonian Inn

If you don’t mind a shared bathroom, then the Caledonian Inn is the cheapest option in Robe. Located right on the main drag, they offer comfortable and stylish accommodation. On-suites are also available for a slightly higher price, but the location is unbeatable.

Hahndorf

Tired of Australia and all things Aussie? Head over to Hahndorf to be transported to the faraway land of … Germany. Established by German settlers, Hahndorf has managed to retain all of the small-town German charm for which it is known.

What to Do in Hahndorf

Dine and Drink Beer at a Bavarian Beer House

No visit to Hahndorf is complete without indulging in some of the German culture for which the city is known. There are several beer houses (or bierhalles) in Hahndorf where you can grab a typical German pilsner or lager along with a schnitzel, bratwurst or pork knuckle. We recommend the Hahndorf Inn for an authentic German experience, however, there are several other restaurants serving German food along the main street.

Explore the Adelaide Hills Wine Region

While your final destination on this road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide is the Barossa Valley, a stop in the Adelaide Hills wine region is a must. The Adelaide Hills is one of the few regions in this area specialising in white wines.

Pick Strawberries at the Beerenberg Farm

Strawberries from Berrenberg Farm in Hahndorf
Credit: Daniel Mee

If you are traveling with children, a trip to the Beerenberg Farm is a must for strawberry picking. From November to April each year, the Beerenberg Farm opens its doors for visitors to handpick their own strawberries to take home and enjoy. It doesn’t get fresher than this, so make sure to stop while in Hahndorf. You can also sample their other yummy products in the Farm Shop, so make sure you come at least a little bit hungry!

Where to Stay in Hahndorf

Paid Camping

Hahndorf Resort

Located on the outskirts of Hahndorf is the Hahndorf Resort. A caravan park offering plenty of unpowered and powered sites. The facilities are clean and spacious, however, the location is less than desirable as you cannot walk to the town center from the resort. If you don’t mind the drive, this is the perfect budget-friendly accommodation in Hahndorf.

Hotel Accommodation

Hahndorf Motel

The Hahndorf Motel is an excellent option for your stay in Hahndorf. At reasonable prices, Hahndorf Motel is within walking distance to all of the restaurants and bars in the town. It offers spacious, clean rooms with attentive staff. Make sure to check them out when in Hahndorf.

The Barossa Valley

Your road trip from Melbourne to the Barossa Valley is now almost to an end (or just beginning if you travel in the opposite way). For us, we began our road trip wining and dining throughout Melbourne, and we decided the best way to end it is in exactly the same way.

The Barossa Valley has been high on my list of places to visit in Australia, and it has taken me three trips to The Land Down Under to finally make it here.

Cheese Board with Wine From David Franz in the Barossa Valley

Where to Eat in the Barossa Valley

Dining at the best restaurants in the Barossa Valley often times comes with a hefty price tag. Restaurants in tourist destinations are not known for being cheap especially in wine regions. But we were able to find a few that fit the bill for your budget friendly holiday.

Barossa Farmers Market (Saturday Mornings Only)

If you are visiting Barossa Valley on a weekend, a trip to the Barossa Farmers Market is a must (especially if you are staying at nearby Angaston Vineyards Motel). The Barossa Farmers Market is a Saturday morning community event bringing local artisans together to showcase their food and beverage products. Artisanal cheeses and cured meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, homemade jams and jellies, freshly baked bread and sweet and savory pastries are but a fraction of the goods available for purchase. The best bit, however, is the samples available for tastings. Spend the morning sampling your way through the market before selecting a few items to take back for your afternoon snack.

At the market, you can also grab breakfast at the Breakfast Bar located inside the market. The Breakfast Bar utilizes local ingredients found within the market each week meaning the menu changes weekly. You can, however, be rest assured that it will be delicious.

Home of the Brave (First Drop Wines)

We visited Home of the Brave on the advice of a local. This quirky winery and tapas bar is the perfect spot for a budget-friendly lunch option in Barossa Valley. Take a seat on their sun-drenched patio, grab a glass of wine and enjoy some delicious tapas. Home of the Brave offers a regular menu featuring charcuterie, cheeses, garlic and chili shrimp, patatas bravas and more. They also offer daily specials and the blue cheese gnocchi was divine.

Best Budget-Friendly Wine Tastings

No trip to the Barossa is complete without a few wine tastings. Wine tastings in the Barossa can add up pretty quickly with some cellar doors charging upwards of $25 AUD per tasting.

Laughing Jack Wines

A trip to the Barossa Valley is not complete without visiting Laughing Jack Wines. Laughing Jack Wines is a family-owned winery run by Shawn and Briony Kalleske. It is named after the nickname for the Kookaburra which is derived from its manic laugh.

Laughing Jack Wines is known for its reds primarily the staple Shiraz for which the Barossa is famous. While I could go on and on describing the delicious wines, I do not want to spoil the fun or misrepresent the winery. You will just have to visit for yourself!

A visit to Laughing Jack Wines must be arranged in advance as visits are currently by appointment only. A cellar door is in the works, but amid the pandemic in 2020, the opening date is yet to be determined.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Laughing Jack Wines while you are in the Barossa Valley.

Izway Wines

We stumbled upon Izway Wines by accident and could not have been more satisfied with our experience here. This farmhouse sheek cellar door was the perfect place to start our day. Izway Wines is an off-the-grid winery supplying all its own power and doing things the old fashion way. Join Craig and his team and be amazed at the unique wines offerred at Izway Wines.

Craig also let us in on a hot tip. You can bring up to six (6) bottles of wine on domestic flights assuming you meet any weight restrictions imposed by the airline carrier.

David Franz

End one of your days in the Barossa Valley at David Franz. The cellar door at David Franz is unique in that they offer a DIY platter bar. They offer a smorgasbord of items ranging from artisanal cheese, cured meats, jams and jellies, olives, fresh bread and more for you to choose from. Just grab one of the many baskets hanging from the side of the bar, select your delicacies and the staff will arrange the platter of your choosing to be shared with the group.

In addition to your DIY platter, you can also choose from one of the three different tasting options available depending on the vintage and the number of wines you would like to taste. We enjoyed the red varietals more than the white and they even had a sparkling cider on the menu!

While David Franz may not be the cheapest option or the most budget-friendly, we think it is worth a visit. The wines are delicious, the DIY platter is to die for and the veranda with the views over the vineyard is the perfect place to wind down after a day of tastings.

Tscharke

Continuing onwards in the Seppeltsfield area a visit to Tscharke is a must. Tscharke again is a family-owned winery and is certified as organic and biodynamic. The Tscharke’s have been around for six generations in the Barossa Valley and you can certainly tel in their wines. Stop by Tscharke and try one or all from their wide array of wines from young, fresh wines to old, robust vintages.

Hayes Family Wines

Our last vineyard in the Seppeltsfield area (we clearly like the wines in this area) is Hayes Family Winery. A newcomer on the scene, Hayes Family Wines has only been around since 2014. Run by two couples, the Hayes and the Seppelts, these guys offer a memorable experience with deliciously crafted wines. While most of their wines are of the red varietal like many wineries in the Barossa Valley, their Roussane which is a white varietal from the Rhone Valley is particularly delicious.

The only downside to Hayes Family Wines is the price tag. Here they charge $10 per person which is quite steep compared to some of the other nearby cellar doors. This price, however, is still significantly below some of the other vineyards in nearby Tanunda.

Tomfoolery Wines

Toomfoolery Wines is located in Light Pass just up from the Barossa Farmers Market. This makes it the perfect first stop after your trip to the market on Saturday. I say this lightly, however, as our visit to Tomfoolery Wines was less than ideal. The wines were delicious, however, we felt a bit rushed during the tasting and there were only two other groups visiting when we visited. The tastings were brought out and explained to us before we could even have a sip of the one before it.

Nevertheless, if you do not mind the haste then stop in at Tomfoolery. Plenty of the boutique wineries mentioned Tomfoolery when asked for recommendations, so either they are all in cahoots or their wines are actually some of the best in the Barossa.

The Willows Vineyard

The smallest vineyard on the list, The Willows Vineyard is dubbed “The Doctor’s Vineyard”. The Scholtz farm became the first private hospital in the Barossa Valley in 1883 when a femur was perfectly mended. Throughout the generations, the doctors somehow always returned to their roots and what some would say is one of the original remedies, wine. Drop in and taste their vintage especially their unique Sparkling Shiraz which is something you won’t find everywhere in the Barossa!

Best Things to Do in Barossa for Free (or Almost Free)

We already told you a few secret spots for free wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, but there are also other things to do in the Barossa if you need a break from the wine.

Sample Cheese at the Barossa Valley Cheese Company

What goes best with a glass of wine? Cheese and maybe another glass of wine. If you like to indulge yourself with a bit of cheese as I do then make your way to the Barossa Valley Cheese Company. Located in Angaston, it is the perfect place to pop in as a break from wine tasting for a quick sample and perhaps even grab a few for the road. A sample of four different kinds of cheese is available for tasting all day but note that they do get busy with other hungry winos so it might be a tad cramped.

Visit the Barossa Sculpture Park at Mengler Hill Lookout

While the sculptures here are not to my taste, the views over Tanunda and the surrounding area are beautiful. The Mengler Hill Lookout allows you to get the feeling of a valley that you do not notice when you are driving around in the Barossa Valley.

Peruse a Local Museum

Each town in Barossa has their own unique museums. If you are an avid museum goer or want to learn more about the history of the Barossa Valley outside of just what the winemakers tell you, we recommend you visit one of these museums.

  • Barossa Museum – Explore the history of the area and its people
  • Angaston Blacksmith Shop & Museum – Learn about an essential part of rural life in the Barossa Valley and visit the “smithy”
  • Greenock Aviation Museum – Be a kid again (or take your children) to view the preserved aircraft, model aircraft, replica aircraft and more
    • Cost: $5 per adult and $2 per child

Where to Stay in the Barossa Valley

As with many wine regions throughout the world, accommodation often comes with a hefty price tag. There are few places that offer budget-friendly accommodation in the Barossa Valley. The budget-friendly options are harder to find as these areas are not known as being particularly budget-friendly. In the Barossa, however, there are a few budget-friendly exceptions.

Camping at Greenock Centenary Park

The small community of Greenock located in the Barossa Valley offers basic camping facilities for only $5 AUD per night. The facilities are located in a public park with sports fields and offer nothing more than a few toilets and picnic tables. The value, however, is unbeatable. From the park, you can walk to a few wineries, a brewery and some eateries. Payment is on the honor system, so make sure you do your part to keep this budget-friendly option available to fellow travelers.

Angaston Vineyards Motel

If camping isn’t for you or you are not well equipped while visiting the Barossa Valley, Angaston Vineyards Motel is your best alternative. Prices start around $100 AUD per night for double occupancy and rooms accommodating four people are also available. Each room comes equipped with a small fridge, toaster, and kettle which can be used to help alleviate costs from dining out each meal. The only downside to staying at Angaston Vineyards Motel is the location. The location is not within walking distance to any neighboring towns making it necessary to drive for almost any activity. One exception being the Barossa Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings and Vinter’s Bar and Grill which is not by any means budget-friendly.

I hope you enjoy your Melbourne to Adelaide road trip as much as we did and remember to drive safely!

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13 thoughts on “The Best Melbourne to Adelaide Road Trip on a Budget”

  1. I spent two months in Australia and did some of the iconic road trips (the Great Ocean Road and the Brisbane-Cairns road trip) but I totally missed Adelaide or this road trip, saving it for next time I go to Aus! Johanna Beach looks beautiful, thanks for sharing 🙂

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