How to do a road trip in Aussie with the Young & the Old
In this post, places we covered are Melbourne > Tasmania > Sydney.
*Note that 2 weeks are already considered VERY tight in my itinerary and most of the times, I wished I extended 1-2 more days in each places if your schedule allow, it will be good to extend at least 1 day per location if you intend to follow my itinerary. Else, everything is pretty much just touch-and-go.
If you are lazy to read.. watch the video to see what are the places we covered:
Before we start, here are some tips:
- Airbnb are generally much cheaper in Australia then hotel. Also, if you’re booking Airbnb and driving, please ensure that your apartment comes with FREE parking as street parking is very expensive in Australia.
- Please cater extra time in the morning especially if you have no one to assist with your infant’s preparation. We always leave our Airbnb an hour later than scheduled.
- Thankfully, my niece was very well-behaved as she slept most of the time during the car ride. But if you have hyper infants, you will need to ensure you have enough entertainment for the long car ride(mostly 1-3hrs each way).
- ALWAYS buy travel insurance as baggage delay seemed to be a normal thing in Australia flights especially the domestic ones. Yes, my sister-in-law and my luggage were both delayed during our domestic flight to Launceston (Tasmania). Thank god we got it back the following day + travel insurance = $$$. If you need help getting a good travel insurance, do feel free to email or PM me! *I am NOT an insurance agent but I’ve been purchasing and claiming successfully from my agent for all my trips.
- MOST IMPT– Download all the offline maps of the places you wish to visit beforehand as most mountain area have very bad signal = no GPS most of the time. Even the Great Ocean Road drive.
Likewise, if you are too lazy to read through the long post, kindly skip to the end where you can download the itinerary.
Places headed today were:
- Hardware Societe
- DFO South Whart
- Queen Victoria Night Market
Landed in Melbourne and the first thing is to collect the car. For us, I’ve done some research online so I booked our vehicles only through car rental companies located at the airport premises(I got my parents & an infant with me). Of course, if you are ok to travel slightly further, the cost will be much cheaper.
Anyway, I booked all my cars rental via this one website (note that I am a VERY lazy person + the prices aint that much of a difference) AND THEY ARE AWESOME. Basically, they are like a one stop portal and compare prices across ALL the car rental companies for ALL locations and you even have an option to select whether you prefer airport based locations or not. So I booked everything at one go through this site.
But I got to highlight that car rentals are VERY subjective in Australia as there are bad reviews for most companies. E.g some of my friends only wish to book via reputable companies like Hertz etc. I can say its really like a “luck” thing if you get a good and clean car.
*A cheat code- just use the chat board, the service person will assist with everything from checking all the different locations to booking transactions and even amendments needed for the booking. Make it way easier.
Checked into our Airbnb & its off to Hardware Societe for brunch. I’ve actually listed down all the popular cafes in Australia so let me tell you whether its really worth going or not haha.
The food were not bad but the place is pretty small so do expect a long waiting time if you didnt make any reservations. Also, don’t expect that much of a service as I think some of the people there do look down on Asian in a way. Personally I feel that its cause of my sister-in-law(Thai national) and my parents(typical kiasu singaporeans) so they dont really bother about us. And on first impression, they may classify us as China National haha.
Honestly, I dont really care as long as they are not too rude to us.
Itinerary for today is just exploring & shopping as I’ve catered for the case of Jetlag. Went to their DFO (factory outlet) at South Wharf and its a mistake putting it on the first day. We spent 1/3 of our money there haha. Dont worry if you do not have any time for this place, there is a much better Factory Outlet in Sydney if you’re heading there. So you can save it for that.
Oh yes, if you happen to be in Melbourne on a Wednesday, you can head to the Queen Victoria Night market for dinner. Its something like a street food festival & there are TONs of varieties. The crowd is pretty insane though most probably you will end up eating while standing.
Back to Airbnb to crash for the night after that. *Note that if you are heading to Australia during winter period, its HIGHLY important to check and ensure that there is heater available in the apartments. One of our Airbnb only have heaters available in the room and the other apartment their heaters aint working very well. Oh, and one of the shower heater BROKE down too.
It can get really uncomfortable if its cold in the house. So, choose your apartment wisely guys..
Places headed today were(note I shifted day 04 itinerary to today as our hot air balloon ride got postponed to Saturday due to bad weather:
- The Grains
- Werribee Open Range Zoo
- ESTY burger joint
- Brighton Beach boxes
- Pidapipo Gelato
Breakfast/brunch at The Grains and I would say, both the food and service there were pretty good.
Went to the Werribee Open Range Zoo after that. Added this specially into my itinerary because of my niece and I will say, DO NOT BOTHER TO VISIT ANY OF THE ZOOS DURING WINTER. Previously I’ve also went to Taronga Zoo in Sydney during winter and I experienced the same thing too- ALL THE ANIMALS WERE SLEEPING/HIBERNATING. The pens were mostly empty there was nothing to see at ALL. The only thing I guess made our trip slightly more worth it is the Safari train ride. It way cheaper than Dubai’s. Else than that, the animals were pretty similar.
Its just a very disappointing feeling as twice I went to Australia’s Zoo, twice I felt its a damn wasteful trip.
However, that being said, I heard very awesome reviews from my friends when they visited the Zoos in summer/spring. So, just not winter time ok.
Went to the container burger joint for lunch after that. Its a place whereby you can dine in a TRAIN container at the top of the roof. But, we didnt know that there is timing to that and we missed it by 5mins. The last timing to head up is 3.15pm & we reached around 3.20pm lol. The next time they open the roof level will be at 6pm which is too late for us.
So, we dined at their first level. No special ambience but, THE BURGERS AND MILKSHAKES ARE GOOD. REALLY GOOD.
I will strongly recommend everyone to try it if you can!
Brighton Beach Boxes (yes I am following a very typical tourist route) after that just to take photo. Yup, drove 30mins there for a photos. But no regrets cause the view is breathtaking.
Chinatown for dinner after that cause my mum was craving for chinese food badly. It wasnt in my itinerary initially but anyway as you can see, I’ve shifted some of the plans due to the Zoo and time constraint. But if you aint intending to head to the Zoo, then just follow the current itinerary you will be fine!
Didnt have any chinese food planned so we just walked randomly into one. Oh god, chinese food is VERY expensive in Melbourne. A plate of half duck cost like sgd30-40???? Yes, please factor in chinese food especially if your parents are following for the trip!
Pidapipo Gelato for dessert after that! Had been seeing snapshots of this ice cream place online and finally get to try it! The shop is pretty small there are only a few seats outside so do expect to take-away. Plus, its real shiok when you eat ice-cream in the cold!
Anyway, the ice cream were pretty good & they have unique flavours there! Now I know whats the hype about. Oh yes, go for the cone and just eat messy instead of the cup else it may just feel like Udders or Creamier in SG.
Back to Airbnb and called it a night.
Places headed today were:
- Lune Croissant
- Great Ocean Road Drive
- Lord Arch George
Went to Lune Croissant in the morning to grab some breakfast and coffee before we start our 8-10hrs(to and fro) road trip. Yes, their croissant is really nice so do try it if you happened to be in Melbourne! Note that there isn’t much seating in the place its not really entirely a cafe there is only benches for you to sit around so mostly its for take-aways.
I will say to go for the plain croissants if you are not a fan of fancy flavoured bread as they are really good on its own too!
NEVER ever plan the GOR drive in a day just like me! Everything is so rushed and we got to drive back in the DARK. I will recommend at least a 2 days drive with a one night stay near the area to enjoy the road trip fully. Also, look out for the sign that state Great Ocean Road Drive before the M1 instead of following the GPS as thats where they will lead you to really drive by the Ocean = gorgeous view. As its my first time heading there, I do not dare to detour from the GPS & ended up using the forest drive which is faster, but the road is really winding + surrounded by nth but trees.
I feel that my GOR trip wasnt very well-planned so pls do not follow my itinerary for this. DO follow all the advice given in the forums you googled online, I can say they are absolutely right. How I wish I follow the normal Geelong road with a night stay near GOR I believe my family will enjoy the road trip more.
*YES DO NOT GIVE BY THIS M1 ROAD!!
Our view 90% of the time..
It was only till Apollo Bay we started to see the Ocean. But, even if you will like to make it a one day drive like me, do drive by Geelong too even if you are not stopping to have a scenic drive.
A must in Apollo Bay- THE HARBOUR FISH SHOP!
The fish & chips were pretty good & the views are gorgeous. Sit outside and enjoy the sea breeze while you dine!
Oh yes, dont bother visiting Cape Otaway Lighthouse its a waste of time.
There is an entrance fee and we had to walk a loong way in and the view is pretty normal.
There are nicer lighthouses which you can spot on the way if you are driving along the scenic road.
Went to the Twelve Apostles & Lord Arch George (somewhere further down Twelve Apostles).
Didnt have time for other pit-stops cuz the sky is turning dark & we had to drive 2-3hrs to Melbourne.
Anyway, there is nothing much to eat near the GOR so we just make do at a random dinner restaurant in Port Campbell Town.
It was already 9+ by the time we reached our Airbnb so crashed for the night.
Places headed today were:
- Yarra Valley Hot Air Balloon Ride
- South Melbourne Market
- Market Lane Coffee
- Bourke Street Shopping
- +39 Pizzeria
- Crown Casino
Was looking forward to this day since the beginning of the trip because… we are going for a HOT-AIR BALLOON ride!
It can be real tricky when it comes to booking this activity as there are actually tons of providers out there, but most of them actually do not provide refund in the event of a cancelled flight. So guys, PLS check properly before you book!
Most of the providers do allow you to reschedule the flight within ONE year but as I know that I will definitely not be back in a year’s time, I do not mind paying slightly more but there is a refund option. You will not know whether the flight is on till the day itself as the pilot will have to check the weather conditions like the wind the night before.
For the one that I’ve booked, they have an app to update you in regards to the status. In fact, initially I booked this activity on Day 02 of our trip but it got rescheduled to today due to bad weather conditions earlier.
You may wish to check them out here: https://www.globalballooning.com.au/
Yes, Thye got pulled to help with the set up hahaha.
There are 2 options which you may go for: Yarra Valley or Melbourne City. I took the Yarra Valley one cuz of its view.
However, the views got pretty boring after awhile LOL.
Our pilot was quite good, he brought us up into the clouds!!
Oh yes, its expected of you to help with the packing of the hot-air balloon after that. Although its not compulsory, but you will have to wait till its fully packed up before they drive you back to the meeting point so you might as well help.
But, please do not get your parents to do it if you are bringing them along as it can be pretty dangerous.
I nearly sprained/injured my knee while packing due to the weight of the thing.
There is an age limit for the flight and children below 7 years old are not allowed hence my brother’s family didnt join us. Went back to pick them after that & its off to South Melbourne Market. Note that the entire thing will take about 4hrs if you are taking the breakfast option so do cater your time properly.
Personally, I prefer the South Melbourne Market to Queen Victoria Market as there are more things to explore in the premises too. Also, there is a Market Lane Coffee right opposite the Market so yay! We get to try the famous coffee place without having to travel.
They have alot of outlets actually and they are mostly located near places you will visit in Melbourne so fret not, just google online to see the nearest outlet to you!
Bourke Street for some shopping after that as I do not wish to bore my family with nothing but scenic places. Its something like the Orchard Road and you have shops like addidas, H&M etc.
Went to try out the +39 Pizzeria (PLS DO BOOKING IF YOU LIKE TO DINE THERE AS THEY ARE ALWAYS FULLY PACKED) and we did take-away to our Airbnb as they were fully booked till 10pm. Sorry no offence but I do not get the rave and hype about this place, the pizzas are one of the most horrible pizza I ever had tasted and my family members agreed too….
To the Crown Casino after that. Well, its always an experience to try out Casinos overseas isnt it.
Places headed today were:
- Higher Ground Melbourne
- TASMANIA- Launceston
Yes, we only head to 2 places today as our flight to Tas got delayed and rescheduled from the morning to the noon. Also, by the time we landed in Tas, it was 3pm+ and 2 of our luggages (MINE and my sister-in-law’s) were missing. By the time we settled the logistics in the airport, car rental + reached the airbnb, it was already close to 6pm and most of the shops were closed.
So, we just drove somewhere nearby for dinner. Then to K-mart & Coles.
I WILL SAY, brunch at Higher Ground Melbourne IS A MUST!!! THE RICOTTA PANCAKES ARE REALLY GOOD. But, there will be a 20mins wait for the pancakes so do try to ensure you have enough time for it. We went there before we head to the airport since it got changed to an afternoon flight.
I will have to say, the location of our Airbnb is VERY GOOD. Its like a 5mins drive to K-mart & Coles! Given that I do not have my luggage with me at that point of time, K-mart is like a saviour cause I get to buy my daily outfits at a very cheap prices!!
I will recommend everyone to head to k-mart its like a Mustafa in Singapore but way better. Many items were selling at $5-$10 EACH.
Back to the apartment to rest for the night.
Places headed today were:
- Christmas Hill Raspberry Farm
- Mole Creek Cave
- Cradle Moutain
*DO NOT FOLLOW my itinerary for this entire day. Based on what I had experienced, you will need a full day to explore and enjoy Cradle Mountain to the fullest. If you were to follow my itinerary for this day, you will end up taking a bus to Cradle Mountain Dove Lake, take some photos and catch the last bus back to the visitor centre LOL.
So, I will say this entire day for the trip just gone wrong- well, such things do happen.
Firstly, the Christmas Hill Raspberry Farm is nothing I had imagined- picking of raspberries with the fam and eating our picked raspberries after which. Its just a cafe filled with raspberries food, from main course to dessert to drinks. Other than that, there’s nothing else to see. We cant even go into the raspberry farm to “explore”.
However, I’ve to admit that food is pretty good. So if you are a raspberry lover, do try this cafe.
I planned Mole Creek Cave after Christmas Hill as its just nearby. In between, we drove past quite a few lookouts so I can say if you have extra days to spare, you can plan the places around these 2 places and Cradle Mountain for another day itself.
The Mole Creek Cave were an eye opener too. At least its something we dont get to see often or should I say, it doesnt even exist in SG. Also, we get to see glow-worms! There are 3 different tours in total and we took the easiest as we have a toddlers with us. The entire tour is about 1.5-2hrs? So do plan your timing properly!
Off to Cradle Mountain after that and I really regretted not allocating a full day for this. First, I didnt know that there is actually a last bus to and fro the final destination (Dove lake). So by the time we reached the visitor centre, its just the right timing to catch the bus to the last destination and then catch the final last bus back to visitor centre 15mins after…
Actually you can choose to drive up yourself if you wish then you will have more time to explore the place but its raining pretty heavily at that point of time + mountain roads = dangerous for elderly + the young so we forgo the idea.
I wanted so much to visit the other places there like the Tasmanian Devils sanctuary etc. So, the entire trip there is super rushed and we only get to see 1 scenic look out + we drove 2 hrs to and fro just to head there!!!
I can totally sense the disappointment in my parents for this area. That being said, I will head back to Cradle Mountain again if I ever head back to Tasmania.
We were too late for Cataract Gorge (sky turn dark in Aussie at 5pm) so off to dinner and back to airbnb to rest after.
Places headed today were:
- Cataract Gorge(shifted from previous day to today)
- Skipped Bays of Fire & Binalong Bay (cause I didnt want my parents to follow me to “travel all the way just for a photo place” again. But if you are a couple, do go explore if you can!)
- Freycinet Marine Farm
- Skipped Coles of Bay + Wineglass Bay Lookout too cause there is no way my parents + my niece can do the 2hrs hike to and fro.
This is also why I really wished I had extra days in Tas. And also, you must really plan properly if you bringing the entire fam. I will get Thye to do all these with me if its just 2 of us. But oh well, my mistake your gain as usual! Thou I am really trying to minimise on the mistakes part HAHA.
One good thing is, my family really enjoyed Cataract Gorge. This place is suitable for both parents and toddlers as you can take chairlifts up “mountains” instead of hiking and, we get to see Wallabies like finally!
Off to Freycinet Marine Farm for lunch after that but, this is actly a mistake too. Its on the way if we are heading to where I had initially planned for the day but to go there just for seafood, its super out of the way. Plus, its just a standalone seafood cafe in the middle of nowhere there is nothing else to do there!
If there is at least a marine farm for us to look around its still not that bad. But nope, its really just a cafe standing there in the middle of nowhere and you gotta drive all the way in for it.
Went on to Hobart but as its night time when we arrived, we just settled our dinner at a random restaurant we found and its to our airbnb.
Places headed today were:
- The Richmond Bakery
- Richmond Bridge
- Port Arthur Tour (honestly wont recommend this lol)
- Tasman Arch
- Tessellated Pavement
- Salamanca Place
PLEASE TRY TO PLAN YOUR TASMANIA TRIP TO FALL ON A SATURDAY! It’s actually one of my dream to visit the Salamanca Market in Hobart for the longest time but I didnt know that they only operate on Saturdays! I was SO sad and disappointed about it!
Anyway, Richmond Bakery is a must the scallop pies are really goood. But normally people will stop there for a break while driving from Launces to Hobart so its up to your itinerary just remember a must to go try!!
I will skip the Port Arthur Tour totally (unless you are going for the Ghost tour) cause the normal boat ride tour is totally boring. Yes the boat ride is an experience but they didnt even drive near the places so its like you are seeing heap of trees from afar and they just explain the various histories.
So if you really have no time to head to this place, or have other places in Tas you really want to visit, then just skip this place totally. That being said, I think this is a must if you are those museum/history lovers.
Tasman Arch + a few other lookouts after that. What I like about it is that they are all locate near one another, i.e 5-8mins drive to the next locations BUT, all of them are fenced up so you can only view from far = not what I had imagined it to be like. I thought we can sit on the edge or on the rocks for photos kind haha.
Tessellated Pavement is pretty cool I will say to go take a look if you can. Thou it pretty much just some walkway beside the sea. The photo effects are really what you see online!
Back to town for dinner then its back to airbnb.
Places headed today were:
- Jackman & McRoss
- Bruny Island (entire day)
We forgo Mount Wellington as its way too early and everyone was shagged out from the past days of heavy itineraries. If you have extra days pls go! Heard its really beautiful up there.
Breakfast at Jackman McRoss as recommended by a friend and the breads there are pretty good.
Drove to Kettering to take the car ferry(yes you can drive the entire car up the ferry!) to Bruny Island. You will just need to buy the ferry tickets on the spot when you arrive at the Jetty. But, please do not be late as if you missed ferry, you will need to wait for the next time slot.
Also, very impt to NOT miss the last ferry timing else you will need to stay there for a night.
The bruny island tour is a must!!! ITS SUPER FUN AND WE SAW TONS OF DOLPHINS! Tried our best to catch some whales but failed badly. I will recommend this than the Port Arthur tour haha.
Oh, and do take the lunch package we had a hard time finding places for food. Ended up in a minimart style of cafe having nothing but hotdog buns…
Link for the Bruny Island Cruise: https://www.brunycruises.com.au/
The captain of the cruise drove us through this “cave”!
Manage to catch a group of sea lions sun-basking too!!
The captain also tried to bring us for some whale-catching and failed but hey! We manage to catch dolphins!!
Back to the island, dinner and back to Airbnb. Aussie days end quite early as most of their shops except K-mart & Coles are closed by 5pm.
Onwards to Sydney today!!! As its my 2nd time there, we didnt cater much days as I’ve been to most of the places so do extend if its your first time there!
Places headed today were:
- Pancakes on the Rock
- Sydney Opera House
- Sydney Harbour
- Mrs Macquarie Chair
As its my family’s first time to Sydney, I still try to add in touristy spots like Darling Harbour & Opera House so they can see see, walk walk and take pictures.
First stop, is straight to Pancakes on the Rock for lunch as I missed that the previous trip due to falling sick. No wonder my friend recommend that place the food is pretty good!
Spent the day at Darling Harbour/Sydney Opera House area as we will be meeting my dad’s friend for dinner there too. And guess what? The friend wanted to bring us to Pancakes on the Rock haha! This is why you guys should try it too if you are there.
So we ended up having some Chinese food at their Chinatown. Shopped around the area (sorry Idk what’s the exact place of the name but if you walk around the entire area of Chinatown > Darling Habour you will see alot of shops by the street.
Called it a day after that as everyone was pretty tired out from the extensive itineraries earlier this trip.
Places headed today were:
- Sydney Fish Market
- Lincoln’s Rock
- Blue Mountains (1/2 day)
This is by far one of my(and now my family’s) fav place in Sydney! The fish market is a MUST to visit for fresh seafood! I wont say its the cheapest you can find out there, but def cheaper than SG’s and also, super fresh food!!
Also, note that normally the seats are only available for the particular stall you are getting from so if you want to mix other stall’s food, it is possible but try to ensure that 3/4 of the food is still from the stall you are sitting at. Else, you may get chased away! haha.
Headed to the Blue Mountains after that and as usual, will recommend for you to cater for a full day there if you wish to explore thoroughly as the sky turned dark at 5pm. Most of the scenic places are basically touch and go for us due to time constraint.
The good thing I will say is that at least the roads are properly laid out so its not like those mountainous road we had drove previously = very dangerous for night driving.
Back to the city for dinner and its…. KOREAN FOOD! I cant seem to find the photos taken for this but the name of the restaurant is Yang San Park. You will have to make reservations in advance as they are very popular and you will need to wait for at least 2-3 hrs for walk-in. We actually went the day before but they were fully booked so we had to reserve for tonight instead.
Also, they will only hold your reservations for 15mins so do try not to be late!
I’ve screenshot how’s the restaurant looks like from the net.
Places headed today were:
- Bourke Street Bakery
- The Rocks
- Birkenhead Point Outlet Store
- Paddys Market
Its shopping day today!!! Do not mistaken The Rocks as Pancakes on The Rocks as they are 2 different entity totally (although there is one shop located there too. Got a feeling that’s the original outlet haha).
The Rocks is actually a weekend market in Sydney which operates only Fri- Sun. Its sth like a pasar malam with local handmade items.
Bourke Street Bakery for breakfast before that cuz I googled it online and its like a recommended place. But for me, its just one of those bakery cafe as I’ve been to many so nothing WOW or amazing about it. Its nothing bad too thou! You can still try it if you have nothing else to try in Sydney, else just go for the other one.
Birkenhead Point Outlet Store after that and its one of the best shopping outlet we had been in Aussie so far. SHOPPED ALOT and the prices are crazy cheap- even for like shoes! Of course, since its a outlet store dont expect the latest designs there.
Also, tweaked our current itinerary cuz we spent like 1/2 day there and everyone is happy cuz retail therapy! Haha!
Pushed Bondi Beach to the next day which I kind of regretted cuz we nearly missed our flight LOL.
Onwards to Paddys Market after that and please go to the one located on the ground level. Thye and I went somewhere else before that and my family walked the shopping mall above it instead of the market itself. Haha.
The ground market close by 6pm so you can explore that first before the shopping mall above it. Its nothing amazing actually just places where you can get souvenirs or their “tourist” tees at cheap prices.
Oh, and Sydney’s parking is crazy ex so if you can, dont bother driving there!!
Had Chinese steamboat(sth like Hadilao) in Sydney’s chinatown and its pretty good! You guys can try it if you are missing Chinese food.
Places headed today were:
- The Grounds of Alexandria
- Blackstar Pastry
- Bondi Beach
Its our last day in Sydney!! Brought the fam to the Grounds of Alexandria cuz its a must! Been there the last time and love the place. Do remember to make reservations for the brunch cafe there else it may be a long wait.
Basically, you can eat, shop and take photos(beautiful ambience) at that place, so do try to head there if you can!
Been hearing raves about the famous watermelon cakes in Sydney and finally, we get to try it!!! Actually, we went to one of the Blackstar Pastry the previous day but it was fully sold out!! Luckily, there is another Blackstar Pastry on the way to Bondi Beach and we headed there early this time = got it!
Now, I understand whats the hype and rave over it, its really quite yummy.
Bondi Beach is overly crowded with tourists but I would say, still worth to go and take a look if you are passing by/have free days as the view is quite captivating minus the crowd. Also, I will suggest to go during the summer/spring time so you can take a swim in the famous “sea water” pool at Bondi.
Its winter when we were there and even sitting at the outdoor cafe beside the pool = freezing.
To the airport aft that and oh, if you are driving PLS head there early to return the car!! The location of the returns is pretty far from the airport itself which is what nearly made us miss our flight!! Also, we kept missing the signs to turn into the return carpark = ended up many rounds around the airport.
Thank god the counter staff is kind hearted enough to let us pass through in the end.
And thats the end of our Aussie road trip!! Tiring but am glad that we manage to cover many places within this trip, as usual. HAHA.
If you are interested in the places we went to, you may download the itinerary below(but note we had quite a no. of tweaks for this trip so do try to read through the post first if you can):