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The great Aussie road trip, gen Y style

Adam Ireland
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
The great Aussie road trip, gen Y style
Y not? Images: Adam Ireland
Return of the great Aussie road trip
Return of the great Aussie road trip
"The freedom is in knowing that at any point you can kill the radio, cook up a feed and bunk down for the night atop a vantage point seen only by the very lost or very fortunate."
Adam Ireland

I don't want to go on another European Contiki tour — I'm too old for that now.

I've travelled sporadically over the past five years, but like most people, find it difficult to get away for any great period of time due to the constraints of a full-time job. I'm 27 years old and am part of a growing number of gen Yers who have money to spend but no time to spend it.

We are a generation that wants a balance of excitement and relaxation. Furthermore, it can't be super expensive but shouldn't be cheap and nasty either. A month-long getaway sounds fantastic but such a long leave pass is often unrealistic.

We are indeed a tough group to please, but, as I recently found out, there is one often overlooked travel option which ticks all the boxes — the great Aussie road trip.

What you'll need

  • -One week's leave
  • -A good mate or travel partner who is willing to put up with you 24 hours a day
  • -A general idea of where you want to explore (think coastal or inland)
  • -A car. There are plenty of providers out there — we went with Apollo Motor Homes
  • -A smartphone (hard-copy maps are so yesterday)
  • -Sunglasses
  • -You can also pay for optional extras like sleeping bags, chairs and fold-away tables that'll make your trip more comfortable
  • -You'll also have to decide if you want a self-contained vehicle or would prefer stopping along the way at any number of Big4 Holiday Parks for powered amenities and cooking facilities.

Road test: Victoria's Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road was our road trip end-goal, located 90 minutes south-west of Melbourne. You can fly direct to the Victorian capital and pick up your car handily located next to the airport.

Once ready, we set off for Torquay, which hosts some of the best surf-breaks this country has to offer in Bells Beach, Jan Juc and Winki Pop. The surf museum is worthy of a quick pit-stop and so are the factory-sized surf shops, particularly if you plan on using a wetsuit to combat the icy lows of the ocean which can get to 11°C in winter.

The drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay offers an iridescent blue ocean backdrop to the coastal road weaving its way along the mountainside. The vertical cliffs then fall away from the roadside, revealing postcard-like views you can enjoy from the driver seat.

From there, it's an hours' travel to the Twelve Apostles, situated just past Princetown. While the Apostles (of which there are no longer twelve, by the way) are spectacular, it was London Bridge (the sandstone rock formation formerly known as the London Arch), a mere 10 minutes down the track, which got our vote for landmark of the trip.

Between the two aforementioned landmarks is Port Campbell, which may very well be the best fish-and-chip town on the entire coast. Not only does it offer the freshest local produce, but the inlet is a perfect spot to book a boat or dive tour to explore the nearby marine park.

Just 11 kilometres further down the snaking black road and you'll find yourself at the Bay of Island's — a place that is definitely worth a stop-off, at the very least to just stretch your legs.

Cruising past the small township of Port Fairy (which has a cracking surf break near the river mouth) we travelled all the way to Adelaide.

Along the way, there are wineries to visit, golf courses to play and surf breaks to discover. But it's the little pieces of paradise to claim as your own, if only for a night, that make this journey a memorable one.

The perks of a driving holiday

Shooting down a deserted highway with nothing but the angry sea to your left and the world's largest continent to your right (that's Antarctica, folks) will have you smiling for days.

The freedom is in knowing that at any point you can kill the radio, cook up a feed and bunk down for the night atop a vantage point seen only by the very lost or very fortunate.

Another perk is, as the sole architect of your getaway, you can choose to swap relaxation with exploration.

As I found out though, when you have a top-of-the-range 4WD, an over-ambitious travelling buddy and a carefree attitude that only a week on the open road can provide, you may give yourself a license to do things you normally wouldn't.

Like, say, getting bogged on a deserted beach somewhere on the southern coastline. Facing an incoming tide and the very real possibility we could lose our Hilux to the encroaching waves, things got very serious, very quickly. But that story is better told over a campfire and a few cold beers (we were fortunate to escape with nothing but a blown back tyre and two dented egos).

The verdict

The good old road trip is well worth a go for any gen Y with a sense of adventure. The Great Ocean Road is an ideal destination, with its unique blend of older and younger travellers. You'll often find yourself laughing your way to sleep many hours after the sun has set behind the western horizon.

For more information or to book an Apollo camper visit www.apollocamper.com.

Do you have any great road trip stories of your own? Share them below.

IN PICS: What NOT to do on a road trip

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