I took two weeks off work to do a road trip. We went west, along Great Ocean Road, and across the border into South Australia, up to Robe. The weather in that first week was glorious.
I have to say, the southern coast is beautiful. You forget how beautiful it is sometimes. Lovely coastal beaches in parts, wild and rugged in others.
There were more tourists than I expected. This was the end of the shoulder season, getting close to winter so I thought it would be quiet. It wasn’t. I confess I would hate to do the same route in the middle of summer, just because of the sheer number of people. We were also lucky there weren’t a lot of overseas travellers—who often do bus tours—because apparently when the bus tours are running it’s horrible on the road because it’s wall-to-wall buses. (Not denigrating the buses, by the way, as I do a lot of cruising and I’m usually one of the ones on the buses elsewhere, it’s just stressful being a driver on the road with them.)
It’s the first time we’ve been away since the onset of covid. Some things have changed. Some things had probably changed beforehand, but since we hadn’t done a true road trip for years (we love our cruising) this was the first time we’d come across it.
Everyone books online now
It used to be that on a road trip you started looking for a motel from around 2pm onwards. When you saw a place you liked, you’d check if the vacancy sign was lit. If it was, you’d walk into reception and ask for a room.
This time around, that threw people. Everyone, but everyone, booked online beforehand. We had one big hotel where the poor girl behind the counter had no idea what to do (I think she was new) and had to ask the manager for help.
Change in the makeup of the tourists
This one is logical. Great Ocean Road is one of Victoria’s biggest tourist attractions, and on the agenda of most overseas tourists who come to our state. (It’s worth seeing.) But given covid, and travel restrictions, this time most of the tourists were local.
So much building going on
So many new houses were being built. You’d reach the outskirts of a town and find a brand new estate under construction. Or drive through a town that looked as if it had nothing—lucky even if it had a general store—and find massive McMansions being built on acreage. It feels as if in another ten or twenty years the whole of the southern coast will be built up. Rather like Queensland’s gold coast is now.
That’s going to be interesting.
As I said, it was beautiful weather. The first week was fantastic. The second week turned blustery and cold, but we managed to avoid most of the heavy rain, even when we chose to sightsee.
A shout out to all the councils along the way
When you’re travelling, you use a lot of public toilets. Most of these are maintained by the council, and on this trip they were uniformly clean and usable. Even the occasional drop toilets. On past road trips, facilities have been hit and miss.