Australia, The Motorhoming Years, Travel

The 1st Aussie Roadtrip – Melbourne to Brisbane

In Australia’s Big Backyard

Full of characters with stories to tell

Let me take you back to 2009, as we head off roaming for 40 days and 40 nights into the great outdoors in a hired transit van [affectionally known as The Tin Can], it was to be the first and not the last roadtrip we were to do.

“Gidday Mate”

“Why on earth do you want to go into the Outback of Australia?”

“There’s nothing there!”

With a smile, my reply was “there is indeed plenty to see”.

Sure there are wide open spaces where time seems to drag on with the kilometres clocking up at a high rate, then all of a sudden something pops up, and the brain is stimulated with curiosity to find out more. Like this bird, the emu who would not move from the middle of the road. Similar to a Mexican / Aussie standoff.

It was extremely different from any other landscape we had experienced until recently when we spent months in Spain while in Europe housesitting.

Both have very similar terrain but very different cultures.

Melbourne to Bourke

Here is a basic outline of our journey, of course, there are always a few side road distractions from the main route.

Bourke to Brisbane

Our 40 days and 40-night adventure were all planned out, and we were scheduled to drive through Victoria just weeks after the Black Saturday Bush fires. Such a tragedy and it made us fully aware of how fragile life is for us all. Out of respect for the people and the area, we tried to avoid the areas worst hit, our stop in the historic town of Beechworth [think incredible baking and archtecture] had us pleased that this town was spared until we saw the devastation on exiting via a different route.

It was the beginning of weeks of enjoyment and life lessons driving from Melbourne with giant zigzag strides in and out of the Outback, then over to the coastal areas to eventually end our trip on a sandy Sunshine Coast beach [us not the van].

The Lowlights

  • The hiring of a transit van with no comfort at all, the budget was tight for this trip.
  • Echuca on a 45+deg day with an air conditioner in the van that sounded like a Boeing 747 ready for take-off was no fun at all.
  • The flies when we stopped to view Fred Hollow’s grave in the middle of beyond, now that was a surprise as much as the hundreds of flies.
  • Realising that the clothing we brought from Kathmandu are clearly mislabeled as the tops did not rid us of those pesky flies or mossies.
  • Finding out that the Squire had developed an allergy to prawns after what seemed a delightful meal while parked up at The Lakes Entrance waterfront.
  • Road trains, not sure about you but those things had me questioning my ability to drive. When I was driving, and when safe, I pulled off the road and let that truck go past.

The Highlights

The Architectural Buildings around Ballarat and Bendigo, beautiful inland cities built with the wealth from the Victorian goldfields.

Ballarat Railway Station
Ballarat Railway Station
Sacred Heart Cathedral Bendigo
Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo

Echuca River Cruise – Australia’s paddle steamer capital and named by the indigenous Yorta Yorta peoples as a place that means ‘meeting of the waters.’

Riverboat on Murray River, Echuca

This adventure down the river allowed us to chat with locals and listen to stories of life on the river with a colourful vista of Echuca and surrounding areas. It would have been more enjoyable had the water level been higher. Echuca was in the midst of yet another drought, at the time of our visit and the river was at a record low.

Back of Bourke

The Squire checking out what’s happening around Bourke. The goings-on wasn’t overwhelming.
Fred Hollows gravesite
I am not sure what was more of a surprise the flies or finding out that Fred Hollows is buried in the outback. I think it was the numerous flies!

Lightning Ridge black opal mining area. The land is very flat as far as the eye can see.

Lightening Ridge, Outback mining town
What’re the chances of having your names on a piece of mining land!
Visiting Olive Groves in Victoria.jpg
We visited a few Olive Groves and vineyards as we moved through the Hunter Valley, which was a definite highlight, and we had wished we had done so when we owned our own olive grove.
Dubbo Zoo
Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo. Within the 6km circuit that meandered around natural bushland and open style exhibits, where the squire drove, and I experienced it by walking. Nothing like a bit of space from the confines of our small van.

So, you see the Highlights did indeed outnumber the low, which is what we had hoped by the time we had finished our 5,000+km roadtrip. We really did enjoy exploring through Victoria, New South Wales and finishing up in Queensland. It was only a small piece within Australia’s humongous backyard. It’s fair to say after our first taste within a small part of Australia’s Big Backyard, we were hooked.

There will be more to come as I take you on our next adventure. Where we head off during 2013 to experience the outback and coastal areas within Western Australia.

P.S. Not forgetting some jaw-dropping coastal and mountainous areas.

The Lakes Entrance.jpg
Mallacoota Sunset
Great Alpine Range - Victorian High Country
The Great Alpine Road

The 1st Aussie Roadtrip - Melbourne to Brisbane

41 thoughts on “The 1st Aussie Roadtrip – Melbourne to Brisbane”

  1. Wow, I love that country, Suzanne. Your photos are beautiful. I’ve never been to Bourke and Lightening Ridge. In many ways you just skim the surface when you do a road trip. I would like to plan a few more trips too, but I am so conscious of the lack of water inland where towns are having water trucked in. How to spend time (and tourism dollars) in towns, while not frittering away their water is a conundrum. The road trains put the fear of god in me.


  2. Apologies Sue for the late reply as your comment went into my spam folder, which is happening with comments of late!

    Yes, I think you should have a trip through the Outback as it is so uniquely Australian and we will be doing more in our next trip. Though it does require more planning than heading up a coastal road.

    We have found more gems with more preparation. A fantastic winter time activity to explore the Outback. Hope you are having a great weekend too.


      1. Hope your husband is feeling a little better and that things are looking positive. I know it cannot be an easy time for you both, but it is good to be optimistic and do as much as you can. I shall look forward to reading about your new road trip πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fantastic trip and you obviously had a wonderful time (despite the road trains and those pesky flies!) I loved all your pictures and you got to see quite a varied series of snapshots of life in Australia from cosmopolitan to quite primative!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Leanne and we love road trips around Australia. There is something about the outback that is so unique and very interesting. Not sure I could live permanently out there though I love visiting the areas. Thanks for commenting.


  4. We taught back of Bourke in 1976 and 1977 and Dr Fred Hollows and his wife and team came to our little school and examined all of the children and us. It makes complete sense for Fred to be buried there – he was a much loved larriken of a dr who loved the red dirt and the Aboriginal people so Bourke was to be his resting place.

    Denyse #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right Denyse it does make sense for him to be buried there, at first it was surprise then we remembered more of his time as a doctor.
      I remember listening to him via the TV many years ago and he certainly sounded like he had a great sense of humour. Great that you met him. Thanks for commenting, Denyse.


    2. I forgot to mention that Dr Hollows also spent quite a bit of time in other countries such as the Solomon Islands. Plus he was a New Zealander who worked with the Maori community. So I don’t think it was a forego conclusion that he would be buried in Bourke.


    1. You are welcome Brigit. It certainly takes time to adjust your mind to drive long distances, as it is only “one-offs” its bearable, not sure I could do it on a regular basis. I believe we see the “real” country and its people when we move out of the cities.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fab photos! Australia is BIG heh! It never really hit me until I decided to hitch from Sydney to Byron Bay. I thought I’d be there in the afternoon. I was, but it was the afternoon of the next day!

    Liked by 1 person

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