Southern part of Australia - Travel in winter?

Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:08 AM
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Southern part of Australia - Travel in winter?


We are looking into the possibility to travel to South-Australia this year from Belgium. However, we are bound to the period between July 7th and August 5th. We realize it is winter time in Australia then and we wonder if this would be an appropriate to travel down under? The reason we would like to go to South Australia is because we have friends in Melbourne we would like to visit. We absolutely do not mind having to put on warmer clothes to travel around and this would not be a summer/beach vacation for us. But it should be doable during this period, otherwise we would have to look for another destination in the world. However, we really have our harts set on Australia.

This would be the preliminary itinerary we have in mind:

- Fly from Brussels to Sydney

- Drive from Sydney to Melbourne along the coast

- Stay in Melbourne a couple of days with friends

- Drive from Melbourne to Adelaide (visit some vineyards)

- Probably discover area around Adelaide

- Fly back from Adelaide to Brussels

We really would appreciate your honest opinions on the following questions:

- Is it really sensible to visit this area during the period as described above, tanking into account we really are not looking for a summer/beach holiday? We absolutely do not mind having to dress warmer, but it should be doable during this time of year.

- Is there enough to see and do during this period?

- Is it possible to visit the vineyards during this time of year to do some tastings?

- Should you have any other remarks, they would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a lot for your feedback.
kojtl1000 is offline  
Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 07:05 AM
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It's certainly doable at that time of year - yes the weather is colder and more changeable but some of us even live here during that time of year and seem to manage to survive..... -

I'm not sure about the drive along the coast from Sydney to Melbourne - not particularly interesting and not something I would recommend, unless you want to visit Canberra on the way. If you drive to Adelaide, the first part of the drive would be along the Great Ocean Road and that drive, plus the rest of the drive to Adelaide, is probably as much driving as you may want to do.

As for vineyards, they generally are open, and have tastings, all year. However, as you probably know, there is not that much activity to "see" at a vineyard except during harvest time (which is generally around March). However, plenty of vineyards to go to for tastings and many of them have good restaurants. The Yarra Valley is about an hour's drive from Melbourne. Adelaide has McClaren Vale, the Clare Valley, the Barossa, the Adelaide Hills, so plenty of choices.

A month is certainly a good amount of time to do the things you want to do - most people are trying to do three times as much in half the time. You should have time to fly up to Cairns and go to the Great Barrier Reef if you do want some beach time for a few days.

There are any number of threads around here with discussions of what to do and see in Sydney, Melbourne etc., but ask if you have specific questions or want ideas of what to do and places to go.
tt7 is offline  
Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 08:23 AM
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So what you are saying is we better spend our time around the Melbourne/Adelaide area since the drive from Sydney to Melbourne is nothing spectacular? Sydney for us is not an absolute must, because we've been there twice before. Would be great to do it again, but if we would lose too much time driving from Sydney to Melbourne, probably not worth it.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 09:40 AM
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I'd fly between Sydney & Melbourne. Consider spending several days driving the Great Ocean Road; do (at least) a day trip from Melbourne to Phillip Island; visit the Grampians.

I've been to these places several times during their winter -- and it was not at all what I'd call "cold"--although there was some rain.

I agree with the suggestion to visit N. Queensland. The area is gorgeous (even if you don't visit the GBR) -- and during their winter, it felt like summer to me .
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 11:11 AM
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With the amount of time that you have, I'd drive from Sydney to Melbourne on the inland route and plan to spend a few days in Canberra. I think you will like the drive because you will go through "real" Australian towns. Also, Canberra is a wonderful city with great museums, good restaurants, fabulous scenery and wildlife and even a winery or two. (While many Australians find Canberra incredibly cold in winter, I did not and I don't think you will find it at all cold compared to Belgium!)

We've been to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island (have you considered going there?) in the winter and found lots to see and do. We particularly enjoyed a day trip to Hahndorf on one particularly cold day. The restaurant we chose had a nice fire going!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 04:47 PM
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I absolutely would not hesitate to visit anywhere in Australia in the winter months, in fact I prefer winter over summer any day of the week (I like cool weather and I'm not a beach person). Keep in mind that winters in Australia are pretty mild compared to other parts of the world (like Belgium!).

I suggest you do a search for 2012 school holiday dates in the states you plan to visit though, as they can have a huge impact (crowds, higher prices, stiffer cancellation policies, etc). Link below:

We visited South Australia in early September one year and absolutely loved it. So much to see and do.

Here's the link to my detailed trip report from that visit - it might give you some ideas:
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 05:59 PM
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The Road trip From Sydney to Melbourne is lovely and goes through my back yard. There are lots of Natioanl parks and beaches to explore and the Gippsland lakes are great with their dolphins and seafood. You could ahve a day or so of skiing on the way through at one of several resorts. Australian snow and skireorts are different to European ones.

However it is not as spectacular as the Melbourne to Adelaide section.

Temperature are mild - mid teens during the day with the rare night dropping below zero. Rain is just a matter of luck. Most rain is in our Spring and Autumn.

The Otway National Park west of Melbourne is worth a stop especially Melba gully at night where thre are thoushands of glow worms.

Kangaroo Island in South Australia is definitely worth a visit.

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Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 06:05 PM
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Having now spent a few winters in Melbourne, I'd say the weather is quite similar to perhaps a mid-October in much of Europe. Some of the non-native trees will have lost their leaves, but I no longer even own a heavy coat since moving here. As you said, not wonderful beach weather, but the drives are still nice. The wind can bite a bit on the coastal drives and a bit in the CBD too. The city center is a bit windy all year long compared to outlying 'burbs.

Agree with the suggested drives locally. Can't attest to the value of the Sydney-Melb drive. Also a drive through the Dandenong Ranges (old fashioned shops and pubs at a string of small towns along the top, plus beautiful views with the native tree ferns) can be combined with the Yarra Valley. Pretty much anything other than water activities that you want to do will still be open. It never really gets cold enough to have an off season. And the only snow will likely be up in the few higher mountains like Mt Baw Baw or closer, Mt Donna Buang.
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Old Jan 4th, 2012, 10:24 AM
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Like most have pointed out. The weather's really not an issue. Canberra's a nice place to visit. That'd be the only reason Id fly Brussels to Sydney. Otherwise Id fly direct to Melbourne. There are a number of airlines you can use eg Malaysian, Singapore, QANTAS (via London) that fly via S E Asia direct to Melbourne. There's sooo much to do, either wineries, Great Ocean Road, Yarra Valley, Melbourne itself, etc and the weather doesnt effect any of it. ENJOY!
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Old Jan 4th, 2012, 06:16 PM
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Thanks, that's what we were starting to think as well. Having visited Sydney 2 times before, we think we will fly to Melbourne and start our trip there to make our way to Adelaide. A possible preliminary itinerary looks like this:

7/07/12 Leave Brussels
8/07/12 travel
9/07/12 Arrive Melbourne
10/07/12 Melbourne
11/07/12 Melbourne
12/07/12 Melbourne
13/07/12 Melbourne
14/07/12 Melbourne - Mornington Peninsula (80 km)
15/07/12 Mornington Peninsula - Philip Island (110 km)
16/07/12 Phillip Island - Yarra Valley (165 km)
17/07/12 Yarra Valley
18/07/12 Yarra Valley - Ballarat (170 km)
19/07/12 Ballarat - Apollo Bay (200 km)
20/07/12 Apollo Bay - Port Fairy (190 km)
21/07/12 Port Fairy - Halls Gap (160 km)
22/07/12 Grampians National Park
23/07/12 Halls Gap - Robe (350 km)
24/07/12 Robe Victor - Harbour (350 km)
25/07/12 Victor Harbour - Barossa Valley (145 km)
26/07/12 Barossa Valley - Wilpena Pound (410 km)
27/07/12 Wilpena Pound
28/07/12 Wilpena Pound - Clare Valley (330 km)
29/07/12 Clare Valley - Kangaroo Island
30/07/12 Kangaroo Island
31/07/12 Kangaroo Island - Adelaide
1/08/12 Adelaide
2/08/12 Leave Adelaide - Brussels
3/08/12 Arrive Brussel

If you guys would have any suggestions/remarks/improvements, we would greatly appreciate it.
kojtl1000 is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2012, 08:08 PM
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I suggest at least a full day in the Barossa. You've not left yourself much time for the area with your drive schedule.

I don't have a map in front of me, but it seems to me that moving your Kangaroo Island visit up to when you'll be in/around Victor Harbor makes more logistic sense (?).

We enjoyed our stay at Rawnsley Park Station, which we found quieter than the accommodation around Wilpena Pound, it's about a 15-20 km drive from Wilpena, so still easy enough to get to. Rawnsley Park has a range of lodging options.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2012, 08:16 PM
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Seems nice and relaxed as far as the Victorian parts. Apollo Bay to Port Fairy will have a lot to do along the way, with all the Cape Otway attractions, plus the formations like Loch Ard Gorge, Twelve Apostles and so on.

It's not a stunning drive, but very pleasant to route from Phillip Island to Yarra Valley via the Dandenongs, through hilltop towns like Sassafras and Olinda. William Ricketts Sanctuary is a lushly forested walking path and sculpture park that was once the home of the artist.

Had a look and it seems that many if not most of the Grampians roads that had been washed out with the flooding have now been repaired.

When hanging around Melbourne itself, do take the time to wander around the laneways and arcades of the inner city, but also venture outside the CBD (Central Business District). Much of the history of Melbourne can be found among the Victorian era rowhouses of Fitzoy, Carlton and South Melbourne.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 07:30 AM
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If you're planning on driving from the Yarra Valley to Ballarat, you may want to go via Daylesford, the spa capital of Victoria. However, to do it justice, you'd probably need to include another day in the Yarra Valley-Daylesford-Ballarat-Apollo Bay part of the trip.

Apart from the spas (and the food and wine etc.), the Convent Gallery in Daylesford is worth a visit if you're in the area. If staying in Daylesford, try The Farmers Arms or the Mercato for dinner.
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Old Jan 5th, 2012, 12:47 PM
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I love Melbourne in winter and is cold for us but not anywhere the cold of Belgium
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Old Jan 14th, 2012, 06:55 PM
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I agree with Melnq8. You should consider moving the Kangaroo Is visit to straight after Victor Harbor. I assume that you are catching the ferry to Kangaroo Is, leaving from Cape Jervis, in which case it is about a 45 min drive from Victor to there.

Then you can head to the Barossa when you return from KI, driving through the McLaren Vale wine region on the way. And try to have a whole day in the Barossa if your schedule allows.

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Old Jan 14th, 2012, 09:19 PM
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It definitely makes sense to travel to Kangaroo Island (KI) from Victor Harbor. In your original plan to drive from Clare, you would be on the road almost all day- Clare to Adelaide would be around 2 hours, Adelaide to Cape Jervis (where the KI ferry departs from) 1 hour & another 1 hour+ for the sea trip, loading & unloading the car etc. Furthermore, there a fewer ferry services to KI in the winter months. If you depart from Victor Harbor, not only will the drive to the ferry departure be shorter, but you will be able to co-ordinate your arrival at the ferry more efficiently. Having said all that, KI is an absolutely wonderful place and well worth the visit. Enjoy
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Old Jan 16th, 2012, 09:15 PM
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hello kojtl1000, glad you have decided to include my home state of South Australia!
As others have said, do not let the weather deter you there will be plenty to do.

A couple of comments on your itinerary..
although the Flinders Ranges are absolutely one of my favourite parts of our state, you really have only allocated one full day there with long drives either side of that day.

I think you would be better skipping this and re allocating those days, for example to the Southern Fleurieu peninsula (Victor Harbor and environs where you are currently only 'overnighting') where there is lots to do and in fact you would be there during the whale season. Whales are often easily spotted from the shoreline.

I also agree that Kangaroo Island would be much more sensible before or after the Victor Harbor area as others above.

As longhorn says, Hahndorf, which is in the Adelaide Hills, is a very pleasant day trip and in winter many wineries will have a roaring fire going in the cellar door - perfect weather for tasting reds! In fact Hahndorf Hill Winery, one of my favourites, now have paired chocolate and wine tastings for something different.

Don't miss the McLaren Vale wine region (only 40 minutes south of Adelaide) and could be done from Victor Harbor or on the way really.

Any other South Australian questions, let me know.
have a great trip!
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