After doing my three-month internship in Melbourne from June to August 2012, I had 2,5 week left to entertain myself. As I had lived on the west-coast before, it was the choice between partying along the east-coast or exploring outback Australia! It became the second option and I couln’t have wished for a better trip. Check out this Groovy Grape Getaway Review to get an idea of the tours and prepare yourself for a great adventure 🙂
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The Groovy Grape Getaway Tour
I booked the 10 day Trilogy package of Groovy Grapes through the MAD Travel Shop at the corner of Flinder’s Street and Spencer Street, at the Nomads All Nations Backpackers. As I booked three trips in one, they threw in some free accommodation at their hostels in Adelaide and Alice Springs. These were not standard included in the trilogy package, but added some extra value to the trip.
These three trips are put together such that you can make the most of your time. In 10 days you’ll travel from Melbourne to Alice Springs and the tour company will keep you busy everyday. You basically book three trips: Great Ocean Road and Grampians, Barossa Valley in Adelaide and the Adelaide to Alice Springs tour.
Australia is expensive! I booked this trip for a total of 1175AUD, so a bit over 100AUD a day. In the end that’s not a bad deal for a guide, food, transport and activities.
Great Ocean Road and Grampians
On the first day we had an early departure from Melbourne. To my surprise there were only 5 girls in the van, it was a quiet tour! But this turned out to be great! People from all over the place and some of them even moving all the way to Alice Springs with me! The guide was a bit older. Friendly guy although not very engaging towards the bunch of noisy girls in the back of the car :). We started our way towards Geelong and then had our first stop at Torquay, the home of Rip Curl and Quicksilver. There are some nice coffee shops here and you can have a look around at the surf outlets (walk down the street left from the official stores).
Moving on, you’ll have a look at world-famous surfbeach Bells Beach. You will drive through the villages of Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay. Ask the driver to stop at Kenneth River campsite to see koala’s or along the road where the eucalyptus tree hang over, there are plenty! We visited some more sights of the GOR (Great Ocean Road) and took the necessary pictures 🙂 We spent the night somewhere near the Twelve Apostles, in a rather boring hostel. A good evening to have some beers with other groups!
The sunset over the Twelve Apostles was great, we had plenty of time to take pictures!
Day 2 meant an early rise again and on to the Grampians! We hiked to the Mc Kenzie falls, which were stunning. We had lunch at a nice site where we could observe some more koalas and very rude emu’s!
In the afternoon, we visited the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre and had nice relaxing walk. There was a huge amount of kangaroos playing at a big grassfield nearby the village. They were very tame and it was easy to take some great pics. We stayed in an empty hostel again and there were no stores open to buy some drinks, so we had a quiet night.
We spent a great morning hiking the beautiful Grampians. Beautiful views and scenery. After lunch, we then started our painfully long drive to Adelaide. Bring a book.. or two :). The driver dropped me off at my hostel, the NOMAD one. Cannot recommend it, but it was fine for one night. There are a lot working holiday makers working/staying there, so it’s hard to make friends for one night.
A nice pitstop in Adelaide means a chance to visit the Barossa Valley. The Barossa Valley is Australia’s most famous wine region. The Groovy day begins by travelling through the Adelaide Hills, stopping at the world’s largest Rocking Horse (omg.. seriously?). You will visit the amazing Whispering Wall and then on to four different wineries.
Lunch was great – a big BBQ but it got kinda rained upon so it took ages to prepare :). The group was calm, so no big wine extravaganza! At night I had some drinks with some guys from the group and an early night again as next day the big adventure would begin!!!
Rock patrol tour
Finally, a full car! After picking up all the people from different hostels, we started driving. I don’t really remember much of this day, apart from it being a lot of driving. 🙂
At night it was the first night we were camping in our swags :). Really great experience, lovely to sleep outdoors. Tip: bring a hat! It’s the only part of your body sticking out and it’s cold at night!
We took off to to Coober Pedy. This is a city in the desert where most people have their houses underground! Coober Pedy hosts 80% of world’s opal exploration. Because it’s so hot during the day, people have their houses underground. The cool thing is you will also sleep underground this night! On the way we passed some saltflats and a deserted railway. Nothing fancy, but great for taking pictures :). Also, we made some friends at a Kangaroo orphanage.
Day 7, 8, 9
These days are basically the highlight of the trip! You will hike around Uluru and explore Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta in these days.Bring plenty of water because it’s hot! There are some really magnificent landscapes and great stories by our guide. We learned a lot of useful and less useful facts about the Australian Outback, the aboriginal culture and the nature in central Australia. I mean, who knew Uluru was taller than the Eiffel Tower? 😀
One of the other highlights of this trips were the several sunsets and sunrises over Uluru that you can witness. The sun can do amazing things with the landscapes and you will observe colours that you’ve never observed before!
After the last hike, you will get into the car, head to Alice Springs. The guide will organize some dinner and drinks.
So that was it! In my opinion, even Australians should make this trip to really get to know this country! And some do 🙂 Check out this blog by Laura for a similar experience while travelling between Adelaide and Alice Springs, see the Aussie point of view get more inspired 🙂 .
Review Groovy Grape Getaway
To sum up this review, I made this short list 🙂
- Great value for money
- I liked the food the guide bought – spaghetti, wraps etc. The Asians were not big fans and brought a lot of noodles 🙂
- Fun depends on the guide and the group, as usual!
- Stock up on liquor in big cities, it is not very affordable on the way. An occasional beer, bottle of wine or sparkling to celebrate at Uluru is awesome though 🙂
- Get a seat in front of the bus. will be more fun and you’ll get to DJ 🙂
- Take a hat – your head is the only thing outside of the swag and it can get cold!
- Don’t bring expensive clothing – everything will be red afterwards