8 days 7 nights - Melbourne City + Great Ocean Road Trip Nov 2022

alphakim

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Hi Guys, we travelled to Australia, Melbourne City (2 days) and did a self-drive at Great Ocean Road (6 days) during November 2022. It was fun when we travelled as family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children - 7yr & 9yr).

We would like to share the experience on this travel trip especially family with kids. So, let's begin.

Now I shall give you the summary of the expenses during the trip. All lists below is in SGD as the exchange rate SGD 1.00 to AUD 1.07 (dated 18 Nov).

Summary of Expenses
1. Air Ticket (2 Adult, 2 Children) - S$3,400
2. Accommodation - S$2,200
3. Insurance (Family Plan) - S$160
4. E-VISA - S$80
5. Car Rental (6 days) - S$780
6. Petrol - S$180
7. SIM Card - S$40
8. Food and Others - S$1,870
Total Damage: S$8,710

Based on the above expenses, someone will definitely say it was an expensive trip. Our first thought was the comfort level for the family so we felt that it was quite ok since we have been locked down for 2 years without travelling out due to Covid-19.

1. Air Ticket
We prefer to get Singapore Airlines as far as possible because of their top notch services. You can get cheaper tickets if you book early or off peak period. However, for our case, because of SQ tickets were expensive, we have chosen Jetstar instead.

The air ticket from Singapore Airline turned out to be ~ S$7-8K (So my advice is get your ticket early or avoid school holiday period). However, Jetstar ticket cost was half of the price compare with Singapore Airline.

As this was our first time taking Jetstar, we felt that the overall experience was still ok. We encountered delay of flights (SIN-MEL - 1hr 45mins and MEL-SIN - 45 mins) for both departure but it was still bearable as we knew what we were paying for.

In additional, we suggested it will best to travel during morning or afternoon. If you were travelling for night flight, unless you were a deep sleeper, we wouldn't suggest it to do so especially in the Economic Class (unless you opts for Business Class).

2. Accommodation
For this trip, we spent 2 nights at Melbourne City and 5 nights at Great Ocean Road (GOR). From Airbnb to booking.com, they offered quite a comprehensive of rooms for you to choose from. For this case, I will not touch so much onto it. Unless you have questions, you can ask me directly in this post.

3. Insurance (Family Plan)
It is good you get an insurance before travelling especially of Covid-19. There were a lot of insurance companies offer Travel Plan. For us, we chose NTUC as it was the lowest premium compare to others. If you were travelling with 2 adults and 2 children, you can get their family plan package. We thought other insurance companies do offer the family plan package as well. Please google it for more information.

4. E-VISA
It is required to get a VISA before entering to Australia border. We are still wondering why they need a VISA for Commonwealth Countries like Singapore. But anyway, it is easy to get the VISA by applying yourself.

Nowadays, we don't go for agency for VISA application as we can do it ourselves by downloading the App called "Australian ETA". The VISA type is 601 and it is valid of 1 years with multiple entry and stay there at maximum of 3 months. The fee of the VISA application is A$20 per person.

For Singaporean, you are granted the VISA within 24 hours or even instantly. For Malaysian, it will be slightly delayed as the relevant authority will need the applicants to submit more documents to verify the purpose of their trip (You know the illegal fruit picker story and you can find out yourself). :)

5. Car Rental (6 days)
There are a lot of car rental companies in Australia. From Avis, Hertz to SiXT. You name it, they have it. For us, we have travelled to Melbourne 6 years ago and rented a car from a company called Apex Car Rental. We think some of you might have heard this car company.

The reasons why we go back to Apex Car Rental:
1. Their car price per day usage is quite straight forwards (no hidden charge).
2. For kids, car seats are provided free.
3. Their excess cover is also quite ok. Choose the Maximum coverage and you are good to go.

We chose the Mitsubishi Outlander as this was quite a popular car for off road drive. However, when we picked the car at the point of time, they told us they ran out of Outlander. So they replaced MG HS to us. They told us all their fleet when reached 50,000km, they would replace a new car (for safety reason). So the MG HS run in was about 30,000km+.

At first, I was skeptical about this car performance as I have never drove it before. To my surprise, this car model gave a well balance in term of control and comfort level. The kids even slept inside the car during our road trip.
*We are not promoting this car rental company but just to share our experience with them.

6. Petrol
The petrol price in Melbourne and most of the place at GOR is ranging from AUD1.856 - AUD2.21. It also depends the location of the petrol station. For example, if you are at town/city area, the price of petrol tends to be lower compare to "ULU" place at some of the GOR location. For this road trip, our total mileage was around ~900km and the petrol cost was about AUD180.00 (Please tell me if this car drink a lot of "water"?)

7. SIM Card
Nowadays, we feel that to get Sim Card is much easy than before. More importantly, you get bigger data size at affordable rate. In Australia, the 3 main Telco companies are Telstra, Optus and TPG. We chose Telstra because of wider coverage especially in GOR. So far we only had no signal at Great Otway National Park. Otherwise, the signal was quite ok.

By the way, we paid AUD40.00 for 30GB data. When we arrived at the airport, 3 Telco companies (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone?) were located just outside of the exit door. It was quite a hassle free, you paid the Sim Card package and you were good to go. Just follow the instruction how to activate the SIM Card. Those instruction were written in the SIM Card package.

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SIM Card Package

8. Food and Others

For foods selection, it was quite expensive to dine at the restaurant. A family of 4 like us could easily cost around AUD19.00 - AUD30.00 per meal in town area.

In Melbourne city area, we got those frozen food either from Coles or Woolworths. The cheapest meal were those Satay Chicken Rice or Butter Chicken Rice.

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Frozen Food from Woolworths

However, if you want to go even cheaper food, bring your own paste and sauce and get their local ingredient and cook at the apartments (most of the apartment comes with kitchen) except hotels. For our case, we brought 2 packets of 2 Bak Kut Teh and 1 packet of Chicken Rice paste.

By the way, if you bring paste or sauce into Australia, please declare it. They have a strict control of food items that we bring in.

For other things, it can be souvenir or clothes. We would suggest if you are looking for souvenir, the best place to go is Queen Victoria Market. The stuffs over there are cheaper if you are going to buy in bulks. Please take note they close on Monday and Wednesday.

Next, please see below for our trip itinerary

Day 1 & 2 - Melbourne City Tour
Day 3 - Brighton Bathing House and Mount Donna Buang (Snow)
Day 4 - Puffing Billy Steam Train Ride and Adventure at Big4
Day 5 - Strawberry Farm, Chocolate Factory, Kangaroo Hunting and Memorial Arch at Eastern View
Day 6 - Kenneth River, Cape Otway Light Station, 12 Apostles, The Razorback and Mutton Bird Island
Day 7 - The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Island
Day 8 - Split Point Lighthouse and Werribee Central Shopping Mall
Day 9 - Home Sweet Home

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Overview

Day 1 & 2 - Melbourne City Tour


In Melbourne city, we were staying at Novotel Melbourne Central. It is a strategically located in the heart of CBD area. It just took us 5-10 mins to walk to Queens Victoria Market, State Victoria Library, Big W, Queens Village, Flinder Street Train Station.

For Central Pier Harbour and Star Observation Wheel(Permanently closed), you can take the free tram which looked like this below.
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City Tram (Is a circle loop in CBD)

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State Victoria Library (View from Outside)


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State Victoria Library (View from Inside)

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Queens Victoria Market

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Flinder Street Train Station

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Central Pier Harbour 1

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Central Pier Harbour 2
 
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alphakim

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Star Observation Wheel

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State Theatre

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View from Princes Bridge


Of course, there were more architectures can be found in Melbourne. Due to short timing and we forgone some visiting and did more shopping at Big W. :)

Day 3 - Brighton Bathing House and Mount Donna Buang (Snow)

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Day 3 - Route Map

On Day 3, we took Uber to Apex Car Rental and pickup the car. For your information, we brought 3 luggage (2 - 24 inch size and 1 cabin size). It was nicely fit inside the back of the car trunk.
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Fitting with 3 luggage with lots of drinking water

After that, we headed straight to Brighton Bathing House. It was stormy day and we were praying the rain would went away from that area.
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View from far away of Brighton Bathing House

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Brighton Bathing House

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Brighton Bathing House (a close up view)

By the time we left Brighton Bathing House, it was already 3pm. We then headed straight to Mount Donna Buang to catch a glimpse of snow. It was not a disappointed journey when we reached there. As you can see, while on the way up to the summit, the road was covered with snow.
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Journey to Mt Donna Buang

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Mt Donna Buang Summit


It took us 45 minutes to stay at Mount Donna Buang (Kids playing) before we called it a day and headed to apartment at Puntill Knox.
 
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alphakim

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Day 4 - Puffing Billy Steam Train Ride

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Day 4 - Route Map

The most popular steam heritage railways- Puffing Billy Steam Train. We bought the ticket directly from the official website at least 1 month of the travel date to avoid fully booked.
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Steam Train Set to Go

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Through the forest

We spent half of the day at the Puffing Billy steam train ride before heading to our first Big4 Holiday Park at Bellarine Highway. One of the reasons we chose holiday park was because it was cheaper as compare to other apartment. In addition, kids' playground can be found most of the holiday park.
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Typical "cottage" house in holiday park

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Big Playground

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Flying Fox

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Go Kart

Day 5 - Strawberry Farm, Chocolate Factory and Kangaroo Hunting

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Day 5 - Route Map

On Day 5, we have decided to visit the Strawberry Farm as we travelled along the GOR. It was fun to pick your own strawberry. We were charged at AUD18.00 as family to enter the farm for picking. Lucky enough, we got the sweet strawberries from this farm.
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Farm Entrance

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Red Flag Farm (Ready for Picking)
 
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alphakim

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Nice and Sweet Strawberries

After the Strawberry picking, we headed to Chocolate factory to have sample testing. In the chocolate factory, there was a small processing room where visitors can view through the glass windows of how the chocolate was being processed.
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Chocolate Chips

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Processing Room

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Mold of the Cocoa

After short stay at chocolate factory, we went straight to Anglesea Golf Club to meet the Mr Kangaroo.
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Full grown adult kangaroo

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Nice View Bro

While heading to another Big4 holiday park for resting, we stopped by the at the Memorial Arch at Eastern View where our Great Ocean Road Journey has begun.
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Nice piece of wooden arch

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Memorial Arch

Day 6 - Kenneth River, Cape Otway Light Station, 12 Apostles, The Razorback and Mutton Bird Island

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Day 6 - Route Map

We visited Kenneth River for second time. It was a good place to have picnic over here. We noticed that they built a coffee house over here. As far as we know, this place was just an empty patch of grass field 8 years ago.
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Kenneth River near the bridge
 
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alphakim

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The flow stream from the mountain

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Awaken Koala

Next, we headed towards Cape Otway. It was a small narrow road which led our way to the Lighthouse. It was so fascinating to see those trees along the road.
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View along the road


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Different tree along the same road

We realized it closed on Wednesday and Thursday when we reached the place. :( We stopped over at Cape Otway Lightstation for some snack break before continue our journey to 12 Apostles.
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Lighthouse entrance

By the time we were at Cape Otway, it was already 2pm. It took us about 1 hour to reach 12 Apostles. We were fortunate to have a good view at one of the world's most beautiful natural wonders. After that, we proceed to nearby scenic views before we called it a day.
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View from the observation bridge

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View from the other side of the bridge

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Loch Ard Gorge

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The Razorback

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Mutton Bird Island
 
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alphakim

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Day 7 - The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Island

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Day 7 - Route Map

As we were at the mid of our Great Ocean Road Journey, we continued to cover a few rocks before U-turn back to had our lunch.
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London Bridge

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Grotto

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Grotto view from top

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Bay of Marytrs

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Bay of Islands

Enough of those rocks, we moved back to Lorne where our apartment was located. Good location where you can have restaurant, grocery store, bar along the seaside area.
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View from the balcony

Day 8 - Split Point Lighthouse and Werribee Central Shopping Mall

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Day 8 - Route Map

As this would be our last day of the trip, we returned back to Split Point Lighthouse (we done it 6 years ago as couples) with our kids.
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Nice view from Split Point Lookout

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View along the sidewalk
 
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alphakim

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View from the tea house

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View from Lighthouse (Lorne's apartment where we stayed - at far)

After the sighting seeing, we did a bit of shopping at Werribee town before heading back to Singapore the next day. Until then, we hope you enjoys the photos posted over here.
Thank you!

Oh not forgetting... I add on some wildlife and farm animals during this trip below :)
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beano

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Very nice, the bulk of your cost are air tickets for sure.. during pre covid time, the air tickets go for around 700-800

If you ever come back, please try the great alpine road on the other side.
 

alphakim

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Very nice, the bulk of your cost are air tickets for sure.. during pre covid time, the air tickets go for around 700-800

If you ever come back, please try the great alpine road on the other side.
You are right. Nowadays, air ticket no longer cheap. Will do Alpine road trip when I return to Melbourne đŸ˜€
 

cleverman

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Why Mt Donna Buang got snow?

I am travelling to Melbourne in end December, trying to search for info on the snow thingy, but cannot find any forecast to show if there will be snow during that period. I thought its summer?
 

alphakim

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Why Mt Donna Buang got snow?

I am travelling to Melbourne in end December, trying to search for info on the snow thingy, but cannot find any forecast to show if there will be snow during that period. I thought its summer?
By right it don't have any snow during summer season. I think Victoria has a "crazy weather". It is just our luck we encountered snow. When I was in Melbourne last week, the rain can be lasted for 5 mins and it stopped. The whole week only on 22 Nov, Tues 4pm start to snow and last till mid-night. Next day, back to normal condition (green grass) :)
 

beano

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Why Mt Donna Buang got snow?

I am travelling to Melbourne in end December, trying to search for info on the snow thingy, but cannot find any forecast to show if there will be snow during that period. I thought its summer?
Nah, you’re out of luck.. warmer weather is coming..
 
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