Before Anto had to start his new job, we decided to squeeze in one last holiday. After a few days of dithering and discounting a week in Sabah laying around a pool, or 10 days in the South Island of New Zealand, (mostly due to exorbitant airfares due to it being school holidays) we decided on a trip to Victoria to catch up with friends and drive the Great Ocean Road. We figured it was shameful that we had never done the Great Ocean Road drive and we picked up a good deal on accommodation in Lorne and worked everything out from there.
After a couple of days the trip was organised, and we were ready to go. Both kids are seasoned flyers but we haven’t done too many long drives with them. A couple of trips to Sydney, but that is about it. We were a little apprehensive about 10 days and over 2000km in the car with little ones. We did decide to swap cars with Antony’s parents, so that Nic could actually fit in the backseat if Soren cracked it (in our car we can squeeze in the middle for maybe 10 minutes, but breathing and arm movement are optional). We also borrowed a car DVD player for Astrid. As much as we disliked the idea, we figured it would be for our sanity, at least on the long and boring sections of the trip. We also reasoned that on a long flight she gets to watch TV, so this wasn’t much different. A few million episodes of Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly, Octonauts and Bananas were uploaded onto the media card and we somehow mostly filled the boot with endless amounts of ‘stuff’….. Nic will note that she was very good with the clothing this time, it was all the wet weather gear, portacot, picnic gear, esky and camera gear and laptops that added up.
The first section of the drive South is pretty boring. We figured we were probably pushing our luck to get all the way from Canberra to Ballarat in one hit without one, or both kids losing the plot. So we picked Shepparton as a stopping point and decided to time our departure for afternoon nap time, and planned an afternoon tea stop, dinner stop and some night driving with an arrival into Shepparton around 10pm. A small miracle occurred and we actually were organised ourselves and the animals and left home 1.5 hours early.
We made good time, and with sleeping children didn’t bother stopping at our initial scheduled stop of Gundagai. We actually made it all the way to Holbrook before both kids needed feeding and release from the car…….and found a nice bakery where Astrid ate her body weight in cream and custard pastry, and Nic & Anto refueled with coffee. Holbrook had been our planned dinner stop but we were running so early that we had revised to Albury and then Wangaratta.
Still making good time, and with relatively well behaved kids (albeit with Nic sitting in the back) we decided that we could keep going and get into Shepparton without an additional stop and get settled into the hotel for a lateish dinner. Soren lost the plot about half an hour before Shepparton which made for an interesting last part of the drive but stopping was going to prolong the agony for all concerned. We arrived by 6.20pm, at least 3.5 hours ahead of schedule and managed to placate Soren with a feed while Anto and Astrid went in search of Astrid’s requested fish and chips for dinner. After 2 attempts to obtain food, they returned with fried products that everyone enjoyed (except Nic who doesn’t like chips and doesn’t eat fish), and everyone was asleep in bed, not too late, and without too many tears.
Astrid enjoying her fish and chip dinner and Soren being kept off the floor of our questionable accomodation….
Our Shepparton accommodation was never going to be flash. Everything was expensive and we only wanted to sleep there and leave first thing. Even with low expectations the motel underwhelmed us. It was dated and dingy but the carpet was so feral we couldn’t let Soren near it and we weren’t overly sure how clean the rest of it was. It also had heating that sounded like a jet engine and came on and off all night, while we all froze. It also had no cot for Soren, so lucky we had ours with us. He ended up in the bed with us anyway due to being a block of ice in his cot.
After a not so restful nights sleep, we packed up while keeping everyone from touching too much and headed to breakfast. Some superb internet research the night before (how did anyone travel without internet access?) told us there was a fabulous cafe near by. Turns out the internet was right and we thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast at Friar’s cafe (a cafe in a converted church). Excellent food and coffee and a really cool cafe.
On our way just after 9am, and Soren managed to sleep for awhile and Astrid watched a million more episodes of Ben and Holly but behaved admirably. We made good time again and enjoyed our brief drive through Bendigo (we didn’t know they had trams, learn something new every day). Soren was a little over the driving but was happily playing with Nic for at least some of the time. We had planned to stop in Daylesford for a look around but both kids had fallen asleep and it was absolutely pouring with rain so we drove through and just viewed from the car, figuring it was pointless waking both of them up to get them wet and cranky. We then drove through to Creswick and decided that we needed to stop for lunch and had been informed by a very reliable source that there was both a patisserie and chocolate shop in town worth visiting.
It was still raining and both kids were still sleeping, but they needed feeding so we located the chocolate shop (mysteriously closed despite it claiming to be open) but the patisserie was a winner. Called Le Peche Gourmand, it was the closest thing to a French Patisserie we have found outside of France. It was pretty small, but there was a fire, velvety chairs and delicious treats. Astrid had a croissant, Anto a baguette and Nic decided, despite not being hungry that the tarts looked too good and settled on a chocolate and salted caramel tart. The woman who runs the patisserie was French and obviously knew what she was doing. The food was fantastic, and the coffee excellent. Proper croissants, baguette and perfect pastry. It was a nice way to spend a very cold and rainy lunch, by a warm fire, eating yummy food. Soren was also pretty pleased with himself, crawling around the plush chairs and trying all the food.
We regrettably left the warm and wandered around Creswick. It was bitterly cold and wet so we didn’t stay out for too long. We considered visiting the nearby wool mill to see the alpaca fleece milling but decided since we had alpacas at home and we were very cold, so to keep going on to Ballarat. We did swing back by the patisserie to pick up some ‘takeaway’ patisserie for dessert that night….