When booking my last travel, I did some research on various tour companies. Before I went to Backpackers World, I grabbed fliers on various companies, so I was prepared when it came time to buy. I needed to buy three tours. Tour one: Melbourne to Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road; Tour Two: I wanted 3 days and 2 nights on Kangaroo Island; Tour Three: Either a 5 or 7 day tour from Adelaide to Alice Springs which included the whole Uluru experience.
I originally wanted to mix up companies, just in case one sucked and just to spread my experiences out. But since there is so much competition, it’s cheapest to buy packages and book with one company. And the one company that included everything that I wanted was Groovy Grape. Everything, food and lodging, was included on all the tours which is a huge plus. Plus most of the nights on the Adelaide to Alice Springs tour were spent sleeping outside in swags. SCORE!
After dropping my large bag off at a storage place in Melbourne CBD (and it’s killing me that I can’t remember where I left it as it was pretty cheap to leave it!), I was picked up at a hostel around the corner from me. From the time of my pick up, I knew I was going to be one of the first, which was a very very good thing as when you do these tours, pretty much the seat you pick at first is the seat you sit in for the rest of the tour. My favorite seat was the single seat right in front, right in back of the door that everyone gets in. I can stretch out the most and be stuck next to know one. I love it! So I grabbed that seat when we were allowed to enter the bus. After a quick “tour” around town to pick everyone up, we were off. I can’t remember all and everything we did, so I apologize if I left anything out. You can read on the website the current tour anyway.
We made some stops in Torquay for shopping (which no one did) and some breakfast. The guides always give “tips” on places to eat and most of the time after hearing them, I head in the opposite direction if I can. We drove along, stopping at some beaches and then the “official” start to the Great Ocean Road for some photo ops. Those I always fall for, since they are free anyway. We stopped at a place were a lot of koala’s gather in the trees and I love a good koala sighting and could do it for hours. We stopped for lunch at one point which is when I knew this tour group of people was going to be kind of a bust for me. Most of the group was European and French, English, German and Dutch at that (blah). There were some girls from Canada too, which I probably hung out with the most but they were a bit younger then me. Plus it seemed most of the group smoked, which I can’t stand and just want to get away from most of the time. The guide was kind of a bust too. He was a fine guide, made good stops and and did well explaining things, but was a bit older then most of the guides I have had in the past and didn’t make an effort to get to know people, so I didn’t feel a connection at all. Oh well, you win some, you loose some.
The afternoon we made some more stops at beachs and London Bridge, before making it to our hostel. I am pretty sure we stayed at Ocean House Backpackers in Port Campbell, but I am not 100% sure. The place was pretty cute. It’s just a house that we pretty much just took over, even though technically other people can stay there too. There were a couple of large living areas, but we all spent most of our time on the porch. The bathrooms were full baths, which I like, but kind of a pain in the ass when all 12-16 people have to be up at the same time. Luckily, we all were pretty considerate of each other and since there were mirrors outside, all of the girls did their primping and pampering outside and we split it pretty evenly on shower time. It could have been worse!
After dinner, we drove out to the Twelve Apostles so we could see them as the sun set, which I have to say was AWESOME!!! It’s super touristy at that time for a reason. It’s beautiful! It was pretty packed too, but still not to hard to get a good shot. We then walked down to a beach nearby before packing it in for the night.
On day 2, we got an early start, went to another beach before getting on the road to head up to the Grampians. We made a mid morning stop at Cheese World which is just as cheesey (hardy-har-har) as it sounds. Most of the group bought food and snacks, but I wondered around the place for a bit and went out to the shed to see the old style farming items. The collection was pretty extensive! And yay for cheese samples! We then drove up to the Grampians with a stop at Brambuk Visitor Centre. The place seemed a little strange when I was there, like they were still in the process of building it. It seems like it’s done now though! We also stopped and went on some short hikes around the area, seeing a waterfall on one which was a welcome relife as it was really hot (hello February!). We then drove on to Hall’s Gap and a night at Ned’s Beds for the night. I needed a break from the group and wondered around the very small town. Cute, very outback Australia which I love visiting and expirencing, but could never live in. They are all so different depending on the vegatation and state. Very interesting.
On day 3, we went on another hike in the Grampians before heading west for the looooong drive to Adelaide. Little did I know that this was just a taste of what was to come on my trip up north to Alice Springs and Uluru! I was so ready to be done with this bus trip and this group (which is why I wanted to split up the companies, but oh well) and I couldn’t get out of the bus fast enough when I was finally dropped at my hostel, Annie’s Place in Adelaide.
Moral: This was probably my least favorite tour I have ever been on. The trip itself was fine, what we saw was fine, what we ate was fine, where we stayed was fine. I didn’t particularly like the group or the guide, but there isn’t much I could do about that. And like always, for the price, it couldn’t have been beat. I totally liked the Great Ocean Road stuff, but the Grampians I could have passed on.