We’re Going South-east For Autumn
‘Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree’, a lovely quote by Emily Bronte. Be-leaf it or not, autumn is here! The temperatures cool in Australia’s autumn, making autumn a perfect time to experience exciting festivals and changing colours.
The Federal Government wants you back in the air and so do our regional centres. Airlines are offering discounts to a dozen travel destinations as part of the government’s plan to help the tourism industry.
Over the next few editions, we will share with you some of the destinations that are on the Governments list for boosting tourism with discounted airfares.
This Month, We’re Heading South For The Autumn
April brings autumn and is the perfect time to explore the south-eastern part of the country before it gets too chilly. It’s also shoulder season (off-peak), which means we can avoid the crowds of summer.
This month, we’re taking you on a journey to magical Merimbula. We’ll then hop over the Victorian border to Melbourne. Next, we’ll head along the Great Ocean Road and end up in Adelaide.
Secret South Coast Gem – Merimbula
Merimbula is a picturesque bustling seaside village on the Sapphire Coast known for its white-sand beaches, fresh seafood and, in particular, its oysters.
The name Merimbula comes from the Aboriginal word for ‘two lakes’ and refers to its position between the sea and the lake.
From Sydney, you can either drive or fly to Merimbula. The drive will take you just short of six hours. Qantas flies direct from Sydney in 1h 25min.
Visit The Merimbula Aquarium
While there visit the 70,000-litre oceanarium with local and exotic fish species displayed across 27 tanks. Fish feeding is the best time to visit as the fish become very active.
Feeding times are held 11.30am Wednesday to Friday. The Aquarium is open Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 4pm. Once you’ve admired the sea life, you can go and taste some (or do it the other way around, if that sits better with you) at the Aquarium oceanside restaurant boasting 180-degree ocean views.
This is the perfect place to enjoy lunch, dinner, or grab some takeaway.
Wheeler’s Oyster Farm
Also located in Merimbula, is Wheeler’s Oyster Farm. Visit this family farm that has been running since 1927.
Chat with the farmers, tour their completely accessible factory and, of course, sample fresh Sydney Rock Oysters straight out of Merimbula Lake.
Whether you’re an oyster aficionado or a shellfish rookie, a trip to Merimbula warrants a shuck and a slurp of this sea-soaked delicacy.
Did you Know?
One oyster filters 50 gallons of water a day. That means a healthy one-acre reef filters the equivalent of 36 Olympic pools. Maybe it’s time to chuck the water filter and pop a couple of oysters into your water jug. Maybe not!
Another interesting fact is that Casanova supposedly ate 50 oysters a day for breakfast. Apparently, they must have done something good for him because the ladies didn’t seem to mind his fishy breath!
While April is not exactly swimming weather, temperatures average at 20°C and may offer an opportunity for a sunny stroll on the sand. Pambula Beach is easily accessible with a firm, smooth surface at low tide, and is famous for its resident kangaroos. If you need a beach wheelchair, Pambula Surf Club has two that you can reserve.
This lovely wildlife sanctuary just ten minutes out of Merimbula in the Bega Valley is home to many native species, such as kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, dingoes, emus, snakes and more. You can amble along smooth dirt tracks and get up close to these animals.
Potoroo Place is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to caring for the Earth. All animals at Potoroo Place are native to the Merimbula area and include a collection of endangered Long-nosed Potoroos, Bandicoots and Koalas. The 2019/20 fires had a devastating impact on the local wildlife. All used to be abundant in the area but are now rarely found in the wild.
Other Local Destinations
Bega Cheese Heritage Centre
If you have a car and a craving for cheddar, the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre will hit the spot. Just a 25-minute drive outside of Merimbula, this creamery from 1899 is the big cheese ‘round these parts’. Learn about the history of dairy at the museum upstairs and then have a cheese toastie or cheese board downstairs at the onsite café.
The Bega region is well-renowned for its cheese history. A large part of the museum collection comes from Ayrdale Estate, settled in 1862. Ayrdale was known as the cheese depot and the general store back in the 1800’s.
A visit here will take you through the journey of cheesemaking in this region and the birth of the Bega cheese brand as we know it today.
The museum is free and is open 7 days/week.
Good Places to Stay
Merimbula is only a small place, so accommodation can be limited, but both these places below are wheelchair accessible.
Robyn’s Nest Boutique Resort
This is a lovely 4* mini-resort and retreat with 6 guest suites and 14 self-contained lakeside cottages. Facilities include an outdoor spa, a heated swimming pool and a synthetic grass tennis court. Robyn’s Nest Boutique Resort is only a 3-minute drive from the centre of Merimbula, or you can make a 40-minute walk along a boardwalk positioned along the shores of Top Lake directly into town.
Merimbula Lakeview Hotel
Merimbula Lakeview Hotel offers 3* affordable lakeside accommodation in the heart to Merimbula with magnificent views over the lake.
The hotel offers great value for money hotel rooms with a Bar & Grill onsite, all with breathtaking views over the lake.
A perfect place to watch beautiful sunsets while enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the south coast.
After travelling South and soaking up the beauty of the South Coast, it’s now time to head over to Melbourne in Victoria to soak up the culture and sights. If you are continuing your road trip from Merimbula, the drive is 7h 30min along the picturesque coastline of southern NSW and North-Eastern Victoria. If you are flying from Sydney, the flight is an easy 1h 30min direct flight with lots of daily flights to choose from.
Did you Know?
Melbourne was once the capital of Australia in the early 1900s and is now the capital of culture, international sporting events and coffee.
If you travel to Melbourne before the 18th of April, you can exercise the old funny bone and catch the Melbourne Comedy Festival. This, along with many other events, was cancelled last year leaving many artists out of work, but it is back on again in 2021!
What to See and Do
Queen Victoria Market
One of your first stops in Melbourne should be the bustling and colourful open-air Queen Victoria Market.
Established in 1878, the local stallholders offer everything from fresh fruit and veggies to cuisines of the world to clothes, crafts and books. It is easily navigable and the only thing you will need to contend with is the crowds, but as April is not peak season this shouldn’t be too bad.
It is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and is a hive of activity on any day.
Melbourne From Above
If vertigo is not an issue for you, and you want to do something a little different, a lovely way to get a bird’s eye view of the city is from a hot air balloon. Globalballooning.com.au offers accessible baskets that have a door for easy access, so you don’t need to be clambering over a basket edge.
If you would rather have an experience that is fixed to the earth, you can opt for the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel instead.
Melbourne is renowned for its laneways full of artisanal stores and hidden cafés. While some streets are cobblestoned and uneven, there are many laneways that are accessible. You can book a tour and hear about the history of the area while sampling the wares and, of course, enjoying the best coffee of your life (according to the locals) or just wander the laneways yourself.
Did You Know?
Every Aussie knows the joy of a Vegemite sandwich, but did you know that the only place in the world that makes our beloved spread is Fisherman’s Bend at Port Melbourne?
If that doesn’t sell you on Melbourne, we don’t know what will.
Some Other Local Destinations
Penguin Parade On Phillip Island
You can’t leave Melbourne without experiencing the world-renowned Penguin Parade. As this is the only place in the world to see such a magical site, tourists flock from all over the world.
Bookings are essential and the whole experience is accessible for any aged visitor with level boardwalks, wide paths and ramps making is a great experience for all ages.
This day trip offers you the unique experience of watching these cute little waddlers doing their nightly trip up the beach. However, remember that the penguins do not come out of the water until dusk and into the darkness of night, so be prepared to hit the bed late! If you feel the cold easily, be sure to book with a company that offers the Skybox enclosed viewing platform and bring a blanket. You can also book a VIP tour which guarantees you get the best seat at the box.
This is a world heritage listed area and voted as one of the BEST environmental tourist attractions in the world and a must-see attraction for any visitor to Melbourne.
Good Places to Stay
Melbourne has so many hotels, and places to stay that are easily accessible. For central accommodation, the areas around the South Wharf or Federation Square are very convenient and offer loads of options from 3*-5*.
Go West – Adelaide
From Melbourne, we’ll head along the spectacular Great Ocean Road to Adelaide, making a stop to see the limestone stacks known as the 12 Apostles on the way. The road weaves itself through seaside towns such as Lorne, Anglesea and Apollo Bay, just to name a few.
This stretch of coastline is one of the most beautiful coastal strips in the world and can be claimed as Australia’s own Amalfi Coastline, albeit, more naturally stunning. There are loads of places to stop and enjoy the views, many with level paths and boardwalks.
You can also treat yourself to a helicopter ride over the Apostles, certainly one very special ride to remember.
The Great Ocean Road route takes about 10 hours in total, but we recommend stopping on the way for a night or tow. Alternatively, you can do a day trip to the Great Ocean Road and then fly from Melbourne to Adelaide in 1h 20min.
Adelaide, know as the city of churches, has been voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world and is conveniently surrounded by incredible wine regions and the beauty of the Adelaide Hills and magnificent beaches of the Great Australian Bight.
What to See and Do
Eat Your Heart Out
Adelaide is known for having more restaurants per capita than any other city in Australia! So, it’s no surprise that from the end of April to the first part of May, there is the Taste Australia Festival.
And don’t forget the good ol’ fish n’ chips made from freshly caught South Australian Whiting!
When we say you can eat your way through Adelaide, we mean it.
Adelaide also has some interesting and unique museums. At the South Australian Museum, you’ll find Aboriginal artefacts, fossils and tales of Antarctic expeditions.
If you’re keener on art than artefacts, view the 45,000 artworks at the Art Gallery of South Australia.
At the National Railway Museum, you can admire train carriages, steam engines and take a train ride.
Glenelg is Adelaide’s most popular beach, and its Jetty Road is full to the brim with cafés, restaurants and little boutiques.
You can catch the tram operational since the 1950’s directly from the city to the coast.
Some Other Local Destinations
Adelaide is surrounded by world-class wineries. You can visit Adelaide Hills (20min drive), McLaren Vale (45min drive) or the renowned Barossa Valley (1hr drive) to do some fantastic wine-tasting.
Or forgo the driving and take a wine tour so you can indulge in the wine.
Good Places to Stay
As with Melbourne, there are many great hotels in Adelaide. Central Adelaide forms a square surrounded by Adelaide Parklands so be sure to book your accommodation within this square. After that incredible trip around south-eastern Australia, it’s time to head home with our bellies full of good food and wine, and our bags full of Adelaide opals, Melbourne coffee and…. Merimbula oysters? Thanks for joining us on our trip and stay tuned for the next suite of destinations! Over and out.