Travelling close to home in a rented motor home was an adventure we had a year or so ago….. here are the highlights.
It gets harder to go places the more children you have. Accommodation, getting around, it all takes time and planning to organise. So this time we decided to rent a motorhome (Britz had a great half price deal!) and take our home on the road. Our 4 children aged 10, 8, 5 and 1 got really excited at the prospect and enjoyed planning and thinking about where we might go. Having not tried this style of trip before we figured one week was a good place to start.
The vehicle depot is an hour from our home. For a smooth beginning we got a friend to drive my husband up so he could collect the vehicle. Avoiding the whole ‘frazzled, excited kids’ scenario having to wait for ages. Kids and waiting for long periods are never a good combination. Having a toddler along for the ride also creates a need for less waiting more doing! Miss 18 months is a busy girl! Imagine the children’s faces when dad pulled up out the front of our house in a 6 berth motorhome…. Priceless! All we had to do was load her up.
We hadn’t expected a brand new vehicle but that was what we got. Shiny, clean and very big! Well big in terms of driving, maybe compact in terms of living. WE chose a first destination not too far from our home in Geelong, Victoria, as I knew the packing would take a while and we didn’t want to arrive in the dark on our first night. So we set off for Daylesford, a beautiful spa town and felt like we were in the bush within minutes. Nothing like seeing your first kangaroo within half an hour of driving off.
Jubilee Lake Holiday Park www.jubileelake.com.au is a gorgeous little park, off the beaten track amongst stunning tall gum trees, abundant native birdlife, a lake and a walking trail. Mr 5 was most impressed that we could have a fire. At just on an hour and a half from Melbourne, we could have been anywhere. The surroundings at Jubilee Lake are of the Australian Bush in every way. Marshmallows were toasted, birds were watched, neighbors chatted to us and everyone slept pretty well in our new house d’ wheels. The pace of life had begun to slow already.
We managed our first pack up and ship out relatively easily. First stop Frangos and Frangos, a local Daylesford eatery that we have been to any time we are in town. Pancakes, coffee , juice, eggs, bacon, now this is living!
Destination Bendigo, a bit over an hours drive from Daylesford. I had researched what I thought looked like the best option for a caravan park in Bendigo based on what was on offer for the kids. Giant chess set, games room, jumping pillow and heated pool were all sounding good. The gold Nugget did not disappoint! For the grown-ups there was an element of 70’s holiday that we had never forgotten. Something in the bathroom tiles perhaps. For the children, absolute joy at 4 computers in the games room and the OK from their parents to play games on them. Kid heaven. Between computer games there were jumps, billiards, free arcade games and table tennis. We found the other campers to be so friendly and willing to chat. The pace of life is slower on the road for sure, people take the time to say Hi and ‘Where are you from’ and impromptu conversations happen with ease.
Parents had ideas to ride the talking tram in Bendigo or visit the Gold Museum, but the kids were so entranced with The Gold Nugget that we chilled out there for longer than expected. Miss 18 months loved the playground too. We dragged them away for a wander in the town of Bendigo and somewhat stumbled on the Sacred Heart Cathedral. A bigger church I have not seen outside of Rome. The proportions massive, the height, neck achingly tall, the steps, exhausting! Once inside the serenity and beauty of this building were revealed. Organist practising up stairs and all in all we had a perfect visit. Well worth a look and totally free.
Our travel day was set up to fit in with Miss 18 months’ sleep patterns. So we got up and organised, check out by 10 and off for a bit of sight-seeing, then drive to our next destination around lunch time.
Next stop, Echuca and over the border to Moama.
Maiden’s Inn Caravan park in Moama was perfectly leafy, on the river and had the most beautiful resort pool (sadly not heated though!) and made the perfect spot for our next two nights. Echuca is a beautiful little country town, on the border of Vic and NSW and well worth a visit. The pace of life seemed a little bit slower (or was that just us?) and the river scenery was serene. The Port of Echuca is like a historic street (think Sovereign Hill but free!) with lots of interesting shops and things to see. The kid’s favourite by far was the Penny Arcade. They were captivated by the machines and had their first sight of “The Three Stooges” on the screen. A holiday highlight indeed. Echuca had lots to offer that we didn’t manage to see, yes kids were mad for the jumping pillow and playground again at the caravan park, but we vowed to return in the warmer weather and enjoy that pool!
A quick trip into Echuca Coffee Roaster in High st. for a couple of take aways and we were on our way back to Bendigo. We hadn’t planned to back track, but Miss 18 months was growing weary of the confined car seat so we figured we missed a lot of Bendigo so it made sense. Back to the Gold Nugget of course, and much more fun was had by the squidlets. Bendigo’s old buildings and architecture was a highlight. Café au Lait was a lovely lunch spot, and Oh how heavenly was Bendigo Wholefoods for a spot of organic shopping!
Castlemaine was our last big town and only half an hour to drive from Bendigo. It is a favourite of ours so we knew exactly where to hit first! Saff’s café for lunch, with the amazing antique and nic nac shop across the road, Restorers Barn for much happy browsing! The air began to cool and the feeling of shorter Autumn days could really be felt in the afternoon. Sadly the Big4 at Castlemaine was rather disappointing, with a sub standard size jumping pillow (kids were mightily disappointed!) and sites that were far from level. The only saving grace being the location on the edge of the beautiful botanic gardens. Castlemaine has one of THE BEST playgrounds with some of the most beautiful trees surrounding it that we have ever witnessed. Much fun was had, collecting of acorns, sliding, swinging, and I even managed a lovely chat with a local mum and her sweet kids. The park had barbeques which we contemplated using to cook tea, but it got so cold that we decided to go back to camp and eat inside.
Next stop, Gordon, near Ballarat, a teeny country town which is the home of some dear friends. Especially well timed for my husband’s birthday, we arrive late afternoon to a warm home cooked meal and the vast open space of a real HOUSE! Luxury.
On the 8th day we drove into our home, recharged, refreshed and relaxed. Also somewhat exhausted, aching (poor old backs away from our own mattress), weary, but broadened by our experience of living on the road. The children confident from their roaming free in caravan parks, spending of their pocket money and all the new experiences. Us grown-ups so appreciative of the giant space we had previously called our tiny home and ready to settle back into the rhythm of family life as we know it.
Motorhome travel close to home, we give you 10 out of 10.