Currently planning a trip from Adelaide to Melbourne, via Port Elliot (probably), the Grampians and the Great Ocean Road. We'd like to break up the six hour drive from Port Elliot to either the Grampians or the western end of the Great Ocean Road by stopping somewhere very roughly halfway in between, and staying there for two nights. But nothing we've researched so far has really convinced. Mount Gambier, Coorong National Park; none of it really seems to be worth a stop. But maybe we're just jaded from reading too many travel guides. So, personal recommendation more than welcome! Where did you stay that we totally shouldn't miss? (We tend to like hiking, nature and wildlife, etc - but also wouldn't be mind stopping over in a funky town with lots of arts and crafts or whatever.)
When I did this route I think we stayed in Wellington for the night. There is a caravan park there that has a bunk house that was dirt cheap. No idea of the price now but seemed like a friendly little place that would not rip you off. Kitchen included (with equipment) in the price of a night.
I think the Fleurieu Peninsula was of some interest. Kind of a look for the signs and follow when you want too. Mt Gambier and Robe I am not sure about - but seem quiet little places with the normal "outback Australia/beaches" thing to do.
To be honest my personal recommendation is Penola. In fact it is kind of perfect. If you like wine. It is in a famous wine region called Coonawarra (for reds) and if I remember correctly you can stay in the town and all the wineries are on/off the main road (that runs into/out of town). And there is a bus that will drop off-pick up to all the wineries. Like a shuttle bus type thing. Or if you like exercise I think you can hire a bike to ride to each place. And beautiful I am sure. But please check (all of) this out before you go as my memory is foggy on the details...
Oh, and of course the wine tasting is free (and plentiful).
[ Edit: Edited on 05-Jan-2013, at 02:27 by donjya ]
I did a similar trip in 2005. My partner and I actually stayed a night at Mount Gambier and really enjoyed it too. They have a few sinkholes that are actually quite pleasant to visit in the evening when they are all lit up, with possums scurrying around and a few volcanic lakes to check out and that you can hike around. The most famous being the Blue Lake (for details on one of the short hikes you can do in the area go here: http://www.mountgambiertourism.com.au/visit_see_detail.asp?cat=2&subcat=6&id=70). You can find more information at: http://www.mountgambiertourism.com.au
From Mt Gambier we actually popped across the border into Victoria for a night to visit a little town called Nelson, which was also quite nice, with bushland backing onto beaches.
Then we headed back into SA (beware of quarantine regulations!) and drove up to Naracoorte Caves and stayed there for another night. Naracoorte Caves is World Heritage listed for having an extensive fossil record and you can actually go and see some of these fossils in caves where they were discovered 30 odd years ago.
We then headed east towards the Grampians and entered the National Park from the north. The Grampians is beautiful and obviously has many hiking opportunities. We spent a few days in the area and then we made our way south through the Grampians and ended up in Warrnambool on coast. From there we drove along the Great Ocean Road - which was obviously amazing - seeing the 12 Apostles, London Bridge etc and towards the end of the Great Ocean Road stretch went to the beautiful Hopetoun Falls. Loads or beauty and hiking along the way!
After we hit Apollo, we started heading home, heading north to avoid having to drive through Melbourne.
Anyways, I hope this information helps! Have a marvelous trip - I'm sure you will!
[ Edit: Edited on 06-Jan-2013, at 03:48 by NinjaSmurf ]
Thanks to both of you. Very helpful!