So, fellow mums, you've decided to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide. You'll have a thrilling experience of Australia's beauty, wildlife, and history. Parks are ideal rest stops for kids. Here's a sampling of respites along the way.
When planning how to travel from Melbourne to Adelaide, you have two options. Driving with kids, you'll likely want the shortest course. Although Great Ocean Road is wonderfully scenic, this route takes 12 hours. You could put the pedal to the metal, clocking brief stops to save time. However, that wouldn't be much fun.
Instead, take the inland route for a leisurely eight-hour drive through the countryside. Your trip begins in Ballarat and ends at Tailem Bend. Following Western Highway, you'll see wildlife reserves, a national park, and charming historic towns.
For road trips with kids, you have three transport choices. For ultimate comfort and convenience, drive a camper van. Alternatively, take your car. You can also opt to rent a vehicle.
Whatever you drive, make sure you're covered by insurance. If you have personal auto insurance, your policy likely covers collision liability for rental cars. Motor clubs and some credit card companies also provide this insurance. If you don't have such coverage, buy the rental company's Collision Damage Waiver.
When renting a car for the first time, you can trust that the vehicle is roadworthy. It's already been prepped. If taking your own car, here's what to do before departing.
Have a repair shop thoroughly inspect your vehicle. Ask the technicians to check the electrical, brake, and fuel systems, including the battery, lights, belts, and hoses. Request that they top up all of the fluids, and inflate the tires to the proper air pressure.
If you're driving a camper, make sure the plumbing is in prime condition, especially for the kitchen fixtures, toilet, and shower. Clean the refrigerator before turning it on. Verify that all locks are working. For any vehicle you drive, carry a spare tire and jack in case of a flat.
Also, prepare for possible emergencies. Stock a first aid kit with alcohol swabs, hand sanitizer, gauze pads, bandages, antibiotic ointment, insect repellent, tweezers, pain medication, cotton balls, a bandana, and ace wrap.
In your auto's cargo section, stow rags, duct tape, road flares, jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, and multipurpose tool. Have several flashlights on hand, along with extra batteries. For driving in bad weather, pack umbrellas, rain ponchos, a tarp, and cat litter for slick roads.
It's likely you carry a cell phone, but bring a car charger, too. Have a stash of cash for buying petrol. If a town has a power outage, you won't be able to buy fuel with a credit card. Also, pack non-perishable snacks and bottled water.
On the Melbourne to Adelaide drive, one concern is running out of petrol without access to a nearby fuel station. So whenever you see a station, stop and fill up your tank, even if it's close to full. You can also look for green road signs every 5 kilometres, to gauge your distance to the next town.
Kid-Friendly Towns and Parks
At Ballarat Wildlife Park, you'll see free-roaming kangaroos, koalas, tortoises, and other native Australian animals. At 11 am, there's a guided tour. In the afternoon, attend an animal show, where you can meet caretakers and feed some animals. You'll also learn about conservation efforts to protect endangered species.
The Wotherspoon Park playground is fenced, with a wide variety of colourful equipment. Toddlers will especially love the slides and playhouses. There's also an assortment of climbing bars. The grounds include a shelter, barbeque area, picnic tables, and restroom.
Alexandra Gardens offers a sanctuary for you and a playground for the kids. Stroll the paths, trimmed by flower beds and manicured lawns, down to the lake. Explore the Japanese Island, landscaped with Oriental plants. The fernery is exquisite, bathed in dappled sunlight! Likewise breathtaking is the orchid house. Enjoy a picnic under the shelter, equipped with barbeque facilities. Listen to the music of the fountains, and make a wish at the wells.
Playground equipment is plentiful, suitable for all ages. Among the fun pieces are a climbing wall, steering wheel, flying fox, swings, and slides. A restroom is also located onsite.
Cato Park is a lakeside setting with three play areas. One is equipped with a climbing frame, flying fox, and monkey bars. The second has a spring rider, tunnel, see-saw, swings, fort, and slide. The third play section includes a fenced-in disability swing. Enjoy eating at tables under a shelter, featuring barbeque equipment. Restrooms are also available.
Horsham is the gateway to Grampians National Park, a spectacular stop! The mountains are magnificent, with easy access to lookouts. Walks are bordered by wildflowers, and trails meander past waterfalls and lakes. Your kids will be spellbound by sightings of native wildlife.
If you're travelling by camper, this is an ideal place to stay overnight. The Grampians has 10 campgrounds. Each offers basic amenities, such as picnic tables, fireplaces, and pit toilets. However, sites lack drinking water and electric hook-ups. Book your campsite well in advance of your trip by going online here.
If you prefer driving on through Horsham, but the kids are restless, visit May Park. Majestic trees shade picnic tables, barbeque grills, and playground equipment. Kids can clamber on a stagecoach frame, bridge, fort, and slides. There's also a miniature carousel and tunnel. Restrooms are present onsite.
Congratulations! Now you've reached the halfway mark, as you travel from Melbourne to Adelaide. The two parks you'll want to consider here are the Nhill Playground and Caravan Park.
Nhill Playground offers climbing equipment, swings, slides, a see-saw, and spring rider. Picnic facilities include tables, barbeque grills, and a shelter. Restrooms are also provided. Behind the playground, a boardwalk leads through the peaceful Nhill Swamp Wildlife Reserve.
Nhill Caravan Park is pet-friendly. The campground provides cabins and sites with electric hook-ups. Amenities include a guest laundry, camp kitchen, barbeque, campfire pit, swimming pool, playground, and dump station.
Tolmer Park is a heavenly rest stop! The still surface of Tatiara Creek mirrors stately gum trees. Picnic tables grace the lush grass, and interpretative signs explain Bordertown's history. Stop in the Morning Loaf Bakery, overlooking the park, for delicious treats.
At Don Moseley Playground, your kids can hop on the monorail, running alongside the playground. A large tarp shades part of the play area that includes a see-saw, swings, and climbing bars. The picnic area features a barbeque grill. Cosy up on a bench seat beneath the large gazebo. There's also plenty of lush lawn on which to play. Adjacent to the football oval is a Sport and Recreation Centre.
At this last stop before reaching Adelaide, kids can romp at Tailem Bend Playground. This well-equipped facility has three separate play areas. Toddlers can climb coloured rubber mounds beneath a shelter. A second section, for young kids, has a fort, slide, bridge, monkey bars, and swings. The third area offers advanced climbing equipment, a basket swing, slide, and sliding poles.
A locomotive beckons, inviting exploration! Picnic shelters have tables and barbeque grills. Restrooms are nearby. Also, stop in the Tailem Bend Railway Museum, displaying fascinating train memorabilia.
Design Your Own Magical Moments
Your family does not have to visit all the parks mentioned above. Simply use this list to help you plan out your own itinerary. Where you want to stop along the way driving is totally up to you to decide.
On this Melbourne to Adelaide drive, you'll see enchanting landscapes, feed wildlife, sport at playgrounds, and picnic alongside tranquil streams. Happy motoring!