We prefer to bush camp between the towns but on this leg we stayed many nights on camping sites. Main reasons for that were that it sometimes was difficult to find a good bush camping spot and also as we traveled slow and wanted to see the towns, we had to stay on the organized sites. Some camping spots were better then others. We liked the camping in Port Campbell were we stayed at the recreational area. Big, big grassy area, lots of bushes making it a very private and nothing like the sardine cramped caravan parks. It's only opened for seven weeks around New Year, cost is 25 $. Offer basic facilities but it's the camping style we prefer.
Camping on the lawn behind The Beach backpackers in Warrnambool, 22 $ for two people was good value too.
Mount Gambier Central caravan park, right in the heart of the city, clean facilities and helpful staff. 22 $ for two people was also great value and gave us the opportunity to see the town and have some rest.
The camping in Mt Eccles NP was also great but it was hot. We decided to have a rest day there on a hot day when the temperatures reached almost 40 degrees. But it turned out to be a very long day. We had no books or other entertainment and it was so hot even in the shade. So from 9 AM until 9 PM it was just sitting and waiting for some cooler weather. And when it finally was a bit cooler we pitched our tent. But we soon found out that the ground was like a hot plate. The dark soil had absorbed the heat during the whole day and now it was like sleeping on a hot radiator. It was a hot and sweaty night in the tent. It was first in the late morning that it cooled down a bit.
The thing with the hot ground was a new experience for us. Having just camped in Sweden and other places with a cooler climate, this had never been an issue before. There it's the other way around and you have to make sure that you have enough insulation from the chilling ground.
The weather was mostly good for cycling. We had a handful of hot days were the temperature were around 40 degrees. Some of those days we just rested and the rest we tried to finish the cycling around 1 PM, before it got too hot.
We had three days of rain. Not really heavy rain but continues rain for most of the day so still made us soaking wet.
Regarding the wind we didn't have any real problem. No strong headwinds, some day it was a bit more of wind but then mostly from the side or even tailwind. So never something that really slowed us down or made the cycling tougher.
We normally always prepare or cook our own meals. If staying in a caravan park we use the kitchen there and every little town also has a free BBQ area. For lunch the standard food on the road is couscous with canned tuna/chicken/ham plus salad. The big advantage with couscous is that you can mix it with cold water. It tastes really good and on most days you don't want to eat a hot meal for lunch so it's perfect then.
For breakfast we always have muesli and there is no need to use the stove then. I like to have a cup of coffee on the mornings. But being a bit lazy I just mix instant coffee with water. As long as it's black and strong I can drink it... And when you have a cup of real coffee it taste so much better then.
Many days there were total fire bans. On those days you are not allowed to use the stove. If we were camping in the bush it made things easier, because then it's not so much you have to choose between. It's couscous on the menu again:) On the month we traveled we only used about 3 dl of petrol in total.
My advice would be to take the train from Melbourne to Frankston and cycle from there. We began cycling from Caulfield on the Nepean highway. But only after 5 km we had enough of it. We found that the road was far too busy for us and we decided to take the train instead from Patterson to Frankston. As it was about ten in the morning and we were heading out from the city the train was almost empty. So it was easy to get on board even with bicycle plus the trailer. The train ticket is only about 3 AUD so it's a bargain.
From Frankston we had to travel on the Nepean hwy again but out there it was much less traffic and once we reached Mornington we could turn right and ride along the coast instead. We both felt that it was when the fun began and we would suggest anyone thinking of cycling from Melbourne to Adelaide to catch the train to the outer suburbs.
Frankston to Torquay
Mostly flat roads and from Mornington you can cycle along the coast to Sorrento. You will have some nice views over the Port Phillip Bay and not so much traffic. So enjoyable cycling.
Queenscliff is a beautiful small town with lots of old buildings, a lighthouse and is a good spot for a lunch stop and some sightseeing. From there take the road via Ocean Grove to Torquay, the home of Bell beach, a classic surf beach.
GOR starts in Torquay but it's first after Lorne you have the really scenic views of the ocean. Road is winding but still a bit of shoulder for cyclists, so good for cycling. There are also lots of turnouts to stop and admire the views.
After Apollo Bay the GOR goes more inland and is not really near the ocean until you are near the iconic Twelve Apostles. Short after Apollo Bay you will reach the highest point on GOR, the Lavers Hill. We heard some warnings about cycling the hill but we found it to be very friendly gradient. Not really hard cycling and the climb is over many kilometers. And still it's just 450 meters above sea level so it's a hill and not a mountain. I personally found the cycling tougher after Lavers Hill, when the road was more undulating up and down for some kilometers.
The route from Apollo Bay up to Twelve Apostles was also the worst part of GOR when it came to traffic. Much of this section didn't have any shoulder, just a narrow and winding road. We always stay as far left as we can and normally the drivers always give us some extra space. But here that was not the standard. Only part so far in Australia where many passed uncomfortably close. Even if the sight was clear, no oncoming traffic they still so close to us as it sometimes felt a bit scary.
We met one Polish cyclist just after the Twelve Apostles and he told us that he experienced exactly the same.
The Twelve Apostles are the most famous and recognized lanmark of GOR. The view around here is really fantastic and a highlight of the GOR. But it's more to see on this section, many turnouts from GOR offer impressive views. We found it really great to also see the London Bridge, Bay of martyres, Loch Ard gorge and bay of islands. Port Campbell is about halfway and a good spot to stay for a night or two.
Warrnambool is a bigger town and is on our top list among the towns wee seen on our trip. Beautiful near the coast, size is good, has everything but still small so easy get around on your bicycle and so much beautiful picnic areas. Camped there at the backpacks for a couple of nights before taking an old railway track that been turned into a bicycle path. The path does a loop up through Koroit, an old Irish settlement, before ending in Port Fairy.
Nelson is the last town before SA and we stop there for lunch. Best way to cycle to Mt Gambier is to take the Border rd and then Caroline Forest hq rd. No traffic and there is good camping spots around Dry Creek. Mount Gambier is a bigger town and a good place to resupply. Famous for it's Blue lake.
Our advice would then be to take the road via Mt Schank, and old volcano with a distinct crater shape. Continue via Tantanoola where there is a good free camping spot. The road up along the Coorong NP is long, flat and mostly straight. Enjoyed cycling there and a must see on the way is the towns of Beachport, Robe and Kingston S.E. Good places for a swim and a rest. Water is really chilly but it's still nice to cool down on a hot day.
Meningie is a nice place to take a break at with two big food shops, big BBQ area next to the lake and free WIFI near the council office. From there we cycled around Lake Alexandria and through Langhorne Creek-Milang-Finniss to Goolwa. Doing the loop around Fleurieu Peninsula instead of heading direct to Adelaide is something we recommend. Victor Harbor is a realy nice stop beautifully situated next to the sea. Walked over to the Granite Island and could see dolphins hunting in the sea. The roads on the peninsula is a bit undulating but not much traffic.
Before you get to Normanville the road along the cost is stunning, big hills on one side and the sea on the other side. Take the Fork tree road and Reservoir road from Normanville for some scenic views over Gulf St Vincent. Avoid the main road as much as you can going to Adelaide. We traveled up to Norluang Center and took the train from there, 3.10 $ and it saved us a lot of time and stress. And by our definition you got to the city once you reached it's metro network.