My first ever solo road trip! Part One

On my solo road trip - me and my car. :-)

On my solo road trip – me and my car. :-)

It hadn’t occurred to me before but it wasn’t until I was about to leave for Australia that I realised I was about to embark on my first solo road trip EVER! I’ve done many road trips before but never alone. I looked forward to lots of ‘me-time’ in the car but who was going to help me navigate? I figured I would sort that out when the time came… and it came fast!

Getting out of Melbourne

As I negotiated the busy streets of Melbourne to get to the highway that would take me into the country, I felt slight pangs of fear. I was stuck on a busy road, snarling traffic around me and the sound of a stern female voice on the GPS navigation monitor telling me to “keep in the right lane and turn right after 50 meters”. “Errrr, thanks ma’am! I would if I could! You can’t see this massive truck on my right can you?!?!”, I yelled in frustration. I chuckled when I realised what I was yelling at. Oh, wouldn’t it be so much more fun if I was yelling at a real person! Haha!

I finally made it onto the highway and in no time, I was whizzing past the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city. Melbourne’s imposing skyline faded below the horizon as I headed further afield. My pangs of fear had quickly changed to excitement. Here I was, in the car on my own, with a lady’s voice as my guide, and my iPhone was belting out my favourite songs! How awesome is that? I sang along to Pharell’s “Happy” and for the first time, I felt very much at ease. Indeed, happy!

Charming Daylesford

My first destination was Daylesford, together with its twin town Hepburn Springs, the ‘Spa Capital of Australia’. Located in a verdant, hilly region, the towns are blessed with an abundance of natural springs. It took me just over 1.5 hours to get to Daylesford and the difference with bustling Melbourne could not have been greater! I passed beautiful lakes, framed by lush forests, and sleepy communities.

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On the road to Daylesford.

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Gorgeous lakes and greenery in Daylesford.

A crimson rosella flew past as I arrived at my first stop: the gorgeous Lake House and Talus Spa. Perched on the slopes of a hillock, the Lake House is a hotel that’s renowned for its fantastic restaurant and its luxurious spa. I checked in and the lovely staff showed me my accommodation, the jaw-droppingly beautiful villa! It was a chilly day and I was thankful for the fireplace that was already crackling wildly when I entered.

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Inside the lovely villa at the Lakehouse – my room for the night!

I went for a long walk around the lakes and later that evening, I was treated to the culinary genius of the chefs at the Lake House. I was truly impressed by the impeccable service and knowledge of the waiters and the sommelier – seeing that I was dining alone, the waiter brought me a book (about the history of the restaurant) to read – a very thoughtful touch. The ingredients used by the chefs are sourced from the surrounding region as well as from the restaurant’s own organic vegetable gardens – the freshness was unmistakable, especially the salads (the leaves were some of the tastiest I’ve ever had). The tantalising combinations of flavours, aromas and textures made for a superb meal.

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Dining at the Lake House restaurant.

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Fab service with a smile.

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Superb cuisine at the Lake House – notice the book? ;-)

Fun at the Passing Clouds

The next morning, I hopped into my car and drove the short distance to Hepburn Springs where a fabulous mineral bath awaited me at the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa, Australia’s original wellness retreat. Situated amidst gorgeous forests, the Bathhouse is a favourite among locals and Melburnians who come here to enjoy the mineral springs.

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The Hepburn Springs Bathhouse.

Later that day, feeling warm and chirpy and accompanied by the equally uplifting tunes of Fun (remember “We Are Young”?), I drove to Musk along the Daylesford-Trentham road. I was tipped off by the sommelier at the Lake House that there would be an open day at the Passing Clouds winery, with food and music – that was more than enough to catch my attention. I arrived at the small winery to find a fun party atmosphere despite the chilly weather. It was a local affair, with people laughing, dancing and enjoying fine wines and barbecues. I joined in the fun with a glass of Chardonnay and several delicious skewers, and swayed to the folksy tunes of the Ugly Uncles. What a treat!

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A glass of Chardonnay at the Passing Clouds winery.

The joys of solo travel!

From here, I continued to Trentham, passing green rolling hills reminiscent of the English countryside, sprawling farmlands and patches of gum forests.

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Gorgeous scenery on the road from Daylesford to Trentham.

Just before Trentham, I made a diversion to the stunning Trentham Falls. It was raining when I stepped out of the car but I told myself that the shower would quickly pass – funny how much I talked to myself on this solo road trip! True enough, when I reached the viewing point after a short walk, the sun appeared accompanied by bright blue skies. The falls looked absolutely splendid!

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The beautiful Trentham Falls.

I made my way back to the car just as the sun disappeared behind thick dark-grey clouds and continued my drive to Trentham, the gateway to the Wombat State Forest. I strolled past quirky shops and found the historic Red Beard Bakery. This bakery is famous for its sourdough bread which is baked in a massive 19th century oven. It was a treat to witness how the Red Beard loaves are made and baked in that impressive oven.

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Making the famous Red Beard sourdough bread.

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The historic oven at the Red Beard Bakery.

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The Red Beard Bakery in Trentham.

Loaf in hand, I stepped out of the bakery into another passing shower. I found shelter in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. It looked pretty run-down on the outside but once inside, I found a newly refurbished bar/lounge with friendly bar staff.

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The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Trentham.

One of the advantages of travelling alone is how easy it is to strike up a conversation with locals or fellow travellers. People take an immediate interest in you and before you know it, you’re engrossed in a fascinating conversation (or desperately looking for an exit). I found company (or rather, company found me) with a local farmer and his wife. I think I failed miserably in trying to explain what it is that I do. Haha! Oh, the joys of solo travel!

*End of Part One*. Continue to Part Two.

Note: this trip is part of the iambassador #MelbourneTouring project in partnership with Tourism Victoria and Royal Brunei Airlines. Velvet Escape maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.

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13 Responses to “My first ever solo road trip! Part One”

  1. Joseph 09/01/2014 10:33 pm
    #

    Solo road trips are the best – but your right that at first they are a little nerve racking. I am from Los Angeles which is a car culture so I was born practically behind the wheel, but a strange car and country can be challenging. My most adventurous solo road trip was Oaxaca Mexico to Cancun – Talk about some bad winding white knuckle roads! Now I have to put Australia on the list…. great post.

  2. Chris 19/12/2013 6:18 am
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    I’m from country Victoria and I remember when we travelled to Melbourne as a child that my father was always yelling at the traffic. Good to see you out and about visiting parts of Victoria that few international travelers get to see.

  3. Tripmark 17/12/2013 11:04 pm
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    Looks like you had a good time, I find it uneasy to do solo trips until I actually on them. Great pictures.

  4. Keith Jenkins 14/12/2013 1:02 pm
    #

    Awwww…. thanks Rob! If you were in the car, I’d be yelling at you. Hahaha! ;-)

  5. rob hermans 14/12/2013 12:54 pm
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    I can almost here you yell at the ‘leading lady’ telling you to leave the highway…haha.. lovely article keith.

  6. Keith Jenkins 13/12/2013 2:02 pm
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    Hi Helen,

    Thanks for your comment. It sure is a lovely part of Victoria. Thanks for the spell-check – I’ve corrected it. :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  7. helen 13/12/2013 1:55 pm
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    Lovely to read about an area I visit often…living in Melb and relatives in Daylesford. The bird you mentioned is the crimson roSella I believe ;)

  8. Keith Jenkins 13/12/2013 10:47 am
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    Haha, good point Zenaida – about the self-talk bit. I was in VERY good company. ;-)
    Thanks for your lovely comment and for sharing your post. Hope you’re well.

    Hugs,
    Keith

  9. Zenaida 13/12/2013 10:41 am
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    Hi Keith, I visited Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, too! It was a lovely weekend away from Melbourne and I greatly enjoyed the Springs. And yes, there is a lot of self-talk when traveling solo, but that’s ok. At least you know you are in good company (your own).
    Here’s a link to my post on that part of the world: http://travelswith.zen-aida.com/2009/09/accommodation/australia-daylesford-and-hepburn-springs/

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