TRAVEL: MILES OF RAPTURE
The sun is shining and the weather is glorious. There’s no better time to flex those driving muscles than now, when the world is slipping into its peachy seasons. Here, some epic road trips, tried and tested by The Peak’s motoring correspondent.
The sun is shining and the weather is glorious. There is no better time to flex those driving muscles than with some epic road trips, tried and tested by our motoring correspondent
What: This 243km-long road, built by veterans returning from WWI, winds along the Victorian coast from Torquay to Allansford, just outside of Warrnambool, through quaint seaside towns and lush national parks. The famous Twelve Apostles is a major attraction, although today only eight of the original limestone formations still stand.
How: For most travellers, the flag-off point would be Melbourne, heading west via Geelong. The latter, an industrial city, is an anti-climactic start to the trip, so we suggest a slightly unorthodox routing. Point your car south-east instead, and stay the first night on a farm on Phillip Island where friendly alpacas and sheep will eat out of your hands. The following day, traverse the Mornington Peninsula and catch a car ferry across Port Phillip Bay to Torquay. Either Lorne or Apollo Bay would be an excellent pit stop for the second night, where you can partake in fresh seafood washed down with Australian wine. It is worth driving past Warrnambool – another large, nondescript city. End your journey at the picturesque Port Fairy, where you join wealthy Victorians who spend their weekends on yachts and in holiday homes.
Car: Holden Commodore Sportwagon SS, the last of the great V8 Australian muscle cars. Holden, together with Ford and Toyota, will no longer be producing cars in the continent by the end of the year.
What: A major north-south route that runs along the Pacific coastline, the 1,055km-long road doles out some of the world’s most breathtaking views and is a popular, albeit slower, way of getting from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Expect to wend your way through ancient forests and along plunging cliffs, punctuated with long stretches of dual carriageway to still your beating heart.
How: Highway 1, as it is informally called, starts south of Los Angeles. Those departing the City of Angels will join the highway in the suburb of Santa Monica. Stop for lunch in tony Santa Barbara before bunking at a seaside inn in Cambria. The following day, take a tour of Hearst Castle, a magnificent hilltop mansion where newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst once entertained his guests, flown into the estate’s own airfield from all around the country. Next destination: Big Sur, where steep mountains dramatically hug the ocean. Stay at the Post Ranch Inn, a luxurious resort favoured by Hollywood celebrities for its cliff-hanging villas and bucolic treehouses. On the final leg to San Francisco, visit the award-winning Monterey Bay Aquarium, a working marine sanctuary with wildlife research programmes. Car: Ford Mustang, the quintessential American sports car. Although it is a two-seater, the cavernous boot will swallow a pair of suitcases with ease.
What: Journeying across the mountains, rivers and deserts of this former German colony is not for the faint of heart. We recommend signing up for a proper guided tour with support vehicles should (or rather, when) things go pear-shaped. The BMW Tour Experience 8 Days Namibia programme is a fantastic option that includes an off-roader, meals and quality accommodation.
How: From capital Windhoek in central Namibia, practise off-road driving in a working ranch before heading west towards Swakopmund, where the cold Atlantic air merge with the dry desert winds to shroud the coastal town in all-day mist. Over eight days, you will meet tribespeople who fashion jewellery out of ostrich eggshells, gaze at the Big Five in a protected animal reserve, and enjoy a sundowner in the middle of nowhere. This, while learning how to pilot your 4x4 on challenging terrain such as savannah, riverbed and rocks. On the final day, negotiate the narrow beach between towering sand dunes and the South Atlantic, past shipwrecks and seal carcasses, to reach the Namib-naukluft National Park, where you put your SUV to the ultimate test on soft desert sand.
Car: BMW X5 3.0 Diesel. Provided by the tour operator, this oft-dismissed soccer mum-mobile handles Namibia’s rugged terrain with surprising aplomb.