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 Peak (Hong Kong) - - Contents - STORY LOW KA WEI VIC­TO­RIA, AUS­TRALIA – GREAT OCEAN ROAD

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.

GOD’S GIFT Lime­stone for­ma­tions of bib­li­cal beauty form the back­drop of the Great Ocean Road.

01 01 coastal cruise So re­mote that parts of it lack mo­bile re­cep­tion, the rugged ter­rain through which High­way 1 cuts is truly breath­tak­ing. 02 desert drive One of the hard­est sur­faces on which to nav­i­gate, sand is abun­dant here to test your met­tle.

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