Melbourne to Adelaide – the journey and the desperation

Cafe with blue tables and chairs outside. Woman stands at the window to orer. Woman and child sit at one of the tables. A large waffle is on a pole and another sign that reads 'waffles' is propped against a pole.
Waffles and Jaffles, Coonalpyn January 2016

Every year my family drive from Melbourne to the Fleurieu Peninsula near Adelaide. Over the past 10 years we’ve made this trip with children growing in size and number and we’ve found ways to make the trip fun(ish) for every(some?)one.

I considered writing a guide reviewing every stopping point on the most direct Melbourne-Adelaide route, however, I don’t want to put that kind of negativity into the world. In particular, my partner and I have a feverish aversion to a town along the way. Our dislike is no longer fully rational and has been passed on to our kids who gnash their teeth if we need to stop there.

So I’m going to keep it positive and tell you about the places we love to stop on the drive from Melbourne to Adelaide(ish). In no particular order (but my favourite is the first one):

Dimboola, VIC

Dimboola is a cute town with an olde-fashioned main drag. When we first visited we were thrilled to find a great cafe. Then the Dimboola Imaginarium opened. This amazing shop is in a restored bank building. There’s a giraffe-sized stuffed giraffe in the middle of the room and many other wonders. Last year I bought a 500 piece puzzle of David from Schitt’s Creek.

In 2022 we stopped the night in Dimboola for the first time. There was a frog in the motel’s pool and my daughter wanted to give it a funeral. We had to break the news to her gently that the frog wasn’t dead.

We had tea at the Victoria Hotel, a pub with amazing décor and great food. It has accommodation but it’s not right for my family as we make a lot of noise and break things. One of my dreams is to stay at the Victoria Hotel with friends and hang out for a weekend reading books and holding funerals for frogs.

Keith, SA

There’s a lot to do in Keith and some people in my family have wanted to take an extended holiday there rather than pushing on to the coast.

In ‘Keef’ you can look at the landrover on a pole. You can have a go on the mono-rail at the playground and think about how many fingers you really actually need. You can swim at the very nice public pool. You can have chips at the pub.

In short, we love Keith to the point of tears if we don’t stop there because some of us were asleep and it made sense to keep driving while everyone was quiet.

Coonalpyn, SA

One word. Waffles. Actually the cafe is called ‘Waffles and Jaffles‘ but who’s having jaffles when there’s waffles?

It’s more a roadside kiosk than a cafe, but Waffles and Jaffles is not to be missed just because you have to sit outside, it’s boiling hot, there’s a stink coming from the public toilets, and trucks are roaring past every 14.7 seconds. The waffles are fantastic and extremely popular because they are fantastic. Nothing else matters.

Coonalpyn also has some excellent silo art (not just big) and a cafe opposite the silo. We tried it for coffee once but still got waffles at Waffles and Jaffles.

For waffles reasons we ALWAYS stop in Coonalpyn on the way to the holiday and on the way home. Maybe if a baby had just gone to sleep we wouldn’t, but actually we would.

Other good bits

The Giant Koala, Dadswell Bridge, VIC. The speed limit on the Western Highway drops to 80km/hour near the Giant Koala and that gives you plenty of time to take in this tourist attraction. There is nothing to be gained by slowing down further and your soul to lose if you stop.

Jaypex Park, Nhill, VIC. There’s a big slide that I am sometimes brave enough to go on. There’s a great nature walk that starts off on a boardwalk at the park and then loops around the lake. You can watch birds if they like the sound of children screaming.

Our annual drive to Adelaide is genuinely one of the highlights of my year. With our evolving family every year feels like a new challenge, but we always manage to find the fun between the screams.

5 comments on “Melbourne to Adelaide – the journey and the desperation

  1. Oh my goodness! How great is Dimboola now. We stopped there in January for the first time since my childhood. I’m in for the Victoria Hotel frog funeral, hang out.

  2. Just read ‘GRANDBAD’ and absolutely loved it. Also read this blog lol (as someone who grew up in one of the towns along the Melbourne to Adelaide route I’m intrigued)
    Could I suggest a picturesque detour next year through the Western Districts and stopping at Bellcourt Books in Hamilton for an author talk. We’d love to have you.

  3. Well that sounds ideal. I would love to! I had a very favourable impression of Hamilton the time I briefly visited to rescue my sister when her car broke down. Would love to see more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content