Hey, can you believe it? We finally got around to doing something touristy and leaving the city! It only took about 2 months to do so… lol.
On Australia Day (Jan 26th), we finally went on the long-awaited Grampians bus tour. I found this bus tour hosted by New to Melbourne on Facebook and it’s aimed towards travellers and budget travellers. We missed out on the early birds special and got the next tier which was about $65? I think early bird special was only $50 per person.
I mean… that is significantly cheaper than renting a car! I pushed Dan to join me on this bus tour because the reviews were great buuut… I think we’ll skip these bus tours going forward. We originally planned on doing two more tours with them but it’s not our style, despite the cheap prices.
I took a nap before arriving at our first stop, Beaufort, a small little town about 2-2.5 hours away from Melbourne downtown. It’s one of those towns with only one major main street as their downtown and everything is local. It was our first pit stop to grab some lunch and for the next 30-40 minutes or so, I just loved Beaufort. I don’t know why but I love small towns.
From there, it was only about 40ish minutes to The Grampians.
So, Grampians is like a national park in the state of Victoria and our first stop was Mackenzie Falls. It’s at the top of the park and let me just say… holy crap, it’s beautiful!
It’s a giant waterfall but the scenery and landscape were just so beautiful and peaceful. Everything was blue. The water stream was refreshing and cold on a nice 30 degrees day. It really was breathtaking and I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this before.
We then hiked a bit further down to get away from the crowds.
Does anyone else like copying their significant other? LOL.
Unfortunately, the tour started later than usual and the tour guide had trouble sticking to the itinerary throughout the stops so Mackenzie Falls was only about an hour… like seriously?! Only an hour to experience this beauty?
So we hopped on the bus and visited our next stop, The Balconies that overlooks The Grampian, I suppose.
This was a mediocre stop. The view was great but definitely not worth cutting Mackenzie Falls short.
And ten minutes away was Reed Lookout (I think??? lol). This was literally the dumbest thing because she only gave us 20 minutes to experience this lookout, and the best lookout was 1km always. Like, it would take 15-20 minutes alone just to walk back and forth from the lookout to the bus.
The last stop at the bottom of the Grampians was this kangaroo park. Unfortunately, it’s weather dependent and it was a hot day so the kangaroo park was empty. I think that sort of stricken a chord with Dan because when you look back retrospectively, we didn’t have to rush all the stops and could’ve experienced a bit more.
The next and final pit stop was in a town called Ararat where we stopped for some dinner. We had Nando’s planned (since we get dropped off right in front of it after the tour) so we just ordered some fries and drinks at McDonald’s to keep us satisfied until Nando’s.
So, all in all, the itinerary was planned for 9am to 9pm and we got back into the city at 8:45pm despite having a late start… I mean, I disliked the tour enough for me to actually be happy to have it end earlier than anticipated.
Don’t get me wrong – The Grampians was a beautiful experience and trip but the bus tour thing is not us. And New to Melbourne could really tighten up their game.
The tour guide was late to greet us. The bus was late to arrive. The bus driver was haggard and needed to take breaks on the side of the road. We stopped at a hotel to pick up another passenger’s mom?! And every stop was cut short to ensure we arrive back into the city at 9pm.
Not worth it. Crammed in a bus, our legs were tired and our shoulders were stuff, and when we arrived at our stops, we barely had time to fully stretch our legs and enjoy the views.
Sure, it’s $50-65 but for a once in a lifetime experience, I think it’s worth it to chuck out some money to rent a car and do things to your own desire and not wait on anyone else.
Oh well… lesson learned for our next road trip!