We’ve never been big on road trips. The few occasions we’d tried to drive anywhere two hours or more were just a bloody nightmare hard work, so the thought of a Great Ocean Road Trip with the family had me second guessing how it would go.

We’re much more of the ‘jump on a plane interstate for a few days, soak it up and fly back’ kind of family. Which of course is all well and good when your kids are young enough to pop them on your lap and avoid the ticket cost. Now the kids are a little older, 3 and 5 (going on 10 and 15) and actually out of the baby/toddler zone, holidays are changing and so is our approach.

After our Deputy Editor Tania returned from her hundredth Adelaide to Melbourne trip with her boys in tow and raved about the experience, I was intrigued. How could that be? Nine hours with two kids in the back and they loved it?! You must document this miracle Tania! And so she did.  How to Rock the Road Trip was born and boy oh boy was it a timely godsend!

We’d been in talks with Mitsubishi about an opportunity to review their 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander when it launched this month and being an SUV driver already, I thought this could be a great first-time opportunity to grab the kids, pick up a shiny new car and Rock our first Road Trip along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Adelaide. I mean, what could go wrong? SERIOUSLY?!

So that was that. The Jennings’ first-ever Road Trip was on and the kids couldn’t be more excited!  Perfectly timed to coincide with the ANZAC Weekend meant hubby was able to get a few extra days off beforehand and we planned our four days on the road.

We flew to Melbourne Thursday morning on the red-eye (cheap flights plus you don’t waste the day travelling) and in no time at all were checking in to the Grand Mercure Hotel on Swanston Street. Nice and central location and really welcoming with families. We had stayed here before and loved it but this was the first time with kids and it was brilliant! It only cost us $200 for a room with two queen beds and a buffet breakfast for all four of us! It was a great deal and everyone was amazing.

We’d promised the boys a visit to toy store heaven AKA the Myer Toy Emporium in Myer Bourke Street. This place has to be seen to be believed! Nanna had given the boys $20 each at Easter which they saved especially for their visit so they could buy themselves something new for the trip. Needless to say they were gobsmacked like I was and spoilt for choice, even with their $20 budget!

Myer Emporium

It had been a long day and the boys were tired so we headed to Southbank for a cheap and cheerful dinner. As you can see, they were hungry too! Here’s Alex polishing off his spaghetti so quickly that there was no time for table manners!!

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Then it was Friday morning and time to pick up our shiny new Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed! Woo hoo! The boys were pretty excited. Not only were we picking up a new car for a driving holiday along the beach BUT they were also getting two brand new, fancy bright Infa Caprice Car seats and we were off!

2016-Mitsubishi-Outlander-Dealer

Our first stop on the highway was Geelong and, although hubby is a one-eyed Crows man, a stop outside Kardinia Park was on the cards (secretly we know he was hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the Geelong players). A quick selfie was in order before moving on to grab some shopping for our trip. Now in Adelaide we don’t have ALDI Supermarkets (yet!) but we have reviewed plenty of ALDI products so a stop to ALDI was a no-brainer to check out the range and try some more!

And then we were on the road! A little bit later than what we had planned (it was 2pm by then) but who cares? We’re on holidays and loving the freedom to stop and start that road tripping brings!

Great-Ocean-Road-Tourist-Park-14

I love the sense of adventure that getting behind the wheel gives, especially on unfamiliar roads leading to a mysterious destination. One thing for sure that stood out from the minute I got behind the wheel though was that the Outlander was both solid and really responsive (and quite surprisingly quite intuitive) on the road. Now I’m not going to go on and on about the car right now. I’ll save that for our upcoming review because I’ve still got more I’d like to do with her before we share our final thoughts. However there were a few really impressive features from the onset that I think are important to share that made our trip OH-SO much easier and safer.

Firstly, we put her on cruise control not long after getting onto the highway, cruising along at 100km/h. Nothing unusual there. Until the car AUTOMATICALLY SLOWED DOWN to 80km/h as we neared a section of roadworks! Say what!? I thought we’d broken the car. In the motoring fraternity they call it Adaptive Cruise Control, but I just call it clever and intuitive. No chance of speeding through roadworks and risking lives in this beauty! Big tick Miss Outlander!

Oh and get this. If, while travelling the car in front of you brakes suddenly or slows down and you’re NOT braking, the dash will flash and beep at you and then if you don’t brake, it WILL APPLY THE BRAKES to avoid collision or reduce impact. That kind of intelligence is mind-blowing. The proper term is Forward Collision Mitigation or just awesome.

“Can I drive yet? Can I drive yet?” Gosh, he’s almost as bad as the kids! After a few hours of patiently watching me behind the wheel it was hubby’s turn. Share your driving is the first step in safe long distance driving, right? Plus I got to enjoy being a passenger and play photographer! The weather was pretty average (thanks Melbourne) but we still managed a few stops for photos along the way.

2016-Mitsubishi-Outlander-Great-Ocean-Road-2

Great-Ocean-Road-Trip

Once we got past Lorne the road takes a turn in towards rainforest and a little across country. It was a lovely and welcome change, however with that came dusk. Within the space of about an hour we went from daylight, to dusk, with fog, rain and then the most spectacular lightening with thunder storm in the mix. The fog lights made a big difference at a really difficult time of the day for visibility. The Outlander features these cool looking LED Daytime Running Headlamps which gave you that sense of safety and ‘being seen’ on the road, especially helpful for long distance driving and when the dusk and fog hit. The LED headlights seemed to have a much whiter and more focussed beams of light than conventional headlights. So what could have been a really dangerous experience was actually really safe and, though not quite enjoyable, far more comfortable.

The fog started rolling in early which made driving visibility challenging.
The fog started rolling in early which made driving visibility challenging.

Our first night’s stay was at the Great Ocean Road Tourist Park at Peterborough which is just 10 minutes or so from Port Campbell. This 2 bedroom family cabin cost us $165 for the night which slept 6 and was quite modern and very clean. It’s across the road from the beach and had heaps of extra facilities as you’d expect in a tourist park. We had planned to get there much earlier than we arrived to see the 12 Apostles before sunset but instead we headed straight to our accommodation, grabbed some dinner and the boys hit the sack. There’s something really exciting about young kids and caravan parks! The rooms had bunk beds and though I didn’t allow them to sleep on the top bunk for safety reasons, there was no reason why they couldn’t make it a cubby house with the spare blanket! OMG they were in heaven – you can’t beat that kind of innocent fun!

Great-Ocean-Road-Trip-Cabin

Given we arrived so late to such shocking weather, I got up early and headed to the 12 Apostles for sunrise. It was quite drizzly but I braved the ‘lovely weather’ to get some shots (without kids and hubby in tow) and so thankful I did. It was a beautiful experience being there on my own, thinking about all those attending Dawn ANZAC Services around the country and a great moment to reflect and take in the beautiful world around me.

Great-Ocean-Road-Trip

Thank goodness I made it out there to see these natural wonders because by the time I’d headed back to checkout with Jason and boys, the weather had really started to turn for the worse! It was raining HARD but we were keen to brave the elements and head back to Port Campbell. Of course we hadn’t packed an umbrella (or any wet gear – lesson learnt!) so we grabbed a couple of cheap ponchos at the kiosk and headed out to the 12 Apostles lookout. Let’s just say Master 3 was not impressed, Master 5 complained about his poncho and I got SOAKED trying to keep them both dry! We made it out there (it’s only a few minute’s walk) but by then it was POURING! Still, I tried to pull out my phone to take a quick “we were here” selfie (#committed) but it got drenched so I reluctantly chalked it up to those memories that just need to stay in your mind.

The rest of the day was a pretty much ‘stay inside the car’ kinda day as we dried out (thank goodness for the heated seats) and warmed back up.  This was when we whipped out our first ammunition activity we’d brought. The trusty AFL Footy Character collection and played I-Spy with the winner each time getting a little character for their album. This kept them pretty amused until we reached Warrnambool and stopped for lunch. It was ANZAC day so most places were shut, which left us Hungry Jacks or the Roadside Takeaway. Would it surprise you to hear that the kids won that one hands down?

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Road Trip

It was really nice travelling though those country towns I frequented as a kid, road trips were a big part of my childhood memories.  

My dad always had a boat and we’d take that to the various fishing hotspots and stay in the caravan parks in a caravan or cabin.  It felt kinda sweet to be bringing my kids along the same type of trip (sans boat) and be creating the memories for them.

Great-Ocean-Road-Trip

Quick stop for a photo opportunity at the SA/VIC border and a bit of a run around to burn off energy and stretch our legs and we were off to Mount Gambier. I haven’t been there for many years so felt like a real tourist in our own back yard!  We went to the blue lake but it was horrid weather again so I was the only one who braved the rain for the mandatory selfie and back in the car to dry out and warm up!

Great-Ocean-Road-Trip

We stayed overnight in Mount Gambier then headed off for Adelaide at about 8am. The drive from Mount Gambier to the city was quite easy – the sun was out (hurrah!) and the car drove effortlessly! We were really pleasantly surprised at how little petrol she’d used (about $55 to this point) and it was just really nice to be driving in something so quiet, spacious and really intuitive. The horrible weather had almost no negative effect on our trip as the drive was so smooth, comfortable and safe. It was really something else and we felt very spoilt.

Pretty soon we were in the great Coonawarra Wine country and the autumn leaves and vines were a sight to behold! What had started as a ‘pull over the kids need something’ moment soon turned into a ‘grab the camera, this is really beautiful!’ opportunity.  No idea what vineyards they were but wow, it was stunning!

Great-Ocean-Road-Coonawarra-Country

Before we knew it we were on the Princes Highway and well on our way home to Adelaide. What a crazy 4 days and what a way to soak up the splendour of the Great Ocean Road. This is an almighty touring route and I can’t begin to imagine how incredible it would be with a week up your sleeve. Rather than passing through towns, you could stop and stay along the way! Next time (did I just say that?) we’re stopping at Apollo Bay and Lorne and Wye River was highly recommended too.

It’s hard to find fault with a trip travelled in such luxury and style and we were thrilled to be able to put the brand new Outlander through her paces. She really did live up to all the hype and I can see why now. What an intuitive vehicle – from the clever cruise control, to the rain sensing wipers (that adjust the speed automatically depending on the level of rain – and trust me there was A LOT of that!) It’s a big 7-seater and the boot was huge which meant the kids had the back seat to themselves and the big cases and shopping stayed in the boot where they belong! Note to self: Must pack lighter next time – I am BAD at overpacking!)

Our final verdict?  Definitely a great family holiday and really great when the weather’s nice I’m sure! 

It was a totally manageable mini-holiday. We broke up the trip into 2 hourly blocks and let the kids get out and stretch their legs. We always made time for a snack or lunch or even as simple as a toilet stop with a quick run around to burn off the excess built up energy. These all went a long way towards helping the kids enjoy the road trip just as much as we did.

For the long drive-times we had multiple activities lined up to keep the kids amused on each leg of the journey – iPad, DVD Player, Footy Characters, Colouring In, eye-spy. My two always wanted the same thing at the same time but had no interest in it until the other did… ever heard that before?? But overall we managed to get through it unscathed and with plenty of laughs along the way.

And let’s not forget the wheels! For the short time that hubby ‘allowed’ me to drive it (which was pretty limited because he enjoyed it so much!) I was totally in love.

The Mitsubishi Outlander run rings around our current SUV and we were both really impressed at the new features, the superb handling and smooth, quiet ride. As a passenger it was really comfortable, spacious, big boot (tick) and the way she handled on the wet and windy road was second-to-none. The kids loved the ride too. Their ‘Monster Truck’ really ticked their boxes. I felt really safe and that’s ultimately one of the biggest deciders for us in choosing a car.

So thank you Great Ocean Road for such an incredible journey! We’ll definitely be back but next time for longer and to explore all the wonderful hidden gems along the way.

The Jennings have survived (and enjoyed!) their first big family road trip!

 

WIN A $50 CALTEX PETROL GIFT CARD

To celebrate such an awesome family getaway, and because we love giving away stuff, we’re giving 2 lucky readers a $50 Caltex Petrol Card just for completing the entry form below.  Be quick, entries close 22nd May.

Win 1 of 2 $50 Petrol Cards

 

Author

Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.

157 Comments

  1. Michelle Green Reply

    I love the size of the boot. A big boot is a must when we look at choosing a car.

    • Me too Michelle. I never realised just how much I love a big boot until I had kids…haha! Now whenever I look at a car, it’s one of the first things I go for! 😉 x

      • Michelle Green Reply

        It’s amazing how much you rely on a big boot with kids. We’ve got 3 kids and there is no way we could go away on our short trips with a small boot. Where on earth would we put everything? Lol.

  2. The Adaptive Cruise Control sounds pretty good, but I am intrigued by the Forward Collision Mitigation feature. I think it would probably scare me the first time it went off….but definitely a great safety feature, and that wins it for me.

    • the forward collision mitigation is amazing! At first I didn’t know what was going on – and yes it did scare me, but let me just say it’s saved me having to slam on the brakes when someone in front hits the brakes and you don’t realise just HOW much! Love it.

  3. Nicole Woods Reply

    Everything! The ONLY fault I ever found was that there were no heating/cooling vents in the rear of the vehicle.

  4. Ann-Marie Day Reply

    Heated seats oh my that would be so nice to sit on after going out on a cold wet day.

  5. It Looks really spacious inside, I love that the car seats arent all squished together, kids need space from one another lol, especially on long trips.

  6. New Outlander now has the ‘rear fog light’ function too, joins Pajero – in having this safety item intended for utterly poor visibility conditions, say torrential daytime rain or fog, bushfire smoke reducing visibility to 50m or less, protects you from rear-collision impacts from faster vehicles.

  7. Pamela Singleton Reply

    Ok first of all Thanks so much for the mini holiday I just went on, I really felt like I was there, well done, lol. What I do love most in the Outlander is the Forward Collision Mitigation, followed by the Adaptive Cruise control. Then there is all the rest, it sounds so perfect.

  8. Lorraine Bown Reply

    Large boot to fit everything in the kids keep insisting are essential

  9. Renee lowndes Reply

    Definitely the fuel efficiency. Fuel is so expensive and we are a one income family.

  10. Amy Barbour Reply

    Forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, spacious boot And fuel efficient. Sounds like the perfect car!

  11. Julia Parker Reply

    Plenty of room inside for the whole family to travel in comfort.

  12. Janet Martin Reply

    Adaptive cruse control, how cool is that, it’s so easy to miss things like road work signs when you have little chatter boxes in the back seats

    • Oh yeah Janet, i know that all too well! It’s so clever, I really am a bit flabbergasted as just HOW clever it is! No complaints here though. About time hey! 😉

  13. Amanda Holland Reply

    It’s been shocking weather for the last few weeks here in warrnambool. Feb is about the best time

  14. Helen Hamilton Reply

    I love the sound of the adaptive cruise control and the fact that it is aware of cars suddenly braking in front of you. Almost sounds like being on automatic pilot, what a nice way to drive knowing you have that back up safety.

  15. Without a doubt the rain sensing wipers, they are far more intuitive than I.

  16. It’s a Mitsubishi! It’s stylish on the outside and safe on the inside. Great for any trips, but extra comfy and roomy for road trips.
    Just perfect for a family holiday!

  17. Difficult to pick just ONE feature that make for safer driving -Adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation are a COUPLE of favourites.. I can’t choose ONE! Love how easily and safely the carseats were installed too

  18. I love all the features to keep the kids busy during a long trip!

  19. Kylie Embury Reply

    It’s a Mitsubishi! LOVE my lancer and this will (hopefully) one-day be our upgrade! I’ve got to say, the heated seats sound pretty good for our Tassie Winters!

    • OMG Kylie, your behind won’t know what hit it! Have to say they were so effective we didn’t need them on long! 😉

  20. Forward collision mitigation lord knows I’ve had my fair share of bingles this is an amazing feature

  21. LilMiss Kibby Reply

    Adaptive cruise control – speeding fines are too much these days!

  22. Tamara Lamb Reply

    As a large family the option of having 5 or 7 seats is great especially when friends want to come over for the kids!

  23. OMG Laura that’s GOLD! I laughed so loud just then I woke the dog!
    I hear you though, got to love that sibling love and affection!! 😛

  24. Justine Liane Reply

    Being a night shift worker travelling long distances with numerous sets of roadworks along the way, the adaptive cruise control sounds like a godsend!

  25. Cherie Guest Boucher Reply

    it is better to have seven seat just in case friends come to

  26. The Forward Collision Mitigation, you can never play it too safe. Especially when you have precious cargo in the car ( those two legged little Angels).

  27. Elizabeth Jeong Reply

    I love the fact that it’s a 7 seater – big enough to fit my immediate family, as well as my sister’s hubby and (soon to be) child 🙂

    • Wait til you see how easily the seats convert in my video review Elizabeth – no pulling out car seats or reconfiguring the setup – just pull and sit! Easy!

  28. Michelle Solomon Reply

    Love the Dual Climate Control and Rear Air Conditioning Ducts.

  29. Christie Miller Reply

    Omg, the rain sensing wipers!!! I have a horrible sense of multi tasking, so this would be amazing! haha

      • Christie Miller Reply

        Ohh exactly!!! – I always get scared that I’ll go to flick the wipers on or something and find some hidden seat ejection button and fly out the roof o.O haha!

  30. Bob Stewart Reply

    The adaptive cruise control is by far my favourite feature

  31. Theresa Wilson Reply

    The boot will automatically open for me with a touch of
    my Smart Key, so when I’m piled high with bags of shoes and handbags from a
    shopping spree, there’s no difficulties.

    • Mmmm bags and shoes Theresa, every shopper’s dream! It’s like the Outlander is actually encouraging you to shop, right? What more support could you need?!

  32. NICOLE NOBLE Reply

    The reverse parking sensors as I need all the help i can get when parallel reverse parking!

  33. 78DaysofSummer Reply

    The Adaptive Cruise Control sounds great! Especially when driving with children and can easily get distracted and not realise the change around you to adjust the speed. Love it!

    • TOTALLY! I was driving in city traffic with the cruise control on and the car BRAKES FOR YOU, coming to a complete halt at the lights. YES!

  34. Mat Clarke Reply

    You can’t beat hitting the wineries on a nice road trip 🙂

  35. looked like a fun road trip. I am impressed with the Adaptive Cruise Control. You can always use an extra pair of eyes on the road.

  36. 7 seats, that way I can take the kids friends to soccer/netball and give their mums a break for a couple of hours 🙂

  37. Leonie Walker-Rackebrandt Reply

    Hard to pick just one but have to say boot size as 5 kids means lots of shopping and prams

    • I never realised just how much I would love a big boot, until I had kids! So funny! My previous car before kids was a Mitsubishi Magna (she had a HUGE boot) but went pretty much unappreciated as i didn’t use it much. Oh so different now! 😉

  38. The size of the Boot is essential when you have kids and a bulky pram like we do.

  39. Please you mentioned how well it handles on those windy wet roads, towing a caravan, that is very important to us when purchasing a new vehicle – just one favourite feature. Thanks for the article, we’re doing the Great Ocean Road and driving onto Mt Gambier later in the year and coming back home on a different route, always good to read and hear from others that have experienced the trip.

    • Thanks Michelle. We didn’t expect the weather to change so much but I did say to Jason that it’s probably been a really positive experience for us to see exactly HOW it handled through those conditions. If anything, it just gave us more confidence we were in really good hands.

  40. Tracy Andreatta Reply

    The adaptive cruise control sounds pretty cool & the 7 seats so my kids don’t argue also sound like winners .

  41. Edward Dekkers Reply

    Not very original but the other contestants are right…..it’s the seven seats 🙂

  42. If, while travelling the car in front of you brakes suddenly or slows down and you’re NOT braking, the dash will flash and beep at you and then if you don’t brake, it WILL APPLY THE BRAKES to avoid collision or reduce impact. Now that is amazing!!

  43. Louisa Fitzhardinge Reply

    Adaptive Cruise Control – brilliant! Victoria has a lot of speed limit changes and it’s nice to know you’ve got a backup if you miss one of the signs!

  44. Love that it’s a 7 seater. Great for a big family and friends road trip!

  45. Catherine Cannon Reply

    I love the seven seats as we are always ferrying friends and family around and the extra room sounds great.

  46. Sounds exactly like what we need, a 7 sweater that doesn’t drive like a boat!

  47. Deborah Bolam Reply

    Size of the boot is great but saftey features are excellent 7 seats very handy

  48. Nice and spacious for kids, dogs, bikes, bags, and maybe even hubby!

  49. Definitely the space making it perfect for the whole family, a nice smooth ride to help ease the journey is a big plus too

  50. Jacinta Greaves Reply

    The size of the interior, storage, seating, all perfection!

  51. Sami Clarke Reply

    What isn’t too love? Spacious, amazing features like auto braking system, rain sensing window wipers.. Absolutely amazing all in 1!

  52. Bev Stelzer Reply

    Hi, i love the reverse parking camera with sensors , so needed these days when you have kids .

  53. Antonietta Farrugia Reply

    The back seat is wide enough for the kids to play anything, those games your children have are an example, plenty of space for fun activities 🙂

  54. Ann Maree Sculley Reply

    Reverse Parking camera with sensors … Best thing ever invented for safety of our children and others !

  55. Natalie Hollis Reply

    Love the reverse parking camera and sensors… this mum has a bad habit of reversing into things, and it is peace of mind also when you have little ones 🙂

  56. michelle barrington Reply

    Adaptive cruise control sounds pretty awesome and heated seats too. It is chilly here in Melbourne

  57. Brooke Parker Reply

    I love every feature of the car. But if I had to choose just one feature it would have to be the touch screen control in the front. I mean all of your things are on the touch screen, not hardly any buttons anymore.

  58. Elena Ellul Reply

    Heated seats in this car is the feature I love
    For warmth in the winter that fits like a glove!

  59. Nikki Turner Reply

    I love the fact that for such a large car it uses the same amount of fuel as our small buzz box, time for an upgrade!

    • It was seriously so efficient. Now I’m back to driving my ‘other’ SUV (sobs) I am really noticing just HOW fuel efficient it was. Seriously amazing.

  60. Cherry Paige Reply

    I love the safety features especially the reversing camera.

  61. Rachelle D. Reply

    Definitely the reversing camera and fuel efficiency!!! Sounds like a dream! 🙂 🙂

  62. Dianne Childs Reply

    The fuel efficiency is a massive benefit and thus my favourite feature.

  63. Dawn Tatlor Reply

    Hard to choose just one feature, but with different extracurricular activities, fuel efficiency has to nearly be the number one feature.

  64. Lisa M Manoel Reply

    Fuel efficiency is a great feature with cost of fuel these days. Its also nice to travel in luxury and style

  65. Lesley Brown Reply

    It would have to be the ‘Adaptive Cruise Contol’, my hubby gets way to many speeding fines.

  66. The fuel efficacy is a huge plus. We used to fill up weekly, now with this car its monthly for the same amount. Amazing!

  67. Karla Oleinikoff Reply

    Having 7 seats! We’re a family of 6, so the more seats the better.

  68. Ruth Laker Reply

    i want to have the smart key option .. i love the style and mod cons

  69. Julian Val Reply

    My Favourite feature would be the heated seats. To warm up my bum, when the cold meets.

  70. Yonni Mary Reply

    Wow….where to start. The auto braking system is such an amazing safety feature. The seat warmers are just what I would love during Melbournes cold winters. One of the other really attractive features is the fuel economy – who doesn’t want that?? Overall a fantastic car. I really want one.

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