Looking out into the blueness of the South China Sea, North of Palawan, i thought it was about time that the Oz post was written.
We were 16hrs into a 24hr journey heading to Coron island and had been in the Philippines for just over a week. Seeing the mountain tops of northern Palawan in the distance brought back memories of the ferry ride between Vancouver Island and mainland B.C…… That was over 7 months ago now. 7 months.
Anyway this post is about the land ‘Down under’, Australia.
If your travelling between South America and South East Asia, chances are you’ll pass through Australia.
We planned to stay with family in the Sydney suburbs, and were excited to stay put and have a little break from the travelling. Its been amazing, but we needed a little normality, if only for a short while. I know its hard to believe, but its not always roses on the road with a 2yr old and not really always fair on her to keep moving.
The plan? To stay around Sydney and spend some time with Steve’s family……Well sort of.
It also just so happened that one of Nay’s friends from Uni days, Megan, was in Oz at the same time. It would have been a shame to have not caught up. So yes, we fitted in a smallish road trip before heading back to Sydney for Christmas.
By smallish, I mean Cairns back down to Sydney. This doesn’t look much on the map, but Oz is big, real BIG. Twelve days and 3500km’s. Naughty daddy.
Anyway we landed in Cairns, bought a tent, some supplies and cracked on to Mission Beach.
Mission beach. What a great, relaxed little beach town. We had our first of many encounters with the Australian wildlife here, in the form of the Cassowary, but best of all, it was home to Bingle bay.
Bingle bay was our first campsite of the trip and also the best. A handful of pitches right on the beachfront. Quality showers and a kids playground thrown in for good measure. If only every campsite was like this.
Thankfully for this trip, we had a decent car and car seat. It would have been pretty miserable on the road without them. We started to eat into the km’s as we went South towards Airlie beach, the jumping off point for the sparkling white sands of the Whitsunday islands. This was a long day’s driving and at times pretty slow going. Needless to say, there was a lot of ‘Wheels on the bus’………With a lot of new verses!
On further recommendation we headed for 1770, which was a great move if only we had had a few more days to spend there. Great campsite, including a chippy, great people and excellent was for families. It also has a beach where you can watch the sunset. A rarity on the East coast.
So we arrived in Hervey Bay, which was next up. This was where we had arranged to meet Megs. We had a slight problem though, in that we hadn’t arranged any kind of pickup time or place and were solely relying on phones/internet.
Dodgy wifi and bad service on international phones meant that we had no word from her as we rolled into town. As luck would have it, an emergency food stop on a random beach, at a random cafe only happened to be EXACTLY the same spot Megs had decided to wait for us!!
Total serendipity and very exciting!! Now we had a new companion for the road!
We decided against the expense of Fraser Island considering we only had a day on our tightly packed schedule to get there and see the place. Instead we headed to Tin Can Bay. We would have headed here for the name alone but it is so much more than just a cracking name. We enjoyed hand feeding river dolphins, a day at Rainbow beach and the BEST BBQ ever. Top spot.
Now Megan was fully aware of our travelling style (all the time in the world, but lets rush around like lunatics anyway!!!), we headed to Brunswick heads. Neighbour to the famous Byron Bay but for us, so much better. It had a clean, safe river to swim in, as well as both a sheltered beach and surf beach. Only 30 mins to Byron and even closer to Mullunbimby which has a great and very entertaining market!
Next stop was Yamba. Great family friendly campsite, with lots of wallabies hanging around, just a shame Steve was man down but at least it meant we couldn’t move for a day without our designated driver. A day by the kids pool it was then! Nice.
Our final stop was Stockton near Newcastle, apparently just as it is in the UK if you know it, but with a beautiful beach! Unfortunately for us it also had absolutely torrential rain all night which added to the camping fun and sent us off happy to be back to non-camping civilisation in Sydney.
All in all, a great road trip, however please if you are thinking of doing a similar trip, take your time. Cairns to Sydney in 12 days is not a leisurely trip!
We spent the following week or so, with Steve’s Family. This included the time over Christmas. Well, Christmas in Sydney is definitely nothing like Christmas in the UK! You don’t plan on spending the day by the pool in Blighty, well at least nobody we know does. It was nice to spend it with Steve’s family though and experience it the ‘Ozzie’ way. Betty was spoilt rotten, and it made us miss home and our family back there, just a little. It was really nice for Betty though to have her cousin Madison to play with and also Madison’s spare toys, which were round at Auntie Dorothy’s house. Betty may as well have been staying in Hamleys, as the Children’s room had nearly as many toys!
Hopefully we will be able to catch up again with everybody at some point in the future, maybe when the kids have grown up. Maybe even if one day they decide to do a travelling trip for themselves, who knows?
Anyway, New Years in Sydney was spent in Auntie Dorothy’s house. Yes we didn’t go and see the fireworks, as the thought of those crowds, were the thing of nightmares. John and Dorothy had already planned to spend this time further up the coast, before we told them we were coming so they kindly left us their house for a week or so.
We did manage to see a bit more of NSW, taking in the Blue Mountains, Jervis bay and Booderee National park, but also had a few days at the local swimming pool and just at the house.
Australia was similar to America in many ways, but very “Old’ British in some and was a welcome relief at the time, as hitting SE Asia straight from Argentina would have been difficult for us. Having family to catch up with and talk to, was also much needed, as life on the road is tiring and sometimes a little lonely.
But the batteries are now re-charged and Betty has a new Peppa Pig bag.
So until the next time, take it easy.
And yes!!! We WILL SLOW IT DOWN.
Muddys Play ground, Cairns.
Bingle Bay campsite.
Wallabies on the beach, lots of places!
Tin Can Bay butchers.
Grill’d – Best burger joint since USA.
Swimming in the river in Brunswick heads – Clean, safe and lots of fish to see.
Yum Cha – Thanks Craig!
Dorothys car – The ‘old’ car thats immaculate, inside and out.
A day at the zoo and a day at the beach with Nay’s old pal Andy and family.
Betty’s cousin love – “Madison my family”
“Do you think we should let Dorothy cut her hair?”
“Seriously need to buy some Christmas presents”
“How bad are Ozzies at driving?”
“Shall we play ‘Happy’ (the song) again Betty? – Yes”
“My friend” – Betty could never remember Megan’s name!!!
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