We must admit: going around the East Coast wasn’t exactly our first idea to start this new road trip. After all, we’ve been there in 2013, and although very beautiful, it also is very crowded and a bit too touristic. However, the weather kind of forced us to change our plans last minute.
So … From Winter in Canberra and a first night camping at -6° C in Goulburn we drove to Spring just north of Sydney. That’s only a few 100 kms, but in a country as big as a continent, it can mean a whole lot of a difference! But hey, we finally saw the Big Merino! This big sheep hides a shop where you can buy just about anything made out of wool, since Goulburn calls itself the ‘Fine Wool Capital of the World’ (check, we’re in Australia, everything is the biggest, largest, highest, oldest … in the Southern Hemisphere or the world). The beast is given real eyes too by the people who want to have an overview of this town. And of course, there is a museum about the history of … yes, indeed, wool.
We bypassed Sydney – and drove up to the north east coast. The coastline has a lot of national parks, so depending on how many parks you plan to visit, it could be wise to buy a national parks pass. This can save you a lot of money, since most of the parks ask an entry fee. Between Sydney and Port Macquarie we stopped at Ku-ring-gai-Chase NP, Brisbane Water NP, Bouddi NP, Booti Booti NP, Crowdy Bay NP and Dooragan NP. Beaches are beaches, and after a while, you don’t see much difference anymore (wauw, how spoiled can one be?!) But sometimes, nature has left us absolutely spectacular and amazing sightings! Such as the Tesselated Pavements at Bouddi NP. The sandstone shows perfect tiles …
The lines are actually the result of the cracking of the dried sediment from which the sandstone is made of. And in the right time of year you can witness the migration of the humpback and southern right wales. That’s just stunning! After all those years we still haven’t booked a whale watching cruise (yes, we are the kind of people who wonder if those cruises don’t harm these beautiful animals). But waiting on a rock along the water, and hoping the magic will happen before your eyes is such a wonderful experience! The whales are a bit smaller in our pictures, but that’s part of the experience as well. Basically, the New South Wales coastline is known as the ‘humpback highway’. Between June and October it’s almost impossible not to see humpbacks.
Most of them will travel north. Southern right whales roughly migrate between May and November. Both species go to the warmer waters of Australia and further north to mate and calve. If this trip has been a bit shaken up timing-wise, at least we were very lucky to see so many whales (and dolphins)! Be sure to check the next posts as well, more whales to come!
After about 400 kms, Port Macquarie is a welcome change, finally a big(ger) supermarket. We stayed at a small caravan park, which should have resident koalas, but we missed them. However, the Koala Hospital was very close by. This is a must on your to do-list! The work these people (mostly volunteers) do to save injured or sick koalas is tremendous! Sadly, not every koala is able to be put back in the wild, but most of them are able to go back to their habitat. A tour around the yards is free, if you are lucky you can witness a surgery through the big window (depends on how you look at it of course, perhaps it’s better never to see it which means there are no casualties …) You can even adopt one! More information can be found on this website .
From Port Macquarie, we decided not to take the highway, but to stay close to the much nicer coastline. After all, we had the car to go all the way … We took the ferry to the north shore of Port Macquarie (cost 5 dollars for the car with 2 passengers) and started a morning drive we won’t forget lightly! The track is sandy, boggy, rocky and endless … But the detour to the beach access points were very nice! And we had the opportunity to visit Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve! We couldn’t have been more happy to see a bitumen road after some hours! We shook off the sand and dust, and enjoyed our lunch and a walk on Point Plomer beach! In the afternoon we visited Coffs Harbour, and recalled some fine memories at the jetty. By the way: we finally grabbed our picture of the Big Banana! Have we told you before just about anything is big in Australia?
The landscape in this region changes from woods, bush and beaches to beaches and plantations, bananas included. The Big Banana is actually a fun park, but it’s also possible to visit the plantation. The next stop brought us to a small place called Emerald Beach, nothing much to see here since the weather turned bad again. But we did have pancakes at the beach for brekkie! Yummy and location! Back on the road we drove till Byron Bay without much sightseeing, since we’ve been here before (see previous blogpost) We prepped our car for the long inland route towards the other side of this massive land, and our longtime looked forward destination: the West Coast. Our passage along the East Coast halted just before Brisbane, the first 1200 kms travelled. You’ll find out how this adventure continues in the next posts!