From Sydney, we headed towards Brisbane, NSW and the Gold Coast.
Our intention was to route through Canberra, the capital of Australia, but we decided to save that for our return trip, since it was more “inland” and we wanted to go along the coastal route as much as possible.
We got a pretty late start out of the caravan park, so our first day was a relatively short one. With the help of our WikiCamps app , The Rock Roadhouse was chosen as our free, overnight stop. We were the first of the van dwellers to arrive for the night, but were soon joined by many. Upon arrival, most chose a respectable distance between vans, and all was good in the world until about 11 pm when a rental van of three girls from Germany decided to park between us and our neighbor, and proceeded to open and close their doors and speak at full volume for at least the next hour. Even in RV living, or camping, we have all had THAT neighbor once in a while.
Yes, that is a gas station/restaurant that has been made to look like Uluru. Hence the name “The Rock” Roadhouse.
After a quick breakfast, we headed to the Seal Rocks lighthouse to see what we could see.
On the walk up the very steep path, we took a break to let others pass:
The views were stunning:
Back on the road and heading up the coast, we came upon a lovely beachfront town by the name of Port Macquarie. It had numerous free camping opportunities, as well as a reasonably-priced caravan park. There were surfing beaches and hiking trails listed as points of interest, so that it became our first real stop for the state of New South Wales.
Here is what Town Beach looked like upon our arrival:
The first night, which was really supposed to be the only night, was spent in a parking lot along – you guessed it – by the river, next to a hotel. It was quiet, and had public restrooms just a quick 3 minute walk away. There were two or three other backpacker vans, and we were treated to an evening show of flying foxes heading out for a hunt. There seemed to be thousands of them, and David tried to get a picture with his camera on the night vision setting:
Here is what they look like during the day –
That is a picture I pulled from the internet, as I did not seek them out during the day. Suffice it to say that they are very large, and there is a plentiful colony that lives in a nature reserve in Port Macquarie. The night show was impressive.
The weather in Port Macquarie is magnificent! One would not suspect it is late Fall, with the water so lovely and inviting, and the days around 80-85 degrees F.
We expected this to be an overnight stop, but the beach and town were just so lovely, that we spent the next 6 days lounging around, hiking, getting caught up on library wifi, and generally feeling like we were really on vacation, or “holiday” as they call it here.
The town is really cute and has a little something for everyone – major chain grocery stores and a mall, a lovely library with free internet, a modern art center that doubles as a visitor center, boutique shops and day spas, as well as numerous ice cream and coffee shops. The jewel in the crown was the magnificent beaches and walking trails. All of this was within walking distance of our overnight parking places.
One could see why this is the home of the Australian Ironman competition, which unknown to us, was completed the day before our arrival. The competitors cleared out by our day 3, and we felt as if we had the town and beaches to ourselves. The township of Port Macquarie was established in 1821, with many buildings from that time still intact.
As Port Macquarie became our home for 6 nights, between the great caravan park and the urban camping friendly parking lots, we averaged $7.60 AUD/night. Of course, that does not factor in our daily shared $5 AUD soy decaf flat whites. Yes, David has not only stopped giving me grief about drinking coffee, but I am sharing my drinks with him. It is a change in attitude I can live with!
Some of the highlights of our time here:
- The Town Beach and an ocean that I actually went wading into, multiple times. (I don’t swim, and rarely go into bodies of water, so this was really meaningful to me. I even got knocked down by a wave, but got back up and still played some more:
- The Koala Hospital and the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail were both sources of entertainment. The Koala Hospital allowed us an up-close look at the care and rehabilitation of sick and injured koalas. It is the only facility of its kind in the world, and is run by donation and volunteers. The Sculpture Trail comprised of 50 unique koala sculptures placed in various places around town and the outlying area. These sculptures were created to celebrate the largest coastal koala population on the east coast of Australia. While I did not go about seeking these out, I took a snap of each one that I encountered along my way:
- The Coastal Walk from Town Beach to Lighthouse Beach was a doozy through beaches for all kinds from surfing to fishing to dog-friendly to naked, with a rainforest canopy and a goanna sighting at a birthday party! The reward for hiking 10 kilometers across beaches and through rainforest paths: steps to the lighthouse!
On our final morning in “Port”, we shared Town Beach with our mothers, as we called them to wish them a Happy Mother’s Day. One last look:
It’s been two weeks since we have seen Hannah, and I am ready to invade her space again. We probably won’t take more than 3 days to get back to Melbourne; at least that is my hope.
It’s always a G’day Down Under,