Driving from Sydney to Brisbane
9.28.14 - 10.5.14 80 °F
I landed in Australia on September 27th after my overnight flight from Bangkok. Kiera picked me up at the airport and brought me back to her and Andrew's house in Neutral Bay, a suburb of Sydney. A short walk from their house gave me an excellent view of the the Sydney skyline, including the opera house.
The next morning, I woke up early to take the train back to the airport to meet Allen, who will be traveling with me for the remainder of my trip through Australia and New Zealand. I was pretty late, but we eventually met later that morning. We spent the next two days planning for our Australia segment of the journey.
We left Kiera’s house on the morning of Tuesday, September 30 to begin our journey north. After picking up our car, a white (of course) Ford XR 6 we went to find a tent to sleep in.
We found a pretty nice three person tent on sale. It was a little expensive, but we figured if we slept in in the majority of the trip, the money we would save by not staying in hotels or hostels would make it worth it.
We left Sydney in the early afternoon and headed towards our first destination, Seal Rocks. On the way, we stopped at a grocery store to get some food for the next few days. Unfortunately, we spent a lot more time in the store than we would have liked and by the time we left the store, it was dark. We set the GPS for Port Stephens, a town just south of Seal Rocks and made it there around 11 pm. Not wanting to set up the tent in the dark for the first time, we decided to sleep in the car that night. Our GPS brought us to a park near the water, so we parked the car and slept there.
The next morning, we were greeted to a pretty fantastic view. Several sailboats were anchored in the bay nearby and as we walked along the shore (stretching our legs after a stiff night in the car), several dolphins swam by, less than 50 feet from shore.
Later that day we made it to Seal Rocks, a very small beach village with two amazing beaches. We had lunch at one of them and hiked along the rocks by the shore.
We drove a few more hours to Port Macquarie to find a place to camp that night. Unfortunately, Port Macquarie doesn’t allow camping on the beaches, so we drove 15-20 minutes south of the city before we stumbled onto a more secluded beach. By that time it was almost dark, but we set up that tent (mostly by headlamp). We were set up in some trees about 100 feet from the parking lot. There was a sign by the beach that said no camping so we were a little nervous at first, but another guy came a little later and set up a tent right next to the lot so it wasn’t too bad.
We awoke early the next morning after an unexpectedly cold night. I made the mistake of taking my socks off in my sleeping bag and Allen is a little more used to the warmth of Hawaii. It also didn’t help he was sick at the time. The view that morning made it ok, though. There were some people surfing and some other guys filming them. We sat and watched them while eating a breakfast consisting of a banana and granola.
The next stop was Dorrigo National Park about an hour west from the coast for a hike in the Australian rainforest. We did a 6.6 km loop trail under huge trees and past two cool waterfalls. There was a sky bridge over a section of the forest that gave a unique view of the surrounding area.
We backtracked after that back to the coast and turned north to Coff’s Harbor, where we spent the next night. This time we didn’t search for a place close to the town, instead we went to another beach near the edge of town and found a nice mown field just off the beach. It was sheltered from the wind and it wasn’t visible from the parking lot so we didn’t have to worry too much about the police discovering us if camping was forbidden. It was pretty dark there, so it was a decent place to take some night photos.
Up next was a long day of driving to Brisbane. We had planned on camping near Surfer’s Paradise, but it was a little more developed than we expected. We couldn’t find a quiet enough beach or park to camp in, so we spent some money on a hostel. After the previous three nights, this was a welcome change. A soft bed, hot shower and wifi, it was a good place to reset. The next morning we drove a few minutes outside the city to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to see some koalas, kangaroos and other animals. The highlight for me was the birds of prey show, which had several types of owls and a peregrine falcon. There was one owl that seemed to fly only a few inches over the heads of the people in the audience.
That afternoon, we walked along the South Bank Parkland in the city. It’s a very nice area of the city, with lots of restaurants and an open air market on weekends. There is also a great view of the Brisbane skyline.
We spent one more night in Brisbane and began the 900+ kilometer journey south this morning. I’m sitting in the restaurant of the Macadamia Castle, a farm with some tourist things (mini golf, petting zoo, etc). We came here for the pancakes and they are the best I’ve had in the past three months. I’ll have another update when we get back to Sydney on October 10.