Coast to Coast in Shelly the 4x4
It was time to move on and continue our travels. We were so lucky to have great jobs, made so many new friends and survived the Queensland heat/humidity.
It was time for the BIG AUSSIE ROAD TRIP (Jan 15th – Feb 23rd)
We took 5 days to drive down to Sydney to pick up the rest of our team. On the way we stopped by Byron Bay and stayed with friends. Then we went into the wet rainforest of Bellingen and Dorrigo National Park where we pulled leaches off our legs and explored the eerie rainforest.
We stopped at Coffs Harbour for the Big Banana (why else).
We escaped the rain at Boomarang Beach and Watang National Park.
We had a close call trying to drive along a sandy path to a beach but had help to get us turned around as our car would not have made it all the way! Last day was filled with gorgeous beaches at Munmorah National Park and made some friends with the local wallabies.
We get to Sydney where we stayed with Kevin's old friend and her fiance in the subburb of Collaroy for 3 nights. We spent 1 afternoon in the city where we checked out the contemporary art gallery and met up with Ariel's old uni friend Niki. We explored the beaches around Collaroy (Shelly & Manly) the next day and got to see a full rainbow over the harbour.
And then it was time to pick up the rest of our road trip buddies Marc and Ben and drove off into the Blue Mountains. We spent many evenings playing bocce, throwing our aerobees or playing cards and Catan.
In the mountains a wrong turn ended up giving us access to great views andthe boys explored a crepy abandoned asylum,
we walked amongst the 3 sisters and wandered the valley below.
We drove towards the coast next and ended up at a free camp site at Sunburnt Beach which ended up being our favourite free spot as the camping was 3min from the beach and rock pools served as tiny baths near the surf. Beautiful!
Then we went inland again to Kosciuszko National Park and spent 6hrs/22km taking the Summit Walk to the HIGHEST PEAK IN AUSTRALIA at 2240m and back via Charlottes Pass. Was awesome but incredibly windy.
We drove the long winding roads down and out of the park to Melbourne where we made it just in time for Aussie Day! We spent the next week at Ariel's old Uni friend's apartment. We mostly ubered into the city most days to explore the funky graffiti laneways, checked out the Vic Markets, listened to the music from the Laneway Festival across the river to hear and see a little of Tame Impala and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Saw celebrations for the Chinese New Year, more laneway artwork, found delicious sushi and funky tram-way rooftop bar in Collingwood. Met up with Ariel's friend and ate tasty food in Fitzroy, and ate dumplings with another.
Finished paperwork for tax-back and then took a few days to escape the city. We stopped over in St. Kilda beach town and camped just south-east of Philip Island. The boys went to see the penguins but got scared off by bus-loads of tourists and expensive entry fees.
Spent the next 2 nights at Wilson's Prom (another fav spot, but not free). Super lovely beaches and views from day hikes and saw 2 wombats! Spent a lot of time swimming and running around the beach.
Got back into the city so the boys could watch the Superbowl and Ariel explored the city. Then it was time to go West!
We entered the Great Ocean Road and stayed in the Otways National Park. We ate the most savoury fresh seafood pie at Apollo Bay and found Koala's in the tree's and glow worms at Melba Gully. Spent a fully day looking at funny rocks at the 12 Apostles, London Bridge, The Grotto and the Gorge.
Spent a day at Warrnambool where we were underwhelmed by the Cheese museum and the boys tried fishing while a giant ray and a seal chased off the good ones.
We stopped to look at Umpherston's Sinkhole and the Blue Lake of Mt. Gambier before we got into sunny Adelaide and stayed at Sunny's Hostel.
Met up with another Uni friend of Ariel's and explored a few bars and made skewers from the market. Ran errands and had dinner with Family Friends. Explored the Art Gallery and the State Library. Attempted to plan a trip to Kangaroo Island but didn't work out with our limited time, sold out ferries and bloody expensive tickets!
Made sure the car could get us to Perth (were lucky it was only some minor tweaks she needed) and then it was time to cross the great nothingness of the Great Bight. We got to our windy but sunny campsite near the water at Point Lowly where we had clear waters to swim and encountered our first, and only massive Red kangaroo...and lots of flies!
Next stop was near Ceduna at Whitlebea campsite along seaside cliffs. Ceduna was the jumping point for the great divide between civilization and the start of the Nullarbor Links which is the World's Longest golf course and follows the Nullarbor highway.
We spent the next 4days/5 nights stopping along the highway so the boys could whack golf balls into the bush (not the highest quality golf course) and driving long, straight roads through the bush. We stopped to look over limestone cliffs, check out wild camels, and lonesome gas stations. We got eye-balled by huge eagles chowing on dead roo's, laughed at running emu's, checked out an abandoned telegraph station and spent long hours listening to tunes and trying to stay cool. One of the weirdest spots was the roadside cafe site of the NASA Skylab (satellite) crash. The county police jokingly fined NASA $400 for littering.
We arrived in Esperence and stayed the night before heading slightly Eastward to the Cape Le Grande National Park and stayed at the gorgeous beach of Lucky Bay. We swam, pet kangaroos, whacked the surviving golf balls off a viewpoint and tried to avoid getting soaked in the lightning storm.
We had wanted to drive along the coast all the way up to Perth and check out the wine region but major flooding had taken out 3 bridges and the alternative routes were a bit too long for our weary bodies. We backtracked through Norseman and cut back through Southern Cross and enjoyed our last river-side campsite where we saw roos and an old farm house made by convicts.
We rolled into sunny/hot Perth (bit of a change since our first visit) and checked back into the Hive. Not much had changed except more things had broken without repair and we discovered that Ariel's passport had received water damage and her photo was mucked...not good. We took one day off to explore the Quakka island of Rottnest and biked along the whole thing. Oodles of beaches and seeing cute quakka's was a great way to end our long journey!