A few years ago now myself and two friends made the 3 week journey in a camper van down the east coast of Australia. It was beautiful, fun, stressful, tiring, exciting and an experience that I will never forget.
Starting off in Cairns (the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef), we drove down to Mission Beach on our first night and found a place to park up right next to the beach. Palm trees beside us, drink in hand, food on the go and an unbelievable view was the perfect way to start our trip. From there on in not every night gave the most breathtaking location to stay…
Many nights were spent parked up in residential streets to save money, not quite what we had dreamt of when planning the trip! But it is all worth it when you visit the Whitsunday islands like we did soon after Cairns and then onto Fraser Island. It was my birthday when we went out onto the Whitsundays and Whitehaven beach, and I now don’t think my 19th birthday will ever be topped! Swimming with stingrays and turtles and meeting some great new friends was the perfect couple of nights.
Before meeting family friends in Brisbane we stopped off at Steve Irwins ‘Australia Zoo’. Steve was my hero when I was growing up and to see his daughter doing the live crocodile show was quite extraordinary!
I have to say as well, if you happen to know relatives or friends in Australia then definitely pester them to take you surfing or swimming down at the local beach. We felt like true Aussies falling off our boards every minute and struggling with the strong wave fetch…but boy was it an amazing experience.
Our last few stops before Sydney were down at Byron Bay to meet a friend we had met in Thailand. This really is one of the best aspects of travelling (everyone says that because its true!) and the people you meet along the way make all the difference to the fun you’ll have. It’s so easy these days to stay in contact with people and it was great to see him again and share our stories since we had last seen him.
The Blue Mountains was our next major destination before we were to roll into Sydney…
I always thought the Blue Mountains looked pretty cool, but I was not expecting to have that dreadful cliche of my ‘jaw dropping’ when I saw them with my own eyes. Imagine the Grand Canyon, but with jungle in the Valleys and you have the Blue Mountains National Park.
They are so close to Sydney yet not as many backpackers go there as they perhaps should and, having the camper, we had the benefit of staying a few nights. However, do not drive too fast down the mountain roads…I had the misfortune of stylishly sliding our van into a ditch on the descent of a road! The police of course were very helpful (and mocking) with their tow. Bit of advice if that does happen – when you hand the camper back in and the guy does a relaxed check over sign the papers ASAP and leg it …like we did! No costs to pay! PHEW.
So on our 3 week journey we had snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef, sailed the Whitsundays, camped on Fraser Island, surfed and swum Aussie style on the Gold Coast, met up with old travelling mates, hiked the Blue Mountains, crashed on the side of said mountain and oh, saw some of the most beautiful scenery and met the most welcoming and fun locals you can imagine.
Not a bad 3 weeks in Australia really.