For the final leg of the east coast we decided to get a campervan to travel the roughly 1000km over 2 weeks. After a bit of a drama getting the van, (we went with the cheapest company, therefore the office was in the most remote part of Brisbane!!) We went and got the food shopping in for the 2 weeks (our favourite thing to do!!). We also got 6 bottles of good Australian wine to start off with, well we have to make the most of it while we're over here! The 1st night we couldn't get the gas to work, so our great plan of hot chocolate before bed to keep us warm didn't go so well! But it was ok as the van turned out to be pretty cosy, and once all of the curtains were closed, we ended up loving our cave-like bed! The 1st night we parked up at a lookout where you could see the whole of Brisbane, so waking up with that view was great! We spent a couple of days in Brisbane, and met up with Em's A-level textiles teacher who is actually from Australia which was really nice. We then set off for Surfers Paradise, which we assumed would be a little beach town with goodlooking surfer dudes everywhere! But unfortuntely it turned out to be a strip of hotels along a long stretch of ok beach. Maybe in the summer it would have a better atmosphere?! We ended up going to the theme parks there, one normal one and one water park, and had a great 2 days! As it was low season there was nobody there, so no queues for the rides, and we got 2 days of tickets for 30pounds, fab! We also got to have our 1st showers of the journey which was a bonus!! We passed the evenings by cooking nice meals as we finally got the gas hob working! It's winter now in Australia, so temperatures are around 15-20 degrees (nice!), sunny, but it gets dark at about 430! So cooking nice meals was a good way to not spend too much money on eating out. We cooked ling stir fry (a popular white fish here) Thai beef curry (all ingredients bought from a local market!) a few greek mezze's, and a mixed grill. The other nights we had beans on toast and sandwiches! Next stop was Byron Bay, which we loved. It was the little surfers village that we were looking for, and we spent 2 nights there. They weren't very campervan friendly though, as we got woken up both nights at 4am being told to move on! These were the only times during the 2 weeks that this happened, you are supposed to park at actual sites and pay around 10pounds per night, but most people don't, it takes the fun out of it! And the cheapness! The beach at Byron was lovely, and we managed to sunbathe for a morning as the sun was nice and hot for us! Coffs Harbour was the next stop, where we snuck into a hostel with our washbags to have showers! It felt like we were on a secret mission, which I guess we were!! It absolutely poured down that day, so we spent the day at the cinema. We paid for the 1st film, then crept into 2 other films afterwards! We got our 15 pounds worth anyway! James got a precious fry up in the morning and a random carpark market, for 3pounds which was music to his ears!! We then drove to Port Macquarie, where we walked up a long promenade, probably around half a mile, where people had 'claimed' a rock and painted their mark on it (see pics!). It took forever to walk up and read them all, but it was such a nice idea. When working at the restaurant, a customer suggested to Em that they must go to a place called 'Seal Rocks', so we made that our next stop. We're so glad we did, as it is the most unspoilt part of the coast where you can camp and feel like there is no one else in the world. As we were driving there though, it had gotten dark and driving through the woods was pretty scary! Then to top it off, Micheal Jackson's 'Thriller' song came on the radio! We spent a few days around the Myall Lakes region, which was beautiful. As there were a lot of quiet back roads James had a go at driving (check out the video!) which was strange but highly comical! Then on the way to the Blue Mountains, we got a call from Aoife and Mark who we worked with to say they were going to the Hunter Valley Wine region for the night, so we took a detour and spent the night with them! We had already done the wine tours with Katy and Ed when they were with us, so we just drank (mostly beer!) and went out for a meal. Was great to catch up with them! When we eventually made it to the Blue Mountains, the mist was so bad we couldn't see our hands in front of our faces! As it was still early, we decided to park up and wait till the afternoon to see if it cleared. While we were happily playing scrabble, there was a horrible clicking sound, and we realised it was the battery. Em had forgotten to turn the lights off!! James wasn't happy to say the least, and Em spent the next hour running around the car park asking people for jump leads! Eventually someone had them, and we went off back to Sydney before anything else went wrong!!
We loved having the campervan and the freedom it gave us to see places that most tourists don't see, definitely recommend it! Now we are back in sydney for the weekend, catching up with everyone and saying our goodbyes before we finally had off to Thailand on Monday!