21.01.2008 - We've been on the road for three weeks now, only spent four nights in campsites, as can been seen from the numerous 'car park campsite' pics and have seen some truly awesome things!!! There are many stories to be told, far too many to write on here so we'll try to give you and brief and informative summary of the road trip so far....
Sydney - First couple of nights we didn't get very far....we went to the blue mountains followed by Manly beach. As we didn't get much chance to do touristy things whilst working in Sydney we thought we'd better cover them now. We went to see the Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains, which legend has it are actually three human sisters who were turned to stone many years ago by a wizard whilst they waited for their true loves to return from somewhere, but the wizard died before he got chance to turn the sisters back?! We weren't totally convinced, nice story though! Check out the pictures and see what you think.
Port Macquarie - Lovely little town, gorgeous beaches, but not an awful lot going on. Stayed at our first campsite here, which had shaded camping areas - essential when your sleeping in the Pacman, we are usually wide awake in a pool of sweat by 7.30, so every bit of shade is well received. The afternoon was spent sitting beside the pool, relaxing in the sunshine and drinking vodka...which before we knew it the bottle was almost empty and Kate was feeling very poorly. As she spent the evening lying with her head hanging out of the van Ed went on to meet Matt and Mick from Australia, Carl and Hannah from England and Beth from Wales - we have pretty much traveled up the coast with these guys now and have become the "Camper Crew'!
Coffs Harbour - We arrived in Coffs to miserable weather, and ended up staying in the van and having tea and sleeping by the sea. We awoke to a lovely day, with the sun shining, and realised that the camper that had parked up next to us, (must of been in the middle of the night), was in fact Matt and Mick!! We all had breakfast sat next to the ocean before all going for an early morning dip to try and catch some waves on the body boards - what a way to start the day!! After a shower on the beach, shampoo, shower gel and all, (much to the amusement of the passing locals, who only seem to use the showers to wash the sand from their surfboards), we hit the road to be in Byron Bay to celebrate Ozzy day.
Byron Bay - Arrived on Australia Day and hooked up with the rest of the 'Camper Crew' - who Kate met for the first time as had little recollection of Port Macquarie, and also Holly and Gemma from England...celebrated the day in style with campsite drinking followed by a heavy night in Byron Bay and all finished off with kebabs, (although Ed couldn't quite believe that the Kebab shop didn't serve chips) and drinks back at camp. Camp being the roadside by the beach which we were all rudely awoken and moved on from by the traffic warden at 6am - although he did say if we'd had a lot of 'grog' the night before to take ourselves for a ten minute walk along the beach before moving the vans...
We certainly didn't stand out in our Pacman van in Byron - the place is like a camper van depot - they are everywhere. Byron is quite a small town, very laid back, and seems to be full of backpackers all enjoying the sun and surf throughout the day, then the partying at night, in the many bustling bars and restaurants.
Byron Bay was the first place that we had ever experienced 'squeaky sand'! We were quite baffled by the fact that when you were walking on the beach, and shuffling your feet along through the sand, it made high pitched squeaks!! Totally random we thought, but maybe we just haven't visited enough beaches around the world to have known this!!
Ed had his first go at surfing and managed to get up on his knees before being 'dumped' off the board, sent into a massive spin by the wave that engulfed him, and ended up looking like a drowned rat!! Kate gave it a miss, the surf was so rough you could just be in up to you waist and a massive wave would come and completely wipe you out throwing you up and over - you felt like you were in a washing machine!
Next couple of nights we held 'truckstop parties', named simply because of the fact that we headed out of Byron at night, to a local truckstop, where we knew we could spend the night in the middle of no-where, and not be rudely awoken in the morning by traffic wardens!! We all chipped into a kitty, bought loads of food and beer and had a few feasts and beers as we sang the night away with guitars, a didgeridoo, and a homemade lager-fone - very entertaining!!
We had no problems here, as we could make as much noise as we wanted, and didn't disturb anyone. We were ourselves only disturbed once, by a crazy old man in a camper van, introducing himself as 'Jeff the Chef' trying to sell us the 'best space cakes in Byron Bay' - no thanks Jeff - see ya!!
Upon leaving Byron we lost Matt and Mick as they had to go home and are now just a 'Camper Crew' of Pommies!!
Nimbin - Is by far the craziest place we have ever been! Apparently a Hippie festival was held in this remote place in the sixties and some of them just never went home. It is literally only one street long containing weird shops and cafes and before you even get chance to park your car you have what can only be described as 'freaks' shouting through you window trying to sell you drugs! All the shops sell drugs and bongs, the 'museum' is someones house with a kitchen in the back where a Rastafarian man is baking 'special' cookies to sell to visitors at five bucks a piece!!
A couple of hours in this place was more than enough and we continued up the coast...
Tweed Heads - Arriving at Tweed Heads is beyond strange as its on the border of New South Wales and Queensland which have an hours time difference!! So Ed could be stood on one side of the road in NSW and it would be 7pm, but it's only 6pm on the other side of the road for Kate who's in QLD! Most bizarre! We had to collar a local woman to find out how that works and she said they get two New Years Eves, when the pubs call last orders on NSW they just walk across the road for another hour of drinking time in QLD!!
Tweed Heads was lovely, quite touristy with plenty of apartment blocks and shops. Managed to find a carpark we could sleep in by the gorgeous beach, with barbeque, toilet and shower facilities - and you don't really need anything else. As long as you've got that sea breeze we're happy - the further up we go the more unbearable the heat is becoming!
Surfers Paradise - This was another big city with plenty of shops, bars, restaurants and a host of things to do. It was built right by the beach, so instead of being the usual boring city, it was more like a 'seaside town' city (if that makes sense) really nice and a great place to stay. The best thing about Surfers had to be the fact there are four theme and water parks within 20 minutes drive of the city - so we obviously had to visit these with the rest of the 'Camper Crew' we got a 'two worlds in one day pass' which allowed us into Dreamworld theme park and Water World. Had an awesome time and after an entire day of rollercoasters and waterslides we really didn't want to leave.
Brisbane - Only spent a couple of hours in Brisbane as it was just another city, nothing too interesting to see and at almost $10 an hour for parking it just wasn't worth it. Decided to make a break from the city and head for some creature comforts at Matt and Micks house - they did insist we must go stay with them, but don't think they realised once we all got there we really didn't want to leave.
Ipswich - Matt and Micks house was AWEOSME! Bigger than most of our parents houses (but these Ozzies do have a lot of land to play with) they had all the creature comforts we had been missing, such as a bed, a shower, a washing machine, the ability to cook food and a fridge to keep the beers cold not to mention the little luxuries such as a tv and the internet!
We ended up staying for three nights and had a fantastic time - Cheers guys!! The offer still stands for you to come stay with us in England, but seriously don't bother, we'll see you Bali!
Australia Zoo - Absolutely massive, and even though we spent the entire day there we still managed to miss stuff! Were seriously looking forward to seeing some alive kangaroos as before now all we've seen is three squashed ones by the side of the road. Roo Heaven was a massive park in the zoo where hundreds of kangaroos just chill out on the grass and let you feed and pet them - easily Kates favourite experience along with the koalas, whereas Eds was the croc show and tigers! All the staff are really friendly and animals are well looked after. Its just tinged by sadness with pictures and memorabilia of Steve everywhere and the tribute wall was very emotional. We still managed to have a fantastic day and would strongly recommend it to anyone as the best zoo we've been to by far!
Noosa - Peaceful town with posh shops and eateries, half a dozen picturesque beaches, a beautiful national park and hundreds of bush turkeys! We've stayed here for four nights in a car park next to the beach - you cant beat waking up to the sound of the heavy waves crashing on the sand and cool breeze from the sea. Have had a lovely few days chilling out, mainly in the van reading as there has been some horrendous storms over the past week - with thunder, lightening, and rain and hail coming down so hard you can barely see out of the window. This extreme weather has come as some what of a relief though as the sun was getting UNBEARABLY hot (sorry to those of you back home to be complaining about the sun, but us pommies just aren't made to live in such climates!)
Bush Turkeys are vermin, they are everywhere and will eat anything. We have seen them all the way up the coast, but it wasn't until Noosa we met the cheekiest one of all!! Sitting in the van quietly reading with the back open to allow the cool sea breeze in, Kate could here some rustling, she turned around but saw nothing. Then there came a bit more commotion, but still saw nothing. Next thing she hears is a guy calling out to her from the beach "hey love, your loosing your food out the back". Kate jumps out of the van to discover a bloody bush turkey in the back of the camper, neck deep in what precious food was in there!! Little w***s!
To anyone thats managed to read all that without dosing off, congratulations! It has taken us three sessions in internet cafes to complete this massive blog and we can assure you, wont be writing such a long one again! All that is left to say is we are having a bloody marvellous time on our road trip and are loving every minute!!