Our first port of call on our mammoth east coast road trip was Byron Bay, fairly close to the Queensland border. It is a small town, but very popular with travellers, surfers, hippies and the eternal backpacker (usually with a name like Vaughn, and really properly should know better!). It was so busy, in fact we sat in traffic to reach the beach and the campsite near by, only to discover it was already full. Luckily, we had spotted another campsite on the drive in, so we returned the 3km out of town and set up camp there instead. Now usually the town would be doused with long hours of sunshine and indeed the afternoon we arrived it was, but the next two days we were there, unfortunately we spent the whole time hoping the sun would break through the ever present cloud cover. Instead of sunbathing on the beach, we managed a short walk along it instead! Even without the sunshine, the beach and sea were packed out with surfers looking for 'that wave'. It was in Byron that we managed to get the remainder of our short schedule in Oz booked up, with trips to Fraser Island and the Whitsundays sorted!
A short drive over the border and we came to Brisbane. As we still wanted to be camping, we arranged to stay just outside the city at an amazingly clean and new campsite. It certainly was a breath of fresh air to walk into the shower block and actually want to take a shower in there! We headed straight to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the biggest and first koala sanctuary in the world, where we managed to take even more photos of immensely cute koalas! They have 130 resident koalas here, including some of the oldest ones in the world. For a little extra you can cuddle a koala and have your photos holding them, of course, as we now seem obsessed by the cuddly critters, we did so and held, cuddled and stroked 'Serenity', a young adult female koala. We also got to hand feed some of the tame kangaroos that live in the sanctuary.
Two and a half hours north of Brisbane, is Noosa, an upmarket beach resort. The main street is lined with al fresco eateries and swanky bars. Many of the beautiful homes have their own jetties, with an equally beautiful yacht parked up! The town is right on the river as well as the coast, so there are plenty of water activities here. We camped just out of town, in a camp site filled with tents the sizes of houses, which also had boats parked out in front. Our little 2 man tent was dwarfed!! Finally, while we were here we got some real Aussie summer weather - at last! We made the most of it and headed to the beach! We also managed to squeeze in a walk round the National Park, which incorporated many small coves and hidden beaches that were havens for the serious surfers. It was in Noosa that we did our obligatory stop off in an Irish bar; it is still being debated whether James was the only Irish person in there!