On the day of the road trip we woke up early to finish sorting things out and to make sure we were on time for the car. As it turned out we were quite early, so we went to get the car and the sat-nav :) before picking Jo up from the train station. We then went back to the house to get all of our stuff into the car (including the tent that George and Dom had very kindly lent to us) and said goodbye to George and the kids. After leaving the house, the first thing we did was grab a 'stunner meal' from 'Hungry Jacks' (an Australian version of McDonald's). The stunner meal is amazing... you get a burger, fries, a slushy and a sundae for $4.95 (about £3!) - its unhealthy but its the only cheap thing in Australia! Lol. And it tastes good! After we had eaten, we set off very excitedly! We had previously booked ourselves on to a 'swimming with dolphins' trip in Forster for early the following morning so we headed straight there. After a 5hr drive we had a good shop around for somewhere 2 stay. After a lot of driving around we ended up staying at one of the 1st motels we checked out, but for a lower price than she had originally quoted! Mission but a winner as it was really nice! We put our bags in and went straight for dinner at a lovely Mexican restaurant called 'Aztec', Kieran didn't like it much and whinged a lot but me and Jo thought it was good! After dinner we wanted to get a few more drinks before going back to the motel but despite out best efforts there wasn't an open drinking place ANYWHERE and it was only 10pm! It was probably for the best anyway though because we had to be on the boat at 6.45am the next morning!
The following day it wasn't too hard to get up because we were all well excited! When we got to the boat we all had to put on our life jackets as we went out to sea. After about 15minutes we spotted the seagulls circling one specific area, which we had previously been informed meant that there were dolphins there - the dolphins swim with the fish which attract the birds, making it pretty easy to know the dolphins whereabouts! Sure enough about a minute later we spotted them swimming towards us! As we were watching them we were told to sit down while the lady gave us some very specific instructions; when we were in the water we were supposed to hold onto the rope while making a high-pitched squeaking noise to attract the dolphins attention and then continue making the noise to encourage them to play. There was a man on the boat with us from Austria who had been out twice in the past few days to this trip and not seen any dolphins, for this reason, the captain said that he could go into the water first. However, when he entered the water he didn't make any noise! The lady giving this instruction continuously reiterated the importance of doing this, saying that if we didn't the dolphins would loose interest very quickly and leave! Which they did! It was a pain but the Austrian guy seemed really nice and felt bad, when he came out of the water he said 'it's not so easy' in a proper Arnie accent, which was hilarious and has been something we mimic on a fairly regular basis :) Also, in his defence we think it must have been the language barrier that made him get it so wrong, but he did spoil it for us all! And we only got half our money back which was a bit gay, but never-mind eh?
After we finished on the boat we went to get a much needed McDonalds and continued on to Coffs Harbour. After another looong shop-around for a place to stay we settled on a really nice cabin and went for dinner at a pub we'd spotted called the 'plantation' that did 2-4-1's! Yummy - Turkish bread and dips!! Because we're all basically alcoholics and we hadn't been able to get a drink the night before, we ended up staying in there drinking till we got chucked out at closing time! Lol.
We woke up early the next morning and decided to have a productive day, so we went on a drive to a national park called Waterfall Way. The dive there and through it was incredible, the roads were so windy which was so fun and the views were beautiful! We followed the map towards an area called Dangar Falls but somehow ended up at a point where we couldn't drive any further and we were surrounded by cows! They were crazy, and just continuously mooed right at us with far too much conviction, so after a few cow pic's we got on our way. On our way back we randomly found Dangar Falls and it was stunning! We also stopped in a really strange little village in the national park called Dorrigo and went for a coffee in the worlds smallest motorcycle museum - weird! After that it started raining really heavily so we headed home.
That night we decided to just have a drink in the cabin and play a few card games. In Oz they sell really cheap wine in big boxes and call it 'goon' and its basically how travellers still manage to get wasted regardless of Australia's extortionate prices! So, we got ourselves 5litres of goon for $13 (about £8) between the three of us and genuinely thought that it would last us a couple of nights! Needless to say, it didn't. :) We played a good few games of poker though before the night got too messy! And, as a perfect reflection of the night before, when we left the cabin the following morning we saw a half full glass of wine on the roof of the car! Ha!
After checking out (about an hour late) we made our way to Byron Bay. This was the furthest point of the east coast that we were travelling to, and the place we were most excited about as we had been told that it was awesome...and it was! It was however, also ridiculously expensive. We ended up camping ($70 per night!). We hadn't camped up to this point because the difference in price hadn't been significant enough to justify putting a tent up for one or two nights and squashing three of us into it - but, now there was no choice! While putting up the tent we quickly realised that it was going to be far too small for all three of us to sleep in, so Ki said that he'd sleep in the car - bless him :) We were knackered from the journey and very hungover so we decided just to go for pizza and to see a film at the cinema, which Jo fell asleep in :) lol.
The following day we went to the beautiful beach that was literally a two minute walk from our tent, the waves were massive, we played lots of games in the sea and generally had a lovely time. Afterwards, we headed for the lighthouse which had been recommended to us by a few people as it was supposed to have amazing views. On the way up there we were talking about hand-gliding and I was saying that I'd really like to do it. Then, by complete coincidence as we were parking the car we spotted a man with a hand-gliding instructor t-shirt! So, we went to ask him how much it was and stuff and he said we could do it now if we wanted to! The only problem was that there were only two instructors, but Jo said that she wasn't too bothered so me and Ki went ahead and Jo waited for us on the beach. Hand-gliding was well cool! It wasn't massively adrenaline filled like skydiving or anything (except that you really do have to literally jump of a cliff!) but it was really good. It was soo relaxing to just glide and take in the incredible views! And from such a height - we peaked at 700ft! And my instructor let me fly it for a good 5minutes! Cool!
That night we figured it was about time we had a proper night out! So, after the yummiest kebab EVER! We 'hit the town'. :) The first few places we went to were a bit annoying because they were full of lots of really young people and we felt pretty old, so we headed to a proper pub called 'The Great Northern'. After a few bevies, and meeting a hilarious but rather strange man named Scott, we were definitely in the mood and moved on to a pretty cool club where we spent the next 5/6hrs!
As to be expected after a mental night, we were all very hungover! Kieran was comatosed (even though he had already had a nap in the middle of our night out - in a flowerpot!) so Jo and I took down the tent and packed the car away and then we all left and made our way to Nimbin! Nimbin is a crazy little village about 60km inland from Byron, that is seriously stuck in the 60's! Everyone there is stoned out of their tree! The place completely relies on the sale of weed and weed merchandise - it was so surreal and we all felt a little stoned just being there! After a very beneficial herbal hangover shot we decided to call it a day and make our way back towards Sydney. We stopped for the night at a place called Port Maquarie, got a cabin, went for a Chinese and chilled out watching the Fugitive - sweet.
The next day while we were driving, we spotted a koala hospital and decided to stop. We were hoping that we would be able to hold or stroke one, but quickly saw that there was not much chance of that as they were all asleep! Mainly because koalas spend around 20hrs per day asleep! But also because they were all sick, so they slept almost 24hrs! The four most common reasons that the koalas were there were: road accidents, dog attacks, falling out of the trees and bush fires. We had a quick look around and learnt a lot about the koalas and their injuries before getting back in the car and trying to find out where we could see some awake koalas. We found a place not too far away called 'The Koala and Wildlife Park' which was mint! The interaction with the animals was incredible! We were stroking the koalas (its illegal for the public to hold koala bears in NSW as too much human interaction stresses them out) and hand feeding the kangaroos - see the pics. With the kangaroos it was soo cool because we were the only people in the enclosure and they just hopped around us and let us pet and feed them! They also had lots of other interesting Australian animals like dingo's and big scary snakes!
Our next stop was Newcastle, the biggest coal mining city in the world! Despite its impressive reputation in terms of coal, it really wasn't much to be proud of, it was just a typical industrial town and it was probably rougher than Newcastle in the UK - which is saying something! Lol. After looking at all the massive machinery we just went for dinner and a drink, played some pool and then went back to the motel.
In the morning we began our final drive back to Sydney. :( All was going well until, after about half an hour, we were pulled over by the police for speeding! The officer was very nice, but also obviously took his job very seriously so we didn't even bother trying to get out of it. As he took Kieran's licence though, he dropped it! It went flying into the highway - right in the middle! Luckily for him though the wind blew it back to the side we were on, and he ran and got it - which was still pretty dangerous! Anyway, so we got a fine for $211 which was a wounder because it put a little bit of a dampener on the fantastic week that we had just had, but we didn't let it get us down for too long, it was only money and there was nothing we could do about it anyway so we just paid it and forgot about it! :)