Welcome to Part 2 of the Ultimate Road Trip Australia! In this post I will be covering Sydney to Noosa (map included at the end). I wrote about Melbourne to Sydney in Part 1 which can be found Here.
Day 5 – Blue Mountains National Park – Sydney – Newcastle
Day 5 was really a day that we had all been looking forward to. I love beautiful and lively cities, I love the ocean and I love beaches – and Sydney ticks all the boxes. To me personally, it left a much better impression than its long-term rival Melbourne. Maybe it was because of the weather (Sydney was a lot warmer and sunnier), maybe because of other things but it just seem to have a really good, relaxed vibe.
We visited the botanical gardens from which the opera house could be seen, we had a walk around the city and went to the Hyde park and St Mary’s Cathedral. It is a shame we could only afford to spend one day in Sydney as it really felt like a place worth exploring.
In the evening we drove further North and stayed in a campsite in the middle of the woods. It was a very windy night, but morning was calm, misty and really beautiful.
Day 6 – Newcastle – Port Macquarie – Willi Willi National Park
As usual, we woke up at 6am in the morning to make sure we don’t waste the precious daylight (it get dark at 7-8pm here!). Our next stop was Port Macquarie. Port Macquarie is a coastal town where we spent a good part of the day enjoying the beach and Town Beach Park.
Our phones and power banks started running low so we convinced a guy in a local gym to let us charge our batteries for a couple of hours. Because Instagram ain’t gonna update itself.
The rest of the day we spent driving to one of the most memorable and amazing free campsites we’ve been to. And it was a long drive – highways, country roads and the last 20km on dirt tracks going through the woods. Despite all that, it was really worth it. We settled right on the bank of the river where we could swim and enjoy traditional Lithuanian liquor called Midus.
Day 7 – Willi Willi – South West Rocks – Whiporie
Another early wake up and we were on our way to South West Rocks which is another coastal town. The beach there was first class. It was surrounded by rocks and there were very few people around (and many kangaroos and wallabies!).
After the relaxing day at the beach we drove to Whiporie where we spent the night. It was unusual in the way that the campsite was just a fenced, grassy area by a petrol station. Not the most romantic site, but it was free so I can’t complain too much.
On the same topic, we found that camping in Australia is not only popular, but also a lot more affordable than staying in motels or hotels. Many campsites are free (state forests, some private lands) and those that are not free only cost A$ 6-10 per person per night.
Day 8 – Whiporie – Ballina – Byron Bay – Wooyung
Ballina ended up being a bit of a failure because we intended on going for a hike and visiting a local ships museum. We ended up leaving the town after 10 minutes, because we just could not be bothered to do anything that morning.
Instead we got ourselves back on the road towards the famous Byron Bay. Our co-traveller Aine had been talking about Byron Bay since the beginning of the trip so we had set our expectations high. The town and the beach was really nice but quite crowded so after spending a day “beaching around” we decided to make a move again.
Wooyung (I am not sure it can even be called a town) was where we spent the night. We found a paid campsite for which we ended up not paying because, as the note on the closed reception stated “the manager was tending the gardens”.
Day 9 – Wooyung – Gold Coast – Brisbane – Sunshine Coast
We started the day by stopping for a few hours in the Gold Coast where we enjoyed a stroll along the beach. By this time my heart was literally crying because we visited so many beaches and I still have not had a chance to surf (Gold Coast was awesome by the way). We decided to start looking for a board on Gumtree to make sure we address this and luckily found one for sale for a reasonable A$ 100 in Brisbane which was our next stop.
After picking up the board we travelled to Sunshine Coast where we slept in the most dodgy campsite ever which smelt like toilets. It was crowded, the road was close so it was loud too. I got bitten by a spider which in Australia is almost always bad news, but luckily it was just a scratch and I did not need medical attention.
Day 10 – Sunshine Coast – Noosa
Day 10 was a day when we all hoped a miracle would happen. And no, that’s not because of the spider bite. Basically, we had to find a place to stay which would be 1. Free or cheap 2. Close to town and shops 3. Close to the beach. So far all of the campsites we stayed in were definitely not close to the beach and definitely not close to towns or shops.
To make matters worse we had to return the car in one day and had no intentions on renting another one until the new year (which meant we had to stay somewhere for 12 nights without a car which in Australia is a challenge) because of high festive season costs.
I think at that time we had all realized we had been winging this trip for too long. We were starting to lose faith when some campsites told us they were fully booked until January, but we found this one site called Noosa Sea Scouts which had some availability until Christmas.
We decided Noosa Sea Scouts was our best opportunity, because it actually met all of our requirements. Upon arrival we were met by Col, a local chap who was really understanding of our situation. We also negotiated a good price which was a nice bonus.
We were put in a quiet corner of the campsite and told we can stay for as long as we want. The miracle we had hoped for was happening in front of our eyes. To top it all off, Col told us that buses in Noosa were free during Christmas and New Year period which meant unlimited free trips to a variety of shops and beaches.
And that’s how we got to Noosa – our new home for the next 12 days.
PS. It’s the 1st of January, 2019 today, so we are packing our bags and are actually leaving Noosa tomorrow. We all had a cracking time here – we made the best we could out of Christmas without our families, spent a lot of time in the beach and surfed a lot, had a New Years Eve piknick by the river, watched the fireworks and so on. More about it and our road trip in Part 3!
Oh and don’t forget to check Bernard’s 2nd video which corresponds to the places covered in this post.