We like road trips and wanted to avoid a domestic flight, so we have a little over a week to get from Blue Mountains to Brisbane. 1000 km. No more than 3 hours driving a day. And so much to see and do!
Surfest on Merewether Beach, Newcastle: an annual surfing competition, apparently quite big. First time to visit one, and we immediately loved it. Drinks, shopping, food, music and many flip flopped spectators just sitting around in a shade. Time to time we glanced to see the surfers, rather out of curiosity than true interest in their performance. It was quite far in the water, plus we wouldn’t even know how to judge who is winning.
Saturday evening in Port Macquarie: a little town, with a very nice bay surrounded by parks. We got here just in time to blend in with locals for their Saturday evening fun. A lonely singer with a guitar playing mellow covers and a full park of happy people just sitting around enjoying the sunset (and stuffing themselves with whatever comes on paper plates from surrounding food stalls). Baby was excited, so many kids to chase around, so many people to bump into. What he loved the most was the skatepark. He was hypnotized by the tricks that little Aussies can do, and to be honest, so were we.
Billabong Zoo in Coffs Harbour: when it rains, go to the zoo. We were probably the first and what seems the only visitors on a stormy Sunday morning. It was excellent, except they would not let us hold a koala, just lightly pat it. Our argument that we are experienced baby holders did not convince them. When we got into the kangaroo and wallaby section, we were puzzled with a loosely secured door and a path through their territory. Ehm. As we are about to enter, thirty jumping creatures start to move our direction. We back up, sending Daddy to double check if this is really meant to be a free walking area. He comes back with two packs of feed and an expectant grin. First and only visitors that morning means there are thirty hungry jumping animals. It gets pretty scary. Even Baby had fear in his eyes (might have been from Mummy holding him so tight).
Rainy Byron Bay: all is true about this well known little village: amazing beaches, hipster atmosphere, and great food. Shame we didn’t get to enjoy it. We are grateful for one sunny hour for us to walk around Cape Byron and Australia’s most easterly point, but the heavy rain caught up soon. On the upside, we know it’s worth coming back. If not for the spas and yogas, then for a morning swim with dolphins.
Blackbutt Reserve: natural reserve just outside Newcastle. It has some koalas, parrots, kangaroos, and other animals. Don’t miss the koala feeding time at 2pm. And the best part, you only pay couple bucks for parking, the rest is free. Great spot for kids to run around!
Dorrigo Scenic Lookout: national park on the way to Byron Bay, accessed from a road call Waterfall Way from Bellingen. Steep and winding drive, but the views are great. Plus you can do a short walk in the area if you want. Worth a detour!
Stockton Sand Dunes: a short drive from Newcastle on the way to Port Macquarie, a large sand dune with safaris, 4WD tours, and camels. Worth to at least have a look at this huge stretch of sand. It’s a bit hard to find, but don’t give up. One Mile Beach is close by, a good place to chill out on, and there is a decent little restaurant.