It’s road trip time. STA booked us with a company called Mighty Camper Vans which seemed super straight forward and easy however any further communication I had with them after the initial booking was a disaster! So a big part of me thought we were going to turn up and been handed the keys to a moped or something even more ridiculous as everything just seemed to get so lost in translation!
I know us driving a moped paints a funnier pictures for you guys but thankfully for us a beautiful looking ‘Highball’ campervan was waiting for us in the car park.
Let’s get the ball or highball campervan (if you will) rolling..
The plan was to drive from Sydney, along the coast to Melbourne then onto the Great Ocean Road, before cutting inland and heading back towards Melbourne.. Adalaides just that little bit too far if your, one, trying to travel on a budget and two, time is short!
So I’ve been told, one of the best road trips Australia has to offer is the coastal drive between Sydney and Melbourne. Not only do you take in Australia’s two largest cities, but the stretch of coast between the two is meant to be a stunning collection of forests, rivers, crystal clear lakes, wildlife, charming coastal towns and white unspoiled beaches.
It’s easy to see why we’ve chosen to travel this stretch of Australia isn’t it?
As I mentioned in my last post we were able to stay at my Cousin Keith’s house for a couple of days to indulge ourselves into Sydney life and get used to the camper. It was the perfect taster and it made us super excited for the next two weeks!
Before we knew it, it was time to pack away our drive way campsite and head out on the open road in search of our first destination Coledale. We hit the supermarket after our day of tanning to stock up our camper for the next few days ahead – then we were rolling.
We found Coledale Camping Reserve pretty easily and the drive out of the city was nice and smooth, us and Bruce are going to get on! It was dark by the time we got there but the campsite was right on the beach as all we could hear was the crashing of waves. What perfection! We were able to park right next to the sand and with the back of our campervan open we looked out onto the ocean – the location honestly couldn’t of been any better! We fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves and woke up to the sun streaming through the window, how can life get any better than that!? We cooked up a feast for breakfast which was possibly the shiniest cherry on my already over iced cake!
And this is just the beginning.. Australia – I love you already!
We drove through Lake Illawarra on our way to Kiama which was a huge disappointment. I was expecting a beautiful calm lake with restaurants lining boardwalks, people in the water and loads to do, what we actually got was a windy rough looking huge lake with nothing but houses lining the streets and not a single person in sight – what a shame!
We decided to move on after driving in circles for a while and headed to Kiama, a place famous for one thing in particular..
I have been here before in the middle of Australia’s winter so the town wasn’t at its best. This time I wanted to see what this place really had to offer and show Jen the main attraction! Kiama is a sleepy, seaside village. The kind of place you expect to see on the coastline of Wales or Ireland. But its main draw is the Blowhole!! Bet you’d of never guessed that, it’s infamous don’t you know! The stronger the current and the bigger the waves makes for a more impressive blowhole but on a normal day it’s still attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe. Well maybe not that many, but it should considering the type of place that Kiama is. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet, it’s lazy, it’s simple, it’s laid back!! However sometimes on these normal days the famous blowhole might just be a hole. Unfortunately like it was for us. The waves need to be pretty fierce to create the explosion of water, but old Mother Nature doesn’t listen to requests so we made do with a few little puffs which was good enough for a solid ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ from Jenny and I.
We camped at Surf Beach Holiday Park, which was high on the cliffside over looking a beautifully rugged beach. We used one of the free BBQs that are dotted all over the east coast, set a picnic blanket (bed sheet) on the ground and enjoyed a beer, a burger and the sunset. What a perfect end to another amazing day!
This kind of trip can become really expensive, after the initial camper van hire, there’s constant petrol stops and campsite fees, so when the opportunity for a free camping spot is available you cannot turn it down!! Thanks to a handy little app called Wikicamps we’ve been able to bed down and not spend a penny!
First free stop of the trip stop was at the top of a stupidly steep hill, just off the motorway over looking a beach full of surfers – why change tradition hay – we love a beach! We were joined by 4 other campers so with company for the night we were ready to cook, chill and sleep. FOR FREE!!
This is a beautiful area on the East Coast of Australia, with the majority of it being protected as a national park. It claims to have the whitest sand in the world, crystal clear water and frolicking Dolphins. Thank me later for the use of the word frolicking! There’s usually an entrance fee but as we were camping over night we just paid for the campsite fee.
Green Park campsite was our home for the night, amongst some serious looking caravans and campers, us amateurs stuck out like a sore thumb, we didn’t even have a table and chairs!! So the white sand and the frolicking Dolphins they brag about are all true, the sand literally squeaked beneath our toes and as soon as we walked away from people on the beach out came the dolphins – wow what a sight!!
We even came across a stunning beach called Murrays Beach, obviously named after my infamous family (they wish).
The campsite was real basic, right in the middle of the bush with only the necessities to hand so once the sun set it was real dark and pretty scary!! The strange noises we heard outside made for a real bad nights sleep – what pansies we were, but when you hear a scratching at the window and it’s so dark outside your imagination runs wild!
Heading further south we came to Eurobodolla, another national park and another free campsite!! The only issue with a free campsite is that it’s usually in the middle of nowhere and this one was true to form. The dirt road we drove down went on for miles and at one point we really thought about giving up.
Persistence pays off and this campsite was amazing – there was even a toilet – well when I say toilet I mean a ripe smelling long drop, but what do you expect for a free night? Thankfully there was a handful of other campers otherwise there was no chance we would of stayed overnight! It’s important to find your bearings and work out your surroundings when you arrive in a new place, so once were settled we like to go for a wonder around our new home and see what all the fuss is about! Eurobodolla wins for the most unexpected surroundings and jaw dropping beauty. As we walked through the campsite it’s brought us out into a sandy walkway surrounded by dense bush. To the right of us was a stunning still lake that took the reflection of the surrounding trees like a mirror and then as we walked further down the path we were spat out to the most enormous desolate beach I have ever come across!!
It was surreal, to our right the lake where you could hear a pin drop and to our left the roaring ocean with huge waves and white foam being blown onto the sand. It was the most bizarre feeling, I felt the power of Mother Nature staring out at the ocean and as a confident swimmer felt uneasy looking at the force of the waves – it was an impressive sight!
That evening we tested our Bare Grylls knowledge and attempted to build a fire and even with the pressure from all the other campers we succeeded with flying colours!! Super proud moment for both of us so we rewarded ourselves with a beer and a sing-song around the fire 😉
We’re now getting really close to the end of New South Wales and crossing the state into Victoria – we can nearly touch you Melbourne. The last stop was Merimbula and a small town called Pambula to meet up with Jenny’s Auntie as she’s travelling around Australia too. I love meeting up with anyone from home as the small taste of England is so refreshing!! We found ourselves another really cool campsite surrounded by the most kangaroos I’ve ever seen, hundreds of them chowing down on the fields surrounding the campsite, what a cool site – this was going to keep us occupied for hours!
We met Jenny’s auntie in a cool pub and spent hours eating and catching up, it was so nice for Jen to have a little connection with home. And what a cool lady she is, retired and now travelling the world – that’s some serious life goals!!
That evening we walked around the campsite chatting to all the kangaroos, from the little joeys to the big Dadda’s they all stared at us as if we were very rudely interrupting there dinner! It was amazing to see so many wild Kangaroos!
Today we crossed over into Victoria and we are driving through to a place called Lakes Entrance. Originally a fishing port it has now become a bit of a tourist hub as the route through to Melbourne takes you right through the town. We had been told we had to stop here by many campers on the way down so here we are! It is undeniably pretty but thanks to those pesky tourists the streets are lined with the usual tatty souvenir shops that begin to ruin any location for me. Still the bobbing fishing boats that line the lakes give the quaint feel back to the town and on every corner there is a Fish&Chip shop or local vender selling fresh fish. Once your done taking in the beauty of the lakes just a 2 minute walk over the water takes you to an endless beach, 90 miles long precisely. It stretches out straight in front of you literally as far as you can see and then some more – it made me feel seriously tiny in this huge world! Australia really has some impressive beaches!
We found another free campsite that night just outside of the main town and were joined by one other lady travelling on her own in a seriously cool Land Rover, she reminded me of a female Indiana Jones. It was super quiet that night, but were felt like real pro campers by this point so nothing phased us.. Another perfect night in the camper with a sky full of stars above us. In the morning it’s time to get our city heads back on and head to Melbourne!
We hadn’t seen this many cars in weeks so driving into Melbourne was pretty overwhelming. We were heading to a free campsite because camping in cities can either be super difficult or stupidly expensive – when I say campsite what it actually turned out to be was a quiet road in a residential area. I really hate parking over night in places like that, its breaking the law so the risk of hearing a knock on the windows in the middle of the night from the authorities means a restless nights sleep. After one night we decided to change our plan so we didn’t have to spend another couple nights parked on the road. We were originally going to spend a few nights in the city as soon as we got there but we decided to hit the open road again and head towards the Great Ocean Road – how exciting!
Day 1 on the Great Ocean Road..
The drive out of the big city takes you over West Gate Bridge and from up there you see amazing views of the city skyline. However short the visit was to Melbourne we will be back after this road trip and we will get to explore this amazing looking place.. But for now it was time to hit the road again and drive one of the most epic road trips there is!
Straight away you know your out of the city, the landscape becomes so open and colourful, a sight that I love. Before we knew it we had made it to the first of our stops. The first was Torquay, a beautiful looking surf town with surfboards spilling out of shop fronts and people walking around in there swim suits. We joined the crowds and donned our bikinis, covered ourselves in sun cream and headed to the beach. The sun was beating down so we soaked it up for a few hours, took a swim in the crystal clear water, soaked it up a bit more (we take this tanning lark very seriously) and then decided it was time to move on to the next beach.. What a hard life!
Genuinely stopped here because I liked the name of the town but what a gem this place turned out to be. Heaving with holiday makers either chilling at the beach or meandering from one shop to another meant I instantly fell in love with the vibe off the town. We joined the crowds and did a hardcore bit of window shopping (that’s all we can afford) and then treated ourselves to fish and chips on the beach, and bloomin’ tasty it was too!!
Then we were back on the road to our final stop of the day and our sleeping quarters for the evening – our favourite, a national park! This one was called Crayfish Bay Point Franklin Camp. The gravel road honestly went on forever and I thought we’d made a huge mistake but we felt so committed to the free camping option we powered through and yet again it paid off. Well eventually it did.
We arrived to a completely empty camping site and looked at each other, by now you know that we don’t stay in places where no one else is around, however after the things we’ve been through already in our trusty Bruce the camper we felt brave enough to stick around (and see if anyone else turned up 😉 ) Thankfully two groups arrived and we felt a lot safer, time to settle in the bush for another night of strange noises and wild animals!
We survived and even had a cheeky lie in. Breakfast was eaten and packed away before midday, progress for us two, today was the big one, time to tick the 12 apostles off the bucket list!
The drive was awesome, the road skirts around the coast the entire way, on one side is incredible lush forests and on your other is the ocean, it actually takes your breath away!
To see the 12 apostles is actually impossible because as it turns out there aren’t actually 12 of them anymore, but to see the ones that are left standing you have to park up and walk out onto viewing platforms so the crowds are a bit of a problem. However once you’ve got your spot the view is overwhelming, the colours are so vivid and intense it looks like the thousands of photos you’ve seen of this famous land mark. Jen and I stood in awe for quite a while, Jen actually was told to move out of a Chinese families photo as she was apparently enjoying the view just a little to long!
When we eventually got around to dragging ourselves away we heading towards the next town as we had decided to double back from there rather than head all the way to Adelaide – time was of the essence!
We parked up at a real Hillbilly type campsite for the night to break up the journey back to Melbourne. A very strange place but the stop allowed us to recharge Bruce, wash all our clothes and ourselves and use wifi to catch up with family and friends.. Could ask for anything more!!
————> Back to Melbourne
The drive back was a pretty boring one, nothing too pretty to see along the sides of the main roads so when Melbourne’s skyline came back into view we felt excited to be back! We drove around for a while trying out a few other free camping options but in the end it turned out that our first nights street parking was the best option. Our plan for our only night in Melbourne was to hit the town, meet up with my friend Shandy from university who lives and works in the city and be shown the ropes. We dolled ourselves up as much as we could in the campervan and heading to the Southbank. What a cool place, lining the river it is jam packed with restaurants and bars and absolutely flooded with people.
We headed to World Bar where my friend works and treated ourselves to dinner and a bottle of wine. So good catching up with someone from home, reminiscing about Uni and finding out about her new life down under!!
We ended up partying the night away until the early hours of the morning – what a perfect way to end our time in Australia. We both felt very sad about our time in Australia coming to an end and even sadder having to give our beautiful boy Bruce back!!
I’ve seen another side to Australia, the last time I visited it was very commercial, always crowded with backpackers that just wanted to drink all the time. This time we could of gone a whole day not seeing a single car, it was just beautiful beach after beautiful beach.. And then to be able to drive the great ocean road at the end was the perfect cherry on the cake. We’re going to miss Australia but it’s time to head to New Zealand, the country in all my dreams!!