Warning! This post is gonna be a bit huge. When we left Queensland we pretty much had four weeks to get ourselves to Melbourne and on to The Spirit of Tasmania. It would be fair to say it was a bit of a rush through the three states. So the days slipped by quite quickly, along with my will to blog!
So to cut a long story a little shorter, this will be a highlights reel of places we have stayed in that order, as we passed through the South Eastern States of Oz.
New South Wales
We had a lovely time in Dubbo,the highlight being the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. This was a zoo with large open enclosures with mostly African animals and a few others for good measure. We hired ourselves a zebra buggy and drove around the zoo which was lots of fun.
We stopped in Tamworth for a couple of nights. We checked out all the country and western stuff, including the giant golden guitar. We spent half of the day in their awesome playground, which the kids rated as the best they’ve been to yet.
We received some very wise advice to avoid staying in Byron Bay and to stay in the much quieter Ballina. We did a day trip into Byron Bay, stopping to check out these paragliders on the way.
We ventured into Byron Bay and found it VERY busy and, to be honest, a bit stressful. We drove up to the lighthouse to have a look at the stunning views from the top. We also walked around the town before stopping to destress momentarily at the Byron Bay Hotel. We drove into Lennox Heads and around Ballina to check out the amazing beaches and coastline in the area.
South West Rocks
Then it was on to South West Rocks for a few nights. Such a lovely spot. There are lovely beaches, rivers and estuaries to explore. We also visited the Trial Bay Gaol and the little local museum to learn about the interesting history of the area.
From South West Rocks we headed back inland again this time towards the small town of Nundle. This is a gorgeous little town with a lovely old pub as it’s centrepiece. The story is that the pub was built and only a few months later the owner lost it in a card game. The pub is still in the hands of the family who won it all those years ago.
Mudgee was our next stop. Originally we wanted to visit the Hunter Valley Wine Region, but a few people told us the Mudgee was just as great so we headed there instead. We spent the full day there visiting some wineries and the local brewery. We also walked around the town, which had many lovely old buildings. On the morning before we left we made use of the running track and athletics track adjacent to the caravan park. Lockie challenged Phil to a 400m race and the score needed to be settled. After much warming up and stretching the race was on, Lockie winning by a convincing stretch. We did a bit of long jump as well while Phil recovered!
After much discussion we decided we really wanted to go to Sydney but we really did not want to drive there. So instead we booked ourselves into the caravan park at Bathurst for a few days and they kindly let us leave our car and camper set up there while we caught the train into Sydney instead. Just before Bathurst we came across the little town of Sofala and it was like stepping back in time. An old mining town preserved to look exactly as it might have back in it’s day.
In Bathurst a trip to Mount Panorama was compulsory. We made two visits as the first time we went there were some cars racing and we were not able to drive around the track. So we headed back for a second time after returning from Sydney with our camper in tow and completed a lap in 8 minutes! Killed it!
The train ride from Bathurst to Sydney cuts through the Blue Mountains and although it took the best part of three hours, it was probably the most scenic train ride I can remember. The views of the mountains were incredible and travelling through the mountainside via the old railway tunnels was something else. The work to forge this train line and it’s tunnels would have been gruelling to say the least.
We had two nights in Sydney and we made the most of it by booking a hotel right in the heart of it so we could see as much as possible. Staying at a hotel was a treat and the kids were a bit disappointed that we had to actually leave it to go sightseeing!
We headed down to Darling Harbour first as it was a short walk from the hotel and we were all a bit hungry. We had some lunch overlooking the harbour and then strolled around and watched the show around us. These guys took busking to the next level with breakdancing, tap-dancing and a bit of comedy thrown in.
The next day we walked down George Street to The Rocks, where we had a look at the museum to get a feel for the place. From here we couldn’t resist the pull of the Sydney Harbour Bridge which had appeared in front of us so we took a stroll around to see it in all it’s glory.
From here we headed for the Opera House for a bit of lunch overlooking Circular Key, where we watched the ferries heading in and out of the harbour. After a long walk around the Opera House to check it out from every angle we decided to jump on a ferry ourselves and head for Manly Beach.
The ferry ride to Manly was very scenic passing by all the beachside suburbs and the heads that lead you out of the harbour. Manly itself was surprisingly quiet. We enjoyed a visit to the Four Pines Brewery and then strolled to Manly Beach for ice-cream!
We then jumped back on the ferry and headed back to Circular Key where we jumped on yet another ferry back to Darling Harbour. This ferry cruised under the Harbour Bridge and past Luna Park, giving us a great view of the Opera House and Bridge together.
On our final morning we reluctantly dragged ourselves out of the hotel room to check out. It had been lovely to go to bed at night and not have to worry about what the weather was going to throw at us for a couple of nights. We had a few hours to kill before we had to catch the train to Bathurst so we decided to head to Bondi Beach for the morning.
We had a blast in Sydney. It was a fast and action packed couple of days and it made a nice change to be in the big smoke and out of the canvas for a bit. But it was time to go and find our home on wheels back in Bathurst and continue on our way.
Australian Capital Territory
After spending one final night in Bathurst we headed for the ACT and Canberra for three nights. That gave us a couple of days in the capital and it wasn’t nearly enough time to do justice to all the cool stuff that is there.
Our first day we tried to fit in the Australian Institute of Sport, The National Museum and The War Memorial. Rookie mistake. There is so much to see at the Museum and War memorial you could easily spend a day at each. As it was we ended up back at the War Memorial the next day as well because we wanted to see more.
Back to the Institute of Sport. We opted to take a guided tour and got to see where the gymnasts, volleyballers, swimmers and Martial Arts training takes place. We also watched a few para olympians training in the gym. We checked out Sportex which had loads of games and activities to do based around the sports at the AIS.
Next on the agenda was the National Museum. This was free, HUGE, and filled to the brim with kids on school camp from everywhere around Australia. This is the big daddy of museums and there is so much stuff to look at. It was like a compilation of snapshots from all the museums we had been to so far on our travels.
Then it was off to The War Memorial. The two hours we had there before closing time only covered the WW1 section. Even then we had to move quickly. We saw as much as we could before watching The Last Post Ceremony, which was very moving.
The next day we headed straight back there because there was so much more we wanted to see.
Even then we felt we could have spent longer (except for Lily). But we also wanted to go to Questacon so we kept moving.
Questacon is a a science and technology centre (a bit like a bigger version of Scitech). It was lots of fun and very interesting.
After the fun of Questacon we had run out of time to visit Parliament House so instead we took a big drive around it and left it at that. There was no sign of our mate Mal either, must’ve been out of town!
After a few hectic days in Canberra we headed back into NSW to Bateman’s Bay. We spent a day driving through the national parks and went to check out Pebbly Beach, a lovely spot.
Then we headed further south and spent the night just outside of Eden. While it was a beautiful little town right on the coast I have no pics this time. We stayed in a lovely caravan park just outside the town, surrounded by bush and right on the beach. We went for a bit of a walk up the beach before the rain hit and kept on coming. It was a very wet pack up!
From there we headed to Lakes Entrance where it suddenly got VERY cold. We spent a few days here. Again I have no pics. Not sure what I was doing but rest assured we explored the area as much as we could. The weather was not kind to us. We got wind and rain until the day came to pack up – then the weather was perfect!
Next stop was two nights in Phillip Island. We spent the day driving around the island before grabbing some fish and chips and heading to see the penguins. The penguins were very cute and we got see hundreds of them come up the beach their nests. It was a pretty cool sight to see. We were not allowed to take photos of the penguins so you’ll have to make do with these few snaps and some Cape Barron Geese instead!
Melbourne and The Spirit Of Tasmania
Before we knew it the day had one to jump on the ferry to Tassie. So we headed into Melbourne via the Mornington Peninsula to catch our boat. This was a lovely drive up the coast and quite an easy run into Port Melbourne. Before we knew it we were driving onto the boat and sailing out to sea bound for Tasmania.
Well there you have it, I told you it was a bit HUGE! Our next adventures will be in Tassie so stay tuned!
That was a great blog of all the things you’ve seen & done. I didn’t realise Canberra was so good
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There so much to do there Joels, we could have easily spent a week. Lots of it is free too which is a bonus!