Brisbane – Port Macquarie
Our road trip kicked off in Brisbane where we picked up our campervan from Spaceships (check them out if you’re looking at campervan hire companies), staff were super friendly and helpful every step of the way – especially when we ran into some troubles in Sydney. We had to make a pitstop to our villa on the Gold Coast to pick up our backpacks and cases (didn’t want to lug a year’s worth of stuff on public transport into Brisbane), but after that we hit the road for our first stop… Springbrook National Park.
Our time in Springbrook was unfortunately short as we had been driving all day and had a lot more driving ahead of us but we did manage to squeeze in the Natural Bridge circuit walking track and get a good look at the pretty falls. Next time I visit I’ll be sure to spend a full weekend here as there are sooooo many different tracks and even glow worms under the natural bridge that can be seen at night!
Next stop, Byron Bay. By the time we arrived in Byron it was pretty late and dark so we didn’t get a chance to see the full beauty of the place that night, we did get to soak up the atmosphere though! After cooking our first dinner on our camp hob we went for a wander around the beach and park area, there were groups of hippies playing live music, the smell of incense in the air and waves crashing in the background – it really was a magical welcome to Byron Bay. Ben and I spent a few days here and although the weather wasn’t great (major pitfall of travelling South in Australia’s autumn) we managed to see a lot. We woke up at 4am to watch the sunrise from the lighthouse, saw a whale whilst eating breakfast in the camper (wow, seriously), walked the Cape Byron Walking Track and soaked up the nightlife around town before heading to our next destination… Nimbin.
Sadly I dropped my camera in the car (it somehow wedged itself under the seat) on the way to Nimbin so there are no photos of the ultimate hippy village but to be honest you really have to see the place for yourself to believe it! Our drive out to Nimbin certainly served to be an adventure… we hoped to stop off at Protesters Falls on the way and following our sat nav took us down a very narrow, very windy road (Terania Creek Road I think?) for about 15km. About 4km in the road got realllll narrow and the trees started to close in and just as we were reaching the halfway mark, we drove over a hill to see a big, muddy, swampy puddle waiting on the other side. As first time roadtrippers, with no phone signal and zero survival skills we made the conservative decision to turn back and head straight to Nimbin instead.
After the stress of almost getting stuck in the wilderness (may be exaggerating but may have also almost got stuck in the wilderness) reaching Nimbin and getting out of he van was a huuuuuge relief. One short day in Nimbin consisted of the following: a visit to the candle factory where I got the loveliest smelling handmade candle, wandering around the hemp embassy, meeting some very interesting (and soooo friendly) locals and following a shirtless lady riding a bright green longboard to the markets. Nimbin really has to be seen to be believed, it feels like stepping back in time!
Angourie was the next stop, we stopped here primarily for the pools and although it was a little bit cold to dive right in, they didn’t disappoint. There are two pools in land, a rock pool on the beach and a long stretch of walking path, visiting in the autumn months meant we pretty much had the place to ourselves (there was only one other group) but I’m sure the natural beauty of Angourie would only be greater during the summer.
Next stop on the road trip: Coffs Harbour. This was the cutest little seaside town and we had so much planned for our time here! There are heaps of national parks within reach but unfortunately we had to swerve those plans as it was literally torrential rain for the two days we spent here. We managed to roam around the town and along the beach during dry spells and enjoyed the tastiest fish and chips from Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Co-operative – they have a restaurant and a fishmongers under one roof and it’s soooo fresh.
That takes us right up to our final stop before Sydney, Port Macquarie. I absolutely fell in love with this place, again it rained a lot while we were there but the weather couldn’t distract from the stunning coastline and we even got to see a few schools of dolphins! Bonus points for the shopping centre, I’m not keen on staying indoors when there’s so much to see and do outside but the shopping centre provided us a few hours browsing while we sheltered from the rain. Between rain showers we managed to explore the lovely Sea Acres Nature Reserve, despite the weather the coastline looked stunning, I’d love to go back during summer to soak up the rays on this lovely stretch of beach.
That’s all for part 1 in the Great Australian Road Trip series… keep your eyes peeled for more content over the next two weeks following the rest of our road trip! Next up Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
Abbie May Travel