Another 780km would take us to Hahndorf. After stocking up on fresh Oysters in Smoky Bay we hit the road.
Port Augusta: We only stopped for a short break in Port Augusta, trying to get to Port Pirie, that’s right, we drove 540km in one day (Smoky Bay to Port Pirie)… it is often stressful by the time we pull up to a location. The kids are completely done from being strapped in the car seats, we’ve eaten all the snacks, listened to the playschool and wiggles cd’s over and over, encouraged them to use the magic water colouring books we bought and even read a book or two from the front seat which is a balance of being able to read the words and show the kids the pictures #soreneck. The kids were troopers!
Berry/Fogg Family Get Together: Being welcomed by extended family again was such a treat, even more so when your cousin is a chef and his wife runs a restaurant! We shucked the oysters, added a squeeze of lemon and they were enjoyed by most and many for the first time. Casey, the youngest of the clan was a favourite with all.
Hahndorf, SA: A small town in the Adelaide Hills with Australia’s oldest German Settlement. The main street is bursting with restaurants, cafes, little shops, icecream, cheese, chocolate and candy shops, bakeries and pubs, with elm trees lining the boulevard. The weekend was so busy it was hard to drive in and out, but we were privileged to stay walking distance from the main street at a dear friends house. With kids similar ages they had a blast together.
Beerenberg Farm, Hahndorf, SA – Strawberry picking/eating with the kids! After buying some jam from the farm shop, we discovered it was available from the supermarket, along with piccalilli, beetroot and tomato relish.. so good!
It had been almost 2 years since we returned home from our big lap around Australia when a window of opportunity presented itself to travel, we bought a van with bunks for our now 2 children, packed up and left for the only state we didn’t visit… Tasmania (Tassie!). After falling pregnant with our second child (another beautiful girl, Leah) on our last trip we opted to skip Tassie for a later date.. and now we are here! It felt like it was so much harder to physically pack up and leave the house this time, with 2 children unpacking behind me as I packed and prepared the house for house-sitters. We have not only been blessed with another child but we moved to a 12 acre property with a big garden, chickens and a rooster to look after. So with perfect timing a high-school friends parents returning from Tassie will stay there and love our pets and house for us.
Smoky Bay, SA
On our way home last time we stayed in Streaky Bay, so we thought we would try Smoky Bay. We locked in 3 nights. Got some washing done, relaxed a bit with walks on the beach, bike rides on the jetty, sifting through shells under the little beach shades and some crabbing. We would definitely visit again.
Aka Broome-town, is a tourist town, known for its white sandy 22.5 km (14mile) cable beach. This destination was three-fold for us, I had a 4 week clinical placement at Broome Hospital as part of completing my nursing degree, we have family friends living in town and what better place to be between May and June in WA. We stayed in Broome for just over 8 weeks, it is a place hard to leave and many don’t. If it wasn’t for the rest of our travels that lay ahead we might have stayed too. The pace is slower, most services and facilities are all under a 5 min drive and then there is the magic of the Kimberley Region to discover on your doorstep. Dan loved going out fishing with his mate Bryon, being stay at home dad while I was on placement and bringing 8 month old Esther for Breastfeeds and cuddle on breaks! We all went to the outdoor cinema “Sun Pictures” in town. Even had a plane fly over while we were sitting there and baby girl Esther falling asleep… finally… in my arms was so sweet. Dreaming of buying some gold pearl stud earrings one day whilst touring all the pearl jewellery stores, Broome still harvests Pearls today. Last time we were there we went out to Willie Creek, and the Mango farm, this time we headed up to Cape Leveque, which will be a whole new blog post.
Discovering Cable Beach…
Cable Beach @ Sunset…
Coconut Wells Lagoon
I heard about coconut wells from a nurse I was working with, but it was hard to find directions on google. So I tagged along with some family friends, our first visit was at high tide, unable to see the rock pools only the pinnacles exposed just above the water, our second visit we went at low tide and we were able to see all the rock pools.
Staircase to the moon…
A natural phenomenon that occurs between March and October in Western Australia’s North West. The recipe, a full moon and a low tide. In Broome it can be seen over Roebuck Bay. There are photo’s and paintings all over Broome and at the Courthouse markets (a must-do… crepes and lemonade stand are the best) to see it oneself was amazing. Think beautiful balmy evening, hundreds of people, finding a parking space, standing on a bin to see the sunset and get a shaky photo and that is your image below! Then slowly watching the “staircase” disappear as the moon continues to rise. I personally think it looks more like a sunset than a moon-rise!
Fishing on the Fitzroy River…
Crocodile country, crocodile country, crocodile country! Just look at that water… what is lurking beneath? Other than crocodiles, turns out a saw fish. We headed out for a day trip to the Fitzroy River, just off the Great Northern Highway. I stayed right away from the shore, unless someone else was standing in front of me. We heard the rule was 3m from the shore should keep you safe from crocs lunging out of the water. It was made easier with Esther not even crawling at her young age. So we didn’t have to worry about her near the water. No Barramundi on the line for us though that night.
For those travelling with kids, we found a plug in the shower worked great, we later found a collapsible baby bath at a Broome op shop which we put in the bottom of the shower also worked great too, using less water.
Driving into Sydney suburbs towing an 18ft Caravan was hairy.. but Dan did it, sweat marks on his shirt to prove it. As we squeezed our way through 3 lanes that appear to have been made from 2 lanes. Semi-trailers either side, breathing in, hoping it would make a difference, we made it unscathed into inner Sydney, warmly greeted by Dan’s Aunty and Uncle. We stayed a whole ten days (although it still wasn’t enough to win a round of Contract Rummy!), we enjoyed reconnecting and getting to know family, washed the caravan, bought some clean (no red dirt stained) clothes from the DFO’s, took Esther on her first train ride, visited the Bus Museum (Dan), with Bob & Carol’s hospitality so good it was hard to leave!
Western Australia’s second largest National Park, filled with beautiful gorges carved out of red rock. We headed to the Eastern side of the park, near Dales gorge and Fortescue falls. A fire had passed through the summer before we arrived (December 2016) and it was burnt out. Photos below show little foliage which meant little respite from the hot sun in the day. Dan recalls us using the generator so I could cook a chickpea curry in the thermomix, one of only two times we actually used the generator, we could’ve made other dinner arrangements.
We had a short stop in Port Hedland, refuelling the fridge and the car. We struggled to find any green grass at the caravan park, but we did find a really nice cafe/restaurant for dinner, where the service provided was so above standard we went out of our way to leave a facebook review! We spent the day perusing the town, walking along the foreshore, visiting the art gallery and South Headland library.
The drive into Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park is a long gravel road, which we took nice and slowly, limiting the trail of dust we left behind. As we reached the caravan park there was a caravan high on the hill advertising for sale, we came over the hill and along with views of the beach was a beautiful green grassed caravan park. After parking the caravan we made friends with other residents, so fresh and excited to be on this adventure and with Esther on board, it was easy to connect… her cuteness even scored us a freshly caught and filleted threadfin salmon, as she won over the caretakers of the caravan park who we chatted to on the beach. Esthers’ first experience eating fish… fresh as fresh could be. She loved it and still does. Spoilt!
After a short drive we arrived at Port Stephens, it was school holidays and this was the closest we could get to Nelson Bay. For the most part we have not booked ahead and haven’t had any issues, always being able to still get one or two nights, but this time we ended up 40 mins away from the bay we wanted to visit, so we decided on one day trip. At the caravan park we took Esther swimming in the pool, I practiced my Physio stretches (as my Sacro-iliac Joint was playing up, newly pregnant) and Esther discovered she has her own table and bench seat:
Tomaree Mountain Walk:
At the recommendation of our friends from Newcastle we went and did this walk in Nelson Bay, it had beautiful views as you’ll see below.
Lake Macquarie: (Apparently there are sharks in the lake… but no crocs!)
In late 2006 I volunteered as a missionary for my church and was in this area. I met loads of people and was able to catch up with a lovely couple and their family while we were there. We also went looking for the house I used to live in, in Toronto. I showed Daniel “the” house.. 3 times until I finally found the one I actually lived in. Turns out 11 years on things are not as familiar as they used to be.
It has now been almost 12 months since we left. I would love to finish the blog before we get back, but I have also picked up 2 units at uni and uni should probably be prioritised over the other…
We left Perth on 21st April, 2017. It was a busy time after welcoming our Esther only 7 months prior, packing and renting the house out, preparing the caravan, tying up loose ends at work, as well as catching up with friends and family one last time before we left, including this farewell, what an awesome cake (thanks Tamara). Although we still have a few more things to see on the map next time, (Yes, we plan to return to the road to see Tasmania and South Australia sometime after the next baby arrives).
We have definitely seen crocs, drove past the big pineapple at least 30 times while Dan was working on the sunshine coast (although never got a photo). We saw the big banana in Coffs Harbour, but while towing a caravan didn’t stop for a photo. We saw Dolphins in Byron Bay and Dan just recently saw a penguin washed up on the beach in Apollo Bay, (does that count?). We plan to visit Ayers rock next time and hopefully we’ll catch the whales migrating in the Bight.
Our set up:
New Age Oz Classic, with a very luxurious ensuite and our Ford Ranger.
Our very first night on the road, Seven Mile Beach:
It felt pretty amazing to leave town. It may have taken a few extra hours than planned to pull out of the driveway but we did it. This was a dream of Dan’s for almost 20 years and after much debate we decided on a caravan over a camper or pop top. We looked at caravans on Gumtree for at least 3 years, before we bought one and then needed a car capable of towing it. Dan liked the Ford Ranger and we couldn’t afford a landcruiser 200 series. I found one (an XLT) on Gumtree that had low kilometers and all the accessories Dan wanted already fitted (UHF, Suspension upgrade, long range tank, bullbar, spotlights and trailer brakes).
I researched every port-a-cot available trying to find one that would fit into the gap between the couches, only to convert a couch into her bed a few days before we left. We still took the port-a-cot and it has been well used for camping, playing and visiting any friends or family along the way.
So when we pulled into this free campsite just south of Geraldton, using WikiCamps for the first time it was quite the feeling. It was even Romantic! Living the dream! There were only 3 other vans at the site with front row parking still available. We weren’t sure what the etiquette was but took the risk and parked up. Perfect views.
It was so nice. We had many lessons ahead of us, including one we learned the next morning. We left the fridge running in the boot of the car and it drained the car battery, So we needed a jump start. From then on (until we got solar on the car and a dual battery system) we kept the fridge in the caravan when we were parked up.
Esther trying Black Sapote for the first time after we visited a store front with fresh local fruit for sale.
We were impressed with Tom Price, so much greener than we thought, the town was clean and there seemed to be lots of young families. We met a few couples at the caravan park who were headed in the same direction (clockwise) and we have seen 3 of them since, some in Cape York, another in the Northern Territory and just recently another couple in Canberra, it has been great to catch up and share stories as well as get further recommendations on places to visit.
We had a short stay in Coffs Harbour, with a warm welcome from these resident rabbits at the caravan park:
A visit to the harbour for fish n’ chips and then off again the next morning, via the Carob factory (Carobana) at Daniels recommendation where they also make fresh honeycomb. They are a small family business that have been around since 1982, it’s great to see them still afloat, they do well with most of their honeycomb bought commercially to add to other confectionery. They were all super friendly and had plenty of taste testing!
We then headed off with the van to Dorrigo National Park, beautiful spot known for its waterfalls, for a hike. It was so great to see the wildlife too:
Hike through Dorrigo National Park:
We then headed south towards Port Macquarie, finding a free camp along the way. Nice looking quiet spot, next to the Nambucca river, called Macksville Lions Park. There was a parking area dedicated to 24-hour stopping for caravans and motorhomes, opposite a residential area, a few other vans were there. Worst sleep EVER.. ha ha, all night trucks and trains rattled over the bridge then at 5:30am someone started their generator and playing country music quite loudly, then early morning road workers rocked up to dig a trench alongside the carpark, a deep trench, one that would be impossible for a car and caravan to cross.. So we had to pack up quick and ask them to stop briefly so we could leave before they completely blocked us in for the rest of the day! Drove to Port Macquarie and found a great caravan park close to the beach and set up. We ended up staying 3 nights I think, had a great time exploring the different beaches, the koala park, the strawberry farm, going to parkrun along the “breakwall”, a small food truck market, buying Esther her first pillow at her request, stocking up on fresh food and produce and digging for pippy’s at the beach.
Port Macquarie Koala Rescue Park:
Tacking Point Lighthouse, Port Macquarie:
Port Macquarie Town Beach:
Since having Esther, I would often take her into the water but wouldn’t go diving into the water with as she has yet to learn to hold her breath, but oh how I’ve missed that feeling of diving under a wave, so while we were here Dan watched Esther while I went for a walk out into the surf to swim. It was so refreshing that feeling as you dive under and the rush of water over your body! ah.!
It was a relaxing stay in Port Macquarie before we headed south to Port Nelson.
People say “flying with toddlers is a nightmare”. Yet when we flew home to Perth, Esther was a dream, as she did a lot of it! Flight was at 8:30pm, she was asleep in my arms after take off and then she enjoyed the 2 spare seats between Dan and I to sleep for the rest of the flight. On the way back to Brisbane I came to understand that saying, we took a red eye (midnight) flight back to Brisbane… This is her at 2:00am Perth time, 2 hours into the flight. She loved the view of all the passengers from her little cot (which she just fit into).
She did sleep for the last 2 hours of the 4.5 hour flight (after the cabin lights were finally dimmed), she then woke up as we were preparing to land and screamed the whole time because she didn’t want to be strapped to me for landing or taxiing. We were exhausted to say the least when we arrived in Brisbane! Got a taxi at 6:30am to our caravan, then after a bit of a wait we drove… all the way down to Kingscliffe, had a beautiful breakfast at about 10:30am on the beach cafe strip, then we all went to bed for 3 hours! Which thankfully kick started us all back into the East Coast timezone.
We loved the NSW North Coast. With the convenience of a major city (Brisbane) near by when required, a real country relaxed feel and beautiful coastline. We think it would be a great place to live. Kingslciffe was so nice, a small surfy town south of Tweed Heads. We went into Tweed Heads for some shopping and a short swim in the bay. After a whirlwind visit to Perth, it was surprisingly nice to be back together in our van and on the road.
Natural Bridge, Lamington National Park Border QLD/NSW:
We took a day trip out to the Natural Bridge and did a short hike through the rainforest, followed by a visit to an icecreamy on the way back to Kingscliffe. A must visit as advised by a worker at the Tourist Bureau. Turns out his wife worked there! Any excuse for fresh icecream though right?
After Kingscliffe we headed south along the coast for Ballina, where we stayed at a great caravan park near Shaws bay, they had a toddler play room and a toddler water playground, as well as easy access to the shore.
We went for a day trip up to Byron Bay (beautiful town but super busy) and did the hike around the lighthouse, with magnificent views as you can see below.
Known as Australia’s most famous hippie destination. We ventured out, I expecting something a bit more out of the ‘fairy shop’ but Dan thought it would be what it was. A little bit of a run down town that had its hay day when it hosted the 1973 Aquarius Festival. The weather was a little unpleasant the day we visited, 38 degrees celsius and humid, so walking around town wasn’t exactly enjoyable! The drive out there on the other hand through lush farmland and forest was gorgeous. Unfortunately no photos.
Ah Brisbane… Well we drove straight through the heart of the city with a caravan in tow, arrived safely at the dodgiest caravan park we have been to in alllll of Australia so far. I actually voiced that opinion on Wikicamps and you know my rule, it has to impress to bother typing.
It was rainy and I was still dealing with morning sickness, so again, not fond memories of the place. Plus.. we received a very heartbreaking phone call and made quick reservations to fly home to see my uncle before he passed. We made it and I am so grateful for the short time we were able to spend with him and extended family. We were also very grateful for those who helped store our car and caravan and who put us up and put up with us back in Perth.
So here are some of the highlights of Brisbane, although my camera lens died shortly after these photos so there aren’t many! Missing are photo’s of a reunion with a lovely family I initially met in Newcastle, NSW who had us over for dinner, we bought some ice creams for dessert to share and Esther insisted on going around to each person for a lick of their ice cream!
This was an awesome place to visit and great for kids. We don’t have anything like it in Perth (that I know of). In the photo Esther still has a hold of a frangipani flower she picked!