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!
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.
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.