Byron Bay

We were expecting Bryon Bay to be one of our highlights of the East coast, and it didn’t disappoint. The small coastal town has long been a popular destination for hippies and those seeking an alternative lifestyle. Famous for its beaches, surfing and laid-back culture, it is now incredibly popular with backpackers and Australian tourists alike.

Watching the sunrise from Cape Byron lighthouse is a must do when visiting Byron, and we decided to do this on our first morning there. After setting our alarm at 4am, and making the steep climb up to the lighthouse, we arrived just in time as the darkness began to lift.

However yet again we picked the wrong morning, with the sun struggling to break through the thick cloud, and the strong winds making it incredibly cold. We really should have checked the weather forecast the night before!

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More of New South Wales

There was lots more enjoyable stops as we made our way along the coast of New South Wales towards Byron Bay. As we arrived in the Great Lakes region, we took a very scenic drive to the twin towns of Forster and Tuncurry, where the vast Wallis Lake meets the ocean.

There was beautiful beaches either side of the connecting bridge, as well as several ocean pools, including the popular Tuncurry Rockpools. This perfect swimming spot was a complete contrast to the exposed Nine Mile Beach found the other side of the headland.

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After our now routine early start, the following day started with another scenic drive to Port Macquarie. We stopped on the outskirts of the town to visit the tiny Tacking Point lighthouse, which dates back to 1879.

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Newcastle and Port Stephens

Newcastle is the second largest city in New South Wales, situated 170km north of Sydney. Although traditionally an industrial city, its reputation has grown in recent years, including being named in Lonely Planets top 10 cities to visit several years ago.

After arriving early, we walked through the large King Edward Park. This was another place where the Australian outdoor lifestyle was clear to see, with the pathways full of people walking and jogging.  We also walked along the memorial walk, a cliff top walkway which was opened in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

Nearby is the Bogey Hole ocean pool, which is believed to be the oldest European structure in the area, dating back to 1818. However it now seems to be far more popular with fishermen than swimmers.

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Wine tasting in the Hunter Valley

After trying so much wine on our journey so far, it would be unfair to travel though New South Wales without also sampling the best it has to offer. We therefore spent a day in the Hunter Valley, which is home to over 120 wineries.

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The best winery we visited this time was Tyrell’s, where our wine education continued. Our very knowledgable host gave us lots of information about the different varieties of grape, and how climate, soil and other factors influence the taste of the final product. Continue reading

The Central Coast

Our journey between the popular tourist regions of the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley, took us through the lesser known Central Coast region. While we knew very little of the area beforehand, we still found plenty to do, with yet more small towns and beaches to explore.

Arriving in early afternoon, our first stop was the secluded Pearl Beach, where we spent some time relaxing on the sheltered beach. We then headed to Ettalong, and walked around the foreshore of the small but popular town.

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The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains, which are located 130km west of Sydney, are one of the most popular national parks in Australia, and somewhere we definitely had to visit. The mountains get their name from the natural blue haze created by the eucalypt forests. The oil from the trees mixes with water vapour and sunlight to produce the distinctive blue colour.

After a hectic few days in Sydney, and with 1000km still to drive before reaching Brisbane, our time in the area was limited. We therefore decided to complete a one day route along the Greater Blue Mountains scenic drive, which includes the majority of the parks most popular attractions.

After camping in Blackheath, we made our way south to Wentworth Falls where our route started.

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We walked a one hour circular route, which took us to the top of the falls and round to the Princes and Fletcher lookouts, for even better views of the huge falls. Continue reading