We had planned the first part of our trip (up to arriving in Adelaide), but we decided to keep the last part a bit more free-wheeling. We had thought we’d like to drive the Pacific Highway coast from Adelaide to Melbourne as there are some great natural spots to visit on the route. However the temperatures dropped slightly the few days we were in Adelaide and when we checked the weather in Melbourne it wasn’t looking so good. Time for a change of plan.
We flew to Brisbane. We hadn’t ever spent any more than a couple of hours in Brisbane before this trip, so decided we’d stay overnight and have a look around. There is a great City Hopper Ferry that goes up and down the city part of the river, and best of all is completely free. We got on at Kangaroo Point and took the trip through to almost the last stop to get our bearings and then got off to investigate the city.
We didn’t know the relative sizes of Adelaide and Brisbane, but Brisbane looked and felt significantly larger than Adelaide. Brisbane isn’t a coastal city but it makes the most of the river and has a purpose built beach on the river side. We enjoyed our short visit but were keen to be on the road. We've driven north of Brisbane before along the Sunshine coast, with our furthest point on that trip being the small township of 1770.
South of Brisbane is the Gold coast which we’ve also briefly visited, but what we decided to do was drive south into New South Wales and visit Coffs Harbour. Our reasoning was that on a previous trip we’d driven north from Sydney and reached Coffs Harbour and we wanted to close the gap so to speak.
I didn’t actually see any signs on crossing the state border, but we knew that it was somewhere around Coolangatta. What we didn’t realise was that Queensland doesn’t have Daylight Savings, but New South Wales does. So once again we were an hour adrift. That’s the great thing about holidays – time doesn’t really matter too much. You know you’re relaxed when you aren’t sure what day it is. I think we spent most of one day with our watches on the wrong time before we decided to go and see a film and discovered the discrepancy and the Queensland/New South Wales Daylight Savings thing!
We'd planned on staying at Byron Bay, a surfer’s mecca on the NSW coast, however when we arrived the small township was absolutely heaving with people, noise and cars so we drove straight back out of town and further down the coast.
We stopped at a town called Ballina about twenty minutes south of Byron Bay. Initially we’d decided to stay for two days but found it such a lovely place we spent the rest of our week there.
We visited Byron Bay during the week and spent a short time there although it was still very busy. However we spotted a sign to the lighthouse and decided to try there. The twisty road and the $7 parking ticket were well worth it. The views from the cliffs are stunning and to make our afternoon truly spectacular we watched a pod of humpback whales who appeared to be taking their time and enjoying the waters as well as entertaining the people watching.
The coastal route from Byron Bay to Ballina is beautiful and there are loads of places to pull over and enjoy watching waves crash onto glorious beaches. Ballina has several beaches as well as the river, and we enjoyed a walk along the promontory most days to watch the waves crashing ashore. The rocks here are large and are aided at the end of the promontory by huge concrete structures. Most days we spotted a variety of lizards sunning themselves on the rocks - I’m sure there are more specific names for them, but lizards works for me.
In Ballina there were a number of pelicans, and one morning while walking along the promontory one flew over us. I saw the shadow first, and (just for a moment) it looked a lot like a Pterodactyl. Obviously our re-watch of the Jurassic Park films recently played a part!
To end the adventures in Oz, a couple of 'funny' things we noticed while away.
Here in New Zealand we’re used to seeing the ‘Mates’ adverts aimed at reducing drink-driving, but this one took those ads to a whole new level.
Mates don’t let mates drink… and use Tasers.
While driving along one day I noticed a roadside ad for a retirement village, problem was the billboard was placed in the grounds of a crematorium. Maybe someone needs to rethink.
And finally, a sight I never get tired of - a Jacaranda tree in bloom.