Hi everyone and welcome to another blog on our epic journey through Australia.
The weather had been hit or miss through October (Australia’s spring time) and heading into November didn’t look any different. We didn’t get any sleep the night before we drove to Coffs Harbour since it was hailing, there was thunder and lightning and the winds were so bad it was rocking the van. We hoped for sunshine and days that were nice and still since we would be staying in Coffs Harbour for a while and Andy was busting a gut to go fishing again.
We ended up staying in a Top 10 campsite (one of many upmarket camps found throughout Australia and New Zealand), and straight away got some laundry done and used the free wifi to Skype family and friends. The camp was full (as usual) with Germans. There couldn’t be any Germans left in Germany, I swear they were all here travelling Australia! The funny thing was they assumed you were German too, so they would speak to you as if you knew what they were saying! Ha ha! Not many English here, it was strange. We spent our time at Coffs Harbour either going for walks spotting big black Cockatoos and Fairy Wrens, fishing when the wind died down or drinking in the Hoey Moey (a motel of course) where they did $2 pots (almost the size of half a pint) of beer between 2-5pm. There wasn’t much more to do here but chill out which was lovely.
We went for a walk over to Muttonbird Island where every year hundreds of Muttonbirds come to mate and lay their eggs in underground burrows. This bird, a type of Shearwater, was named according to how it tasted – like mutton, when it was once hunted years ago. We didn’t see any birds but the holes in the ground made the island look like Swiss cheese! It was also so windy, we spent the whole day at a 45 degree angle! On another day we visited the weekend market on the harbour and sat drinking coffee listening to an old rock band play and watching kids ride camels (yes they have camels here!). On our last day we visited the botanical gardens and got ourselves lost for a few hours amongst the bush, rainforest and flowers. My favourite part of the gardens was the Japanese section with its beautiful lake, red bridge and zen garden. It made me realise how much I missed Asia and how much I wanted to go and explore Japan – another adventure some other time maybe? I guess once you get the travel bug you can’t really shake it off. It’s a big world out there!
On our last night in Coffs Harbour I received the sad news that my Nan back home was very unwell and only had days to live. This was one of those dreadful things that you hope doesn’t happen when you go travelling for a long period of time. You feel helpless and so far away from your loved ones back home. All I wanted was to be there for my Mum and say my goodbyes to my Nan. My mum was due to meet us in Sydney in just a weeks time (something she had been saving for and had planned for 18 months). Now we weren’t even sure if she’d make it since she was looking after my Nan and would have a funeral to sort out.
Moving on from Coffs Harbour my mind was back home and not on the road here in Australia. We visited Nambucca where we went for a nice walk along their harbour, admiring the V art wall and watched the sun set over the crystal clear sea – check out the photos at the bottom, it was beautiful. We then stayed at Port Macquarie for the night after visiting a Koala sanctuary. We went on a free tour witnessing how many Koalas are brought in after dog attacks or from being hit by cars. The people here did an amazing job especially since they were all volunteers! We donated some money and left feeling pleased we’d visited such an inspiring place.
Our next stop, after a long drive, was the Booti Booti National Park where we camped in a rainforest and went for a walk through bush land and onto a stormy looking beach. Andy cooked a wicked Moroccan lamb stew that night and we had fun feeding the cheeky Kookaburras (massive Kingfisher-like birds found everywhere in OZ). Boy did they go crazy over lamb!
We were now not far from Sydney but had Newcastle to stop in first, where we planned to meet up with some Aussie mates we’d met back in South East Asia. Newcastle itself reminded me very much of Enfield back home, it felt bizarre driving through it! We drove along the cloudy coast heading towards our friend Harry’s house, reminding me also of Newquay back home (yes it seems my mind was very much on the UK). When we arrived in Merewether it was so nice to see Lisa and Harry on their home ground and looking so dapper too – Harry was sporting a new hair do and Lisa was wearing her smart work clothes. We looked like right tramps next to them, especially with my washed out blue/blonde hair ha ha! Unfortunately we could only spend half an hour catching up with Harry as he had to dash off to go and see his father who was seriously unwell back in Coffs Harbour. We spent the rest of the day with Lisa who was a wonderful host, showing us the local bar on the cliff top, and taking us shopping for some dinner in town. We drank wine and had a BBQ at the back of Harry’s house, yes Andy cooked and in true British style absolutely cremated the chicken drumsticks. That’s how the English roll baby ohhhh yea!
We went to sleep that night camping in our little gay van in Harry’s back garden, thinking about our next and last leg of our road trip here in Australia. As a tribute to my lovely Nana Jean who always told people to ‘go and see the world, it’s a big wonderful place’, we decided to drive all the way down to Melbourne and back up to Sydney via Canberra in the space of 6 days. We would go and visit our friend Ron who we’d met back in Laos and tick off two more states – Victoria and ACT (Australian Central Territory). And that’s exactly what we did! 🙂
I love you Nan,