Australia Road Trip – Part One
We’ve been on a massive Australia road trip, taking us from Adelaide, South Australia and via The Riverland, and into Victoria. Next, we drive on through the Blue Mountains and Sydney NSW. Then up the coast to the Surfer Paradise, Queensland.
We continue from the Gold Coast on up as far as Airlie Beach, until we finally headed back down the Queensland coast.
With over 6000 km covered, it has been an epic journey, especially as a single Mum.
It’s a massive Australia Road Trip!
This article contains the first half of our trip – Adelaide to Surfers Paradise.
The final article contains the second half of our trip – Surfers Paradise to Airlie Beach and back to the Gold Coast.
Many of you might have wondered why we’ve been quiet in the past few months.
It’s taken months to sell up, pack up, store precious items, purchase the correct vehicle and fit it out. In the end, we took the plunge very quickly. With only three weeks to hit the road, for the timing to be right for school for my son in the next term in Queensland.
There were many reasons we decided to leave Adelaide and head for the land of sun and fun, and I’m so glad we did!
Our journey started on a cold wintery morning. With the car packed to the rafters, our friends waved us goodbye as we headed to the Riverland region.
We enjoyed a few hours with my sister BJ at her Riverland hobby farm and enjoying lunch together. With our family tradition of playing a few rounds of Cluedo, there were lots of laughs.
As they sent us on our journey, I was so thankful for all the support of this special sister. She was the first person I told about our trip. Her beautiful words encouraged me behind the scenes for many of the last months, often in my darkest times. She believed in me, and I love her so much!
We drove from the Riverland SA, through Renmark, and past Lake Cullulleraine.
Before long we had crossed two state borders and we had passed the boring Hay Plains and had arrived in Balranand, NSW.
New South Wales
Our first night was at the cosy Shamrock Motel, Balranald. We loved the fact that the motel offered a car park right outside our door, instead of hauling all our things upstairs. Plus, it had a kitchenette which was perfect for us to make our breakfast.
Having been driving all day and arriving in the dark, we headed straight across the car park to the Balranald Shamrock Hotel. One thing both my son and I love when we travel is ‘pub-grub’ as they call it. A tasty hotel meal and always at a good price too.
Classic Pub Grub
Explorason just about always orders his favourite meal of Chicken Schnitzel with gravy. I selected Garlic Prawn 🍤 Parmie’ – served in a classic Aussie Pub! (Chicken breast Schnitzel topped with prawns in a garlic sauce & cheese. Plus, served with mash potatoes and freshly steamed vegetables).
A lovely glass of Australian wine relaxed me just nicely, and we both couldn’t resist the country-style dessert menu.
It was a perfect first day, and I felt elated as we’d driven through three states – not bad for a single Mum doing the driving alone!
Heading into country NSW, the landscape slowly changed. Cute towns like Weethalle (with pretty painted silos) were perfect rest-stop destinations.
Bathurst was our next evening’s place to spend the night, and it was the Friday of a long weekend. We had booked a chic and classy pub stay, but on arrival, they had no off-street parking. Plus, they had no record of our booking. It was in the heart of the city, and I wasn’t comfortable leaving our bikes and loaded roof rack in an unsecured parking area.
The Explorers Motel
Thankfully, we JUST made it in time to book into a ground-floor room at the Explorers Motel. This was perfect for ‘Exploramum’ and ‘Explorason’, and the management bent over backwards to accommodate us with a downstairs room.
Just like the night before, we had arrived after dark and needed to go find a place to refuel our bodies. On the same road the Dudley Hotel was located, famous for their CPR’. This is a huge ‘fry-up’, usually shared between two persons. I must say, the barman was one of the friendliest staff I’d met in a long time, and was lovely to chat to.
After a bit of a repack of the car the next morning, we headed off to explore Bathurst.
Bishops Court Estate
We loved the gardens of Bishops Court Estate – a stately manor and enjoyed a drive around the historic city of Bathurst.
As drizzle and fog slowly crept in, our drive to the Blue Mountains was a slow one. I became lost several times, and I didn’t enjoy the hilly back roads trying to find a good vantage point to see the Three Sisters.
We still managed to go on a bit of a hike, but my footwear wasn’t appropriate and it was bitterly cold. Our camera’s ‘snapped’ away quickly, then climbed back to our SUV as fast as we could.
Arriving in Sydney, we enjoyed a wonderful couple of days with my beautiful lifelong friend, Meg Cain. We loved going to Hillsong Church – the largest church in Australia on Sunday morning.
Of course, a trip to the city centre was in order.
Starting in Chinatown with Yum Cha at the Golden Century Restaurant, then onto the Haymarket. As I used to live here, it was easy to walk and navigate the streets.
Strolling through Darling Harbour, we then caught a ferry via Luna Park to Circular Quay where the Opera House is located. We always have afternoon tea overlooking the harbour, then it was time to take the train back. The days in Sydney flew by and it was time to leave way too soon.
Central Coast NSW
Central Coast is a short few hours from Sydney and well worth a visit if you head up the coast. It is a region where you have the ocean one side and a long length of lakes on the other.
Our first afternoon was filled time reconnecting with my son’s cousin and wife here which was lovely. Their children were adorable, and their dog stole our heart.
That evening I managed to get my dates mixed up! Being the Monday of a long weekend many accommodation places are closed as they don’t want to pay the double rates for a cleaner.
El Lago Waters Resort
Not so at El Lago Waters Resort! The manager himself made sure everything was perfect for us with a poolside room. We could easily walk to the restaurants and decided it was a pizza and movie night at the resort. This enabled us to have a great look around the central coast lakes district the next day. We loved the beautiful lakes region and the pelicans.
Norah Head Lighthouse
One of our best experiences was staying at Norah Head Lighthouse ‘Head Lighthouse Keeper’s’ home. It is a perfect place to rent if you get the chance and total relaxation. With walks along the beach below, fishing on the rocks, and perfect photography, this is a heavenly place to stay. It had a full-size kitchen so we could enjoy home-cooked meals too.
Explorason loved the lighthouse tour we took here. It was a perfect world-schooling experience. I watched as he became fascinated with the workings. Now he wants a lighthouse poster on his wall when we settle.
I’m sure I took about 400 photos here at Norah Head Lighthouse. I’d set my alarm for the sunrise photos and dash around at dusk. I could have stayed a week here and I didn’t want to leave – it was fantastic!
Seal Rocks Beach and Lighthouse
Our next night on our Australia Road Trip was booked at Seal Rocks Lighthouse Cottages. However, when we arrived at the National Park was doing some maintenance and we had to evacuate for a few hours.
One of the rangers gave us a bit of a bump-steer telling us it was about 4-6 hours before we could return so we drove down to the beach for a while.
We didn’t know what to do with ourselves, and I had some website issues to deal with and needed wifi. So, sadly we drove on. Seal Rocks Lighthouse is gorgeous and I want to make sure we stay there in their cottages next time we head down the coast. It’s a fabulous location!
We stopped off at One-Mile Beach for some photos, only to discover it was not the right One-Mile Beach! Not to worry.
A quick call to Coffs Harbour and our accommodation was brought forward a night.
Arriving at Pacific Bay Resort just in time for happy hour was my happiest part of the day! This became a nightly event, as we sat overlooking the lush green grounds as the sunset.
We loved Coffs Harbour and as soon as we arrived there we started to feel the tropical vibe with palm trees swaying wherever we went.
The Big Banana
Our Australia Road trip continues to the north coast of NSW is not complete without visiting the Big Banana. This large icon has been here since I was a kid!
Times have changed and so has the park. Gone are the tractor rides through the banana palm trees, but instead some cool rides and activities away.
Our favourite was the toboggan ride, and we went on this several times. Such fun! And don’t forget to try the choc coated frozen bananas! My ‘little sister’ reminded me of this the day before – which was perfect timing.
As we leave Coffs Harbour we mosy on up the coast stopping at a few towns including Byron Bay.
Once a hippy town, now Byron Bay is a chic place to be seen that is a magnet to the SE Asian tourists especially. The luxury properties in the hills are worth an hour where you just ‘get lost’ as we did. So beautiful!
Crossing over the border of Queensland and we both gave a big scream for joy! We were so pleased to be here. And no sooner do you cross the border and you are in the Gold Coast.
Having booked an apartment within walking distance of Surfers Paradise, this was fantastic, and I was pretty pleased with myself. We could walk to Cavill Avenue, or down onto the foreshore, where something is always happening.
Exploring Gold Coast
So, we spent days exploring the Gold Coast. Learning where suburbs were, and checking out if it was suitable for our home base. We were pretty well convinced the minute we arrived, but we’d missed the boat as far as timing went for school enrollments, but had toured several and had to choose between two when school reopens.
With that as a necessity, we decided to head north and continue up the coast. It is now school holidays for the private schools in Queensland and we’ve made our major milestone for our Road Trip.
Check out Australia Road Trip PART TWO – coming soon.