Trip up Australias East Coast to the Great Barrier Reef in Carins
So after 10 days in Melbourne I’m about to hit the road. It’s been pretty good, I’ve stayed with my sister and her fiancé, sat my AWS Associate Developer certification which I passed and explored a bit of the city. I’ve mainly stuck around Richmond as that’s where my sister’s based but it’s an area that I like, especially having the Yarra so accessible to walk along.
Still it’s time to hit the road and see a bit of Australia and see if I think it’s a place I can live in.
Lakes Entrance, Australia
I picked up my rental car in the middle of Melbourne then my made my way out to Lakes Entrance, about 4 hours east of Melbourne on the coast. This actually made for a lovely start, with a nice stretch of beach and an abundance of birdlife living in the estuary between the beach and the township.
I headed out to Cape Conran in the morning where I went for a small hike along the nature trail, taking a dip in the sea at the end to cool down as the temperature was in the mid 30s. I almost stomped on a Monitor Lizard taking a short cut between the trails but he was much more aware of what was going on, taking off before I got too close and giving me a decent fright.
Next I headed to Mallacoota where I grabbed a bite to eat from a local cafe before driving down the coast to Secret Beach. Now the plan had been to get a decent hike in as there’s a nice coastal trail along here but it was hitting 40 and I had the secluded little beach to myself, so it turned into an afternoon swimming in the sea instead.
After I’d enough of the sun and sand I headed up to Merimbula where I found my motel didn’t have aircon so I’d have to swelter my way through the night.
In the morning I grabbed breakfast by the waterfront before taking a stroll along the boardwalk that sides the lake.
I’d planned to go for a hike at Sandy Creek in the afternoon but I didn’t have coins for the parking meter so explored Merimbula a bit more. I took the path from Rotary Park along the harbour front down to Bar Beach then took the track out to the point. At the end there was a side trail leading down to rocky shore below so I headed down, then as the tide was out made my way back along the shoreline. Quite fun climbing over the rocky outcrops to get back before taking the path back up from Middle Beach.
Batesman Bay, Australia
I headed north to Tilba Tilba, a historic little town where I grabbed breakfast at Pam’s Store before starting on the trail that started just outside up to Mt Gulaga. It was a bit of a cloudy day and the summit was buried in the cloud. The climb was up almost the entire way, following a wide trail that started in farm land before winding it’s way through the rainforest covered hills. The higher I got the more the rain part made itself known, as the mist became thicker the moisture dropped down from the trees above and even though it wasn’t raining I was soon soaked.
Near the top a map indicated that there was a “steep ascent” available and when I saw a promising trail in the right place I decided to head up it. If it was the correct starting location I soon lost the path and found myself scrambling over dead trees and through thorny vines. I did eventually emerge scraped and banged up at the summit after what was only a 250m climb, but it definitely wasn’t a path I’d followed up in the end.
The decent of course was a breeze, straight down the entire way and drying out the lower I descended.
I headed to Batesman Bay in the afternoon, a little tourist town, where I checked into some nice accomodation for the night just before the rain arrived.
Greenwell Point, Australia
The plan today had been to explore Jervis Bay but I ran out of energy and took a chill day. The parks in NSW all seem to require paying park fees which is a pain as I don’t have coins for the parking meters they use. It’s pretty off putting when you’re already not sure that you’re that interested.
I’d booked a motel in Greenwell Point which is nearby Jervis Bay and found it to be a quite little coastal town with not much going on. Perfect for my current mood. It’s got a short but pretty walk along the shoreline that made for a pleasant stroll and fish and chip shop that served up a great feed that I enjoyed on a park bench by the harbour.
Simon, one of the guys I did the trans Mongolian with a few years lives in Wollongong so I headed that way to catch up. I had most of the day to fill so did some hiking up Mt Kembla which gave a nice view of the coast.
Feeling a bit hungover the next morning took the train up to Sydney to catch up with David, another mate from the vodka train trip, before heading back down to Wollongong for an all nighter that I was still recovering from two days later.
I'd planned to get to Manly on Sunday but as we'd still been going at midday had postponed until Monday. I was catching up with Andy, a work mate on holiday from the UK but I was still in recovery mode and not the best company.
I found Manly itself lovely, nice beach full of surfers and pretty girls, easy to see the attraction.
Port Macquarie, Australia
Given that I'd lost a day I blasted up the coast. The fact that it was raining the entire day only encouraged me to keep going.
I stopped at Tea Gardens for lunch along the way and got into Port Macquarie in the afternoon. Nice little Harbour town that I didn't get a chance to explore much, the rain arriving not long after I did.
Byron Bay, Australia
I'd been planning to just head up to Coffs Harbour but the forecast was terrible and it looked like there was better weather north so I kept going. Given some of the torrential downpours I drove through probably a good idea.
I did get a brief look at Coffs Harbour as I passed through but wasn't overly impressed. Without checking out the beaches that's a harsh judgement to make though, as all these places seem to focus on the water.
I ended my day in Byron Bay, a cute little surf town. There was a bit of rain here but just light showers and I managed to get the Cape Lighthouse walk in without getting too wet before enjoying a swim in the sea. The coast was absolutely packed with surfers, never seen so many before, the whole town including its visitors seemed to be turned out.
Gold Coast, Australia
Bit of a pitstop to recuperate here. It's a built up Beach known for its shopping and nightlife so not really my scene. I stayed in Broadbeach and didn't quite make it up to Surfers but made the most of what civilisation had to offer.
I headed inland in the morning to Springbook National Park where I hiked the Warrie Circuit. This was a really cool walk, starting at the top of the escarpment with views of the Gold Coast on the horizon then dipping down into the valley floor below past a bunch of waterfalls.
Highlight was a couple of blue crayfish I came across along the path. The first I almost stomped on before I saw him scuttling backwards waving his claws in the air. The second was a monster sitting in a palm frond in the middle of the path.
Sunshine Coast, Australia
After the hike I headed up to the Sunshine coast where I stayed the night before heading to Noosa Heads in the morning. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and the place was absolutely packed so I flagged the walk I had planned as finding a car park was clearly going to be a nightmare. It looked really pretty out there, which I assume is why it was so busy, so it was a shame but I had to get down to Brisbane.
I caught up with Ryan in Brisbane who is a friend from college. Had some good food and saw a bit of the town but there was a bit of heat wave on so I was happy to chill out a bit and not explore so much. Did stop at Kangaroo Point for a view of the city which was quite pretty.
Airlie Beach, Australia
I flew up to Proserpine then jumped on the bus into Airlie Beach where I was catching up with Manuel, a guy I work with Spindrift who was on hols in Australia. We signed up for a three day sailing/snorkelling trip around the Whitsundays on Wednesday then just chilled by the Lagoon for a couple of days.
Airlie Beach is a little backpackers town and the starting point for most trips out into the Whitsundays. The Lagoon is a huge man made pool that dominates the beachfront as for half the year you can't swim in the waters because of the jellyfish that inhabit the warm waters. It's really well done and a great place to relax and escape the worst of the heat.
+15/07/2017The Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands, Australia
We joined our crew just after midday on Silent Night. It's a fairly small yacht and there twelve of us crammed in.
The first day was overcast with rain and getting to sleep was a struggle in the humidity. We got a snorkel in during the afternoon at Hook Island near Nara Inlet though the visibility wasn't fantastic.
A brief stop in a humid little town. Not a great deal to say or do but for me a stop off point to Magnetic Island.
Magnetic Island, Australia
This was a lovely chilled out little island and a nice place to relax for a couple of days. I got a good hike in around some of the small bays then up to the old world war 2 fort on the top of the hill. Lying on the rocks between bays at one point I managed to get a proper red band of sunburn around my stomach where my t-shirt rode up as I stretched out.
Mission Beach, Australia
A quite stop this on the way up to Cairns. It was a nice long beach but only a couple of sections had nets where you could swim and I've heard enough warnings now to not try swimming outside them in these parts.
+23/07/2017Great Barrier Reef
My Australian trip ended up in Cairns with the main event, the Great Barrier Reef. I find it harder to dive these days but the Great Barrier Reef has been on my list of must dos for a while and I got a good days diving in up here.
The diving was decent, not as great as what I remember Central America being but then it was all new to me as well. I struggled a bit on the first dive as I normally do these days to regulate my breathing but was good after that.
I had a week booked in Cairns to give me some time to get through a small piece of work that had come up but was struggling with the humidity so jumped back to NZ early to finish it off.