Published: April 15th 2011April 1st 2011
New South Wales does beaches like Bond does women - its nailed the age old challenge of matching quality with quantity! Wherever we go the sky is blue, the sand is white and the waves are MASSIVE! And if thats not enough with just a little effort you can usually find your very own hidden retreat to enjoy all three of these holiday-in-the-sun-staples.
After taking in the stunning Blue Mountains it was time to get back on the most famous backpacker trail on this planet - surely doing Australias east coast in a "campa" must rival skinny dipping and skydiving in the "gotta do before you die" stakes?! By now we had well and truly settled into our (equally vital) campervan roles - Claire: the determined driver with a mere 2500 kilometres of unknown Ozzy roads to negotiate, Me: in the passenger seat trying to handle the heavy burden of how to recline the seat and put together a mean ipod playlist...
The first place we stopped was Newcastle. The city lies an hour or two North of Sydney but sadly lacked the charisma of the one that lies an hour or two South of Edinburgh. Very quiet! Anyway
we didn't hang about too long - the beaches were smashing and to make up for a quiet day we went out for some fish and chips for dinner. A welcome break from cooking out the back of the camper - cooking out that tiny stove on a windy evening would test the most patient of men! One big thumbs up for Newcastle though was its humungus outdoor saltwater swimming pool - this thing wasn't far from the size of a football pitch!
Thankfully our next stop in the stunning surrounds of Nelson Bay didn't disappoint. We spent the next few days enjoying the pristine surf of One Mile Beach and strolling around this quaint seaside town. On our last night we decided it was time for an evening out - although sadly on our budget that doesn't mean cocktails and surf n turf! Nope it was trip to the local bowling club to share a beer and do the trivia night! We both had a really fun night chatting to the locals and giving our brains a long overdue workout. Unfortunately it was not to be our night though - the "Bonnie Scots" having to settle for the
wooden spoon when the final standings were read out!
Although sorry to leave behind the sights and sounds of Nelson Bay, we headed North the following day to Crowdy Bay National Park. On arriving in the secluded campsite we were greeted with countless kangaroos jumping around in the open area. And if that wasn't enough there were even several meaty monitor lizards patrolling the bush!
The next stop was in the coastal town of South West Rocks. A seaside town which probably takes the title as the most stunning on the New South Wales coast. That night we broke the bank and bought some crisps, salad and a bottle of wine. We spent the evening overlooking the bay watching the surfers below from the nearby headland.
After stopping at a Koala Hospital on route (definitely deserving of their title as the cutest creatures in Oz!) we stopped at Coffs Harbour that evening. We spent the rest of the day wondering along the boardwalk before tucking into some fish at a nearby chippy before looking for somewhere to crash. One challenge we have had to date is finding a spot to park up for the night - normally
its a toss up between the side of the highway or in a car park! Anyway that night we opted for the latter only to be woken in the morning by a full blown Sunday market the following morning! That afternoon we contemplated the cinema but once again finances decided otherwise! Ah well back to our Diagnosis Murder DVD back in the campervan! Money definitely becoming a pressing issue in Oz though - the prices makes the UK high street look like a bunch of 99p stores! As the phrase goes "not the most important thing in life - but pretty close to oxygen on the gotta have it scale!!" Before leaving Coffs Harbour we paid a visit to the infamous Big Banana Park on the way out of town. This was probably the most bizarre place you could ever visit - basically an entire amusement park dedicated to bananas with everything from "the worlds largest man made banana" to the "worlds biggest banana related gift shop". Needless to say the whole place was Claires worst nightmare!
On heading North we came across a sign on the road north for a town Mclean - claiming to be the only
Scottish town in Australia. Needless to say we pulled ourselves off the highway to see what all the fuss was about. On arriving in the town we were greeted with tartan streetlights and posters advertising everything from highland games to highland fling competitions! The real showpiece though came with a trip to the butchers - it sold everything from haggis to square sausage!
We spent that night in Yamba - a small town with beaches on three sides. We played poker that evening at the hostel before retreating to the car park with some new friends for a few Victoria Brews out the campa. The following morning i went for a run along the beach - meanwhile back at the van Claire was getting pelters from the police! Apparently staying in campervans overnight is a big no no round these parts!
Anyway really looking forward to hooking up with Tina and Paul (for the last time!) on the Gold Coast.
James and claire x
There are more photos below