At the beginning of December 2017, I returned to Australia from beautiful New Zealand. My plane arrived in the early morning in Brisbane. I took a train to get out of the big city and left the Gold Coast and tropical Queensland behind. I got off the train in Cabarita Beach, where I caught up with my boyfriend to continue my travels in Australia.
In New South Wales our itinerary looked like this: Cabarita Beach – Pottsville Beach – South Golden Beach – Mount Jerusalem National Park – Brunswick Heads – Repentence Creek – Minyon Falls – Coopers Creek – Byron Bay (Cape Byron Lighthouse, Clarkes Beach, Belongil Beach , Broken Head) – Killen Falls – Broadwater National Park – Evans Head – Grafton – Blicks River – Dorrigo National Park – Danger Falls – Dorrigo Plateau – Urunga – Nambucca Heads – Port Macquarie – Seal Rocks (Lighthouse) – Nelson Bay – Anna Bay – Port Stephens – Sydney (Harbour Bridge, Opera) – Blue Mountains (Walls Lookout, Three Sisters, Pulpit Rock) – Fitzroy Falls – Hampden Bridge – Jervis Bay – Huskisson – Hyams Beach – Dolphin Point Beach – Pebbly Beach (Murramarang National Park) – Camel Rock – Blue Rock Pool (Bermagui) – Tura Headland (Rock Pool) – Pambula Beach – crossing the border to Victoria – Lakes Entrance (Jemmys Point Lookout) – Ninety Mile Beach – Seaspray – Agnes Falls – Wilson’s Promontory (Tidal River, Whiskey Bay, Squeaky Beach, Mt. Oberon) – Walkerville – Cape Liptrap – Phillip Island (Seals Rock Lookout, The Nobbies Blowhole, Penguin Parade) – Mornington Peninsula (Arthur’s Seat, Rye Ocean Beach) – Melbourne (Elwood Beach, Queen Victoria Markets)
It was summer in Australia now, so we mostly tried to stay in the shade. The sun was burning hot during the day, especially around lunchtime and in the afternoon. The first couple of days we stopped at several beaches along the coast. When we reached Brunswick Heads, a small town (or rather village) with a very nice local pub, we decided to stay. Later that evening we went to the Brunswick Hotel for dinner. There is nothing better than sitting outside on a nice summer evening and listening to live music in the beer garden!
A couple of days after Brunswick Heads we visited the breathtaking Minyon Falls, which descends more than 100m over a sheer cliff face. We hiked the 7.5 km loop track that took us down to the base of the falls.
One day later, we arrived in the well-known and popular surf town Byron Bay. We stayed there for six days in total. During this time we explored many of Byron’s beautiful beaches – Clarkes Beach, Belongil Beach and Broken Head. One of the best things was jumping into the ocean on most mornings for a swim. We also saw countless beautiful sunsets, including a sunset from Cape Byron Lighthouse, which offered great views over the hinterland.
The town of Byron was full of life. There were many young people, hippies and artists in the streets. I also met some friends who I knew from Cairns in a small café. During my time in Byron, I was unfortunately not lucky enough to see any humpback whales. They usually pass the area in June/ July and between September and November. They can be seen all along the east coast of Australia. Unfortunately I was a bit late too see them since I was travelling in December. I still hope to see these animals one day.
After a nice time in Byron, we continued our travels to Dorrigo National Park, which is listed as a World Heritage Site like the Great Barrier Reef. We explored the beautiful Danger Falls and went to the Dorrigo Plateau. I did some hiking trails including the Lyrebird Walking track and the Wonga Walk Circuit (5.8km), each winding their way through dense rainforest. I also had an amazing treetop view over the rainforest from a viewing platform, the so-called Canopy Skywalk.
The next day we reached Nambucca Heads, a beautiful coastal town with a great sandy beach. After a short stop there, we drove to Port Macquarie, another holiday town, and then onto Seal Rocks. At Seal Rocks we went up to a small beautiful lighthouse enjoying the amazing view. Sadly there are no seals living there any longer. One day later we explored Anna Bay, Nelson Bay and Port Stephens, which are located near or in the Tomaree National Park. We went for a long walk along the beach. Later in the day, we climbed the Tomaree Head Summit. This was a 2.2km long and partly steep hike but we were rewarded with a beautiful view.
When we got closer to Sydney we decided to make a day trip to the metropolis, despite the threat of city traffic. Above all, I wanted to see at the main sights. We tried to avoid toll roads, which unfortunately proved not so easy. We ended up driving across the Harbour Bridge by accident and had to pay a toll for the experience. Anyway, we found a good and not too expensive car park in the city centre. We allowed ourselves two or three hours to see the city. We came across some markets and I saw a Bavarian brewery that really made me smile. Then we had a look at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. I took a few pictures there, of course. After a long walk all around the Sydney harbour and after having a coffee in the city, we decided that it was time leave the metropolis. We got back on the road and into the traffic, and finally got out of there.
After much driving in and around Sydney, we had a much more pleasant destination the next day: The Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains is a beautiful mountainous region around 1000m above sea level, with waterfalls and gorges everywhere! They owe their name to the blue haze that results from ejected oil particles from the eucalyptus trees. It can be seen especially in the morning as a fine mist. We hiked to the Walls Lookout, which offers breathtaking views and is less touristy than other areas. We stayed there for a long time, as we couldn’t get enough of the view. We also had a great view from the Pulpit Rock Lookout, although this was a little more adventurous to reach due to the steep slope and sheer cliffs on either side. Finally, we took a look at the popular but less spectacular Three Sisters in Katoomba. After that we visited the Wentworth Falls, which were a little more interesting.
We continued our journey south and stopped at Fitzroy Falls and then Hampden Bridge, Australia’s oldest suspension bridge. We reached Jervis Bay and Huskisson. This is again a holiday region with crystal clear water and white sandy beaches, which didn’t seem that amazing. The whitest beach in the world is said to be at Hyams Beach, where we went swimming the next morning. The sand was wonderfully soft and white, but we doubt that it is the whitest beach in the world. Anyway, we continued on and spotted our next stop just off the highway, Dolphin Point Beach. We hadn’t planed to stop there, but it looked very nice for swimming. We enjoyed the beach and the clear water and kept going after that to our actual destination – Pebbly Beach. This place is located in the Murramarang National Park and is especially known for its many kangaroos living right next to the sea. We were lucky enough to see several kangaroos there, some hopped just a few meters past us – an amazing experience! It is very rare to see kangaroos so close to the beach. We went swimming again and saw many more animals (parrots, goanas and lizards). We spent the whole day there.
Then we had a look at a rock formation called “Camel Rock”, which looked similar to a camel. The next morning, we went swimming in the Blue Rock Pool in Bermagui despite the stormy weather. The man-made pool is located very close to the ocean so that it fills itself with sea water and is freely accessible to anyone. It’s a great place for swimming and it impressed me a lot. Later we also discovered a natural rock pool in Tura Headland. Then we reached Pambula Beach.
The next day we crossed the border to Victoria. We stopped at Lakes Entrance and enjoyed a good view from Jemmys Point Lookout. Then we drove on to the Ninety Mile Beach, which offers plenty of free camping spots right at the beach front. So, we decided to spend the night there. The next morning we drove through Seaspray and made a short stop at Agnes Falls. Then we reached our destination for the day – Wilson’s Promontory National Park. This is located on a promontory, which is characterized by granite mountains. We climbed Mt. Oberon, from where we had an overview of the entire National Park. After that we went for a swim and cooled off in Tidal River, which flows into the ocean. Then we went for a walk on Squeaky Beach where the sand is especially nice. It is white and soft and makes squeaky noises. I also saw my first wombat in Wilson’s Promontory and of course many Kangoroos and colourful birds. That evening, on the way out of the National Park, we saw a wonderful sunset at Whiskey Bay.
We then drove via Walkerville and Cape Liptrap to Phillip Island, where we spent the Christmas holidays. Our first stop was at Woolamai Beach, a beautiful beach where we went swimming and took a shower. Then we drove on to the other end of the island, which is mainly known for the Formula One Grand Prix and the Penguin Parade. We drove to the Seals Rock Lookout and were able to see a seal colony on the rocks in the distance. The main attraction is the wild penguin colony. The penguins live in small wooden houses and are easy to watch from the board walk. The so-called “Nobbies Blowhole” is rather unspectacular.
We spent Christmas on Phillip Island and enjoyed the warm weather. It was strange to experience a warm Christmas on the beach when I am used to a cold Christmas in Europe. Unfortunately, I didn’t see and Christmas lights or decorations in Australia and no Christmas markets anywhere. This normally gives you the Christmas feeling leading up to Christmas Day. It was hard for me to get into the Christmas mood because it’s summer in Australia and there’s no snow anywhere. Christmas is also celebrated in Australia on the morning of the 25th. I didn’t really care when we celebrated Christmas, but we chose the Australian version, which coincides with the 24th in the evening in Europe due to the different time zones. Instead of having a traditional Christmas dinner like ham or turkey, we had a big brunch with various finger food and it was really nice! In the evening we went to see the Penguin Parade – my Christmas present! This was one of my best experiences in Australia so far! Imagine sitting on a huge stage in the middle of a sand dune and waiting with other people for the sun to set and the penguins to return from fishing out at sea. We learned that the penguins go fishing early in the morning and do not return until after sunset. It is especially nice to see them lining up in a row to leave the sea together, then suddenly turning around and running back and sliding on their bellies into the sea . This is really funny to observe but it is very serious for the penguins. They only do this because they fear predators like foxes, seals and eagles. Finally you can watch them leaving the sea, walking across the beach to their houses and feeding the chicks. It was an incredibly beautiful and unforgettable experience and a great Christmas present!
After some beautiful days on Phillip Island, we drove along the Mornington Peninsula for a day trip and stopped at the surf beach Rye Ocean Beach. It was a quiet day there, but the waves seemed pretty big to me – I probably just have no idea. We went swimming despite the large waves and spent half the day there. In the evening we drove back up the Peninsula and went to a lookout at Arthurs Seat, where we had a good view of the Melbourne skyline.
The next day we arrived in Melbourne which was very busy just like Sydney. Once again we tried to avoid all toll roads. This time we succeeded. We had breakfast at Elwood Beach and also went swimming there. Then we drove to the city centre and went to the Queen Victoria Markets, which offer a variety of different stalls. We had a smoothie there and I ate mussels for the first time in my life. The next morning I took a plane from Melbourne to Tasmania to continue my travels there.
My TOP 10 Highlights between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne:
- Brunswick Heads
- Byron Bay
- Dorrigo National Park
- Tomaree Head Summit
- Blue Mountains
- Pebbly Beach
- Blue Rock Pool Bermagui
- Wilsons Promontory
- Phillip Island