Adventures living as expats.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hunter Valley to Brizzy road trip

The next 5 days of our trip can be summed up in just two words - incredible beaches.  I recall one Aussie friend being unimpressed by a beautiful beach on Java, and now I can see why!  The entire coast between Sydney and Brisbane is packed full of crystal clear water, fine sand, blue sky, rolling waves, and very few people.

Our first stop was Seal Rocks for a picnic lunch on the beach.
We had the beach all to ourselves!
We continued on to Port Macquarie, where we got a lesson on operating the campervan fridge after flipping every switch we could find unsuccessfully.  We enjoyed the sunset and had drinks / dinner with our new friends Pete and Clare, who shared some great recommendations for a local fishmonger.  The next morning I captured the unbelievable sunrise along the breakwall, while Jeff caught a few extra zzzzzz's.  On our way out of town, we bought and immediately devoured a dozen fresh oysters before hitting the road.
Port Mac sunrise 
We arrived at Hat Head National Park, and found a rustic camp spot where we could relax to the sounds of the ocean.  That night Jeff and I couldn't get over how bright the stars were; the sky was literally glowing.  We later learned that the Southern Hemisphere sky is brighter because it points toward the Milky Way.  We even had a few adventurous wallabies wander right through our campsite.
Hat Head National Park
Best buds
The next morning we walked up to the Smokey Cape Lighthouse where we were stunned by the breathtaking beach views.  One our way to Wooloomba, we took a detour through Dorrigo National Park and Waterfall Way where we found ourselves on a bumpy, windy dirt road for an hour to avoid backtracking.  Jeff grinned the whole way, pretending he was 4-wheeling in our old Jeep and insisting that I take multiple photos of the road.  
Smokey Cape
Lunch along waterfall way - fresh oysters, fish, salad, and wine 
Danger falls
Jeff's favorite part of the drive
Our next stop was the surfing town of Byron Bay which has the coolest little downtown area and a super relaxing vibe.  We window shopped and found a butcher with dry aged steak which of course we had to try.  Jeff and I were amazed by the high quality meats all over Australia.  Each town has a butcher with an enormous selection of every type of meat you could ever want - dry aged, cured, smoked, marinated, homemade sausages.  This is one of those luxuries that you just can't find in Jakarta and in our 3 week trip, browsing at the butchers never got old.
These dry aged steaks were so tasty, we had to pick up a few more on our way out of town
Morning swim in Byron Bay
5 star brekky from the campervan
Burleigh Heads, in the Gold Coast was our final night in the campervan.  We met up with our friends Simon and Michelle for drinks along the beach.  The next morning we realized how attached we'd become to our campervan and reminisced about the past 5 days before returning it in Brisbane.

Love these signs!
Final night in Burleigh Heads


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