Australia March-April 2016 Trip Report, Part 3 - New South Wales Road Trip

Hello everyone,

In the last two parts of my report I shared with you Jon and I's travels around the beautiful city of Sydney. After our stay in Sydney we rented a car and travelled up the east coast of Australia, through New South Wales, and eventually as far as the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, in Queensland. In this part I am going to share with you the fun we had along the way while driving through New South Wales.

Driving north out of Sydney, we had to stop for breakfast on the first morning of the drive, and found a little local bakery called Roger Bakery. If you're ever passing through Turramurra, just north of Sydney, it's worth a stop at the Roger Bakery for its amazing pastries and other baked goods.

Driving onwards, we stopped in the city of Newcastle. We walked along the beach, and in a rather typical British - and now I know also Australian - fashion, we got chips from a beachfront location and walked along enjoying the sea air and blue skies, with chips in hand.

Just a little north of Newcastle are the twin towns of Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest. We stopped here because I had found out that there was a large koala reserve here, and we were determined to see a koala in the wild! We drove along the main road, and parked at a designated parking location, and then walked for a while along the edge of the reserve to see if we could spot anything. Unfortunately we didn't, but we gave it our best shot! We learned later that koalas are really quite shy, and they hide well in the trees, and even if you live in an area with a lot of koalas, you may rarely see them. We did see a really funny police station while we were walking around though, which you can see in the photos below.

Travelling further north, we stayed over in a place called Cooperabung, which is near the coastal town of Port Macquarie. In Cooperabung we stayed at the Telegraph Retreat. We only stayed the night, but we were quite impressed. We had the studio room that was next to the main reception, but had we stayed longer we would have chosen one of the actual cottages they are more well known for. The studio itself was really nice. It was well maintained and clean, and had all the amenities you would expect from a higher end room. The bathroom even came complete with pet frog! I am partly joking here, because of course the frog wasn't intentional, but we did find one on the shower door. I don't at all blame Telegraph Retreat because, ultimately, we were pretty much out in the wilds, and it is Australia. You pretty much have to expect a whole manner of critters, and get on with it!

That night we ate at a local pub, and I have to admit, it was very much a local place. I doubt they get foreign visitors very often at all - but with that said, they were very welcoming and friendly, and as I said multiple times in my previous report about our dining experiences, the food was excellent and they even had vegetarian options.

Port Macquarie itself is a nice town, although there isn't much there. There was a small mall which we got lunch at, and there were a lot of koala statues around the town, which were fun to take photos of.

The next stop was Coffs Harbour where we stayed over for one night in the Beachpark Apartments. I have to say, of the six different accommodations we stayed at in Australia, the Beachpark Apartments were the most disappointing (in fact, it was really the only downside of the entire trip). The room I felt was not represented accurately online, and in fact was a little dirty and not well maintained. Luckily, we were only there for the night while on our road trip, so we made the most of it and didn't let it spoil anything. Coffs Harbour itself wasn't a particularly thrilling place, but the beach was nice, and they had a mall.

That evening we ate at a local beachfront place that was very lively and very popular. Actually, we really enjoyed it, and, as I keep saying, they had decent vegetarian options too.

Next door to the pub/restaurant was a "bottle mart", which was basically a drive through off-license/liquor store. I thought that was pretty funny.

In the morning we got up and walked along the beach for a while, which was really nice, and then got breakfast at a stunning beachfront location, where I ended up having the best pancakes I have ever had!

Before I talk about our last road trip destination, here are some random photos of driving up the coast that don't quite fit with everything else.

Marching ever onwards, we stopped at my favourite road trip destination, Byron Bay. The drive up the cliffside is really something, and the views when you get to the top are indescribable. My photos do not do it justice at all. Cape Byron is the most easterly point on mainland Australia, and there are signs noting as such. There is a lighthouse, which is pearly white and pristine (just like everything in Australia). The cafeteria at the lighthouse, once again, did not disappoint with the food options. Byron Bay/Cape Byron is highly recommended - it is absolutely beautiful.

Since these don't really fit anywhere else, I also wanted to mention that we stopped at a post office along the drive, and just because they were new and different to us, I took a photo of the stamps. I also took a photo of the plug/electrical outlets that are used in Australia. I know it's pretty obvious that they would use a different system than other countries, but I thought it was worth pointing out anyway.

Finally for this report, I want to talk about "driver reviver". Along the main motorway up and down the east coast we kept seeing signs for "driver reviver", which often was advertised along with free drinks. We passed a couple of signs, and eventually curiosity got the better of me, and I had to stop! The location we stopped at was called Bellingen Shire. There was a visitor centre with a shop, bathrooms, picnic tables, and indeed free drinks. I like the concept, and think it's a great idea in order to keep drivers awake and refreshed while on long trips. The funny thing was the odd opening hours. We got there at around 4.15pm, and by the time we left, the place was closing up for the day! (Opening hours in Australia can take some getting used to, and something that I am going to talk about more specifically in my next report.)

That's everything for this report. The next part, which I hope to post sometime next week, will be about the Gold Coast, in Queensland.

Have a great day everyone,