Places: Brisbane-Byron Bay-Coffs Harbour-Forster-Hunter Valley-Sydney
Our next stop was Brisbane! We had only heard negative things about this city on the way round but (again) we really liked it! It had a great feel to it and we wished we could have stayed longer! We explored the city, went to a Christmas market (serving iced mulled wine!), thrashed Jamie at tennis and went to a few cool bars in the evening. Ben’s Italian girlfriend Marianna arrived from Shanghai the following day so after they both picked up their own Hippie Campervan we made our way, in convoy, to Byron Bay!
The arrival sign in Byron wrote ‘Cheer up – Slow down – Chill out’. And we did just that! Byron was a very cool, laid back town with beautiful beaches. I think the most strenuous thing we did all week was climbing to the lighthouse at 5am to watch the sunrise from the most easterly point in Oz. Oh and cook a Christmas dinner! Byron was where we spent Christmas! And what a great Christmas it was (despite feeling nothing like Christmas)! My cousin Will, his girlfriend Amy and their friend Ashleigh all joined us for the festive period. Will and Amy had rented a house the other side of town so Jamie and I cooked everyone a Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve which was great fun. Then on the day itself we all tried our hand at surfing, soaked up the sun on the beach, followed by a fabulous barbie courtesy of Ben and Mariana. The only slight mishap was that we drank all our booze on Christmas Eve and nowhere sold alcohol on Christmas Day.. So we had rather a dry one!
Will and Amy flew back to Sydney the day after Boxing Day but us ‘Campervaners’ took a slow 3 day pace to get back. We had experienced the most beautiful weather in Byron but the day we left, it absolutely poured for 2 days solid with no let up whatsoever! We stopped at some beautiful beach towns but we couldn’t even see the beach through the rain lashing down on our windscreens. We played cards and drank hot chocolate for 2 days! Although, we did stop off at a koala hospital which was a pretty good thing to do on a rainy day. We also cruelly put Marianna through her paces as she cooked us a risotto out the back of 2 campers in the pouring rain!! Needless to say it was delicious!!
For our final day and night we took Ben and Marianna back to the Hunter Valley wine region where the sun shone and we had a great day cycling around the vineyards getting rather merry! – Stocking up for New Years Eve as we went. It was a great last day to spend on our road trip around oz.
It only took a couple of hours to drive back to Sydney from the Hunter. WE’D MADE IT!! We had done a whole lap of oz, driven 18,500kms and we’d survived!! It felt so surreal that we’d actually done it (I of course cried!).
We stayed at our friends Hannah and Matt’s house when we arrived back in Manly and we felt like we’d died and gone to heaven. A real bed, our own bathroom… Bliss!! But all of a sudden our Aussie adventure with Mazie was coming to a close and it was time to put her back on Gumtree to sell
New Years Eve came around in a flash and Sydney was buzzing! Thanks to our amazing Aussie friends Nat and Tim, we had all been very lucky to be invited to a barbie in the evening at Tim’s brothers, on the other side of the harbour bridge. The location was unbelievable with incredible views of the harbour bridge. People had been camped out all day to get a glimpse of the fireworks and there we were turning up in the evening, sipping champers with front row seats. The fireworks were awesome and we had a great night; one that we will never forget.
Ben and Marianna’s last night soon came round so we all went our for dinner at the Sydney Tower; a 360 degree revolving restaurant overlooking the city. It was a great evening but sad to see the two of them go..
Nevertheless we had a van to sell! And what a piece of cake that was! 1st buyer, a couple from Essex, took one took at our beautiful Mazie and she was taken from us the following day! And at a higher price than what we paid for her!! It was such a relief to have sold her but it was also so so sad!! Our little home on wheels was gone in a flash – I of course cried when I saw her off.
We couldn’t dwell too much as we had lots of visitors arriving! Jamie’s friend Jonty was in Sydney and both his sisters, future brother-in-law James, and my friend Maria all arrived for our last week in Ozzie land. We had a great week re-doing all the Sydney sights and catching up with everyone. We were so lucky to have so many people visit us! Our last few days shot round but we had a great time spending it with Will and Amy in Manly and we’ll really miss them! (Of course we’re really jealous that there now living in beautiful Manly).
Nine months in Australia, a year of planning and all of a sudden it was time for us to go. Australia’s an incredible place! We have made some amazing friends and will never forget our time spent there.
Positive lessons: Australia is bloody huge!!
Next stop: The Cook Islands..!
Love Charlotte & Jamie x x
Sunrise from the most easterly point on mainland Oz
Catherine and James in town