(I am backtracking a bit, to finish telling you about Australia). After we cancelled our plans in NZ due to the earthquake, we were left a bit puzzled and unsure of where to go. Looking back, we are so pleased we got a chance to explore Australia further as it was not initially ranking high on our list of dream-destinations. We retrieved to Sydney for a few days (which now feels like home!), and from there took a low cost flight to Byron Bay (Ballina airport) and chased the sun. We literally checked the weather every day.
Yes, this was the view from our shed when we woke up. (6am, always punctual, thank you Amalya…Ok, sometimes it’s 5:45am…)
This is the hippie / sydneysider creative families gone rural / small farm land where all things eco and organic matter. Loved it! When you drive inland from the coast, they call it the hinterland, a term I’ve got to use and abuse as I just love the way it sounds. The Hinterlands. The Shed with a View does exactly what it promises, ie. a small and simple little house but nicely appointed, with the most beautiful view over the never ending green valleys (book it through The Earth House, same owners).
Hens, goose, cows, Chocolate the labrador and countless insects visited us while we were there. Life was simple and easy, complete with outdoor shower with sometimes cold water, and eco-toilets ie. compostable non-flush (have you ever tried? A real experience in itself!) A small corner of paradise in the countryside, yet very near the beautiful beach of Byron Bay (our favorite: clark beach, near the ice cream shop). The owners Jackie and Alistair are a very kind and down to earth couple who used to own a huge farm in the center of Australia (loved their family tales of schooling with morse code, and getting mail once a week with the groceries!).
Activities in the day included walking in the national parks in the area, visiting surrounding macadamia and pecan nuts farms, seeing a beautiful waterfall and spending the sunset at the beach.
Second stop: The Glass House mountains, just past the border into the state of Queensland (yes, the one that has got all the terrible natural disasters these past few months, cyclones, floodings etc.. it’s all over now). Stayed at a really low key and super friendly lodge named appropriately the Glass House Eco-Lodge. The area has beautiful landscape and is rich in aboriginal culture. And from there we were just 10 min away from the big Australia Zoo of late Steve Irwin aka The Crocodile Hunter. I got a bit fed up of feeding animals and visiting sanctuaries by then but it’s always a trade-off when you travel, isn’t it?
They offer poney riding at the Australia zoo…And the children can cuddle with the kangaroos too.
Third Stop: Noosa Heads one hour north, famed for its beach and its natural park. Did not see much as the weather was lousy (no really, thank you Mr Weather Channel..) but the washing machines at Maison Noosa were super efficient and did not require coins, a big plus when you’re traveling for five months.
the wonders of Apple…an iPad on my left, a Macbook on my right…
Last Stop: Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world (2h30 drive north), and a World-Heritage protected place with an amazing eco-system. We did 2 days there, sleeping at Kingfisher Bay resort, which was perfectly comfortable and pleasant. But I regretted not having enough time to research for a good camping site.
You can’t bring your campervan or your car to Fraser Island and it’s only accessible to 4 WD (above, the 4 WD bus from our day tour with Kingfisher bay resort), but there are many campsites for a base, as long as you are part of a group or well organized, which we were not. The highlights of our stay on famous Fraser island: taking a short flight over the island and landing on the beach, seeing the shipwreck, swimming in lake McKenzie, swimming in the cold streams and trekking through the dense forest. Breathe in…Breathe out…
From then, it was back to Brisbane airport, for our non stop flight to Nadi International airport aka the paradise of FIJI. We’re in heaven. Will send pictures soon ’cause the words won’t do it justice.
SO LONG AUSTRALIA.