30 May Our Trip down the East Coast of Australia – Part 2
After snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, sailing the Whitsundays and driving 430 miles down the East Coast, we were eager to see what else was in store for us during the second half of our Australian road trip. If you haven’t read about the first half of our road trip you can check it out here.
Driving the East Coast of Australia
We started the next leg of our trip in Rockhampton. We hadn’t heard particularly exciting reviews about this city and associated it mainly with the devastating floods that occurred there a few years ago. We would have skipped it entirely had the drive between Airlie Beach and 1770 not been so long; instead we scheduled a brief overnight stop here before heading onwards.
Named after the year Captain Cook landed there, 1770 is a worthwhile diversion off the main tourist trail. One of Andrew’s relatives who we met during our week in Sydney raved about this sleepy beach haven so we were excited to check it out. We found acres of rugged shoreline and sandy beaches with fierce waves to explore and had a peaceful time staying in a backpackers retreat in the middle of nowhere. 1770 was a great place to relax; the nights were surprisingly cold, the sky riddled with stars and buzzing with hungry mosquitoes.
For some reason, even though we didn’t do a lot and had a horrid brush with bedbugs while we were there, we loved our stay in Hervey Bay. Unlike many of the places we visited in Australia, in Hervey Bay the locals seemed to outnumber the tourists; we could wander down to the beach from our hostel and see people fishing off the pier, walking their dogs along the sand and even competing in a triathlon. Our hostel offered free bikes so we spent one afternoon riding them around the whole bay, whizzing around the harbour and along the esplanade towards the sun setting over the sea – it was one of my favourite days in Australia.
We didn’t exactly hit it off with Brisbane; in fact, after getting hopelessly lost driving around confusing one-way systems looking for a Tourist Information Centre we were considering just driving straight out the other side. Eventually though, once we’d found a place to stay and had some food in our bellies we started to make friends with Brisbane. We wandered down to the South Bank in time to see the sun set spectacularly over the futuristic skyline – it reminded me a bit of Canary Wharf in London (except for the palm trees). We didn’t have time to explore much more of Brisbane as the next day we set off to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where we had a great time meeting all sorts of cute and weird Australian animals.
Our stay in Surfers’ Paradise was doomed from the moment we arrived to a leaden-grey sky which quickly gave way to a heavy downpour. Over the next couple of days, every time we stepped out of our hotel it seemed to start raining again – this was definitely not the sunny Australia we’d envisioned. Added to the miserable weather we didn’t like the feel of Surfers’ Paradise with its shiny glass buildings and plush apartment blocks – everything seemed very soulless and flashy; exactly what I imagine LA to be like.
On the last day of our road trip down the East Coast we took a trip to Byron Bay. We made it down to the beach in time for the rain to start lashing down on us again; from there we sloshed back to the car and drove up to the famous lighthouse, which looked pretty atmospheric actually against the moody sky. We thought Byron Bay looked like a pretty nice, bohemian place; full of coffee shops, book stores and vegan restaurants but it’s also quite expensive and I’m glad we didn’t opt to spend more time there.
So that concludes our three-week Australian road trip; next up – a brand new adventure in a totally different country – Indonesia.