We set off from Surfers Paradise in Queensland and headed towards our destination in New South Wales
The Toyota Landcruiser and the off-road caravan arrived in the morning.
The vehicle was amazing! The owner had tricked it out for a life off-road. Winch (for when we got ‘bogged’ in sand or stuck in the outback) Check! CB radio (to talk to lorry drivers to check if we could pass their road trains safely) Check! Tube to put fishing rods in. Check! Uprated suspension (to travel safely over rocks) Check! Beer fridge in the back. Check! The interior was full leather and there was a range of interesting knobs, dials, and switches, all of which were after-market, for driving in the outback, the bush, and the desert. Perfect.
The caravan was also made for off-road capabilities. It had a slide-out barbie (bar-b-que), and all the mod cons. I set about putting our belongings into it to make it home for the next few months.
That afternoon it absolutely poured it down, but it was still hot. It didn’t dampen our spirits though. We were excited to be here, and couldn’t wait to start our ‘Big Lap’
We slept that night in the caravan and woke in the morning to lovely sunshine. My brother-in-law and his children were joining us for the first 10 days of our trip.
We set off from Surfers Paradise in Queensland and headed towards our destination in New South Wales. We had decided to start our trip at Southwest Rocks, Arakoon. We chose an off-grid campsite at Trial Bay, overlooking the sea.
After about 4 hours on the road, we saw signs for The Big Banana. Intrigued, we decided to make that our first stop-off, so that we could stretch our legs and have a coffee.
The kids jumped out and posed for photos in front of the banana. I decided to go into the caravan and check that everything was still in place.
Oh my goodness!!
When I opened the door, I was met with an awful smell. What we didn’t know, as inexperienced caravanners, that you shouldn’t travel ANYWHERE with ANYTHING in the black tank… as it will swish about and leak. I armed myself with rubber gloves, bleach, and cleaning rags, and spent the whole time trying to get rid of the mess. Everyone thought it was hilarious…apart from me.
Luckily, no photos were taken of this event, but I do have one of the Big Banana for you. (Which is a far better image than me cleaning poop)
Back on the road after poop-gate, and we eventually arrived at Trial Bay after another couple of hours. We immediately set up or little camp, lit a fire (as you do when you’re with an Aussie) and then decided to give fishing another go. (We had bought a new spool for the trip after the other one ‘nested’)
As we were fishing the neighbours came by to say G’day. The neighbours consisted of a group of kangaroos. They were friendly, and we discovered that they loved bananas, so my niece set about feeding them. When she had run out of bananas, she tried carrots, and they turned up their noses and hopped away.
We caught a few fish from our fishing point on the rocks. We watched a pod of dolphins swim by, and listened to the parrots and Galahs chatting in the trees.
It was paradise.
I prepared the fish, and popped them into the fridge, as we would eat them that evening for dinner.
When it grew dark, we put the fish on the barbie and had a feast. Then we walked down to the campground showers. On the way a possum stopped in front of us to check us out, then waddled away. In the tree there was a frog-mouthed owl. It was too dark to take a photo but check him out on google pics. He looked like a character from The Muppet Show. So cute in an ugly way.
My nieces went into their respective shower cubicles. I went into mine. I had just taken off my clothes when I heard screaming coming from their cubicles. I wrapped a towel around me and shot out of the cubicle. They were standing there, naked and pointing at a HUGE spider that had decided to share their shower… Jeeez! I had never seen anything like it. Honestly, it was the size of my whole hand. I shuddered as I pretended to be brave and shoo it away, only to watch it run as fast as the wind in the direction of my shower cubicle.
We didn’t shower that night…
The following day we explored the area. We visited Smoky Cape Lighthouse. We had left a sunny campsite and arrived here to be met with mist slowly descending around us. Not only was the weather starting to be a bit inclement, but there were also hordes of mosquitoes – dive bombing us like little fighter planes. It didn’t take us long to come to the idea that we should leave and find another spot to spend the day.
20 minutes later, we found a perfect beach. Golden sand, deep blue sea… lovely.
In my madness, I decided we should drive on the sand. I had seen many videos on YouTube with people racing down the beach, splashing through the waves, loving life. I wanted a bit of that. So, we set off. It was brilliant fun, until I took the wheel. I had literally driven about 300 metres, taken a turn, and ended up getting the car bogged in the sand. It was going absolutely no-where. Armed with spades, we set about digging it out. An hour later we were free.
Guess who wasn’t allowed to drive on the sand again…
We spent 5 glorious days at Southwest rocks, then headed further south to Port Macquarie.
I’ll let you know about that part of our trip and the visit we had to the Macquarie Nature Reserve to see the koalas that had been rescued from the awful fires that had swept through Australia a few months previously, in my next instalment.