Gold Coast to Sydney
There's a free camping spot at Yelgun that we settle into for a few nights because it's an easy place to stay for access into Brunswick Heads. It's a battle to set up the campervan because Reece isn't well. I swear he has alcohol poisoning! Well, not really but he is in a very bad way.
Before we set off on our journey South from Brisbane and into our fourth state (or territory) of New South Wales, we decided to head back to Ipswich for one last hoorah with Uncle Simon. It was New Years Eve after all, and a friend of his was turning 50 too, so the party was on. The last thing I remember is that Reece went to check on the kids and he never came back to the party. When I went to bed I tripped and bumped my head on the corner of the couches and then climbed up over Reece and passed out. The kids didn't wake up, we don't think, 'oppsee'! In the morning we were both hung over and feeling incredibly sorry for ourselves, and as any parent will affirm the kids don't hold back when Mummy and Daddy want to sleep in. Up we get to do the normal chores. Breakfast, feeding, tantrums, nappy changes, different breakfast, dishes, milk, more milk, dressing, "Not those shoes Mummy", different shoes, wrong socks, "play with me" "PLAY WITH ME!". Poor Reece. Poor me. Reece was really feeling it though, and no amount of bacon and eggs was going to fix it. We stay another unplanned night and pack down the following morning. Reece still has the shakes but insists he has a virus of some kind and that it's much worse than being simply hung over. I think he was right and being hung over doesn't last almost a week.
So as I said the first stop, on our dry run to NSW, was Yelgun where we spent our days swimming in the mouth of the Brunswick River. There is so much natural beauty in this area and it's hard to decide where to swim. Over an old timber bridge that crosses the river we find a small secluded unspoiled beach where the breakwater is safe and peaceful. The weather was so hot. Too hot. Stinking hot. Eventually our best respite from the heat was the car and our salty, sandy children's bodies rest into lumps in their car seats. We think we'll leave them for awhile but it was a good opportunity to drive the coast line and recover in air-conditioned peace. The nights weren't so peaceful as there was a big festival in town and all the young punks were parking up at our camping spot, walking to the festival, and then loudly coming back at all times in the morning. I swear I am not old, am I? Okay I'm old! I wish I was at the festival just a little bit too but we have kids to keep asleep for the sake of our own sanity, and therefore we are out of there, very loudly and very early in the morning. Reece is not feeling much better.
Byron Bay was unbelievably busy. Imagine a country style town, only with a grid lock of cars, bumper to bumper, spreading road to road and tourist campers all scampering for a parking place. Imagine a hip sea side town, fully packed during the peak season holiday period and we try to drive our caravan right through the middle of it. There are people walking around with surf boards under their arms, kids crossing roads without hardly batting an eye onto the traffic, weaving between cars, ice creams dripping down their arms. There are tattoos and dread locks, takeaway coffee cups in every second hand, sandy feet, cleavage flashing, boutique stores and bikini body's galore. The weather today is cool and the sky thick with cloud cover, but even being on the brink of a massive storm hasn't slowed the pace of the town. We can't stop to park our car and van anywhere at all, so we make our move up to Lighthouse first. The kids are happy to get out of the car and take a walk and we think doing it now, before the rain is a good idea. We walk to the most eastern point of the Australian Main Land and check out the stunning coast line. The waves are bellowing and smashing down against the rocks like an angry tyrant from the gods. The wind is so fierce that I hold Olive's arms because I fear that it could pick her up like a feather and dump her over the edge without a seconds thought. We let River climb the edge rails and stand up with his arms out like a scene from Titanic. 'He'll be right'. Byron Bay was GREAT, but unfortunately we won't be staying for a long time and we wished the weather was clearer.
Onto the coastal route we past Lennox Head south to Ballina and Reece is finally feeling a little better. We pull up for another noisy road side stop, this time at a little place called Little Italy. Actually for a free camp it was quite good and at least there are some interesting things to see and do there as well as a little cafe, but the next day we head towards Coffs Harbour.
We recommend Tallwood Farm just north and inland from Coffs Harbour on Bucca Road. This location is perfect for exploring Coffs Harbour but at only $10 per night, the peace and quiet was worth every cent. An absolutely beautiful hill side and open green fields with mist rolling down the mountains in the distance. The kids played in mud and picked flowers from the paddock and generally just entertained themselves.
"Here's your flowers Daddy." River passes over a bunch of yellow and purple weedy flowers picked from the paddock. Everything Daddy had ever wanted. We love how outdoorsy our kids have become and how long they can entertain themselves without us.
Coffs Harbour is home to the Big banana, which is more than just a 'big banana' to have as the backdrop for your next selfie. It is an entire theme park with mini golf, laser guns, water slides, the works. Reece and River give the toboggan a go at full pace, and we all try our luck at mini golf too.
"Mini golf is a riveting game to play with a 2 and 4 year old" Reece exclaims with just a mild hint of sarcasm.
That day, like most days,
we took our lunch and avoided paying the high prices for cafe food, or going into the tourist trinket shops where everything Australia and Coffs Harbour is up for sale at ridiculous prices. We've been asked many times how we can afford to travel around Australia
for such a long period of time, and this is how. We are cheap!! We will, or should I say, we are running low on funds but we don't cost very much to run. We collect rocks rather than buy memorabilia, we take lunch rather than get chips at the local KFC, we
cook dinner rather than eat out, we op shop because the kids ruin clothes faster than they are worth buying from the department store and we are frugal. That's not to say that we don't have a lot of fun, and sneak in a few luxuries when we can, but we would
rather spend our money on the things we can experience than the things we can eat or take home with us. Free stuff is our motto, and for anyone travelling through this area, don't' pass by the Coffs Harbour Jetty which is beautiful for a walk and look over
the stunning coast line.
It is a beautiful scenic drive down into Sawtell and where stopped to watch some surf action at the Bonneville Headland. Brave surfers look like they are flying and riding on pure adrenaline into the huge crashing waves as the power of natures grabs them and rips them back onto the shore line. In incredibly strong winds we sat and watched them from on top of the banks.
"I'm gonna be a surfer Mum" River tells
"You can buddy" I say and then I realise that we had been silent for such a long time prior to him telling me this and wonder how long he's contemplated the idea.
On our race down to Sydney we only momentarily stop to see Port Macquarie and have a lunch break in Newcastle. We have missed a tone of the northern Sydney coast line, not to mention the inland areas we've heard so much about, but Reece has been offered an opportunity for some work in Sydney and they want him to start right away. We know that we will not be far away and plan to return to the area later, despite our dislike for backtracking.