Sarah from the Dovetail team recently spent two weekstravelling the East Coast of Australia in a campervan. From being caught in acyclone to driving 11 hours in a day, she shares her highlights of thiswell-trodden route.
I wasexcited to return to Australia, long a favourite destination of mine. This timeI would be discovering a new part of the country, driving from Brisbane toCairns with four friends before catching a flight to Sydney. After a lengthy26-hour flight, complete with stopover in Guangzhou, we landed in a sunnyBrisbane which was well received after London’s rainy spring weather. With onlytwo weeks available to us, our itinerary was jam packed and we had a strictschedule to stick to.
After awhistle-stop tour taking in the sights of Brisbane in our new and slightlyrickety campervan, christened Tina the Toyota, we started our road trip with avisit to Noosa. Noosa is one of Australia’s most-popular beach towns and it’seasy to see why. A coastal walk lead us to hidden beaches where we spent anafternoon jumping the waves, spotting sea turtles and admiring surfers who makeit look so effortless.
From Noosawe took an overnight trip to the rugged Fraser Island, or K'gari as it is knownto the indigenous people who first settled on the island at least 5000 yearsago. On a hosted tour, we drove 4x4s the length of the island, stopping for adip in the beautiful Lake McKenzie and for some dingo spotting. These wild dogsinhabit the island and keep all visitors on high-alert! After a night on FraserIsland, we returned to Tina (the campervan) to drive to Agnes Water. These longdrives allowed us the chance to appreciate the sheer size of Australia, withtowns (and petrol stations) spread out sparsely! After parking up for the nightin a conservation park, we awoke surrounded by kangaroos who are looked afterin a sanctuary funded by guests.
It was onthe drive from Agnes Water to Airlie Beach, a lengthy 8 hours along thebrilliantly named Bruce Highway, that a cyclone hit. Determined not to let alittle rain get in the way of our plans, we are British after all, we drove onthrough the near-constant downpour and strong winds. Despite the poor weather,our sailing trip to the famous Whitsundays went ahead! Luckily as we sailed outto sea, the storm receded and we were able to enjoy the stunning Whitehavenbeach in the sunshine. The next two days were spent snorkeling the coral reefsand paddle-boarding in the quiet inlets, while in the evenings we were keptbusy looking out for the dolphins and small sharks that circled the boat.
Flexibilityis key on any road trip, and as we returned to shore we quickly realised thatthe storm had continued, flooding many of the roads on our route. This meantthat a trip to Magnetic Island was unfortunately off the cards. Deciding toinstead drive straight to Cairns, on a much-longer road inland, this took mostof the day including a stop off at the spectacular Barron Falls. Thankfully therain clear on our final day in Cairns and we were able to explore the beachtowns of Port Douglas and Palm Cove, finishing with a typically Aussie feast onone of the city’s many free BBQs. Waving goodbye to our beloved albeit by-nowquite damp campervan we boarded a flight from Cairns to Sydney.
As thiswas be my fourth visit to Sydney I was keen to show my friends some of myfavourite places, and of course discover new corners of the city. We spentseveral days exploring, from brunch in Manly to burgers and a surf lesson inBondi Beach, followed by a walk across the Harbour Bridge and a drink in thecity’s hippest district – Newtown. Newtown is often described as Sydney’sversion of Shoreditch and we spent a lazy afternoon wandering around thesuburb’s independent art galleries and vintage shops, a welcome change fromSydney’s glossy CBD.
Although quite frantic at parts, it was a fantastic tripand I look forward to my next trip back to this beautiful country.