April in Aussie

April 25th, 2017
April in Aussie

After one of the wettest summers in Sydney from January to April, which included some of the hottest days on record, we took a break, escaped the city and headed north for 10 days. As you can see on the map, we hit a few great spots and drove just over 3150 KMs.

On the way to our first night at Port Macquarrie, we made a few detours from the highway to see the shoreline.

April in Aussie
JAB - Just another beach

There are so many amazing beaches, it is hard to not become a bit blasé about them.

April in Aussie
Lighthouses are dear to our heart - Google Spectacle Island Lighthouse to see why

Once we arrived in 'Port' (as it is locally known), we weren't in our bnb five minutes, when we realized that the Koala hospital was less than 5 minutes away and was starting a tour in about 7 minutes. Off we went...

April in Aussie
One of the permanent residents - blind from an infection

April in Aussie
Recovering from one of many accidents that Koalas have - falling from trees and being hit by cars.

The Koala hospital was located on an old homestead which also contained a farm house from the 1870s. It has the iconic wrap-around deck, so common here in Australia.

April in Aussie
The Roto House

While in Port, we did a few excursions out to beaches (of course...)

April in Aussie
On the beach

After a couple days, we headed further north, stopping here and there to...

April in Aussie
Picnic on the beach

and ...

April in Aussie
Nambucca Heads

... see more beaches.

Our next stop was Byron Bay, another iconic Aussie locale, famous for surfing and, well, ... beaches. It was not named after Lord Byron, but interestingly, his grandfather, Lord Byron, also once Governor of Newfoundland.

April in Aussie
Still on the beach - Tallow Beach

April in Aussie
Cape Byron and Byron Lighthouse

They do surf at Byron Bay, although it is not actually one of the best surf beaches.

April in Aussie
In the surf

April in Aussie
Byron Bay from Cape Byron

Byron Bay has another connection, however tenuous, with Newfoundland. Just as Cape Spear, Newfoundland is the most easterly point in North America, Cape Byron is the most easterly point in Australia.

April in Aussie
Just like Cape Spear!

Being a tourist destination, we spent a few days to enjoy...

April in Aussie
Some wildlife

April in Aussie
Tallow Beach

April in Aussie
Good food

and ventured inland to see some farmland, including these Macadamia orchards.

April in Aussie
Macadamia Orchard

Next, we continued ever northward passing the Gold coast on the way.

April in Aussie
Surfer's Paradise

April in Aussie
Surfer's Paradise - close up

At Coolangatta, we found some surfing instructions which I thought might serve as a great life motto:

April in Aussie
Paddle hard!

I also found inspiration for my next project at the cottage.

April in Aussie
The BoyZ Bench

Our most northerly desintation was Buderim, Queensland, where our good friends John and Julia live. We knew John and Julia from our time in Dubai, where they were a great inspiration to enjoy life. Their love of music makes for great evenings.

April in Aussie
Play some music

April in Aussie
Listen to more music

They also keep bees in their backyard.

April in Aussie
Bees in the backyard

April in Aussie
Julia looking for honey

April in Aussie
The front yard of their beautiful house

While there, they gave us a demonstration of how you 'keep' bees.

  

After a couple days of their hospitality, we started on our return trip, looping out into the outback to check out some non-beach scenery.

April in Aussie
Glass Mountains

April in Aussie
Fields near Narrabri

On the way, we passed through endless fields of wheat, cotton and other crops. We also saw lots of prickly pear, which is one of many invasive species.

April in Aussie
Prickly pears

On our first night in Goondiwindi, we were so far out in the back, they had to share a giant sign post to let us know where we were.

April in Aussie
805 KM to Sydney

After another picnic or two in small dusty outback towns,

April in Aussie
Picnic in Narrabri

... we arrived in Coonabarabran, which is the closest town to the Warrambungle National Park.

April in Aussie
Downtown Coonabarabran

We went off to the park to do some hiking. On the way, we found a few oddities like the ...

April in Aussie
Giant inch-long bull ant

April in Aussie
Whatever pushes big piles of dirt out of its burrow

April in Aussie
Mushroom pushing up through the pavement

We were confronted by a couple kangaroos, just sort of hanging around in the bush like they had nothing better to do.

April in Aussie
Kangaroo

April in Aussie
momma and joey

However, they did not stop us from hiking up to the Grand High Tops Trail...

April in Aussie
View from the Grand High Tops

April in Aussie
Annette at the top

April in Aussie
Moon over Dagda

April in Aussie
Spider

April in Aussie
Wedge-tailed eagle

... and the Dagda Saddle

April in Aussie
Dagda Saddle

After all that, we simply drove home and went back to work.

Location: New South Wales, Australia

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017

January 6th, 2017
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017

While we have had Christmas in warm places before, this was our first official Christmas in summer. To mark the occasion, we decided that a 3550 Km drive  around the south-east coast of Australia was in order. Have a look at the map to see our exact route (more or less).

 

We started from Sydney (of course) and drove south along the Pacific Highway and the Pacific coastal roads, stopping along the way for photo opportunities and to see the sights (sites?) that were highlighted for us in our various travel books.

Along the way, we stopped at a lighthouse - being from Nova Scotia, we know a thing or two about them - and checked out Perpendicular Point. We did a short walk through an area that had recently been burnt out from a bush fire. As with forests in Canada, the bush needs a bit of a burn now and then to rejuvenate. The Grass tree and the Banksia Tree are two of the first to recover from the fire.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Grass Tree
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Banksia Tree

We carried on towards Murramarang National Park and the Pebbly Beach Campground where we spent our first two nights. This park has an amazing Spotted Gum tree (Eucalyptus tree) forest between the highway and the coast. The drive into the park from the highway is spectacular.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Pebbly Beach Campground and our site

The campground is swarming with kangaroos and birds of all sizes and shapes.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Wren
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Honey sucker
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Kangaroo

Have you ever wondered what kangaroos do all day?

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Sleeping in the bush

There are other, slightly more scary animals as well including monitor lizards ...

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Monitor Lizard

... which can jump up and scratch you to death.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Talons for shredding your stomach

And cute little echidnas, which look something like a porcupine, but in fact are a type of anteater.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017

We thought they were endangered, but actually they are as common as porcupines back in Nova Scotia.

I must say, the Australians have great park facilities. Every park, even day or picnic parks have these great cooking shelters, usually with rain water for washing and gas BBQs for free use. I think they provide the gas for free so that people are not tempted to start a cooking fire and burn down the forests. 

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Cooking shelter - free gas BBQ!

Even still, it is often easier just to set up our own cooking station and open a bottle of wine.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Camping cooker

Being in the bush, we often had guests who wandered into the campground for a bite of food.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Swamp Wallaby

We continued our drive down under downunder to the very bottom, spending Christmas day itself on the road to Inverloch ...

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Christmas lunch at Marlo

... where we spent two days exploring and, I believe, got as far south as we could without going to Tasmania. We had a chance to take our pet wombat for a walk.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Wombat on the loose

We were more or less as close to Antartica as we might ever get. So close, in fact, that we had the chance to see penguins!

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Blurry penguins coming in at night
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Penguin photo compliments of the Penguin Parade

We paid a visit to the Penguin Parade on Philip Island where we had the chance to watch them coming ashore after a long day at sea fishing for their family.

Onwards then to the Great Ocean Road ...

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
It is great
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
and it is on the ocean

... where we spent two nights camping and two days exploring some fantastic scenery. We camped at Johanna beach and spent some beach time enjoying the southern skies.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Johanna Beach east
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Johanna Beach west
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Johanna Beach north
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Johanna Beach south

Nearby are the 12 Apostles. Needless to say, there are not 12, and they aren't really apostles, just, as one Aussie behind me commented, "rocks in the ocean - amazin'".

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Apostles
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Rocks

We finally made our way to Warrnambool and the Tower Hill Reserve, which was just about our furthest point from home on our trip. We actually went just a bit past this point to get some great Fish and Chips in Port Fairy, and then turned around. In the reserve, we were able to see quite a bit of wildlife bouncing, swimming, or flying around.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Walking Emu
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Swimming swan

While walking through the forest, or the bush, as they say here, I saw what I thought were bats hanging in a cave, but were in fact bees!

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Bees swarming

Finally, after capturing a few pictures of the elusive Koala bear, high up in the gum trees...

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Koala sleeping in a tree - 20 hours of sleep a day
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Koala in gum tree - they only eat gum leaves

... we took the back roads and those less travelled on our way back home.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Road less travelled

With the help of a few street signs, and our GPS, we finally arrived in Rydalmere, 3550 KM later.

Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Walla Walla, or wagga wagga?
Christmas in Summer - Down Under 2017
Fellow traveller
Location: Australia