Australia Day 23: Smiths Lake, New South Wales

Hello again,

hope you’re all healthy and well!

Our trip to Smiths Lake took place on our second day in Seal Rocks, in September last year. We didn’t do much that day, the weather wasn’t the best, it was a bit cold and the sun only came out later.

The drive to Smiths Lake was about 20 minutes from our campsite in Seal Rocks. We had decided to have breakfast at Frothy Coffee Boatshed. It was a lovely café at the lake and also a boat hire. It was very nice to sit outside, even with the weather not being so nice. We had coffee and then, because I believe every tourist in Australia has to try it at least once, we ordered vegemite sandwiches. We told the waitress (or owner?) that it was our first time and she told us how to eat it (with lots of butter). It tasted extremly well!

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Frothy Coffee Boatshed

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When we paid, the waitress gave us a few small vegemite packs to take home, which was so very nice of her! If we had more time, I would have loved to try their burgers (presumed they have a vegetarian one), they look amazing on their homepage!

Then we walked a bit at the lakeshore and enjoyed just being there. I love being at lake or the ocean, maybe because at home, close to us, there is almst no lakes and definitely no ocean!

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Funny little turtle, it looked like a helmet at first!

 

After a bit of a time there, we drove back to our campsite and spent the rest of the day at the beach and directly on the campsite. Then, we went once more for pizza at Hueys at Blueys, a pizza I described extensively in my last post. And, in memory of this amazing pizza, we will have a similar one tonight! It’s definitely going to cheer us up with all that Coronavirus pandemic and staying inside all the time.

Thanks for reading my post, hope you enjoyed it!

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Number One Beach Seal Rocks, right in front of our campsite!

Australia Day 22: Seal Rocks and Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse

Hello,

still locked out from the world (though we’re allowed to go on walks with the people we live with, something my boyfriend and I do these days, it’s kind of a daily highlight). But I try to see the positive aspects: for now, nobody I know is infected with Corona virus, the sun is shining and boyfriend made his wonderful vegetarian lasagna. Also, I’m looking at photos of our Australia trip and getting kind comments on my last post! Althogether it’s hard though, to really stay positive, these days. But here we go,…

The night before we had arrived at our campsite in Seal Rocks, New South Wales, where we would be staying for two nights. For some reason I always had trouble with the name, in my head “Seal’s Rock” made much more sense (I don’t know why). Seal Rocks has its name because there’s often seals on the rocks in this small town! (source)

We stayed at Reflections Holiday Parks Seal Rocks, which was a very nice campsite. You could cook at a kitchen close to the beach and relax looking at the beach, without even leaving the campsite. There also was a giant chessboard.

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We even found this little guy on our first day!

Months before we went to Australia, I saw the movie “Adoration” (2013) on Netflix, starring Robin Wright and Naomi Watts. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically two female best friends, living at the most beautiful spot you could imagine and hooking up with each other’s sons when they’re grown. It was a bit awkward to watch at times, but I totally fell in love with the beach and the town. And then, before we went to Seal Rocks, I found out that it was filmed there. We even saw the wonderful house Robin Wright lives in with her son in the movie. It’s this one right here:

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Not having read a lot about Seal Rocks before we went there, just going because a friend of my boyfriend had suggested it, I had expected shops, restaurants, hotels, anything the other towns we stopped in had. But Seal Rocks is very small and there was only one shop:

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And the village is indeed beautiful and nice and quiet. It’s mostly a holiday village, especially for surfers.

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Tiny village Seal Rocks

The first day in Seal Rocks we decided to walk up to Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse. It’s not a long walk (I remember being scared of Dingos) and they even have accommodation facilities there.  The lighthouse is located in Myall Lakes National Park. We walked from the campsite up to the lighthouse and it took us about 30 minutes, including photo breaks.

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A kookaburra welcoming people to the national park

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Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse

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View when walking back from the lighthouse

At night, after we were back at our campsite, we decided to get some food. The closest restaurants were in more than 20 minutes driving distance. We chose pizza and got a very, very delicious one at Hueys at Blueys. It was so good, that on our second night in Seal Rocks, we ordered a pizza and picked it up, then ate it at the campsite. Both times we had the “Cellito” pizza with spinach, semi dried tomatoes, feta cheese, spanish onion, basil pesto, olives and garlic. One of the best pizzas I’ve ever had!

We really enjoyed Seal Rocks, but if you’re not surfing or looking for a quiet place to calm down, maybe one night there is enough. We were still happy that we went, though!

Hope you enjoyed my post and stay healthy!

 

More information on Seal Rocks:

Aussie Towns Seal Rocks

Australia Day 21: Dorrigo National Park

Hello readers,

since I am not working, not volunteering, not going to the gym or meeting friends and basically only going outside to get my groceries (which my boyfriend and I did two days ago and we bought more than usual, so we won’t have to go too often) because of the Corona virus, I have plenty of time to catch up with my travel blog . I hope there will be a cure for Corona virus soon and everything will get back to normal!

Also, since we cancelled both our spring trips this year because of Corona, blogging about our trip to Australia last year cheers me up a bit and also helps me not to worry too much, about my family staying healthy and also everyone else not getting infected and if they already did, still getting proper treatment.

So, a sad start of our actually wonderful day at Dorrigo National Park in New South Wales, Australia. In Coffs Harbour, at the campsite, we had met a German couple, who was also travelling around and they had told us that the national park is really worth seeing!

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Since it was only about an hour from Coffs Harbour, we went the next day, before going to Seal Rocks. We had made some lunch and drove there with our van. Park entrance was 2 AUD. First we went to the Skywalk lookout and since we were quite early, there weren’t many people.

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Then we started the Wonga Walk Circuit Track, which is 6.6 km and takes about 2 – 3 hours. With taking pictures and a short rest, that was about right for us with approx. 2.5 hours.

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There were many interesting trees to see and some really great waterfalls!

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Crystal Shower Falls

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You could even walk behind this waterfall!

After the longest part through the rainforest, we came to a lunch spot with another great lookout. We decided to eat lunch at the shop/entrance, because there also were benches and tables.

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Then we took the way back leading through the “Walk with birds boardwalk”.

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That was the only bird we actually could take pictures of, though we heard many of them and even saw a few more.

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This was my post about our trip to Dorrigo National Park, I hope you enjoyed it!

Stay healthy!

 

Links:

Dorrigo National Park Homepage

 

Australia Day 19+20: Coffs Harbour

Day 19 of our trip to beautiful Australia started with coffee at our favourite coffee shop in Suffolk Park, Byron Bay (Suffolk Bakery, if you’re wondering) and a trip to the grocery store to get some chocolate as a ‘thank you’ for our neighbours, who had helped us immensively when we were locked out of our van the night before. We were super tired, because we waited a long time for someone sent from Spaceship Campervan Hire to unlock our car.

Then we drove all the way to Coffs Harbour, which is just about under 3 hours. In Coffs Harbour we did our shopping and then drove to the campsite (Big 4 Coffs Harbour). A lot of people told us that Coffs Harbour is a bit boring and there was only the big yellow banana to see, but we went anyway, because we found no better stop between Byron Bay and Seal Rocks. And, in the end, we did enjoy our time in Coffs Harbour!

On our first night, we went to see the nearby beach, then we cooked Halloumi with vegetables (a lot of Halloumi eating on this trip, I notice!) and ate it in the camp kitchen. Then we went to bed, read for some time and went to sleep.

On our only full day in Coffs Harbour we went to a place called Ernie’s Kitchen for coffee and breakfast. I remember the sky being dusty/grey because of nearby bushfires. Right in front of Ernie’s Kitchen we went to the beach, where we sat a little, it was very hot and sunny and just wonderful.

 

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On the way back to our campsite to have lunch, we saw another wallaby!

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In the afternoon we went to Muttonbird Island, where we drove by car and then walked to from our parking spot. Muttonbird Island is not huge, but very nice! You can walk up and watch the ocean and maybe even see some whales (we did!).

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Here you can learn how the birds are nesting

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Lookout in the middle of the island

When went back to leave the island we saw a whale jumping out of the water at the spot on the picture below. We then went all the way back to the lookout on the other side of the island, where we also found other people watching the whales. Unfortunately taking a picture didn’t work (they are very fast in and out of the water).

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I really enjoyed Coffs Harbour and especially Muttonbird Island, it’s definitely worth a visit!

Australia Day 17+18: Byron Bay Centre

After seeing the lighthouse on our first day in Byron Bay, we went to the centre on our second and third day.

On the second day we did some walking in the centre and tried to buy matching sweaters, but couldn’t find any nice ones. They don’t sell a female and a male version of the same sweater very often and if they did, it didn’t match our style (or one of our styles!).

For lunch we went to have burgers and both had a Halloumi Burger. It was OK, but not the best Halloumi burger I’ve ever had! I think with burgers, it’s so much about the dressing.

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I took some pictures of the centre and the shops, but you can see mostly cars and people, so they’re not that interesting! The shops offer mostly surf clothes and summer clothing (who would have guessed?). The people that walked around all seemed very stylish, in a surfer or hippie kind of way. It made me want to copy their style.

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Back at our campsite we saw a wallaby! The poor thing wasn’t as happy to see us as we were to see it. A worker from our campsite told us that it lives there, in the bushland next to our campsite. We saw it two nights in a row, when taking our evening walk.

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On our third day in Byron Bay we went to a flea market, it was a nice atmosphere, but since it would be cold in Austria when getting home and the people almost exclusively sold summer clothes, we didn’t buy anything. But I love flea markets and second hand stores, they’re are my thing! I get much happier when finding a great piece there than in a regular store.

After going to the flea market, we had breakfast at Top Shop, which was very good, but expensive. There were tons of people and a brush turkey ate a guy’s Halloumi off his sandwich, when he just turned around. Gotta be really careful with those!

My boyfriend then went off to take a surfing class for beginners. I didn’t feel so well, so I didn’t join him, but walked around in the centre, took some pictures, wrote postcards and read my book.

There was a small free concert at the beach and people were sitting on the grass, it was lovely.

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At night something bad happend to us. Before going to bed (at about 10 p.m.) we managed to lock ourselves out of our van. We closed the doors with the keys inside and then couldn’t get back in. It was getting cold, we were in our sleeping wear, sitting in our chairs, waiting for a maintenance person to help us. Our neighbours kindly gave us blankets and warmer clothes and we waited until about 1 a.m. Now we laugh about it, but back then it sure didn’t seem funny to us!

 

 

Australia Day 15+16: Byron Bay Arrival and Cape Byron Lighthouse

On our last day in Brisbane, we went to get our “spaceship”, which was a van we rented from a company called Spaceships Rentals. We went by bus there, which was a bit exhausting with all our luggage, but an Uber would have been much more expensive. The van wasn’t the least luxurious one, but it was still only a van, not a real bus with toilets or anything. It was basically a big, long car with a 140 x 200 cm matress in the back and a fridge in the trunk (under the matress). We saved a lot of money, renting this van and not renting a car AND paying for hotels. We never stayed on free campsites, because we wanted to have the amenities of a paid one: toilets, shower, laundry rooms and it would, to be honest, be less scary for me. We were altogether quite happy with our spaceship, except that it gets tiresome sleeping in a van after some time and you long for a real bed!

My boyfriend drove all the twelve days that we had the van, even though we paid for me being an extra driver. I did drive about 200m at another campsite, just to try it, but driving on the left – and to us, wrong – side of the road was a bit too much for me, not being a regular driver at home anyway.

Our first camp site was in Byron Bay, in Suffolk park. It was called Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park and right next to the beach (as the name suggests), but a bit outside the centre of Byron Bay. The camp site was very nice, we cooked almost everyday in the little hut with the kitchen and ate and read books in the heated area in front of the hut. It was quite cold at night in September!

In the supermarket we noticed that the prices were higher than in Brisbane and Sydney, but since we didn’t bring any food from Brisbane, we had to buy it all in Byron Bay.

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I really can’t remember the first night sleeping in the van. I always found it quite cozy, getting ready to sleep and then read our books in the van, even though there really wasn’t much space and parts of my body (for example my neck) got stiff after some time. I read “A lifetime of impossible days” by Australian author Tabitha Bird and I quite enjoyed it. Now I also know what a Queenslander is! If you don’t: It’s a kind of house with a special type of porch in front, often seen in Queensland. We also saw houses like that on the side of the road, for sale, many of them. You can obviously buy them, take them and then bring them to your piece of land. That’s quite strange to us, because in Austria, all of our house are built on the land directly by laying brick!

On our first official in Byron Bay we went to have coffee at Suffolk Bakery – Number 1 coffee shop in Suffolk Park according to Tripadvisor (and “more than just a bakery” according to their website)! And, I have to say, it’s very nice there and a super popular place! In the supermarket next door we were lucky to get a huge water container, made for camping. After that we starting buying cheaper water at Aldi and filling it into the container from this supermarket, because it was great to use with its spigot (a word I definitely didn’t know before writing this post!).

After having coffee (I didn’t like the Macadamia milk in mine, but the next time I chose Coconut milk and it was perfect) and buying a KeepCup with the company’s logo (I always wanted one and you got a free refill), we drove to the centre of Byron Bay, parked somewhere where it was free and walked from Clarke’s Beach via The Pass and Wategos Beach to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, which is probably what Byron Bay is famous for, next to hippies, surfing and maybe now Chris Hemsworth.

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Where is the lighthouse?

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I really can’t remember what’s up with boyfriend’s hat here!

I think with taking breaks for photos and sitting and enjoying the views it took us about 2 hours. Couldn’t get enough of these views!

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You also walk past the most easterly point of the Australian mainland, marked by a sign.

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On our way down we went through the woods basically, right next to Lighthouse Rd and I remember being very scared of snakes, but we couldn’t see any. We exited close to our parking spot.

After that day we found out that a young Belgian backpacker had gone missing in the area, just months before. His name is Théo Hayez and there is a podcast about this very sad story called The Lighthouse. I truly hope that he will be found, can’t imagine how it must be for his family and friends.

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This photo I actually took on another day in Byron Bay and it sort of looks like it’s been taken from the same spot as the very first one above from our walk, the houses are the same and everything, but on the first one you can’t see the lighthouse. It’s probably not mysterious at all, just being covered by the trees, but it got me wondering for a second!

Hope you enjoyed my post about Byron Bay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Day 14: The City Botanic Gardens in Brisbane

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On our 14th day in Australia, we visited the City Botanic Gardens, at night we had our last sleep in a normal bed, because afterwards it would be sleeping in a van for almost two weeks! This is gonna be a short post about that last day in Brisbane.

The City Botanic Gardens are very nice, we even had lunch at one of the tables. There was preperation everywhere because there should have been the event “Brisbane Fire Gardens” in the days after we visited (in September 2019), but it was cancelled due to the total fire ban.

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The City Botanic Gardens were first established in 1855 and occupy 20 hectares (source), but we didn’t see all of it. They are Brisbane’s “original botanic gardens” (source). We walked around, took some pictures and enjoyed the nature in the park (also some funny lizards!). You could even have coffee in the middle of the park (we didn’t, because we brought our own food and drinks).

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These days when I think of Australia, I feel very sorry that people, animals and nature altogether are suffering from bushfires. We enjoyed our time so much in this beautiful country and that makes it even sadder for us. I hope it will be over soon!

Hope you enjoyed my little post about our day in Brisbane!

 

Links:

Homepage City Botanic Gardens Brisbane

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Day 13: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

This is gonna be one of my favourite posts about our trip to Australia…so many koalas! We took a bus from Brisbane for 3,70 AUD (they have some system with consecutive trips, so you can’t really say what you will pay because it depends on what buses you’ve been taking before and what you paid for them). The entry was 28 AUD since we had booked (and printed) the tickets beforehand.

It was a beautiful day and since we had gotten there at about lunch time, we started by having our premade wraps at the river. There are picnic tables and the view is quite nice. But also we were quite eager to see some koalas. And there are a lot at the sanctuary!

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The koalas are not behind bars or in cages at the sanctuary, but they usually stay in their trees (at least I haven’t seen any roaming around). You could have your picture taken with a koala, but we chose not to, because I would feel kind of bad disrupting the koala. In the coffee place there is lots of pictures of famous people having their pictures taken with a koala.

We had some (very good!) coffee there and bought food for feeding the kangaroos (2 AUD the bag), which was almost for nothing, because the kangaroos were not hungry at all. A lot of people had bought the kangaroo food, so they weren’t in need for more. We fed one kangaroo and then gave the bag to a couple who hadn’t bought one to try their luck.

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Resting area – no entry for people! 🙂

There were also wallabys and emus (I’ve been kindly corrected in the comments that those aren’t ostrichs :)). And a wombat who was in an extra area with lots of tunnels!

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We spend the rest of our day in the sanctuary walking around and looking at animals: platypuses, snakes, dingos, reptiles, farm animals and many more.

There were lots of lizards (if they’re not called that, please correct me, I know way too little about them!) just walking around and looking funnily at us. A person with a camera must be a weird thing to animals: what the heck are they doing?

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We enjoyed our day at the sanctuary very, very much! I still get very happy, just looking at the koala photos. Hope you enjoyed them as well!

 

Links:

Homepage Lone Pine

Ticket prices

Webcams!

 

 

 

Australia Day 12: Brisbane!

We started our first day in Brisbane with going to West End. First we had some coffee there, then we browsed some second hand and book stores. Afterwards we went to the Brisbane Vegan Markets, to get burgers and some vegan jerky. I’ve never had jerky before (not even the meat kind before my vegetarian days), but this was very, very good! My boyfriend tried to find it online, but had no luck. We were lucky, though, to see the market after all, it only takes place twice a month on the 2nd and 4th Sunday! (source)

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Then we just walked around some more and took some pictures. It was a lovely day with nice weather!

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We walked along Brisbane river to get to South Bank and also to check out the Brisbane Festival that was taking place at the time.

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No luck taking a picture without people 😉

At the festival we went to see “1000 doors”, which was an art installation with lots of doors in a kind of maze style.

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Inside “1000 doors”

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We bought some food at a supermarket and made our own cheese, avocado and tomato wraps, they were delicious!

We also enjoyed walking around Streets Beach. It was a great day with lots of things to see (and to eat!).

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Australia Day 11: Coolum Beach and Drive to Brisbane

This is gonna be a  really short post, since most we did in Coolum was just strolling around and looking for a hat for my boyfriend. We found one at a second hand store (pictured later), and he took it because it was the cheapest one he could get. At the beach there was some kind of competition and there were lots of people. What I found really nice is that in Australia people can have their birthday parties at the beach, they can use BBQ facilities and offer food on the tables. One family had prepared a lovely birthday party for their daughter when we were sitting close to the beach.

Then we had some asian food (some rice with tofu, it was ok). After that we went to Foxy on Coolum (Facebook), which is a really nice coffee place. You could buy books there for 6 AUD and when you bring them back, you get 4 AUD back. Like a library/secondhand bookstore mix! 🙂 I bought one (“Letters to the lost” by Brigid Kemmerer) because it has good reviews on Goodreads.

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After that our friend picked us up and we went to Brisbane together. There we could stay at one of her friend’s places, which was just great! We even had our own bathroom. Then we went for asian food again, to Pinto Thai Eatery (Facebook), and this one was really delicious! Both of us had, again, something with tofu and rice. It’s a very small place, but we still got seated soon after arriving, even though it was busy. Maybe we were very lucky 😉