Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The awesomest road trip ever

Brisbane => Byron Bay => Woolgoolga => Hunter Valley =>Sydney

We took an amazing road trip with the whole family before leaving Australia (tear). We flew to Brisbane from Darwin after leaving the Ramseys in the Outback.  We rented a car with the plans of exploring the coast back to Gerringong over the next 6 days.  We spent the night in Brisbane and walked around the city for a few hours the next day.  Brisbane was much cooler than I remember from 12+ years ago.  Maybe I have a new perspective with kids, but lots of good restaurants, great parks, kid activities, etc. And, bonus - Ava lost her snaggle tooth!

Then it was off to Byron Bay with a quick ride through Surfer's Paradise. Byron Bay is a popular spot, and I can see why.  It has a great "vibe", beautiful beaches and great food. We spent 2 nights in a new "eco" lodge.  The cabins were great and the ground were pretty special, but unfortunately I think the owners are taking the lodge more down the hippie commune route than just normal eco-lodge for non-hippies. I have a feeling most people will feel uncomfortable there .There was already a "love nest" building...not sure what exactly goes on, but I have some thoughts.

So, we ate some great sushi one night, spent time at the beach the following day with a nice dinner at a local pizzeria and explored around nature at our lodge trying to search for platypus in the river.  We weren't successful, but it was fun trying!

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Byron Bay Sunset

After Byron Bay we continued down the coast and made a stop in Woolgoolga, staying at the Waterside Cabins, which were brand new and quite nice, I must say. A short stroll away from one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to - see below. We had the whole place to ourselves. The other unique tidbit about Woolgoolga is that it has a mosque and large Sikh population that were there before Europeans came. For a fairly small town, to have a huge Sikh population mixed with country folk was super cool.  Their biggest celebration of the year is Curry Fest and everyone was into to it.  We missed it by 2 days :( Dinner that night was at amazing place that had a huge kids play area, including a jumpy castle, games, a movie playing and an awesome kids menu.  Ummm, yes please! The next mornings breakfast before heading out was a cute little cafe on the main street and we had Baghdad Eggs and Curry Eggs.  We were heaven!  Oh, and an awesome back garden with a huge sandbox and toys.  My kind of place...my kind of town.

From Woolgoolga, we went to Port Macquarie to visit the Koala hospital, which was super cute.  It was all rescued Koalas (most from bush fires and getting run over by cars).  Such a cool place. We ate lunch at the Tacking Point Surf Club - you can see someone was quite hungry and tired by that point. And mostly upset that the shop closed after we ordered lunch because we promised him a popsicle and then it wasn't going to happen :(

From there, we powered it all the way to Hunter Valley - the famed wine region of NSW. We stayed at an awesome alpaca farm.  Big hit with Ava and Arlo! We woke up to rain, thunder and lighting that soon dissipated and we were able to walk around and feed all the animals. We drove around the countryside, visited the Hunter Valley Gardens (watched a helicopter take off and land a few times) and then headed for Sydney!

We arrived in Sydney in the early evening and took a long walk around just taking in one of our favorite places in the world.  We settled on the Opera Bar for our last dinner - it was a beautiful night, it wasn't crowded and the food isn't horribe - it can actually be ok. The kids were just having so much fun playing around there and we were happily drinking wine and beer and enjoying the views.  I mean, how can you not?

I have to get some pictures of me in here. There are rarely any taken...and this is what I get. Oh well.

We love you, Sydney!

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