Since it is a very long flight from Amsterdam to Adelaide, we spent one night (two days) in the beautiful Crowne Plaza airport hotel in Singapore.This hotel is ideally located at the airport itself. Without even stepping outside you can enter the hotel. It has a wonderful swimming pool with lots of trees and a splendid dinner buffet with a lot of both western and eastern dishes. On the way back from Brisbane to Amsterdam we also stayed overnight in this hotel and we had a beautiful sunrise above the hole in the wall of the hotel.
Adelaide to Melbourne
After a good night's rest we flew overnight to Adelaide where we picked up our campervan at Apollo's. At the nice Halls Gap Caravan Park in the northern part of the Grampians National Park kangaroos and cockatoos are playing around the campervans and cabins. The Grampians is a mountainous area in a plain county. There are a lot of walking tracks and beautiful look-outs, e.g. the Balconies and Broken Falls and MacKenzie Falls look-outs. Zumstein Reserve was flooded and completely destroyed during the floods of 2011 and can't be visited anymore.
Driving south brings you to Warrnambool with the huge Tower Hill Crater and the Great Ocean Road. The Bay of Islands, London Bridge, the Arch and the 12 Apostles, of which only circa 7 still exist, depending on which ones you count, are well-known places. The road at some stretches is rather narrow and winding, but gives magnificent views on the southern coast of Australia.
The road to Cape Otway is sealed nowadays, contrary to what is mentioned in some guide books or on maps. The turn-off to Cape Otway is about 20 km west from Apollo Bay. Cape Otway is the second most southerly point of Australia's mainland and at the end is a very old lighthouse. On the way we spotted many koalas. They are really very funny animals. Also at the holiday park in Kenneth River many koalas are sitting in the trees above the campervans and caravans. We don't recommend this park; the toilets and showers are very cramp, can't be locked and are not very clean.
The Great Ocean Road is winding further north east to touristic Lorne, Anglesea and to Geelong. From here we took the freeway to Melbourne. Be careful, there are toll roads in Melbourne which can only be paid for electronically. You have to sign up for an Melbourne e-pass before you are allowed to use these roads. Fines are heavy if you don't have such a pass.
Melbourne is a huge city with lots of wide main streets and lanes and lots of suburbs. We didn't want to use the toll roads and were very lucky that we could leave the freeway on the last exit before the toll road starts. The nice Big 4 Holiday Park in Coburg, in the north of Melbourne, has good connections with the city center. It takes about 3/4 hour to get there by bus and/or tram. The free circle tram travels around the city center and you can hop-on hop-off where-ever you like. The free shuttle bus makes a 1 1/2 hour hop-on hop-off round trip along e.g. Queen Victoria Market, the Melbourne Museum and the Docklands. Flinders Street Station is the oldest station of Melbourne and perhaps of Victoria. Bourke Street is the China town of Melbourne and it has many and nice restaurants.
The center of Melbourne is divided by the Yarra river. It was nice to make a boat trip towards the harbour and along the Southbank promenade with its many restaurants near the river.
Via Bairnsdale we drove through the Alps to Omeo and Bright. The roads in the Alps are very steep and most ski villages are more or less deserted in the summer. The northern part of the Alps is lovelier e.g. Happy and Kiawa Valley. Not far from Albury we spent a night at the Boathaven Holiday Park at Lake Hume, one of the large artificial lakes in this area.
Kosciuszko National Park is another ski area, especially the southern part of the park. We drove, however, through the northern part which is very wild and deserted with a couple of artificial lakes. Cabramurra is one of the very few (ski) villages there, but in summer it is very quiet as well. They say it is the highest city in Australia (1,488 m).
Over the Snowy Mountains highway we reached the former city Old Adaminaby which was relocated when Lake Eucumbene was filled. This is another huge artificial lake in Kosciuszko National Park. In Old Adaminaby, located on the shores of the lake, is the small Rainbow Pines Tourist Caravan Park. A small church on the site reminds on former times.
From Old Adaminaby it is about a 2 hours drive to Canberra. You first have to go south before going north via Cooma to the Australian Capital Territory and Canberra.
When we arrived in Canberra it was raining and that didn't stop all day. Canberra is a very modern and wide city and both parts of the center, Civic and Parliament, have broad lanes with large circuits. We found it rather easy to drive through the center and see all the highlights of the city by car, but nice pictures can't be made with this weather. Luckily it was sunny and warm the next day, so we visited many of the places of interest once again. We saw e.g. the Library on the shores of lake Burley Griffin, the large Commonwealth bridges, the boulevard on the south bank and the Carillon, which played nicely for us to cheer us up.
The Canberra Zoo is a nice, little zoo with some fascinating animals like the white lions (no albinos), sun bears and penguins as well as lovely koalas and kangaroos.
From Canberra we drove over the freeway and highway towards the Pacific coast in the direction of Sydney. But first we visited the historic town of Berrima: a nice little town founded in 1829 with nice historic houses, a general store, an old inn and a nice hotel. It is a good idea to spend some time here, e.g. for a nice lunch or even a night's rest.
After having lunch in Berrima we crossed the very steep and winding MacQuarrie pass and we found a nice caravan park near Kiama. The holiday resort at Kiama Blowhole doesn't exist anymore (since about 7 years) and Shellharbour Beachside Tourist Park was crowded, but Surf Beach Holiday Park is a nice place to stay for a couple of nights. From the park you can see the lighthouse in Kiama and the surfers and swimmers on/in the waves at Surf Beach.
The next day the wind was severely blowing and thus a very good day to see the blowhole near the lighthouse in Kiama. The water can be blown up to 60 meters. With strong winds you have to be careful not to be blown away by the wind.
There are many wineries in the vicinity of Kiama and we decided to visit one of them, the Crooked River Winery. Be careful, wine is expensive in Australia and certainly at the wineries, but they taste very well :-)
If you take the scenic Grand Pacific Drive along the Pacific coast you will see the huge and impressive Sea Cliff Bridge. An enormous bridge hanging above the sea.
Sydney to Brisbane
Sydney has at least two caravan parks; one in the south, where we stayed the first two nights and one in the north, where we stayed the last night. If you have a choice, don't go to the Grand Pines Tourist Park at Botany Bay in the south. It is dirty with cockroaches in the amenities and expensive. Lane Cove River Tourist Park in the north is a much better option. Transportation to the city center from both parks takes about 3/4 hour unless you take the bus from Botany Bay which takes 1 1/2 hours as we did. So we saw parts of the city which we hadn't seen before. What we had seen before, ten years ago, was the Opera House and Watson Bay, where we once again had a nice lunch at the famous restaurant of Doyles. A ferry brought us back to Circular Quay.
In the afternoon the weather was much better and we took another ferry from the Quay, this time to Darling Harbour with the promenade and its restaurants. Of course Sydney's skyline is impressive. For the first time we saw the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge in all its glory in the sunshine.
Traffic in Sydney is horrible. Even the toll roads are full of cars and it takes a lot of time to cross the city or to leave it. Don't forget to apply for an e-pass for the toll roads.
We decided not to follow the Pacific coast but to drive via inland Gloucester and New England. This is a beautiful part of the country with green hills and near Armidale along the Waterfall Way lovely waterfalls (what else? ) like the Wollomombi Falls and the Ebor Falls.
At the end of the Waterfall Way we reached the Pacific Coast again. Via Sawtell and Coffs Harbour we drove to nice and touristic Byron Bay where we visited the lighthouse at the end of a very steep, winding and narrow road. The views are spectacular.
The Gold Coast is really beautiful, but also very touristic. But in Tallebudgera Creek we found the lovely and rather quiet Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park, very close to Burleigh Heads and Surfers Paradise. This holiday park has its own swimming spot in the creek and also three swimming pools. It is a great place to be.
Surfers Paradise is a very expensive place to live in. It has huge sky scrapers, but also very nice houses at the waterfront. There are a lot of small and larger waterways along which these houses are built.
From Surfers Paradise or from Tallebudgera Creek it is only a one hour's drive to Brisbane, mainly over the freeway. Also in Brisbane you will find toll roads for which you need an e-pass.
We arrived early in the morning at Brisbane Gateway Resort in Rochedale, one of the southern suburbs of Brisbane. It is a nice resort with a lovely warm swimming pool and near the bus station of Miles Platting Road. From here bus 111 brought us directly to the center.
Even in the center there are highways crisscrossing above each other in front of or between the high rising towers. But there also are places to relax or to reflect. The temple and the free manmade swimming pool on the Southbank are good examples. Near Victoria Bridge is a little church in front of modern skyscrapers.
There are many ways of crossing the Brisbane river. The old ferries are slow, but the newer City Cats bring you fast where-ever you need to be along the river. Of course it is nice to make a cruise on a paddle steamer or a city cruise boat. Don't fall in the water since there might be sharks, but sometimes also dolphins. Luckily the city has recovered from the horrible flood of January 2011 when mud crabs and bull sharks were touring the kitchens of the restaurants, of course uninvited, as one of the restaurants mention on one of their windows.
People of Brisbane are very proud on their city and on their Story Bridge. This bridge should be as famous as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so they told us.
After a three day trip to the Sunshine Coast we came back to Brisbane, this time to Brisbane Northside Caravan Park. We were amazed by some of the huge caravans and busses we saw there. Compared to these vehicles our tiny Apollo Hitop Campervan was very small.
We had again a great holiday and we hope to come back to Australia one day.
19 March 2012
Marion & Jaap Fahrenfort