I wrote this while being stuck on the Nullarbor with 42 C outside:
There is a fire nearby and the highway is closed. A reminder that you can plan ahead as much as you like, unpredictable things can change everything around. Yes, I am concerned, as we arranged to be housesitting in Perth soon, but I have learned that you have to be patient and accept whatever situation you are in. Listen and know if you have to wait or change something. In my case, at least I have time to write.
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” –Alan Alda
Our road trip started in late September 2016 with a rainy day and a quick stop at the Floriade in Canberra (more about the capital in another post as this city apparently wanted me to get to know it better), sleeping in a tent at the Showgrounds in Taralga with the sound of raindrops over my head. I really enjoy occasional rainy days. The world looks and smells different with raindrops glistening from the sky. I think my raincoat is one of the best things I’ve ever invested money in.
The next day was sunny again and off we went to do the Kanangra Walls walk with beautiful views over the Blue Mountains. The walk is in the Kanangra-Boyd Nationalpark which is part of the Great Dividing Range. The Blue Mountains are a magical place for me anyways and with the blue sky over my head and nature surrounding me, the world seemed like a serene place. We also did a quick stop at the Jenolan Caves (the most ancient caves in the world I believe – at least of the ones they have discovered so far) – being on a budget, we only had a look at the public cave (the Nettle Cave)- still worth it, especially for the little Wombat living there. It’s a beautiful area and I can recommend taking a walk within the conservation reserve.
I was excited to go back to Katoomba as I love this little town. So after visiting Lithgow, we had another look at the famous Three Sisters (I recommend reading the Aboriginal legend) at Echo Point. I know this is a touristy spot, but if you’ve got time, wait for the buses to leave and take in this magnificent view. Breathe in the fresh air and take one of the many incredibly beautiful walks.
To plan our trip and take a break after working at the ski fields, our roommate in Jindabyne offered us to stay at his home in Lawson. Thanks again to the kindness of people like him, we were really lucky to spend some time in this area. While I love roadtrips, I also enjoy the time spent in one place, being able to explore and learn more. We stayed there for a few weeks, taking various walks (Fairy Falls, Dante’s Glen, Adelina Falls and Cataract Falls in Lawson, Wentworth Falls, Empress Falls/Valleys of Waters, Botanical Gardens in Mount Tombah, Govett’s Lookout,…) through the lush green forests and seemingly endless waterfalls and lookouts. I am happy to offer more detailed recommendations if you are ever in the National Park.
On one of the days, we splurged a bit and took a train to Sydney (by the way, quite cheap, especially with an Opal Travel card) and visited Taronga Zoo. I can’t help but be moved every time I see the iconic Opera House and the Harbour Bridge (maybe because I just never imagined I would be able to travel and Sydney makes me see that sometimes you can make things happen even if you don’t have a lot of money). Of course, I took the photo I’m sure a lot of tourists take – a giraffe and in the background the famous Sydney buildings.
At the beginning of October, we started our road trip again – off to Caves Beach, Newcastle and Taree on our first day. Second day: Laurieton, Port Macquarie with the Lighthouse near Nobby Head, Nambucca Heads, Waterfall Way in Nymboi-Binderay National Park where we camped at Platypus Flat. Quite a long drive to the camping spot (especially at dusk), but definitely a wonderful spot in nature with lots of opportunity of wildlife spotting. We saw a Bearded Dragon and listened to the river flow by. There is something so magical arriving at night time, sleeping to the sounds of nature with the bright starry sky above and waking up to all these colours – the orange of the sun, the blue of the river, the green and the earthy brown of plants and trees.
The further we drove up north along the coast, the greener and lusher the landscape got. I know I use the word a lot, but… incredibly beautiful. My heart is making a little jump even while writing this, thinking about it makes me happy (I am so lucky!) and sad (I miss it!) at the same time.
“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.” – C. Joybell
Next stop, Maclean – the ‘Scottish town’ near the Clarence River. Quirky, but cute. A lot of the street signs are writting in Scottish Gaelic and you can find tartan patterns everywhere. Josh’s birthday present from me was a gift voucher to stay in Ballina for two nights, so we chose this as our next destination. We loved it there (not necessarily because of the Big Prawn, especially when you’re vegetarian like me he he), but because of the beaches, the laid back atmosphere, the light house and we were lucky enough to see humpback whales, yay!
We drove to Byron Bay for a few hours – it it was very crowded when we got there, so we only looked at it briefly, but I would love to come back one day. Back in Ballina, we saw a deep orange sunset – it always amazes me how nature manages to calm me down and make me feel grounded.
There is such a freedom and happiness into deciding each day where you would like to head next, where to stay longer, where to take a walk.. Yes, sometimes traveling and camping can be stressful, but I find being so close to nature gives my life meaning and I feel connected.
When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much, do they?” ― Virginia Woolf
Driving further northeast, we were curious about Lismore and Nimbin. Especially Nimbin is a strange place with its Cannabis culture, but it has an interesting history. The area is known as the “Rainbow Region” and especially fascinating was the Aquarius Festival in 1973 (I recommend reading about this as well, but I’m sure wikipedia can explain it a little bit better than I). Nimbin has an alternative lifestyle.
We camped at the showgrounds (often a good cheap option) and made our way to Mt Warning the next morning. Enjoying a cuppa at the Rainforest Cafe, we then took in the Natural Bridge (a natural rock bridge formation) in Springbrook National Park. Oh, and Springbrook National Park? It’s in Queensland! We had made it from New South Wales to the tropical Queensland. More in my next post!