A Holiday with Carrie

An exploration of the East Coast of Australia in 10 days with a camper van called “Carrie”

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Day 1 – Canberra to Lake MacQuarie

My first time on a road-trip in a camper van, not knowing what to expect.  Would I miss the comfort of hotel rooms?  How would I manage without w-fi?  When the van pulled up in front of the house in Canberra, any fears I had were soon allayed – the camper van was huge with all mod-cons, shower, toilet, fridge, TV, the lot!  A real home-from-home.

Very soon, she had a name – Carrie the Camper Van!

We packed everything we needed for the trip and headed out of Canberra just before noon. 670 km later, we finally arrived at the first stop of our 10-day adventure – beautiful Lake MacQuarie.  With amazing views across the lake, an incredible array of wildlife and wonderful, warm Autumn weather, the trip got off to a great start! The day ended with fish and chips and beer by the lake.

We awoke the following morning to the sound of the lake and seabirds.  A brisk morning constitutional along the lake set us up for the day ahead.

Day 2 – Toronto & Port MacQuarie

We hit the road early and set the GPS for Port MacQuarie.  As usual, we were looking for somewhere on the way to have breakfast and saw the sign on the motorway for Toronto and thought why not! So we pulled off and what a smashing town we found.  Friendly folks at the café where we had something to eat right on the lake added to its attractiveness.

Then it was on to our main destination – Port MacQuarie.  We hitched up in the campsite only to find our electricity cable wasn’t long enough to reach the power point on our site!  Calamity! So, off we went to Bunnings to get ourselves powered up!  Port MacQuarie itself was a hustling, bustling town with lots going on.  A family friendly place with heaps of eating spots and the best ice cream! 

Day 3 – Emerald Beach

The following morning started with an early morning dip in the ocean – surely the best way to start any day!  Then we packed up Carrie and hit the road yet again, heading for Emerald Beach, with our route taking us through Coffs Harbour.  We stayed at the lovely Discovery Park tourist park in Emerald Beach which was just a stone’s throw from one of the best discoveries of the whole trip – the Surf Street café.  It kept us fed with some amazing food while we were there.

Day 4 – Nambucca Heads

Nambucca Heads was our next stop and what a stunning place it is.  We settled into the White Albatross holiday park and went out to explore.  And what a surprise we found, walking along the shoreline – thousands of rocks, all hand-painted by visitors over the years, making memories of their stay. 

Day 5 – South West Rocks

We rolled into the Big 4 holiday resort at South West Rocks mid-afternoon. But on our way there, we saw a sign for the Smoky Cape lighthouse, so we made an unscheduled stop there and what a treat it turned out to be.  Surrounded by Hat Head national park, it stands at the top of rather a steep incline which was a challenge on such a warm day, but the spectacular views that greeted us at the top made it well worth the climb.

While we were at the lighthouse, we saw signs for a beach and we thought, it’s a hot day, what would be nicer but to dip our toes in the ocean?  It was a bit of a hike in the heat, going down and down and down, but what we saw when we reached the beach was well worth the effort. Soft white sand, blue-green waters and amazing rock formations made for some great photographs.

Then we headed on to South West Rocks and set Carrie down in the Big 4 Sunshine Resort. The resort was quite a way out of town but the walk to find some lunch was well worth the effort.  A very pretty town, great food and a wonderful beach.

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Day 6 – Armidale

Our next destination was Armidale so we once again hit the road.  However, the lure of breakfast was too strong, so we went back to our favourite café at Emerald Beach to eat.

Then, fully sated, we headed inland and on the way to Armidale, we stopped off in Bellingen for a sticky-beak. The town was very busy as it turned out to be market day!  However, I was underwhelmed by what was on offer and couldn’t even find a kaftan!

Then it was time to head up through the mountains towards Armidale.  On our way there, we encountered a herd of cattle who decided to take up residence in the middle of the road! All we could do was wait until they decided to move on. Eventually, we arrived in Armidale which we found to be a lovely, traditional inland town with a quiet tourist park and to our great surprise, a tennis court!  My winning run on the tennis court continued…..

Day 7 – Glen Innes

An early start the next day as we left Armidale and headed north to Glen Innes. It was evident that autumn had arrived in this part of New South Wales, attested to by the wonderful colours on the trees as we approached the town.  We received a warm welcome from the locals in the Baptist church there and enjoyed a hearty breakfast before heading on our way to Byron Bay, where we spent a pleasant night at Byron Holiday Park.

Days 8 and 9 – Byron Bay and Surfer’s Paradise

We packed up Carrie early in the morning and headed into Byron Bay proper to have breakfast. There was a slight drizzle but that didn’t put us off as we parked up and strolled through the town on a food-finding mission!  And I have to say, it was a bit of a culture shock, compared to what I had seen of Australia thus far. Fashion statements galore on the streets (clothing and hair), alternative clothing stores and lifestyles on display everywhere I looked. Then it was on to the Gold Coast!

My first time in Surfer’s and it didn’t disappoint.  We hitched the camper van in the Treasure Island tourist park a few Ks outside of town before getting ourselves onto the tennis court for a couple of sets.  Needless to say who won……

Then it was time to head into Surfer’s proper, so we treated ourselves to an Uber ride to get us right into the centre of the action!  So here I am doing the tourist thing, under the Surfer’s Paradise sign!  And then on the seemingly endless beautiful sandy beaches, taking pictures of the spectacular skyscrapers.

Day 10 – Noosa

Just when I thought south Queensland couldn’t get any better, we arrived in Noosa. Beautiful waterways, my first go at driving a boat (or should that be captaining?), great food and stunning scenery made Noosa the firm favourite of the trip.

Day 11 – Hastings Point

Heading back south, with no particular destination in mind, we happened upon Hastings Point on the Tweed Coast. And there we spent a night at the terrific North Star Holiday resort.

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