Month: August 2019

Sunday 11th August

We drove from Maryborough to Hervey Bay which is close to where a long lost relative of mine, my Dad’s 1st cousin lives. They recently have reconnected and Anne would love to meet me. I was very young when she left Wales for a new life in Australia. She has very kindly offered to put us up for a couple of nights.

First we need to do our walk, we arranged to get to their house at 3pm. Plenty of time. We walked along the seafront and along a very long pier. I always think it’s strange walking a pier after all they are always a dead end and then you have to turn around and walk back. Pointless but everyone still does it including me.Walk done time for a little sit down and a cup of tea. America you just can’t get tea it’s all horrible strong coffee.

Relaxed and refreshed we headed to Anne and Johns house. They were lovely and made us very welcome. It was nice listening to stories about my dad growing up and his family, dad hasn’t really spoken much about his family but he is back in touch with some of them now.

They took us out for a drive around the area and we got to see our first kangaroo

Then back to be spoiled with a home cooked meal, gins and tonics and more chats late into the night.

Saturday 10th August

We weren’t traveling to far today and both of us our feeling fat and sluggish. I can’t remember the last time either of us did any exercise and were feeling it.

So the plan was to find a nice place to go for a walk. Looking at the map there’s a place called Tin Can Bay right next to a beach called rainbow. A good a place as any we headed there.

A beautiful coastal walk, we walked about 3 miles that’ll do for a start.

Then onto the town where we have pinpointed a campsite for the night. Maryborough, the buildings our very deco but a bit shabby it has a good feel about the place. We stopped in a coffee shop and watched the world go by.

The author of Mary poppins came from here and there are little signs of her all over the town including the pedestrian crossings. Cool.

Friday 9th August

We left the Pacific coast highway for a bit today as we had heard about a small town just west of the coast Nimbin. This is a real alternative type town full of vibrant colours and cannabis shops. It was the host of the Aquarius music festival in 1970 and it still has that feel about it.

We wandered around the shops and had a cup of tea before moving on. The road took us through stunning countryside, winding around the mountains until we joined the Pacific coast highway again.

We couldn’t find a campsite for tonight so we have ended up in a room above a bar in gympie.

There is a d j playing until 2am and our room is directly above him it’s loud but hopefully I will manage to get some sleep.

Thursday 8th August

Still following the coast north. Past banana plantations and masses of sugar cane crops we arrived at campsite number 3, Byron bay. This is a real surfers place all the people are young suntanned and long haired. I feel old.

It’s got a good vibrant feel about the place and has lots of buskers and street traders.

The beaches long and has golden sand for miles, the bay is overlooked by a pretty little light house.

This is the busiest campsite yet it’s packed but the weather is perfect and the town boasts its summer all year long, you can see why.

So far every campsite has been clean and well equipped so far so good.

Wednesday 7th August

Leaving the campsite we head north following the Pacific highway looking for somewhere to have breakfast. We find a gorgeous beach with a cafe right on the front perfect.A cup of English breakfast tea and garlic mushrooms on toast delicious. We followed the road for 150 miles stunning scenery. Trees, mountains and sea views it really is a beautiful place.

Our camp for the night is in a sea side town Coffs Harbour. The tent up we wandered around the shops nice independent shops and bars, we had to sample the local beer. Not bad.

Another day spent in paradise, let’s see what tomorrow’s little gem will be.

Tuesday 6th August

We have landed in Sydney on Tuesday morning it’s 7:30am we didn’t have Monday with the time difference and a 15 hour flight, anyway I don’t like Mondays tell me why I don’t like Mondays I want to fly the whole day down….

First things first get out of the airport. We cleared customs straight away even jumped the long que because of our oversized boxes. The best thing to do is hire a car for a few days to get sorted rebuild bikes buy maps etc.

It’s winter here and to be honest the temperature is lovely it’s like a early summers day in England, we’re a bit worried that the campsites might not be open but it’s a adventure we will have to wait and see.

Car hired we drive to one of Mikes friends house 30 miles from the airport, Kate. Kate has kindly offered to store our bikes in her pool plant room for a while. She doesn’t use the pool in the winter so can stay in there for a while if we want.

We decided to leave the bikes there and do a drive road trip up the coast using the highway Pacific A1. That way we can get a feel for Australia, check out campsites etc as we certainly got Court out with the poor standard and expense in the USA.

We head north and drove about 200 miles before the fatigue set in. Not much sleep on the plane. We had arrived at a place called Coffs Harbour. A really nice seaside town. Following the directions to the tourist information centre.

She directed us to a campsite and re assured us that it would be open and tents are aloud. Apparently sites stay open all year round, that’s good to know.

The campsite is beautiful right on the shore very clean facilities and cheap let’s hope there all like this.

Tent up we headed to town for food I really thought that I might struggle to find good vegetarian food but no I had a lovely falafel salad, so fresh and tasty I’m liking Australia. Back to the tent it gets dark here at 5:30 pm I have to remind myself it’s winter even if I’m only in shorts and t shirts so early to bed with my kindle we need sleep anyway. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Sunday 4th August

The last couple of days we’ve not had any internet. A few days with a hire car around California. We drove from LA to San Francisco and back using the Pacific coast highway, highway one. Lovely coastline sight seeing and seal spotting.

Then the work began. We flew to Sydney Australia, but to do that we needed tickets, visas and clean and strip the bikes put them into boxes and clean the tent. We have heard horror stories about Australia’s custom officers they have strict rules to protect their environment.

Our flight out was at 11:15 pm. We had to leave our motel at 11:00am and the car had to be returned at 5pm it was going to be a long day.

Online visa forms simple enough instant visa and free. Plane tickets also online easy peesy. What could go wrong.

We leave the motel at last minute we are 40 miles away from the airport and that’s where we have to return the hire car. L A traffic is a absolute nightmare you have ten lane highways with traffic going nowhere but even so we should have plenty of time.

Our e-tickets arrived for the flight and we can do the online check in. There’s a problem and the error message informs us that we have to check in at the airport but didn’t give us a reason. Ok we’re make sure to get there early.

On our way we take the scenic route but really we are both glad to be leaving America. Time to explore new places nether of us have been to Australia before and the excitement has kicked in.

At the airport we return the car at 3 our bikes and luggage has to be transported to the terminal and there’s a shuttle bus but no trolleys to take our stuff to the bus stop, we can’t carry it all. The guy who took the car off us saw our dilemma and took pity on us and offered us a lift. With the back seats folded down for the bikes there’s only room for one of us, the other has to take the bus. I volunteered to take the bus so mike could lift the luggage out of the car at the airport.

Mike and bikes get dropped off at the right place terminal 4 departures my bus only can take me to terminal 4 arrivals 1 floor below I didn’t have my phone with me so I just hoped that mike stayed put and I would find him.

Reunited we went to check in. We were ages at the desk, the guy kept asking me loads of questions and apparently the computer said no. I wasn’t allowed to get on the flight my visa didn’t match up with my passport. We were there over a hour, he was asking questions and he kept rolling his eyes and tutting, he called a supervisor over they were talking ages but no one was explaining anything to us. I kept asking what the problem was and had we done anything wrong but no one would tell us. We were getting pretty worried by now.

After what seemed a life time he explained that my name on the visa didn’t match my name on my passport it was my mistake when I filled in the form under family name I had put my whole name and not just my surname. Mikes was fine he was aloud to travel I was not. If only he had told me that a hour ago I could emend it online. It took until 7pm but the Problem was sorted. Details online updated we checked in and checked the luggage in we’d packed the panniers in the box with my bike so my bike was 10lb over the limit so got charged $150 but we’re on. Just got to wait.

After a long flight we arrive in Sydney just need to get through customs we ticked the declare box as we needed to declare the bikes and tent. We were hoping that we had cleaned them good enough but still worried that they wouldn’t be happy and confiscate them or give us a bill for treating them. No need to worry mr custom officer was lovely. He asked if we had cleaned them we said yes and that was it straight through.

Welcome to Australia.