This was our first experience with a campervan. We were not familiar with camping or backpacking and it’s not a secret that we were a bit scared before starting this new experience. After four weeks travelling around Australia on board of our HiTop, driving 5331km from the Great Ocean Road to Cairns, we can confirm that there’s no better way to see Australia than traveling in a Campervan. Nothing beats the freedom of a campervan, especially in such a huge and beautiful country like Australia.
If you are wondering what is like travelling Australia with a campervan, the answer is: So Funny!
Most of the time you’ll be on the open road and these are straight, quiet and beautiful. The roads are smooth and there are plenty of places to pull over, fuel up, rest and why not, enjoy the view drinking a glass of wine and grilling some meat at one of the many free BBQ on the road. The country has really well developed facilities and the people are amazing, this make the journey easier and more enjoyable.
Coming from Santiago – Chile – we decided to fly straight to Sydney, spend a few days there and then fly to Melbourne and visit the city before picking up our campervan. You can either decide to fly to Melbourne and then drive to Sydney but we preferred to not drive or camp in the big cities.
SYDNEY (3 days)
Built around one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, Sydney is a vibrant, dynamic and accessible metropolis. We had the chance to visit the city with some local people, two friends from Italy who moved there years ago, and this made our experience even better. We loved the city and our first impression of the country was superlative.
Its myriad attractions include three of Australia’s most emblematic sight – Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera and Bondi Beach. With our friends we spent a beautiful day at Coogee Beach, probably not as famous as Bondi but definitely beautiful. Take a ferry to Manly Island and spend your day in this lovely suburb, walking on the main street-mall and relaxing on the beach. Only the view from the ferry worth the visit.
MELBOURNE (2 days)
Stylish, arty Melbourne is a city that’s proud of its place as Australia’s cultural capital. Here only some of the top sites: Royal Botanic Gardens, Shrine of Remembrance, Eureka Skydeck and Docklands architectures.
It’s now time to pick up our campervan and start our new adventure!
GREAT OCEAN ROAD (2 days)
The Great Ocean Road is definitely one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives. This road offers you spectacular views and breath-taking landscapes. It does not matter if you are a nature lover or a city dweller, you will fall in love with Great Ocean Road if you go for a drive. This is where mountains meet Ocean and the result is incredible.
DAY 1: Torquay, Lorne, Kenner River. Overnight: Apollo Bay
DAY 2: 12 Apostles, Loch and Gorge, London Bridge. Overnight: Mornington
DAY 3: We spent the morning relaxing at Peninsula Hot Springs, Victoria’s only geothermal hot springs with pools cascading down the valley. We reached Philip Island in the afternoon, in time for the beautiful Penguin Parade (Penguin Parade + ticket). Experience the magic of little penguins returning home at sunset to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia. Overnight: Philip Island
DAY 4: Wilson Promontory, Gippsland Lakes. Overnight: 90 Mile Beach
DAY 5: Ben Boyd National Park Overnight: Eden
DAY 6: Depot Beach and Pepply Beach, famous for kangaroos on the beach. Overnight: Pepply Beach
DAY 7: Jervis Bay Overnight: Wollongong
DAY 8: Sea Cliff Bridge, Seal Rocks. Overnight: Seal Rocks
DAY 9: Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour. Overnight: Ballina
DAY 10: Byron Bay
DAY 11: Gold Coast + Surfer Paradise. Overnight: Noosa Heads
DAY 12: Noosa Heads + Noosa National Park. Overnight: Rainbow Beach
Noosa Heads is definitely a must see. We loved its beautiful little town centre and the National Park. Our day was spent walking in the park, trying to spot some Koalas and enjoying the breath-taking views (Noosa National Coastal Walk). After this lovely walk, was then time to relax and swim on one of the many beautiful little beaches.
DAY 13-14 FRASER ISLAND
The local people call it K’Gari – paradise – and not for no reason. World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. Land of giant dunes, ancient rainforest – the only place in the world where rainforest grows on sand – crystal clear lakes and wildlife, including dingoes.
We booked our 2 nights/3 days tour with Peterpans Adventure Travel and we fully enjoyed our experience. We started our tour from Rainbow Beach on board of our 4WD shared with other 6 people. This Tag-Along tour gives you the option to drive the vehicle, whilst following a professional driver in the leading car. You will explore Fraser island from east to west, visiting its lakes and other beautiful landscapes. This is a chance to get away from the world but if you are not ready for an adventure, this tour might not be for you. The funny part of the tour is that you cook your meals on your own among with your group. Each group – car- will be provided with a basket with all the ingredients for every meal and then..if you can’t cook, you should be lucky to be in the right group! For the two nights you will be sleeping in a tent and during the winter season it’s not so warm after the sunset. Make sure to take with you warm clothes and a pillow! You can hire your sleeping bag for $10. Lake Mckenzie was our first stop and trust me, you will doubt it is actually a lake. Here is where pure white sand meets clear blue freshwater ringed by the rainforest. Awesome!
As the sun goes down over Fraser, you start to realise why this island is so special. Stars scatter the southern skies filling you with an overwhelming sense of connection to nature. This experience is truly unparalleled to any other camping holiday. What makes this tour special is that you are allow to drive the 4WD if you want and driving the 75 Mile Beach is so exiting and peaceful at the same time. This road is the spine of the island and it’s consider a proper highway. Enjoy the drive but drive safe!
Top Sites: Lake Mckenzie, Indian Head, Maheno Shipwreck, Champagne Pool, 75 Mile Beach, Eli Creek, Lake Wabby.
DAY 15: Returning in the afternoon from the tour, we drove to Agnes Water, where we spent the night at the Horizons Kangaroos Sanctuary where you can feed and meet kangaroos.
DAY 16: Arlie Beach
DAY 17-18: WHITSUNDAYS
The Whitsunday Islands, off the Queensland coast are a real tropical paradise. Sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, there are no crashing waves and the waters are incredible and perfect for sailing. Of the numerous breath-taking beaches, Whitehaven Beach stands out for its pure white silica sand and crystal clear water. It is for sure the top beach in the Whitsundays and possibly on of the finest in the world. There are plenty of sailing tours that allow you to visit the islands but if you are concerned about seasickness and you prefer to spend the night on land and why not – relax at a stunning resort – Ride to Paradise is the perfect tour for you. We booked this tour with Peterpans Adventure Travel and we are glad we did it. For 2 days and nights you’ll get to see all the beauty of the islands, enjoying your evenings at Paradise Cove Resort, while spending your days on board the fast boat. Two beautiful days relaxing at the resort, swimming at Whitehaven Beach and Snorkelling the world’s largest coral reef system – the Great Barrier Reef. This tour is called Ride to Paradise and actually it is. It’s a hidden gem, it’s beauty and tranquility has to be seen to be believed. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to the Dream Villa package. If you have the chance to book this, do it, you will never forget this experience. You still don’t believe it? Enjoy the video: Ride to Paradise Whitsundays
P.S. An extra bonus to this tour? The food! It’s simply delicious, and you know that we don’t play with food.
DAY 19: Arlie Beach
DAY 20: Skydive, Billabong Sanctuary (where you can hold a Koala). Overnight: Townsville
SKYDIVING AT 14,000FT OVER THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS. There had to be some way to go out with a bang, to finish this amazing travel around Australia, and to say goodbye to a country which is incredibly beautiful and we deeply loved…So what better way than to spend our last hours in Australia jumping out of a plane? Yes, we did it! We actually jumped at 14,000ft over the Whitsunday Islands. We were in Airlie Beach, probably the most beautiful location where to skydive in Australia and one of the most beautiful in the world, so we didn’t have choice. I must admit that I’m (Veronica) anxious of heights and not a fan of small planes at all, but I felt pretty safe there. Once you reach altitude at 14,000ft it’s jump time! And honestly you don’t have much time to realise or change your mind before the jump. Three, two…and then free fall! This is the big buzz as you reach speeds over 200km/h before the parachute is deployed! Now is when you are able to really appreciate the stunning view.
It was incredible, definitely an experience of a lifetime. After the jump we have been asked if we would do it again. Our answer: other ten times! Thanks to Skydive Australia
Sadly all good things come to an end and it was time to say goodbye to Australia, with the promise to come back very soon.
DAY 21: Driving to Cairns. Drop off the campervan. Flight in the evening.
Bye bye Australia, it’s been a real pleasure to meet you!
BEST BEACHES TO SWIM:
Jervis Bay (NSW), White’s Beach (Broken Head, NSW), Coolangatta Beach (Gold Coast, Queensland), Noosa National Park (Queensland), Whitehaven Beach (Queensland)
Follow Us on our Journey! Love&Travel