5 weeks Down Under – crossing an entire continent with great expectations: Rain Forests, Fern Gullys, endless Beaches, vibrant cities. And yes – we saw it all. Here’s the first part…Brisbane to Sydney, including great beaches and exotic jungles.
|Destination||Australia, Brisbane to Perth; this post: part 1, Brisbane to Sydney|
|How and when I got there||Etihad Airways, from Duesseldorf to Brisbane and Perth to Duesseldorf; January 2017|
|Where I stayed (Brisbane – Sydney)||Campervan from Apollo via ADAC (“General German Automobile Club” (ADAC), -> please find the different campgrounds/holiday Parks in the Posts; Prices 30-60 AUS $ per day
Hotel Mantra Richmond
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat,
Breakwall Holiday Park, (not recommended!)
YHA Sydney Harbour “The Rock” (ensuite room),
|Restaurants||Many options in the “Chinese Quarter” of Brisbane and in Byron Bay
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat Restaurant (the only option there),
The Pantry Manly, https://www.tripadvisor.de/Restaurant_Review-g552103-d1954386-Reviews-The_Pantry_Manly-Manly_Greater_Sydney_New_South_Wales.html
Nick’s Seafood Restaurant, Darling Harbour, Sydney, https://www.tripadvisor.de/Restaurant_Review-g255060-d727387-Reviews-Nick_s_Seafood_Restaurant-Sydney_New_South_Wales.html
|Things to do||Just our favourites: Dorrigo NP, Diamond Head and Crowdy Bay, Sydney The Rocks|
|Recommendations in a nutshell||Rain forests, beaches, cities – they are all great, pick any. And mix it.|
|Recipe||Wild Mushroom Risotto with Assorted Mushrooms, Parmesan & Truffle Oil (see at the bottom of this post)|
This is the first part of our journey along Australia’s coast from Brisbane to Perth. This first part starts in Brisbane and goes to Sydney, including great beaches and exotic jungles.. The second part covers our trip from Sydney to Melbourne, the third part from Melbourne to Fraser Range/Western Australia, and the fourth part from Fraser Range to Perth.
Australia had been my long-time favorite for many years, but flying literally to the other end of the world (in economy class) is not the biggest fun on earth. So, we needed an incentive to do so, and in our case it was our daughter spending a year of “work and travel” (meaning working holidays) down under.
As always, I started planning this trip early, meaning almost one year ahead – the actual booking 6 months ahead. Finding the ideal route was ambitious, as it meant deciding about what to see (and what not, which is the bigger challenge). Finally we opted for seeing the southern half, starting in the east and ending in the west. So, we skipped the entire north and the central parts – leaving us with a good justification to come back another time.
One of the reasons for the route came with the fact that we wanted to go by car and see the Nullarbor Plain. But renting a car on the east coast and dropping it off on the west coast would have been extremely expensive (more than 4.000 Euro!), and therefore we decided to rent a campervan for 2.500 Euro for 4 weeks. Our first camping holiday ever!! We were really reluctant in the beginning, but afterwards I must say: good decision. We combined it with some hotels on the way, so in the end it was a convenient mixture of adventurous campsites and (more or less) luxurious hotel rooms or apartments.
Brisbane: relaxed recovery from jetlag
Our flights went via Abu Dhabi (Etihad Airlines, booked via Expedia), and we were lucky to catch a good bargain, paying less than 900 Euro per person despite high season. Our first destination was Brisbane, where we stayed in a hotel (Mantra Richmond, 4 star hotel for 69 Euro per night; nice, but not really central location) for three days and tried to overcome the jetlag.
Brisbane by night:
Then we picked up our small campervan (Apollo High Top), and were quite happy to see that ours was a pretty new example. We loved it right away and got more and more surprised about how many good ideas go into the construction of these vans in order to make the most of little space. OK, it is a bit difficult in the beginning to keep the dimension of the car in mind. But otherwise, it drives like any other car (except with strong side wind). Anyway, we managed quite well and only once touched another car when backing out of a parking space. Fortunately the owner of the car we hit was good-natured, didn’t want any compensation for a small dent and just waved us good-bye.
Our first Rainforest
Coming from Brisbane, our first leg was a short one, just to Lamington National Park (NP). We stayed at the famous “O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat” which is the only option for staying in the middle of the NP. And a quite expensive one – they let you pay for their monopoly, at least regarding food and drinks. Nevertheless, it’s a really nice place in the middle of the rain forest, and it was our first encounter with kangaroos (or better: wallabies, as we figured out later) – which is for non-Aussies an absolute highlight. Try the treetop walk!
Byron Bay and more Rainforests
Next stop down the east coast was the famous/infamous Byron Bay, which turned out to be a nice, small town, a bit over-priced due to its infamousness. Lots of tourists, having the Advantage of a great chloice of Shops and dinner places. I can’t remeber the name of the restaurant we liked most, but I do remember the excellent white wine: from “Watson Family Vineyard” (Margret River) the Chardonnay, 49 Dollars per bottle. Really great!
We stayed at the North Coast Holiday Park Clarkes Beach (https://www.northcoastholidayparks.com.au/park/info/clarkes-beach); it was our first night in the campervan, and we survived. We even figured out we could live with sharing bathrooms and showers and doing washing-up the breakfast dishes in a shared kitchen.
From Byron Bay we headed south on the Pacific Highway to “SpotX”, the surf camp where our daughter had stayed for 2 months.
The campsite at the “Spot X beach” (Darlington Beach Park, Arrawarra; https://www.nrmaholidayparks.com.au/darlingtonbeach/) was a really nice one – we could even rent our “personal bathroom cabin” next to our parking spot. There were kangaroos all over the place. Going to the kitchen you really had to take care not to fall over them.
Next stop was the Dorrigo NP. Dorrigo – again – is a lovely place, including scenic waterfalls, lush greens, ferns, parrots and all the other features a central European considers appropriate for a rain forest. OK, after the tenth rain forest you may get a bit tired of the same, but for us it was still new and exciting. And nicely located on a 2 hour circuit walk.
After Dorrigo we stayed in Port Macquarie, at the “Breakwall Holiday Park”. We even invested a bit of money into a cabin in order to treat us with our own bathroom – bad decision. I think it was the worst accommodation during our whole 5 weeks – crammed, crowded, ragged…we really do NOT recommend the place.
Endless Beaches at Crowdy Bay
At least the next day made up for it: we went to see Diamond Head and the Crowdy Bay NP – great!
Seal Rocks – The “Adore” location
Next stop was a small village called Seal Rocks, which came on our destinations list due to being the film location for the movie “Adoration” (or “Adore” in UK and US). The movie is based on the novel “The Grandmothers” (in German “Tage am Strand”) by Doris Lessing (2007 Nobel Prize winner). I liked the book as well as the movie and was determined to see the scene. We stayed at the North Coast Holiday Park Seals Rock (http://www.northcoastholidayparks.com.au/park/info/seal-rocks), one of the very few campsites with sea view.
From Seal Rocks it was not too far to Sydney, and so we stopped at Berowra to visit one of the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) places that our daughter had worked on. We left the campervan there and entered Sydney by train, as finding appropriate (and affordable) parking for campervans in the middle of cities is not easy.
Sydney – and a lot of Rain…
In Sydney we stayed at the Sydney Harbour YHA (https://www.yha.com.au/hostels/nsw/sydney-surrounds/sydney-harbour/), the most affordable place in The Rocks, and with a nice harbor view from the rooftop terrace. If I remember correctly, we paid about 120 Euro for an ensuite room, which is quite OK for the location.
Does it rain in Sydney in late summer? Yes! We spent two days there, and it was more or less raining every day. Harbor Bridge and opera are still a stunning view, and of course there’s a lot to do and see despite the rain. We went to see Manly Beach, Darling harbor, The Rocks course, George Street up and down and some other places nearby.
…and finally, the sun came out to give us a “sunshine Picture” of the Opera!
And a lot of People came out, too…
…a number of exciting restaurants, but due to your short stay (only 2 days) we just went with places on our Sightseeing route. One evening, we had dinner at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant at Darling Harbor, a nice and relaxed place, good Food.
And here’s the recipe of a Risotto similar to the one, that we enjoyed at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant at Darling Harbor. I know, this is Italian Food. But in Australia we found such an amazing amount of foreign Food, that I consider it appropriate to list a Risotto as a “typical” dish for Sydney. I could have listet my husband’s grilled fish at Nick’s, but as I don’t eat seafood and fish (I prefer watching them snorkling instead of dead on a plate), I didn’t try the fish. So, here’s “my Risotto”…
|My Sydney recipe: Wild Mushroom Risotto with Assorted Mushrooms, Parmesan & Truffle Oil
Ingredients for 4 servings:
Melt butter in a Casserole, add the rice and stir until the rice gets transparent. Add shallot pieces, the mushrooms and the water, if you started out with dried mushrooms (just carefully remove any dirt or sand in the water). If you started out with fresh mushrooms: add them at the end of the cooking process – otherwise they get mashed.
Stir for a minute, then add the white wine and cook away most of the alcohol. Then add 100 ml of the chicken broth, cook and stir constantly until almost all of the liquid has disappeared. Repeat until the rice gets the right consistency (creamy but still a little bit crispy inside the grains). Add the crème fraiche or any alternative, the dash of Truffle oil and the Parmesan. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley and serve!
|Part 2: Sydney to Melbourne||and Part 3: Melbourne – Fraser Range / Western Australia||Part 4: Esperance – Perth|
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.