Australias wet and wild South: endless beaches, almost deserted coastal walks, encounters with strange wildlife (OK, strange for Europeans). And Melbourne – a City that stands up to expectations.
|Destination||Australia, Sydney to Melbourne (part 2 of the journey Brisbane to Perth)|
|How and when I got there||Campervan “Hitop” from Apollo via ADAC (“General German Automobile Club” (ADAC); February 2017|
|Where I stayed (Sydney to Melbourne)||Different campgrounds (see below, different campgrounds/holiday Parks in the Posts; Prices 30-60 AUS $/night)
Melbourne: “CityLights at Flinders Street” via booking.com
Miriams Restaurant (http://www.miriamsrestaurant.com.au/)
Charnwood Café (no own Website)
The Metung Hotel (http://www.metunghotel.com.au/)
Juicy Bao (no own Website)
|Things to do||Just our favorites: Figure 8 Pools, Murramarang NP, Raymond Island, Tidal River Camp at Wilsons’s Promontory|
|Recommendations in a nutshell||A lot of impressive nature – walk as many trails as possible. And be prepared for bad weather even in summer.|
|Recipe||Scones with clotted cream and home-made jam (see at the bottom of the post)|
Here’s the second part of our journey along Australia’s coast from Brisbane to Perth, Australias wet and wild South: this second part starts behind Sydney and goes to Melbourne. The first part of the journey (Brisbane to Sydney) is here, the third part (Melbourne to Fraser Range/Western Australia) here and the fourth part (Esperance to Perth) here (link).
Blue Mountains – nice even on a rainy day
We left Sydney on a rainy morning, first going to Berowra to pick up our campervan. From there we moved on into the Blue Mountains, and unfortunately, it still kept raining. So, on our arrival at Katoomba (accommodation: Echo Point Motel) the sight was minimal, but still the atmosphere was kind of magical. It was also kind of magical to see our bathroom getting flooded through the small window…so, no recommendation for the Echo Point Motel, but for the Blue Mountains.
The following morning greeted us with bright sunshine and clear skies – so finally we could see the famous blue shimmer of the mountains.
Figure 8 Pools – quite a Show!
On that day we had an ambitious schedule: first on the list were the famous figure 8 pools in the Royal NP. Parking is at the Garrawarra car park, and from there it’s a 1 hour hike down to and along the coast.
But it’s really worth the effort – just have a look at the youtube videos! The big waves, that come in occasionally and flush people too close to the shoreline away, are spectacular. Fortunately, we knew about that and were really cautious.
After the hike to the figure 8 pools we went straight to the days final destination, Hyams Beach, which is famous for having
“the whitest sand in the World”
Yes, Hyams Beach is in fact a fine, white beach. But after having seen the beaches around Esperance (Western Australia, see part 4 of this journey) I must say, that I am not really convinced that Hyams beach is actually the whitest one. Nevertheless, we had luckily left the Sydney rain behind us and enjoyed two nice days on the beach.
We stayed at the Huskisson White Sands Holiday Park in Jervis Bay, and I must confess that I can’t really remember how we liked the place…but it can’t have been too bad – then I would remember.
Murramarang National Park
From Hyams Beach we went straight to Murramarang NP and stayed at the Depot Beach Campground (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/Depot-Beach-campground ). This is one of the very few campgrounds that should be booked way in advance – at least if you are keen on getting one of the powered sites.
Overall, the campsite is in the middle of the Murramarang jungle, and it feels a bit like sitting in Borneo or Congo…we liked it very much! There are some shorter walks that you enter directly from the campground, and some more within 10 minutes driving distance. We opted just for the beach walk at the campground and watched the surfers and kangaroos at the beach.
Lakes Entrance and autumn weather
Our next journey was a pretty long trip, from Murramarang NP south to Lakes Entrance, where we stayed at the NRMA Eastern Beach Holiday Park (https://www.nrmaparksandresorts.com.au/eastern-beach/), despite our unpleasant experience in Port Macquarie. The Eastern Beach Park, however, was quite OK, and cannot be blamed for rainy and cold weather, that followed the first nice day.
So, our main activities were focused in the culinary area; here are some recommendations: Miriams Place (http://www.miriamsrestaurant.com.au/) and the Metung Hotel (in Metung, http://www.metunghotel.com.au/) for dinner:
…and the “Charnwood Café” for hot chocolate and fantastic scones:
We haven’t been to the “Floating Dragon”, not unexpectedly (considering the name) a Chinese floating restaurant, that looked really nice.
I’m pretty sure that the East Gippsland shire is a nice place…on a sunny and warm day. Unfortunately, during our stay (in the middle of February) it was neither sunny nor warm. So we spent a day on a very windy beach (which has a certain appeal)…
…and then moved on via Raymond Island to Wilsons Promontory.
Raymond Island and Koalas
The tiny Raymond Island has the reputation of being one of the very best spots for Koalas, and yes, we can definitely confirm this. We left our car at the Esplanade in Paynesville and ferried across the water to Raymond Island, cautiously respecting the warning sign on the ferry…
Next to the jetty there’s a map describing the “Koala Trail” in detail.
We just followed the indicated trail and found more than 30 koalas up in the trees. Unfortunately, the weather was windy and not too warm, and the koalas mainly kept sitting in their treetops with occasional tiny movements.
Still, they are really cute and we were very thrilled – definitely thumbs up for Raymond island!
Wilsons Promontory: fantastic nature
Wilsons Promontory’s Tidal River (https://www.parkstay.vic.gov.au/wilsons-promontory-national-park#/accom/33314) is a huge campsite. However, powered sites are rare (there’s only 20!) and should be booked many (like 6 or more) months in advance. We happened to get one of these rare sites and had to pity a group of young girls next to us. They had an unpowered site, where they – unsuccessfully – tried to raise their tent in the middle of the night, illuminated by their car lights – that surrendered after two hours. Finally, they gave up and slept in the car…
Tidal River was one of our favorite places…
… and our favorite experience was a “magical walk” at sunset down the river bank. On our second day, the water was completely still, mirroring the surrounding mountains perfectly. Just look at these pictures:
From Tidal River there are several nice hikes into the landscape, and we tried three of them. One of them leads to a fern gully, the “Lilly pilly gully circuit”. You can walk there from Tidal River, but there’s also a carpark at the entrance of the circuit. We happened to meet one of the (quite shy) dark Kangaroos.
Then there’s a very nice coastal walk from Tidal River via Squeaky Bay (yes, the sand squeaks underneath your feet!) to Picnic Bay and back:
A bit further away there’s the “Cotters Lake Track”, which we had completely to ourselves on that day. And nearby there’s the “Prom Wildlife Walk”, a short walk over a grassy plain with lots of emus.
Meeting the natural inhabitants
Eating out in Wilsons is a bit of a problem – there’s a café during the day, but virtually no nice dinner place. Fortunately, we were prepared and had bought steaks, sausages, salads and vegetables at Foster. At the Tidal River campground, there’s a lot of grill stations where you can prepare your meals and have nice encounters with the parks wildlife – as we did with a mother and child wombat:
Melbourne – contrast program to the Prom
We decided to skip Phillip Island and go from Wilsons Prom straight to Melbourne. Campervans and big cities are not really compatible, which we figured out in Melbourne (in Sydney, we had left the campervan far outside, which was a clever idea). In Melbourne I had booked a nice apartment (“CityLights at Flinders Street” via booking.com, approx. 100 Euro per night, located very centrally on Spencer Street, close to the Sealife Aquarium, with a great view of the Yarra River:
Downside: there were the noisy Railroad tracks just in front of the building. Second downside: there was a public car park next to the building, but we had to buy parking tickets 24/7. Which meant: getting up at 5 in the morning to buy a new ticket…so finally the carpark was almost more expensive than the Apartment.
We experienced Melbourne as kind of “European”, featuring lots of small alleys and Shops and
lots of food:
and many places to eat and drink outside. Here our two recommendations for dinner: “Cumulus” (http://cumulusinc.com.au/), a stylish and busy place with excellent food and wine, and “Juicy Bao” (no website) in the heart of Chinatown. They don’t take any reservation, you will just have to stand in line to get a table (sooner or later). It’s not the place for a romantic dinner, but the food is very good.
What else to see in Melbourne? We went for the “classical tourist things” like the National Gallery of Victoria
Flinders Station and Visitor Center,
the Eureka Skydeck (great view!),
Collins Street and the Arcades, and Hosier Lane, the famous street art place.
Overall, the south-eastern part of Australia, the wet and wild South, – despite being the “classical tourist route” – is well worth seeing.
|And here’s my favorite dish from the Australia Sydney to Melbourne trip – Scones á la Charnwood
As described above, the wheather in Lakes Entrance left a lot to be desired. Freezing and wet, the scones of the Charnwood Café reconciled us with the town.
Give flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla sugar, butter and a pinch of salt into a bowl and knead everything until you get small crumbs. Stir in two eggs and milk – carefully; the dough should still look rough. Cover and keep in the fridge for 15 minutes.
On a floured surface, first roll the dough until 2-3 cm thick, then cut out circles (e.g. by using a glass). Place them upside-down on a baking tray, brush the top with a beaten egg or melted butter and bake in the oven for 12 minutes, until risen and golden. Cool down a little and serve with clotted cream and home-made jam.
|Part 1: Brisbane to Sydney||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.