We have been in Australia for just one month but we have done so much it feels like longer. It is the end of winter here, but temperatures are similar to a summer day in England, so it is fairly pleasant. We only really know it is winter as it gets dark around 5.30 and then the temperature drops.
When we arrived we were picked up at Coolangatta airport by Emily’s friend Shaun, who is lucky enough to live on the Gold Coast. He helped us to organise our Australian bank accounts, medicare cards and tax file numbers which are all essential for living in Australia.
We spent our first week staying in a beautiful serviced apartment in Southport which was so luxurious in comparison to our flat in Cambodia. We enjoyed lovely walks along the coast, past sandy beaches and beautiful bays. One of the things that really stood out to us was the amount of facilities on offer for people that live here. There are public toilets, barbeques, drinking fountains, showers and play parks all along the coast. The facilities are kept clean and well maintained by the council and there is no litter anywhere.
We had a great day out at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. They have a large area where the Kangaroos roam freely, you can stroke them, feed them and watch them jump around. It was interesting to see their Joeys poking out of their pouches. We also saw lots of Koalas, hanging around in Eucalyptus trees and even got to cuddle one. The park is home to all kinds of wildlife, we also got to see crocodiles, wombats, reptiles and birds.
Aside from the stunning beaches in the Gold Coast, there are also vast areas of rainforest known as the Hinterland. We have visited lots of stunning waterfalls and look out points with panoramic views across the forest. Shaun’s friend AJ lives in a secluded house way up in the mountains, we enjoyed a great evening up there barbequeing and drinking wine in front of the fire. From his house you can see for miles across the hinterland and as we sat there during the day, we saw the clouds sweep in and surround us. It is unbelievable that this remote, mountain retreat is just an hour away from some of the most amazing beaches in the world.
We had arranged to buy an ex-rental camper van and we picked up the van for our second week. It is a 2003 Mazda E2000, but with over 400,000 km on the clock it has seen its fair share of the country already. It is a very basic camper with a bed, sink and four wheels, but we have decked it out with enough soft furnishings to make it a cosy home for two.
Our first road trip was down to Byron Bay, across the border in New South Wales. The town has a relaxed, surfer feel to it with some lovely cafes and restaurants. We had a lovely walk from the main beach, to a picturesque lighthouse, around the headland and back again. We stood at the most easterly point of Australia and looked out to sea. When we looked down, Sian spotted something moving below, as we took a closer look we realised it was a pod of Dolphins swimming in the water.
On our way back from Byron Bay we visited Nimbin, a hippy town full of candles, incense and pot. We stayed at a camp site/hippy commune on the edge of a forest and were thrilled to see four adult Kangaroos just metres away from us as it was going dark. The following day was Sians birthday, we really tested the van by driving some steep gravel roads, in the rain, up to Protester Falls.
Whilst waiting for the registration for the van we were tied to the Gold Coast, so we spent time enjoying the national parks and amazing beaches in the area. One thing we have found odd here is the lack of internet and wifi connection available. When we do find a connection, speeds are very slow and time and downloads are very restrictive, which is why we haven’t managed to blog much about our time here. We will try and keep updating things when we can and sharing our pictures and travel tales with you all.