Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast Road Tripping from Sydney to Cairns


Week 17 Day 109

Arlie Beach

20.2675° S, 148.7169° E

20131206_125235When I last posted, we had just finished up a relaxing week in Manly and the Hunter thanks to the Barton family.

Refreshed and rejuvenated, we headed back into Sydney to pick up our Jucy Campa and head north to Cairns!

Heading back to Sydney on the Manly Ferry

Heading back to Sydney on the Manly Ferry

Our first Jucy campa Crib model

Our first Jucy campa Crib model

Tom and I were able to nail down, not 1 but 2 Jucy relocation campas!  The first from Sydney to Brisbane and the 2nd from Brisbane to Cairns.

Traveler Tip: For those not quite sure what a relocation campa is, it is a deal Jucy and other car rental companies do to move cars from a popular drop off destination to a popular pickup location.  In New Zealand most people drive North-South so you can often pick up relocation deals from the South Island to the North.  In Australia, the trend seems to to drive south so most deals work heading north which worked out great for Tom and I since we are headed to Cairns to snorkeling the Great Reef before we take off to Bali!

For those that caught on to the fact that we were indeed living out of our car in New Zealand you can only imagine how excited we were for an upgrade!

Living in a campa definitely beats living out of a car, but we have learned a couple lessons this week on our road trip!

Lesson 1:  Australia is BIG like REALLY BIG!!

Everyone we talked to about driving from Sydney to Cairns had the same reaction, “That’s really far!  Why don’t you just fly?”

Tom and I love a good road trip, but after experiencing the drive to Cairns, (and we haven’t even made it yet!) I might recommend flying.  You can get cheap tickets in OZ and from what I’ve seen so far Australian towns have a lot to offer!  You can easily spend 2-3 days in one place and it might be a better use of time to just hang in one town than to spend the time driving from place to place.

The difference between New Zealand and Australia is that while they both have really cool things to see, in New Zealand these “things” are much closer to each other making driving a more viable option.  Tom and I learned the hard way that the “Tourist route” can take you hours off your straight route path and it’s best to pick a couple destinations only and take the most major freeways to get to them!

The other difference between New Zealand and Australia for Tom and I is time.  In New Zealand, we had 2 months to cover the 2,813 kilometres from the North to the South while in OZ we only had 10 days to cover the 2,629 km from Sydney to Cairns.  (The one drawback about a Jucy relocation campa is they give you a time limit to return their campas.)

Our road trip with some stops along the way

Our road trip with some stops along the way

Long story short, if you have the luxury of time definitely look into getting a campa, but if you don’t flying might be the way to go.

Despite the distance, Tom and I still have enjoyed our road trip so far and think we may have come out ahead if not broken even in cost had we bought plane tickets to do all the things we’ve done up the East Coast.

Here just some of the things we were able to do on our road trip:

We had a chill night in Newcastle.

20131206_221844Newcastle has a super chill pub called the Grain Store.  It had free WIFI and the best selection of beer I’ve seen so far in OZ!

Sunrise on the coast.  To the right is the man made salt water pool

Sunrise on the coast. To the right is the man made salt water pool

We found a side street in town to park the campa for the night and in the morning woke up to watch the sunrise, go for a run on along the coast as well as a swim in Newcastle Rocks’ pool.

Run along the coast

Run along the coast

Many Australian towns have cool salt water pools along the coast.  They are man made pools, but located where the waves crash into the structure to fill the pool.  Be careful of those waves though!  After our run, Tom and I were standing at the edge of the pool and one of the waves that hit was so big it knocked me off my feet and swept me into the pool!

The best part about Newcastle were the public showers near the shore we were able to use following our run and swim!

We spent a good day driving up the coast and by nightfall we had reached

Byron Bay

Sunset on our way to Byron Bay

Sunset on our way to Byron Bay

Byron Bay is a pretty laid back and chill place.  If you want to avoid backpackers on your travels, this isn’t the place for you.  I, however found this place to be amazing!

Byron Bay of course offers some gorgeous beaches and public showers so Tom and I were able to get a run in, but the town itself has a ton of character.  You can people watch in Byron all day long.

Bomb Mexican food from Miss Margarita

Bomb Mexican food from Miss Margarita

Byron also offers up some really good food!

Tom and I shared an amazing Big Breakfast from Moka a local eatery and fajitas from Miss Margarita.

The best thing Byron offers though is amazing tour deals, part of the reason Byron Bay is the mecca for backpackers.

Lesson 2: Australia has some amazing tours!

20131208_224702The best tour I saw was from travel bugs!  (Travel bugs also offers free WIFI outside of their office!)

We unfortunately didn’t have enough time to do the Byron to Cairns special, but we did do the Grasshopper tour to Nimbin.


We joined a bus full of people at 10am and didn’t get back after 6.

Picnic by the lake on the way home from Nimbin

Picnic by the lake on the way home from Nimbin

For $45 a person, we got an all you could eat BBQ lunch, a scenic tour of the Lismore area including a waterfall and lake, a stop at a local crafts market (only available on the Sunday tour) as well as lesson in Nimbin culture from the self-proclaimed expert himself our bus driver Jim.

Business Hours in Nimbin

Business Hours in Nimbin

Nimbin might not be for everyone, but Tom and I found it amusing for the day.



Photo Op by the waterfall

Photo Op by the waterfall

Nimbin is definitively it’s own alternate universe, but there is a nice art gallery and museum.

Entrance to the Nimbin Museum.

Entrance to the Nimbin Museum.

The other perk of the tour is that it’s BYOB and if you didn’t know this before, Jim provides stops along the way to make sure everyone on board his bus has everything they need.


It was also in Byron Bay where we learned

Lesson 3:  Cops are much nicer to Campers in OZ than in New Zealand!

As you enter town, you’ll notice a sign saying no camping or parking your campa in Byron Bay.  As you know Tom and I like to keep things as cheap as possible so we weren’t sure if we were going to follow this rule.

The first night we parked on the street in town and had no issues.

The second night we parked in a neighborhood and did have a run in with Byron “security.”  They knocked on our window  and told us to move along.

From talking with fellow campas.  This is the norm.  Apparently you have to be “camping” in Byron a long time before you get ticket, but even if you do it’s only a $100 ticket compared to our $200 ticket from NZ.  Remember though, you are most likely to get a warning and the Byron Bay camping security doesn’t come around until early in the morning.  (They probably don’t want the campas driving any sooner than that…)

Since leaving Byron Bay, we’ve camped at rest areas along the highway ever since and haven’t had problems at all.

From Byron Bay we headed up the Gold Coast to Brisbane

We didn’t stop in the Gold Coast so I don’t have any experience to base my opinion on, but the Gold Coast especially Surfer’s Paradise reminded me of a beach town Vegas.  There were Casinos everywhere!

Just a bit past the Gold Coast we hit Brisbane.

The inside of our hotel at the Treasurery

The inside of our hotel at the Treasurery

Brisbane turned out to be an awesome experience!

Tom and I met up with 2 old friends, a fellow Bikram yoga teacher from my Fall ’12 training Nichole and a friend we met at another friend’s wedding in NY 2 years ago Carina.

Nichole had free nights at local casino hotel, The Treasurery, that were going to expire so she so kindly gifted them to Tom and I.  While the campa has been an amazing step up from the Getzya in NZ the hotel was an amazing treat!  Thank you so much Nichole!

Brisbane is cool little town just walking around Tom and I found all kinds of fun art.

Cool street art in Brisbane

Cool street art in Brisbane

20131211_124121We also found some cool birds wandering around the local parks.

We took the time in Brisbane to chill for a couple days.

Lunch at George's with Nichole and Sinead!  Awesome and well priced Seafood!

Lunch at George’s with Nichole and Sinead! Awesome and well priced Seafood!

I did yoga and hung out with some yogis while Tommy posted up in a Subway with super fast WIFI to work on his latest project, The Creative Entrepreneur.

As always, the locals know the best places to go in their cities!  Nichole took me and fellow traveling teacher Sinead to George’s, a bomb Seafood place at the top of the Gold Coast.

We finished our last night in Brisbane with Carina.  A friend we met at a mutual friend’s wedding 2 St. Paddy’s days ago.

Carina introduced us to the Fortitude Valley, a hip area in Brisbane with cool bars and awesome drink specials!  We found a place where we were able to get $3 burritos and $5 glasses of wine!

Travelers Tip:  Always take advantage of locals when traveling!  They know the rare gems in their cities that the tour books never know!

A yummy juice bar on the way to Jucy!  You bet I got a juice!

A yummy juice bar on the way to Jucy! You bet I got a juice!

The next morning we walked to Jucy to pick up our latest campa, a Jucy Condo!  Our most luxurious ride yet!


On the way out of Brisbane, we swung by Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Lesson 4:  You will see live animals, but go to a Koala Sanctuary Anyways!

Tom and I spent the first 5 days of our road trip with our eyes glued to the side of the road hoping and praying we would see a Kangaroo and/or a Koala.

We didn’t see one in the busier south of OZ, but we have spotted Kangaroos since we’ve been further north.

That being said, the best thing we  could have done was stop at the Koala Sanctuary on our way out of Brisbane.

Not only were we able to see Kangaroos:


but we also saw Koalas:




Rainbow Cockatoos:

20131211_144047Tasmanian Devils:










flying foxes:


more rare birds:


and duck billed platypuses.

Some people will say it’s cheating to hit up the sanctuaries and that you can see all these animals if you head out on Aussie trails, but so far the Koala Sanctuary has been the highlight of our trip to OZ.

The Sanctuaries in OZ are much better than any zoo in the states because you can actually interact with the animals!


Besides now we know a little bit more about what we are looking for as we drive down the road.

Not sure if these signs make me laugh or freak me out....

Not sure if these signs make me laugh or freak me out….

We’re been driving down the road for 2 days now and we’re really starting to feel the distance from Brisbane to Cairns.

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t see much sunshine in the sunshine coast as it’s been pouring for the past 2 days.

We’re choosing to look on the bright side and realize that if there was sun it would only be hotter in our campa van at night.–The condo while very spacious lacks the ventilation the crib had.

What OZ lacks in WIFI and power outlets, they make up in large cockroaches!

What OZ lacks in WIFI and power outlets, they make up in large cockroaches!

We can report that from Brisbane to Arlie Beach there is hardly any WIFI and if you get WIFI, don’t expect to get an outlet to charge at.  We found the one outlet/WIFI combo at the first Hungry Jack’s as you enter the small metropolis of Newcastle last night.  (Trust us we went to every restaurant/fast food chain in town!)

As civilization deminishes we have seen more wildlife as we saw kangaroos and cockatoos along the road as we’ve drove today.

We made it to Arlie Beach this evening and were pleasantly surprised to find not only decently priced beer ($10 jugs) but also WIFI along with power outlets.

The Whitsundays...not as glamorous as normal with all the rain :(

The Whitsundays…not as glamorous as normal with all the rain 🙁

We’re getting anxious to make it to Cairns, not only will that mean snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s also the start to another adventure in Indonesia!

That’s it for this week!  Hope everyone at home is doing well and enjoying the holiday season!

Tom's Beard continues to grow! :)

Tom’s Beard continues to grow! 🙂

Comments 3

  1. Aunt Marianne and Uncle Bob

    Your blog is wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences this way! I like the map a lot in this latest entry—very helpful for the geographically challenged like Aunt M! Curious how each country reacts to US tourists and where do you feel the most welcome and safe so far? Love you lots!

  2. Post

    Will definitely touch on that later! Good topic Aunt Marianne! So far everywhere has been super friendly to Americans especially OZ. NZ has a lot of national pride, but part of that pride is being good hosts to visitors, where as Aussie’s as a stereotype are very curious by Americans and love to make friends!

    So glad you like the blog! 🙂

  3. Pingback: We’re Back….! Chillin in Down Unda

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