It’s not often we get the chance to be a tourist in our home country. Having spent the better part of the last decade outside of Australia, we’ve sadly forgotten just how beautiful the place really is. While Alesha is from the west coast, where we have spent the most time when we are “home”, I am from the east; two vastly different worlds with unique beauty. My home state of New South Wales boasts a rugged coastline punctuated with jutting headlands, sandy coves, historic settlements, dense rainforest, sprawling farmyard and vibrant surf towns. I had long wanted to explore it. So when we found ourselves back in Australia for a few months we embarked on our very own New South Wales road trip through the state – a trip we dubbed #RoadTripasaurus
We picked up a rental car from Penrith through the agency Economy Bookings, and we had just over three weeks to drive as far and as deep as we wanted. We first headed south, following the coast to Wollongong and onwards to the nation’s capital Canberra. Hiking Mount Kosciuszko National Park was our big goal that far south, and once we had completed it we headed north
Hugging the coast as much as possible we stopped at some of the nation’s most iconic beach towns: Bondi, Manly, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Yamba and of course Byron Bay. Our dates coincided with two massive surf competitions, the Australian Open of Surf in Manly and the Quiksilver Pro in Snapper Rocks, which we were stoked to attend. We cruised inland to visit Dorrigo National Park, check out the hippie and counter-culture capital of the nation, Nimbin, and see what the lush farmland had to offer.
Our furthest destination in the north was the Gold Coast in Queensland, where we parked the car and rested for the first time in months. We couldn’t stay stationary too long though, as the call of nature beckoned us back on the road.
Heading back to Sydney we took the inland route, stopping by Armidale, Tamworth, Bathurst and finally over the Blue Mountains.
Our entire New South Wales road trip totalled about 4000km, and besides in the Gold Coast we camped every single night – Sometimes for free in national parks or on a river’s edge, sometimes in paid caravan parks. This on-a-whim #RoadTripasaurus had the curious result in making us fall back in love with our own country. While there are a huge variety of East Coast Australia packages for various tours, we really enjoyed the freedom to drive at our own time. We’ve travelled a lot, and been to some stunning places in our time. But to this day we still maintain that Australia has some of the absolute best beaches and beautiful forests in the world. More than once Alesha and I talked about “moving back home”.
The call of travel eventually took hold, and before we knew it we were taking the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth and then onwards to Thailand once more. But we’ll always look back on this New South Wales road trip as the time we began to appreciate Australia once again…
Coast To Farmland – New South Wales Road Trip
One of Australia’s most iconic sights – the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, side by side on Sydney Harbour.
The famous Bondi Icebergs at the end of Bondi Beach. You must be a member to use the pool and facilities, or pay for entry, but millions of people flock to the nearby beach every single year for free.
As we headed south from Sydney we took the famous Sea Cliff Bridge just outside of Wollongong, between Coalcliff and Clifton. This bridge cost $52 million to build and was opened in 2005.
Australia has an affinity for “big things”, and you can find these huge monuments all over the country. This is the Big Merino in Goulburn.
Our first night on our #RoadTripasaurus took us to the small country town of Gundaroo, one hour from Canberra. We set up our tent next to the football oval for a small donation, and managed to catch this epic sunset over the wheat fields.
5 star hotel or 5 billion star hotel – which one would you choose?
Gundaroo is a fascinating town that was settled in 1825. We spent one night there, and were absolutely blown away with the welcoming nature of the locals. We were invited to join a football game, had people stop to tell us all the great spots to check out around the area, and a quick beer in the local pub (one of the oldest in Australia) ended up in us staying for two hours chatting to the owners and the patrons. People in country Australia are among the friendliest in the world.
A river scene in Mount Kosciuszko National Park.
Our second night camping was for free at the Island Bends campground in Mount Kosciuszko National Park. Came complete with toilet facilities and picnic tables.
A captivating sunrise after a massive storm rolled through in the night.
One of the beautiful scenes from climbing to the top of Mount Kosciuszko – crossing the Snowy River.
This was our home for three weeks. We have absolutely loved our MSR Mutha Hubba tent and Therm-A-Rest sleeping mats and bags, and they have kept us dry and warm in some miserable conditions. They’ve also allowed us to stay in some of the most beautiful places imaginable!
Blue skies and barren trees across the New South Wales plain.
Views from the top of Narrabeen Headland on the Northern Beaches of Sydney – One of the places Jarryd grew up.
Quiet scenes over the Manning River in Croki.
Port Macquarie has some stunning coastal walks.
We hiked for a few hours along the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk and couldn’t believe how gorgeous this area is. There were goannas wandering freely in the parks and only a handful of families and travellers enjoying the stunning beaches.
The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean in Nambucca Heads.
This was the kind of scenery you encounter when you take the “Waterfall Way” from Coffs Harbour to Armidale.
We went for a bush walk in Dorrigo National Park, and were blown away by the lush forests.
Views over the 60-million-year-old Gondwana Rainforest in Dorrigo National Park.
Behind the Crystal Shower Falls in Dorrigo National Park.
This is why it’s called “Waterfall Way” – Ebor Falls, Dorrigo.
Benefit of having your own vehicle and tent – being able to sleep in gorgeous country scenes like this. Economy Bookings made getting a car for this road trip incredibly easy and stress-free.
Perhaps Australia’s most iconic “big thing” – The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour.
The counter culture capital of Australia, Nimbin, is home to huge collection of hippies, alternative folk and the nation’s biggest pro-marijuana movement. We have to be honest – we thought we would love this town. It basically screams everything that we stand for. However we found Nimbin to be quite commercial, and far too many people who had just taken too much acid in their lives thinking they were saving the world and themselves by eating goji berries and preaching anti-establishment mantras while Snapchatting on their iPhones. Still, a worthy stopover.
Byron Bay’s amazing lighthouse. This headland marks the easternmost point of the Australian mainland, and is one of the most popular destinations for travellers in the country.
After the excitement of the Australian Open of Surfing, we picked up media passes for the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks. The world’s best surfers were carving up the steady but slightly small conditions. Congrats to Aussie Matt Wilkinson who took out the comp!
A Marvel Comics-themed koala in Broadbeach, Gold Coast. Urban walks are filled with these commissioned pieces of art.
The Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park is only an hour from the Gold Coast, and definitely worth checking out.
Parked up on the border of New South Wales and Queensland. Absolute beauty in every direction.
The open road outside of Uki, NSW.
Another beautiful view driving on the inland route through New South Wales.
Even though Australia is a young nation (in terms of European settlement, we’re not speaking of the 40’000 years of Aboriginal history, which is a very important part of our country’s identity), there are still plenty of amazing buildings around New South Wales and Victoria.
Clouds for days – snapped as we drove through the countryside of New South Wales.
A typical country scene on the inland route.
Finally finding time to settle down and get a bit of work done, in this beautiful campsite right next to a small creek.
An old tractor left as a museum relic in one of the small towns we stopped off at for a coffee break.
Looking back towards Bathurst from the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains are famous for these types of views…
Only two hours from Sydney, the Blue Mountains can be done as a day trip from the state capital, or if you have more time you can hang out and go canyoning, hiking and climbing. Besides sheer, wondrous beauty, it is an adventurer’s playground!
Arriving back in Sydney this was the final sunrise in Narrabeen before our #RoadTripasaurus officially ended. 25 days, 4000km, 18 nights in our MSR tent and one epic state. New South Wales, we will be back.
Our rental car was supplied by the good folks at Economy Bookings. Our MSR Mutha Hubba Tent and Therm-A-Rest camping gear was sent to us by Cascade Designs. All opinions, thoughts, kilometres driven and warm nights spent sleeping in fields are of course our own.