Tamsin’s Australian Self-Drive Adventure
Having lived in Sydney for most of my childhood and adolescence, I always love to go home for extended holidays. I grew up in Berowra Waters, famed for its beautiful natural bushland landscapes that line the banks of the Hawkesbury River. It’s a great place for holidaying, adventure and enjoying seafood; the famous Berowra Waters Inn draws a lot of visitors as it’s only reachable by seaplane or boat.
My favourite part of Sydney is The Rocks, often hailed as the ‘birthplace of modern Sydney’, it has a great history with convicts, soldiers and sailors as European settlers made it their home in 1788. Nowadays it’s a thriving modern precinct with bustling markets, great bars, restaurants and shopping, and lots of tours to explore its lanes and its historic history.
3 week self-drive – from Sydney to Whitehaven
One of my long trips home to Sydney included an amazing self-drive from Sydney along the East coast up to Brisbane. From there we flew to Airlie Beach and took a boat across to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands.
We left Sydney at the end of April, driving north to Coffs Harbour. I’ve been here many times before on holiday, and this time we stayed for two nights, at the Breakfree Aanuka Beach. We did what a lot of people do when they come to Coffs Harbour – chilled out and enjoyed the beach!
There are some great farmer’s markets here on Thursdays and Sundays which are great places to pick up fresh local produce (especially if you’re staying in self catering accommodation), and there’s also an arts and crafts market at the Jetty on Sundays.
We drove the three hours to Byron Bay and spent five nights enjoying the markets, restaurants and bars. Byron Bay’s a really cool bohemian suburb with a really relaxed atmosphere and some great alternative shops, specialising in vegetarian/vegan cafes and crystal shops.
Whilst here we climbed Mt Warning which is the first place that the sun hits Australia’s East Coast – you have to set off at about 02:30am to get there in time so it was a very early start but so worth it!
Airlie Beach and Whitehaven Island
Once we’d soaked up the atmosphere at Byron Bay we flew from Brisbane to Airlie Beach, the largest town on the Whitsunday Coast. We enjoyed lots of snorkelling, diving and lazing about in the sun on the beach – Airlie is a great base to explore the Great Barrier Reef from also, so we made the most of it while we were there.
We sailed a catamaran and spent four nights on Whitehaven beach, and enjoyed lots of paddle boarding, which was great. I thought it was a lot harder than it looks – I did a lot of surfing growing up but it’s pretty easy to fall in on a SUP (stand up paddle) board.
The snorkelling and watersports at Whitehaven is are all run by eco-friendly companies; no flippers, as they disturb the fish and coral. They’re very conscious of conservation in the Whitsundays.
After a glorious few days enjoying the beach and watersports we travelled home via Queensland and Port Macquarie in New South Wales, which is a really cool surf town, nice and chilled, all about the beach, cafés and restaurants.
I’d definitely recommend doing a self-drive to anyone looking to explore Australia or New Zealand at their own pace. I’d be happy to offer any advice or guidance to help choose a route, book car hire, accommodation, exursions excursions and activities to make it the perfect trip!
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