We have started the second phase of our 2 month road trip around Australia and are really excited about doing this in a campervan! Here is wrap up of week one from Sydney to Newcastle and all that we covered during this time. We arrived in Sydney on the 13th of April and picked up our Britz Voyager 4 Berth Campervan from the airport. We will be dropping this off to Cairns on 12th May and in between we will have 1 month of adventures around New South Wales and Queensland.
We stayed in Sydney for three days and was initially worried about finding a caravan park so close to the city. We were going to be visiting friends who live north of the city in Chatswood and to our surprise found Lane Cove River Tourist Park, a lovely site just 10 minute walk from the train. We stayed here 3 nights and found the site very relaxing and convenient at the same time – and it cost less than $30 a night! It had two pools, play area, kitchen area and clean toilets and hot showers. Several friendly kookaburra and bush turkeys all around, surrounding by tall green trees and the lovely Lane Cove National Park nearby, it’s amazing that there is such a site so close to the city!
Here’s a glimpse of some of the highlights around Sydney
Last time we were here, we did several of the tourist attractions such as the Botanical gardens, Sydney Opera house and Darling Harbour. This time we decided to try few different things, there really is so much to do in Sydney!
We took the Ferry to Taranga Zoo as it’s a great way to enjoy the iconic views of the city skyline. Anyone who knows us or has been following our blog for long knows that we are very selective about visiting zoos and aquariums, or anywhere that keeps animals in captivity mainly for entertainment purposes. We do our research thoroughly and I use my working knowledge as a scientist working in conservation to identify such establishments that have a strong conservation ethos. Just on this trip we have been to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and Phillip Island that are both doing great work in animal rescue, rehabilitation, conservation and awareness.
As much as I would love to say that animals should only be enjoyed in the wild, I know that is not possible for everyone, and I do believe that zoos and other such establishments have a role in increasing public awareness of the plight of several endangered animals and are also carrying out solid conservation work in terms of breeding programs for endangered animals or conservation programs in the field. All I would suggest to others is to do the research before visiting any random zoo or aquarium and certainly not visit any that have cetacean shows!
We had heard really good things about Taronga Zoo and I am happy to say the reviews did not disappoint. Taronga zoo is known to be one of the best zoos in the world and we could see that the animals looked healthy and active in spacious environments and had enrichment programs that helped to make their captive environment stimulating. The different variety of birds and the Night House was particularly impressive.
Everyone had told us we had to visit either Bondi or Manly beach. We were a bit skeptical as we had been to some amazing beaches in Tasmania and along the Sapphire coast. The idea of a busy city beach did not appeal but we heard the Bondi to Coogi walk makes for a great coastal walk so that was the plan to do a long hike and end up seeing one of these iconic beaches. We set off late morning and stopped at Chatswood for early lunch as we had an amazing dinner here the night before at Chum Tang. Highly recommend going here for some great Asian food!
It turned out there is a street market on Thursdays and Fridays in Chatswood and we got delayed here drooling over the different food stalls from all over the world, having lunch, and then finally setting off for our Bondi to Coogi walk again. An hour later, on the train and bus, we finally arrived at the infamous Bondi Beach! And ended up being beach bums here the rest of the afternoon rather than going on a walk 🙂
We enjoyed eating here immensely, every possible opportunity we could! In particular we loved eating at the food court in Westfield Chatswood, really yummy food and not too pricey either. As mentioned earlier, we also loved the street market stalls on Thursday and Fridays and Chum Tang.
The next day we set off for Newcastle, Central Coast next day where we were meeting fellow travel bloggers – Dean, Pauline and Dana – from Living La Vida Global. We drove via The Entrance, Central Coast as Dean had recommended a more scenic route to get to Newcastle. We had a swim at Terrigal beach, fantastic beach with great surfs of which a narrow strip was manned by lifeguards and safe for swimming. We also found it really cool to drive through lakes on one side and the sea on the other.
Redhead Beach, Newcastle
We arrived at Redhead beach and stayed at a free campsite here which was just the parking lot of the surfing club. Was really cool to hear the waves crashing on the beach all night! I had also mentioned in my three-week wrap up of our Australia Trip so far how much we were looking forward to eating home cooked meals once we started campervan travels and we are definitely enjoying that now 🙂
Next day we enjoyed being shown around many different places by Dean, Pauline and Dana – there really is nothing like local knowledge when you are travelling! Thanks to them we got to try our first wine tasting ay Lower Hunter Valley in Australia, visit the colourful murals in Kurri Kurri, visit Nobbies in Newcastle and end the day getting drenched in the rain! I guess the weather just wasn’t on our side this day, but thanks to the La Vida Global family, we had a very memorable and lovely time in Newcastle.
We set off for our next destination – Port Stephens, Nelson Bay that evening and onwards to Barrington Tops National Park few days later. We really love the freedom that comes with campervan travels, just to be able to zigzag inland and then back to the coast as we please, and staying somewhere as little or as long as we want to 🙂 Look forward to the remaining 3 weeks of campervan adventures!