Jul
18
2010

Romantic drives … Coffs Harbour to Crystal Castle, Byron Bay

By Australia / New South Wales /

While Coffs Harbour and surrounds offer some wonderful sites, attractions and lovely beaches, take the time to head up the Pacific Highway for a coast-hugging journey of four hours or so to one of the most peaceful places in Australia – Crystal Castle in Mullumbimby. Though the trip is easy on the eyes, it’s the final destination that truly treats all the senses. This beautiful place in the Byron hinterland is ideal to enrich your own spirit and that of your partner’s, so make sure you plan to spend a good day there. In a nutshell, simply get on Park Beach Rd on the way out of Coffs and pick up the Pacific and head north. While a direct route with no stops will get you there in about 3 and a half hours, for road-tripping romantics it might pay to set up a seven-day campervanning itinerary that takes in a few stopovers along the way, such as Grafton, Yamba,…

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May
03
2010

Romantic drives … Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie

By Australia / New South Wales /

THERE are some places in Australia where the weather has obviously been designed with romantics in mind – count this part of the world along the lower north coast of NSW as one such place where the sun always shines and where there are plenty of beaches to worship the rays or have a dip and ample charming little hamlets to explore. A great place to park your camper is Emerald Beach Holiday Park, just 10 minutes up the road from the Big Banana (warning: the banana is overrated and will kill any notion of romance, so skip it – though there is a cool little puzzles shop attached for those with an interest, but better suited to couples with kids in tow). This Big4 venue set on a gorgeous beachfront with wildlife everywhere, great beach walks and fishing nearby. The accommodation options are diverse, from 5 star villas to budget cabins, and “convenient shady and peaceful unpowered, powered and…

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Apr
25
2010

Romantic drives … Sydney to Wollongong

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

THE Grand Pacific Drive departing from Sydney doesn’t take long to lose yourself in the chill factor as you leave the city behind and enter its southern fringe and into the sub-tropical lushness of the Royal National Park. It pays to stop off for a walk here and explore one of the oldest national parks in the world. From here, it’s a leisurely drive  offering spectacular scenery, dramatic coastal cliffside views and sandstone heaths inland. Stop off at the Hindu Temple in Helensburgh or enjoy a spot of  horseriding at beautiful Otford to really fire up the romance-o-meter before jumping back in the camper to head to Stanwell Tops for some amazing views. Before long, you will reach the charming seaside suburb of  Thirroul – reportedly the Aboriginal word for “Valley of Cabbage Tree Palms”. Thirroul was a former coalmining hamlet boasts excellent surf beach at Sandon Point. It’s golden beachfront has a wonderful grassy area to enjoy a coffee…

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Oct
12
2009

Great driving holidays – Armidale to Ballina (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

LEAVING behind the bitter cold of Armidale, we head out to the coast to Ballina. It’s an awesome drive, very easy going, but just make sure you take your campervan via Glen Innes and then head out to the coast. That’s the best road when in a camper or towing a caravan. There’s some stunning scenery along the way, too, and for once we had no hiccups! When arriving at Ballina you can feel the buzz. It is a vibrant little place and the beaches are awesome. We stayed at Big4 Shaws Bay, which is right on the water with a walkway that goes all the way out on the spit to the heads. The sites here are right on the water, which is just magic! Then it was time for a bit of a challenge and Anais, my 8-year-old daughter, thought a surfing competition was the order of the day (here I am, right, trying to psyche myself up…

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Sep
14
2009

Driving holidays – Fossicker’s Way to Armidale (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

After leaving behind an awesome time “Fossicking”, and finding a truck-load of great gem stones, we headed further north to Armidale. This place is so cold, I can honestly say I have never experienced living in such a chilly town! One morning we actually got down to minus 7! But in saying that, Armidale is a great town and full of surprises. We met up with a guy affectionately known as “The Arrowcatcher” (Anthony Kelly). He is world famous for his amazing reflexes. His partner fires very sharp arrows and he catches them with his bare hands! Around town there are some great photo opportunities with their historical buildings, especially the Catholic Cathedral which is simply stunning. Even if you are not religiously inclined, you really just have to go and see this place for yourself. I even walked the 5kms out to the site of the very first hydro dam … I thought I would actually see something, but…

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Aug
29
2009

Driving holidays – Bathurst to Nundle and Fossickers Way (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

HAVE you heard of Fossickers Way? If not, you don’t know what you are missing. Heading off from Bathurst, we stick to the main highway and head for Tamworth. Just 60km (40 miles) out of Tamworth, you will find Nundle, a tiny, quaint little village positioned at the beginning of the Fossickers Way. So, what is Fossickers Way, you ask? Well it is over 200km of area where you can indulge some time in fossicking for gems! And, boy, did we find them. Gold, rubies, sapphires … you name it. After all the years of trying to find opals in Coober Pedy and gold in the Outback, we have never ever found a thing, but doing the Fossickers Way you will find plenty! They are all destinationas relatively easy to get to by normal car and you can even take the vans down most of the roads. Nundle is also home to one of the last remaining Wool Mills. Got…

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Aug
26
2009
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Driving holidays – Nelligen to Bathurst (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

Now here is some very sound advice. Advice I wish I had been given earlier! We left Nelligen, bound for Bathurst, and we let our trusty Tom Tom do the talking … really, really bad idea. We went to Bathurst on a “long cut”, via the goat tracks of southern NSW. I swear these roads had not been used for many, many, many months (see attached picture). We were on this particular road for four hours, so a five-hour trip turned into an eight-hour trip. I guess the scenery was spectacular and it did give us an insight into a road definitely less travelled, so I am thankful for that, although not very thankful with four kids in the back. So, here’s an important rule: when travelling in the country, don’t use your Sat Nav! Stick to trusty maps and common sense. Once we finally arrived at Bathurst we were pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a town of petrol heads…

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Aug
22
2009

Driving holidays – Quenbeayan to Nelligen (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

LEAVING behind the arty town of Quenbeayan, we head east out to the coast to a little village called Nelligen. Now, it’s important to remember that when you leave Quenbeayan, be very, very careful. The road down to the coast is very, very steep. I had to go down in first gear the whole 18kms. It’s very steep and in places you feel as if you are going to get out of control. But we made it and were greeted by the outstanding BIG 4 Nelligen Holiday Park. What a place! Built on an old footy oval, it’s almost entirely surrounded by water and the Clyde River. This place is so picturesque and the kids loved it thanks to the best children’s  playground, jumping pillows and tonnes of room to run around with the footy oval still in place, smack bang in the middle of the park. For something different, take a cruise on the Clyde River or drive just…

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Aug
05
2009
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Driving holidays – Sydney to Coffs Harbour (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

The great thing about cruising in a campervan to Coffs Harbour is that you can either do it from Brisbane or Sydney, therefore offering two very different journeys to enjoy. For us, we chose the Sydney option and while it would take about seven hours maximum with no stops, we spent five days negotiating the route along the Pacific Highway, a great option for some diverse stop-overs along the way. Newcastle First port of call was Newcastle after a leisurely two hour cruise. This city is one of extremes – a rougher element stemming from its early days as a shipping and commercial centre, with iron and steel mills built. While some parts of town are eyesores, the rest is beautiful, including some amazing beaches such as Stockton, Nobbies and Mereweather, while the Honeysuckle Boardwalk – an area that was a once derelict harbour area – now boasts funky restaurant-bars, a brewery and a great walk. Forster Second port of…

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Jun
22
2009

Driving holiday – Sydney to Melbourne (NSW/Vic)

By Australia / Sydney /

I’ve always preferred to drive to Melbourne than fly – I just like my independence, the freedom of the road and the convenience once I get there. The direct route down the Hume (highway) can be a little tedious, just as well I’m comfortable behind the wheel! A new touring route has officially opened, however – the Sydney to Melbourne Touring Route. It’s not a new road, just a new slant on familiar territory, opening tourists’ eyes to what’s special in the states of NSW and Victoria. Keen to try out the multi-day ‘Mega Drive’, I arranged campervan hire through DriveNow, picking up my camper in Sydney. After meandering through Sydney’s southern suburbs, we diverted through the gorgeous Royal National Park, emerging at Stanwell Tops and the start of the spectacular Grand Pacific Drive. This new road skirts the spectacular Wollongong escarpment, with a bridge hovering above the pounding ocean and offering spectacular views down the coastline. I’m always blown away…

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Mar
20
2009

Boys’ Weekend – Byron Bay (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

Kayaking with dolphins, having our “auras” photographed at Crystal Castle in the hinterland and laying a few bets on the gee-gees at a pub with ocean views wasn’t exactly the sort of blend I had in mind for a boys’ weekend, but hey, we were in Byron Bay and it was a case of doing as the Romans do … well, some of them, anyway. Our weekend launched the moment we touched down on the Gold Coast at Coolangatta. We hooked ourselves up with a Toyota Aurion after snapping up the hottest deal at DriveNow with Hertz emerging the winner on this particular search mission. Three blokes with a thirst for adventure and a boozy weekend in mind headed south and the party was up and away. Spirit of adventure While exploring Byron Bay, hitting the beach, entertainment, eateries and nearby hinterland only a short drive away was the name of the game, reaching the destination is a leisurely one…

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Mar
14
2009
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Driving Holidays – South Coast (NSW)

By Australia / New South Wales /

As a kid, I used to make frequent trips down the South Coast of NSW with my friend’s family. Two things are etched into my mind: the lame jokes of my friend’s father about cows with two legs shorter than the others (from standing on steep hills) and the horror of car sickness. The old coast road from the southern suburbs of Sydney to Wollongong was a spectacular roller coaster, never failing to reduce my Maccas happy meal to a not-so-happy pile of goo on the side of the road. But it was all part of the holiday fun, the rising tide of nausea signalling the start of a great weekend away. A “Grand” new drive And so it was with this happy memory that I picked up my DriveNow Britz camper and headed south through the Royal National Park to Stanwell Tops, and the start of the new Grand Pacific Drive. This 140km coastal route has cut out many…

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