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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Jul
28
2009

Driving holidays – Lakes Entrance (Vic) to Quenbeayan (ACT)

By Victoria /

Australian Capital Territory – a place with artistic flair The drive north from Lakes Entrance in Victoria was a hard slog in some places, especially in a campervan. It’s about a five-hour drive but, funnily enough, the time just seemed to fly by.  There isn’t a lot to stop and see along the way, but a myriad of surprises awaits in Quenbeayan! Did you know that Quenbeayan is one of Australia’s biggest art towns? We certainly didn’t! This part of Australia is home to some of our most talented artists. We went to the Bilk Workshop and The Artists Shed. You can even taken in a few art classes which run three or four times a week. Who knows, you may just have a hidden talent ready to be unearthed … though I certainly didn’t. So, if it’s art you love, Quenbeayen is definitely the place for you.  There are loads of art galleries and tucked away little studios all…

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Jul
24
2009

Driving holidays – Melbourne to Lakes Entrance (Vic)

By Melbourne / Victoria /

Melbourne to Lakes Entrance We decided to check out our own “doorstep” and spent a few days looking around the Dandenongs, within an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD. It’s a leisurely cruise in the campervan, too, with loads of great sites as you wind your way up these hills east of the city. It’s such a beautiful place in Autumn. You just have to go to the Cuckoo Restaurant, it’s a damn good day out. Great food and very entertaining.  We parked the vehicle and took the Puffing Billy (pictured) up there – a place I haven’t been since I was 7. You forget what is right on your doorstep, you really do. A grand entrance Then we headed off to Lakes Entrance, which is an easy drive, nice open roads, flat and perfect for just cruising along. Lakes Entrance is so under-rated. Only four hours drive from Melbourne, it’s an easy weekend getaway with so much to do. We…

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Jul
22
2009

Driving holidays – Adelaide to Warrnambool (SA)

By Adelaide / Australia / South Australia /

On the road in South Australia When leaving Adelaide behind, we headed off to our first morning tea stop in Hahndorf. It’s such an awesome little town, and it’s world famous for its apple strudel. You simply cannot afford to miss this place. Harndorf is only a 90-minute drive from Adelaide. Watch the big hill heading out of Adelaide, however, as it’s a killer! With full tummies, we cruised our way down to Robe for the night.  We stayed at the Big 4 park which is across the road from the beach –  and a great little swimming beach at that. The park has absolutely everything, including an indoor heated pool; way too spoilt for a caravan park! We went out to some local farms to check out the dairy industry, comparing it with what we do in New Zealand. Most of it went straight over my head as I am still learning, but my wife Sheree talked for hours and…

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Jun
27
2009
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Driving holidays – Port Augusta to Adelaide (SA)

By Australia / South Australia /

From Port Augusta to Adelaide on the banks of the beautiful Spencer Gulf, it’s just gorgeous. It’s only a leisurely two-hour drive and all easy going, big open roads. Port Augusta has some  unique attractions including the “spook hill” or Gravity Hill, near the Flinders Ranges where you face your car up this hill and put it in neutral and you somehow get pulled up the hill! It’s all true and is a fairdinkum optical illusion and very much worth the drive out there. We enjoyed the the Champagne Cruise out onto the Spencer Gulf itself and went diving for the rare Razor fish (see picture). The water here has 7% more salt in it and you float really easily, but it makes it tougher to dive down for the Razor fish. This really is a place where the Outback meets the ocean and you won’t find a more photogenic place. Also take in a visit to the Wadlata Outback…

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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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Jun
09
2009
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Driving holidays – Esperance to Port Augusta (WA)

By Australia / Western Australia /

DESERT ROAD DREAMING The great vastness of the desert …The Nullarbor. What  a drive! We set off early in the morning thinking we would get a big day of driving in. Silly idea. The amount of wildlife playing on the road was bordering on being ridiculous. Certainly, this provided terrific photography opportunities, but not a particularly safe environment when towing a 4000kg road beast in their path. The Nullabor is deceiving and almost every person we bumped into (not literally!) along the way, which wasn’t many mind you, had a great yarn about their journey. And make sure you experience the Nullarbor Roadhouse, which is a real treat. There is an old bike there that some silly dude rode on for the entire Nullarbor Plain back in the 1950s. There isn’t much there, however. In fact, there isn’t much anywhere along the plain. We were very lucky to run into not one but two herds of camels. They are such…

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Jun
02
2009

Driving holidays – Geraldton to Busselton (WA)

By Australia / Western Australia /

Well what a trip this one was! We were told by many avenues – one being a good map, the others by mouth – that our trip from Geraldton to Busselton would take approxiamately five hours … 9 1/2 hours later, we finally see the “Welcome to Busselton” sign! At first I thought it was a mirage. Geraldton is a must-stop place. It’s under-rated from what you read about it as it really is a place with so much going on that you do really have to stop and stay a while. Built on the successful seafood industry, it’s a buzzing and vibrant place. And it’s refreshing to see the local council is pumping heaps of cash back into the community with the absolute best-ever kids play area right on the foreshore.  The HMAS Sydney tribute (below left) will take your breath away; absolutely stunning and quite humbling. If you’re up for a quiet ale try the Camel Bar –…

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May
29
2009

Girls weekend – Margaret River (WA)

By Australia / Western Australia /

For those looking for a short getaway, this five-day experience has to be experienced first hand to be believed. After some to-ing and fro-ing between several destinations for our escape from the daily grind, Margaret River ticked all the boxes: beautiful scenery, some premier Australian wineries and great food for five long-standing friends to catch up, recharge and reconnect. […]

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May
25
2009
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Driving Holidays – Alice Springs to Tennant Creek (NT)

By Alice Springs / Australia / Northern Territory /

The journey What a drive this was! A total of 531km in 47-degree heat and and the air-conditioning wasn’t working. Worse still, we had it quoted in Alice Springs to fix for a whopping $3100! Fortunately, we got it fixed for $434 in Broome. While in Alice Springs, dinner at the Outlander Steak House is a must. They have 2kg steaks and I finished mine in 42 minutes, which was a mighty achievement. It is very funny watching people try to do it, so just make sure you eat dinner first as it can be quite off-putting.  The old Jail is home to the Women’s First Gallery, which highlights all women who were first in their field and makes for some very interesting reading. The old Jail is also haunted so go for a stroll through the cells if you dare. Keen hikers should take in Stanley Chasm, absolutely spectacular. A huge lizard ran in front of me and scared…

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May
21
2009
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Driving holidays – Darwin to Timber Creek (Northern Territory)

By Australia / Darwin / Northern Territory /

The journey Warning: when doing this 564-kilometre drive, make sure you fill up at every single petrol station – even if it’s for only $10! We were caught out and ran out of diesel. Mind you, it wasn’t entirely my fault as the last petrol station we had stopped at had no diesel, but if I had topped up at the previous one, I would have been OK. Thank God for road trains! One kind chap stopped and syphoned me out a few good litres of diesel. It was 46 degrees outside and I couldn’t work out how to get the air-con going using the gas bottles … another lesson: one should learn everything about their rig before they set out. Wild experiences All that aside, it was a fantastic drive. While in Darwin, make sure you visit the Cyclone Tracy Museum (its free) and also the War Museum, the actual site of the Army barracks and check out the…

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May
18
2009
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Driving holidays – Hobart, Richmond, Port Arthur (Tasmania)

By Australia / Hobart / Tasmania /

Competition is running hot with the budget airlines in Australia, so keep a close eye on Jetstar, Virgin Blue and Tiger by signing up for their e-newsletters – there are hot deals being bandied around almost every week and you will generally find a beauty somewhere among them for Tasmanian destinations. My wife and I snapped up return flights from Melbourne to Hobart for around the $150 mark – extraordinary value. Even better, we also discovered a ridiculously good rate with DriveNow for a 4 berth camper. From there it was a breeze. A quick one-hour flight to Hobart, we then grabbed our camper and hit the Tasman Highway, onto Richmond Rd and within half an hour we arrived at our favourite destination in Australia, the quaint village of Richmond and all its cobblestone, cottage and old world charm. This gorgeous township has some delightful treats: serene atmosphere around historic Richmond Bridge (pictured); go back in time at Grannie Rhodes’…

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