Posted in Australia, Travel

Port Stephens to Mount Warning – the road trip continues

Had a busy couple of weeks since leaving the big blue mountains, changed state now and everything! We’ve squeezed a lot of places in since then, we’re now heading up the coast in Queensland but first stop after the mountains was Port Stephens.

Only had time for a couple of days at Port Stephens but it was a nice stop off. The campsite was nice, set right on the river and complete with pool, table tennis table and volley ball net. Me and Rob managed to make friends with an old Russian couple parked near by, they insisted we came over and had a tour of their campervan, it didn’t take long! They came to the river for a paddle with us and told us their life history too, new best mates for life!

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We spent our one day in Port Stephen visiting the brewery (Rob’s idea) and sampling the local beers, then off for a few hours at the beach followed by a walk along the sand dunes. Nice enough town but not much going on, think the best bit was the crazy Russian couple.

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We decided to make up a bit of ground the next day and get up to Byron Bay, a solid 8 hour drive meant an early start for us. We were out on the road for 7:30 and heading north. Had  a few stops on the way up, the only notable one was fish and chips at Coffs harbour, other than that it was just lots of driving and lots of road. Managed to get to Byron before 5 though and get the tent pitched up, nice campsite right on the beach, the only problem with that is within 5 mintues sand gets everywhere! We’re still finding it in our suitcases a week later!

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Byron is an interesting place, a funky town right on the beach, very hip though, probably a bit too cool for us, people don’t even wear shoes round here and I didn’t see a single person wearing a helmet riding a bike, madness. Soph and James are more fond of a lie in than us so first morning we left them sleeping and headed out for a run to the lighthouse. Bloody hilly! It was a lovely route though, wrapped around the headlands and gave us chance to pick up some surf tips off the early morning crowd. Spent the rest of the day getting burnt on our own private beach and then finished off the evening with a few drinks at the site.

The next day we explored Byron a bit, lots of quirky shops and quirky people. But mainly we stuck to the shade after hitting the sun a bit too hard the day before. Soph and James went for a drive in the evening whilst me and Rod checked out one of the bars for a bevvie and then hit the tennis court up afterwards for an evening game. I’ve got my own racquet now, Serena watch out. The last night in Byron we seemed to be in the eye of the biggest storm I’ve ever seen, so much for Ozzie summer. The thunder was deafening and the lightening lit up the tent, had a very wet tent to pack up in the morning but onwards and upwards.

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After leaving Byron we headed inland to a little spot called Nimbin, if we thought Byron was hippie, Nimbin was a whole new world. Big on the green stuff out here, the little town was decorated with hemp signs and colourful buildings. We had a little wander round, checked out the Nimbin hemp museum and stopped for brunch. Probably a good spot to stop and ‘find yourself’ but after an hour we were done and hit the road.

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Next stop was Mount Warning, James had heard about it from a friend, apparently if you hike to the top early doors you’ll be the first people in Australia to see sunrise, so we thought it was worth checking out. We’d only planned to stay one night but the rain carried on from the night before so we had to postpone the climb a day. With not much else around Mount Warning but the mountain we headed to the Gold Coast to make the most of our unexpected free day. Luckily the sun was shining on the gold coast so we had a cracker of a day. We checked out the world famous surfers paradise, had a stroll along the sands and stopped for a pie in Mermaid beach.

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Also worth checking out was the Lamington national park, we nipped in on the way back to Mt Warning. Had a nice stroll through the forest and got to see the Natural Bridge – a waterfall carved out a whole in a rock, cue Rob and James taking 100 pictures with their fancy cameras.

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We’d managed to tire ourselves out enough to be in bed for 9pm. To get to the top of the mountain before sunrise we had to get up at 2:30, very odd having a bowl of cereal at that time but we did it and were off up the mountain at 3:30. It was a tough hike up to the top, it ain’t easy trying to navigate through the pitch black with a 4 dollar head torch and because of the rainfall the night before it was a wet trudge to the top. The views on the way were worth it though, half way to the top we’d climbed above the clouds and the stars were out in force. Took us about 2 hours to get to the top, the last 800m was a sheer rock face that we had to climb using a chain, pretty difficult in the dark! We reached the summit just in time for a huge cloud to block any sign of the sun, fortunately as it started to rise the clouds got a shift on and we got a cracking sunrise show. Worth the early start! We were back down the mountain and packed up for 7, very productive!

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