We knew that the Melbourne to Gold Coast drive wasn’t the most famous Australian road trip. But, seeing as we have already drove from Perth to Melbourne, we are used to being in the car for lengthy amounts of time. Plus, I find driving much more exciting than flying because you get to see so much more.
The plan of action was as follows:
Melbourne, Yarrangbilly, Snowy Mountains, Canberra, Sydney, Blue Mountains, Port Macquarie, Gold Coast. This was over 2000km we were about to drive in a questionable KIA Sportage.
Our first stop was a small town called Yarrangobilly. I am not sure if I mentioned in my previous post why we left Melbourne. If you were wondering, (which you probably weren’t as my readership is next to none), it was because the weather was pretty much the same as back in the UK. Rain, rain and more rain. So we decided to head for the sunshine on the Gold Coast.
I don’t know what I was expecting from this road trip, but the majority of my expectations involved lots of sunshine. I was wrong. Our first night was spent in a quiet town called Talbingo with nothing but torrential rain. It was about a six-hour drive North East of Melbourne, and our plan was to visit the Yarrangobilly Caves and the Yarrongbilly Thermal Pool. Normally I would have sucked it up and got in the pool regardless, it’s warm water right? But words can’t describe how heavy this rain was. I didn’t care how “thermal” the thermal pool was, I wasn’t getting in.
Our visit was short and sweet, so we left Yarrangobilly for Canberra via the Snowy Mountains. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I didn’t realise they were called the Snowy Mountains for a reason (I assumed it was a seasonal thing). The journey felt like we drove through all four seasons in the space of 24 hours. We had gone from torrential rain, to snow, to hail, to sleet, to wind, to glorious sunshine. If seasons had mood swings, this is where shit hits the fan.
During our drive through the Snowy Mountains, we witnessed some pretty impressive scenery. We have been in Australia for almost a year now, and I can 100% say it is the places that I haven’t read about or had hyped up to me that are the most impressive.
We drove through the Snowy Mountains solely because we could take this route to Sydney and we are so glad we did! I’m yet to meet anybody who has been, but if you were planning on driving through New South Wales to the Gold Coast, I’d say it is worth it. Don’t get me wrong, unless we missed a lot of things there isn’t that much to do there. But if you’re into your scenery and want to feel like you’re in Silent Hill, it’s worth the visit.
After our pleasant drive through the Snowy Mountains, we arrived in Canberra. Even though it is the capital city, in my mind I was imaging another small, quiet town solely because I hadn’t been told any different. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t the biggest city in the world, but there are lots more pubs, shops, and restaurants than I expected.
We dropped our bags in our prison like hostel before taking advantage of a local happy hour. We enjoyed a few swift pints in a quirky craft beer bar in Dickson called “Ducks Nuts”, before heading into the town centre (Can we take a minute to appreciate the name of the pub here).
Social aspects aside, I did wonder why Canberra is the capital city of Australia. Our itinerary involved going to the Parliamentary House, The Australian War Memorial, The National Gallery of Australia and The National Museum of Australia. We strolled around the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin, saw the Telstra Tower and visited the Old Parliament House. In a nutshell, we did pretty much everything there is to do/see. If you’re thinking that seems like a lot to pack into one day, you are correct.
The following day we drove around three and a half hours to Sydney- cue inevitable picture of me and James in front of the Opera House. Reruns of the Sleepover Club and Finding Nemo aside, Sydney was probably the main reason I wanted to travel Australia when I was younger. I imagined a magical Australian city on the other side of the world, packed with impressive architecture and stereotypical “aussie surfers” at every turn. On reflection, how embarrassing.
Don’t get me wrong, the Opera House and Sydney Harbour bridge were pretty cool, but overrated is an understatement. One word springs to mind, tourists (I can’t speak, I was one of them). The same applies for Bondi Beach, I felt like it resembled a beach back in the UK.
I much preferred Darling Harbour. The atmosphere was great, admiring (with jealousy) all the boats sailing in and out. In true Leanne and James (and Tom, a guy we picked up in Melbourne) we took advantage of a happy hour by the harbour and set up camp for a good few hours. This was followed by a wonderful night out in Newtown “exploring” (drinking) and catching up with some old pals.
Sydney Harbour Markets were great too. They had so many weird and wonderful things . People from all over the world were selling homeware, soaps, body lotions, jewelry, artwork, ornaments etc. The food selection was pretty impressive too. The smells from all the different food stands filled the air; Asian, Italian, Greek. I opted for tasty octopus skewer.
After a weekend in Sydney, we were on the road to the Blue Mountains. As epic as they were, I couldn’t have picked a worse time to go. We definitely brought the English weather with us because it was raining and foggy the whole time. I let James do the majority of the driving as the roads were extremely windey and slippery. The drive from Sydney to the Blue Mountains was actually a little scary, especially when we saw a car crash and skid off the road (sorry I didn’t mention this mum and dad). We stopped to help but luckily the people were OK!
After realising that we couldn’t really see much of the Blue Mountains due to extremely low fog, we found a bed and breakfast in Katoomba village. Umbrella in hand, we went to explore the town to see what it had to offer. We were extremely impressed with the amount of vintage furniture shops around. We got such a warm welcome on arrival. They all had a cosy, loving feel, similar to when you walk into your grandma’s house. It took me about 5 minutes of being in Katoomba to realise I liked being in the mountains.
We made our way to The Three Sisters, a breathtaking rock formation located at Echo Point, Katoomba. According to aboriginal legend, they are three sisters who turned to stone and have stood there ever since. Luckily the weather had cleared up a little so we managed to get some better photos of the sensational view. The iconic landmark stands nearly one kilometre above sea level and you can literally see for miles around them. Afterwards, we embarked on a short walk to Katoomba Falls, a stunning waterfall in the heart of the Blue Mountains.
Port Maquarie was the next stop on our trip, just a short 4 and half hour drive away. I think this is an appropriate time to mention we came across a place called Liverpool in Sydney, and were about to drive through a town called Newcastle.
Port Macquarie was a delightful small town. We strolled around, checked out the local fishing spots and ate a delicious picnic by the beach. It was here that our lovely lunch was rudely interrupted by a Goanna. Friendly they may be, this one definitely didn’t look it. We had seen a few of these during our time on Kangaroo Island, but that didn’t stop me shitting myself because I thought it was a snake.
Whilst I enjoyed our time in Port Macquarie, our stay was unintentionally extended as our car radiator blew up. Our trusty Kia Sportage has made it from Perth, and it was the stop before our final destination that it decides to break down.