While you and I were braving the ‘beast from the east’, Lucy from our customer service steam was on her way to Hong Kong…and then she just kept going. Lucy is responsible for our banking sector clients and as the first quarter is traditionally a quiet time of the year for this type of activity, she could not have chosen a better time to go off and enjoy her adventure. The rest of the team stepped in to support Lucy as she and Chris, who used to work at Bishopsgate in our training team, set off on their holiday of a lifetime and what a holiday it was.
Lucy picks up the story. “After two years of planning and saving we were finally on our way to Australia for an entire month!
To break up the flight we spent one night in Hong Kong looking around all the markets before continuing our journey into Sydney. Our final destination was a place north of Cairns so as soon as we arrived in Sydney and had picked up our campervan we started to head north.
Our first week was spent driving through the Blue Mountains exploring caves and waterfalls. It actually rained that first week but this only made the waterfalls much more spectacular to view as often in the height of summer they are non-existent. We drove up what is known as the Waterfallway to a place called Dorrigo, here we were able to explore a rainforest complete with a walk under a waterfall – the only downside was the leaches! It was also along this route that we saw one of the tallest Giant Tallo Wood Trees, this particular tree is 86m tall with a 14m trunk.
We carried on heading north to a place called Port Stephens (not far from Newcastle), we had been here seven years previously when we were staying in hostels rather than a camper van. The hostel here was particularly beautiful and welcoming that we had to come again, it was nice to see nothing had changed. We only stayed here for one night but enjoyed some war museums (an interest of both myself and Chris), one of these museums we got to witness fighter jets setting off – the noise alone was quite something!
While in Newcastle we headed over to the Captain Cook Memorial at Tweed Heads before a quick stop at Burleigh Heads to visit Das Restro – a VW restoration business. Chris restores VWs for a living and had been talking with the owner for a few years so was great to finally meet him in person.
Still heading north with the weather still quite wet along the coast we decided to head inland and travelled up through the tablelands (through Gloucester J)for a few days. Definitely a great decision as the scenery and roads we were travelling were just amazing. We would stop off in small local towns and enjoy Australia without all the tourism. At one point we were desperate for fuel so stopped off at a place called St Lawrence, the fuel station was a single 1950s style pump in someone’s front garden. There was no-one about and was the kind of town you felt you’d get kidnapped and never seen again! However it turned out they were really friendly and helpful – phew!
With still a long way to go before our final destination we spent the next couple of days mainly driving until we reached Airlie Beach. This is a beautiful town if not a little touristy for our taste, however it was here that we booked a day trip out on the Great Barrier Reef. The trip started with a visit to the Whitsunday Islands, we landed on the clearest beach I have ever seen with the bluest water it didn’t look real. We got to swim within the bay where there were Lemon Sharks and Rays. Also present was jellyfish so stinger-suits were a must for the trip. From there we were taken out to snorkel within the reef, the coral was breath taking not to mention the hundreds of fish. There was one spot they took us too where there were Batfish (these are about a foot in diameter) and they started to feed them so all these fish were swimming right up to you, rubbing and jumping against you, such a great experience.
Next stop was Wonga – our final and furthest destination. This is where Chris’s Dad has retired to; he has lived in Australia for 30 plus years and was originally down in Newcastle before retiring north to Wonga a few years ago. He lives right on the beach with fellow retirees very much enjoying the slow life. We spent a week here and soon got very used to their way of life – waking up at sunrise, enjoying day trips within the area, then sitting on the beach late afternoon with a beer before going to bed soon after sunset. It was perfect.
During our week in Wonga we visited many of the local sites and soon found a week wasn’t long enough. Our first full day we visited Herberton Historic Village, a large site showing everything from the old style homes and shops, to a gold mine once used in the area. Next day it was a trip to Daintree Rainforest, unfortunately we didn’t see any Cassowarys but plenty of other fauna and flora. We spent a day “hunting crocodiles” out on my partners Dads fishing boat. We took a slow trip around Snapper Island in the hope of spotting one but with no luck (weather was too hot for them to come out of the water) but we did see a glimpse of a large shark. One of the final days at Wonga was spent at Davis Creek, a stunning place with beautiful pools and falls, was a chance to relax and watch the world go by.
Our last day in Wonga finally arrived and it was time to head into Cairns to drop off our campervan and get a flight back down to Sydney. We had two days in Sydney to explore. The first day we went to Darling Harbour and looked around Sydney Wildlife World and Sydney Aquarium, for the size of them I was really impressed at how much there was to see and also the standard of the enclosures. The second and final day in Australia we decided to visit Manly Island. We enjoyed a barbecue on the beach before a long bush trail walk encountering diverse wildlife (including a porcupine) and military remains. That evening we caught our flight back to Hong Kong for one more night.
Our very last day of our month long trip was spent at Disneyland Hong Kong, a day chasing Storm Troopers and Tiggers J was a perfect end to a perfect month”