A couple weeks ago my mom finally arrived here in Aussie to visit and travel up the east coast with me. Such a fun two weeks! A road trip all the way from Sydney to Cairns was lengthy, but lots of fun!
Ok, well parts of it were at least. I honestly don’t know if I’d recommend driving the whole way. Between Sydney to Byron Bay as well as between Brisbane and Airlie Beach (where the Whitsundays are located) there isn’t exactly a lot to see. Also, the highway up the east coast doesn’t actually go right along the coast, so we didn’t get the constant ocean views we hoped for. Nonetheless, we still had a great road trip and saw a lot of awesome places!
We started off down in Sydney, which was where my mom flew in to. My mom started off with a bit of bad luck when she accidentally took off the side mirror of our rental car while trying to drive and navigate to the hotel at the same time. But no worries, the hotel staff helped us tape it back on, problem solved!
We were incredibly lucky to be in town while the Vivid light show in Sydney was going on. It was so neat! All along the harbor the buildings are lit up with different colors and designs. The Opera house was the coolest part of all. The only part of Vivid we went to was in Sydney Harbour and the Botanical Gardens, but I believe other parts of the city including Darling Harbour were also part of the show. Aside from Vivid, we mostly just checked out all of the main sites of Sydney since my mom only had two days here. It was great being back here one more time!
“Vivid” in Sydney
After leaving Sydney, we started the trip north. After a quick stop in Central Coast so my mom could meet Bob and Willie and check out the farm that I worked on, we started the long day of driving. We made it to Byron Bay that evening, but unfortunately we didn’t have the best weather here or in Gold Coast, so we decided to power through and keep heading north. We did at least stop at the light house in Byron Bay and check it out. It actually looked pretty neat with the storm blowing in.
In Brisbane, we stopped at the Koala Sanctuary so we could hold a Koala and feed some kangaroos. An Aussie trip just isn’t complete without seeing some of the wildlife!
As I said before, the 12 hour trip from Brisbane up to Airlie Beach is very long with not a lot to see unfortunately. If you ever do a road trip in Aussie. I’d recommend flying this portion, unless you really like driving. One place in between that I wish we would have stopped at is Bundaberg, which is home to the famous Bundaberg brewery. It’s famous for rum, as well as having around 16 different beverage flavors. I’ve only tried Bundaberg rum and ginger beer so far, but it’s on my to do list to try more!
When we finally made it to Airlie beach, the trip got much more exciting (and the weather drastically improved). So far, Airlie and the Whitsundays have been my favorite part of the east coast. We had a blast! The resort we stayed at, called the Mirage, was really spacious and had a great ocean view with a nice boardwalk that went all the way down to the marina in Airlie Beach. My accommodation definitely upgraded while my mom was with me (she paid :p). I was rather spoiled for the 12 days she was here.
While in Airlie Beach, we took a boat cruise out to the Whitsunday Islands. For part one of this trip, we went to two different locations to snorkel in the Reef -no pictures of it unfortunately! For part two, we went to Whitehaven beach on the island and then to the lookout point. I could go on and on about how stunning this place was, but I’ll just share a bunch of pictures here instead! Here it is, for your eye candy…
For day two in Airlie, we took a plane ride over the islands and the reef. It was amazing seeing the Great Barrier Reef from up in the sky. From the ground, you can’t see just how big all of the coral reefs are.
Our last day in Airlie was just spent laying on the beach down by the marina. Still not a shabby day, but we were wishing we had gone back to Whitehaven. That’s ok though I suppose, because we still had a lot more to see!
After three days in Airlie Beach, we headed north to Townsville to visit Magnetic Island. The ferry out to the island was only around $30 dollars both ways per person and once on the island we could get an all day bus ticket for $7 to transport us around the island. My only regret is that we didn’t go to the island early in the day and spend a full day here, because we didn’t get to see as much of the island as I would have liked. We at least made it to Picnic Bay as well as Horseshoe Bay to eat dinner and watch the sunset. As with most things in Aussie, it didn’t disappoint! The island had at least ten more scenic bays as well as a Koala Sanctuary, like the one in Brisbane.
After the sun went down, we took the ferry back to Townsville where my mom booked this really neat hotel called the Ville. It glowed different colors at night and had a cool casino on the ground floor where we did some gambling -for about 20 minutes at least, then we decided we were losing our money too fast, haha :p. I really liked Townsville! Probably one of my favorite cities along the east coast so far.
Before heading out of Townsville, we stopped and hung out on one of the beaches near town, and then headed north to Cairns once we’d soaked up the sun enough. On the way up, we drove through Paluma Forest, which is actually a rainforest area in Queensland. Paluma had secluded waterfalls, thick and jungle-like vegetation and some pretty awesome viewing points! It was great to see some other kinds of scenery here other that beaches and coastline. Great pit stop, and helped make the drive north more interesting.
And at last, we finally made it up to Cairns, which was my moms last destination before leaving Australia. I didn’t think Cairns itself had a lot to see besides being up by the Reef, but it still had a few good beaches near by and also had some great restaurants. Mom and I went to this café called the Cairns Burger Café, and the burgers here were the BEST! Honestly the highlight of Cairns.
Our hotel also had a great view of both the ocean and the mountains, as well as the picture perfect sunrise in Cairns. Just look at it!
After spending a day in Cairns, my mom’s vacation was at an end much too soon. She flew back to Sydney, then San Francisco the next day. Meanwhile, I’ve made it up to Port Douglas -about an hour or so north of Cairns- to start looking for work! It was a fun two weeks, but I’m ready to save up some more money and head off somewhere even more exciting. Any guesses where? Stay tuned!