We both loved Byron Bay, and had a walk on the beach there and a wander round the shops, then the sky turned black, and yes, you've guessed it, another thunderstorm. Fortunately we found a handy bar and sheltered in there with a couple of white wine spritzers. The following day we continued south on the Pacific Highway passing another couple of oversized fruits - an avocado and later a banana (sorry, no photos, you'll just have to take my word for it.
Far more exciting was the fact I saw my first real live kangaroos in the wild! Okay, they didn't put themselves out in the way that the whales had - no back flips or somersaults, but I was still quite impressed. Following directions to the next campsite at Coffs Harbour, we narrowly avoided taking the top off the van when we reached a very low bridge. The clearance was 3.3m and our van was 3.5m. I was all for taking a chance, and I even got Sarah to get out and check, but she was sure there wasn't enough leeway, so I had to make a 57 point turn in a VERY narrow road, but I have to say the drivers of the cars that were tailing back were much more understanding than they would have been over here.
The following day we were off again and stopped at Port Macquarie - and found a lovely campsite, right by the beach in the centre of town. We wandered up to the local Koala Hospital for a guided tour
We left there - although not before Sarah decided to 'adopt a koala' called Oxley Holly - and made the most of the lovely day, by having a walk along a beautiful deserted beach (that's me paddling)
Our next stop was Port Stephens where we had a long walk to Stockton Beach to see the shifting sand dunes. As I looked along the beach, I could see something coming towards me that looked like a camel train, and sure enough, as it got nearer, I could see that it was. I can't say that I'd associated Australia with camels.
And then it was on towards Sydney. We visited my Dad's cousin Mike and his family in Pennant Hills, just north of Sydney and had a lovely day with them, then the next day we went on to see my cousin Laura and spent a couple of days with her family. It was good to sleep in a real bed with a real bathroom just next door and not have to trail across a campsite in the rain. Oh sorry, did I say rain?
At our request, they took us to the Blue Mountains - but unfortunately the weather let us down again. We went to see the Three Sisters - three massive sandstone rock formations. Unfortunately, given the severely inclement weather (very heavy rain and thick mist) we were unable to see hide nor hair of them, but we bought a postcard to see what they looked like. You'll have to take my word for it again I'm afraid, but they ARE in the background of the photograph.
We then went to Katoomba, which is a 1920's holiday resort for Sydney residents - lots of Art Deco buildings, and we had coffee/elevenses in a fantastically well-preserved 1920's restaurant called The Paragon - it even had 1920's music playing. We visited the Scenic centre and went down in a very steep railway - at 52 degrees apparently the steepest funicular railway in the world, and then back up in a cable car. Fortunately the mist cleared sufficiently for us to enjoy some of the views
And then it was time to hand the van in and head for our hotel in Sydney. It was a really good way to travel, and it makes you appreciate how vast a country it is. We drove 3250 km in 17 days.
And, only one minor mishap which perhaps I should mention. I misjudged the length of the vehicle as I manoeuvred in a petrol station, resulting in scraping the side of the van along a bollard. No real damage done to the van, although there were considerable signs of yellow and grey paint on the side. However, I bought a tin of the Aussie equivalent of 'T Cut' (other abrasive polishes are available) and polished all evidence away. The petrol station happened to be a BP one, so I think they are fully aware that accidents happen, and to be honest a few scratches on a bollard on a station forecourt was probably the least of their worries at the time.