Road Trip from the Gold Coast to New South Wales, Australia
While we were in Australia over New Year 2012, we enjoyed a week soaking up the sun with friends on the Gold Coast and then road tripping to Byron Bay and Nimbin in New South Wales.
We spent New Year in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast near Surfers Paradise, an extremely popular holiday destination for Australians. Visitors flock from all over the country and abroad to enjoy Gold Coast Holidays; miles upon miles of white beaches, surfing, the great night life, shopping and restaurants. The locals are generally very glamourous and extremely bronzed!
High apartment blocks lace the beaches which reminded us a lot of Durban in South Africa.
Balmy days, brightly coloured wild birds, squeaky clean beaches and hibiscus flowers in full bloom.
On New Years eve we ordered a feast of fresh seafood from a local fishmonger - oysters, prawns, crab and Moreton Bay bugs (a species of lobster which tastes much better than it sounds).
Fresh seafood and friends - what could be better?
Miriam's lobster necklace perfectly matched the occasion.
We saw in the bells with sparklers on the beach and the boys took an impromptu dip in the warm water.
Happy New Year!
Hamish, Lachlan's brother, posing against a cloudless sky.
The Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks. One day we dragged ourselves away from the beach to check out Wet’n'Wild, Australia’s biggest and best water theme park. It was an absolute thrill forcing ourselves on to rides with sheer drops from dark tunnels, sometimes travelling backwards at great speeds and we were buzzing afterwards from the adrenalin. The rides here will scare the speedos off even the most extreme thrill seeker. Only Lachlan was brave enough to attempt their newest and most terrifying ride, the ‘AquaLoop’ which begins when a trap door is released and the rider plummets, accelerating into a massive vertical free fall drop and then up into a transparent looping slide! The slide is gut wrenching, heart-pounding and gravity-defying and takes riders to speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour!
In the evening a movie was projected on to an enormous screen and you could watch either from the swimming pool or on a lounger nearby with a hot box of fish and chips.
Bobbing along before we braved the rides!
We hired a car and drove to Byron Bay which is only an hour away but totally different in that it has an incredibly bohemian vibe. Whereas Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise are more like slick, concrete shopping malls on the beach, Byron Bay is rustic and quaint; it’s sparkling beaches are unsullied by any development and its residents are colourful artists, muscicians, dreamers and drifters. It’s located in the far-northeastern corner of the state of New South Wales, Australia.
Because of its charm, Byron Bay is the third most popular place to visit in Australia. We arrived having assumed we’d easily find accomodation only to discover that everywhere was ‘chokker’ as the Aussies like to say. We were so lucky to find a quirky caravan park just outside and managed to book their last cabin and the last room in the whole town! My advice, if you’re going, is book ahead to avoid a rough night on the dunes!
Our cabin door in Byron Bay.
Ready to explore Byron Bay.
Retro golf buggies.
We enjoyed a picnic in some shade before browsing a nearby arts and crafts market.
Miriam and I were in our element discovering beautiful one off pieces and chatting to the artists who had so skillfully handcrafted them.
Lapping up beach life in Byron!
It was fun to explore another unfamiliar shoreline with the sun's rays warm on our back.
Gazing over the purling ocean.
The restaurants and bars were abuzz with creative bohemians. We so enjoyed people watching and as a special treat ordered champagne and cocktails!
Brunch glorious brunch!
A Byron Bay brekky burger with the works: hash brown, avocado, cheese, bacon, egg, chutney, mayo, lettuce…. delicious!!
We only spent one night in our cabin on the beach before heading to Nimbin. The hour and a half drive it took to get there was an absolute pleasure with views becoming lusher, greener and more picturesque it seemed with every corner. No wonder Nimbin and its surrounding areas are part of what is known as the ‘Rainbow Region’ which is of cultural importance to the Indigenous Aboriginal people. The name Nimbin, comes from the local Whiyabul (Widgibal) clan whose Dreamtime speaks of the Nimbinjee spirit people protecting the area.
Roadside stop in a milk bar on the way to Nimbin.
In the loo, we spotted this strange instrument waiting for its owner.
Because of Nimbin's rich agricultural land and perfect climate, some intrepid hippies in the 70's decided to set up communes there, striving for the idealistic Utopian dream of the time.
The small hippy town is infamous for its tolerance to cannabis use and the land and climate happen to be ideal for growing the drug.
The area has attracted many artists, writers, actors, musicians, small farmers, environmentalists, idealists, permaculture enthusiasts and mainstream society dropouts.
Writer Austin Pick described his initial impressions of the village this way: "It is as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains behind frontier-style building facades. ... Nimbin is a strange place indeed."
It was fascinating to look around the Nimbin museum which tells the story of its residents desires to shun normal society and live an alternative lifestyle. They talk of peace, revolution, and spirits.
Nimbin plant and paint effects.
Many artists from the community have contributed to creating the wacky museum which features embellishment in one form or another on just about every surface.
We spent the night in a bunk room above a bar with a wide balcony and a resident green prince.
The Hemp Embassy, Drug Education Centre, Nimbin.
On the way back to Broadbeach we stopped in a few old-fashioned towns to rummage around their op shops (Australia's name for charity shops) and have been wearing our finds ever since.
Back on Broadbeach - what Gold Coast holidays are made of.
We joined friends in Surfers Paradise on our last evening for a delicious japanese meal.
The chef was tickled pink that Hamish could converse with him in Japanese and this led to them warbling some old tunes from his homeland.
This put us in the mood for some serious karaoke and in Surfers Paradise there are lots of places to choose from!
Night stroll along the beach under a full moon. What a perfect way to see in 2012!
All polaroid pictures by Miriam McWilliam.