So Australia is a pretty rad place, my family flew over for a wedding in Melbourne then my sister and I decided to take on the Australian traffic and campervan up to Gold Coast. I have listed below some of the places and things we experienced and a few tips we’d like to offer.
Picking a campervan?
Weigh up your insurance options and don’t just go with the cheapest one, they’re cheap for a reason and you can incur high excess fees if there is any damage done.
We went with Jucy as they could offer an insurance deal for my sister who at the time was 20, and picked our converted soccer mum car up from the Brisbane warehouse.
Where to stay?
So apparently it is illegal to pull up on the side of the road and ‘camp’ in your vehicle.. so that put a bit of a bummer on our experience.
Good news is there are hundreds of campsites all over Australia and a good way to pick one that suits you is to use the Wikicamps app (you can filter every option possible and it includes the campsite phone numbers and reviews too).
Some hostels can even offer their car parks for a small fee.
Where to go?
We only had our car for 14 days (we had done the east coast before when we were a lot younger so this time round was all about places we wanted to revisit or things we had heard we’re good to go to.
Gold Coast (Mermaid beach, Nobby) –
Stay at Nobby beach resort, have dinner at one of the many cheap outdoor restaurants and definitely visit the Nobbys Putt Putt mini golf course for a morning or late night game. Mermaid beach is also a great spot for kitesurfing and sunbathing on white white sand.
Stay at the Glen Villa Resort which is a 5 minute walk from the centre of town. A great atmosphere with some good hangout spots to meet new people and a small pool.
Visit the many tiny hippie shops, sourdough cafes and street side jewellery stalls for some good vibe feelings.
Hire a bike and cycle along the raised walkway overlooking the beautiful beach. Stop at every beach you can, the further you ride the nicer the beaches. Tip: if you get a chance visit the amazing Tea Tree lakes – we tried, but unfortunately due to the extremely dry weather the month before these were pretty much just tiny ponds.
Take a drive to the Byron lighthouse and watch the beginning of the sunset over the crystal clear waters (you may even spot a stingray or shark), then park down on the other side of the bay at Tallow beach to take a stroll along the usually deserted beach with views along the coast for miles.
- Minyon Falls – 45 min drive to the viewing platform then hike the 9km very hilly round trip through forests and over giant boulders to the base of this lovely waterfall.
- Protester Falls – another 1 hour drive to the nightcap national park, but an easy 15 minute round trip walk to the pools of this peaceful waterfall. On your way home keep an eye out for the quieter more secluded waterfalls about 10 mins drive down the track on the right hand side (be adventurous they’re not an easy find)
We stayed a bit further out of town at the lovely little Noosa Campsite, mainly because they had a pizza oven (nothing can stop a girl getting her pizza).
Visit the national park, go early morning and get parked inside of the gates for free. Take lots of water, snacks, good trainers, swimwear and a towel and spend your day on the coastal trek stopping off at some of the many secluded beaches / fairy pools just off the pathway.
Which company to go with? After some research we decided to go with a guided tour (we’d had enough of driving by this point and have done sand dune driving before).
We booked a 3 day/ 2 night guided tour from Hervey Bay with Cool Dingos and after a misunderstanding about our booking we were given an extra night/day free and a private room! Lodge accommodation, buffet breakfast/dinner, packed lunch, drink deal at the bar, and constant nightly entertainment from the staff.
You are driven around on a 4×4 truck/bus thing by crazy guides who have an incredible love and admiration for the island (ask for John or Davey) and then you hike and do activities and basically have a really good time.
- Swimming and volleyball at Lake Mckenzie, subway style buffet, hike through the tall rainforests to central station, then to a sacred clear aboriginal stream, another walk through palm rainforests and some cookies & tea to end.
- Drove along 75 mile beach, saw a White bellied sea eagle fight a wedge tail kite eagle (Davey our guide was amazed), pinnacles coloured sand, SS Maheno shipwreck, plane trip $80 over Fraser Island saw butterfly lake, climbed Indian head, swam in the Champagne Pools, had some snacks and floated down Eli Creek.
- Lake Wimby (walked 1km from lookout to lake then 2.3km over sand dunes to the beach, buffet lunch, paddle boarding at Lake Birrabean.
Brisbane (the river city)
Our campervan drop off point. I never made it to Brisbane on our trip when I was younger but boy did I miss out. With no expectations we decided to have a few chill days here before flying down to Sydney.
Stay at Summer House backpackers on Upper Roma Street, very cheap and friendly with a Peter Pans travel agency in the hostel lobby.
Take bus (no. 445/ 430 $5.70 from Adelaide Street stop 41) to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, take pictures holding baby koalas, hand feed kangaroos and wallabies and look at Australians indigenous animals.
Visit the Botanical Gardens and the famous man made Street Beach on the river bank. There are loads of bars, pubs and night clubs with good deals, event nights and full of backpackers to make friends with.
Tip: If you can squeeze in a sky dive do it! Go with Redcliffe Skydive for good deals and the best instructors (ask for Cookie)
That concludes my places to visit with a campervan on the Gold Coast of Australia on a tight schedule.
For more info on what else to do in Australia take a look at my Melbourne and Sydney blogposts. More photos can be found on my instagram account @mermaidsdontsweat.