Australia road trip part III: Byron Bay to The Gold Coast

Wow! What a day! The drive from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast was a meandering, unexpected, triple beach kinda day, and we can’t imagine how life gets any better than this.

After a night of near constant rain in Byron Bay, we awoke to sunshine and the sounds of kookaburras and wild turkeys, apparently enjoying themselves immensely. I may have been giggling at the sound as I opened my eyes. If I could wake up to that cacophony of bird merriment every day, I’d be pretty happy. Every day we encounter new birds that we’ve never seen before. I love it!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.

Merry, merry king of the bush is he.

Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!

Gay your life must be.

I never really knew the meaning of that song from my childhood until thus morning. New favorite bird.

Before we skedaddled out of Byron Bay, which had underwhelmed me on first impressions the day before, we decided to see if it had more to offer without the rain.

Wandering around the beach, and walking through town a bit more gave me a new perspective. It helped that the sun had finally come out. Byron Bay isn’t just a trendy chic getaway for hoity toity tourists. It actually is a hip cool beachtown with a surfer on every corner and a hippie in every El Camino. The silky soft beaches didn’t hurt its cred either. I decided to like it.

Byron Bay, NSW

In fact, it has one of the best beaches I’ve been to right in the middle of town. And without the ridiculous crowds so you could actually enjoy it. I could have sat for days watching the surfers popping up and crashing backing back down. But we wanted a semi-early start so that we could take our time on the drive.

Beach in Byron Bay, New South Wales

We decided, on the advice of the old German dude from road trip part I, to take the slower-going “tourist route” (ie. scenic byway) north from Byron Bay. He promised some of the most beautiful scenery Australia has to offer. And though I’ve seen but a joey’s hair-width of this incredible country continent (I’m trying here), I have to agree!

The road wound through lots of little towns with general stores and coffee shops by the bays. We stopped for a swim in Hastings Point, where a creek was intermingling with the ocean. We forded that creek to reach the beach like we were on the Oregon Trail!

Fording the creek to get to the beach in Hastings Point, New South Wales

From there we continued north along the tourist route, stopping for groceries and lunch along the way. We took a little side jaunt, getting a little turned around at one point, and ended up out on a peninsula with a lighthouse, Fingal Head Lighthouse. This was the highlight of the day! We sat for a long time, all alone, no sounds save for the birds, the wind, and the crashing of the waves on the strange black rocks below.

Fingal Head Lighthouse

Continuing north, we finally ended up in Coolangatta on the Gold Coast, where we laid out for a nap in the park and then took yet another dip in the ocean. We had officially crossed over from New South Wales to Queensland and gained an hour in the process, so we had time to spare.

Beach in Coolangatta, Queensland

Since we had been overspending a bit for a few days, we decided to continue north to a free camp site about 30 minutes south of Brisbane.

That last leg of our journey was slower than a dead dingo (Trent came up with that one). We had left the tourist route for the Pacific Coast Highway and got to experience the rush hour traffic of the Gold Coast. But we finally made it to our free campsite (aka parking spot) in a little town park (Hugh Muntz Park) in Beenleigh, where we are currently roughing it with about 40 other cars and campers, mostly full of twenty-somethings. What I won’t do to feel young again! This is where I say we owe our camping souls to the Camper Mate app, which tells us everything we need to know about every camping spot in Australia!

Next stop: Brisbane!

Bonus highlights:

We saw a roadside sign advertising Horse Poo $2. So cheap! Those are Thailand prices!

Kangaroo steak is a real thing here. In the grocery store. I’m confused. They’re so cute!

El Caminos have made a major comeback in Australia. They are everywhere! Pictures in a future post!

3 thoughts on “Australia road trip part III: Byron Bay to The Gold Coast

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