After flying back into Brisbane from Lady Elliot Island, we picked up a car from the airport and started our drive down to Sydney. The drive would take about 10 hours straight, but we broke it up into three days of driving. Pacific Highway, or the A1, is the main highway that connect the two, but we took a few detours off the highway to see a bit more of Queensland and New South Wales.
Our first detour was only a couple hours outside of Brisbane: the Gold Coast. It is the largest non-capital city in Australia and the population is still growing. Gold Coast is known for their tourism: amazing beaches, theme parks, and nightlife. High rises line all the beaches, which ruins the otherwise gorgeous scenery. Its position as an up-and-coming city has been sealed by the fact that it will be hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
The Pacific Highway is close to many beautiful beaches. We saw this one and had to pull over to see it better. I can’t remember the exact location, but it was somewhere near Burleigh Heads in Queensland. The Gold Coast can be seen in the distance on the horizon.
The first stop in New South Wales, Byron Bay is a very popular beach town that was swarming with summer tourists. A little bit out of town is the lighthouse which marks the easternmost point on the Australian mainland. Looking out from the point only ocean is visible.
Yamba, New South Wales is a small fishing town on the Clarence River whose population usually triples during the summer months. Here we saw our first Australian pelicans, which are much larger than any pelican I’ve seen before.
Grafton Bridge is a double-decker (car and train) bridge that crosses the Clarence River. The bridge also houses a water main and 2 footbridges. Originally built in 1915, it is the oldest double-decker bridge in NSW. Nearby is Port Macquarie. It was founded as a prisoner settlement for secondary offenders; it was very isolated with rough terrain. However, the settlement only lasted about 10 years before it became a civil town.
Today it has grown into a small city known for its koalas and beaches.
The most isolated spot we explored was Austral Eden. Architect John Verge received a 2,400 acre land grant on the Macleay River in New South Wales in the early 1800’s. He advertised parcels of land as Austral Eden, a farmer’s paradise in Australia.
Today it is just as farming orientated as it has always been. Driving through the area and along the Macleay River, we didn’t see a single car or other person, only some farmhouses, horses, and cows.