Gdday dear readers,
welcome to my second post about my adventures on the Australian East Coast.
In the last episode, I left you after a nice wine tasting tour in the Hunter Valley.
Let’s start today in the Port Stephens area.
I spend 2 nights in Anna bay to explore this nice area a bit out of the main backpackers bus circuit.
On the first day, I take a walk along the beach on Shoal bay to reach the Tomaree Head. The top of the hill offers a very nice view on the surroundings.
On the way down to the beach, there are also some remains of the last world war. We can see old guns emplacements, ammunition storage rooms and barracks.
Back down on the beach, I walk back while taking pictures of the sunset.
In the morning on the second day, I just stay near the hostel in Anna bay. I go for a run for the first time since weeks, followed by a short workout for my core.
In the afternoon, I take the bus to the next destination, Port Macquarie.
Port Macquarie is also a rather slow paced small town. I spend again 2 nights there.
On the first day, I do a nice 10kms coastal walk with a lot of nice viewpoints on the sea and the rocks along the shore.
I also see a lot of animals. In the morning, I meet a hungry goona, a kind of big reptile, which is going from picnic table to picnic table, frightnening on his ways some small kids and grandmas 🙂
I also meet some strange birds, 1 looking more or less like a turkey.
On the last part of the walk, I get to see some small green snakes along the walkway, and from the lighthouse at the end, I can spot some dolphins.
After that I come back to the city to have lunch at a “Jazz&BBQ” festival. There is live music as well as a BBQ competition (grilled meat and BBQ design). Some BBQs are really impressive and must have cost many hours to build.
In the same area, there’s a path along the coast with painted stones. Anybody can choose a stone and paint it. A lot of stones are painted by travelers leaving a trace of their stay in Port Macquarie.
There are also a lot of Triathlon motivation stones, for athletes who did the Port Macquarie 70.3 Ironman. By seeing that, i have a special thought for my training partners in Switzerland who would surely have pushed me to train for this distance if I had stayed in Lausanne 🙂
In the afternoon, I visit a Koala hospital. The koalas coming here are usually suffering from burns due to forest fire or were involved in a car accident.
When they recovered enough to survive in the nature, they are released in the forest. However, there are koalas that were injured too much and have to stay the rest of their life at the hospital.
During the guided tour, we witness a funny scene. 2 baby female koalas are now strong enough to be released in the forest. They were put on the same “training” tree to learn to eat eucalyptus by themselves and one tried to enter the “territory” (a branch tree) of the other.
We were all expecting a claw fight between the 2 girls 🙂 What happened actually was way more cool. To defend her branch, what the koala higher on the branch did is turning her back to the other and walking slowly down backwards to put her butt on the other’s face 🙂
The other accepter to submit and then walk back down to another branch.
Coffs Harbour is my next stop and there’s nothing really special to report here.
The program is quite similar to Port Stephens and Port Macquarie.
First day walk along the creek with a visit to the botanical garden. The most interesting part in this garden is the swamp area, where we can see a lot of swamp trees with their many air roots. Around those trees, there are also a lot of mini crabs hiding at the first noise.
On the second day, I take some time in the morning to start thinking about my trip in Indonesia. At the end of the afternoon, I join a canoe tour on the creek to watch the sunset from a nice beach.
My next stop is the city of Byron Bay, which is famous as a very good surfing spot.
The atmosphere here is quite different from my last 3 stops.
The city is a bit bigger and more a party city. People are on the beaches more to be seen than to enjoy the nature or watch the surfers.
Not really my taste. I stay here only 2 nights.
As usual a nice walk along the coast on the first day. Then, on the second one, I spend 1 hour at the olympic swimming pool to do lap swimming. I am happy to be kind of kicked out from the slowest lane, which means that not all the swim training of last year is gone.
In the lane next to me, a group of kids of the local swim club is training. They are only 9 or 10 but already so fast. Really impressive, I hope I could be so fast. It would avoid me finding an empty bike parc each time I come out of the water at triathlons 🙂
After a nice workout, I enjoy an amazing sunset from the beach in front of the swimming pool.
The next stop along the East coast is a bit more urban. I spend one day in Brisbane where I visit the museum of contemporary art and go for a walk to Mount Coo-Tha to enjoy the sunset on the city from there.
The museum of contemporary art is a very cool place. There is a special exhibition with artists from the pacific area. I remember one very interesting video showing the interview of an artist expressing his feelings and fears about the future of aboriginal art.
He explains that aboriginal art became trendy and very commecial during the last few years and that some businessmen are pushing a lot the arborigen artists to supply this growing market.
At the end of the afternoon, I take the bus to Mt Coo-Tha. Unfortunately the last bus doesn’t go to the top but stops 3 stations behind. At the bus terminal, I am the last passenger and as I tell the bus driver that I wanted actually to go the the top of Mt Coo-Tha, he tells me that this bus is the last one and doesn’t go there but as we are both asian, we should help each other. As he doesn’t have time to drive me to the top, he drives me 2 stations further and I walk the few last hundreds meter.Arrived at the top, the sky is clouded and the sunset experience is not very optimal.
I decide to walk back down to the street as there’s no bus anymore. The walk in the dark is not so easy and the crossing of a small forest was quite scary as I could hear a lot a strange noise made by big animals that I couldn’t see.
Back at the border of the city, my mobile phone runs out of battery and I get a bit lost. At one point, a police car stops me to ask me what I am doing walking alone in the dark. I tell the police officers that I am going back to my hostel and tells them the address. They give me the directions to a bus station not far to catch an evening bus.
However I never found this bus station and got even more lost 🙂 After having scared a few people walking their dogs to ask my way, I finally make it back to my hostel to go to bed early:)
On the next day, I take the bus quite early to drive a bit further North to a small city called Mooloolaba.
The city itself is not very special, but it is the starting point to diving trips to a nice shipwreck called HMAS Brisbane.
I make a 1/2 day diving trip there. The weather is perfect, very sunny and not windy, and there are nice people in the group.
The 2 dives on the shipwreck are quite impressive. The boat is still in very good shape and we can dive inside to explore the different rooms, the 2 most impressive being the engine room and the command room, where you can still play with the buttons 🙂