Day #171 The Australian Road Trip
Landing in Australia was like landing at home. It's funny how a 6 months university exchange can mark you so deeply. I did mine in Melbourne back in 2013 and I have wanted to come back ever since. Although Australia is the size of a whole continent, it feels very welcoming to me and I couldn't wait to share it with Antonio. Not to mention that after 5 months in South East Asia we were ready to go back to what is familiar to us. Starting with food.
South East Asia was a great culinary experience, in particular the last days in Vietnam, but we were in much need of a detox. By this point, we were both feeling sluggish, anemic and our dark circles were getting worst by the day. We had both contracted traveller's diarrhea more than once and felt we needed to reset our digestive system. Plus, all the fats and carbs you commonly eat in those countries where starting to be visible in our bodies. This meant that the two weeks we would spend in our campervan going up the coast we would intensively eat leafy greens, other veggies, legumes and a few strategic whole grains. We would cut on all types of sugar apart from low-glycemic fruit, stock up on natural multivitamin supplements and probiotics to assist us in our detox. We also planned to start exercising more regularly which, turned out to be really easy while going up the coast as we had several nice spots to run next to the beach and we could also do some yoga series there. It was just a matter of days until we started seeing the results and it felt great!! Finally we had the energy we were hoping for and felt more like ourselves again.
During our two-week road trip, we visited Byron Bay before picking up our car in Brisbane and doing all our way up to Cape Tribulation. I had been to Byron Bay before and I felt that 6 years later, it still kept its chilled and surfer vibe. There was a surf festival going on and the waves were so big due to a recent cyclone that the sea had washed away the entire beach. It was nevertheless, a beautiful spectacle to watch: the experienced surfers opening the way across these huge waves and trying to find the delicate balance between the force of the waves, wind and their board. In Byron Bay, we were also impressed with the amount of wellness and health stores and quickly found an amazing non-for profit local organic store which became our second home :) Antonio had a great first impression of Australia and I knew the best was yet to come.
But, of course, there is no travelling without a few hiccups. Especially when you are traveling with Antonio :) As we arrived to Brisbane and had to make our way to pickup the van, he accidentally dropped my phone and broke its screen, making it completely useless. It was a 5-year-old iPhone but, still, the only phone we had left. Well, what Antonio likes to call a happy accident I call a subconscious action haha. He was dreaming and trying to convince me to buy a new phone for months and since I wouldn't give up on my old 5C iPhone I guess he had to find other ways to convince me… With both of us phoneless and about to go on a road trip we didn't have a choice but to do some last minute shopping. 2 hours later we had bought not one but two new phones! Turned out they had a special promotion of two for the price of one and we were now both owners of a Huwaei Mate 20. The day was intense but far from ending as we had to make a run to the van agency to pick the car on time and to then try to find our way to the two different shops where we would pick up the only 2 phones left in the city. Having to drive on the other side of the road and with no map, we didn't make it on time of course. Instead, we camped out in the parking lot of one of the commercial centers for the night. The funniest part of the day was that as we were about to go to sleep, my daily night alarm that I had set on my old phone went off. But with the screen broken there was no way of turn it off!! It was 10pm and we were stuck in a car with a ringing alarm that did not stop until 2 days later! It was a painfully long goodbye that was tuned down by wrapping the phone with 3 layers of clothes and putting it inside 2 sealed boxes. What a laugh!
Once we were finally ready to leave Brisbane, we set off to Noosa and from there we changed spot every day. Noosa was beautiful. It is a small and charming town next to the beach and it is very characteristic for its wild nature. We did a stunning coastal walk along the Noosa National Park as we admired the views, the local surfers and the dolphins jumping in the horizon. It was magical. Near Noosa, we also visited the Eumundi market, a local market famous for selling all types of goods. We were in many markets throughout Asia but loved the authentic and hippie vibe of this one. We particularly loved a native food stand in which we bought some giant pine nuts and tasted what they call finger limes. These little things make it really worthwhile for us as we feel we are getting to know the country more authentically.
Our next stop was Carlos Sand blow, a massive naturally formed sand dune. It looked like we had arrived to the desert and the scenery was very picturesque. I loved it there and it reminded me one of my Mom's favorite places in the world: the Namibian desert with its lost and scattered tree skeletons. From here, we went on a day trip to Fraser Island, which is the largest sand bank in the world! It is 122kms long and the cars use the beach as a highway. They go as fast as 80kms per hour! We crossed by ferry with a huge 4x4 truck and were delivered to a lost and adventurous paradise. Pure dingoes still reside in this area so you cannot walk freely. Also, we finally understood what the huge wheels of the truck were for when we had to go over huge rocks in the beach as to get to the places we intended to visit! The adventure was worth to see the crystal clear creeks and the dreamy blue lakes lost in the middle of the white powdered sand. It was incredible.
After encountering some of the most beautiful nature treasures of Australia it was time for Antonio to meet its fauna too. We visited the Cooberrie wildlife park where we saw the cuddly koalas, the friendly wallabies and kangaroos, the emus, the crocodiles, the snakes and all the other dangerous animals Australia has to offer :) Nevertheless, you don’t have to go to a wildlife park to see these animals. It is very easy to encounter kangaroos crossing the road, spot crocodiles swimming in the creeks, sharks laying their eggs in the beach mangroves or come across the deadly cassowaries in the rainforests.
Some other beautiful spots we visited were Mission beach and Cape Tribulation. The nature changes so much across Australia that you can’t seem to have enough. We would do an average of 260kms a day with our Spaceships campervan, stop in local waterfalls or beaches on the way and camp out in free sites. Some of them were really cool. It is a whole industry in Australia, so some camping owners really put a lot of effort into surprising their guests with lights, comfortable spaces or making the camp ecological and sustainable in different ways. Sometimes we would start conversations with other campers and we happened to bump into our first Canadian from Vancouver since we decided to move there. His name was Jesse, he was super nice and gave us lots of tips which left us feeling excited for this next chapter of our trip!
After 2667kms on the lost roads of the Australian northeast coast we are now heading to the two capital cities: Sydney and Melbourne!