Filled with lots of driving, camping and exploring
Our third and final week down under was one for the books.
After World XC Champs, my coach and I decided it was a natural break in the season to take a week off training. It was perfect timing because Cody took the week off work, and we were able to have a more “traditional” holiday with no training schedules and few work commitments. There was a chance I could race at the Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne on Feb. 23, but it wasn’t meant to be. With the freedom to go wherever we wanted with the campervan, we decided to explore the eastern Central coast – it did not disappoint! Living in a 1,000 square foot condo somewhat prepared us for a week in a Sprinter van together 😉
On Monday we stayed at Myall Shores Holiday Park. The site sat right on the edge of Two Mile Lake on a beautiful piece of sandy beach. After being in the hot and sunny inland portion of Australia, we were very thankful for waterfront, shade and a hefty breeze! On this campsite we saw lots of wallabies, monitor lizards (one that didn’t move until I was almost on top of him and scared the $h!t out of me), kookaburras (very loud), Australian magpies (thankfully none swooped down on us) and a bearded dragon. We did not see any koalas, to Cody’s dismay.
On Tuesday morning, I hard core slept in, and we had a slow morning. I was definitely still catching up on some sleep from last week. When we finally got packed up and ready to head out, we drove 2.5 hours to Hat Head National Park. We were a bit unsure of the campground when we first got there because it was hella busy and all the campers were parked tightly together. But there was shade and once we got out of the campground, there were lots of places to explore.
We checked out two beautiful beaches at low tide. O’connors Beach was surrounded by lava rocks and since the tide was out, we were able to see lots of little ocean critters clinging to the rocks and swimming in small water pools. We also met some beef and dairy farmers from the area, which was so awesome! Cody and I joined them for happy hour and learned a lot about their industry and I provided some insight into Canadian production. The main take away from both countries is that costs are going up and margins are getting ever tighter, regardless of what sector you’re in.
On Wednesday we went for a walk-run around Korogoro Trail that ran along the ocean up on a cliff. We had absolutely stunning views of the water from the 3.2k loop, including a blow hole that we could get down to see (safely) as waves crashed in. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring a camera with us to get photos, but it was a good thing we didn’t because it started pouring rain while we were out there, making the run even more epic! We saw more wallabies and a few giant spiders in their not-so-distant webs. We then packed up and headed to Brooms Head Holiday Park for two nights. The first night we stayed on a powered site near the ocean, but there was a bit of a berm between us and the ocean, so we didn’t have ocean views per se. But, it was insanely hot that afternoon with no shade, so the motivation was high to head out for an ocean swim. The longer Australian summer days gave us sunlight through to around 8:00 p.m., which was perfect for sitting outside in the evenings.
We spent Thursday and the night in Brooms Head but moved to an unpowered beachfront site. It was worth it because it rained a lot in the morning, we hunkered down in the campervan but were able to watch the storm right on the water’s edge. It was so cool to see the wind and rain roll in and watch the waves crash into rocks along the shore. The weather cleared up by the afternoon, so Cody headed out for a beach ride and I, a beach run. It was pretty wicked to be able to run 10k mostly on compact sand!
On Friday we started the trek back to Sydney and drove to Lakeside Forster Holiday Park. This well-manicured park sits on the shores of Wallis Lake. We got to the site later in the afternoon, so didn’t do much exploring in this area, but did go for a sunset walk along the water.
On Saturday we drove the rest of the way to Sydney to drop off the campervan and head to the airport. We had quite the time finding a place to fill up the van’s propane and fuel tanks on our way back, but we eventually navigated our way to the drop off site and got to the airport. We learned earlier in the day that our flight from Vancouver to Victoria was cancelled due to impending “bad” weather (10 snowflakes will shutdown YVR apparently) but figured we would get rebooked on a flight later in the day. However, upon arrival in Vancouver we learned we were put onto a Sunday morning flight, (which was later re-re-scheduled to TUESDAY!) so we opted to hop on the ferry. Thankfully, the ferries were still running even as the wintery weather began to intensify in the Lower Mainland and South Island. It was super weird having two Saturday afternoons/evenings, but I did not complain about the additional time to catch up on sleep after a crammed flight.
Being able to travel and explore Australia with Cody was such a cool experience and I would highly recommend visiting for a longer period of time!
Our trip by the numbers:
3,822 kms driven
168 kms run
28 hours in the air
8 camp sites
1 cancelled flight
1 ferry ride
too many bags of chips and granola bars to count