We left off Part 1 of our Australian adventure just leaving Sydney. We made our way up the coast towards the Gold Coast for the Australian Summer Grains Conference. We had a couple of days to get there, so we got to take our time exploring along the coast.
It was nice to get out of the city and explore rural life in Australia. We found it wasn’t much unlike here in the United States. Lots of small towns filled with mom and pop stores, but also remains of buildings, memories from more prosperous times.
NEWCASTLE & PORT MACQUARIE
Our first stop was in Newcastle, we enjoyed a lovely lunch on the wharf at a restaurant called Silo. It was right on the wharf. We enjoyed a nice lunch outside, Mark was super excited to see a large grain terminal. For those of you non-agriculture people, it is basically the place where they load grain into containers to ship internationally. We were there on a Sunday, so there wasn’t much activity besides lots of people enjoying the weather with their families.
After lunch we were back on the road and set our destination to Port Macquarie. A neat little harbor town known for its extensive beaches and waterways. The town also boasts quite the koala population as it is the home to the Billabong Koala Park and the Koala Hospital. Sadly, both facilities were close when we got into town. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed some drinks along the wharf and watched the sun set.
There were lots of small excursion fishing boats for hire along the wharf. It would have been a blast to go deep sea fishing while in Australia. We wandered around town to find somewhere to eat and checked out a couple places on Trip Advisor. Come to find out, one of the most recommended places in town is a Thai restaurant!
We decided to give it a try and were pleasantly surprised! We enjoyed some delicious curry and some BYOB beers from the liquor store next store. We enjoyed the evening on the balcony with some more VB’s, our beer of choice while down under. It doesn’t get any better than that!
MACLEAN & BYRON BAY
The next morning we were up early and off once again. As we headed north, we came across some familiar scenery! Farmland and cattle trailers. We drove through quite a patch of lush land where they grow sugar cane as well as graze cattle. We passed several sugar refineries as well.
We took a break for lunch in Maclean. Maclean is a fairly small town right on the mouth of the Clarence River. The town apparently has roots in the sugarcane industry and river-prawn fishing. We found a little cafe right on the river and right off of the highway to stop for lunch. Here was our first experience into the Aussie tradition of beetroot on a burger or sandwich. It was pretty good, but I also like beets. Another thing we found out is Aussie BBQ sauce isn’t like ours. Theirs is missing that “smokey” flavor in it.
Along the river there was tons of wildlife just waiting for someone to drop a little snack for them. These lizards were on the prowl and fighting the large birds for a bite. The river was beautiful, it was a gorgeous blue sky day. You can see the sugar cane on the other side in the photo below!
On our way out of Maclean, we decided to make a pit stop in Byron Bay. A great recommendation from a friend of ours. Byron Bay is a beach town, think San Diego, nestled right on the coast. We browsed some shops, but didn’t find anything we needed. We also, of course, had to browse the liquor store. Alcohol is expensive over there and so it is fairly common to see pre-mixed mixed drinks in a can. That was something new to us. You could find things like Jack and Coke, Captain and Coke, CC and ginger ale, etc. all in a can!
The beach was gorgeous. Very different from Manly Beach. Much more fine and white sand with almost soft pastel waters. It was fairly overcast that day, but the weather was still gorgeous for a day on the beach.
That night, we hopped the border into Queensland and decided to head up to Mount Tamborine to stay. Mount Tamborine is located along Queensland’s Scenic Rim. The Scenic Rim is loaded with recreational opportunities from hiking to fishing and even camping. It is lush and green and absolutely gorgeous! We had to stop a couple times to enjoy the view from the top looking down.
We found an old victorian style mom and pop hotel to stay the evening. Since we were visiting during their “off season”, many of the stores, art galleries, coffee shops, and restaurants were closed. However, many locals told us during peak seasons, it is quite the tourist hub.
We enjoyed the quiet and relaxing evening with gorgeous views as we prepared for several days on the Gold Coast and taking in the Australian Summer Grains Conference! We would have loved to spend more time exploring up the coast, I guess we will have to make plans to go back.
Part 3 will be all about the conference AND I will share photos of the most beautiful beach I’ve ever step foot on!