After our wonderful week in Sydney, we picked up Mabel the Maui Motorhome (have you noticed we like to name our cars…. I say we, I mean me) and set off on our East Coast adventure for 22 days. We were beyond excited when we went to pick it up and couldn’t believe how big it was! We felt like we were in ‘We’re the Millers’ – minus the drug smuggling. It wasn’t quite RV size but for people who had never driven a motorhome before, Mabel was a big girl! We made ourselves at home pretty quickly and set off on a crazy 3 weeks of beaches, comfort zone crushing, new friends, sunsets, tattoos, fly bites, spectacular views and campsite cooking.
Sydney > Anna Bay > Coffs Harbour > Byron Bay > Miami/ Surfers Paradise > Brisbane > Noosa > Hervey Bay/ Fraser Island > Rockhampton > Airlie Beach/ The Whitsundays > Townsville/ Magnetic Island > Mission Beach > Cairns
I won’t go into detail about every single thing we did and how we spent every moment *hears everyone heave a sigh of relief*, but I will share our highlights, top tips and favourite campsites.
(SOME OF OUR) HIGHLIGHTS:
* Our first night. Climbing up onto the sand dunes behind our campsite in Anna Bay and experiencing one of the best sunsets we have ever seen. The rapidly changing colours, the rainbow on one side, the immaculate sand. Massive wow factor.
* The town of Byron Bay. We loved the little coffee shops, bars and boutiques, along with the gorgeous beach. It all had a great feel. Also Sam surfed here again and loved it just as much as before.
* Miami… an unexpected gem. We decided to stay here instead of directly in Surfers Paradise, but it was a short taxi ride away and Miami was lovely and peaceful. There was the most epic pink sky both nights we stayed there too. We also loved the buzzy atmosphere in Surfers Paradise and although the beach was busy, we felt totally relaxed.
* Getting tattoos in Brisbane. Just so much fun…..Despite the tattoo shop being called ‘The Stab Shack’ and there being a python in the corner, we loved the whole experience. There was another girl having a huuuge chest piece done at the same time as us, not even flinching and I was asking a million questions about the aftercare and pain etc. (typical me) for our tiny tattoos that literally took minutes to do – I am so hard core.
* Koalas, kangaroos, dolphins…… the wildlife everywhere is just something else.
* The Noosa Everglades. Woweeee. So beautiful. We rented our own boat and went first thing in the morning. The water was a sparkling mirror, so peaceful and it was actually quite romantic (sorry vom). The previous day, we hired kayaks and attempted to do a 6 hr open sea trip and nearly got stuck (hilarious looking back, but paddling against the wind and going nowhere for a good 2 hours was a smidge frustrating).
* Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island. Totally clear, going into turquoise and then a deep navy colour. Also 100% rainwater. Paired with the whitest sand… it was ideal.
* Our last-minute motorhome break in Airlie Beach. We were worried about a thunder storm (that we ended up missing) and so booked an apartment for a few days so we could explore the Whitsundays without worrying about Mabel. It was actually a lovely break as it had…..A WASHING MACHINE!!! I know, I could barely contain my excitement either. Other than our lovely apartment, we had the best time in Airlie Beach. We did an amazing jet ski tour, seeing dolphins and stopping for a delicious brunch spread at Paradise Cove. During this trip we had the pleasure of witnessing another person on the tour having an impromptu nude photo shoot…. no I’m not joking. The next day, we did a snorkelling Whitsunday islands tour ending at Whitehaven Beach. Truly special and Sam was a complete hero as it was totally out of my comfort zone. Overall so much fun, so much beauty and so many new experiences.
* The Barbie-mobile on Magnetic Island. We rented a tiny mini jeep (I thought it looked like a bigger version of a doll’s car I used to play with) and drove around the whole island. We pulled over for a torrential rain storm, eating cookies and sitting under a tarpaulin on the side of the road until it stopped.
* Evenings with a glass of wine (or a camomile tea), playing Pass the Pigs and chatting at the campsite about everything we had seen and were still to see.
* Finding scones with clotted cream & jam in Cairns ….You can take the girl out of England…. Oh and seeing crocodiles in the Daintree Rainforest.
* Turning all the lights off in the evenings as they made you feel like you’re in an operating theatre….. and lighting our bergamot candle. It actually made it feel so cosy.
* Singing in the car and snack pitstops. Sam always came back with about 5 drinks because ‘they were on offer’.
* Buy a candle (see above). It made the motorhome feel lovely and cosy at night and made it smell nice too!
* Flip flops in the shower. The camping showers we encountered were actually all clean and completely fine. But still. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…..hygiene. ( And other people’s hair on the floor- no thanks).
* Book your campsites a couple of days in advance if they’re in really popular areas or in a particularly good location. Eg. Byron Bay.
* Most tours don’t need to be booked too far in advance, especially somewhere like Airlie Beach as there are SO many adventure shops that will pretty much always have some availability. We booked ours 1 day in advance.
* Buy a collapsible clothes dryer/line. It made doing washing soooo much easier as we had somewhere to let our clothes dry outside the motorhome.
* Camping apps that are pretty good: Maui, Campermate, Maps.Me
* Share the driving. This might be an obvious one, but it is nice to take turns as then one person isn’t completely wiped out after a long drive.
* Stay at least 2 nights in places you’re really interested in. Maybe more. We felt even 2 nights felt rushed sometimes, so try to set off early on longer drives as then you still have some of the day left once you arrive at your campsite.
* Keep the motorhome clean. Now I’m not going all Marie Kondo on you, but it seriously makes it more pleasant to be in if there isn’t a whole sandpit in there when you’re trying to climb into bed.
* Try as best as you can to go to a campsite that is as close as possible to the area you’re exploring. They are sometimes a little more expensive, but it means that you don’t feel miles out from everything and you can walk out and leave your motorhome plugged in and awning set up rather than having to pack everything up and drive a while to get to where you want to go.
* Ask for a camping spot reasonably close to the loo block. No one wants to walk too far in the dark with bats flying over your head. Even though we had our own loo in the camper, as you can imagine it’s much more pleasant to use a real one!
* Have your own jobs. I did all the booking & organising and most of the cleaning in the camper. Sam did all the outside stuff, the setting up and techy things, and quite a bit of the cooking, although we did share that. It was nice to get into the flow of it and know what both of us would do before we could settle down for the evening!
* Double check your campervan draws before you leave the depot. It sounds totally ridiculous, but virtually every time we went round a sharp-ish corner, some of our draws flew out as they were loose, risking china plates flying all over the motorhome!! This did happen a few times as well! Funny but only until something breaks….
* Reflections Clarkes Beach Holiday Park- Byron Bay. Great great great location. Right on the beach. Short walk into town. Lovely facilities.
* Ocean Beach Tourist Park- Miami. Such a peaceful, small campground. Again, really lovely facilities. Again, right on the most gorgeous beach. Perfect morning coffee spot right next door. And the sweetest woman who you can rent clothes pegs/lines from if you do some washing.
* Habitat Noosa- Noosa. Really amazing. We were surprised they had a spot. You can rent kayaks and boats etc. and make you own way to the Noosa Everglades. Opposite our camping spot there was a forest, home to a huge group of kangaroos. They relaxed (and fought) on the grass each evening as the sun went down and it was completely wonderful to watch. They also had a little restaurant on site which was cool.
* The Palms- Hervey Bay. The people here were SO NICE. They were super helpful when we wanted to book a Fraser Island tour and even came to help us set up the motorhome in our spot. Small campsite but worth a visit.
As I write this post, I think how much fun we had…working it all out together, getting it wrong, getting it right, getting cabin fever, getting on each other’s nerves at times, loving the cosy bed cabin, playing music, sitting in the sun on camping chairs, laughing A LOT and Sam always being the one to empty the loo without moaning at all and never letting me do it no matter how many times I said I didn’t mind.
Thank you so much for reading xx