Drive from Sydney to Brisbane

Nelson Bay
Departing Sydney, we were headed along the Pacific Highway to Brisbane to catch a flight to Cairns (pronounced cans).  Yes, we could have flown from Sydney to Cairns, but we wanted to experience a bit of the coastline.  Driving through New South Wales along the Pacific Highway, there are frequent speed cameras.  The cameras are always preceded by several signs warning of cameras but, according to the Aussies we met on board the cruise ship, the signs often go unheeded and the offending drivers receive a very expensive reminder of their indiscretion.  Red light running and seat belt usage are also monitored by cameras.  This 1000km (620 mile) strip in known as the Holiday Coast.

Making overnight stops over 4 days, we worked our way slowly up the coast.  Our first stop was in Nelson Bay.  This small community is located along Port Stephens on a peninsula jutting out into the Pacific.  Known primarily as a recreational beach and fishing area, Port Stephen hosts the largest game fishing tournament in the Southern Hemisphere.  Delicious Pacific oysters are grown in the waters here.  While purchasing some prawns for dinner, Alan helped himself to a half dozen of the tasty beauties.  They were smaller and saltier than others we have enjoyed. 

Port Macquarie Coastal Walk
Port Macquarie, our next stop, offers a 9 km coastal walk, which provides gorgeous overviews of the rocky coastline.  Fishing, swimming, snorkeling and surfing are also offered in this little town.  Stopping at a city park close to the water, we watched a cricket game for quite a while, but could never figure out what was going on, so decided to move on.

Driving on next to Coffs Harbor, we walked out to the
Marina at Coffs Harbor
Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve at the eastern end of the marina but failed to spot any of the muttonbirds or the humpback whales which are typically seen at this time of year.  From the marina, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, sailing and diving trips are offered.  We bypassed the Big Banana, a local amusement park, and an easily recognized point of reference for directions. (As in, “take a left at the Big Banana”—you can’t miss a 30-foot banana in the sky!)  Moonee Beach Nature Reserve, just north of town, offers beaches for swimming, sandcastles and surfing.  There are also extensive trails which lead visitors through kangaroo habitat.

A young man we had met in Sydney had recommended a stop in Surfers Paradise.  Expecting a laid
Mutton Bird Island Nature Reserve at Coff's Harbor
back little surfing town, we were shocked to find something along the lines of Miami Beach with mile after mile of towering hotels and condos.  Obviously a very popular spot, it took us an hour or more to drive a few miles along the beach front road, with nary a glimpse of the ocean.  Traffic moved at a crawl, and we took the first opportunity to turn left and get out of there.  Not our cup of tea, as the saying goes.  And on to Brisbane.

Port Macquarie

Flagstaff Hill
Moonee Beach
Trail at Moonee Beach
Fingal Bay

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