07.01.2016 - 07.02.2016 65 °F
We picked up or car at East Coast Car Rentals in Sydney. Great folks that were very helpful in getting us all set up. Also had the best price for a one way rental! Our vehicle was a Hyundai H1 mini-van, plenty of room for everyone and the bags.
Ok, driving on the opposite side of the road took some getting used to but the best advice I had received was to just follow the car in front of you until you had to turn. What made things sporty was driving a vehicle with the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car while driving on the opposite side of the road. It took a while to find the proper sight picture for lane usage. Fortunately, I was able to find the limits of the lane thanks to the lane marker bumps on the left and right sides. That or Mary telling me I was about to go off the road!
We had a GPS unit to help us navigate out of Sydney and we headed to our first stop, the Australian Reptile Park. The drive was about an hour north of Sydney through some terrific scenery. We arrived at the park and were able to see all sorts of animals. The most memorable of which was our first encounter with kangaroos. We were able to pet and feed the kangaroos that are in the common area of the park. We also saw dingos (no babies nearby), wallabies, cassowary birds, kookaburras, platypus and crocodiles.
Australian Reptile Park
Our next stop was the sand dunes near Port Stephens. We had heard that the dunes were so large you could sled/surf down them. The sand dunes were a little over an hour and a half north of the reptile park. We stopped for gas and road snacks along the way and continually met the nicest folks.
Side note: Everybody we met in Australia was friendly and nice. Seriously everybody. It was so nice to meet folks that were so genuinely friendly. Awesome country!
We arrived at the sand dunes which is actually at Anna Bay. It was mind blowing how beautiful the dunes were. The sky was blue and the blue of the ocean stood in contrast to the white sands that stretched as far as you could see. We used Port Stephens 4 Wheel Drive Tours to take us out to the dunes. They have a huge all wheel drive vehicle that goes over almost anything. We arrive at a dune that was crazy tall and hundreds of yards long. It was part of a dune area that stretched for miles. We got our boards, climbed up to the top (not easy!) and started sledding down. It was awesome fun!
When we were done surfing the dunes we headed back in the 4 wheel drive truck. Our driver was really cool and took us down the beach where we were able to see a pod of blue whales moving up the coast!
After the dunes we headed north towards Port Macquarie to rest for the night. That was a bit of a drive and took around 3 hours. We stopped at MacDonald's (or Macca's as it's called) and we all agreed that the MacDonald's in Australia is outstanding!
The next morning we got back on the road for Brisbane. About 10 miles into the drive we had to turn around due to a large crash further down the road. The detour got our GPS confused which became a little concerning since we had no clue where we were. We followed a line of cars that seemed to know where they were going and got back on track. We drove through wine country but didn't have time to stop (still regret that!), hill country, kangaroo country, forests and farmland. It was an amazing drive.
Late in the afternoon we arrived in Brisbane. We checked into the motel and then Mary and I drove the car over to the rental car office to drop it off. The guy at the motel said it was an easy walk back, about a kilometer. That was the longest kilometer we ever walked. Felt more like 3 miles...
When we got back we went out for dinner at Hell Pizza. Catchy name for an awesome pizza joint.
Hell Pizza Webpage
We went to bed early since the next morning we were waking up extra early for the first flight to Cairns.