Information on this website is our opinion only. This site was created to help others considering this wonderful lifestyle, and for our own use.
Information on this website is our opinion only. This site was created to help others considering this wonderful lifestyle, and for our own use.
This was a special month for us. We celebrated our 26th anniversary with a special vacation to Australia. We rented a Campervan and spent 28 days driving around Australia. We drove 3,531 miles around the Southeast corner of Australia, visiting the states of New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania. The following is our daily log of adventures. I've also written a general article on our experience and lessons learned about renting a RV and traveling in Australia.
11/1: We got off from the L.A. Airport without any problems. The lines were short, and security was thorough, but didn’t take long. Of course, leaving at 11:45pm helped. The flight was long (about 15 hours), and getting to sleep was difficult. But we did have individual TV screens and a choice of over a dozen movies and shows to watch. Besides sleeping for a couple hours, we enjoyed 3 first-run movies each during the flight.
11/2: Because we crossed the date line, we lost today. Gone – a day lost in our lives!
11/3: Arriving in Sydney at 8:00am was also without incident. Customs and security was easy, except we had to give up our two apples. After the long and tiring flight, we stayed at the Marriott hotel in Sydney Harbor, with a great view of the Opera House. For lunch, we had our first meal of lamb. We walked around the docks, watched ferries come and go, then walked around the Opera House and through the National Botanical Gardens. This was our first of many experiences with the strange animals we would encounter. Walking through the gardens, we saw plenty of strange trees, but also heard this strange gawking sound. We could tell it was coming from this huge fig tree, and suspected a bird, but never saw it. A couple days later, we finally saw and heard this bird. From now on, we saw them everywhere we went. We don’t know what they’re called, but we associated them as being common, like the crow. Our return walk took us back to the hotel through the shopping district of Sydney. This was a pretty busy area, where we enjoyed a cold ice cream. Dinner that night was along the pier, with another meal of gourmet lamb. It was expensive, and didn’t taste like the lamb we’re familiar with. But it was good. The US elections aren’t finished yet, so we’ll see who won tomorrow. Completely exhausted, it was an early night to bed at 7:30pm (we have no idea what time it is in the states). Hotel - $210A, Dinner - $85A, Taxi - $23A
11/4: Today was part of the reason we made this trip – it’s our 26th wedding anniversary! We also finally found out the results of the Presidential election this morning. Today was the day we picked up the Maui brand Campervan and headed out. Of course, we immediately got lost on the Sydney city roads. We stopped at a grocery store to get our bearings and bought groceries, a couple street atlases and had lunch (which included lamb again). Once out of Sydney, we went through MacQuarie Pass National Park and climbed the Great Dividing Range in heavy fog, with it’s small and winding roads. Not the best route for our first day of driving on the left side of the road. Due to our late start and the stress of driving, we stopped at 5:30pm before reaching our planned destination for the night. We spent our first night in a caravan park (RV park) in Moss Vale. To top the day off, Connie was up half the night with a severe migraine headache. Taxi - $32A, Groceries - $80A, Lunch - $12A, Camp - $21A.
11/5: Connie was feeling better this morning, so we started out in high spirits. Larry soon realized how fast the last ¼ tank of diesel disappears. We got pretty close to running out of fuel, but got lucky and found a station in the middle of sheep country. We didn’t drive very far today and arrived in Canberra (Australia’s Capitol City) around lunch time. We spent the rest of the day driving around town and toured the Australian War Memorial. A wonderful museum! We also stopped at the Kamberra winery for tasting and bought a bottle of Cabinet Sauvignon. Of course, lamb was for dinner again tonight, which Connie prepared. Did I mention we like lamb? The lamb is very affordable here. At dusk, we had a small herd of Kangaroo come through the park. It was exciting to watch them so close to our campervan. Gas - $92A, Camp - $22A, Wine - $15A
11/6: On the way out of town, we saw another large herd of Kangaroo in the fields. It was a LONG drive today through the Snowy Mountains. The drive consisted of more rain, fog, and narrow windy roads. We arrived late (5:00pm) at Ebden outside of Albury. This was another nice park, along Lake Hume, with another nice lamb chop dinner. We were heading for Adeladide, but decided we’re driving too much. We’ve chosen to turn towards the coast and reduce the amount of driving each day. We’d rather spend more time in an area and see more, instead of seeing it out the van window as we pass by. Camp - $23A
11/7: Finally, a nice, short drive to the historical town of Echuca. Our camp was located right on the Murray River, with restored steam powered paddle boats going by. We visited the old port and walked along the main street in the shopping area. We enjoyed a wonderful Fish & Chips lunch. Then it was off for grocery shopping again. The refrigerator in our van is pretty small. It works well, but doesn’t hold a great deal. We’ll need to shop every few days for cold items. The freezer section is large enough for the ice tray, and that’s it. Camp - $24A, Gas - $88A, Groceries - $65A
11/8: We drove only a few hours to the town of Ballarat, which is a major historical gold mining location in Australia. We arrived around lunch time and were glad to have time to actually visit an area, rather than just drive through it. We spent the afternoon at “Sovereign Hill”, which is a living museum of an old gold mining town. We had fun panning for gold (we even found a few flakes!) and looking through the various re-creations of a mining town from the 1850’s. We toured an old underground mine, watched an old 10-stamp mill in operation and learned how gold was separated from the rock (the smeltering process). We’d seen old stamp mill’s in Arizona, but never knew exactly how they worked. I also always wondered how gold was extracted from the rocks. Now we know the answer to both mysteries. We then toured the neighboring Gold Museum. Kind of interesting to see what life was like in the 1850 gold fields of Australia. Camp - $22A, Tours - $56A
11/9: Today’s short drive took us to the coastal town of Warrnambool. We thought we were going to tour a cheese factory, but it ended up being a store with cheese samples. The factory was there, but no tours were given. Still, it was a nice lunch and we did buy some unique cheese (walnut & date cheddar?). We then drove to Hopkins Falls, which was a scenic water fall in the country. We’ve done plenty of driving in the country, and have seen tons of sheep and cattle. In the afternoon, we took a stroll along the beach promenade to the breakwater. We climbed rocks and explored tide pools before returning to the campervan for drinks, some cheese, and reading a few more chapters in our books. After dinner, we drove to the nearby breakwater to walk across the low tides to Middle Island. Up to 1000 Fairy Penguins live on this island and return to their burrows at dusk. There was a strong wind, and even though it was low tide, there was still a 30’ section of water that had to be waded across get to the island. We walked as far out as we could, but decided against braving the chilly water. However, we think we saw a few dozen of the small penguins through our binoculars. Freezing, we returned back to our camp site for another lamb dinner. We’ve eaten lamb everyday so far, either for lunch (ever have Mongolian lamb?) or dinner. Camp - $22A, Groceries - $6A, 12v adapter - $6A
11/10: Today’s drive was only 150km (about 100 miles), but took 6 hours. We drove along Australia’s “Great Ocean Drive”, which is along the southern coast. We stopped at every scenic site and saw magnificent coastal arches, grottos, cliffs, islands, and other rock formations. The weather was bright and warm in the morning, but turned overcast in the afternoon. The most famous view along this route is the “Twelve Apostles”, but we enjoyed some of the other formations more. The lighting from the sun made a big difference on how the formations looked – the early or late low sun was more dramatic. The last part of the drive took us through the Otway rainforest until we finally arrived at Apollo Bay, pretty tired from a day of many walking tours. Our caravan park (RV park) was right on the ocean, but our spot was shielded from the wind by bushes. We’ll be here for a couple days to enjoy the area. Camp - $48A (2 days), Groceries - $50A, Gas - $88A
11/11: Today, we drove back to the nearby Otway Ranges and walked among the tree tops. The Otway Fly Tree Top Walk is the longest and highest canopy walk of its kind in the world. The walk starts off on the ground through the rain forest. Then you start to walk on metal ramps that slowly take you up into the tree tops. What great views from up there! These pictures don’t do any justice to the experience, as there’s no perspective of looking down. At the highest point, you can climb a final spiral stairway to the top of a viewing tower. At first, it was scary as the tower was wobbling in the wind. At 50 meters (about 150+ feet), you’re right at the tops of the tall gum trees. The entire walkway is 600 meters long. Although a little inconvenient, it started to rain pretty hard on us. But this only added to the experience of being in this beautiful rainforest.
On our return trip to Apollo Bay, we stopped by the Cape Otway Lighthouse. Built in 1848, visitors can take tours of the buildings, and climb to the top of the lighthouse. We’ve seen a few lighthouses from distant views, but never had the opportunity to climb one before. It wasn’t anything spectacular, other than neat to see the thick lenses and be amazed at how bright the light was through these lenses using just kerosene lamps. We also enjoyed learning the history of the area. America’s first World War II casualty was nearby, with an American merchant ship hitting a German mine. The lighthouse isn’t used anymore, being replaced by a bright beacon 25’ away on the cape.
One of the most exciting aspects of this trip has been the unusual wildlife. We’ve made it a point to look for the animals. Many of the birds make very strange sounds (strange to us). In Echuca, we were walking towards the old pier and Larry saw a VERY strange looking animal only a few feet away. It barely moved, and blended in perfectly with the dead wood on the ground. As we moved a little closer, we could tell it was a large bird, resembling an owl. But it would stretch itself out and look exactly like a broken branch on the ground. Can you see this hidden bird in the picture? Later, we were talking with another camper, who is Australian. I took the chance and asked him if he knew what kind of bird this was. It so happened, he was just returning from a bird watching walk. After we described the bird, he said it was a “Tawny Frogmouth”. Later, we took him to see the bird. “Yep, that’s what it is”, he confirmed. We’ve also seen the kangaroo’s within the caravan park in Canberra, as well as Emu along the road while driving. Connie had also wanted to see a Koala Bear in the wild. We would see warning signs about them, but never saw any. Approaching the lighthouse, there was another Koala Bear warning sign (just like our Deer or Elk warning signs on the road). So Connie asked about them at the gift shop. The told us where to go nearby to see them in the wild. It was only a few kilometers down the road (near the warning signs) and we pulled off the highway down a dirt road. We pulled off and looked around. Finally, we saw a Koala Bear up in the gum trees! While gazing up in the trees, a car pulls over to also look up. It ended up being an American couple from Yuma, Arizona (what a small world). Once we knew what to look for, we saw plenty more as we drove down the road. Then a Wallaby jumped out in front of us! The road came to a dead end, and as we were turning around, there was another Wallaby just sitting directly in front of us. It was muddy and on a hill, the van wheel’s spun and we started to get worried that we were stuck. But Larry’s wonderful off-highway driving experience paid off and we got out okay. Of course, we saw numerous more Koala Bears on the way back to camp. Dinner - $32A, Otway Fly - $30A, Lighthouse - $21A
11/12: Today’s itinerary took us towards the town of Winchelsea. Connie read that there is going to be a Wool Festival in a few days. We needed to stop and do laundry, so we headed there to kill a couple days and then attend this festival. This festival will include sheep dog competitions, as well as other competitions, games, etc. We figured it would be a very “Australian” festival. On our way, we stopped and made short hikes back to a couple waterfalls. The first was the Carrisbrook Falls, where we also saw another Koala Bear during the short hike back. Further down the Great Ocean Road, we hiked back to the Sheoak Falls. Along this trail, there were tons of black berry vines. When we arrived in Winchelsea, the town was extremely small and not where we wanted to just “hang around” for a few days. We continued driving and stayed at a nice caravan park outside of Geelong. It was another beautiful location right on the coast of the harbor. After laundry was caught up, we tried out their “swimming spa”. It’s a jacuzzi, that’s not hot. Although they say it’s heated, it was only mildly warm. Camp - $70A (3 days), Household - $5A
11/13: We mostly relaxed today and went looking for a couple local geocaches. We arrived near the first one, but it was raining and it would have been a 2 hour hike along the windy beach. We decided against it. We did find the second cache, as the rain stopped long enough for us to make the 20 minute walk along the coast. Larry had the urge for a hamburger, and all we could easily find was a McDonalds in Geelong. Even a trip to McDonald’s turned into a small adventure. On their menu was a “McOz” burger. Not knowing what was different about it, we both tried one. It ended up being a regular cheeseburger with a large slice of red beet (beetroot) in it. It tasted pretty good. That’s another big difference we’ve noticed here, verses the states; inside any city, we see the usual fast food chain joints (KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut). But they’re rare to find outside of the city. All of the towns only have small Mom & Pop kind of stores and restaurants. The closest thing to fast food in these towns is “take away” from a small bistro or restaurant. Lunch - $10A, Groceries - $88
11/14: We headed out to Winchelsea on a rainy morning to attend the Australian Wool Sports Championship & Festival. It ended up being a small community fair type event with national competitors. The competitions included Yard dog trials, shearing, and other wool related events. The fair also included ferret races (and even an award for best teeth), a Ute show (decked out cars), wine tasting, and vendor booths. Unfortunately the weather kept the attendance low. It was amazing to see how smart these sheep herding dogs are (and how dumb sheep really are). They were required to maneuver ~10 sheep through an obstacle course with only verbal and visual commands from the human owner. Connie greatly enjoyed her wine tasting and bought a couple of bottles. Other than hiding in the tent occasionally to dodge the rain we had a wonderful time. To us it was a “true” Australian experience, as were probably the only foreigners there. Lunch - $12A, Wine - $27A, Fair -$15A
11/15: Larry picked up a bug from somewhere yesterday and was ill all night. Today we drove to Melbourne to catch the “Spirit of Tasmania” ferry to the island of Tasmania. We found the ferry but also found out we were 9 hours too early. Since Larry was feeling pretty ill we parked along to coast of Bass Strait and waited as Larry tried to sleep most of the day. We should have done more research on the ferry. First we didn’t properly plan on when it departed and second we completely misunderstood the pricing of the fare. When we boarded we expected to pay around $65A but we ended up paying $240A. This gave us “cruise seats” which are similar to airliner seats. We also learned that it was going to be a 10 hour voyage. We weren’t in our seats more than a half hour and Larry’s bug was getting worse, so Larry went and upgraded to a sleeping cabin for $160A more. It was a rough night but we did get some sleep. Lunch - $14A , Ferry - $400A, Gas -$88A
11/16: Arrived in Devonport, Tasmania, at 7:30am with Larry still feeling pretty sick. It was hard for him to drive as he had to make constant stops. Our first site seeing stop was in the town of Launceston at Cataract Gorge. We made a great effort to enjoy some short hikes in this beautiful area. In the same town we visited the Penny Royal gunpowder mill. It was advertised as being the only operational gunpowder mill, but in reality, it was nothing more than a cheesy tourist trap. It was nothing more than animated reenactments while riding in a slow moving boat. We had fun, just very disappointed as it wasn’t what we expected it to be. We drove a little further to the town of Ross to see the ruins of a “female factory” and a convict built bridge, but Larry had to stop for the day before we did any more touring. Lunch - $5A, Tour - $25A, Camp - $16A
11/17: Early in the morning we went to the “female factory”. This was the remains of a woman’s prison work camp in the early 1800’s that they called a “female factory”. We also walked to the nearby Ross Bridge, built in 1836, by convicts that earned two of them a pardon for their excellent workmanship. We continued our drive to Oatlands to see the Callington Mill, which is Australia’s oldest???? flour mill. Larry’s stomach was still having severe cramps so we stopped at a pharmacy on our way out of town and picked up some “Gastro Stop” medication, hopefully this will kick in quick. We continued on to the port town of Hobart. Here we stopped at the Cadburry Chocolate Factory. Larry decided not to go on this 90 minute tour and just stay in the van to rest. Connie had a lot of fun. It was a great close up tour with lots of samples. It was interesting to see all the different candies they make that we don’t get in the states. To help with this problem, Connie visited the Cadburry store after the tour to buy some of these candies to bring back and share. Since Larry was feeling worse, Connie offered to drive to our next stop. Unfortunately this was not a good idea with a manual left-hand shift, the city traffic and rush hour traffic. We didn’t get far (15-20 minutes down the road) before Larry needed to stop. It was about this same time that Connie was going to have a nervous break down, so Larry took over driving again and we headed for the nearest Caravan Park. Medicine - $11A, Lunch - $3A, Tour - $13A, Candy - $40A, Camp - $21A
11/18: Woke up this morning with Larry ready to visit a doctor. Of course, he hasn’t been getting much sleep these past few nights. Our campground manager was very helpful and got us to see a local doctor in less than a ½ hour. He was given 2 antibiotics for a “tummy bug” (the doctor’s official term). We walked next door to get the prescriptions filled and we were on our way all within an hour. We then headed toward Port Arthur Historic Site. We stopped along the way at Eaglehawk Neck to visit the site of the “dog line”. Afterwards we drove onto our next caravan park just outside of Port Arthur Historic Site, which we will go see tomorrow morning. Along the way, we saw another of the unusual animals. We saw a small Echidna along the road, which is a small porcupine looking creature, except it has a long nose. By the end of the day, Larry was starting to feel much better. Yeah! Lunch - $20, Medicine - $29A, Doctor - $45A, Groceries - $24A, Camp - $19A.
11/19: As many people are aware, Australia was used by England for penal colonies. Prisons were established, and tens of thousands of English prisoners were shipped here and put to work. Port Arthur was established in 1830 as a convict timber station. It was intended to provide severe punishment for repeat offenders. By 1840, there were over 2000 convicts and staff located at Port Arthur. Eventually, over 12,000 convicts spent time in this working prison. Being on a peninsula, there were no walls or fences. The only out was either by ship, a small neck of land connecting to the rest of the island, or death. Back then, people didn’t swim and were extremely afraid of sharks in the water (which didn’t exist). The small neck of land was protected by the “dog line”, where ferocious dogs were kept on guard and minimally fed. Nobody ever escaped past the dogs in over 40 years. Port Arthur is now a restored historical site, which we spent this morning touring. Although only 10% of the original colony buildings remain, we greatly enjoyed our time here. Actually, we could have spent 2 days walking through the numerous buildings, and museums. It’s presented in a very professional manner. (Connie thinks she saw a ghost here, also).
We knew time had slipped by us, with Larry being sick. He is feeling much better today, and it’s time to get moving to make up the lost days. We drove along the coast again to a small town call Swansea. It was an extremely windy drive. Connie had read that another small community of fairy penguins visited a nearby beach. Nobody in town knew about it, but we found the beach we had read about. It was a nice, secluded and quiet beach. While looking around, we found the penguin’s tracks in the sand from this morning and the carcass of one of the fairy penguins. We got a good idea of how small they are and were convinced we were in the correct location. We decided to wait for dusk. We spent over 4 hours parked next to this beach. Connie made dinner and we waited, and waited. Finally, at 8:15pm, we gathered our blanket and found a spot in the sand, kind of protected from the wind. We sat there for over an hour as the sun set and it got dark on us. Actually, it was kind of romantic with the two of us sitting there on the beach, cuddled together with a blanket around us. It became hard to see at night, but we thought we saw a penguin come out of the surf near us. We watched for quite awhile until we realized we had the binoculars with us. It was only seaweed! But a little further down the shore, we saw a group of the penguins walking from the surf up the beach. Although it was only a half moon, we watched a dozen or more of these small penguins walk up the beach to their burrows in the grass. We didn’t want to disturb them, so we never got real close. But we were happy – we finally saw the fairy penguins on parade. Gas - $81A, Camp - $18A, Tours - $52A, Lunch - $7A
11/20: Our goal today was to get back to the docks and catch the ferry back to Melbourne. Instead of taking the longer route we originally planned, we cut across the Eastern part of Tasmania and headed inland. We arrived at Devonport by late afternoon and made our booking for tonight’s passage. No messing around this time, we reserved a cabin from the start. We enjoyed a nice dinner at a local tourist restaurant and didn’t have any problems the rest of the evening. With Larry feeling much better, the trip across the Bass Strait was un-eventful. We even slept during the entire 10 hour voyage. We’re glad we visited Tasmania, but were mad at ourselves for not planning it properly. The trip costs us much more than we expected and the island wasn’t much different than what we’ve seen in Australia already. If the ferry cost wasn’t so high, we wouldn’t have regretted this diversion. Ferry - $450A, Dinner - $41A.
11/21: We arrived in Melbourne at 7:15am, ready to make up some “touring” time. We immediately headed for Belgrave, in the Dandenongs, to ride Australia’s famous “Puffing Billy” steam train. This restored narrow-gauge train runs along a 29km long route. It was built in the early 1900’s to open up remote areas for settlement. It closed down in 1953, due to a landslide, but re-opened as a historical and tourist attraction in 1962. We decided to do a round-trip of the entire route. There were a few stops along the way, and a 2 hour stop in Gembrook before returning to Belgrave. The shorter trip only to Lakeside would have been better choice. We did enjoy a nice light lunch at a tea garden in Gembrook. However, we didn’t return to Belgrave until after 5:00pm. We left at 10:00am – so it ended up being a long 7 hour trip. All of the restored passenger cars don’t have windows, so it was also a little cold and windy. We expected the train ride to go into the forest, but it was a ride along people’s backyards. Kids are allowed to sit on the ledges of the passenger cars. Larry was nervous, just waiting for a child to slip and fall under the moving train. .Someday, it’ll happen. We enjoyed the train ride, but (again) it wasn’t what we expected it to be. This is more of an attraction for kids. We drove on to a caravan park in Pakenham. There was nothing special here, except it was a place to park and sleep the night away. Train - $80A, Lunch – $15A, Camp - $22A.
11/22: Realizing we don’t have much time left before we need to return our rented campervan, we drove today only stopping for lunch and groceries. Once we get back to Sydney, we’ll see if we have any time left to site-see around there again. We stopped at the town of Lakes Entrance for the night. Groceries - $60A, Gas - $80A, Camp - $20A.
11/23: Drove again today for a few hours without any site-seeing. We did see a large, 3’+ giant lizard along the side of the road. We turned around to get a picture, but it was gone before we got back. It had its head up the air with its front legs extended. We arrived at our Caravan Park in Narooma for the night and asked some other campers what it was we saw. They called it a Goanna. They said they are harmless and mostly a nuisance stealing chicken eggs. They were surprised we saw one along the road. We stopped by the library for a few minutes to check Email, but were only allowed 10 minutes. The other few times we’ve been on the Internet has been in the caravan parks. They had Internet Kiosks, which charged $2A for 10 – 15 minutes. The library was free, but limited. About 1/3 of the caravan parks have had an Internet Kiosk. We’ve also seen Internet cafes along the way. Camp - $21A
11/24: Drove again today for a few hundred kilometers and stopped along the coast of the Tasman Sea in the town of Bulli. We’re pretty close to Sydney, and the traffic is getting heavy. We walked along the beach and placed our toes into he frigid ocean. Today’s unusual animal sighting was the Black Cockatoo. A few of them flew into our campground and spent the night in a nearby tree. These are much larger than the regular Cockatoo. They are black, with some yellow on their head and tails. Pretty birds. We think it’s neat to have flocks of wild parrots and cockatoo’s all over the place. We’ve seen them almost everywhere we’ve been. There was nothing exciting about today, as we’ve been in fast-travel mode. We should slow down for the remaining days we have left with the campervan. Camp - $24A, Groceries - $7A, Gas - $85A
11/25: Happy Thanksgiving, at least in America! To celebrate, we’re having a roasted chicken (mock turkey) and stuffing for dinner. We went around Sydney today, but was close enough to have heavy traffic.A bit hair-raising, as it was narrow city traffic for over an hour. The roads finally opened out and we headed further North to Hunter Valley. This is a renowned wine region of Australia. Actually, everywhere we’ve been in Australia has been a wine region. For the past month, it was rare for us to drive more than an hour without passing another winery. Connie loves the Australian wine. She became a little disappointed today when she learned she can only bring back 1 liter of wine to the U.S.A. If she had her way, she’d be shipping a few cases! We’re spending the next couple nights in Cessnock, which is in the middle of the lower Hunter Valley. We’ve already hit a couple wineries today for some tasting and purchase for tonight’s meal. Camp - $43A (2 nights), Groceries - $31A.
11/26: We stayed in the Hunter Valley today, and the weather was perfect. We wished the weather had been like this all month, instead of the cold and rain we’ve mostly received. It was nice to be able to sit outside for breakfast and wear shorts again. Until recently, we were glad we brought flannel shirts and coats with us. We spent the day touring some local wineries. Based on recommendations we received from a winery we visited yesterday, we started at a winery that had a large garden. The garden was pretty, but not many flowers were in bloom yet, even though it’s the end of spring here. We enjoyed the tranquility and beauty of the place, and then enjoyed the wine samples while visiting with the sales girl. She recommended we visit the local cheese shop, which we headed for next. Again, we enjoyed the samples of wine, cheese, and sauces. We had a wonderful cheese and vegetable lunch with a bottle of local Chardonnay. Lunch included this fabulous tomato relish sauce, which of course, we had to buy a bottle of. This place recommended we go over to an Australian food sampling spot nearby. After enjoying a nap in the shade, we visited the food shop, which had plenty of samples of different sauces, and gourmet food. Connie had to buy a sourdough-pistachio-fig stuffing mix. Later, we also visited a couple more wineries, from which we bought a bottle of chocolate liqueur. The sky was clear and sunny all day with the temperature in the low 80’s. Wine - $36A, Lunch - $38, Groceries - $23
11/27: Wow! What a change in weather we’ve had recently. It started to get warm yesterday, but it’s getting hotter today! Many people we’ve met have recommended we visit the Blue Mountains. Since it was fairly close to here and Sydney, we head down that direction and up the mountain. The Blue Mountains is a large forest area where many Australians in the area used to take their Holiday (vacation). They now go in all directions. We were a little disappointed heading up the hill. It was town after town along a busy highway – not the remote forest atmosphere that we expected. We arrived in the mountain town of Katoomba and went to the Echo Point lookout. This was more of what we expected to see. From here, you could see out over the large valley, the Three Sisters spires, and the mountains in the distance. The Eucalyptus trees give off a blue mist, which fill the valley – hence, the Blue Mountains. We stayed the night at a nearby tourist park and made a short hike to the Katoomba Falls. We enjoyed listening to the Kuckaburra birds with their funny laugh and playing with the pet Cockatoo at the park. Camp - $28A, Lunch - $12A
11/28: Today, we made a BIG mistake. We headed into downtown Sydney without many problems. Except when we arrived at the port area, there wasn’t anyplace to park this large and high van. We drove around awhile, got frustrated, and decided to get out of town and find a caravan park. We finally found one at Ramsgate Beach in the Botany Bay. We took a bus to the train station, and a train into downtown Sydney. We should have done this from the very beginning of the day! We walked around Sydney harbor again, enjoyed lunch, went to the open market, enjoyed a cold beer at a pub, visited Chinatown, and had a wonderful dinner. Connie got a chance to buy here last set of souvenirs before we caught a bus, train, and another bus back to the van. What started out as a bad experience turned out to be a good day. Tonight’s the last night in our van. This van has done its purpose, but we’ll be glad to leave it and return to our own home. Camp - $38A, Lunch - $25A, Bus/Train passes - $30A, Gifts - $190A, Dinner - $65A
11/29: Last day for the Maui CamperVan. We spent the morning packing and cleaning the van. We headed to the airport and found a hotel for the night, then returned the van to the rental agency. We drove over 5,000 kilometers (3,150 miles) in 26 days with the van. It was nice having a large, comfortable bed for the night. The van’s bed was okay, but a little short and only 3” thick. Hotel - $260A, Dinner - $65A, Gas - $82A, Lunch - $15A
11/30: We used up the last of our Australian money on lunch and a few more souvenirs at the airport. The flight home was only 13 hours this time. We didn’t get any sleep, but watched almost 5 movies during the flight. Lunch was the best in-flight meal I’ve ever had. Souvenirs - $40A, Lunch - $40A.