From the Sunny Coast to Brisbane to the Gold Coast - Adventures in Eastern Oz
This post is a bit different than my most recent blog posts, which are more focused on eco-living tips. I love the green life, and green travel is a part of that as well! I love writing about my experiences seeing new places, so come and explore this bit of Australia with me.
So, I finally had some time off! And it was amazing. Don’t get me wrong, whale watching is a beautiful way to spend your days, and I love it all. In the midst of a busy season, though, you can bet I’ll snatch an opportunity to take a few days off and explore amazing Aussie. After hearing so many guests on our trips simply gush about the Sunshine Coast and Byron Bay, I knew I wanted to go see them for myself. So I hired a car, phoned a friend or three, keep-cupped a coffee, and hit the road.
Noosa & the Sunshine Coast
My first stop after picking up the rental was beautiful Noosa, a breezy seaside town a couple of hours south of Hervey Bay. I absolutely adore this area. The minute you turn off the main highway and find yourself winding around approximately five thousand roundabouts, you’re surrounded by lush forests, chittering birds, and the beautiful Noosa River. A friend of mine lives in Sunrise Beach, a suburb along the coast just south of Noosa Heads National Park. It was wonderful to catch up, go for a few surfs, grab a drink and watch the sunset, and catch the Peregian Originals, a fun, free outdoor concert that happens once a month featuring local bands.
I also snatched up my friend Riona from the bus station here, as she flew in for a quick visit on her way back to New Zealand.
Then, off to beautiful Brissy! We stayed with a generous friend of mine I had met on one of our whale watches earlier this season. We spent the day like any tourist should, cruising up and down the river on the ferries, exploring the rainforest park and swimming pool beaches of South Bank, and delighting in the sunshine. It’s a cool city, and I really enjoyed how uncrowded it felt. It was already pretty warm (and it’s only spring), and I’m not sure I could do a summer here. But it was so fun to explore, especially around the free Queensland museum and art gallery that had giant humpback whales hanging from the ceiling.
My friend Milly, who we stayed with, made us the most amazing kale, chickpea, and sweet potato stew with homemade chimichurri sauce for dinner that evening. Excuse my salivating. We had some great conversations, and I felt that cozy feeling that I get when I travel and meet like-minded, inspirational people.
Our next stop was the Gold Coast, described to me as both Las Vegas and Miami. Great. Luckily, we weren’t heading to this touristy area to hit the town. We were going to catch up with my friend Whitney, who I had met up in Hervey Bay. She was house sitting for a friend on the cutest farm a bit inland from the main hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast. I was amazed at how a mere fifteen minutes off the main highway could bring us to a beautiful countryside oasis. We spent hours drinking tea, watching birds and feeding cows, and also made time to explore the cute coastal neighborhoods of the Gold Coast, like Burleigh, while loading up on fresh vegan food.
Riona and I also logged a challenging sunrise hike up Mount Warning, recommended to us by a friendly barista in Brisbane. Holy. Cow. It was an insane climb, but the views were amazing (once the mist cleared). I’ve been missing hikes like this since I left New Zealand, and it was good to breathe that mountain air again.
After the Gold Coast, Byron Bay was next on the list. The town has all sorts of reputations, most focused on the hippie/surfer theme. Some people warned me that it had become too “touristy” and that it had lost its charm. I chose to go with an open mind, as I tend to love most surfer towns, and I was blown away. If you put me in a town that’s peppered with cute coffee shops, surfers running barefoot across the street with boards under arm, vegan cafe options aplenty, and whales breaching within 300 meters of shore, you can make me very, very happy.
Byron was a delight. We hit the Cape walking path to do a bit of whale watching, and we were gob-smacked by the number of whales we spotted from shore. Breaching every which way, tail and pec-slapping, rolling and socializing and being their jolly whale selves…Riona, Whitney, and I thought we were in heaven.
I only wish we could’ve stayed more than a few hours! I’d love to go for a paddle next time. Kayaking amongst the whales would be a dream, and it’s very accessible from Byron Bay.
Still Dreaming of Whales and Acai bowls
I adore a good road trip. I hope this next summer in New Zealand inspires many more coastal and mountain explorations. This was a perfect pick-me-up in the middle of a busy whale season. For now, back to hanging out with the humpies of Hervey Bay! Only a few more weeks left.