Month: June 2016

Day 4 | Tweed Heads to Brisbane

I left Tweed Heads fairly early this morning and made my way to Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast. I’ve been to the Gold Coast area quite a few times before so I hadn’t planned to stay very long – I really just wanted a photo of the Surfer’s Paradise sign to send to my parents as an indication of how far along in my trip I was (and to post here!).

I’d put an hour in the parking meter so I decided to have a wander through the main strip. The Ripley’s Believe It Or Not attraction caught my eye because I remembered doing it with my mum when I was much younger. I’ve always wanted to go back so I figured today was as good a day as any. I did the walk through fairly quickly because I only had 40 minutes to get back to my car, but it was very doable considering I’d already seen it once before. I’d forgotten about a lot of the things inside, but some I remembered very well! I remembered the tallest man because I have a photo standing with him, and I also remembered that the mirrors that encourage you to make funny faces are actually not proper mirrors, but double sided so people who have already walked through can see you making a fool of yourself – well, you didn’t fool me this time Ripley!

I went back to Jessie and began my drive to Brisbane. I put Queen Street Mall into my GPS because I knew my best friend, Hanna, would be working and I couldn’t wait until the evening to see her – very impatient! It was an easy drive and because it was a Sunday the parking at the mall was a flat rate of $10, so I was pleased that it was cheap (in comparison at least, ha! Can be up to $80 on a regular weekday). I surprised Hanna in the store she works in and we agreed that I’d pick her up from her place later in the evening so we could head to dinner. It started to rain pretty heavily around this time, and the rain continued into the night.

Before seeing Hanna again I drove to where I am staying for the next three days, in with my Aunty Colleen, Uncle Jo, and cousins – Jack, Jesse and Connor (there is a fourth cousin, Dylan, but he just moved to Cairns himself!). After a quick catch up everyone headed out to their respective dinner plans and I got myself ready and met Hanna at her building.

Hanna and I always have so much to catch up on whenever we see each other. We talk and talk and talk and talk. You’d think we’d run out of things to talk about, but we never do. Ever. The friendship I have with Hanna is the most important relationship I have with someone who is not related by blood – although I count Hanna as family! She is my tippity-top best friend. I have a lot of wonderful friends, but everyone who knows us knows that Katie & Hanna are a package deal! Best buds for life. In Sydney, when I would have a bad day or feel lonely, I would remember that not only do I have a best friend in Hanna, but I have a lifelong best friend in Hanna… and how could I possibly need anything more?

I drove us back into Queen Street Mall and we chose to have dinner at Jimmy’s. I wasn’t a fan of my meal but Hanna’s looked amazing! We caught up over dinner and then went for a little stroll around the area before deciding on a waffle place for dessert. We did some more talking until we had to leave so the store could close.

When I dropped Hanna home I followed her upstairs so I could see the apartment that she shares with Nick, her boyfriend. It was so nice to see her Brisbane life. We talked and talked and talked again, laughing and making jokes like we were back in high school and nothing had changed – I’m sure Nick was sick of the sound of my voice by the time I left, haha! But I was so happy to see them both again. We’ve made plans to go to Putt Putt tomorrow afternoon which I am beyond keen for!

Day 3 | Byron Bay to Tweed Heads

I managed to get a bit of a sleep-in this morning because I didn’t have anywhere to be in a hurry – my first and only stop today was Tweed Heads. I checked out right on 10am and hopped in Jessie Jazz on a quest to find some breakfast. I drove up to the Byron Bay lighthouse hoping to have something to eat up there, but it was so busy that there was no parking anywhere near it and I had to come back down.

I found Byron Fresh near the main street and decided it looked pretty good. There were plenty of people and it was a pretty trendy menu so I figured I would give it a go. I ordered a haloumi stack (mainly because it was one of the only meals without kale) and a berry smoothie and was very pleased with my choices. It was a bit expensive for breakfast, but I guess that’s the ‘trendy menu’ striking again. After eating I popped over the road into a touristy gift shop and bought a magnet as a souvenir. I didn’t take any photos of Byron – it wasn’t really my favourite – so my magnet is the only real proof I was even there.

I was on my way to Tweed Heads not long after midday. It was a very short drive and I had arrived before I knew it. I drove past Tweed City Shopping Centre and decided to go in to get something to eat and have a browse of the stores. I wasn’t there for long before phoning Kathryn to let her know I was ten minutes away from her house. I drove over and we had a nice little catch-up before she took me sight seeing.

Tweed Heads and it’s surroundings are SO beautiful. I hadn’t really heard much about it and didn’t know anyone else who lived in the area, so I was very surprised to find that it was one of the nicest places I have ever been. Very serene and beachy, but at the same time a really vibrant town. Kathryn knows so many facts about the area and she drove me around pointing different things out and telling me about them. It’s a very fascinating place. I was particularly excited to see the NSW/QLD border so I could stand half in one state and half in the other! Very

I found it really funny to stand at the border – the whole things seems so silly! And it is. Kathryn was explaining to me that because NSW and QLD are an hour apart during Daylight Savings months, two stores that are right next to each other on one street could ultimately be different time zones! One of her local cinemas is a different time zone to her house. Ridiculous. Although it would be fun to say, “I’m just gonna pop over to Queensland to catch a movie!”

After showing me a few more sights we went home to get ready for dinner. Kathryn and Steve like to go dancing on Saturday nights, so we were heading somewhere they could dance! I had a yummy lasagne for dinner, followed by a mousse for dessert (I’ve really been living it up food-wise this trip!). They did some dancing, we all did some talking, and after a couple of hours we went home.

I’m in bed pretty early again – still quite sick and my cough is getting worse. Off to Brisbane tomorrow!

Day 2 | Port Macquarie to Byron Bay

I’d been looking forward to Day 2 from the moment I started planning my trip, so when I woke up this morning I was so excited I thought I would pee my pants! Today was the day I got to visit the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour! I’d heard some seriously good things about their Banana Split… My stomach was rumbling the second I woke up – a rumble only bananas could satisfy.

I arrived at my big yellow destination around 11:30am – just in time for lunch! After practically sprinting up the driveway from the carpark (I was so excited – did I mention?) I took some photos of, and with, the Banana. I met a really nice couple and after offering to take their photo they returned the favour and blessed me with the photo above – check out what a stunning day it was! As much as I loved my Belfie (Banana Selfie, of course) I was really thrilled to get a proper photo. I will probably print this photo into a canvas. Probably. That is how much this experience shaped me (I guess I just REALLY love bananas).

After absolutely flooding my phone with photos I was so ready to hit up the food stand. I didn’t have breakfast because I’d had a feeling I’d be ordering a fair bit once I saw the menu at the Banana… In the end I just got a wrap for lunch and followed it up with the mightiest and tastiest of all banana-y treats – the famous Big Banana Split. It was even better than I had dreamed.

After coming to terms with the fact that I had to leave this establishment and possibly never have a banana split this good again ever in my life… I moved on to the gift shop where I bought myself a magnet (I’ve decided magnets will be my souvenir of choice on this trip. They are so handy and generally not too expensive).

Originally I’d planned that I would stay and check out the activities they had to offer – it’s the Big Banana Fun Park after all – but the things they offered (ice skating, toboggan rides, laser tag) were all activities that seemed only worthwhile with more than one person. So I passed and got back into Jessie Jazz for the next leg of our trip.

One thing I’ve noticed during this trip is that I’ve never driven 90km/h before. I’ve driven 60, 70, 80, 100… but never 90! I find it really bizarre. I remember first seeing a 90 sign during yesterday’s drive and I actually spoke out loud to myself about how odd it was! Now I’ve seen it so often I can’t imagine ever having been surprised, ha! Another thing I’ve noticed – really truly noticed – is how much it sucks to be a P Plater in NSW. I hate having to go 100 in the 110 zones. Everyone speeds around me, I feel foolish, and I get places slower than expected. Definitely looking forward to hitting the QLD border and being able to go over 100!

Next up, and my last stop for the day, Byron Bay. I arrived at my hostel at 4:30pm. I’m staying at the Arts Factory Backpacker’s Lodge – a very different vibe to my quiet motel from last night! I’ve got a private room though, so I have gotten to enjoy the different atmosphere while still knowing I’ll get a really good sleep. There is a brewery across from the hostel that has a restaurant and cinema inside it. I chose to have dinner there, mainly because of the convenience, but I was really super impressed. The menu was amazing and had a bunch of specials, and the food was so good! I would love to go back but it’s not open for breakfast which is a shame.

It’s only just after 8 now and I’m already in bed! I’m unfortunately feeling pretty sick. Instead of socialising outside I’ve decided to get stuck into my book and get to sleep early, hopefully I’ll wake up fighting fit in the morning.

Day 1 | Sydney to Port Macquarie

In case you didn’t believe me when I said I was moving home (which, let’s face it, I don’t really blame you if you didn’t!) here I am to prove you wrong! I am writing my first #roadtrip post from my motel in Port Macquarie, a solid 386km away from Sydney (with only 2218km to go until Cairns…).

It was a pretty early start this morning – I woke up around 6:30am, very excited to get on the road and start my little adventure. I said my final goodbyes to my cousin and her lovely little family and got myself moving.

My first stop of the day – and of the entire trip woohoo! – was the Central Coast. It took me just over an hour and a half to arrive and I’d left Renee’s house early so my schedule was looking good. My original plan had been to spend a bit of time there but once I’d gotten out of the car and taken a couple of snaps of the scenery I realised I wasn’t ready for lunch yet and still had plenty of energy so I hopped back into Jessie Jazz and started driving to my next destination.

It took me an hour to arrive at the Memorial Walk in Newcastle. I’d been keen to have a quick look at it after reading about the stunning panoramic ocean and city views on Trip Advisor. It definitely didn’t disappoint! The memorial itself is very touching and the views are unbelievable. Looking back, I wish I would’ve done the whole walk! I’m sure there will be more opportunities for me to do some stunning coastal walks over my trip through, so I’m not too disappointed!

Once I was finished taking in the sights I drove to the Kotara Westfield for some lunch and a stretch of my legs. I was surprised when I realised that I’d spent two hours wandering through the shopping centre – it was a really nice one with some stores I’d never heard of! I managed to find a copy of a book I’d been wanting to read for a while as well, so I’m particularly excited to tuck myself into bed with it tonight.

I left Newcastle around 2:30pm and started the three hour drive to my motel in Port Macquarie. I was tossing up whether or not to stop at Forster but in the end decided against it as it was my first day of driving and I wanted to get to my motel at a reasonable time. In the end I was glad I skipped Forster because it was nearly 5:30pm by the time I reached my motel, and very dark!

The most exciting part of the day had to be the FREE UPGRADE I got when I arrived at the motel! I was the only person who had booked into a budget room on the lower floor so the kind lady moved me up a floor into a balcony room! Yay, balconies! (I’ve got two beds now as well, y’know, in case I want to push them together for a mega-king-bed. It could happen.)

If all this excitement wasn’t enough, I had a delicious satay noodle dish delivered to me from Wok Mania for dinner – so satisfied. Now, I must work out what sights to see tomorrow and get some rest with that book I mentioned earlier… After taking in the fact that I have ACTUALLY left Sydney, because I haven’t really done that yet…

Vivid at Taronga Zoo: My Last Night in Sydney

How time flies! My final night in Sydney has arrived and I cannot believe how fast the last three weeks have gone!

I spent the day re-packing my car to make sure everything would comfortably fit and that I would be able to see out of all the windows. I was getting pretty nervous considering at one point I could only fit two thirds of my belongings in my car! Everything worked out in the end because the Tetris going on in the back of Jessie Jazz is actually phenomenal (if I do say so myself – which I do, hehe).

This evening I went with my cousin, Renee, and her babies over to Taronga Zoo to see the ‘light animals’. It’s currently the Centenary Celebration of Taronga, and it happens to also be the time of year that the Vivid Light Festival happens in Sydney. So, to celebrate both, Taronga has put on a huge display of light-up animals. It was pretty amazing, and a great way to spend my last night in Sydney.

I’ll be back tomorrow night, writing from Port Macquarie – Day 1 of the Road Trip!