This is the second leg of our journey from Sydney to Brisbane. Along the way, we stopped at Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Coff’s Harbour and Gold Coast (of course). We decided to give Byron Bay a skip this time around because we needed to get to Brissy by an appointed day. But if you’re in the Gold Coast area and are seeking alternative locations for a visit, Byron Bay may make a good pit-stop, especially if you’re after a good photo opportunity of a sunrise over the bay area.
So really, we selected the four stops largely out of expedience and consideration of time. Our end destination was Brisbane and that is approximately 950 km away. Everything else along the way would be a bonus. That said, we must admit that having experienced Sydney to the fullest and having stayed in Brissy for close to three years, the cities in between along this much-touted tourist drive route may pale in comparison.
Also, since much of the driving took place inland along the Pacific Motorway, you won’t get to see much of the ocean unless you took a deliberate detour along the more scenic but winding road along the coast – that is if you’ve more time on your hands! However, there were no regrets for the long drive down the Pacific Motorway which availed to us some pretty slick landscapes and an opportunity to just take it easy. After all, what is a real road-trip without endless stretches of bitumen, asphalt, and nothing much else to see?
Newcastle has still retained its charm as a beachside town. We were walking around in the city centre, and with the rain beating down on an easy Saturday morning, the only occasional laughter and merriment came from some local kids in their wetsuits, barefoot, with hair wet from their surfing forays. Darby Street – touted to be one of their main shopping strips – is nowhere near St Kilda’s in Melbourne. Guess we were there at the wrong time. The only saving grace at Darby Street is the Darby Fresh Bake which sold minced beef pies for as cheap as $1.00. We had a deliciously-peppered one and another which had bacon bits and cheese. For $1.50 each, one couldn’t complain but truth be told, they were comparable to the ones that we bought off Fredo’s along the Pacific Motorway many miles down.
Anyway, have you ever wondered how much nutrition goes into a pie? Check out this nutrition chart for a cheese and bacon pie that’s available on the Darby Fresh Bake website:
Speaking of which, Australians are really fond of their pies. They even have nation-wide competitions, complete with gold and silver standards that are awarded to deserving bakeries that come up with the most delicious pies.
Having had our pies, we drove on towards Port Macquarie which was another sleepy seaside town that had nothing much else except beautiful beaches and coastal drives. Port Macquarie was also a place where one could take a leisurely cruise out into the open waters to catch sight of a whale or dolphin or both. Do check with local knowledge though what’s the best time to catch those underwater behemoths on their migration journey. We learnt that end of May is just not it.
Apart from whales, there are some really beautiful beaches in the Port Macquarie surrounds that deserve a pit-stop.
This was another spectacular beach in the Port Macquarie area that boasted great surf and breathtaking coastal views.
Before we finally left Port Macquarie, we stopped over at a tomato and strawberry farm and some markets. Check out the pictures of the fresh produce which is so typically available at agriculture-based economies like Australia. It’s so nice to be able to retire in Australia with a farm of your own, lots of wide open spaces, good weather, fresh clean air, and enjoying the fruits of your own backyard labour.
While we were browsing through the old and new wares at the country-style markets, I came across this food for thought and went away challenged by its simple yet profound message that reminded me of the biblical mandate on love: that it suffers long and is kind; does not envy; does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails”.
The final pit stop on this leg of our journey was Coffs Harbour. It was a really pleasant destination, with several tourist draws like the Big Banana theme park. The main harbour area was really the big draw for us because of the fish and chips. After a long arduous journey, the beer-battered chips were certainly a great way to end the day and so was the really yummy chilli squid. They’re really getting better at replicating Asian cuisine, these Aussie blokes.