I love winters in my home province of Alberta in Canada with the snow turning Rocky mountains into a perfect wintry playground. However this season the winter has been a particularly long and cold one. So when I was presented with an opportunity to travel across the world and escape from the -30s of Alberta to an Australian summer, I didn’t think twice. Best beaches Australia, here we come.
The plan was to hire a car and to drive up and down Australia’s east coast exploring as much of its hidden secrets as we could. Here are a few places we visited:
A couple of hours after starting our road trip we decided that we needed to find a place to pull over, stretch our legs and explore. On the map we spotted a place called Caves Beach which sounded intriguing enough for us to take the detour.
Caves beach gets its name from the network of caves found in the cliffs at the southern end of the beach. When the tides are low the visitors are able to go inside and explore the eroded corridors which lead from one area of the coast to another. It was a beautiful place to rest – an idyllic stretch of coast. But the tide was encroaching towards the caves and so it was time for us to move on.
Good to know: Located on the Swansea peninsula between Lake Macquarie and the Pacific Ocean. Explore the sea caves at low tide or go surfing!
Kangaroo Beach – Look At Me Now Headland
One of our main aims of this trip was to see kangaroos in the wild. We had heard that there was a magical beach along the Pacific Highway which was home to these wild bouncy creatures. We headed there, slightly dubious of the claims that kangaroo sighting were guaranteed, but having never seen one in the wild before, we were willing to give it a try. We decided to go there during a sunrise so at least if we didn’t spot any, we could take some good pictures.
The Look at Me Now headland is a place of significance for its aboriginal heritage. However in 1991 the Coffs Harbour Council passed a motion to build a sewerage pipeline on the headland which would lead to the ocean. Fortunately for our sake, the local residents had other ideas. Protests ensued, which lead to over 300 arrests of local residents. However the pipeline was never constructed and the following year a change of state government saw the decision to build the pipeline overturned.
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we immediately saw a kangaroo hiding amongst the shrubbery near the car park. As we walked towards the cliffs, we were amazed to see dozens of kangaroos looking out over the ocean. They seemed totally indifferent to our presence, apart from a small joey which followed me to the edge of the cliff and watched me set up my tripod.
Good to know: Located on Moonee Beach Nature Reserve, Look At Me Now Headland walk is a scenic walking route where you can possibly see a breaching whale during winter and early spring. Eastern grey kangaroos, eagles, ospreys and brahminy kites can be easily spotted here. A perfect picnic spot!
Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park
Deep inside Queensland’s Hinterland we stopped at Springbrook National Park. We walked from the car park into the ancient rainforest. It was eerily beautiful walking amongst the vegetation which has been in existence there since Australia was part of the large ancient continent Gondwana over 175 million years ago.
The natural bridge itself is a basalt cave which has been eroded by a waterfall which has dropped straight onto it until it has eventually broken through. The river now resumes its course from inside the cave.
Apparently at night, glow worms illuminate inside the cave. We didn’t get to see that, but we did get a glimpse of an ungainly wallaby who was investigating the area before catching sight of us and fleeing into the forest.
Good to know: Springbrook Mountain is located in the hinterland of the Gold Coast (about 45-minutes drive).
While travelling we pulled over at the small town of Helensburgh. We had read that there was an abandoned railway station and tunnel located there, so we went in search.
This section of track was built in the 1880s for the transportation of coal from the local mines. However less than thirty years later this piece of line became disused as it become apparent that it was unsuitable for the locomotives using it. Asphyxiation and heat had became serious problems.
For the spiritually minded this piece of track might seem a haunting place with a couple of grizzly deaths having occurred inside of the tunnel. One from a man who could not outrun an oncoming locomotive. The other was the suspicious case of a man who had won money at the races, but was found dead in the tunnel with no winnings to be found on his person.
I wandered into the tunnel until I could no longer see where I was stepping, before deciding to turn around in case I stepped on an unsuspecting reptile. Maybe you could accuse me of being scared of ghosts, but in truth it is Australia’s collection of venomous creatures which really does have my respect.
A memorable trip where we discovered some of the best beaches Australia has to offer and much more.