Sydney To Cairns By Camper – days 1-3

day 1

You may (or may not) have wondered where I’ve got to these past few weeks. Well, Lena and I have been campering it up on, making our way slowly and not entirely surely up the east coast of Australia from Sydney to Cairns.

We booked out Hippie Camper for 2 weeks for just over $900 insurance included, which was cheap believe me. Works out about $65 a day. We picked it up on Tuesday the 9th from the depot near the airport. Starting as we meant to go on we went in completely the wrong direction out of the train station, wasting both time and money (not being able to face the walk back we flagged down a taxi, lol), but eventually we got there, and after a curry lunch next door, we were off!

on the move

Naturally, we started our trip north by heading west towards the Blue Mountains. Lena has been in Oz before, so she has a few places she remembers as worth checking out, and the Three Sisters is one of them.

lena at the three sisters

katoomba landscape

one day on the road

We only got lost once on the way to Katoomba. It was on the way to our campsite for the night that things got really interesting. The map I bought in Sydney turned out to be not the most reliable, and places that it had marked as ‘campsites’ turned out to be ‘lay-bys’ (if they even existed at all). After a number of false starts, some rethinks, and as it got dark, we eventually decided to head straight for the alleged campsite at Jenolan Caves, which was to our first destination the next day anyway.

After a long drive down a twisty road, on which we saw a lot of native wildlife (and by ‘saw’ I mean ‘almost ran over’) we eventually rounded a corner to be greeted by the sight of a magnificent stone arch about sixty feet high and beautifully lit up. Driving through the arch we appeared in what I can only describe as a small Swiss village (very trippy after the drive we’d had, let me tell you). But, it being so late, we didn’t have time to stand around and gawp. We needed to find the campsite.

Unfortunately, a quick inquiry at the reception of the hotel told us there was no campsite! But the very helpful receptionist guided us to the caves’ top car park where she assured us we could park up for the night no problem. This we duly did, settling down for what would be the first of many nights in our little Hippie camper.

day 2

Our first morning under a tin roof and we awoke in a car park.

waking up in a car park

Not as bad as it sounds (and certainly not the worst place we would camp before the trip was over).

hippy camper with her hippie camper

Actually, our first night passed quite comfortably, and we arose rested and refreshed, ready to go underground and see what Jenolan had to offer.

They had different guided tours on offer throughout the day. Because of our schedule we chose to go on the Orient Cave Tour, which gave us about an hour to wander about a bit and also do the self-guided Nettle Cave Tour as well.

jenolan caves 'village'

capturing the moment

stairway to heaven

fascinated by the commentary

The tour itself was great. The Orient Cave has a wide variety of rock formations, and we got to see quite a lot during the time we were down there.

down down down down

strange rock formations 4

strange rock formations 8

strange rock formations 6

My favourite bit was the stairs to the old way in. I just love stuff like that. So old now it’s like it was always part of the caves.

old stairs in caves

Of course we had to keep our hands to ourselves (as far as the rocks were concerned anyway) as this somewhat disturbing sign informed us.

no touching

But not everyone stuck to that, as you can see.

jenolan rock balancing

Our tour over we had just enough time for a quick headstand shot (coming soon in a post all of it’s own!) before heading back to Katoomba to get some groceries, take a few more pictures, and ask at the Tourist Information Centre where would be good to camp for the night?

The guy in the info centre sent us to the Old Ford Reserve in Megalong Valley, a free campsite that was more or less just somewhere in the woods you could legally park up with a rather stanky composting toilet you could use. Once again it was getting dark by the time we got there, so we had to cook our pasta by candle light.

supper in the middle of nowhere

day 3

Day three was to be a bit of a Driving Day, as we had 2638 km to drive from Sydney to Cairns, and thus far we’d only succeeded in increasing that amount by heading away from our destination.

happy campers

Our route north-east took us along the Putty Road, where we came across the Grey Gum Cafe, a popular biker destination apparently (and for sale, in case you’re interested).

grey gum cafe

All we cared about was that they had showers and somewhere we could do yoga for the first time in days. Our short lunch break turned into a good two hours or so of us sorting ourselves out and generally just taking a rest from all the rushing around. Trying to figure out where you’re going and where you’re staying can be hard work, especially when you haven’t got a clue about either and you’re relying on two maps (one bought, one Google) neither of which is entirely accurate.

grey gum teacup

on our lunch break

We left the Grey Gum Cafe feeling much refreshed, but behind schedule once again, so once again we arrived at our campsite for the night (our first actual campsite of the trip) after dark.

dusk at hawk's nest

With the sun going down we just parked up, made the bed, and crawled in for the night.

And I think that’s it for now. I’ll be blogging the trip in three day lumps, as I think it’ll be more digestible that way. There are many photos to come, of some very interesting destinations, and a few good headstands to check out too. I’m up to 42 at the moment, and we haven’t even finished driving. I reckon I can get a few more before we reach our destination. Let’s see shall we.

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