And The Roadtrip Begins

Port Macquarie – Sunday, 07 November 2010

Remember, remember the fifth of November.. The day we picked up our Wicked Van. The cabbie that took us to the Wicked Depot was a senior version of Crocodile Dundee, complete with outback outfit and Aussie lingo. At the depot we met our Van, whom we’ve come to call Fat George. Why do we call him Fat George? Because he’s FAT. He probably weighs 3 tons because acceleration is slower than a bicycle, brake distance is a few football fields and he drinks more petrol than an Irish alcoholic on St Patricks Day. But we absolutely adore him! (And we just love the automatic transmission)

Fat George

First stop on our Roadtrip: Gosford. We saw the water, but couldn’t get to the beach. It sucked. So we continued straight on to Newcastle, an old Industrial City near the coast. We arrived there in the late afternoon and parked our car right in front of the Beach. Try to find a hotel with that kind of view for that price ($ 0.00)! The weather was being a bitch the whole day so all the Aussies stayed indoors and we had the whole town to ourselves. It looked like a Ghost town. However, the city became quite charming at night when all the historical buildings were lit, and Live music bars opened their doors.

Nobby's Beach in Newcastle

The next day, we had our whole day planned out. First we went to Hunter’s Valley, famous for its wine vineyards. On our way there, in the middle of the road, we met our first Kangaroos! A group of 6 were just crossing the street as we drove by. A few hundred meters further we even saw a Lama. Hunters’ Valley was soo beautiful. It looked like the vineyards in the Provence in France but ten times bigger. We visited McGuigan Vineyard and Cheese Factory. A hardly comprehensible Aussie gave us a half hour tour of the facility and explained us their process of making wine, which appeared to be a well thought out industrious process. Of course we tasted some of their wines which were really yummie but expensive.

Next stop: Port Stephens. A bay area north of Newcastle. We visited the lovely town of Nelson Bay where we cooked lunch with a view on the sea, in which we saw -wait for it- dolphins swimming by! There was a wine-food-jazz festival (those are a few of our favorite things) with a poffertjes stand (!), live music and way too much wine and people. Too bad we couldn’t stay long.

We had read about a 35km long sand dune in Anna Bay, a town next to Nelson Bay, so we began our Quest to find the Hidden Sand Dune. By complete coincidence we stumbled upon a part of the dune and saw a 4WD road access. Because of Andrew’s Moroccan desert training we decided to take Fat George for a sandy ride and test his 4WD-ness. Thank god it had rained and the sand was mostly wet or we would still be there.

Sand Dunes in Anna Bay

Afterwards we drove 250km on the Pacific Highway to Port Macquarie, our final stop for the day. Luckily the weather started to clear. At the camp site we heard a unfamiliar sound coming from the trees. What could it be? “Well a koala of course”, the receptionist said. Yay, a Koala! Unfortunately we didn’t see it… until this morning! Yay!

Koala Alert!

By the way, sun is shining now :D