Roof tent off, ready to go in the container
This morning pretty much went to plan. Thankfully there wasn’t any dew so the tent was nice and dry when we packed it away for the final time of the trip.
We drove across to the shipping agents at Botany Bay to drop the Land Rover off. Once there I finished off unbolting the roof tent and with the aid of a fork lift the tent was soon off and into the bonded warehouse.
With that done and the Carnet de Passage handed over it was time to say our fond farewells to the Land Rover after making sure that the battery isolator instructions were in place so with any luck the battery will be good to go when we see it again.
Our transport home awaits…
With everything sorted we grabbed a taxi to the airport to begin the long flight home. The Land Rover will take the slower route in it’s container and while we’ll arrive home on Tuesday morning the Land Rover won’t get back to the UK until the end of August.
Emptying the Land Rover prior to packing it ready for shipping.
Our last full day before we fly out and we needed to get everything prepared for us and the Land Rover for our journeys home.
We needed to sort out what we are going to take home ourselves, in hand luggage and hold luggage, and make sure the process of dropping off the Land Rover at the shipping agents goes as smoothly as possible tomorrow.
We started by emptying nearly everything out of the back of the Land Rover and I emptied all the spares and stuff that we’d put inside the spare tyre on the roof. It’s amazing how much stuff you can fit inside a tyre ! The tyre and roof tent both have to be removed and put on a palette when we get to the agent’s tomorrow.
The roof tent is only held on by four nuts and bolts but the back two are a real pain to get to and can take the best part of an hour to undo as they are underneath the tent and roll cage. As a way to save messing around tomorrow I removed the back two nuts today so only the two front ones need to be undone to get the tent off.
We managed to get everything sorted in the end and as I write this now we’re pretty much ready to go barring the bits we need for the morning. Hopefully there won’t be a heavy dew in the morning as we want the tent as dry as possible when we fold it up.
So tomorrow we head to Botany Bay to drop the Land Rover off, get it ready and sort out the paperwork. We’ll then get a taxi to the airport and begin our journey home. The Land Rover should arrive back in the UK sometime around the end of August when we’ll go and collect it and probably spend a night somewhere on our way home.
It has been an amazing adventure and I hope that it won’t be our last visit to Australia. Once we’ve had time to get back to normal for a while we’ll start planning our next trip, probably a bit closer to home – Scandinavia, Southern Europe, North Africa, Eastern Europe, who knows where we’ll end up on our next adventure. If we come to Australia again it’ll probably be for a much shorter visit so we’ll hire or borrow a vehicle and try and fill in some of the gaps we left in our personal map of the country. Having said that, I have nearly 4000 pictures from this trip to sort through first !
Our first destination today was a visit to Palm Beach, somewhere we’ve visited every time we’ve come to Australia since stumbling across it by accident the first time we came.
It’s a beautiful spot with a beach either side of the thin peninsula. It’s probably most widely known as the location of Summer Bay in the Home and Away TV soap opera. Every time we’ve been it seems that it’s been developed a bit more and the free parking seems to have gone now too. I guess that’s a sign of it’s popularity.
Our final camp site of the adventure.
In one of those strange “small world” coincidences, we got talking to a couple who asked us about the Land Rover when we returned to it. We’ve had many such conversations throughout the trip so that wasn’t unusual. As we related our route around Australia he said his brother had crossed the Simpson Desert recently too. Anyway, to cut a long story short, it turns out he’s Mal’s brother !
A view of the river at Lane Cove
From Palm Beach we headed south again into North Narrabeen to say our fairwells to Mal before heading across the city to Lane Cove National Park where we’ll spend the last two nights of our trip.
It’s a strange mix of feelings at the moment as we don’t want to leave Australia and end the trip but on the other hand we want to go home. As we set up camp for the last time, that too becomes another nail in the coffin for this particular trip. Another in a long list of things that have been part of our life for the last 4 months that we won’t be doing again.
Kookaburras are always a delight to watch and sometimes to hear… Although they can get a bit loud !
We went for a walk down to the river from the camp site along the bush walking trail and that helped a bit. The antics of a Kookaburra kept us amused for a while and that too served as a reminder of something else we’ll miss. It has been an amazing adventure and the reality of it coming to an end and returning to normality is a bit depressing right now.
Tomorrow we’ll probably spend a good part of the day emptying and then repacking the Land Rover. We’ll need to decide what we’re taking home in our bags and what is returning in the container. We’ll probably have time to go for another walk though.
A view from the Sydney Tower, looking down at the skyscrapers – you can see the shadow from the tower.
Today’s excursion into Sydney was primarily to Darling Harbour so we took a direct bus into the city.
The first stop when we got there was the Sydney Tower Eye, one of the tallest buildings in Sydney with a viewing area near the top. It was a good clear day so we could see a fair distance, all the way to the Blue Mountains in fact.
We then went on to a couple more tourist destinations, the SeaLife and WildLife centres in Darling Harbour. We’ve been before and enjoyed the visit but, I have to say, we were a bit disappointed this time. Not sure if it was the time of year or what but the exhibits didn’t seem as good at either venue. Both venues also seem to have changed their approach and have targeted everything at young kids.
The Endeavour replica, moored at tha maritime museum.
The butterfly area had no butterflies in it, which seemed pretty pointless, and even the underwater aquarium seemed lacking compared to last time. So, all in all, if we get the chance of another visit to Sydney I doubt we’ll bother visiting them again.
All in all I guess we’re just not very good at the tourist thing !
The Sydney Opera house as the sun went down
The Endeavour replica was good to see again, I think last time we saw it was when it was in Whitby, that’s a few years ago now. On the way “home” we decided to use the ferry from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay and that has a dock next to the endeavour so we got a good view of it.
Tomorrow we’re heading to Lane Cove camp site where we’ll spend our last couple of nights here before we fly out. We might go for a drive up the coast as a diversion between camp sites, maybe head to Palm Beach. Sunday will be spent getting everything cleaned and packed ready for the long trip home.
Little Penguin at Manly Sealife Sanctuary
Very cold last night, the temperature dropped below double figures so we were both wrapped up in extra layers under the duvet ! Another bright sunny day though today which makes up for it and the wind dropped a bit so today felt warmer without the wind chill.
The temptation to wait until the sun managed to warm everything up won out this morning so we had a bit of a slow start before heading into Manly on the bus. We visited the Sealife Sanctuary while we were there, it’s aimed more at the “Finding Nemo” age group than adults but was interesting nonetheless. The sea horse aquarium was really good and the “Little Penguins” were very cute. The breeding programmes mentioned on their web site didn’t seem to get much of a mention though.
A Seahorse at Manly Sealife Sanctuary
From Manly we took the ferry to Circular Quays and, unlike the last time I took this ferry on 2005, it managed to complete the trip without crashing into the pier !
We took in a few of the sites around that part of Sydney, the usual tourist things I guess. A walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Opera House first so we could justify second breakfast afterwards. After second breakfast we went for a random walk around the rocks (the oldest part of Sydney at the foot of the bridge).
We found “The Big Dig”, an archeological dig carried out when the YHA hostel was being built. Pam had mentioned wanting to go to it a while ago and it was a lucky coincidence that we kind of stumbled across it during our random wander.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Tomorrow we’ll head into Sydney again to visit Darling. Harbour and some of the attractions around it. After that we’ll probably have had our fill of being in a city and be ready to head for Lane Cove on Saturday morning.
North Narrabeen, the beach behind the camp site.
The winds didn’t abate as much as forecast but nonetheless we both had a decent nights sleep as only the occasional strong gust made it’s presence known during the night. They are now forecasting that they will reduce over the next couple of days but at least it’s still forecast to remain dry and sunny.
This morning we set off for Sydney, heading south for the final time on the Pacific Highway ! We had a few electronic things to buy to ship back to the UK with us and an internet search had led us to a small shop in the north west of Sydney so that was our first destination. Thankfully Apple Maps did the navigating again and we got there without any problems. They had everything we wanted in stock so, mission accomplished we headed back to north east Sydney and Narrabeen.
We stopped off to see Mal (he owns Narrabeen TyrePower) at his garage as we weren’t sure if he’d be off taking advantage of the snow this weekend. We stopped off at a petrol station to buy our “MyMulti 3” passes that will give us a week’s use of public transport in and around Sydney and then set up camp.
We’ve booked in for 3 nights, as planned. That gives us 2 full days to “do” Sydney before we head to Lane Cove on Saturday morning for our last 2 nights. Tomorrow we plan to take the bus to Manly then the ferry from there into Sydney centre to do the tourist thing.
A view of a very windy Lake Macquarie from the camp site.
We had a bit of a change of mind this morning. We awoke to clear blue skies and a beautiful low sun over the river at Norm’s property. There was the occasional gust of wind though and as the morning passed the gusts became more fierce and more frequent.
After setting off we filled up, probably for the last time on this trip, just down the road and then headed south on the Pacific Highway (in case you hadn’t guessed !). We followed it to the end of the Pacific Highway where the A1 changes name from the Pacific Highway to the Sydney Freeway then followed that around Newcastle. There are a lot of familiar town names around here, Newcastle, Hexham, Stockton, Wallsend, Cardiff, Barnsley, Wakefield, Windermere and the town exit we were heading towards – Toronto !
We stopped at Raymond Terrace along the way for a coffee and Danish pastry and while we sat there watching the trees, advertising flags and anything that wasn’t bolted down blowing around in the very strong wind gusts we came to a decision. Whilst camping in a forest may give you more shelter from the wind, it also increases the risk of having a tree landing on you ! So, a new plan was devised to head to a camp site with an enclosed camp kitchen in a sheltered location and we chose a caravan park on the shores of Lake Macquarie, just south of Morrisset.
When we set up camp I removed the fly sheet as it’s not really needed unless it’s raining and makes a lot of noise in the wind. I’ve also made sure the nose of the Land Rover is pointing as square into the wind as possible so we’ve, figuratively speaking, battened down the hatches and are ready to ride the storm out. It’s forecast to die out by tomorrow morning and retain the clear blue skies, hopefully they’ve got it right !
Tomorrow we’ll head into northern Sydney to set up “base camp 1” for our final days in Australia. We’ll probably head there in a circuitous route as we have some shopping to do for stuff to take home in the north west of Sydney. There’s lots of snow in the higher areas but we’re not expecting that to effect us at this point…
For anyone that’s keeping count, we’ve now covered 15,638 miles on this little adventure or 25,167 km. I think the Land Rover may be overdue a service !
Not over impressed with the weather today but have had a good day regardless. Other than a bit of sun this morning it’s been overcast all day and been threatening rain although that hasn’t actually appeared.
We set off from Harrington to head onto the Pacific Highway yet again as there was no real alternative. We headed south until we could pick up a more interesting route, The Lakes Way which follows the coast, taking in a peninsula that is accessed via a bridge at Forster-Tuncurry.
We stopped at Forster-Tuncurry for what may well be our final food shop for the trip as we now have enough for 4 meals and expect to be eating out a bit too. The shopping centre has a Coles supermarket but this was closed off with NSW Fire Service tape everywhere. It seems that on Saturday afternoon they had a freak storm that left the place covered in hail stones and part of the neighbouring KMart store roof collapsed and the shopping centre was evacuated. Fortunately the Woolworths store wasn’t effected so we went there instead ! We also stopped at a BCF store (camping equipment store) and managed to find an adaptor that will let us use the Coleman stove with our UK gas cylinder when we get it home.
Continuing down the coast we diverted to Seal Rocks to take a look but it wasn’t really the weather for a stroll on the beach. It’s probably a nice place to visit on a sunny day but not so much on an overcast, windy day…
After another brief spell on the Pacific Highway we arrived at Norm’s property where we’ll be camping for the night. A good camp fire, a trip to the pub for some food and setting the world to rights back around the camp fire before bed. Sadly no sign of the Koala though 🙁
Tomorrow we’re thinking of heading to the Watagans National Park as it’s due to be a tad windy and the trees will give us a bit of shelter. Our final schedule for the trip for the remaining days is likely to be…
Tuesday night, Watagans NP, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday night at North Narabeen where we can head into Sydney for a day or two’s sightseeing, Saturday and Sunday night at Lane Cove camp site where we’ll clean, repack and dispose of excess/perishable stuff prior to delivering the Land Rover to Botany Bay on Monday morning and catching the flight home.
Kylie’s Beach – with a permit you can drive on the beach, all the way to Crowdy Head which is about 12km down the beach.
We managed to avoid the Pacific Highway altogether today by following a mix of minor surfaced and unsurfaced tracks down the coast. On the way we passed through the Crowdy Bay National Park to have a look at Kylie’s Beach as a possible stop for the night.
We’d hoped to walk one of the trails in the park that starts at Diamond Head, we knew the camp site there was closed but when we got to the access road found that all access was closed so we continued south to the other spots.
Kylie’s Beach was nice enough and we considered staying but in the end the draw of sufficient Telstra coverage to watch the F1 and showers for the morning swayed the decision and we continued south.
A River Turtle crossing the unsurfaced road south of Kylie’s Beach
We were travelling pretty slowly on the unsurfaced roads as we were in no hurry. This turned out to be a good thing as we came across a River Turtle crossing the road which, fortunately, I avoided running over ! After reversing up and taking a couple of pics of it I carried it across the road just in case any other vehicles happened along the road before it managed to cross. There was marshland on either side of the road so I guess it’s not uncommon for them to cross the road in that area.
The lighthouse at Crowdy Head
We detoured into Crowdy Head itself and went up to the lighthouse to do a bit of whale watching. There were lots of people up there doing the same but the whales were a long way out. The lighthouse was very picturesque, at least I though so anyway. It’s another Victorian period building and is still in use as a lighthouse today.
We had lunch in Harrington before heading into the camp site and setting up. 5 dots of Telstra 3G so shouldn’t have any problems watching the F1, should be a good race.
Tomorrow we’re heading to Tea Gardens to stay on a property there owned by one of the marshals for our group in the 2008 OBC. We’re hoping that as well as catching up with him the young Koala he spotted a couple of weeks ago is still around.
The front of “Roto House”
A bit of a slow start this morning as we didn’t have to leave the camp site until 12 although, in the end we were off the site before 11am anyway. We stopped off in South West Rocks for brunch (coffee and custard tarts !) before heading off down the minor road to Kempsey.
At Kempsey we joined the infamous Pacific Highway again to take us down to Port Macquarie.
We chose Port Macquarie as our destination for tonight for two main reasons. The first reason is that there is a decent Koala population in the area, together with a dedicated Koala hospital. The second is we wanted to get somewhere with good Telstra reception so we could watch the Formula 1 qualifying live 🙂
The first goal has had a 50% success rate! we visited the Koala hospital and went on the guided tour, seeing the Koalas that are being prepared for release and also those that are no longer capable of supporting themselves in the wild. Sadly we’ve yet to see a Koala in the wild as such but we did pick up some tips on how to spot them at the hospital !
One of the Koalas being prepared for releasing into the wild, at the Koala Hospital
Alongside the hospital is an old, by Australian standards, house, the “Roto House” which has been restored and houses a museum tracing the history of the family that built the house and lived in it. We’ve visited a number of these “Historical museums” in Australia and the majority consist primarily of donated collections of Victoriana that the museums have accepted and feel they need to display even though it has a tenuous, at best, connection with the place in question. Often the “exhibits”, particularly the larger ones, just seem to be left outside to slowly rust or rot away. The “Roto House” seems to have avoided this trap for the most part and the artifacts and exhibits show the history of the family and are pretty much limited to items that have a direct connection. It gives a real insight into the specific family members that lived there during the house’s relatively brief history around the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Our second goal of the day was met with a better than expected result when it turned out the camp site has free unlimited WiFi throughout the site, enabling us to watch the Sky coverage rather than the Channel 10 coverage on the Sky Go app. An excellent qualifying result it was too with Massa getting pole !
Tomorrow we’re thinking of heading to Harrington for some guaranteed Telstra although there’s a site in the Crowdy Bay NP (Kylie’s Camp) which looks nicer but may not have Telstra.