Road Trip: The East Coast and a Detour to Canberra

Driving steeply downhill from the Snowy Mountains and heading towards the East Coast, it felt good. The air was quickly becoming milder and I decided I was pretty much over winter, I couldn’t wait for spring!

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We hit the East Coast for the first time at a little beach town called Tathra. Reaching the peak of a hill I could see the long curving bay below, surrounded by trees with cliffs in the distance. I felt excited to see the sea again and everything had a more sub tropical feel. Chris and I got out and went for a walk along the beach, the sand was golden and the water looked pretty inviting, still too cold though.

From here we drove up north along scenic coastal roads. The roads would climb up through the trees, but then slope down again, opening up into little towns and bays. These areas looked pretty nice. Randomly shaped houses perched all over the place in amongst the trees or along the beach, their gardens leading to the water. I can definitely see why people would want to live here, I want to live here!

We arrived in a town called Bermagui. This is Lochy’s hometown, one of my lifty colleagues from the New Zealand ski season last year. Unfortunately Lochy’s still being a ski bum in NZ, but we decided to stay a night and check the place out anyway.

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It was a cute little place with not much more than one street of shops, cafes, restaurants etc and a footie pitch in the middle of it all. Not a bad idea I thought, as it brought everyone to the same place and gave the town a busy, energetic atmosphere. But the prime attraction is definitely the Blue Pool, a very big and impressive rock pool.

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We had absolutely no intentions of going in. It was still winter! The water would be freezing! But two local women saw us heading for the carpark showers and shouted, “what are you doing!? Go down to the pool!” They gestured at the steep steps leading down to the pool. I don’t think they realised we only ever intended to get a head shower. But that got us thinking, and next think I knew I was running and jumping into ice-cold water in my bikini. It was so cold I could barely breath but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so refreshed!

Later that day Chris bought a wetsuit and then we said bye to Bermagui and continued up the coast. Once we reached Batemans Bay it was time to leave the sun and sea once again and take a detour inland to Canberra, the Capital of Australia.

I really haven’t done much research or planning for this trip. I’m kind of just taking it all as it comes and going with it. Which is great, but I wasn’t too pleased to find that Canberra is not only inland but also at a higher altitude. We drove up steep winding roads, not able to go much faster than 50km/hr in our wee camper, feeling the temperature drop as we went. Time for the coat and hat again.

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When we arrived in Canberra we had a quick drive around to check the place out. Canberra was designed with a ruler and a protractor around a large man made lake. The CBD is on one side of the lake, and all the political and government stuff is on the other side. We decided to just be typical tourists for the day and see all the political stuff the city has to offer.

We found a free and pretty well hidden carpark by the side of the lake and as we’d be going to public places, I thought I’d better wash my hair. So I filled up a saucepan with water from the lake and started pouring it over my head. Talk about a brain freeze! But it was worth it just to feel a bit fresher.

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That day we visited the New Parliament building, walked past the Old Parliament Building, checked out the National Portraits Gallery, the High Courts, and went to the library. Being a tourist is exhausting! But it wasn’t a bad day. As we left the library it started to really piss down. With the rain, dark and cold, the last thing I wanted to do was cook! So we found a groupon deal, $10 garlic bread and pizza for two, and had a nice meal in a strange little hotel with a leaky ceiling. We then went back to our hidden carpark for the night.

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The next day we went to the National Museum of Australia and the Australian War Memorial. Both places were massive, you could spend a week in each. Not a bad way to put the day in, especially when the weather’s shit.

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Canberra wasn’t bad in the end. It’s not the prettiest of places, it’s completely man made and pre designed and it has that feeling to it. But if you’re into your museums there’s no shortage and from a backpacker’s point of view it’s great because everything’s free!

Eager to get back to the coast we returned to Bateman’s Bay and then started driving up towards Sydney, only really stopping at Jervis Bay to see Dr Chris’s (presenter on ‘The Living Room’, Australian TV show) favourite beach in Australia, Hyames Beach.

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I have to admit sand doesn’t get much whiter than this.

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