Top 5 Places to visit Between Sydney and the Sunshine Coast

Top 5 Places to visit Between Sydney and the Sunshine Coast

It‘s always hard to choose which Top 5 Places will make the cut when putting together a guide such as this.  This whole incredible coastline is well worth exploring but when you only have time to visit one or two places, we feel that the following are standouts. I hope this gives you a little bit of inspiration when you plan your next road trip between Sydney and the Sunny Coast.

1. South West Rocks, NSW

  • Explore Southwest Rocks, a quiet, laid back coastal town that is often skipped by holidaymakers. There are plenty of options for accommodation, beautiful foreshores and beaches and those infamous Norfolk pines.
  • Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon. A great place for a day trip or to pull up and camp.
    • Tour the historic ruins of the gaol.
    • Hang out at the beach fishing, snorkelling, surfing, watching whales and dolphins.
    • There are plenty of great walking tracks in the area ranging from 1.2 km to 20km.
    • Way Way Creek Road Drive/Ride. A 17km loop that offers a leisurely scenic drive or a fun day of bike riding.
  • Smoky Cape Lighthouse, Hat Head National Park.
    • Climb the path to the heritage listed lighthouse and check out the stunning coastal views of Hat Head National Park.
    • Picnic or BBQ on the lush, grassy areas at the base of the lighthouse.
    • Whale watching, and bird watching is also popular here.
    • You can even book the Smoky Cape Lighthouse Keepers Cottage – self-contained cottages that once housed the light keepers and their families! These restored and re-purposed cottages sit right on the path to the lighthouse.

Check out the nearby ‘Heads’.

  • Hat Head
    • This area is great for beach fishing, rock fishing and deep-sea fishing.
    • Isolated beaches to the south are there for the more experienced surfers and the southern end of Hat Head is more suited for beginners.
    • Hat Head National Park is well worth exploring with its stunning walking tracks, incredible sand dunes and beautiful, clear lakes.
    • Snorkel in Hat Head Creek.
    • There is a great campground in between the ocean, river and national park.
  • Crescent Head
    • This is one of the most famous surf spots in all of Australia and is home to the annual Crescent Head Malibu Classic.
    • Killick Creek is great for young kids and families.
    • Beautiful beaches are everywhere around here! Try Point Plomer for surfing, Goolawah Beach for some ‘alone’ time and if the weather is right, Delicate Beach for snorkelling.
  • Scott’s Head
    • Great for young kids. With its calm waves and a large, sandy, patrolled (during Summer holidays) beach, it’s a favourite holiday destination for young families.
    • There are a number of surf spots with a variety of surf breaks.
    • Camping or Day Trips. There is a lovely camping and recreation reserve right by the beach with great amenities, fresh water, picnic tables and free gas BBQ’s.
    • Bushwalking
    • Fishing.

2. Coffs Harbour

 

  • The Promised Land, near Bellingen, NSW. This lush, peaceful and almost magical destination is a hidden gem in the Never Never region. Crystal clear creeks and waterholes, impressive mountains, rolling green hills and majestic homesteads make this perfect for swimming, relaxing, cycling or walking on the many trails.
  • If you have a couple of days to spare, you can do the Waterfall Way Drive. Check out our pre-planned trip on Campedia.

 

  • Moonee, another hidden gem not far from Coffs Harbour is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
    • Catch the tide as it flows out to the ocean by floating down Moonee Creek on a lilo. It takes a very relaxing three hours.
    • Explore Look At Me Headland. It’s an easy 1.6km hike with stunning views the whole way.
    • Surfing.
    • Fishing.
  • Orara East State Forest
    • Take in the sweeping panoramic views over Coffs Harbour and the surrounding mountains from the Forest Sky Pier, a 15-metre-high, 21-metre-long lookout jutting out over the forest below.
    • Coffs Treetops awaits those who want to ‘monkey around’ in the trees. Great for the kids!
    • Do one of the many rainforest walks ranging from 10 minutes to 3 hours. Tracks are well maintained and sign posted.

3.Black Rocks, Bundjalung National Park, NSW

Sand dunes, huge black rocks, perfect grassy campsites, and a spectacular coastline – this is Black Rocks, NSW – an incredible natural paradise about 60km north of Grafton.

  • Kayak along the beautiful tree-lined Jerusalem Creek, go for a walk and have a bite to eat in the Booroora Picnic Area. 4.6km one way.
  • Daytrip to Woody Head and/or Iluka, both spectacular places. If you have some extra time to spend in the area, Woody Head Campground is a favourite of ours. The beach is just beautiful!
  • Beach fishing on Ten Mile Beach.

4. Springbrook National Park

An ancient wonderland of rainforests, waterfalls, escarpments, rock formations and valleys just 45 minutes from the Gold Coast. You could easily spend a few days exploring here. Click here to see more.

 

  • Waterfalls
    • Purlingbrook Falls (4km)
    • Twin Falls Circuit (2 hours, 4km return)
  • Natural Bridge, a stunning rock formation with a small waterfall, is well known for its glow worms, fireflies and other wildlife. It’s a lovely walk but swimming is no longer permitted.
  • The Best of All Lookout surely does live up to its name. It’s more a question of ‘What can’t you see?’ than ‘What can you see?’ The dazzling Gold Coast Hinterland stretches right out to the Pacific Ocean and as far as Byron Bay; an extraordinary sweeping panorama of Queensland and New South Wales.
  • Springbrook State School, a heritage listed schoolhouse erected in 1911.

5.Cooloola Coast

The famous rainbow sands, endless sweeping beaches, freshwater lakes, towering sand dunes and crystal-clear waters keep beach lovers and campers returning enthusiastically to Rainbow Beach, Teewah Beach and Double Island Point. Located about two and a half hours drive north of Brisbane, this is the place to go for camping, surfing, fishing, digging up pippies, catching mud crabs, whale watching, boating and heaps of other water activities. Beach Driving and Camping Permits are required.

  • Double Island Point, which can be reached 2-3 hours either side of low tide is where the stunning scenery and many options for water activities make a really popular place to spend the day.
  • Take the 2.2km walk up to the Double Island Point Historic Lighthouse on the headland to take in the stunning 360 views. There is no accommodation and camping is not permitted at DI, so it’s day trips only. Don’t forget to check the tides!
  • Rainbow Beach with its famous, coloured sands, impressive Carlo Sand Blow and around 30km of beach is also a favourite holiday destination. There is plenty of accommodation to choose from including camping, resorts and beach houses.

 

As I mentioned at the beginning, the entire east coast is stunning and you could spend months, if not years enjoying all that it has to offer. I hope this has given you a glimpse into the endless possibilities  available to you! Please, let us know in the comments if you have been to any of these places and what are your favourite east coast holiday destinations. Happy exploring and safe travels!

Crocodile Harry – Coober Pedy’s Hugh Hefner!

Crocodile Harry – Coober Pedy’s Hugh Hefner!

WARNING! This is not the kind of attraction to drag the kids along too. Don’t get me wrong – they would probably love it, but, you would definitely have a whole lot of questionable questions being fired at you!

Coober Pedy’s legendary Crocodile Harry died in 2006 at age 81, but he sure has left a legacy behind. In a town as quirky as Coober Pedy where underground living and random stuff (junk) lying around is normal, it takes a site as insane as Crocodile Harry’s Underground Nest & Dugout to really stand out. 

When we arrived, it felt like we had pulled into the driveway of a home on some far away planet. We parked beside a rusty old combi with flat tyres that was covered in graffiti – Harry’s Hideout and For Harry from WA. Painted on the back of the van was a woman in a bikini lounging against a palm tree and on the side, a topless woman being embraced by a sunglasses wearing crocodile. Welcome to the Crocodile’s Nest!

As we walked into the front yard, we became surrounded by the bizarre … mounds of dirt with rusty bicycles, pots and pans, old bones made into ‘art’, old cars dug into the ground, cacti and, well, we didn’t know where to start!

Harry was a much-loved larrikin during his 31 years here in Coober Pedy and spinning a good yarn was something he loved to do. According to Harry, he was christened a baron in Latvia, fought in WWII where he was badly injured, and was even captured by the Americans at one point! He also claims that after the war he defected and fled to Australia in 1951 and that is when he started hunting crocodiles. Harry also claims to be the inspiration for Crocodile Dundee!

Just ask the locals who remember what life around here was like while Harry was partying with backpackers at his place. I have been told that this was a very popular hangout for the younger visitors to the area, and that the town just hasn’t been the same since his passing all those years ago.

The Crocodile’s Nest is six kilometres out of town and must be one of the weirdest places I’ve ever seen. It is filled with crude artwork, painting, graffiti, random objects, car parts, old school porn (VHS!), women’s underwear, photo albums, Harry’s personal belongings and tributes from thousands of people who visited during and after Harry’s life. Some of these random objects have been placed by visitors, but most were put there by Harry (Arvid) himself. The first thing you notice as you approach the front door is a hideous looking mermaid with a skull and large breasts. As you walk in, things just get crazier.

The place has been left as it was when Harry was there. Slide the drawers open and you’ll see Harry’s clothes. Have a look in the bathroom and his razor is still sitting there with bottle of soap. On his desk are cards, a typewriter, and framed photo of someone – maybe his dad?

Harry’s Dugout is so strangely unique it was used in a scene from the Mad Max movie, Beyond Thunderdome. This is what shot him to local legend status and the notorious womanizer began charging admission to visit his home.

Crocodile Harry has been recognized worldwide thanks to news articles, a documentary filmed in 1955 called Krokodiky Harijis (Crocodile Harry in Latvian), and the 2 books he wrote recording his early expeditions, Latvian Crocodile Hunter in Australia (1957) and Long After The Sun (1958). Legend has it that Harry killed as many as 10,000 crocodiles (some say 40,000) to sell for cash over his two decades as a croc poacher before retiring as an opal hunter and living in his underground home (dugout) in Coober Pedy.

I feel like I need to add that as he got older, he settled down a little and got married. OK, maybe settled down is a bit of a stretch! Harry first met Marta by letter after a photo of him without a shirt appeared in a German magazine. Women began writing to him and Marta was one of them. Even though she was married, Marta left her husband and moved to Coober Pedy, to live with Harry. As the many sculptures indicate, Harry was clearly a ‘boob man’ and at least one of these sculptures is of Marta who also contributed to some of the art in the dugout.

The couple was interviewed by the Australian Woman’s Weekly back in 1981, and had their picture snapped beside the big crocodile sculpture that’s still in the dugout today.

Thankfully Harry’s dugout remains and has been turned into a museum for curious visitors like us. And he hasn’t been forgotten in his hometown of Latvia either. There is a 2-tonne statue of a saltwater crocodile in his honour that many tourists find a bit odd. The Visit Dundaga website says:
The concrete sculpture by O. Skarainis was constructed in 1995 and this is a memory sign devoted to the strong men of Dundaga and a reminder about the adventures of the former Dundaga resident Arvīds Blūmentāls who was a traveller and a crocodile hunter in Australia. He hunted about 10 000 crocodiles at his place of residence and has been the prototype for the famous movie by Paul Hogan «Crocodile Dandy».

My conclusion is that Crocodile Harry was the crocodile hunting Hugh Hefner of Coober Pedy! If you decide to pop in for a visit, see if you can find where Aussie Destinations Unknown has been scraped into the wall (hint … naked white lady with chain 😉).

HOW TO GET THERE:

WHERE:

Located six kilometres west of Coober Pedy on the Seventeen Mile Road

Cost:

$7 contribution to an honesty box found on the kitchen bench, just inside the front door.

HOURS:

Open every day between 9 am-12 pm and 2 pm-6 pm.

Arno’s Wall, Winton QLD

Arno’s Wall, Winton QLD

If you want to see something a little unusual on your next outback adventure, Arno’s Wall should definitely be on your itinerary!  This ‘monument’ is something a little bizarre that everyone should take time to see when visiting Qld’s outback town of Winton.

Arno Grotjhan’s wall(s) have been constructed over the past 30+ years, reach two metres high and extend for at least 70 metres and are made of concrete and rock from Arno’s opal mine at Opalton.

 

I was walking past the gates, video camera in hand, when 2 big dogs started growling at me from the back of the ute parked out the front. I took the long way round, and kept filming. On my way back past, a man came out the gates, telling the dogs to settle down. I thanked him and asked if these walls were his. He nodded, Chris joined us, and Aaron told told us all about the walls that his father had built.

Arno Grotjahan was one of Queensland’s most well-known opal miners, and immigrated to Australia from Germany in the 1960’s. Not long after he arrived in Winton, Arno mined a valuable boulder opal and was able to to purchase a house in Winton. He spent the rest of his life mining, raising his family and collecting Australian and international memorabilia. When his collection got a little too big, he decided to create Arno’s Wall.

While we were chatting, Chris looked at me, then back at Aaron, then back at me, then back at Aaron before asking ‘Were you on a TV show by any chance?’ Aaron nodded. ‘Yes, I’m Opal Hunters next top loser!’ he said laughing.

Aaron, who has now taken over from his father who is now deceased, invited us to come inside the gates for a sneak peek at what he’s got planned over the coming years. We met his mate, his cat and gained a lot of insight as to why these walls were built and his plans for the future. The backyard is overflowing with, what some people would call, junk, but according to Aaron – he has big plans for every piece of it.

 

These quirky walls are so much fun to look at – and the closer you look, the more quirkiness you see and the more fun you have! There are so many industrial and household items like typewriters, TV’s, entire motobikes, engines, sinks, sewing machines, wheels, ovens, nuts and bolts, appliances, springs, a letterbox, a petrol bowser and the list goes on.

Aaron is going to be finishing another wall and tidying things up so visitors can actually walk through the walls of art which have been made from items mostly scavenged from the Winton Dump.

It’s a great piece of Winton’s history concreted into the walls and floors at this property in the heart of the town, just behind Winton’s iconic North Gregory Hotel.

Black Rocks, Esk, NSW

Black Rocks, Esk, NSW

Sand dunes, huge black rocks, perfect grassy campsites, and a spectacular coastline – this is Black Rocks, NSW – an incredible natural paradise.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the past four days camped up at the Black Rocks Campground in the Bundjalong National Park in Esk on the NSW North Coast. We have spent quite some time in this area over the past 10 years, but this was our first time camping at Black Rocks as our usual ‘go-to’ is Woody Head Campground, just around the corner. Day trips to Black Rocks are great, but not the same as setting up camp for a few days!

‘Set behind the dunes amongst tuckeroo and banksia trees, Black Rocks campground is perfectly positioned right by Ten Mile Beach and near Jerusalem Creek. Not far from Evans Head, it is a great place for a family camping holiday, with campsites for caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.’

When I posted on our socials about our trip, the most common question was ‘how was the road in?’ We found the road to be smooth and in really good condition. Dusty in the dry, and of course the rocks are still there as they always have been. But all in all, great condition. We did hear that just a few weeks earlier it had been very corrugated, so clearly some work has been done to it since then – my guess is in preparation for the Easter holidays.

Black Rocks Campground is extremely popular, and spots are snatched up pretty quickly, especially during the holiday periods. We stayed the week before the Easter Holidays and were lucky enough to secure the very last site big enough to accommodate a caravan, which was site 28. This is a GREAT spot! It’s a large, flat, grassy site with a clothesline, fire pit and undercover table and chairs. It is also right across from the beach, toilets and public BBQ. We even had a host waiting for us upon arrival!

There are 50 sites available at the campground and most of the sites are similar, but of varying sizes. Some are suitable for caravans, some for camper trailers and others just tents. Some are ‘walk-in’ sites and others can easily fit your whole setup.

You will find picnic tables, barbecue facilities, carpark, clean drop toilets, fire pits and clotheslines dotted around the place, and there is even a dump point if you need it. You will need to bring your own drinking water and firewood.

The beach itself is incredible and you could easily spend hours exploring the huge black rocks dotted all along the coastline. The weather in the previous few weeks had been a tad crazy which meant that the ocean and beach was covered in foam and quite vicious looking! It was also extremely windy for most of this stay.

Jerusalem Creek is well known for those who like to take the kayaks out for a paddle, and the Jeruslam Creek Walk is a 10.3km, three to four hour walk through the wetlands for people who prefer to explore with their feet on the ground.  

Black Rocks Campground is part of the Bundjalong National Park, which means that booking fees must be paid and permits are required. We paid $24 per night camping fee plus $8 per day for the car.

Click here to book https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/black-rocks-campground

BIG4 Caravan Park, Wye River, Great Ocean Road. VIC

BIG4 Caravan Park, Wye River, Great Ocean Road. VIC

We couldn’t have picked a better place to hold our first Titanium Caravan Owners Rally. BIG4 Wye River Holiday Park is such a beautiful, large and well maintained park with lots of wildlife and grassy, open spaces.

The park is located in a lovely riverside valley with mountains behind, a babbling river running through, and a surf beach right across the road. There is also a general store and cafe right at the entrance to the park. We ordered pizzas, lasagne and salad for everyone from here and it was delicious!

Most of us are self contained in our vans, but I did go and check out the amenities which seemed pretty new! The laundry was awesome and the large washing machines and driers both cost just $3 a load.

The new camp kitchen was great! Fully enclosed and self contained with tables and a large fridge. There was no cutlery that we could find though – so be sure to take your own. There are also outdoor tables and bbq’s – some sites even have their own tables!

For the kids there is a games room, adventure playground, jumping pillow, go karts for hire plus plenty of walking and riding trails.

There are cabins and powered plus un-powered sites, it’s dog-friendly and has all the regular awesome stuff that BIG4’s often have. Live music, firepits for hire, fire wood for purchase, drive through sites, disabled bathroom and the list goes on.

Check out the website https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/vic/great-ocean-road/wye-river-holiday-park for more info or to book. Say you heard about it from us and you never know they might give you the VIP treatment 😉

The best part of this park is most definitely the location. The Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular roads in Australia!

Riverina Hotel Free Camp, Holbrook NSW

Riverina Hotel Free Camp, Holbrook NSW

We ended up doing 600km from The Great Ocean Road to Holbrook and flicked open wiki to find somewhere close by. This free camp popped up and the reviews looked good so we thought we’d give it a go. We always enjoy pub camping; chatting to and having a beer with the locals is always fun!

It’s right behind the pub as they usually are, which means it was also close to the road. There is a grassy area with some dirt/gravel areas and a large gravel car park on one side (parking for the pub and trucks). You can enter via Bowler street through the car park or down the little road just past.

Big rigs do come and go – one started up and left at 3am, and overall it wasn’t super quiet, but not too bad. It was a warm night though so we had all the windows open.

The grass was green and the trees large and shady. We had no problem pulling in, turning and parking. We were the only ones there (Sunday night).

You must go into the hotel to let them know you are staying (for safety reasons) and buy a meal or a beer to use amenities (we are self contained so didn’t need to use them but I hear they are well maintained). We did have a beer, sat out front and had chat with the locals.

This is a great overnighter in a really convenient place.

  • Dogs are allowed

  • Shower (we didn’t see this but it says there is one in the wiki description)

  • Toilets

  • Bins

  • Good phone reception (we are with Telstra)

  • 72 hour limit

  • Accessible for big rigs