Like any great adventure, we rose up early. We got up at 4 a.m. in the dark and stumbled around to prepare for the great journey. Basically in the middle of the night as some would say, but for my Dad it was just like any other day. We packed ourselves into the rental car and set out for the great drive – 1049 kilometers to be precise, just a couple of bags, a cooler of snacks, and 4 sleepy eyes, we crammed our bags and ourselves into the car and headed out.
My parents flew 16 hours to visit and join me in my travels through Australia. I wanted them to experience how great this place really is, and show them what I have been up to. They are Canadian citizens like myself and share a lot of the same interests as me (thank goodness). So it was easy to plan this road trip. My parents are keen, outgoing, and loving people that are always up for an adventure. My mom loves tea, travelling, vineyard tours and me (most importantly). My dad is a farmer to the core so he enjoys long drives through the country, tractors, and strong black coffees. Tara (my best friend) was the final piece to the puzzle. So together the fantastic four, hit the road.
From Dee Why we drove South bound, through the hustling streets of the city of Sydney and then headed out of town to Jervis Bay; our first stop of many to come. We actually headed to Coorarong, 3 hours from Dee Why, which is in the Jervis Bay Territory but on the opposite side of the bay we meant to go to. I was the GPS so I admittedly made the mistake… Oops. It was a beautiful detour nonetheless! The views say it all.
After our quick detour we headed through to Hyam’s Beach and grabbed a coffee at the cutest café – and I think the only one in town! Hyam’s Beach is an absolute gem with a whopping population of 290 people. It literally took our breathes away. The water was so inviting – although cold to the touch it was beckoning us to hop in. The sand was unlike anything I had ever seen before – white as if made of icing sugar. To make it even better the rocks had the neatest formations so I spent a good while crawling over them and in search of shells.
After walking, wandering and taking in as much as we could of Hyam’s Beach, we were off to enter the Jervis Bay Territory National Park. This place was the real deal. It was heaven to drive through. Sun dappled our car as it peaked through the gum trees overhead. Seriously a magnificent drive.
We pulled up to the tiny parking lot of Murrays Beach, parked the car and walked about 1 kilometer through a rainforest to reach heaven. White sand, turquoise waters, and not a soul in sight. Off to our right there was Bowen Island and very far in the distance we saw someone kayaking around the island. This was the most magnificent beach I have ever been to. It felt as though this beach had never been touched, no one had ever set foot on this place before. What a glorious feeling that was. We walked up and down the beach, playing, breathing, soaking in the cleanest air and trying to make the moment last forever. I don’t think I have ever experienced a place like that in my life. I thought to myself – this is what life is all about. I really didn’t want to leave Murray’s Beach but it was getting late. So reluctantly we piled back into the car.
It was a good find – and everyone agreed that was the best stop ever.
Next we were off to Pebbly Beach. It was an hour and a half drive from Jervis Bay. We wound through the magnificent highways and took in the views. It would turn from beaches, to mountains, to rainforests to farming fields. So much to look at I didn’t want to blink!
We actually missed the turn off for ‘Mount Agony Road’, which is the turn off to go to Pebbly Beach. So we turned around and headed back – oops. It’s easy to miss! I realized that it’s all part of the journey and the experience. I look back now and laugh but really why worry when you’ll get there anyways. We turned around and got onto the road, and let me tell you ‘Mount Agony Road’ does not cause you any agony… at all. This place stole my heart. Honestly, I have never felt so in tune or so in awe of such beauty. This winding, wild, and overgrown road looks like it was carved into a rainforest, as if somehow plopped intot he middle of a rainforest. This road is nothing but gum trees, sunshine, and vines. I made my Mom pull over so I could get out and soak it all in. I thought I was in awe before but wow.
Once we finally arrived down at Pebbly Beach – the road is absolutely terrifying with no shoulder, and no guardrails, only steep cliffs and trees. But we made it! The beach is an expansive haven of sand, the ocean, and little wallabies! They were all over the beach and had no interest in us so I had to go take a peak! They were very calm and we saw a little joey in one of their pouches! How neat! I thought it was kind funny how its called Pebbly Beach but has not one pebble. Anyways beautiful nonetheless.
After taking our time there and winding back through the glorious beauty of ‘Mount Agony Road’ – (I got out a few more times to soak it all in – I wasn’t ready to say goodbye). We then headed to Merrimbula a beautiful Oceanside town. We were all exhausted and needed ‘a good feed’ as the Aussie’s would say. We headed down to this little funky Italian Restaurant. It was rustic but had amazing service and food! I of course had a wonderful cappuccino to start, as I was about to fall asleep at the table. I then had an exquisite Pumpkin and Walnut Ravioli with a creamy parmesan sauce. Simply amazing! We finished off the evening with a vanilla bean pannacotta with mango compote and crushed nuts. If that’s not good food then I don’t know what is! With full tummies we went back to the motel and got settled in for the night.
The next morning we rose early and were headed out for Melbourne. We drove almost 600 kilometers that day. We stopped at the Lakes Entrance – the perfect half way mark for a lovely lunch and to visit he 90-mile beach. A beautiful stop that helped us stretch our legs, and soak in some salty ocean air.
Once we arrived in Melbourne we got to our wonderful Air BNB accommodation in the heart of Melbourne – right by Little Bourke Street – one of the finest and well known Asian cuisine streets in Melbourne. We settled in and walked the streets in search of something that caught our eye.
The next morning we awoke to the sounds of bustling streets and streetcars. We did what any tourist in Melbourne would do and headed out to the Queen Victoria Markets. We picked up some cappuccinos and headed into the crowds. We arrived right at 9 when it opened so it was fairly quiet at first but it picked up around 10. We walked through the fresh produce section and the many vendors and then headed out to the clothing area. It was such a lovely place! I got a colorful handmade headband and we all split some fresh donuts with strawberry jam inside. They were so delicious. Around lunchtime I picked up a homemade hot soup and got some Turkish delight – my favorite.
From there we headed out to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens – a short walk through the city we were there. The city has never really been my thing, nor do I enjoy the crowds too much but it was a striking nevertheless. The buildings were expansive with a mixture between ornate stonework to 20th century glass skyscrapers. It was a very interesting mixture.
Once we reached the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens, we were greeted with fountains, lake, greenery, lush flowers, and expansive manicured green lawns. I always try to go to botanical gardens no matter where I am. You will notice that. There were paths throughout the gardens that boasted colorful flowers, native trees, and so many strange plants I had never seen before. I love finding new plants and learning their names and homelands. I was intrigued to say the least.
We walked back through the city and took in all we could. From the horse drawn carriages, to the vast gothic churches, to the skyscrapers above. We headed back to the city center and had a lovely Greek dinner.
Our time in Melbourne was short but enjoyable. I always hear people rave about Melbourne, but it didn’t captivate me as much as I thought it would have. Instead it was the journey there that really got me. I would love to go back and explore some more one-day.
Our 1000-kilometer journey did not end here as we ventured to drive the Great Ocean Road but that’s another tale all by itself. Our journey was a short one but it was definitely a fun one! Many beautiful views and landscapes to take in, lots of good tunes, gas tanks filled, and memories made!
‘Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and longs to play with your hair’ – Khalil Gibran