A once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia
Chris Parker takes a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia and shares his experience on this 'Driving Down Under' meets 'Australia's Southern Delights' tour.
By: Chris Parker | 17 May 2019
I have lost count of the number of times that I’ve been to Australia, mainly because I lived and worked in Canberra for 4 years and still have family and friends scattered across the country. It’s always a joy for me to be able to go back, not just to see them but also to revisit places that I love and to discover new ones.
I combined two of the Club's tours on this trip (Driving Down Under and Australia's Southern Delights) to see the most of the South Eastern tip of the country. I only had one night in most of the places I visited, but I managed to cram a lot in regardless.
Sea views and Sydney
View of Narrabeen Lake and the NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park
My first stop was the NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park, which is close to the northern beaches and the shores of Narrabeen Lake.
If you like swimming, there's a lifeguard patrolled beach a short walk away which has a salt water pool. There are also loads of amenities in the area including restaurants and service stations, plus you can visit Palm Beach where Home and Away is filmed! If you want to explore Sydney, there's an express bus that takes around 50 minutes, or you can get a bus to Manly and then a ferry into Sydney.
Little Blowhole in Kiama
The Big4 Easts Beach Holiday Park in Kiama was our next stop and boasts a fantastic beachside location with all the facilities that you would expect, plus a massage studio and pool. I drove here via the Princes Highway which follows the coast south, but there are plenty of scenic routes you can take which keep you closer to the Pacific Ocean. Although it’s located a little way out of town, it does mean that this site is quiet! Plus, some of the local restaurants offer shuttle buses if you want to eat out.
Kiama is best known for the Kiama Blowhole and Little Blowhole; two cliff-side caverns where sea waters shoot into the air. The Kiama Coast Walk links the blowholes to the columns of the Cathedral Rocks and there are some great whale watching spots along the way.
Discovering Batemans Bay
Stunning views over Batemans Bay
From Kiama, I continued down the coast to Batemans Bay. This popular spot tempts the people of Canberra at weekends and Bank Holidays, as it's home to great beaches, reefs and The Batemans Bay Snorkelling Trail. The Big4 Batemans Bay Beach Resort is a 10-15 minute drive from the centre of Batemans Bay, but it’s right on the beachfront and has plenty of amenities nearby. You can also visit the Clyde River National Park, which is a great spot for fishing and kayaking.
There are plenty of places worth stopping on the way to Merimbula, the next destination on my list. Tilba Tilba is a small traditional town that’s well worth a visit and after that is a beautiful tourist route that takes you through Bermagui and Tathra Beach.
On to Merimbula
Discover Merimbula Lake and walk the boardwalk
I stayed at the NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Park, which boasts sea views to three sides. It’s only a 10 minute walk into town but 15 minutes on the way back because of the hill! There are plenty of beaches to choose from both in and around Merimbula and if you like cheese then a visit to the Bega Cheese Factory is a must.
Next on my tour was Lakes Entrance. Continuing on the Princes Highway from Merimbula you head inland through beautiful forests, which have some steep hills but plenty of overtaking lanes. Another tourist route to take is the one that takes you to Marlo and the Snowy River estuary; there are some fantastic viewpoints, some nice walks and lovely cafes if you fancy something to eat. The Big4 Lakes Entrance Holiday Park is easily found as it’s located just off the main road, and from here you can easily visit the Gippsland Lakes and Ninety Mile Beach. The Gippsland Lakes are the largest network of inland waterways in Australia and are well worth a visit for views of spectacular cascading waterfalls.
Melbourne is a beautiful city at any time of day
After Lakes Entrance, we were headed to Melbourne. This journey takes around 4 hours and was the least scenic drive of them all. I didn’t see any tourist routes but there are a few wineries and attractions along the way if you want to break up the journey. There are toll roads around Melbourne but everything is automatically charged to your credit card via your car’s registration.
Driving through the Melbourne suburbs you would have no idea that this holiday park exists, but hidden down a driveway is the Big4 Melbourne Holiday Park. This site is surrounded by trees and there’s everything from a swimming pool to a spa, gym and games room on site. There is a supermarket just down the road, plus a couple of restaurants. For those that want to explore the city of Melbourne, it’s roughly a 40 minute trip each way by bus and tram.
From Lake Hume to Canberra
Enjoy spectacular views over Lake Hume
It was soon time to move on and our next stop was Discovery Park Lake Hume, around an hours’ drive from the alpine region of Australia. The park is in a very quiet and peaceful location and has a gorgeous pool, spa and tennis court. For those that love the great outdoors, there are plenty of walking and bike trails to choose from. My favourite attraction was the Bonegilla Migrant Experience which is where the majority of post-war migrants were first processed.
Once we'd made the most of our time at this site, we set off for the Alivio Tourist Park in Canberra, set in woodlands off a quiet road in the suburb of O’Connor. There's a bus stop just outside the park and it’s a 20 minute bus ride into the centre of Canberra. All of the powered sites here are drive-through and level, and all close to the park's facilities, including a stunning swimming pool and tennis court.
All too soon it was time to leave Australia and we headed back to Sydney Airport ready to drop our motorhome off and prepare for the long flight ahead.