Australia. The land of natural wonders, beautiful landscapes and never ending roads.
When planning our trip, we knew that most of the time we’re going to spend in nature, no questions asked. Three weeks of camping in the middle of forest or on the beach, showering somewhere on our way from one place to another and drinking wine from plastic cups in a tent. Sounds good?
BOMBALA PLATYPUS RESERVE
Our first stop. Platypus is a rare animal to see in Australia so we didn’t hope for much. We had to change our plans because of fires, we weren’t able to camp in the place we initially wanted so we had even less hope when we got there. But, after just 15 minutes of walking around the river, we saw it! The photos aren’t great because of the smoke but I think it adds to the whole experience.
90 MILE BEACH
Next stop on the map was the 90 mile beach. After driving for many, many hours, we were happy to stay in one place for a bit, being able to lie down on the beach and just relax. The road leading towards the beach campsite was scenic with loads of trees making the drive breathtaking.
And the beach is just AMAZING. Long, broad with soft sand and cold, cold water. We stayed on the campsite right next to the beach. It was supposed to be our spot for at least two days but unfortunately the smoke we escaped found a way to get back to us and we had to get moving.
But, we were even lucky enough to see a ringtail possum! We heard some weird noises next to our tent at night, we slowly got out to check what’s going on and there it was, sitting on the tree right next to us! 🙂
We also stopped at the Nature Park close to the beach. It wasn’t on our agenda but since we weren’t able to enjoy the beach area as we wanted to, we decided to do whatever we can and fill parts of our plan with literally anything!
WILSONS PROMONTORY NATIONAL PARK
It’s the southernmost tip of Australia. Again, the smoke didn’t let us see this place in all its beauty but we spent a few hours on the beach and went for an hour long hike. The plan was to get to the top of the hill but there was no point since we wouldn’t be able to see anything anyway. So we just enjoyed our time there relaxing and hoping that when we go further away from the fires, the views will be better (although they were amazing anyway!)
After Wilsons Promontory we had to stay somewhere for the night and we ended up on a campsite pretty close from the National Park. Unfortunately, we didn’t write down the name of it but it was free, had toilets, running water and was really, really nice.
This is not a nature park but this place deserves to be a part of this post – Guildford is a small town north from Melbourne where we stayed for 3 days thanks to Josip’s friends 🙂
Bridget and Jeremy who he met about 10 years ago in Croatia took us in and showed us around their charming, little place. It was nice to be around someone who knows their way around and is willing to share some tips for further travels. We could rest in bed (sleeping in a tent is cool but after a few days one starts dreaming about at least one night in a comfortable, soft bed!), take a warm shower (yes, even in Australia, during summer you DO wish to take a WARM shower from time to time) and eat delicious pastries from the bakery down the street.
OCEAN DRIVE – KOALA WALK
Next point on our agenda was the drive next to the famous Great Ocean Road. It’s a 90-minute drive next to the ocean with beautiful views, it’s the most iconic road in that part of Australia. Before we got there, we found out that there is something called “Koala Walk” next to the Kennett River – all of that is located in Great Otway National Park.
It’s a path which leads you through a big forest where, technically, you can spot koalas. We didn’t have much luck and although we stopped few times to walk around and explore the are, we didn’t see any of the animals.
But! Once we got the the parking at the very end of the road, right next to the river…they there were! Sitting on the tree, sleeping and being the cutest ever 🙂
We also saw Australian king parrots, fair enough, they were there mostly because people were able to get some seeds and feed them so they stuck around but that also counts, doesn’t it?
OCEAN ROAD – PART 2
The Great Ocean Road was taking us to our next stop – 12 Apostles. We were planning to be there at sunset and since we still had a few hours till dusk, we stopped somewhere in the middle to see the lighthouse that we found accidentally on the map. The road to the parking led through a forest and I couldn’t be happier because finally we were able to spot whole bunch of koalas on the trees, in their natural environment, not somewhere close to the road!
And if that wasn’t enough for someone, we also saw kangaroos 🙂
We got to the parking next to the lighthouse, it was getting late so the gate was closed but we were able to walk a bit and at least have a glimpse of it.
12 Apostles is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. Seven of the original eight stacks still remain standing at the Twelve Apostles viewpoint but one collapsed in July 2005. Again, the view was breathtaking but we definitely want to come back and see this place in a better weather, meaning without the smoke and clouds everywhere around us.
We spent the night in the car on the parking lot right next to the viewpoint (worst night ever, it was cold and super uncomfortable) and the next morning our plan was to explore the area a bit. It was raining so the weather wasn’t really good for longer walks but we drove around and stopped at a few viewpoints. One of them was Loch Ard Gorge – a beautiful part of the beach.
The next stop was Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. It is an inactive volcano which is roughly 3 kilometres wide and 80 metres high. It was the first place where we saw emus 🙂 We spent a few hours walking around, exploring the area and just being out in nature.
COORONG NATIONAL PARK
When we planned our trip to Australia, we had a lot of different national parks on our list. Due to the fires, we had to cut that number down but we were able to visit some of them, like Coorong National Park. The Coorong National Park has been recognized by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area. Some of the birds it has supported are the chestnut teal, Australian shelduck, sharp-tailed sandpiper, red-necked stint, banded stilt, red-necked avocet, pied oystercatcher and red-capped plover. It is definitely a place where you would want to spend more than just one day to explore the area properly. We didn’t have that much time but I’m pretty sure we will put that on the list again next time.
We saw kangaroos standing just a few metres away!
If you are in Australia, it is worth visiting the Kangaroo Island. It is the third-largest island off the coast of mainland Australia. It will not be a surprise if I say that we couldn’t see everything because of the fires which, unfortunately, caused half of the island to be closed. But we had two very nice days and we did see a lot considering the conditions.
For just A$16.50 you can enter the Seal Bay, walk around on boardwalks and stare at seals chilling down the beach. There is also an option of guided-tour but we just went with the cheaper ticket and spend about an hour taking photos of small, cute seal pups having fun on the sand. We were lucky because the fire was getting closer and closer and a few hours after we left the Seal Bay, the road leading to it was closed.
It is a naturally occurring sand dune system roughly covering two square kilometres. The dunes vary in size with plenty of small dunes and the highest dune is approximately 70 metres above sea level. The entrance is free, you just need to sign a book so that employees know who is entering. The sand is HOT. Burning hot. It’s super soft so walking barefoot is an amazing feeling but it can really burn your skin (trust me, talking from experience here). It is definitely worth checking if you’re ever visit Kangaroo Island.
Last day we spent on the beach, swimming, MELTING and trying to rest before the next part of our trip. It was REALLY HOT, I probably won’t lie if I say it was around 45°C so even lying on the beach was not easy! Fortunately, we had amazing ocean!
GRANITE ISLAND – ADELAIDE
Josip was really set on trying to see penguins. We even walked around on Kangaroo Island at night and checked some places people saw them but we weren’t lucky enough. So he was supper happy when he found this small penguin island in Adelaide with tours. Tickets were A$25 per person which might seem a lot but having an opportunity to see penguins and not use it? Josip really went through and after a few calls to the agency he got us in which was a challenge cause there was a limited number of people which was already reached so they made an exception for us 🙂
Just look at those cuties!
CLELAND WILDLIFE PARK
Now my best experience from Australia. The fact that I was able to go there was already huge for me but if someone asks me what was the best part of it, I always say Clealand Wildlife Park. Why? Because I got to HUG A KOALA. Yes, I paid A$35 for hugging this furry creature and I couldn’t spend that money in a better way. That was probably the only time in my life when I could do that and as a memory I have an amazing picture which reminds me about how cool and awesome those animals are!
We were on the road all the time, sometimes we needed to rest. We found a nice campsite in Mildury next to the Murray river. We set up our tent, hammocks and spend literally whole day doing nothing but sunbathing, swimming and exploring the area. Maybe it sounds like we were wasting our time because hey, we could do so many other things while being in Australia, right? But for us being in nature in Australia, as close as possible, was the goal of this whole trip. We do like cities but we are nature lovers so any opportunity of spending time in forests, parks or reservations is what makes us happy.
COCOPARRA NATIONAL PARK
And since we are on nice spots for chilling and relaxing, here is another one 😉
Cocoparra National Park is fabulous for bushwalking and birdwatching. We decided to spend the night in there, we had to improvise a bit because of the fires so basically every day we were just checking the conditions and trying to figure out where it was safe to stay. Usually Josip was sleeping in a hammock and the rest of us in the tent. My hammock doesn’t have the net like the one Josip and there was A LOT of mosquitoes in that place.
We explored the area a bit, took a short walk around and again, we just chilled and relaxed – after all, we were on holidays, weren’t we? 🙂
CAMPSITE W DALTON
Our last stop before coming back to Sydney was a tiny little campsite in Dalton. It’s not really connected with nature but I thought it will fit in here because it was gorgeous. And it had something that surprised us – an electric grill! Which meant that we could finally eat some normal food. We bought some sausages, bread and we made, let’s say, “real” Australian barbie 😉
Second part of our trip started when we flew from Sydney to Perth, rented a car and drove 14h straight to get to Shark Bay. It took what felt like forever but it was so worth it. The area is beautiful. We didn’t see any sharks in there (fortunately or unfortuantely?) but we stayed for the night on the Whalebone beach where in the morning we took an invigorating swim in the ocean 🙂 It’s such an amazing feeling when you wake up in the morning, open your tent and go straight into the water because it’s just right there, waiting for you. There is nothing better.
Our next stop were stromatolites which are are layered sedimentary formations that are created by photosynthetic cyanobacteria. The stromatolites of Hamelin Pool in Shark Bay are among the most diverse in the world and show what marine ecosystems would have looked like three billion years ago. Because of that Shark Bay has the World Heritage status.
KALBARRI NATIONAL PARK – Nature’s Window
Our goal when being around Perth area was to drive around and visit as many places as possible in only 5 days. So we made a list of everything that was on our way and Kalbarri National Park was one of those amazing places we just had to visit. Of course, we didn’t have whole day to spend in there and hike, which we really regret, but we did go to see the Nature’s Window. It didn’t really looked like on the pictures we saw on the Internet, most likely because of the fires and general conditions but it was still very beautiful.
There are a few Pink Lakes around Australia. We had one particular one on our list but right before we went there we read that recently the color was lost due to changes in natural water flow, reduced evaporation, and salt harvesting so we decided not to waste our time. But then, while we were driving, we found out that there was a different Pink Lake on our way so we stopped. You could definitely see the pink color and maybe it wasn’t breathtaking but worth taking a look 🙂
Something that really surprised me in a good way was Pinnacle Desert. The Pinnacles are limestone formations within Nambung National Park. You can walk around or drive in the car on the path which takes you around the pinnacles. We drove with the car because the path was pretty long and it was raining a bit but we could stop at a few points to go out and explore more.
Last “famous” stop on our agenda was Wave Rock. It’s a natural rock formation that is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave. The “wave” is about 15 m high and around 110 m long. The entrance ticket was about A$15 per car so it’s pretty cheap. There was a lot of people so we had to improvise to get some nice pictures but we did it! 🙂
Walking around the Wave takes about an hour, maybe a bit more, depending which path you take. There are a few ways you can go around, it’s definitely worth visiting.
Last night and morning we spent on the beach close to Perth, taking last swims in the ocean, enjoying the sand and not believing we actually went to Australia 🙂
Last sunset in Australia 🙂
There is definitely much more we wanted to see but considering the fact that for the most time we were running from fires, we did see a lot.
We are coming back, Australia!