Overnight stays: Reflections Holiday Park, Lennox Head (3 nights); Reflections Holiday Park Clarkes Beach, Byron Bay (5 nights); Reflections Holiday Park Terrace Reserve, Brunswick Heads (2 nights)
Just as our week in Newcastle was coming to an end, Loz and I agreed that we couldn’t wait to get back in the WomBatmobile and continue our journey.
Dad had just spent a few days on the Gold Coast and was heading south, so we booked him a cabin at Lennox Head, where we arrived late at night, after flying into Brisbane. We spent the morning out for brekkie and coffee with dad in the great little sleepy town, with more cafes than university graduates.
The rain was more dynamic than the price of Bitcoin, so we spent most of our time alternating between reading, and swimming at the nice clear and warm beach waters, or the brown/red, tea-tree infused fresh waters of Lake Ainsworth. We had been told these waters were unique, had remarkable healing powers, and are apparently great for your hair. Yet to see any benefit, although I do need a haircut…
On our way out of Lennox, towards Byron, we decided we’d check out a documented walk at Broken Head. As we turned off the main road and shifted towards the coast to what we thought was the walk, we struggled to salvage a park big enough for our 8m bohemath. So we headed up a sketchier looking road towards Kings Beach, where the WomBatmobile slotted in nicely. The sun was out and it looked like a decent walk down to the beach, so we started on our way, not on our originally intended journey, but seemingly nice all the same.
As the canopy began to open and we started to see glimpses of sand and sea our excitement levels increased – this place looked beautiful. Closer, not far to go, and we’ll be in the water, relaxing and settling in for the morning. Closer, closer, oh hang on. There are only a handful of people at this beautiful beach. Surely a place this scenic on a sunny day would draw hundreds of punters in? A quick zoom on the camera lense for a closer Bo Peep, and our hearts sank as we realised none of the bathers were sporting any togs, we’d hiked to our first nude beach 😮.
Deeming it not appropriate for our 3yo, we did our best to explain why we turned around and didn’t go for a Danny Brown (dip). Anyway, Kings Beach is incredibly beautiful but will be the butt (get it?) of Wombat jokes for some time.
We first and last visited Byron when Liv was a wee tacker, only months old, in the winter of 2014. The vibe of the town got us straight away, and it was a destination we were very much looking forward to on the Wombatical Downunder. Given its popularity amongst tourists we had pre-booked our stay a week or two prior, originally intending on a comfortable 3 night stay. Whilst booking I increased it to 4 nights, and pretty much as soon as we arrived, we bumped it up to 5 nights; delicious.
It was hot and humid, almost enough to drain the tie-die from the locals’ shirts, and the vibe was electric. The town was buzzing, much more so than our winter week in 2014, and we couldn’t get enough of it.
Our camp setup was so sophisticated, it made our daily cycle of new neighbours feel as inadequate as The Xenophon SA Best Party holding the balance of power. We had our newly installed outdoor shower, herb garden and Aloe Vera plant, our brand spanking washing machine, and my proudest invention yet – a custom-made BBQ table that sits on the normally redundant (while stationery) bike-rack.
During our stay there was a strong south-eastern wind building and building. Thankfully our caravan park was north-facing, with bushland mostly protecting not only our site from the ‘Near Gale’ winds, but also our closest beaches, also with a northern aspect. This allowed us to swim whenever we liked, knowing it would be calm and we wouldn’t be bitten by sandy wind, at our local beaches of Clarkes Beach, and my favourite, The Pass. The Pass seems a beginner surfer’s paradise; gentle right-hand breaks in shallowish water, with waves long enough to allow multiple riders every time. And it seems the surfers agreed, with scores of people attempting to paddle on to every breaking wave.
Arguably Byron’s most famous beach is Wategoes, north-facing with more waves than a Mexican cricket match, beautiful white sand, and warm clear water. Keen to check it out, despite the winds, thinking it would be nicely protected, I led the wisdom on a short bike ride followed by a decent walk to the famed short stretch of sand. Despite the warning signs of nearly being blown off the edge of the walk en-route, we persisted under my misguided leadership, to a terrible 15 minute beach stay of wind, sand bite, and rough surf. Turns out, despite being north-facing, the lack of jungle protection leaves Wategoes exposed to the south-easterlies, and Loz aptly named our morning expedition the ‘fail of the trip’. Soon enough we were back in the protection of The Pass, and all was good in the world again.
Between beach bathing, we managed at least one daily family bike ride into town. Whether it be for the Farmers Markets, groceries, or ice-cream, we loved being in the middle of town and soaking up the beautiful atmosphere only Byron brings.
Cape Byron Walk
The weather was as predictable as Trump’s next Tweet, and with an appearing nice morning, we took advantage and started on the famed Cape Byron Track, starting just outside our caravan park, past the beautiful northern beaches, up to the most easterly point of Australia, the lighthouse, and back with a view of the wild southern beaches. The nice weather lasted longer than Trump’s temper and we were in for a wild ride, successfully breaking the brolly on our way. All that said, it was a beautiful walk, and we managed patches of sunshine and the views were second to none.
Power and water
Until this point, most of our camps have been unpowered, as that is generally a cheaper option that effectively gives us an extra night’s stay each week with what we save in cost. However, with no option in Byron, we got a taste for just how good unlimited power and water is… For starters we can drink our Nespresso pod coffee, tick; second we have unlimited water so can freely use our indoor and outdoor shower (negating the need for the shower block), tick; and thirdly, we have air-conditioning pumping, tick. We are now faced with a tough choice around how much a powered site is really worth to us for the rest of the trip.
Byron was where we started to live with bush turkeys 🦃. We don’t see them down south, and for us it’s a nice novelty to have scores of these things wandering around campsites and town, integrating into society more seamlessly than a Green’s fiscal policy.
We also spotted a few Water Dragons here, of which I thought was made up, until Facebook overwhelmingly confirmed them as non-fiction.
Five nights was just enough, and we would’ve happily stayed longer, but at the rate we’re going, we’ll make it to Brisbane by Christmas, so we needed to keep on keepin’ on. We’d had The Farm recommended to us by a few people as a place to visit, on the very outskirts of Byron. So we dropped in on the way out for a deliciously baristed coffee (these have become a luxury), and wander through the greenest farm with more diversity than an Asian / Fish & Chip restaurant in a small town – Nuts, fruit, stock, crops, chickens, the lot.
We spent a good hour crushing fallen macadamia nuts, only to scrape the smallest edible amounts, no wonder they’re so bloody expensive.
From The Farm, we travelled a further 12km to our next destination, Brunswick Heads. I had seen beautiful pictures of this place before, and the lady who worked at our Byron caravan park recommended it as a great town worth visiting, so we checked in for a couple of nights.
Sadly the wind was unrelenting and the consistent rain dampened our stay somewhat literally. The beach was closed due to heavy winds, although the girls did spend quite a bit of time mastering their town planning skills at a little protected beach just off the break wall, while I fished for tiny bream and flathead.
In Brunsy we met the most lovely Grey Nomad neighbours, Rob and Robyn. They seemed to take a liking to the cut of our jib, so much so that they invited us to stay with them in Mount Tambourine when we’re up that way. They offered accommodation, and full hospitality including use of their car for day activities. Lovely people and we hope to take up the offer should we be in the area and have the time.
With the wild weather restricting our outdoor opportunities, we watched plenty of movies to keep us entertained. I’m sure Brunsy is an awesome place, sans the rain and wind.
Keen to escape the weather, we shot inland for a scenic day in the beautiful Hinterland. Through the cute towns of Bangalore and Newrybar, then up towards Federal, where we stopped in at the popular and renowned Doma Japanese restaurant for a delicious lunch. It’s quite weird, a modern Japanese restaurant in the middle of nowhere, but it brings the crowds in a big way.
Through more greener pastures, we continued towards Minyon Falls, on our sketchiest drive to-date, one bump enough to force a few cupboards open, breaking falling glass and crockery along the way. We slowed to an average speed of about 5km/h as we climbed towards the falls, sure to be free flowing after all the rain that has caused the road to deteriorate so much. And they were in spades.
Next stop Nimbin, famed for its free spirit and narcotics trade. We first visited on a day trip from Byron a few years ago, and liked the hippiness and vibe of the place. Unfortunately we’d missed the annual nude bike ride that occurred the day prior, but everyone was in high spirits anyway.
Rather than camp the night as originally planned, we didn’t vibe the local Showgrounds, so continued driving, north through scenic sugar fields and mountains, on one of the most spectacular drives of our lives.
Kingscliff & Dreamtime Beach
After a night just over the Queensland border, we moved back into NSW, destined for Dreamtime Beach, one of Australia’s Top 101 beaches. We had also heard nice things about the nearby small town of Kingscliff, so had penciled in a couple of nights there. We must say that Dreamtime Beach was quite disappointing as a ‘top beach destination’. Yes it’s long and sandy, but it’s so rough you can’t swim (multiple drownings in the past few years), and it really isn’t anywhere near as pretty as many of the beaches we’ve attended.
With a disappointing Dreamtime behind us, we also didn’t super vibe Kingscliff, so decided that was our last day in NSW; time to wind the clocks back an hour.