“A public pool with sand in the middle of the city center?! We are definitely going to Brisbane!” I screamed with excitement whilst browsing for airplane tickets from Perth, where we’d been staying for the last five weeks. Six days later our over-packed luggage was checked in, my excitement was growing and luckily, the seat on the airplane next to me wasn’t occupied.
Five hours later, and quite satisfied that we were actually still able to feel our legs, we arrived at Brisbane. Oh, Brisbane. It was love at first sight. Big skyscrapers made of glass, a subtropical climate, so-called CityCats on the river that serve as perfect public transport, and genuinely happy people on the streets. Plus of course, a beautiful sand pool in the middle of the city. It felt like paradise.
For a week Brisbane people showed us the hidden gems of this fast growing city, and we enjoyed every single moment. Shocked at finding museums are for free, we spent two afternoons in the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Queensland Maritime museum and at the same time met volunteer guides who made us realize the Australian art scene shouldn’t be underestimated.
On the last day in the city we packed every single inch of our new camper van, drove over the bridge across the Brisbane River, and headed towards Byron Bay, the hippie place where the surf is good, the nightlife doesn’t stop till late morning, and the most common phrase you hear is “No worries, mate!”. The packed beach made us decide to drive a bit further, and we ended up in Lennox Head, where the view of our free-camping place took our breath away.
Byron Bay ©travelbrochures.org
An endless sand bay with lush greenery and kangaroos chewing grass just a step away gave us a first impression we could never forget, but in the following days we got used to it. All the way through Coffs Harbor, South West Rocks, and Port Macquarie we admired beautiful bays, stopping every time we saw the possibility of good surf. The laid back attitude made us forgot about the European daily rush, but the art of learning how to relax completely wasn’t that easy to master. “Just breathe it in” I was told.
Until we got to the Forster Great Lakes area, where time stopped. Being caught in the middle of huge trees, with views over the lakeside on one side and seaside on the other, we never wanted to leave. Sipping our morning coffee on a wooden dock, we found lakes full of dolphins that swam in from the sea and pelicans catching fresh fish for breakfast. With only three eggs in our pan we felt slightly envious, but the chance to admire this bit of wilderness whilst being a part of it was precious.
“I could retire here,“ I said and pointed to a glass house built on a hill, when leaving Forster.
But Sydney was now only 220 kilometers away, and my heart was beating fast. One more night and we would wake up with a view over the Sydney Harbor in the morning.
Read the first article of Australia for amateurs mini-series: Western Australia.