I was full of good intentions to blog throughout the course of the road trip from Canberra to Cairns with The Pilot. Road-tripping was far more draining and time-consuming than I anticipated, even when we were only doing 300-400km per day. We did the whole trip in 14 days, and drove 3819.8kms in total. I am still writing up a travel journal with comprehensive descriptions that will mostly only be interesting to The Pilot and I, but here I will describe some of the highlights from the trip.
One part of the road trip was a visiting tour – staying with special people who live along the way (and a few who are a bit off the typical route). The other part of the trip was staying in the caravan, at free or cheap campgrounds all the way up the East Coast. We found the sites using an app (wikicamps), which The Pilot bought at the recommendation of my grandparents (whose caravan we are borrowing).
One of the best parts of the trip was spending two days at a campground at the Leagues Club in Mullumbimbi, near Byron Bay. It was good to be able to settle for a little bit and set things up in the caravan as a home, without immediately packing it all up the very next day. Neither of us had ever been to Byron Bay before, so it was nice to share the experience.
We stayed in Mullumbimbi because Byron Bay was way above our price range. It turns out the hippie lifestyle can be packaged up and sold at a premium. For example, I found an organic grocery where you could buy homemade tomato pasta sauce for $8 a bottle. Another store was a yoga clothing store, ‘for the divine goddess’. Isn’t being a hippie about a simple lifestyle, rather than transplanting a different set of values to mainstream habits of consumerism and self-centredness?
I liked Mullumbimbi though. I understand why people say it’s like Byron Bay used to be before Byron Bay got massively commercialised. Before arriving, I assumed Mullumbimbi would be a regular hick small town like the one I grew up in and the many we had already driven through. Rather, it was a small hippie town, with relaxed cafes, alternative medicine stores, and well-stocked vintage stores as well as the usual pubs and IGA. The Pilot joked that maybe we should buy a property out of Mullumbimbi and he could work for the skydiving company in Byron Bay. But I wasn’t sure. Some places I prefer to visit.
Our favourite campground was a place called Neem Hall, near Mackay. It was run by a laconic bloke in his late middle age. He hasn’t finished setting it up the facilities so he only charged a donation, and told us that the $20 we gave him for one night was way too much! There were mountains on one side, a creek on the other, and sugarcane fields hemming you in. The creek was delightful for a swim, after we checked there were no crocs. It was clear, like the river I swam in when I was growing up. Being a creek, it was shallow, so we just lounged around in the water and soaked up the mountain views. The Pilot wanted to wash after our swim, because he’s accustomed to natural streams being full of gunk. I said that this water is probably more pure that what we have in the caravan tank.
Now we are staying in a caravan park in Cairns for a few weeks while The Pilot does his training. Stay tuned for a future blog post about caravan life!
For more photos of our trip, check out our respective Instagram feeds: