An “Aussie” Christmas

The kids have always wanted to take a trip in a RV.  What better country to tour around in a RV than Australia, right?  Merry Christmas Australia!  Here come the Christensen’s…

Now Boarding

Now Boarding

We have a couple days to spend in Sydney before we pick up the campervan in Brisbane.  Sydney is a really cool city if you can just get past the cost of everything.  Bottled water costs $3 and my jaw dropped when I saw that diet coke cost over $4 each.

We found one free thing in Sydney and that turned out to be the most helpful if it’s your first time in Sydney like us.  A free walking tour of downtown Sydney starting at the Town Hall and ending at the Sydney Harbour.  We learned a lot about the history of this country on the tour and found it was easier to decide where we wanted to go next as well.

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We took the ferry to Manly Beach, walked across the bridge, watched street performers for a bit too, but nothing was as entertaining as our next tour guide by the name of Ethan.  He had many of his own stories to share with us and even offered to take a picture of our family.  Too bad we couldn’t get his boss to take the picture so he could step in it with us.IMG_8967

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Nothing prepared us for the next adventure of picking up our Campervan that we planned to drive, eat, and sleep in for the next two weeks.  Here we are trying to eat our first lunch after picking up the van.

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As you can see it’s a little cramped for the five of us.  Not knowing where we will sleep come nightfall and what choices we will have for meals is a little nerve-racking then add the fact that Greg’s driving this on what we call “the wrong side of the road” with me navigating.  It’s day one on the road and I’m not sure we will survive the day let alone the week or next.  Another factor we didn’t take into account was that it takes twice as long to travel as we planned so the farthest we drove today was to Noosa beach on the Sunshine coast.

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Noosa has a really nice beach with warm water, warm sand, and warm people.  There is also a nice National park we enjoyed our walkabout in and the kids had fun playing in the water.

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It was also the hardest night on our trip with us adjusting to sleeping in a campervan while it’s thundering and raining outside, everyone wanting to sleep in the same bed together, and a knock on the door early in the morning to tell us we parked the van in the wrong area so we quickly drove away.

Mon Repos was our next stop where you can watch loggerhead turtles nest on the beach.  There was a nice trail from the campervan park to the turtle park where we saw our first kangaroos in the wild.  We didn’t get a chance to see the turtles though because another thunderstorm moved in and we ended up calling a cab to take us back to the campervan where we realized we had left the windows open and our bedding got wet.  This was the night we second-guessed our decision to rent a campervan.

Snorkling on the Great Barrier Reef is next on our bucket list.  Here in this town of 1770 we can take a cruise out to the reef to snorkle, sit in a semi-submarine to view the reef, and ride in a glass bottom boat to tour the island of Lady Musgrave.

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 This was my favorite part of the trip to Australia.  Maybe it was because the snorkling was so good, maybe it was because I knew I didn’t have to sleep in the campervan for a few days, or maybe it was because I finally got in a date night with Greg while the kids chilled in the cabin.  Either way it was the highlight for me.  This is the fun little cabin we stayed in.

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On our way to the Crocodile Hunter’s Australia Zoo we stopped at the Glass House Mountains.  We saw some fresh macadamia nuts off the side of the road and had to stop.  I still think it’s awesome everywhere we stop the locals will ask the kids “How many more sleeps til Christmas Mate?”  It’s still hard to believe it’s Christmas time when it’s the middle of summer here.  Other things I notice that are different is that everything closes early except the drive thru liquor stores and the sun comes up way too early around 4:30am.

I don’t know if it’s the sun we never see in China, the feeling of summer in the air, or just the fact that we are on vacation that we feel the need to act like kids again but here we all are trying out the zipline at the visitors center in Glass House Mountains.

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The Australia Zoo like everything else is overpriced but we did enjoy the time we spent there and I can’t think of a better way to see the wildlife Australia has to offer if you can’t see them in their natural environment.  This is where we got to feed the kangaroos and pet a koala plus see the famous Crocodile show.

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We booked a Holiday Park for Christmas near the theme parks on the Gold Coast but it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.  These parks have everything: pools with waterslides, a mini-golf course, theatre room, laundry facilities, cafe bar & restaurant, even a jumping pillow, but they also have a LOT of people.  Everyone in Australia booked this park for Christmas I think.  We tried to make the best of it by purchasing some camp stools to sit on outside the RV and we even thought if we put up the tent that came with the RV we might have more room.  Don’t laugh but this is our broken tent and us sitting around in this park wondering what we are going to do here on Christmas day.  Afterall we have this spot booked for 3 days.

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We decided to cut our loss and take the chance that there is something better for us down the road.  It’s a little scary not knowing where we will sleep on Christmas and what we will eat with everything closing early on Christmas Eve but I’m not sorry we kept going.  The drive was absolutely gorgeous.

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We drove as far as Ballina Bay where we found another cabin to sleep in for Christmas.  Ballina is a small, quiet town, with a nice beach and even some familiar stores like Target and Kmart.  Believe it or not Santa even found us here in this small town.

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We skyped our family back in the States and spent the day on the beach for Christmas.  We loved watching the dolphins come into the bay at night too.

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We got another chance to see more dolphins the next day when we stopped at Port Stevens/Nelson Bay area.  We found a great camping spot right next to the sand dunes in the Myall National Park.

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This area is where we spotted some dingo tracks and actually saw dingos in the wild.  This picture is a picture of a dingo we saw at the zoo but the dingo we saw from the vehicle had something that looked like a platypus in it’s mouth and we saw another crossing the road too.

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This is the last night we will sleep in the campervan so we are pretty happy.

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We returned the campervan in Sydney and picked up a rental car for the weekend.  We are happy to be back at the Marriott with clean beds, a hot shower, and WIFI.  The buffet breakfast was great and then we were off to see the Blue Mountains.  Is there anywhere more beautiful than this place?

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Our last day in Sydney we spent at Darling Harbour and Maroubra beach.  Mckaela took some great pictures at the Aquarium.  My favorite is the shark one.  Check out those teeth.

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I don’t think we will ever forget this trip to Australia.  It will always be a Christmas to remember.  We decided in the end that we were glad we booked the campervan.  The kids would forget some of our adventures in a rental car but something tells me they won’t forget the experience of the campervan.  My favorite quotes of the vacation were when Olivia said “Ethan, we eat turkeys turkeys don’t eat us.” and when Greg said “We should be hanging up stockings on Christmas Eve not laundry.”

IMG_1642Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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