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Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Let’s face it, everyone loves koalas. They are simply too cute for words. Start off your epic camper roadie at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, around 20kms from our Brisbane branch, where you can appreciate the gentle lifestyles of these fluffy little bears up close with daily wildlife interactions. The sanctuary is the world’s largest facility of its type and is devoted to growing Australia’s koala population. They also hold sheep dog demonstrations, have kangaroos, wombats, platypus, crocodiles and snakes. But with over 130 koalas, it’s hard for these little furballs to not steal the show.
Did you know that Queensland is koala-cuddling capital of Australia? You can only cuddle a koala in Queensland, South Austalia and Western Australia - an opportunity not to be missed!
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Great snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking and fishing awaits on Stradbroke Island. The island is renowned for having an amazing range of wildlife including dolphins, turtles, manta rays and migratory whales. You might even see the extremely rare ‘Migaloo’ - the world’s only known Albino whale.
To get over to this marine playground you will have to either leave your campervan at the holiday park for the day and organise transport to and from the island, or bring it with you on the vehicle ferry so you can explore Straddie on four wheels. Stradbroke island is okay for Britz's 2WD vehicles, as there is sealed roads to travel on. This place is super popular in the summer, so it’s a good idea to pre-book the ferry during if you’re here near peak season.
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Gold Coast - Performance Driving Centre
With its popular holiday atmosphere, the Gold Coast is a busting location set at a million miles an hour, but even then it struggles to keep up with the Official Supercars drive ride and race experience. You and your travel companions can get behind the wheel of a genuine V8 race car, race side by side up to 12 laps of the Norwood Motorplex and basically do all the things you wish you could’ve done on the road trip, but legally weren’t allowed to. The cars are prepared by Australian V8 Supercar technicians and the package includes use of all necessary safety equipment and a full briefing before you go racing. There are also professional race-drivers on hand to offer assistance and tuition to ensure you get the most out of your experience. They encourage you to drive the cars fast and show you exactly how to get the best lap times.
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Kirra Beach Tourist Park
Now that you’ve made it to Gold Coast territory, what better way to celebrate than with a night at one of its most laid-back and picturesque beaches? When you reach Kirra Beach Tourist Park, leave your van at one of their whopping 160 powered sites and hit the beach, which is one of Australia’s most famous surfing spots. With great facilities and family activities at this camping spot, a quiet and secluded location, and just a quick walk to the many cafes of Coolangatta, Kirra Beach Tourist Park is campground nirvana.
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Froggy Beach, Coolangatta
Wedged between Snapper Rocks and Point Danger, you’ll find the secluded bay of Froggy Beach. This magical spot may be tiny but you will often have it all to yourself, and the rocky headlands on either side make it a great place to take shelter from the elements.
If the water is too wild for swimming, check out the tiny rock pool on the northern side. When it’s time to head to the pub, you’ve got the choice of two great watering holes both within walking distance. Check out Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club for a burger and cold beer or Cafe D’Bar for salads and fresh seafood.
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Cape Byron Lighthouse
If you had to pick one thing and one thing only to do in Byron Bay, it would be to stand atop the vertical cliffs at Australia’s most eastern tip. The majestic Cape Byron Lighthouse has stood here since 1901, overlooking the dolphins that regularly ride the waves below, easily visible from the lookout. She’s a grand old monument, but it’s Mother Nature that steals the show every time. Even the locals are consistently awestruck by the vista. Walk the loop from Byron Bay, which is about 6 km and reasonably strenuous, so perhaps make sure you have decent walking shoes. Otherwise, drive to Watego Bay, park up, and walk approximately 20 minutes from there. Grab a coffee from the great little coffee van and use the public toilets if you need to.
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Byron Bay could, in theory, have a road trip schedule all its own, but even then you’d struggle to cover all the crazy cool things this place has to offer. Originally an outpost of the Australian surfer/hippie community, Byron Bay has embraced the inevitable juxtaposition between alternative lifestyle and capitalism. The harmony in which those contrasts exist is exactly Byron’s charm. Walk from elegant, pricey homeware boutiques to incense-infused crystal shops, and past the post code-sharing mansions and surf huts. You can enjoy a hipster coffee joint in the morning, a chilled out family café in the day and fine dining at night. Byron Bay as a destination should not be overlooked on any road tripper’s route.
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Byron Bay Brewery
Byron Bay is synonymous with clean and healthy cafes, but if you’re starting to get sick of kale smoothies and acai bowls, head a little out of town to Byron Bay Brewery. Here you’ll be able to indulge in fresh and vibrant lagers while snacking on the sticky lamb ribs or jerk chicken sliders. Come evening, there’s often great live music on offer.
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The Clog Barn Holiday Park, Coffs Harbour
For accommodation that is a destination in itself, look no further than The Clog Barn Holiday Park, which will transport you beyond Coffs Harbour and all the way to the Netherlands. What started as a dream for Dutchman Tom Hartsuyker is now one of the most unique attractions and accommodation in Australia. Park your van up at one of their powered sites and intersperse your use of their first-class facilities with visits to a clog-making demonstration, the intricate model Dutch village, and the one-of-a-kind clog-shaped pool. If you’ve ever stayed anywhere as memorable as this, we’ll eat our Dutch caps.
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The Big Banana
Warning… Tragic banana puns ahead. An icon for over 50 years, the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour is more than an enormous monument and hilarious photo opportunity, it’s a bunch of fun. The venue is a great family amusement and water park with slides or play areas suitable for kids of all ages, such as a toboggan course, candy factory, 36-hole miniature golf, opal centre, plantation walk, ice skating rink and more. There’s something appealing here for everyone, young or more well-ripened. The park is open from 9am to 5pm with the water park closed between June and August. It’s a large facility so we suggest the Banana Café as a rendezvous point should you get split.
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Tacking Point Lighthouse
With unabated views over the Tasman Sea, the Tacking Point lighthouse lookout offers some stunning picture opportunities, but it’s also the spot locals flock to for whale watching that is completely free of charge (instead of taking a charter boat). Whales and dolphins are easily spotted from the lookout, but binoculars will improve the experience if you so happen to have some hiding in one of your van’s nooks and crannies. The best activity occurs between June and November, but even if there’s no visible whale action, the lighthouse monument alone is something to write home about.
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Town Beach to Tacking Point Lighthouse
After all of that lovely wine and food, shake it off with a 9 km coastal walk along the rocky headlands of Port Macquarie. This track includes beaches, headlands, historic sites and a subtropical rainforest, just about everything you could possibly want in a walk. After all of that exercise, you will have more than earned a beer at The Beach House. This bustling beachside pub is the best place to watch the sunset over the water.
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Getting lost in the bush is not exactly what something you’d want to happen in Australia... Unless you’re at Bago Maze, where it’s par for the course. Set on the grounds on Bago Vineyards, because we aren’t ready to move away from super vineyards yet, this sprawling and surprisingly tranquil attraction is the largest hedge maze in New South Wales. For those not driving, you’ll find the maze gets increasingly difficult, especially after sampling some of the Bago Vineyard wine. The chilled Jazz Red is recommended and all bottles are very affordable. Bago is beautifully presented, lush and overall an amazing way to spend the afternoon.
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Bent On Food
Feeling hungry? Then a stop at the region’s most loved and awarded café, Bent on Food, is a must. This great café serves hearty breakfasts and moreish sweets, all made with seasonal produce from local growers.
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Amaroo Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruises
The beaches and beautiful turquoise waters in and around Forster are enough of an attraction, but aboard the newest and probably most impressive whale boat in Australia, Amaroo Cruises guarantee a whale sighting during whale season (June to November) or your money back. The crew are friendly and able to give you a pretty accurate prediction about the best places to spot a humpy (local lingo for a humpback). While a respectful viewing distance is observed, it’s been known for curious humpies to breach breathtakingly close. There is plenty of space to park your camper whilst out interacting with these incredible animals.
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The Sydney Rock Oyster (Saccostrea glomerata) are among the best in Australia, so stop off at Oyster Cove, just a short trip from the Pacific Motorway, where they have them coming out their ears. There’s a host of wholesale oyster suppliers like Oysters Direct, Alldinga or XL Oysters, to name a few, and the best restaurant to eat these saucy little bivalves is The Poyers café, were they serve Port Stephens Oysters in six delicious ways. Haven’t tried one? This is a good time to start.
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Fingal Bay Holiday Park
Just a few minutes’ drive through the bush from the main drag will bring you to your own overnight paradise at Fingal Bay Holiday Park. Nestled idyllically between the lush bushland of Tomaree National Park and dreamy surf of Shoal Bay, you can park up your camper at one of their many paved and powered van sites and experience the perfection of being only a stone’s throw from the beach. With all the facilities to make your stay hassle-free, including a dump station, laundry and shared kitchen, Fingal Bay will make you feel so pampered, you may never want to leave.
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Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters
The team at Irukandji are truly dedicated to protecting all forms of life in the ocean and their enthusiasm is infectious. Kids absolutely love this place and will learn a lot from the friendly and engaging staff. If you’re keen to get in the water with huge rays and up to 190 sharks then you’re in the right place. No reason to freak out, the rays are completely harmless, even being a little bit like giant underwater, winged puppies. In winter, the best times to visit are on weekdays or prior to 12 pm or after 2 pm, in summer, prior to 10 am or after 3 pm.
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Bathers Way Coastal Walk, Newcastle
There’s no better way to explore Newcastle’s cultural and natural landmarks, including its indigenous and convict history, than on this 5 km coastal walk. Stretching from the lighthouse at Nobbys Headland to the coastal wilderness of Glenrock Reserve, look for the yellow information signs which will tell the stories of this area’s history as you pass by on your way to Bathers Way. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop for a swim and there are lots of great cafes and restaurants where you can rest and refuel.
Highlights along the path include Nobbys Breakwall, whose foundations against the roaring surf were quarried and laid by forced convict gangs, and the chance to spot dolphins and whales coasting by. There are lots of spots for parking along the track, so you can spring from your van and start walking wherever you see fit. We’d also recommend walking through the Art Deco pavilion at Newcastle Ocean Baths, where you’ll be able to stop for a soak in a saltwater pool.
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Next head to The Tinklers, a vineyard run by the Tinkler family who have been in the Hunter Valley for over 100 years. Sit amongst the barrels with a glass of their Viognier, or pick up some fresh produce grown on site. Just-picked fresh avocados, citrus, and figs are all available - straight from the cellar door.
Before you steer your van out of Hunter, head to the Small Winemakers Centre, opposite Brokenwood, to sample some wines you’re not going to find anywhere else. Small-batch and up-and-coming winemakers who are too small to have a cellar door showcase their wines at the centre.
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Mount Pleasant Wines
With over 140 wineries to choose from in the Hunter Valley, there’s no shortage of places to try, no matter whether you prefer a chardonnay or a glass of shiraz. Head to Hunter Valley institution Mount Pleasant to try wine from from some of the oldest vines in Australia. Make sure you try both their semillon and shiraz… Apart from your designated driver of course!
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The Entrance Pelican Feed
For another crazy wildlife experience, head to the Pelican Capital of Australia, (more commonly known as The Entrance). At 3:30pm, 365 days a year, no matter what weather, this is one of the Central Coast’s most popular attractions. It began completely innocently 20 years ago, when the staff from Clifford’s, a local fish and chip shop, fed scraps to the pelicans. Now accustomed to their regular meal, hundreds of local pelicans congregate at a specially constructed feeding platform (called Pelican Plaza), to wait for their lunch. The feeding frenzy that ensues is pretty hilarious to watch. This bizarre ritual also allows the birds to be routinely inspected for injury so it’s a win-win all round.
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The beach-hopping continues with a stop at Terrigal Beach. With its beautiful calm conditions, this is a great beach to come to if you want to learn to surf. Book a group lesson with Central Coast Surf School ahead of time to guarantee a spot. There’s also a bunch of cafes and boutique shops lining the boardwalk just above the beach, and if you feel like you need a pit stop, public toilets are also available.
Then head over to Terrigal Haven, a five minute walk from Terrigal Beach, for a picnic lunch. From the Haven, you’ll be able to jump on the walking path that leads around the steep rocky bluff known as the Skillion, where you’ll be able to see over North Avoca beach and beyond to the vast Pacific Ocean.
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Australian Reptile Park
If it’s venomous, stingy or bitey, you’ll find it at the Australian Reptile Park. This includes an amazing array of crocs, spiders, birds, lizards, snakes, turtles, Tasmanian devils, wombats, and koalas (though they’re cuddly not bitey). This is an amazing place to get up close and personal – or maybe just “that’s quite close enough, thank you” – with the animals. With plenty of stunning exhibits and conservation messages, this is great for animal lovers or the family. It’s the home of Elvis, Australia’s most badass crocodile who, believe it or not, lost two teeth eating a lawn mower. He is an aggressive feeder and never fails to wow the crowds.
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Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park
A true demonstration of both how rich in Aboriginal heritage this whole area is and how much remains unfound, the team at Walkabout Park uncovered 1000 year-old carvings as late as 2006. They remain constantly on the lookout for sites yet to be rediscovered. The most famous carving they have is a 50-foot emu carving. They also have caves with stencilled hand paintings and other historic Aboriginal artworks. There's plenty of wildlife to encounter too, ranging from kangaroos to emus, lizards to spiders and everything in between. The park is about 3 km from the Great North Walk near the Calga Interchange of the F3 Freeway, signposted ‘Peats Ridge’.
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Palm Beach Sydney
If you’re a fan of Australia’s legendary Home & Away then you’ll recognise this stop. Fans regularly flock to Palm Beach to see their favourite actors filming and to take a photo outside the ‘Summer Bay’ surf life saving club.
Even if you’re not a fan of the show, Palm Beach is a quintessential coastal Sydney suburb complete with a great surf beach and a dazzling array of multi-million dollar homes. Take the chance to stretch your legs outside your van for a while by checking out some of the town’s many cafes or take a walk to the heritage-listed Barrenjoey Lighthouse at the end of the peninsula.
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