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Byron Bay Roadtrip

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From Shark Bay to Byron Bay

Travel

14 days


Route

Perth to Sydney

2929km


Best Time of the Year

All year around

Highlights

  • Opal Mining Tour in Andamooka
  • Sunset at Uluru
  • Stumbling upon the Devils Marbles in NT
  • Volleyball on the beach at Monkey Mia
  • Telling stories under the stars next to a campfire in Eucla
  • Making it to Byron Bay

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Day 1
Shark Bay to Monkey Mia

Distance 30.9km - Driving Time 1hr 15min

Technically we were driving from Perth to Sydney. But the real task at hand was making it from Shark Bay in Western Australia (the westernmost point) to Byron Bay (the easternmost point). We stocked up on food and supplies in Perth and headed north to Shark Bay.

We spent the day in Shark Bay, played volleyball with some Dutch tourists as the sun set and later that night went to Monkey Mia for an aboriginal dreaming tour with the charismatic Capes as our tour guide. We ate fish cooked by fire, played didgeridoo and learnt about the land.

Day 2
Sandstone to Norseman

Distance 699km - Driving Time 1hr 15min

We spent the day in Shark Bay, played volleyball with some Dutch tourists as the sun set and later that night went to Monkey Mia for an aboriginal dreaming tour with the charismatic Capes as our tour guide. We ate fish cooked by fire, played didgeridoo and learnt about the land.

Day 3
Eucla to Nullarbor

Distance 233km - Driving Time 4hrs 25min

We woke up early and headed south east to Sandstone. A small goldmining community of 50 people. Half of which we met later that night at the pub. We all ordered a snitty’s and the owner of the pub showed us some of the gold he had panned over the years.

Day 4
Andamooka to Kulgera

Distance 891km - Driving Time over a few days

Weighing the campervan down with tummies full of bacon and eggs we began our drive south towards the Nullarbor, stopping in a quaint little town called Menzies for lunch. From there passed through Kalgoorlie stopping in to check out the Super Pit and stock up on food and water. We ended up staying the night in Norseman playing Uno and drinking hot chocolate.

Day 5
Uluru to Kata Tjuta

Distance 53.1km - Driving Time 43min

We were up at the crack of dawn and making our way towards the Eucla, the start of the Nullarbor. We came upon the straights stretch of road in Australia and I took the driving reigns. That night in Eucla we heard all about the Nullarbor Nymph, a nude lady in the 70s who lived with the kangaroos. We kept our eyes peeled but to no avail.

Day 6
Northern Territory to Queensland

Distance 1022km - Driving Time over a few days

Leaving at around 7am we started along the Nullarbor, stopping in at the three viewing points to gaze out across the endless Bunda cliffs. That night we stayed in Port Augusta in South Australia. Feeling lazy we regrettably all ordered McDonald's for dinner. A decision we regretted and do not endorse.

Day 7
Andamooka

Distance 200km - Driving Time 2hrs

We drove north through South Australia to Andamooka, a charming yet sleepy opal-mining town. After lunch at the Andamooka Yacht Club we went on a tour of the mines with Peter. Peter was not only an opal miner but also the weatherman, sashimi chef, motelier, postman and laundromat. Later that evening we sat on Andamooka’s highest point and watched the sun set over Australia.

Day 8
Kulgera

Distance 1700km - Driving Time over a few days

Driving up through SA towards the Northern Territory the colour of the road changed to deep red and cars became less common. We zipped past Coober Pedy and checked in for the night in a great (and cheap) campground in Kulgera right next to the Kulgera pub and roadhouse. We stargazed all night, it was astounding.

Day 9
Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Distance 340km - Driving Time 4hrs

We arrived at Uluru early in the day and spent the day walking around it and then venturing over to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Having travelled across Australia we were finally here. There was only one suitable soundtrack for this experience: Great Southern Land. But, whilst Uluru was breathtaking and gets all the glory, Kata Tjuta, was the true stand out. Believed to be over 500 million years old the ‘many heads’ spread over 20km and dwarf you as you walk through them with ochre-coloured cavernous walls swallowing your shadow. We decided to stick around for another night to continue to discover this incredible bucket list spot.The next few nights we stayed at the caravan park just outside Uluru and listened to a guy play Midnight Oil covers into well into the night. 

Day 10
Northern Territory and Queensland

The next 48-72 hours are a blur of roadhouses, toilet stops and buying kitschy souvenirs. We had to head north through the Northern Territory before we could head east through Queensland. Past the Devils Marbles and on through central Queensland. Although we managed to barbecue as we went those final few days were filled with bacon and egg rolls and steak pies from buzzing bain maries. We arrived in Byron Bay at midday on our second to last day and dived into the water to wash the sweat, grease and red desert from our skin.

Would we do it again? YES!

Day 11
Highlights from the trip

Where the best view was?
The Bunda Cliffs along the Nullarbor. The endless cliffs were breathtaking. We saw dolphins immediately after stepping out of the camper.

Where was your favourite place/town visited and why? 
Andamooka, a small opal mining town in South Australia. It was so unique and wholesome. The community was very friendly and we had the best lunch at The Andamooka Yacht Club.

What was your favourite experience/activity & why?
The Aboriginal Dreaming Tour in Monkey Mia. Having the opportunity to learn about the traditional owners of the land and try their bush tucker was a great experience.

Best café for coffee? 
Only one of our group drunk coffee so we went in search for Australia's best milkshake! We all agreed our favourite was the double chic brownie shake at Andamooka Yacht Club.

Favourite pub/restaurant?
The Sandstone Pub hands down. We had a ball. The locals were great, the beer was cold, the food was nice and we even danced until the early hours of the morning.

Did you have a favourite Holiday Park you stayed in and why?
Byron Bay Discovery Parks because we got to spend two nights there, it had a great pool area and we got a chance to play some basketball.

What would be your top tips for other campervan travellers?
Definitely pack a book for down time. Make friends with the locals because they will show you a great time. Don’t forget to give a courtesy wave to other campers on the road; early on we forgot to wave to an elderly couple and thought we were going to have a pack of ol' grey nomads on our trail. Take turns driving. Definitely stop at all the road houses. They are so unique to each location and just take some time to relax and people watch.

Can you share a recipe from something you cooked in the campervan? 
Sausage sandwiches all round. With tomato sauce and onion.

What is your greatest memory of the whole campervan holiday?
Its hard to pin point one memory. We all agreed amongst us just how great it felt to be travelling across our own country. I’d learned a fair bit about our outback from Billy Bryson in his book Down Under (I know, I know… an American teaching an Aussie about his own country) so it was great to get out and see it for myself. It is so big and beautiful and learning about its history, discovering new towns and eating great food was all part of the fun. Driving is the only way to do it.

All photos by Shaun Vincent and Nick Sullivan.