This is the first post of many that will hopefully track my journey down the East Coast of Australia from Cairns to Melbourne. Jade and I have opted to do this travelling in a camper van, crossing off yet another bucket list item, to maximise our useful time here while saving as much money as possible. I’ve decided to blog about this location to location instead of by normal title or day by day!
Flying from Perth to Cairns was a much more pleasant experience than flying from Singapore to Perth. I may have only slept a little, but Jade and I each had a spare seat, which allowed us to rest enough to feel alive when we picked up the camper van later that morning.
When we got off the shuttle bus from the airport, and I had sorted getting my hoodie back that I had left on there, we went into the office to sort out paying for and getting the camper van. Once all the paper work signed, everything was paid for, and all drivers cleared, we saw our camper van for the first time. Spaceships name all their rentals for ease of identification, and it was as though they knew us before we arrived. It’s called Draco.
I drove the camper van, hesitantly, out of the rental yard and to a warehouse carpark round the corner so Jade could also have a go at driving it and so we could both gauge the size of it while parking. It’s easy to drive, I just keeping thinking I need a gear stick, which I don’t with it being automatic.
Our first proper port of call was the Esplanade which Jade’s Dad had told us was a must see in Cairns. We took our swimming gear, and after eating in a local cafe, we changed and went in the lagoon on the esplanade. Completely separate from the sea, and therefore the sharks, it was a nice place to chill out after the flight and thinking about the best places to dive the Great Barrier Reef. After weighing up different opinions and different brochures, we decided to hold off for some fascinating dives further South at Townsville.
We looked up some things to do in Cairns, and where there were free campsites/RV parks to stay over night. Luckily, there was one 50 minutes South, so we decided to stay there after we visited the Botanic gardens in Cairns. The only problem, after sitting in a car park deciding for 10 minutes, and only having the camper van for 4 hours, it wouldn’t start. Breakdown arrived quickly, told us the battery had failed, and to be fair, Spaceships we quick to have it replaced. Just getting the breakdown out of the way early.
We bought food as we waited for the battery change so when it was sorted we could visit the gardens and get moving. They were really nice to walk round, and had art galleries in old (gas? water?) tanks on the site as well. Once we were done looking, Jade drive us 50 minnutes down the highway to the campsite, where we pulled up next to another spaceship. It was lucky we did, they showed us how to use the awning, and saved us a lot of time. The stars we beautiful as we climbed into bed after our first day driving and our first successful camping meal (chilli). The bed is surprisingly spacious considering the van is not that big!
The next morning we cracked out the weetabix and the instamap (a map given free at the airprort with people’s instagram photos on from interesting places) and planned where we would like to see. Our final stop for the day was suggested to be anywhere not too expensive near Innisfail/Mission beach.
The first stop was the Babinda Boulders which was a fast moving waterfall. It was a little surprising to see t he waterfall at first, we thought it was a series of rocks in a lake (well I did) but it was really beautiful and definitely worth pulling over for. Not far along the highway was another beauty spot, Josephine Falls, so we decided to stop there too. They were also impressive, much hig and more tiered than Babinda boulders. Babinda Boulders brought our first wild snake spotting.
Jade noticed a sign saying Golden Hole just a long from Josephine falls and we decided we had to stop. It was the first place we didn’t really get that was pointed out of signposted, but it did come with our first crocodile warning. I wasn’t expecting to see a sign saying there were crocodiles in the area, don’t swim or get to close to the water.
After leaving there, we headed to Innisfail for lunch. While there, we found it had a big lake, so we walked around it for a while and strategised about a place to stay. Mission beach has almost no free rest stops or RV parks, so we decided to check out one closer to Innisfail called Etty Bay. The beach was really nice, despite all the cassowary sign and crab holes, but the RV park didn’t feel like a place we should be staying.
We carried on and decided to get as close to Mission beach as possible. We found a little rest stop that allowed RV parking for upto 24 hours. The only problem was it was a long way from any shops of cafes to buy food and get our waterbottles filled. The nearest town turned out to be Mission beach itself. Once we were there we found a pay RV park right on the beach that was cheap enough that we thought it would make better sense to stay there than waste petrol too and from the other place.
It meant setting our camper van in one of the most naturally attractive place that could have chosen. The sea is 20 metres away, and because we paid to use a site rather than a free rest stop, we have access to hot showers and kitchen/BBQ’s with proper plug sockets, no more using a car charger tonight.
Tomorrow we hit the beach for real, but for now, it’s just wasting the evening listening to the waves and under the stars; it’s a hard life.