Australia is surrounded by water on all sides and thus by definition an island. Admittedly a very large one. To the east lies the South Pacific Ocean, to the west the Indian Ocean, to the north the Timor, Arafura and Coral Seas and the Bass Strait separates Tasmania from the mainland. With a coastline stretching for nearly 37’000 kilometers and made up of over 11’000 beaches it is not a big surprise that you’re spoiled by beach-choices in Australia! 85 % of Australia’s population lives within one hour’s drive of the coastline. Australians clearly love their beaches and don’t move far from them. On our road-trip south we had the chance to enjoy several of them, each different than the previous one.
Our first beach along the way was “Surfers Paradise”, the capital of the Gold Coast and a large tourist destination.
Planing our destinations using a road map it came somewhat as a surprise that the beach is backed by high-rise hotels and instead of a neat little surf-village we found high-rise developments fencing the beach. Many believe that Surfers Paradise has been over-commercialized. On the plus side Surfers Paradise has more going on than just the waves and there are tons of pubs and nightlife:
Staying at the YHA hostel we had a great view of the harbor and enjoyed a couple days in Surfers Paradise.
Continuing on south, Byron Bay was far more to our liking. The city was far smaller and much more of a little beach-town. With a population of about 30’000 Byron Bay and its surrounding area absorb mind-blowing 2 million+ visitors per year. Luckily we arrived outside the high season and did not have to put up with over-crowded beaches and accommodations.
In Byron Bay we spent several days just relaxing at the beaches and enjoying the town. Small local restaurants and pubs offered an amazing variety of choice.
At the beaches there was also some serious surfing going on, but we couldn’t make up our mind to rent the boards and catch the waves. Nevertheless it was a lot of fun just watching…
To not get too lazy we walked several tracks around Cape Byron.
One of them led us to the “most easterly point of the Australian mainland”:
And to the Byron Light House:
After leaving Byron Bay we continued on south and stopped at several idyllic beaches along the way:
On many of them there were only few people and we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves:
We made it a habit to stop at beaches for breaks, lunches or simply a short swim. Since the days were sizzling hot this was often the best way for cooling down.
The only down side of these beach stops was getting back into our “sauna-car” after it was baking in the sun for several hours…
These were probably the laziest days we have spent so far during our entire trip, only heading from one beach to the next. Even on the island of Noronha we had been more active. But then again times like these are necessary too.
After passing Ballina, Newcastle and Sydney we kept heading south towards Canberra. Why we headed for Canberra will be revealed in the next post 😉