After an afternoon wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, we drove to a national park for a night of camping near a waterfall. We were on our way to visit yet another gracious host, Jon’s father’s cousin, or “Sledge.” Sledge is an American who moved to Australia in the 70s, landing near Nimbin, a quirky town known for being very liberal. Sledge and his beautiful partner, Danielle, live in a home completely off the grid and independent of local electricity, plumbing, water, etc. Pretty amazing! They live in a gorgeous jungle with beautiful trees and animals (and sometimes bugs!) all around them. We also got to visit Sledge’s son, Sebastian, his partner Ruby, and their children who live on the property.
Sledge and Danielle took us all around the area, to Byron Bay, beautiful beaches, forests, and a hike to the “pinnacle,” overlooking a crater’s valley in a national park. When we visited Nimbin, the nearby town, we were amused to be welcomed with open arms, as we’re from Colorado, the first U.S. state to completely legalize marijuana. Sledge and Danielle were wonderful hosts, and we loved staying on their farm and enjoying their beautiful area!
Camping at Boundary Falls in Gibraltar NP
Beautiful blossoming purple trees were all along our drive inland up north to Nimbin
The Sledge homestead backyard
The Sledge homestead’s patio, where we ate dinners under the stars
Nimbin is jealous of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana
The Peninsula in Border Ranges NP – we hiked to the top of that to overlook the valley!
Sledge showing us the view at the top of the Peninsula, Border Ranges NP
Cool trees and vines in the rainforest in Border Ranges NP
Overlooking the valley, which is an ancient, gigantic volcano, the rim of it is the NP, the valley the middle of it.
Putting the “selfie-stick” we bought in Thailand to use with Scott and Danielle, taking a break while hiking back along the Peninsula
Byron Bay peninsula, just below the famous lighthouse
Byron Bay shore and cliffs
Looking down the cliffs in Byron Bay
When we left the Sledge farm, we drove to an animal sanctuary where Jen got to HOLD A KOALA (THIS IS NOT A JOKE) and we both got to pet Koalas. It was touristy but cool nonetheless. At a nearby beach, Jon took advantage of the beginner waves and had fun surfing for a couple hours. We then drove through Surfer’s Paradise and skipped Brisbane and the G20 (sadly we weren’t invited), and stopped in Noosa.
Koalas hanging out, eating Eucalyptus
Pose on Coolangatta beach, Scott and Danielle took us to a great happy hour at a spot on the beach
Big male kangaroo at the sanctuary relaxing
Picture of the print we got of Jen hugging a koala.
Jon surfing in Currumbin
Noosa was the most beautiful beach we saw on the coast. We even saw a wild koala on a tree in a walk in the Noosa Headlands National Park.
Walk in the Noosa headlands – gorgeous
Coast and remote beach in the Noosa Headlands
Noosa Headlands – gorgeous!
Wild Koala in the Noosa Headlands! Rare to see one, we were lucky – unfortunately they don’t move much, this was the best pic we could get of him sleeping in the tree.
Noosa Headlands coastline
Amazing Noosa beach – paddle board surfing here was fun!
Next, we joined a two night sailing tour out of the Whitsunday Islands. We got to participate in the sailing, snorkel on the end of the Great Barrier Reef (including seeing another huge turtle!), and visit the gorgeous Whitehaven Beach, with the most pure sand in the world. However, due to lack of internet and time limitations, we did not fully vet the tours or find out the details of our boat. It turned out that there were about 28 people (by people I mean young backpackers) all sleeping bunk style in a large dorm in the bottom of the sailboat. Overall, the sailing trip was amazing, but the sleep was lacking.
Whitehaven beach – dubbed top 3 beach in the world – easy to see why
Whitehaven beach – getting out early before anyone else was there was cool
Amazing sand and water at Whitehaven beach
Jen enjoying Whitehaven beach
The smaller of the two sails on our boat, The Condor, built in 1981 and won several races throughout the 80’s
Sunset on the boat of day two in the Whitsundays
Snorkeling in the Whitsundays, Scuba Steve and Stevette
Leaving on our sailboat in the Whitsunday islands – water was incredible
Sunsetting on the boat in the Whitsunday Islands
Rocks along Whitehaven beach
Little lagoon just over the rocks of Whitehaven beach
Whitehaven Beach with tide going out
Whitehaven Beach with tide going out
The Whitsundays were a great first taste of the Great Barrier Reef. We were excited to head north and get to the heart of the reef, in Cairns (post on this soon to come).