“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” - Anonymous
After the last few weeks on the road, we couldn’t agree with this sentiment more. Vanlife for us is discovering something new around every corner, enjoying new experiences, meeting new friends, learning new things, seeing new sights, all in the simplicity of a home on wheels. You feel the fullness of life... and you feel pretty alive.
After spending a few nights camping in and around Burleigh Heads (We highly recommend eating at Sparrow Eating House if you’re ever that way - it was our absolute favourite and you’ll find DTRH on the menu!), we drove up to Noosa Heads.
This little coastal surf town took us by surprise with how much we loved it! Postcard pretty, relaxed yet buzzing, great surf and amazing walks.
We originally tried to find somewhere to camp on Noosa North Shore, which we thought would be nice and remote (you get there by ferry and it looked quite pretty). This turned out to be impossible. There was nowhere to camp, and I’m pretty sure it’s 4WD only. We ended up on all fours, in pitch black, surrounded by forest, for well over an hour trying to dig Scout (our van) out of the sand, and then digging out a road, yelling at eachother as the van nearly skidded into a tree when Dom tried to reverse with speed, and then hugging and kissing each other with joy as we made our escape back across the ferry to the mainland.
After this, it was all bliss… we camped right on the beach in the National Park (you’re not really meant to do this… but you’ll spot the police driving beach buggies and taking photos with tourists, if that gives you an idea of just how friendly this town is). We used the beach showers or went to the aquatic centre (hot tip from my Dad - ‘the local pool wherever you are’) where you can swim a few laps and have a hot shower. :) We ran the coastal track every morning, and cooled off on the way back in the Fairy Pools.
To get to the Fairy Pools you stop at a turn in the track where there is a bench overlooking the view, climb down and across the rocks right out to the furthest point and you’ll find two crystal clear pools you can float the day away in. Mind there may be some blubber jellies swimming with you too, but we soon realised we were much faster and they keep to themselves.
Noosa Heads has a really good vibe. Every morning locals would stop by, or even pop-in the van for a quick chat before their morning walks, sometimes staying for breakfast or a cuppa. It’s amazing how Scout (our van) has worked as the opening for so many conversations, which have led us into some great friendships or even just incredible moments. One of these moments was meeting a man called Darren, who pulled up in his army truck to comment on Scout, then handed me a huge didgeridoo through the car window. I didn’t really know what to do with it, smiled and tried to hand it back, unsuccessfully.
Dareen ended up spending close to an hour sitting and chatting with us, and sharing his story. He never finished school and was told he wouldn’t amount to anything (his favourite subject was woodwork and he even failed that) so he sought out lucrative career in surfing, but struggled with heavy substance abuse. Darren spoke to us of learning to let go of seeking out material things to enrich our lives, and instead look for fulfilling moments. These can be a simple as a moment of grace, or a conversation with a stranger - like the one we were having. Darren left the world of pro surfing and has spent the last 26 years drug and alcohol free. He has now made over 1200 didgeridoos, and he’s spent the last few years living in the bush, building homes for indigenous communities. Despite experiencing a great deal of loss over the last year, he was full of optimism and was incredibly inspiring to listen to. I got few photos and a video of Darren and Dom on the didge, but then Darren got us to close the van door and our eyes and he played some healing songs on his didgeridoo for us for about half an hour. The whole experience left us feeling pretty blown away and humbled.
We were sad to say goodbye to Noosa, but we needed to get some work done on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, which we squished into two jam-packed days so we could spend a day visiting a bunch of waterfalls and waterholes I had on my to-see list.
First stop was Killarney Glen. I had read about the heart shaped water hole at the bottom of a waterfall and put it at the top of my list. I also read that it was a steep trek down, and that it wasn’t easy to find. We got to the bottom and quite easily found a waterhole, with a bunch of young guys jumping in. We sat, watched them, and then continued on the path (which continued in the opposite direction we had come) to find the ‘heart shaped’ waterhole, which I assumed must be further along.
What we didn’t realise was that the bottom of the track did a massive loop, and that the waterhole we had been sitting at was actually the heart shaped hole we were looking for, you just had to cross to the other side for it to suddenly appear in a heart shape. So we pushed on, up yet another very steep hill, and then another… after an hour of this I was dying. I kept moaning, “not another hill…!”, and Dom would respond, “we can do it, come on!” and power run up in a total sweat. I actually started to get worried we wouldn’t make it back to the car before sundown and totally gave up hope of seeing the other waterfalls on my list that day.
We were actually walking in circles, up the same hill over and over.
Somehow this did not click for either of us.
At one point we passed a couple who were leisurely strolling down, and we were struggling up, sweating, panting, dying… they looked kind of shocked, with the girl holding a map saying “I didn’t think it was that far?!”. We were like, “Oh yeah, you are definitely going to want to swap those thongs for hiking boots right now. We still haven’t found it.”
When we realised what we’d done we laughed for a good hour. Especially when I picture that girl's face, looking at her partner like, ‘maybe we should give this a miss, they look terrible!’.
After that ordeal, our day turned around. We drove a short ten minutes through the Gold Coast hinterlands to Clouds on Beechmont, where I surprised Dom. “We’re staying in a tent tonight!” I told him. He thought I was joking...
This was no ordinary tent. We spent a night literally in the clouds. In an African safari tent perched on the side of a mountain, with a deck built around it, the most comfortable bed (it felt like we were sleeping ON a cloud too), a big bath tub with seriously specky views across the valley and mountains beyond, a little kitchen with a Nespresso machine (hello lover, I have missed you!), a beautiful bathroom built onto the back, and… a huge projector movie screen!
This place should top the list of romantic getaways in Australia. It was heaven. The whole tent opens up (flyscreens optional) and it’s extremely private. We felt like we’d stepped into a dream.
So, so happy :)
If there’s more than two of you (travelling with kids?) and you want something just as unique, they also have an old little Church which they have turned into accommodation. We had a look inside and it is very cool!
If you do visit them, please tell them we recommended you. :)
We then spent a few nights camping along the coast, stopping at different beaches. Despite a few man vs wild situations (there was one night some kind of squirrel was climbing up our drivers window - I don’t know how but its feet were sticking to the glass - and while I was trying to hit the glass hard enough to make it fall, Dom, murmuring in his deep sleep told me to calm down and stop making so much noise, to which I responded something along the lines of, “But do you want a RAT BABY in your BED?!!!”. Well, that certainly woke him right up...), plus another night when we sat up in a startle at 1am because suddenly there was some kind of Turkish / Arabic music (correct me… I have no idea what it was) playing incredibly loud right next to us. We were camping in a secluded area, so we were super shocked by the sound and peered out the window to see… I don’t really know how to explain it... so here’s the snapchat story I sent my friends:
Despite this we really do love vanlife! Haha. I don’t know if it’s just because we’ve been getting up with the sun, but the days feel so much longer, and fuller. Most mornings we wake up, put the kettle on and sit and watch the sunrise from bed with a cuppa, then we go for a run together, get back and cook breakfast, and we’re ready to start the day by around 7am with so much energy and such a positive start.
We’re only just beginning to explore this beautiful country we live in, but it’s blowing us away already!
Now we move South down the NSW coastline… our next blog will include all our favourite campsites on the way down :)