Following our stay in Sydney, we set out towards Melbourne for the next leg of our Australian road trip.
Along this stretch we traversed part of the Grand Pacific Drive before heading inland to visit Canberra. We spend a couple days in the capital city then returned to the coast, making overnight stops in the seaside towns of Eden and Lakes Entrance before reaching Melbourne.
For this part of the trip we were excited to be joined by Annette’s mother, Diane, and sister, Angela. We picked up our new traveling companions at the Sydney Airport and continued on to the Royal National Park.
After a very long flight from the USA our weary travelers were happy to stretch their legs at Garie Beach.
Continuing along the pacific coast towards Kiama, we stopped frequently to enjoy the views.
We reached Kiama in the late afternoon and had a walk around the waterfront. The lighthouse dates from 1887 and is still operational.
Near the lighthouse there is a large blowhole; we watched as the force of the waves sent a spray of water high into the air.
After a long day of driving (and stopping along the way) we made it to Canberra rather late and got to bed soon after checking into our apartment. The next morning our first stop was the National Museum of Australia.
The museum traces the history of Australia from the origins of human settlement 50,000 years ago to the present.
It was neat to see some of the antique automobiles. This was a very informative museum and it was free!
Our next destination was the National Gallery of Australia, which features works by Australians as well as international artists.
This room is a piece by Yayoi Kusama and is titled “The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens.”
In the middle of the room was a large box covered with mirrors on both the inside and outside. Peeking inside through a window it appeared that there were millions of spotted pumpkins. The kids loved it!
These colorful dingoes were created by the Australian artist Craig Koomeeta.
Later we took a short walk to the National Science and Technology Center, also known as “Questacon“. This museum contains several floors of exhibits arranged around a central spiral walkway.
The kids were thrilled to find loads of interactive activities.
One floor contained exhibits related to robotics, coding, and artificial intelligence. Not surprisingly we stayed at this museum until closing time!
Our final stop in Canberra was the National Arboretum. As we entered the arboretum we were surprised to see that most of the trees were barely more than saplings. As we’d find out, the Arboretum only opened in 2013 and has forests with 94 species of trees from across the world, many of which are rare or endangered.
In contrast to the forests outside, most of the trees in the Bonsai garden are many decades old. Since it was fall in Australia several of the bonsai trees had beautiful orange or yellow leaves.
The arboretum has a visitor center with a nice cafe as well as a great playground.
We quite enjoyed our short stay in Canberra and would have liked to have been able to stay longer!
From Canberra we drove back towards the coast and spent the night in a charming holiday park in the town of Eden.
Our cabin was walking distance from the beach. As soon as we arrived the kids threw on their swimsuits but found that the water was a bit too chilly to stay in for long.
The adults decided that the beach was perfect for a stroll though. 🙂
The following day we made another lovely drive through the Australian countryside as we made our way to Lakes Entrance. This part of the route was not right along the coast but we did get to see some of the native forest.
After reaching Lakes Entrance and getting situated at our hotel we went for a walk around town. On the way to the beach we crossed the pedestrian bridge that connects the mainland to a barrier island.
It was quite pleasant to walk along the golden sand as the sun began to set.
The next morning we were on the road again and planned to reach Melbourne before the evening. But first we made a slight detour to Raymond Island, a small community that is home to about 500 human residents and a good number of native animals.
Getting to the island requires a short crossing on a chain ferry, which is free for pedestrians.
After stepping off the ferry we quickly spotted an echidna scratching for lunch under a park bench. We were quite excited to see this animal, one of two kinds of mammals that lay eggs (the other being the platypus).
We continued our walk, scanning the trees for balls of fur. It wasn’t long before we spotted the first Koala taking a nap above!
Before the end of our stroll we saw many more koalas and quite a few colorful native birds. It was a wonderful experience to observe these animals in their natural environment.
Following our circuit of the island we crossed back over the ferry, had lunch at a cute bakery, then hung out for a while on the promenade. 🙂
In our next dispatch, we explore Melbourne and the majestic Great Ocean Road!