The best laid plans…

In our last update, we were telling you about our plans for the next few weeks. Wow, how things can change in such a short space of time…

Well, today we received details of a severe weather warning, and a strong recommendation that we should not be travelling north of our current location. This is why…

We are currently at a lovely camp site in Port MacQuarie – situated in a $million-per-property residential estate – and we are due to be heading north to Coffs Harbour tomorrow. Coffs Harbour is about 250km south of Byron Bay, which is to be our next stop. The Pacific Highway, which is the main road up the east coast from New South Wales (NSW) to Queensland (QLD), is currently under water at a place called Grafton, which is about midway between Coffs and Byron.

So, this afternoon, we have changed our travel plans. And not just because of the weather…

We set off from the camp site this morning, heading for a rainforest experience and a koala hospital, both of which are in Port MacQuarie and about a 10 minute drive away. Unfortunately, we got 5 minutes up the road and the car died! We then spent all afternoon parked on the side of the road, overlooking the crashing waves on the beach below, waiting for the NRMA (AA equivalent in NSW), for which we had only obtained our membership a few days ago. The guy from the NRMA suspects that the coil pack has gone, which, believe it or not, is something that we are actually quite familiar with as our car suffered from the same problem not long before we left the UK… Anyway, a tow truck was called, and we were returned to our camp site. As we are now likely to spend all day tomorrow waiting for the car to be fixed, we have extended our stay at the camp site for another couple of nights. Thankfully, there are worse places in the world to be stuck without a car!

Anyway, we are reconsidering our position with the car. Not for the first time either. We are planning on having it checked over by the NRMA, so that they can tell us exactly what is wrong with it and we can then make a decision on whether we will keep it or not. After all, we have had the car for about one month and it has been on two tow trucks and has spent about 3 or 4 days in various mechanical workshops. We haven’t even hit the road yet! If it proves viable for us to keep the car, we will do. If not, we will sell it and look at other options – possibly rental, which, although very expensive, will provide us with comprehensive post “sale” support. Given the potential for extra outgoings, we may also have to review our grand plan and make changes to fit within our revised budget – i.e. possibly spending less time moving between places, and not exploring as many places as we would like. Watch this space…

As we have put our trip north on hold, we will be heading south to the vineyards of the Hunter Valley and the scenery of the Blue Mountains a little earlier than we had originally planned. We have even discussed looking into the possibility of doing some grape picking whilst we are in the Hunter Valley, as with the cost of more van repairs looming, we could certainly do with the cash!

As far as exploring the east coast goes, we will be back! However, we may now not get to explore the likes of Coffs Harbour, Yamba, Byron Bay, Nimbin and beyond until next year, when we plan to venture further north to QLD – Brisbane, Fraser Island, Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, etc. As we are learning though, things can happen that mean your plans have to change, so we wont set any timescales on this, but will look forward to it for sure!

Driving north from Shoal Bay (which was another stunning place!) yesterday was the first time that we have really seen glimpses of the “real” Australia – lots of beautiful views, long roads, stunning beaches with dozens of surfers waiting for the huge waves, as well as beautiful nothing-ness. We also saw our first wild kangaroos – three of them sitting in a field – as well as a field full of camels. Yes, camels. In a field. Random…

As ever, we love hearing from you guys back in the UK, and we will, of course, continue to keep in touch with you all.

Lots of love, xx

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