29 August 2014 – 20 weeks ago (insert exclamation here) – The Beast was loaded up and ready to go. After all the lead up, all the planning, we were almost off.
First leg took us to Bendigo to drop the puppers in with my folks for a visit, one that they apparently enjoyed quite a lot which is nice to know. Once the dogs were out we were able to relieve The Beast of some of the load on the roof racks.
We didn’t take many photos of the drive up, much of it we have done before so it wasn’t particularly novel.
After a nice evening and an early breakfast in Bendigo we headed to our second stop of the trip, the Ibis in Thornleigh, Sydney. Although cheapish it was comfortable and conveniently right on Cumberland Highway so we din’t have to detour at all (there was so much driving involved in this trip we didn’t fancy adding any more unnecessarily).
Just to the north of Sydney we crossed the Hawkesbury River. I don’t know why but I always love this part of the drive. It’s more than just the fact that the view out each side is beautiful … there’s a sense that, despite the eight or so hours of driving already behind us, we’re now ‘away’, the holiday has finally started.
In the middle of nowhere, somewhere between Sydney and the Gold Coast, we stopped for a picnic lunch. I’ve decided that fresh roadside sandwiches are just about the best thing in the world.
We also made an unusual friend … she liked my cumber scraps 🙂
Our next stop was Burleigh Heads, a small private place called Burleigh Break, chosen purely for its proximity to Justin Lane … a restaurant that we had taken quite a liking to on our visits when mum & dad still lived up there. It was a nice, clean room and the … landlady? … was absolutely lovely, chatty and very willing to share her local knowledge. Despite the road noise, the Gold Coast Highway never stops, I would definitely go back there again.
As it was a Sunday night we were able to keep ourselves entertained at Burleigh Beach, watching the local fire throwers while we waited for a seat to become available at Justin Lane. Their slow cooked beef ragu followed by a scoop of house-made burnt butter ice-cream confirmed that the stop was well worth it, even if it meant we practically rolled back to our room.
The road from the Gold Coast to Brisbane is notoriously bad so we got ourselves a very early start in the hopes of avoiding Monday morning peak hour … which worked, just. Although we were slowed a bit we seemed to stay ahead of most of it. It was roughly 8:00 as we headed out the north side of Brisbane and the amount of traffic coming the other way (from the Sunshine Coast) was unbelievable – I will never complain about Melbourne traffic again!
Finally, finally we made it to River Heads, near Hervey Bay. Thankfully we were in good time for our barge crossing … something that had concerned me and also contributed to the early start.
It was a beautiful day, although surprisingly chilly, and the crossing was an absolutely beautiful way to relax before the holiday really began. Possibly a strange thing to say but between us we had done a lot of driving for three and a half days straight so it was nice for someone else to be in control, even if for only a couple of hours.
Although arriving at Kingfisher Bay is not necessarily the most recommended way to get to the Island it was the most convenient way for us, particularly as we were leaving from there and I was able to book the crossings when I booked our accommodation. What it also meant was that there was a small amount of bitumen for us to get over before the real fun started. It took all of 10 metres of sand for us to realise that the tyres most definitely had to be let down before we went anywhere.
And then, we were off …