After confirming the flight arrangements came the arduous but interesting part of the trip planning – determining our daily stopovers and activities.
For this part, an Excel spreadsheet with columns for date, day, address, activity, remarks and cost would be especially useful. I know my Italian friend would seek to differ, preferring instead to let the day plan for itself and enjoy what the country has to offer. This could be due to our cultural differences or simply because I have children to lug around.
Without prior reading up and planning for the trip, things could end up either exceedingly novel as we enter the country with no assumptions and agenda or it could be disastrous as the days could pass by with nothing to show for itself.
I have learnt from my trip to France and Italy to never set expectations in a foreign country otherwise one will become sorely disappointed. I hope to be able to adopt this mindset during the trip. An itinerary would help guide the day’s program but should not control it as anything can and will definitely happen.
The days are planned around the children’s needs and energy level throughout the day. Breakfast at 0800, lunch by 1300, nap about 1600, dinner by 1900 and bed no later than 2300.
I recall from my time in Perth that shops close early in the evening so I am not sure if there might be much that can be done after dinner. As such, I probably can fit in about two activities per day only – one after breakfast and another before or after naptime.
I picked up several travel guides from the library and read up about what East Coast Australia has to offer. While I am generally a Rough Guide fan due to its detailed description of destinations, I found myself gravitating towards Lonely Planet this time.
Perhaps it is because many of the cities and towns that we will pass are more scenic/natural than cultural/historical in nature. When it comes to scenery, it is best to see it for yourself. Over the years of trip planning, I have also become increasingly sceptical of what travel authors describe about a location.
With so many places of interest between Brisbane to Sydney, I realised I was going to have to be selective so as not to cram our itinerary. National parks, marine parks, nature reserves and conservation lands dot the entire coast and being a nature junkie, you can imagine it wasn’t an easy task choosing between them.
Finally I decided on a relatively tried and tested route –
Day 1 Brisbane
Day 2 Brisbane
Day 3 Mount Tamborine (approx 70 km from Brisbane)
Day 4 Gold Coast (approx 40 km from Mt Tamborine)
Day 5 Byron Bay (approx 90 km from Gold Coast, detour: 170 km Tweed Range Scenic Drive)
Day 6 Coff Harbour (approx 250 km from Byron Bay)
Day 7 Port Macquarie (approx 222 km from Coffs Harbour, detour: 80 km Dorrigo National Park)
Day 8 Newcastle (approx 350 km from Port Macquarie through Myall Lake NP)
Day 9 Newcastle (Day trip to Port Stephens)
Day 10 Blue Mountains (approx 285 km from Newcastle)
Day 11 Sydney (approx 100 km from Katoomba)
Day 12 Sydney
Total estimated kilometres traveled = 1,657 km
Will flesh out the trip details upon my return since it is probably more useful to have actual details than proposed ones. We all know that man plans but it is God who determines.