Australia is a country full of amazing sites. When you come here it is difficult to decide what you WANT to see, what you MUST see and which places you just can’t visit. When going on exchange for 6 months, you need to be able to balance the amount of travelling you want to do with your studies. The autumn break was a perfect opportunity to plan a little road trip up to Brisbane (and then we flew back to Canberra from Brisbane). Four other exchange students and I hired a campervan (around $1200aud for four people), and spent two weeks exploring the east coast of Australia.

We visited Wollongong, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, Red Rock, Nimbin, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast and Brisbane. I will give you my insights on four places that we visited on this road trip that really stuck with me.

Place #1: Wattamolla

We visited Wattamolla on our way to Lake Macquarie from Wollongong. It is located in the Royal National Park. You need to pay AUD $12entrance fee. What so special about this area is that a waterfall falls into the sea. Unfortunately, the entrance to the beach was closed but we stood on top of the waterfall and looked out at the Tasman Sea. It is very peaceful with only the sound of the waterfall and surrounding wildlife. Definitely a place to stop at for an hour or longer if the beach is open.

Place #2: Crystal Shower Falls

From our stop in Kew to Coffs Harbour, we stopped at the Crystal Shower Falls in the Dorrigo National Park. The waterfall is located in the middle of the rainforest, and by just walking 30 minutes, you have reached this beautiful spot and are completely submerged in the sounds and fog of the rainforest. Absolutely stunning.

Place #3: Coffs Harbour

We spent two nights in Coffs Harbour and spent the day swimming at Park Beach (a skydiving landing location), and went kayaking in Boambee creek. For an hour, we were able to kayak along the creek, swim and enjoy the beautiful weather. I definitely recommend going kayaking somewhere in Australia, it doesn’t have to be in Coffs Harbour. Other sites that we visited in Coffs Harbour were the Clog Barn, a camping that is a mini the Netherlands and as a Dutchie I loved it, and the Big Banana Park, a small theme park with banana-related attractions.

Place #4: Red Rock

Red Rock, close to Coffs Harbour, is a very important site for the Indigenous Gumbaynggirr people. In the 19th century a massacre occurred here, where white colonists forced many of these people off the cliff into the Pacific. The story goes that the rocks are red because of the blood of the people that were murdered here. We sat on the cliff for a while, commemorating all the people that had died. And out in the ocean, we saw a family of dolphins swimming around. The place has such a sad history but I think when coming to Australia, you have to acknowledge the lives that have been lost due to colonisation, by visiting such sites.