Tara Michie of Lady Slider is something of an expert when it comes to last-minute travel. She goes where the low fares are—so we tasked her with a challenge: plan an epic spring escape somewhere new, and take our lightest footwear ever—the Terra-Float Collection—along for the ride (it’s light, it’s comfortable, and—fittingly— it’s down for whatever). To which she replied: “Let the adventure begin!”
She booked it to Australia for a camper van surf trip with her best friends, and let us tear out the pages of her journal and paste them online—here, her notes from the field (and a few tips for planning your own Australian escape).
“We decided to fly from Honolulu International Airport to Brisbane International Airport via Hawaiian Airlines. We got great last minute deals on tickets. The benefit to using Hawaiian Airlines is their generous baggage services. International flights allow two free checked bags (including surfboards!) and if you’re wave sliders like us, it makes a huge difference! You can save up to $300 on baggage fees.
Note to self: Don’t forget to apply for a tourist eVisa online before leaving for your trip. You can apply for the short-term tourist visa that allows you travel throughout Australia for three months at a time within a one-year period. The cost is about 15USD for United States citizens.
Exchange Rate: 1 AUD to .70 USD
Price of Gas: $1.30AUD/Liter
I cannot get over how comfortable and versatile the Terra-Float sandals are! I wore them the entire time we were in Australia and never got a blister once; they are great for land, sand, pavement, and water. They are stylish enough to wear to the café but tough enough to handle a hike and a little water too. The name doesn’t lie—they really do float. My favorite use for them was walking through the waterfalls instead of being barefoot. They saved the bottom of my feet from sharp rocks at the bottom of rivers.
Campervans and motorhomes are the way to go while you’re in Australia. There is a huge camper culture in Australia and during the holidays everyone is out and about. Some families have been camping out at the same holiday park for years. That’s cool and all but it left us at a disadvantage with all of our last-minute planning. Book early for a spot at a holiday park or you’ll be scrounging for a place to camp (like we did and that’s not very fun when it gets late and there’s nowhere to go!).
“A trip isn’t an adventure until something goes wrong!”
I flew in a couple days early to pickup the motorhome before the holidays. Good idea? Bad idea? Who cares! I don’t have a choice. Getting any kind of campervan this time of year is close to impossible. Everyone and their step-mother is on the road and headed to a holiday park. It is the Aussie way during the holidays. Finding a camper was looking pretty bleak but we end up scoring a six-berth motorhome after a cancellation was made days before my flight departed!
“Buffalo” became the keyword on our 10-day road trip. If it was big, it was buffalo, our motorhome included. Wheel is on the right side and I am driving on the left side. I keep telling myself to always remember that the driver is in the middle of the road.
Having our mode of transportation and home as an inclusive vehicle for this trip was pretty ideal. Home was always where you needed it. We would stop at the grocery every couple of days and stock up on food and other household goods.
What to Do
We hit up three major areas on our road trip: Noosa, Gold Coast, and Byron Bay. This is a great route for people who have a limited amount of time in Australia and experience as much as possible! The drive time between Noosa, Gold Coast, and Byron Bay isn’t very long and there is a lot to do in-between! 10 days isn’t a lot of time but we were able to fit in a few adventures as we made our way from Noosa to Byron Bay!
Where to go: Hike around Noosa National Park, jump in the water at Tea Tree Beach, enjoy the shops and surround area.
Where to eat: Bean Drop, Baked Poetry Café (in Peregian Beach).
Where to park: Active Holidays BIG4, Noosa River Holiday Park, Noosa Caravan Park.
Noosa is one of those understated but wealthy areas that thrive on tourism and surfing. I absolutely loved being in the national park. It was such a peaceful place and made me fall in love with Noosa for all the right reasons. Noosa is the unsung hero from our trip and made me appreciate the beauty of Australia.
Know A Local
This was one of the most helpful parts of going on a last minute trip to Australia at one of the busiest times of year! We were fortunate enough to have friends from Noosa to Byron Bay to help us on our road trip. It is always important to get to know the locals. Australians are relatively friendly and you can spark up a conversation with just about anyone. We got great advice from some of the most random people as we traveled around. It also helped having friends who let us park our motorhome in their driveway or backyard when Holiday Parks were full.
Where to go: Visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, hang out at all the different cafés dotted along the coast, stroll along the white sand beaches or surf perfect right-handers at the Superbank.
Where to eat: Commune, Espresso Moto, Justin Lane.
Where to park: Gold Coast Tourist Parks Main Beach, Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park, Kirra Beach Tourist Park.
The boys were smitten with the Gold Coast. It has the perfect right-hand point breaks and they scored the “swell of the year” while we were there. It’s no wonder the Gold Coast gets its name: it is a surfer’s paradise.
Getting a prepaid cell phone plan while you’re traveling abroad is key. I brought an unlocked iPhone and purchased the Yes! Optus prepaid 10GB Unlimited Talk/Text plan for 40AUD. They install the SIM card for you, give you an Australian number, and you’re ready to go! It is incredibly helpful to have data for mapping, research, and an occasional post to your Instagram.
BYRON BAY AREA
Where to go: Hang out at The Pass and go surfing, hike to Killen or Minyon Falls, visit the Lighthouse and most eastern point in Australia, go shopping in town
Where to eat: Roadhouse, Folk, Doma Café, Harvest.
Where to park: Discovery Holiday Parks, Beaches of Byron, North Coast Holiday Parks Clarkes Beach.
Byron and the surrounding area was the girls’ favorite. It had a great mix of town and beach life. There is a great sense of community in the area and tons of adventurous things to do! And The Pass was one of the most fun waves we ever got to surf.
How to Order Your Cuppa
Flat White: similar to a cappuccino and/or latte but with a higher proportion of espresso to milk. The milk is steamed but not frothed.
Long Black: Same as an Americano (Espresso with water).
Iced Coffee: In Australia iced coffee usually means an affrogato (coffee with ice cream.) If you don’t want ice cream in your coffee make sure you ask for an iced latte instead!