7 day Spontaneous camping road trip around NSW
By Ola Endress
If you are low on budget and want to travel then I highly recommend doing this!
(The best things in life are free or..ridicoulsy cheap =))
We wanted to go away however we didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on hotels and food. We came up with the idea to go on a road trip around NSW. We only had 7 days to do this so we decided to drive all the way up to Byron bay, once we reached Byron bay we would drive back down to Sydney.
Don’t have a tent? neither did we.
We decided to leave on a Tuesday evening and drive up to Newcastle. We left everything very last minute and as we left the house we didn’t even have a tent. So we stopped at a Kmart along the way to get one. We wanted an adventure so the plan was to have no plan at all.
Kmart offer tents for $28 (3 person tent) seemed good enough so we bought it!
They also stocked a 3 globed lamp that came with batteries for $12 – bought it!
The tent came with metal pegs however we bought an extra pack for $5 – recommend doing this in case you need more.
We went to the supermarket and bought some snacks & drinks for the road trip to Newcastle.
That’s all we got so off we went on the start of our journey.
As we drove up to Newcastle in the evening it would be hard to set up a tent in complete darkness so I let James book accommodation. I had no idea where we were staying however I knew it would be low budget because that was the whole point of this trip – to spend as little as possible.
The drive up to Newcastle was 2 hours and as usual I always forget something, something you would classify as the main part of a road trip – the music. I forgot to download any music onto my phone. This isn’t so bad when you have the radio however when you are driving past country towns with limited access to radio stations then this is something that should be on your list of things to bring on a road trip! James nearly died on the trip listening to me talk constantly, sorry James =)
We arrived in Newcastle, James was having second thoughts about the place he booked for us to stay in. He was scared that I would react badly. To my surprise we were staying a backpackers. I instantly thought we would be sharing a dorm room and bunk beds with many other strangers. When we got to reception I burst out laughing because I still couldn’t believe where we were staying and this was going to be interesting. As soon as I burst out into laughter, James burst into laughter. The lady at reception serving us didn’t quite seem to be as amused as we were.
We were lucky the room was just 1 bunk with 2 beds in a room however there was no toilet in the room so you would have to go outside.
Newcastle Backpackers – our most expensive accommodation for the whole trip
Approx $70 a night.
The next morning we got up at 7 am and talked about driving up to Port Macquaire for breakfast which was 3 hours away from Newcastle. After breakfast in Port Macquarie we would drive further 2 hours North up to Coffs Harbour.
We drove for what felt like forever however the views of just country side all around us was incredible. There was an exit turn off for Port Macquarie and I completely missed it. Instead of doing a U-turn we decided “fuck it” we will just drive to Coffs Harbour instead. We then realised camping on beaches and parks is illegal in some parts of NSW and we had no idea where we were going to camp. We googled camp sites in Coffs Harbour and found a place to stay for $38 per night – Bargain!
Coffs Harbour Camp Site (Sapphire Beach) – $38
James in our $28 tent
We realized that evening that a massive storm was coming and we weren’t 100% positive that our tent would make it through the night.
We struggled to sleep as the rain was seeping through the tent. All we could hope for was that our tent would not collapse. Worse case scenario is that we would have to sleep in the car.
Trying to sleep through a massive storm and while rain sprinkles through our tent.
We survived the night and our tent did an amazing job however the forecast was that it would be a stormy few days. We couldn’t risk another night in the storm so we decided to buy tarp at the next town to protect us.
Things to do in Coffs Harbour
The big Banana
The great thing about camping is that right on your doorstep you have access to incredible beaches.
The Calm after the storm – Sapphire Beach Headland – Beautiful!
Wake up in your tent – walk 2 meters onto this.
That morning we packed up our tent and headed for the next town 3 hours away- Byron Bay.
Again we hadn’t organized a place to stay so we googled a camp site and found another place, a bit more expensive for $52.
The only issue was that we wanted to spend 2 days in Byron Bay however the camp site could only have us for one night.
“We will just wing it” we said.
Along the way we decided what we would do in Byron. I wanted to go to Nimbin a place I thought was only 10 minutes from Byron and to a club called Cheeky Monkeys where you can dance on tables.
We checked into our campsite in Byron and it was right on the beach. It was much bigger than the last one and had lots of facilities to use. The first thing we did was bought a tarp from Mitre 10 to protect us from the rain – $25
When we built our tent – we covered it with tarp . We needed something secure to hold the tarp together so we decided to use our car doors and it looked pretty dodgy. Everyone on the campsite either passed by our tent laughing or felt sorry for us as they all had caravans.
Byron Bay is such a cool little carefree town and was definitely worth the travel. Later that evening a storm had hit however that didn’t stop us from exploring or going out.
I highly recommend going to cheeky monkeys. There was a bikini competition on that evening which meant drunk girls trying to impress the crowd on stage in their bikinis to win $300. Couldn’t take photos however if your a guy you would definitely love this place.
We ordered around 10 different type of cocktails for $3…don’t be fooled though the drinks hardly have any alcohol in them as I didn’t even get drunk (which is saying something because I’m a lightweight)
The next morning we booked another camp site on google for $38 in Byron Bay right next door to the previous camp site we stayed at. We were going to go to Nimbin when we realized it was over an hour away and James fell ill. So instead we decided to do other things locally.
Things to do in Byron Bay
Breakfast BBQ on the beach
Walk Byron Bay headland
Sit on the most easterly point in Australia
Stand in the middle of a bamboo forest (Byron Bay Crystal Castle entry $20)
and carve writing on a Bamboo tree
Have $3 drinks and watch girls in bikinis dance at Cheeky Monkeys
And surfing on the beach of course! (Surf board hire $10 for 2 hours)
The next morning we woke up and made our way back home but first we drove to a place called Killen Falls (25 mins away from Byron Bay) that was recommended by our new local friend Kieran! and we are so thankful he did because this place was magical! All you see is a beautiful waterfall surrounded by a large rock pool filled with turtles and fish.
The journey home would have been 10 hours so we stopped off at our last camp site 5 hours away from Byron Bay in Port Macquarie for another $38 right on the beach.
Port Macquarie has the clearest water and there is a big rock right in the ocean that spits out massive waves at you. Very fun!! wish I had a go pro!
This was a good place to stop off at for the night so we could get some rest before making another 5 hour journey back to Sydney.
I highly recommend doing a trip like this especially if your camping! You have adventure, excitement, spontaneity, you appreciate what you take for granted and you connect with nature! You learn more things about yourself that you never knew before and you reflect on life.
This trip made me want to hire a combi van and travel all around Australia. There is so much beauty on our shores of Australia waiting to be explored and one day I will set on another adventure to do this.
You don’t need much money at all to do this, all you need is to just get up and do it.
You don’t even need to plan it, just go with it like we did, trust me its fun and more of an adventure!
So what are you waiting for? remember you only get one life, so make it count right?
Til the next time =)…