AUSTRALIAN SLANG OF THE WEEK: “CANDY” (US) = “LOLLIES” (AUS)
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to cross the “Grand Pacific Drive” off my Australian bucket list with some of my friends. It was another one of those, “let’s plan a trip for the weekend” a day before the weekend, kind of trip which in a greater sense, is the only way to travel here in Australia.
This was the first time that I would be renting a car and driving with anyone who wasn’t a bus driver, cab driver, etc. down under. Honestly, I was a little terrified being in a car with my three other American friends who have never driven on the left side of the road before, but surprisingly the drive was super easy and quite enjoyable the minute we got out of the busy streets of Sydney.
The Grand Pacific Drive starts just one hour south of Sydney, by Royal National Park. The drive along the eastern coast of Australia provided my friends and I some incerdible views throughout. We didn’t really need a GPS half-way through the trip as there were many signs pointing us in the right direction. The best part about doing this trip, is that you get to see so much of New South Wales’ natural landmarks. First, we stopped at just the start of the Grand Pacific Drive and marveled at the long stretch of highway before us. Then, we stopped at various parks and beaches including Kiama, where we viewed a natural blow hole and climbed huge rock formations. We passed the town of Wollongong (say that five times fast), stopped at 7 mile beach, and Hammerhead Point as well. Being that this trip was only a 2 day, 1 night excursion, we wanted to see all that we could.
(Start of Grand Pacific Drive)
Our final destination was Jervis Bay, however. A small area that forces you to focus carefully when you drive, or else you’ll miss exactly what you’re looking for since everything is so close together. My friends and I stayed with a wonderful couple who let us spend the night through AirBnb, a company that provides unique accommodations no matter where you travel. They were generous enough to let us know some of the best places to go on our short trip, and made us feel as if we were part of their family. The couple informed us that there was a golf course around the area where you could see wild kangaroos! After speaking to them, not only did we see these wild kangaroos, but we also got to explore more of the beaches around the area and even got invited to a beach bonfire local Australians were throwing. That night, my friends and I also got a chance to cook dinner on the “barbie” or barbeque for the first time, which was a good experience as well. One thing I will never forget about the one night we spent in Jervis Bay however, is the stars. Seeing the stars here in Australia is truly unlike I have ever seen before. The dark purple sky in combination with the brilliant stars, cool sand, and the sound of waves crashing ashore is something I truly will never forget.
The next morning, we left early and headed straight for Hyams Beach, which is arguably known for having the Guinness Book of World Records title for “Whitest Sand in the World”. After spending a relaxing afternoon, my friends and I drove through the wondrous Kangaroo Valley, where we were greeted by amazing green landscapes and trees and a long, but comforting drive back home to Sydney.
(Beach Bonfire with new Australian friends!)
(Hyams Beach - "Whitest Sand in the World")
The moral of the story? When the opportunity arises to pack your bags to explore something new, DO IT. While I wish I could stay longer in places such as Jervis Bay, for example, I do not regret the rush and immediacy of the trip because it brought so much excitement. If anything, these quick day trips have given me just tastes of what Australia truly has to offer. Besides, it gives me excuses to come back in the future and explore more of the area, which is another exciting aspect to think about as well.
Next week, I will be headed off to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef! Not only am I stoked to see yet another part of Australia, but I am excited to become more immersed in this land I have been so quick to call my home now.