Asia & Oceania Travel

    Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia

    Location: Melbourne, Australia

    I’m so lucky to have so many friends on social media who have given me so much advice about visiting Australia. And most of these friends I have never met. It’s possibly the best thing about social media. Thank you everyone who helped make my trip so grand, and helped make my Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia post so fun.

    Marvelous Melbourne


    We have seen a lot of territory in the past five weeks since we arrived in Brisbane in October. And we certainly couldn’t skip Melbourne – oh no! Melbourne was high on my list and I was excited to have four full days in the city.

    Recently Melbourne passed Sydney as the largest (population wise) city in Australia with more than five million people. The two cities have had a love-hate relationship since the first days of settlers. Founded in 1835, Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria. But it wasn’t until the 1850’s gold rush that Melbourne really took off. Today Melbourne is a cosmopolitan city with a colonial foundation, a wonderful outdoorsy population, a great restaurant and coffee culture, fascinating history and beautiful parks.



    Our flight from Brisbane didn’t land until 11:00pm so it was nearly 2:00 am before our heads hit the pillow. It was important we didn’t try to pack too much into our first full day since we weren’t sure how tired we would be. Nonetheless we were awake by 7am. We enjoyed a leisurely morning organizing the room and getting out the door about 10am.

    Where to Stay

    Melbourne has a wide variety of options for accommodations. We felt for our purposes staying in the Central Business District (CBD) would give us easy access to everything we wanted to do. So we booked five nights at the Clarion Suites Gateway on Williams Street right near the Yarra River. Lucky for us gave us an upgrade to a suite with a full kitchen, living room, washer/dryer and a separate bedroom and bathroom. That was a real treat after living in the Aussie Nest Caravan for four weeks.

    Our hotel was two blocks from this scene

    Day One

    I’ll give you a day by day of our itinerary. Four full days of Marvelous Melbourne. You could do the city in less time, but I am so glad we had four days, and could easily have filled a couple more. For your visit to Melbourne (and you definitely need to visit) I’d suggest trying to see as many of these things below as you can.

    Historic Core

    We began in the Central Business District, walking from our hotel along the Yarra River. The city is festive in Christmas decor and it was fun to see. Our first stop was Flinders Street Station, the historic train terminus of Australia. Originally sited in 1854 with a bunch of ramshackle shed, the current and impressive building was completed in 1909. Be sure to take a look at the clocks on the front entrance. Historically indicating the next departure for Melbourne’s various train lines, the clocks quickly became a meeting place in the CBD. Now computer-operated, they were once manually changed for each departure.

    The clocks at Flinders Street Station
    Flinders Street Station

    Across the street is Federation Square, a gathering place for the people of Melbourne built in 2002. “Fed” Square is home to hundreds of events through out the year. On the square you will find the Koori Heritage Trust Museum, The Australian Center of the Moving Image museum and the Ian Potter Australian Art Gallery. Across the street be sure to go inside Saint Paul’s Angelican Cathedral. It is a masterpiece, and if you are lucky you will hear the organ master practicing on the gorgeous soaring old pipe organ. What a treat that was!

    Federation Square
    St. Paul’s Cathedral

    Walking on we ducked into several of Melbournes famous “laneways”, what we might call alleys back home. Melbourne was originally laid out in a grid, known as the Hoddle Grid. The Grid remains the heart of the CBD and home to thriving businesses in the historic grid and laneways. Unlike alleyways back in the USA, these spaces are fully utilized with outdoor cafes, coffee shops, boutiques and art galleries. My favorite of the laneways was the DeGraves but there are many to visit. Continuing we visited The Block, a beautiful indoor space on the famous and historic Collins Street. This beautiful European-feeling space was a perfect place for some tea and a croissant at one of the lovely tea rooms.

    DeGraves Laneway
    The Block
    Gelato on DeGraves Laneway
    Tea at The Block

    Queen Victoria Market

    It wasn’t raining so we decided to walk to the Queen Victoria Market since we still had plenty of time and surprisingly plenty of energy. From the Flinders Station it’s about a mile. But if you don’t want to walk, the Melbourne Tram System is free in the CBD core. I wasn’t too impressed with the part of the Queen Vic Market that was selling souvenirs, suitcases and shoes, but I loved the produce vendors, the meat and fish area and best of all the hall with cheeses, pickles, and salami. Oh my. We picked up some treats for back at the hotel.

    Victoria Market
    Victoria Market

    Out On The Town

    A few weeks ago we purchased tickets to see Mamma Mia at the Princess Theater, a beautiful historic theater. The theater was built in 1886 and seats more than 1400 people. It’s always something we try to do in as many cities as we can – take in a live show or performance. I’d seen Mamma Mia live before but my husband never had. It definitely gets your toes tapping! The theater was lovely. Before the show we had a marvelous dinner at the iconic The Waiters Restaurant. Started in the 1940’s as a place for local immigrants to come after their shifts at surrounding restaurants, this iconic, no frills, Italian restaurant serves delicious and authentic food. Call ahead, no online reservations. It was delicious. And fun.

    Mama Mia at the Princess Theatre
    The Waiters Restaurant
    The Waiters Restaurant

    Day One Highlights

    Flinders Street Station

    Saint Paul’s Cathedral

    Federation Square

    Grid and Laneways

    The Block

    Queen Victoria Market

    The Waiters Restaurant

    Day Two

    I started the day with a five mile run on the Capital City Trail, a 30km loop trail around the Yarra River. Our hotel was only two blocks from this trail and I took full advantage.

    On the Capital City Trail

    Let’s Stroll

    After a quick shower we walked the trail again and made our way to the beautiful Queen Victoria Park and King’s Domain, passing Government House on our way to the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne. Australia has been such a wonderful surprise with the tremendous number of botanical gardens everywhere we look! All of them free! And this one, begun in 1846, is hands down the best. In fact Quantas Airline magazine proclaims this stunning 33 hectare garden the number one thing to see in all of Australia. We spent two hours and enjoyed it so much.

    Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne
    Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne

    Next we strolled the lovely and swanky neighborhood on the southside of the gardens and stopped for a late lunch at Matilda 159. A definite place to visit when in Melbourne. All wood or coal fired foods and absolutely delicious.

    Kingfish Sashimi at Matilda
    Delicious at Matilda
    Tender filet at Matilda

    Holiday Lights

    After a rest back at the hotel next we headed out to enjoy Melbourne after dark. The city is joyfully decorated for the holidays. The Southbank and South Wharf is a lively place of trendy restaurants and bars all along the river, and Fed Square was also lovely with the holiday lights.

    Southbank Lighted Holiday Display
    Federation Square

    Day Two Highlights

    Capital City Trail

    Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne


    Southbank and South Wharf

    Day Three

    The day dawned wet, but I headed out for another quick run on the Capital City Trail because it’s a fabulous part of Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia! So, let it rain!

    Grey Morning on the Yarra River

    Shopping Day

    Next we ventured to the South Melbourne Market to meet a friend for lunch. Despite the rain we wandered around the South Market and did a little shopping. I loved this market and it is all indoors so on this rainy day it was busy. Next we enjoyed fresh cooked seafood at Claypots Evening Star and loved catching up with my friend from high school. We tried nearly everything on the menu! It was delicious.

    South Melbourne Market
    South Melbourne Market
    Claypots Evening Star
    Claypots Evening Star

    Next we took an Uber to The Royal Exhibition Building where we enjoyed both the astonishingly beautiful historic building built in 1880 for the International Exhibition as well as the Christmas gift show. Despite the rain continuing, many locals were out and getting their jingle on for the start of the holiday season. The Royal Exhibition Building is also home to the Melbourne Museum and tours of the dome are available with advance reservations.

    Royal Exhibition Building
    Beautiful interior of the Royal Exhibition Building and the Holiday Market

    Finishing our day we walked a few blocks to visit the Little Lon Distillery, recommended to us by a local. Here we were surprised another holiday event underway – a European Christmas Market. We sampled some gin at Little Lon and then hopped on the Tram to head back to our hotel. Tired and happy.

    Little Lon Distillery

    Day Three Highlights

    South Melbourne Market

    Claypots Evening Star

    The Royal Exhibition Building

    Little Lon Distillery

    Day Four

    Our final day in Melbourne. Wow the time flew by. We woke up to fantastic weather so we were grateful for that. After I did my Sunday run along the river, we headed out for the day.

    Off to St. Kilda we went. And the weather was perfect for a stroll on the beach, in this trendy and touristy neighborhood of Melbourne. St. Kilda is building a brand new pier – it looks amazing – so I hope to see that the next time we are in Melbourne. There were a few people in the water and sunbathing, but mostly St. Kilda was filled with couples walking hand in hand, families pushing strollers, cyclists and runners. It was a lovely scene.

    St. Kilda Pier
    The beach at St. Kilda

    Making our way away from the beach, we tucked into Radio Mexico, a popular St. Kilda spot with very authentic Mexican food. Surprisingly authentic as a matter of fact…I could have been in Mexico. We sat out on the patio, enjoyed the fine weather and some of our favorite cuisine of the world.

    Street Tacos at Radio Mexico, St. Kilda

    Day Four Highlights

    Saint Kilda Neighborhood

    Radio Mexico

    Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia

    Sadly it was time to say farewell to this great city. I’m sure my husband got tired of me saying “honey I could live here”. It’s full of accessible walking, running and cycling trails. The river is also accessible for kayaks, sculls and small boats. The beach is nearby. The food is amazing. The people are great.

    There are things we did not do; Williamstown, a river cruise, museums. Those will need to wait until next time. And I certainly think there will be a next time. We loved our Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia.

    Marvelous Melbourne

    Stay tuned as we head next to Tasmania, Australia’s southern most state and island. We will spend four weeks in Tasmania, so lots of adventures ahead.

    Thanks for reading this week’s post Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia. Be sure to see our posts one about our month in the Caravan and our post two about our month in the Caravan.

    You may also enjoy Visit Beautiful Brisbane Australia.

    We love it when you pin, share and comment on our blog posts. Thank you so much. And once again, thanks to all my social media friends who gave me such great tips to make our Australia visit amazing.

    Asia & Oceania Travel  --  Reading Wednesday

    Book Review In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

    We listened to a couple of Audible book this past month while tooling about Australia in a Motorhome. If you haven’t been following that journey you might want to check it out here Caravan Travel Australia Part One and Part Two. Anyway, my friend Pam asked if I had read Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country. This book is old…published in 2000, one my husband read it when it came out. But I had not, and so it seemed like the perfect story for our long drive. Thanks Pam. Here is my book review In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.

    Bill Bryson

    First of all, if you have never read Bill Bryson you are missing out on one of America’s greatest gems. What a writer, humorist, humanitarian and witty observer of people he is. Bryson has numerous book, but I had never read his book about traveling around Australia. Nothing could have been more perfect for us to enjoy, agree with and guffaw at on our road trip.

    Discovering the Undiscovered Country

    Bryson spends weeks and weeks while researching this book, traversing this incredibly empty, huge and surprising continent/country of Australia. In his telling of the journey he meets Australia’s most amazing creatures, encounters the most unlikely characters, falls in love with the solitude, all while finding humor in each and every unexpected moment.

    In a Sunburned Country brings to life a place that many will never get the opportunity to discover. I am lucky to have been here twice. And much of Bryson’s prose echo my own feelings about this lethal place (“more things that can kill you in malicious ways than anywhere else in the world”) and yet it’s like you just can’t get enough – forget the danger!

    Book Review In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

    In a Sunburned Country brings to life this usually forgotten country – with solid and cheerful people, low crime, safe cities, abundant sunshine, fascinating history and the craziest collection of animals. And yet, we hear so little about Australia in the media. Another reason you should visit. And whether you visit on your own, or via Bryson’s wonderful storytelling, you should get to know amazing Australia.

    Thanks for reading my book review In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.

    *****Five stars – I definitely recommend it to travelers or those who dream to travel.

    Read last week’s book review Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    My current read The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

    We love it when you pin, share and comment on our Book Reviews. Thank you.

    In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
    Asia & Oceania Travel

    The Aussie Nest – Part Two

    Location: Australia

    A month in a motor home around eastern Australia has been a lot of fun, we have done and seen so many amazing things in this beautiful country. All from the comfort of our Aussie Nest caravan/motor home. If you didn’t see last week’s post, you can check it our here Caravan Travel Australia – The Aussie Nest Part One. In last week’s post I covered the first 14 days, covering about 900 miles. Today we continue the journey with The Aussie Nest – Part Two – the second two weeks.



    Australia is big. Nearly the same size as the USA but with vast areas of emptiness and limited infrastructure. I’ve been asked why we chose the region we did and also why we didn’t visit Sydney? So take a look at these two maps. One shows how big Australia is in comparison to the USA….even in the Aussie Nest for a month you can’t even begin to cover it. The second one shows, circled in red, the area we did cover over the past month. Seems small doesn’t it? But we were enchanted at every turn. The areas circled in blue, including Sydney, are what we visited, primarily via airplanes and car rentals on our first visit to Australia six years ago. So we had to make choices. These are the choices we made.

    Australia’s size in relation to the USA

    Leaving Booderee National Park

    We really enjoyed our three days in beautiful Booderee National Park, but three days is all you can book there for camping. So at the end of our first two weeks it was time to move on and start our second half of The Aussie Nest – Part Two. We continued south on a long day of driving to the tiny seaside historic village of Eden.

    Historic Eden

    We didn’t know a lot about Eden other than the fact it looked beautiful from the pictures. I was very interested in exploring some of the Sapphire Coast along Australia’s southern-most east coast. So we somewhat randomly chose Eden. With lots of time still to spare we thought this would be a good place to hunker down for a week in our little Aussie Nest.

    Eden Estuary
    Spoonbill on Lake Curalo, Eden

    We booked seven nights at Reflections Holiday Park Eden. Snuggled between the beautiful and windy Asling Beach and calm and placid Lake Curalo we really found it to be a beautiful spot. We paid only $26 USD for a lake view spot with all hook ups. Arriving mid-week, there were only a handful of other campers. But many more arrived for the weekend, and then left again on Sunday. Meanwhile we found the location, although occasionally windy, a real bargain.

    Historic Eden Church

    Perfect Location

    Each morning I did my run along a beautiful boardwalk and trail around Lake Curalo. We also did a hike around Lake Curalo, and walked the 2 km into the small town. The historic town of Eden was founded in the mid 1800’s and for generations was a whaling town. One of the best things here is the fascinating Killer Whale Museum. It’s very interesting, particularly the excellent video presentation about the history, geology and people of Eden. Whale tours are available from May – November.

    Killer Whale Museum
    The Whale Trail tour

    On a couple of days we unhooked the Aussie Nest and made our way to enjoy the Whale Trail, an interpretive driving tour about historic sites related to the whaling days. We also visited the historic Boyd’s Tower and Seahorse Inn, the Green Cape Lighthouse and Beowa National Park.

    Green Cape Light
    Boyd’s Tower

    Beowa National Park

    Broken up into two coastal sections around historic Eden, we made a point to visit as much of Beowa national park as possible. We hiked many trails and followed the interpretive walks. Here we spotted many more fabulous birds, as well as wallaby. The park offers trails for both novice and advanced hikers as well as picnic areas and viewpoints. Very enjoyable.

    Views from Beowa National Park

    Dining Out

    Taking advantage of being in a pedestrian friendly town, we had a delicious dinner at the Pikes Italian Bistro located inside the historic Australasian Hotel. We also had another night out in the neighboring town of Pambula where we visited Longstocking Brewery and ate fish and chips at Wheeler’s Seafood.

    Pikes Italian Bistro, Eden
    Wheeler’s Seafood, Pambula

    Time to Head North

    After 21 days and 1200 miles it was time to turn the Aussie Nest – Part Two around and begin our drive north, with 1200 miles between us and Brisbane. With seven days remaining we mapped out our final week which would include staying two nights in three different spots and one final night back just outside of Brisbane.

    Sunrise Farewell as we left Eden


    The Capital City of Australia often gets a bad rap as a destination. But we wanted to see it and it was easily along the way. We spent two nights at a very nice campsite Canberra Park close to the city, $36 per night. Canberra is a new city, designed and built specifically to be Australia’s capital. Australia’s states did not come together as a federation until 1901. The site for the capital city was not chosen until 1913. It would take another fifty years before the city of Canberra was complete and the filling of man-made Lake Burley Griffin was complete.

    Lake Burley Griffen, Canberra

    Before we arrived at our campsite we spent two hours at the incredible Jerrabomberra Wetlands Reserve and another hour plus at the Australia National Botanic Gardens. Both a must especially if you enjoy the wildlife and flora of the region.

    Jerrabomberra Wetlands Reserve
    Australia National Botanic Gardens

    The next day was jam packed. We took a boat tour of the lake, walked all over and enjoyed the garden city…which feels so much more like a park than a city, toured the very mid-century modern Parliament House and visited the National Gallery and Sculpture Garden. All of this in one day. We finished our very full day with a movie and a delicious dinner at the Capitol Bar and Grill.

    I’ll say it is no Washington DC so if that is what you are expecting you will be disappointed. However, I am so glad we took time to see it for a brief couple of days.

    National Gallery
    National Gallery Sculpture Garden
    Parliament House
    Capitol Bar & Grill, Canberra


    We had been told to stop in Mudgee if it was on our route, as it was a historic town surrounded by wineries. So why not? We booked two nights at the Riverside Tourist Park for $25 per night, just a couple blocks from town. Before arriving at the campground we enjoyed a lovely wine tasting at Logan Wines and picked up a couple of bottles. Delicious and affordable. We had a quiet night at the campground after a long day of driving.

    Logan Wiines, Mudgee

    And then it rained. And rained. And rained. AND RAINED. I went for a morning run along the fabulous paved pathways near the Codgegong River but nearly drowned in the deluge. Back at the Aussie Nest we debated about what to do…but we only had the one full day so we dug out our rain coats and sloshed around the town. We had a lovely breakfast at Outside the Square Cafe, took a look at the beautiful historic buildings still lovingly cared for in this town founded late 1800’s and popped into the vast and eclectic museum. We had a nice dinner at Cade Kitchen & Bar.

    Outside the Square Cafe, Mudgee
    Historic Town Hall, Mudgee
    Mudgee Museum
    Cade Kitchen & Bar


    Another long drive as we made our way north. There wasn’t anything really special about Moree, other than the fact it was a five hour drive from Mudgee. Five hours is about our limit for each day. So we booked two nights at Moree Tourist Park campround for $25 per night.

    Moree is a tiny little agricultural town (wheat) that seems to be past its glory days although farming still rules. Parts of town are boarded up but the tiny downtown is still cute and thriving somewhat. It’s one claim to fame is the local Artesian hot springs. Our campground had a hot spring pool so we soaked in the pools and had a very relaxing day. Coincidentally that was our wedding anniversary too – 41 years! Not many restaurants in Moree, but we have been celebrating already through the week so we went out for nice Indian meal at Moree Indian Restaurant. By the way – Australia is FULL of wonderful Indian Restaurants due the immigrants. Indian immigrants make up 3% of the population.

    Aboriginal Art in Moree
    Moree Indian Restaurant
    Hot Spring fed pool


    After 28 days it was hard to believe this was our final day in the Aussie Nest. The Aussie Nest Part Two really flew by. Our final night was spent in Toowoomba, at Jolly Swagman Caravan Park about two hours outside of Brisbane. About $30 for one night. We spent the day packing up for our flight to Melbourne. Packing was much harder than the unpacking a month before, given our space restrictions. But we got it done. On our last night, with the cupboards bare, we went to dinner at an amazing Turkish Reataurant called Sofra in the lively and thriving downtown of Toowoomba. Despite some rain we walked around and enjoyed the murals. Next morning before departing we visited the incredible Cobb & Co. Museum. I enjoyed this final stop and wished for one more day.

    Murals in Toowoomba
    Delicious dinner in Toowoomba
    Cobb & Co. Museum, Toowoomba

    Grateful for The Aussie Nest – Part Two

    But finally it was time to say farewell to the Aussie Nest. We are grateful to how well it took care of us over the past month. Our journey covered 2400 miles, we stayed in 11 parks, visited 15 towns and two time zones. We saw hundreds of new birds, dozens of interesting animals and fantastic flora and trees. Ample breathtaking views, beautiful beaches, darling villages, spectacular wine, interesting history and wonderful, patriotic and welcoming local people. As you travel around in a caravan in Australia there is a surprise around every corner. You can never see it all. But you can try, and that is what we have done. Wild and wonderful. Australia is all that and more…and what a great way to enjoy it, in our little Aussie Nest. Thank you for joining us for the Aussie Nest – Part Two adventure.

    More Australia to Come

    But wait! We aren’t done with you yet Australia! Next we spend five days in Melbourne before heading to Tasmania for an entire month. The Australian Adventure continues and we invite you to continue to follow along. Life is good in Australia.

    Crimson Rosella, Canberra

    See last week’s post Caravan Travel Australia – Part One. Also check out our post Visit Beautiful Brisbane.

    Our Pinterest followers are loving our post The World Famous Australia Zoo. Have you engaged with it yet?

    We love it when you pin, share and comment on our posts. It helps our posts get more traction when you do. Thank you so much for that. Check back next week for more Aussie Adventures with My Fab Fifties Life. G’Day!

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

    How deep is the connection of family? Of sisters seperated at birth? How deep is love through the worst of life’s trials, terror and torment? In this novel we learn the deep connections through eight generations. Here is my book review Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

    West Africa

    As the slave trade is gearing up and England has colonized, the native tribes turn against each other. It’s the eighteenth century in Ghana. Two half sisters are born, in different villages. Neither will ever know the other, but their connection is inscribed on their souls. Each always feeling a part of her is missing, despite the extreme different circumstances their lives will take. One will marry a British officer and lead a life of luxury, even though she is a black women, her status will be elevated for a lifetime. She will live out her life in a colonial castle. Her sister, captured and thrown into a holding cell in the same castle, will eventually make the horrific journey to the America’s and become a slave.

    Eight Generations

    Gyasi will develop the characters in this novel, following the two seperate but parrellel lives of the the descendants of these half sisters…one family in Ghana and not arriving in America until the 1970’s. The other family enduring slavery, civil war, and Harlem in the 1970’s. Gyasi looks deeply in this novel at the longlasting effects on a nation and a family that slavery and racism had…and still has…holding the memory of captivitiy in hearts forever.

    ****Four stars for Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

    Read last week’s Book Review Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See

    My current read The Armor of Light by Ken Follett

    Thank you for reading my book review Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

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    Asia & Oceania Travel

    Caravan Travel Australia – Our Little Aussie Nest Part One

    Location: Australia

    We are enjoying an entire month in a “Caravan” in Australia. Commonly referred to as a Motorhome or caravan, not a trailer or RV like we call it in the USA. Or a Tiki Tour as we referred to it in New Zealand. It’s a caravan/motorhome and we have completed two weeks of our four week itinerary. So let me tell you about the first two weeks, enjoying Caravan Travel Australia.

    Small But Mobile

    This is the fourth time we have done an extended time in a van or caravan. I’ve mentioned many times I am not one who needs a lot of fancy in my accommodations. Small is fine and I find it a fun challenge to live in a small space. Cooking in a small space, organizing a small space and generally making life comfy in a small space is a challenge I enjoy.

    The Aussie Nest

    Seven years ago we spent six weeks in tiny “Betty”, our vintage pink trailer. Then we lived in a ten foot van in New Zealand for five weeks in 2017. Next we did a ten day tour in Iceland in a similar van. None of the above had a bathroom, so our current living arrangement, a 20 foot Jayco with toilet and shower, seems luxurious!

    Wonderful Australia Birdlife

    The best part for each of these caravan adventures is being able to be on the go, and tuck into unique and beautiful parks and natural areas while we move about the country. So here is our story Caravan Travel Australia – Our Little Aussie Nest Part One.

    The Numbers

    Before taking you on a tour of our first two weeks of Caravan Travel Australia, let’s talk about the numbers. Many followers have been asking me about what this kind of travel costs. It’s not always less expensive, when you calculate everything together, so each person needs to consider what is most important. The below numbers are in USD. This video give you a little tour of the nest.

    Daily rental rate for this 20 foot caravan is $125 – in comparison a moderate hotel in Melbourne runs $130 and an Airbnb around $100

    Nightly camping rates have run us between$20-$50. The low end was for sites without hookups.

    Diesel fuel is costing about $4.50 per gallon. We traveled 900 miles the first two weeks and spent $200 on fuel.

    With the kitchen in the rig we cook the majority of our meals. Over the first two weeks we have spent $400 on groceries and $200 on dining out.

    You can of course make this less expensive or more expensive depending on your choices. But this is how it has figured for us on our first two weeks of Caravan Travel Australia.

    Let’s Go

    Our Little Aussie Nest Part One

    Dubbed the Aussie Nest, we have now been traveling in her for two of the four weeks. It’s time to report! Check out the graphic of the first two weeks. Here is a rundown of all the things we have enjoyed, places we have been and unique experiences we have had during the first half of our Caravan Travel Australia – Aussie Nest Adventure;


    We picked up the Caravan just outside of Brisbane at a rental agency called Let’s Go Motorhomes. The staff at Let’s Go was great and spent an hour with us going over every detail of the vehicle. And then off we went (staying left!). On this first day we headed North first to the tiny little town of Noosa. Immediately we learned that parking the rig in a small town was going to be a challenge. Eventually we found a spot and spent a delightful afternoon hiking Noosa Heads National Park. Australia is overflowing with National Parks, most are free, and we are enjoying them very much.

    Noosa Head

    Next we headed to a small RV Park called Ingenia Holidays Landsborough, only about an hour from Brisbane. We chose this spot because it was close to the Australia Zoo where we planned to spend the next day. So we booked just one night here. I liked this tiny spot with a pond and lots of trees but the snake warning reminded me I’m in Australia. We paid $29 per night with hook up.

    We spent a wonderful day at the World Famous Australia Zoo (see it here), and then we headed south.

    Nobby Beach

    Nobby Beach is lovely little town right next to the famous Gold Beach. Although there were people swimming and surfing, we chose to do a couple of walks and hikes around the town and into the small Burleigh Head National Park. Having picked up plenty of groceries at the local Coles Grocery (our favorite Aussie market) we used our Caravan kitchen and enjoyed dining al fresco. We did take a walk to Lost Palms microbrewery and enjoyed a couple of beers with the locals.

    Nobby Beach
    Lost Palms Brewing

    Nobby Beach Holiday Village is where we spent these two days, about four blocks from the beach. It included a nice laundry and swimming pool. Price per night with hook up was $51 .

    Coffs Harbour

    We booked three nights at the Big 4 Park Beach Holiday Park in Coffs Harbour for $31 a night with hook ups. This was a very large park with lots of rental cabins as well as lots of RV spots. Aussies seem to really enjoy the park model homes or cabins and most of the parks we have stayed in had a variety of options beyond camping. We had a couple days of serious rain in Coffs Harbour, so we took some time to do laundry and work on the laptop. But between rain storms we also enjoyed our morning run on the Coffs Harbour paths along the beach and we took a great hike out to Mutton Bird Island, a wildlife reserve. It was here in Coffs Harbour that we really began to discover so many wonderful Australia birds that were new to us.

    View from Mutton Bird Island
    Mutton Bird Island

    Despite the rain, on our last day we unhooked the caravan and made our way to the Coffs Harbour Botanic Gardens. We have encountered Botanic Gardens in nearly every town we have visited, and this one was particularly nice for both the flora and the number of beautiful birds. We enjoyed more than an hour of rain free walking through the gardens.

    Coffs Harbour Botanic Gardens

    Nelson Bay

    I thought this part of the Pacific Coast of Australia was truly lovely. It reminded me a bit of our home back in Gig Harbor, Washington. We spent three nights at the small but perfectly located Halifax Holiday Park. About 300 yards to the beach. Cost was $39 per night. We had lovely weather the day we arrived and we enjoyed walking around and seeing the beach.

    Nelson Bay
    Little Beach

    After a week in the Aussie Nest Caravan we decided it was time to treat ourselves to a nice dinner out. So we showered and changed and walked to a highly rated beach side restaurant called Little Beach Boathouse. Such a nice treat enjoying fresh caught local cod and barramundi as well as a delicious burrata and tomato salad. Perfect.

    Little Beach Boathouse
    Little Beach Boathouse

    The next day I took a wonderful long run into the town of Nelson Bay on a splendid pathway providing beautiful water and flora views. Back at the caravan a quick shower before we headed out for brunch. The host at the camp ground had recommended we visit the Inner Light Tea Room – a lovely small restaurant in the old light keepers home. Well, that sounded good, so off we went to enjoy the food and the spectacular views. We spent the rest of the day at the lovely golden sand Little Beach. A perfect day.

    Nelson Bay
    Inner Light Tea Room

    Next day was not as sunny, but was perfect weather for a little hike. We unhooked the Aussie Nest and drove to Shoals Bay, about five miles. Here we hiked up to the top of Tomaree Mountain. Not a very long hike but pretty steep – it was worth it at the top for the spectacular views. We saw a lot of interesting birds and kept our eye out for koala but didn’t see any – I’m sure they were there but they are camouflaged into the eucalyptus. Back down at the bottom we took a look at the beautiful Zenith Beach right as it started to rain. Perfect timing, as we headed back to our campsite.

    Tomaree Mountain View
    Zenith Beach

    While eating our dinner at the caravan that evening we were alerted of severe weather approaching. So we buckled up the caravan and watched the most amazing storm as it approached from the west. Really fascinating. Watch it below. It brought some rain but fortunately not the high winds predicted. Just enough to rock us to sleep. Next morning, we packed up and headed south again.


    Although we don’t drink much wine anymore, we wanted to try some of the award winning Australian wines found in this region of New South Wales. So as we headed south towards Booderee National Park, we decided to cut the long drive in half with a couple of days just outside of Sydney. We stopped at two wonderful wineries in the Hunter Valley, did a tasting and purchased a bottle at each, and met some really lovely locals who are very passionate about Australia and its wines. The area with its mountains and forests and vineyards looked so much like Central California, a part of the United States we are very fond of.

    Ernest Hill Vineyards
    Running Horse Winery

    At the end of a long day of driving we arrived just outside of the town of Vineyard and Ingenia Holidays Avina Camp Park. Since it was a weekend the park was pretty full with lots of kids and families. We paid $32 for a spot with hookups. We tucked in for the night after a long day. Next morning I did a run in a very thick fog, which burnt off about 10am and turned into the hottest day we have seen since leaving the USA two months ago…a hot 96 Fahrenheit. Day two we decided to just enjoy the warm weather, read and relax. Luckily the little Aussie Nest has aircon so we slept like babes, got up early and headed out to finish the drive to Booderee.

    Local Bird Life – A Gallah (photo from Merlin Bird Identifier)

    Jervis Bay

    In the tiny Jervis Bay Territory we arrived at Booderee National Park, Green Patch Campsite the most rustic of our choices for this itinerary. Booderee National Park offered us a large space with water but no electricity or place to dump. We paid $33 per night and booked three days in advance as it is very difficult to get a spot in this popular National Park. We didn’t mind roughing it for a few days to enjoy this amazing park.

    Mama Roo and Joey
    Wallybee in our campsite

    Each day we explored a different area of the 6400 hectare National Park. We hiked and walked and saw so much bird and wildlife it was absolutely astonishing. Every day we saw wallaby in our campsite and kangaroo all around the park. We also nearly stepped on a giant and venomous Red Bellied Black Snake and I got bit by a Red Bull Ant – that bite took weeks to heal.

    Booderee National Park
    Red Bull Ant (Wikipedia)

    We truly enjoyed the dozens of new-to-us birds we discovered, the ocean views, and local history. The park is pretty remote, with services like grocery not really available, but we had planned ahead, and had enough to make all our meals in the Aussie Nest.

    Booderee National Park
    Booderee National Park

    Continuing South

    After two weeks we now continue south where we plan to spend a week at the tiny town of Eden in Australia’s southeast coast, before turning the Aussie Nest back northward. Northbound we will stop in Australia’s capital city of Canberra, and then we will wander back to Brisbane staying inland. We are looking forward to more amazing Australia adventures in our little Aussie Nest as we continue our Caravan Travel in Australia. I’ll share part two of the story next week.

    Thanks for following along Caravan Travel Australia – Our Little Aussie Nest Part One. It might not be for everyone, but for us, it’s a great way to cover a lot of territory and experience nature in this amazing country. I hope you will come back again next week for part two.

    See last week’s post The World Famous Australia Zoo. Be sure to read Visit Beautiful Brisbane as well.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See

    This is the third book I have read by Lisa See. Her works always focus on Asian women and I find her research into real historical figures, and her ability to create a fictional story around them, brilliant. Two other books I recommend by Lisa See are The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and The Island of Sea Women. Here is my book review Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See.

    Period: Ming Dynasty

    Inspired by the true story of Tan Yunxian, See takes us to 15th century China. A time of concubines and foot binding where women were meant to be beautiful above all else. See brings to life in this fictional story Lady Tan, brilliant, beautiful and captivating. Tan’s destiny is mapped out for her during the period of the Ming Dynasty, but this young women will grow to be a force.

    Studying with her grandmother from a very young age, Lady Tan will become a brilliant doctor, and leave behind at her death meticulous notes about her care of primarily women throughout her life. Not only will she be a mother, wife and eventually the head of the wealthy family she married into, but she will be a healer, life saver, and a connector of women. Building throughout her life a strong bond with both those in her upper class life and the common people too.

    Lisa See, in this book like all the others, does extensive research and travels extensively to find her stories. This book re-imagines beautifully this remarkable women, her unconventional life, and the legacy she leaves behind.

    *****Five stars for Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See.

    See last week’s book review The Editor by Steven Rowley. Thank you for reading my book review Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See.

    My current read is All The Broken Places by John Boyne.

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    Asia & Oceania Travel

    A Day at the World Famous Australia Zoo

    World famous? Well yes indeed it is. The Australia Zoo, founded originally in 1970 as the Beerwah Reptile Park, became the Australia Zoo in the mid 1990’s. The zoo has been showered with awards over the decades for conservation, energy efficiency, tourism and business. World famous. So we wanted to spend A Day at the World Famous Australia Zoo.

    Steve Irwin

    Australia Zoo
    Steve Irwin’s legacy lives on

    Raised in Queensland, Steve Irwin helped his parents with the Beerwah Reptile Park and grew to be an expert wildlife rehabilitator just like his mother. Steve was called upon by the local government for crocodile relocation and rehabilitation. He met Terri Raines, a predatory animal expert, in 1991 and they married in ’92. The team began to expand the zoo and began the docu-series The Crocodile Hunter. As the Crocodile Hunter grew in popularity, Steve and Terri were able to expand their conservation efforts. They also expanded their family with the birth of Bindi and Robert.

    Steve and Terri, with the help of Steve’s mom Lyn, created a world class facility that rescues, rehabilitates and release over 7000 native Australian animals every year.

    After the tragic accident that took Steve’s life in 2006, Terri vowed to continue the work in his honor and today along with her grown children they remember and keep the legacy of the greatest wildlife warrior of all time, everyday at the Australia Zoo.

    Conservation Through Education

    It’s been 18 years since Steve passed but his dream of “Conservation Through Exciting Education” lives on. He left a legacy with the Australia Zoo which today encompasses over 700 acres (110 open to the public) and employs over 500 staff.

    The Australia Zoo is a world leader in conservation of both wildlife and habitat. Much more than just a place to view animals, the Australia Zoo works around the world on conservation projects, education, and crocodile research. Support is generated through the Wildlife Warrior program to fund the many efforts the zoo undertakes.

    Crocoseum at Australia Zoo


    Unique to this global wildlife operation is the Australia Zoo Hospital where you can actually view surgeries and recovering animals through a glassed-in viewing area. The Australia Zoo Hospital never turns an animals in need away, and accepts up to 30 animals a day. Many of the animals have been injured by cars, dogs, or other encounters with ‘civilization’. The day we visited we saw a koala undergoing surgery, a frogmouth bird, flying fox, and reptiles in incubators.

    It’s also possible to book a behind the scenes tour of the hospital when you purchase your entry ticket.

    Not a great picture, but this is a koala undergoing surgery
    Looking into the incubator and recovery room

    A Day at the World Famous Australia Zoo

    We arrived at the zoo at 8:30am and headed straight to the hospital. We purchased our tickets online and added the $2 fee to get a sneak-peek at the hospital. It was a great way to start the day.

    Using the map and event list provided at entry, we planned our day around the activities we wanted to see. We wanted to see the Bird Feed Out and the Crocodile show at the Crocoseum. So we worked our way around 110 acres of the zoo between these shows. It’s possible to hold a koala, pet a Rhino, and have a behind the scenes tour of the zoo. But we decided to just see as much of the zoo as possible on our own.

    The zoo is home to some 1200 animals and birds (see the list here) and is laid out in a lovely, clean and meandering way with beautiful flora, frequent facilities and friendly and helpful staff.

    Tough life being a ‘Roo

    Wandering with a Purpose

    We were ready for A Day at the World Famous Australia Zoo. Using our map we headed to see the wombats and reptiles before moving on to Grace’s Bird Garden for the morning feed out which was fun and informative. Next we visited the ‘roos, koalas, Asian elephants and tigers. Moving on to Bindi’s Island, home to boa, lemurs, echidna and giant tortoises. We took a trip to Africa to visit the giraffes, rhinos and meerkats.

    Poison Dart Frog
    Pink Necked Green Pigeon
    Asian Elephant

    Backtracking a little we headed up to see the large birds included the emus, cassowary, jabiru and brogas. A quick visit over to view the darling smiling quokka and then a brief lunch break at the Crikey Cafe. Next it was the dingoes and the Tasmanian devil before leisurely enjoying the wide variety of crocodiles and alligators. Now it was time for the show.



    A visit to the Australia Zoo would not be complete without enjoying the daily (sometimes more than once a day) Crocoseum Show. I loved this.

    The show begins with some fun activities to get the audience involved, and a short video about the beloved Steve Irwin. Next a wonderful display of some of the zoo’s incredible birds in flight, and a few snakes thrown in for good measure. Then it was time for the crocs.

    Casper the Cranky Croc

    The day we visited, Casper the Croc was our guy. Casper actually has a reputation as an aggressive and bit “cranky” croc and if you search online there are lots of videos of a near disaster a couple years ago when Casper came after Robert Irwin. Here are some details about Casper;

    • Casper is one of two leucistic (albino or light pigmented) Saltwater Crocodiles at Australia Zoo
    • Being leucistic basically means the animals have a dramatic reduction in dark skin pigment
    • Australia Zoo describe Casper as ‘one of the most aggressive crocodiles we have ever seen’ 
    • He has been paired up with the zoo’s other leucistic croc, a female named Wendy
    • Casper measures in at 3.7 metres long and weighs a whopping 350 kilograms
    • According to Australia Zoo his condition means he likely would have been picked on in the wild 

    The staff managing Casper during the show made it clear that Casper makes them nervous too, and there was no fooling around. This is serious and dangerous work, and watching them feed this amazing creature was heart stopping. But a not to be missed experience when visiting the Australia Zoo.

    Casper the Cranky Croc

    Crikey, Mate!

    Visiting the Australia Zoo is a must when in Queensland. Crikey, Mate – it’s an easy day trip from Brisbane, or enjoy one of the lodges or hotels in the region. Adult tickets are $67 AUD about $41 USD (which includes the hospital sneak peek). Child tickets (3-14) are $42 AUD about $26 USD. Multi-day and Annual Passes are also available as are Family Group Rates. Additional costs for behind the scenes tours, Koala Photo Opportunity and other wildlife encounter experiences.

    I had a grand time

    Thank you for reading my post Visit the World Famous Australia Zoo. I highly recommend this if you are interested in wildlife conservation, protection, education, and rehabilitation and release.

    For our wildlife “we are both their greatest enemy and their only hope” – Bradley Trevor Greive

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    See last week’s post Visit Beautiful Brisbane Australia

    Learn more about visiting this beautiful country at including my visit to The Great Barrier Reef

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    Jabiru on the nest