Australia Part 4

You can read Part 3 here.

Day 11

After breakfast, we drove towards Mt. Gambier in South Australia. The landscape changed from flatlands to dense vegetation. We visited the Blue Lake. As the name suggested, the lake was really blue and beautiful. We had a picnic right by the lake.

From there, we drove to Robe, a small beach town, where we set up our camp at Discovery Parks. After settling down, we spent the evening at the beach. It was so relaxing! We had some of the best pizzas at Pizza Project and ice-creams at Robe Ice Cream. The camp costed AUD 56/night.

Blue Lake
Caravan Park, Robe

Day 12

We decided to spend the New Year’s in Brisbane with my aunt and uncle. We made a detour from Adelaide and drove towards Brisbane. On the way, we once again entered Victoria and the scenery reverted to barren land/ desert. After a 7.5 hour drive, we reached Mildura where we camped at Golden River Holiday park. We made Quesadillas for dinner. The camp costed AUD 40/ night.

Caravan Park, Mildura

Day 13

We drove further (almost 6 h) and stopped at Forbes. We camped at Big4 Forbes Holiday park. Mike and Neel spent the afternoon at the pool while I enjoyed reading my book. We cooked Fried rice before resting for the night. The camp costed AUD 31.50/night.

Day 14

We left quite early in the morning and drove further to Warrumbungle National Park. It was very pretty. We decided to set up camp here for one night. After a lunch of Rösti and left over fried rice, we did a 5 km hike. So far on our trip, we had mostly seen dead animals lying on the road. It was nice to watch lots of kangaroos and wallabies roaming around the park. Though they feared us and tried to run away, every now and then they would stop and stare at us. It was very cute to watch. Dinner was Mike`s delicious Spaghetti. Camp costed AUD 32/night.

Warrumbungle National park

Day 15

In the morning, we had a simple breakfast of toast and Nutella and drove towards White gum trail where we walked around 500 m to see the most beautiful sunset view in the National Park (though we could neither capture the sunrise nor the sunset). We drove 500 km and stopped at Tentafield. We camped for a night at Tentafield Lodge Caravan park. Dinner was Tikka masala with naan. Camp costed AUD 31/night.

White gum lookout
Caravan park, Tentafield

Day 16 and 17

We finally reached Brisbane. We spent 2 amazing days with our family. We got to enjoy home-cooked meals prepared by my aunt; my cousin gave us a tour of her university (The University of Queensland) which I really enjoyed; we walked around South Bank; took a ride on a CitiCat (water taxi) down the Brisbane River while enjoying some of the city’s best views; ate yummy gyros and icecreams. We even drove to Mt.Coot-Tha where we enjoyed the beautiful panoramic view of Brisbane skyline.

South Bank
Brisbane

Day 18

After 2 wonderful days with my family, we left Brisbane to drive further north. My aunt had packed some nice food for the road. We drove another 350 km to reach Bundaberg. We booked at Bargara Beach Caravan park for 2 days hoping to take a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, it was fully booked (due to holiday season). Camp costed AUD 45/night.

Bargara Beach

Day 19

In the morning we walked along the beach. Mike made some delicious pancakes for breakfast. We drove around Bundaberg and Bargara. There was nothing special to look around, so we drove back to our camp and let Neel play for a while. We spent the day relaxing by the ocean. They grow a lot of sugarcane around here but, sadly, we could not find a single shop selling freshly squeezed sugarcane juice.

Day 20

We decided to drive back to Sydney. On the way, we made several stops. Our first stop was Maryborough. We camped at Wallace Motel and Caravan Park for a night. After Mike and Neel enjoyed playing in the pool, we took a walk around the city center. We made burgers for dinner. Camp costed AUD 34/ night.

Caravan park, Maryborough

Madhurya

Binsar , Uttarakhand

After Jim Corbett National Park and Nainital, our next stop was Binsar, about 150 km away. The journey was uphill and winding. Since almost everyone, except me and a couple of others, suffered from motion sickness, it was a quiet journey, punctuated with frequent breaks for vomiting!

On our way, we stretched our cramped legs and ran about in the lush green Golf grounds of Ranikhet. I was told that parts of the movie, Raja Hindustani, were shot here.

Ranikhet

We finally reached Binsar, located on the Jhandi Dhar hills of Himalayas. This was the summer capital of the Chand Kings that ruled over Kumaon between 11th and 18th centuries.

We fell in love the moment we set eyes on our hotel, the Club Mahindra Resort Binsar. The beautiful cottages with their sloping green roofs simply blended into the surroundings. It was a bird-lover’s paradise. We could simply enjoy the views of the mountains with tall oaks and pines, the motley-hued birds that made their homes in the gardens, the rich flowers in their full bloom attracting a variety of critters. We didn’t have to set foot outside the premises. We all had much to do right inside the cozy confines of our resort. There was karaoke, art and craft, zip-lining, rock-climbing and other activities. The food spread was delicious, but we walked the extra mile (literally) to find cheaper alternatives to our dining experience. We went exploring up the slopes of hills nearby to see the locals and their daily lives up close, and sometimes lost our way too!

One morning we drove up to Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary where we stopped at KMVN (Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam) Resort. We snuck up to its wide balcony and stole glances at the majestic snowy Himalayas. The clouds were being nasty, trying to hide the jewels behind, but we were still blessed with a few sightings. We were shooed away, as the views were solely reserved for the guests of KMVN!

To Zero Point

We hiked the winding path up to Zero Point with an awesome Guide who taught us so much about the flora and fauna of Binsar. We watched a noisy woodpecker building its nest, learnt about the medicinal value of Rhododendrons, watched the sunlight dapple our path through the shady branches of Oak trees, observed the spores dotting the underside of fern leaves and simply went crazy with pleasure at finding ourselves at such a divine place. At zero point (the highest point of Binsar) with the clouds still teasing us, we had the Darshan of Himalayan Peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, Shivling and Kedarnath. Our Guide regaled us with tales of trekking some of its slopes. We began dreaming of the day when we would go on such an expedition!

After a relaxing stay at Binsar, it was time to make our way back down to Khatgodam. On our way we stopped at Naukuchiyatal Lake for a boat ride. Before I knew what was going on we were strapped with life vests and shoved into a boat without a driver! We were on our own! Only later did I learn that Prasad wanted to go on a pedal boat, while the others chose a motor boat that came with a driver! I spent half the journey fuming and fretting, refusing to join him in pedaling. I kept thinking what would happen if the boat overturned or something. Was the lake too deep? Would Prasad, who was the only one at the time who knew how to swim, be able to rescue us?! And then as I felt brave enough to enjoy the stunning views all around me, I joined him in pedaling. We made our way back. What an exercise we had that day! We deserved to gorge on plates of crispy pakoras and spicy maggi at the eatery beside the lake, while watching a flock of ducks putter about.

Naukuchiyatal Lake

We drove past Bhimtal with its Island Aquarium on our way to Khatgodam. There we spent the night at a cozy hotel before we caught a train to Delhi the next day. The Capital was eerily quiet as some kind of Bandh was going on. We were glad to be out of Delhi and on our way to Hyderabad.

Manasa.

Dear Appa

Dear Appa,

You turn 60 today. Happy Birthday! 🙂  

60! What a milestone! How does it feel?

We thought of writing this letter to you as a gift, as there’s nothing else we can give right now. And of course, we are sending loads of love and prayers your way.

While we were growing up you were working in places like Libya and Muscat. Even though we missed having you around all the time, we were able to afford a better lifestyle, thanks to all the hard work you put in, so far away from your loved ones. We remember the first time you left us. It was to Libya and a ton of people-your family, your subordinates from work- had all gathered at the airport, sending you off. As we watched the plane depart, we all burst out crying. I guess it goes to show how much you were and are still loved.

Manasa– Of all the things you’ve told me, the thing that I always remember the most and which changed the course of my life was when you asked me to take over your place and look after amma and madhi, when you weren’t around. It made me more responsible, a grown-up, all of a sudden. You wrote us letters. Letters that taught me stuff like the difference between ‘riding’ and ‘driving’; letters that told me tales of your adventures working in a desert environment; letters that answered my big questions on God and Love.

When we knew you were coming to visit us, our happiness knew no bounds. They were the best 30 days every year!

There was nothing you did not know, no book you hadn’t read, or so it felt to us as we were growing up. You were a fount of knowledge, our very own encyclopedia! You knew so much about all the bands, the music, the comics, the movies you grew up watching. We were introduced to Abba, Beegees, Neil Diamond, qawwalis, The Sound of Music, The Pelican Brief, John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, and Erin Brockovich quite early on.

You’ve always been the Master of a show, any show. You can set a stage on fire with your ultimate singing, dance moves and wisecracks. Our friends and family can’t stop praising you for all the entertainment over the years.

Madhurya – I remember all the times you and amma stayed awake waiting for me to return home from parties or my volley-ball practice sessions. And driving me to work early in the morning (even when YOU didn’t have to leave so early for work) and waiting to pick me up and driving through rush-hour traffic, while I dozed off!

Manasa – You were patient when I looked for jobs in the UAE, often taking me along for work, where I shadowed you and learnt so much. And when I was down and depressed you were always there for me, trying to cheer me up. I remember how you drove me around to my job when I finally snagged one and it was quite out of the way from your work. I can still picture your ruffled hair and your tired eyes, but you never complained about the traffic and long hours. And then it hit me, no man would ever be able to do the same for me. Ever (Sorry Prasad!)

Madhurya – Thanks to you and amma for everything I’ve achieved so far. Thanks for trusting me enough to let me make my own choices. Thanks for the freedom, the education and the love you have given me.

We thank God for your health and your presence in our lives. Sorry you won’t be getting the big birthday bash we’d planned for you in Udupi. That will have to wait till we get through this pandemic. We love how you and amma are keeping yourselves sane and healthy with exercise and prayer during this lockdown. You guys are an inspiration!

We love you Appa and so do your sons (in-law) and your grandkids. We look forward to many more years, stories, lessons, blessings and love. With you.

Love,

Your daughters.

And NOW from the littlest member of your fan club… ( drumrolls please….)

Nainital, Uttarakhand

We booked a day trip to Nainital from our resort- Club Mahindra Corbett National Park.  I remember walking along Mall road with the Naini lake (lake shaped like an eye) on one side and the Kumaon hills on the other. It was vibrant; The streets were buzzing with people. Hawkers were selling colorful knitted shoes, scarves and hats at exorbitant rates.

We took the aerial ropeway to get us to the Snow View Observation Point. The cable car seemed rickety. With hearts in our mouths we made our way, trying to enjoy the magnificent vistas of Nainital and its vicinity.

 There was quite a bit of walking involved and that too at high altitudes. We felt heavy and out-of-breath. There was an amusement park and a lot of eateries. We hired traditional costumes for the kids and had their pictures taken. Then we spent some time at the observation point trying to catch a glimpse of the Himalayas.  

We went boat-riding on Nainital. It was magical! The unspoiled natural beauty on one side, the hills stacked with multi-colored buildings among towering trees on the other side, the emerald lake beneath our boats, all put us in a blissful mood, except when the boatman made us move here and there to get some good (& some weird) family pictures. The boat seemed to be losing its balance at such times. I don’t remember how much we paid for the boats, but I remember it being quite expensive.

We ladies were on a mission! Tibetan Market- that was our target. It was densely packed with tiny stores and gullible tourists willing to shell out high prices for beautiful clothes, jewelry and handicrafts. We loaded our bags with quite a few things, much to our husbands’ dismay, while they prayed to Maa Naina Devi at the alluring temple beside the market.

We visited the famous G B Pant High Altitude Zoo, where we had to do quite a bit of walking on uneven paths as the animal enclosures were scattered on a vast area.

Manasa.

JimCorbett National Park

The Tiger is  a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage and when he is exterminated – as exterminated he will be unless public opinion rallies to his support- India will be the poorer by having lost the finest of her fauna.

-Words by Jim Corbett, a British hunter, tracker, naturalist and an author of several books. He played a key role in establishing the Corbett National Park in the 1930s.

This was 4 years ago. I was going through pictures of our trip to the World famous Jim Corbett National Park. We flew to Delhi from Hyderabad and drove to Club Mahindra Resort in Uttarakhand, about 240 kms away. It was raining cats and dogs and the city was clogged with traffic. Boy were we glad to leave the crowds, the sludge, the air thick with pollution behind! 

Our rooms were spacious, cozy and clean like all Club Mahindra Resorts. The Resort is situated on a riverbed, so we simply splashed about in the water or relaxed on boulders beside the river in the mornings. There was a big pool at the resort that kept the kids busy for hours. And the food? It was quite a spread. There was too much food! And so expensive too. So now and then we tried other dining options like the dhabas and other little eateries. The Resort provided good entertainment for the whole family in the evenings. There was bonfire, music, dance, laughter and good socializing with the other guests.

We booked a guided walking tour to the nearby Garjiya Devi temple which took us beside a river, across an old bridge, through a jungle, on a narrow path hugging a hill and down across the river (Kosi river ?) again with a hop-skip-and-jump on boulders. It was quite an adventure with the little ones. Our guide was very helpful as he led us. A long queue of devotees was snaking its way towards the temple situated on top of a hillock. We simply bowed to the goddess from the outside and headed back to our rooms, this time in auto-rickshaws. 🙂

Apart from a visit to the Jim Corbett Museum, where we had a glimpse into the life and times of Jim Corbett, we even went on an eco-tour of a Kumaoni village, where a local family served snacks and beverages. We explored the village, watched locals carry pots of fresh mountain water from a pipe where we took a refreshing sip or two, visited the spooky temple and enjoyed the beautiful views of river Kosi flowing down below

One morning we even went on an Elephant Safari in the Seethavan, about which I have already written at length here. It fills me with joy to look back on that memorable event, even after all these years.

And then the Jeep Safari…. I can’t get enough of it. I mean we’ve gone on so many, yet it thrills me every. single. time.

I simply enjoy waking up early in the morning when it is still dark outside, bundling up and making our way into one of India’s enchanted jungles. To my mind it feels as if we’re about to enter the Jurassic Park. A wave of awe and fear washes over me. Jai Shree Ganesh, We send up our prayers. We are determined to spot a Tiger or a Leopard or an Elephant, but you never know what you might find. Or not. As the gate closes behind our jeep, we leave the world of men and enter the abode of the untamed wild.

It is refreshing to breathe in the cool, unadulterated air of the Jungle; The environs look like the fresh face of a child as it wakes up; The sky still, but vibrant, the early morning sun splashing colors as it takes center-stage. What’s not to love about an early morning foray into a Jungle, especially if it is one of the oldest, most prestigious Jungles of India?!

We did not spot a Tiger or a Leopard, but we had a great time watching a variety of birds like the Bee- Eaters, Black Drongos, Common Flameback Woodpeckers, Red Jungle Fowls. A playful Jackal wished to walk only on the paved road, instead of limiting itself to the rough woodland. It kept following us for quite a distance.

Book I’m currently enjoying

We went on to explore Nainital and Binsar about which I plan to write next. So please humor me.

Manasa.

In the time of Coronavirus (In Switzerland)

Some of the things we’ve been doing with our 2 year old during these uncertain times are –

  1. We have a huge field next to our home. It is usually empty and whenever Mike and I are not working, we like taking long walks while Neel cycles.

2. Trying to keep in touch with my friends and family, especially the ones in Switzerland. We are constantly messaging each other to find out how everyone’s managing their kids at home.

Neel is missing his cousins and friends a lot!

3. It is so difficult to manage a toddler at home, especially being a working mom. I have prepared lots of activities for Neel to play with while I work. Though it doesn`t keep him busy all the time, it certainly helps once in a while.

4. Reading lots of books. I am currently reading Liane Moriarty`s “Nine Perfect Strangers” and I am enjoying it thoroughly.

5. Mike and I sometimes play scrabble after Neel has gone to sleep. I enjoy this so much more than watching TV.

6. Baking!! I have started baking breads, buns and cakes.

7. I began working on another Crochet mandala which I hope to transform into a blanket!

8. As the weather gets better, Mike enjoys working in the garden with Neel. Neel loves to help his papa and tells me “Mama, stay here” (to make sure I don`t disturb them)!

8. I decided to learn something new and ordered materials to learn Hand Lettering. I’m practising my new skill every single day.

Honestly, when we are not working, Mike and I are truly enjoying this time we are getting with Neel. We are very thankful for the life, health and time we are blessed with. The only downside to this whole situation is that we will not be able to visit our family in India as planned. I really hope and wish that we will get to see them all soon.

Madhurya.

In the time of Coronavirus

We are on lockdown mode. All of us are staying at home. We don’t have anywhere to be, nor really anything much to do. It feels like a vacation, yet it is not. We can’t go out as and when we want to. We can’t hang out with friends and family. We can’t travel. We are lucky if we are healthy, our distant family and friends are safe, have enough money for food and other emergencies.

It’s a weird situation we have all been thrown into. And the end is nowhere in sight. At such a time we can either easily lose ourselves in the rabbit holes of our miseries, dragging everyone else down as we go, or we can try and remain positive, spread cheer, help pull one another up.

We have been reading a lot, sleeping a lot, watching shows a lot, eating a lot, chatting a lot and of course quarreling a lot. Trying to keep a distance from the others has meant that family members have been tossed too close to one another. We are bound to step on one another’s toes, get on each other’s nerves…. But all is not so bleak at the Pejavar household.

Some of the things we’ve been doing to keep our spirits relatively high are-

1. Talking to family and friends. We have been video-calling our old friends and family members who we haven’t talked to in ages. It’s nice to be reminded that we are all sailing in the same boat.

2. Going out for walks around the neighborhood, adhering strictly to social distancing rules and maintaining hygiene after return.

3. Enjoying coffee and meals as a family. Before, we all ate at different times and in a rush. Now we talk to each other and take it slow.

4. Spending a lot of time outside in our balcony or at the rooftop under the sun just reading or talking.

5. Cooking together as a family. Kids are helping out with the cleaning and peeling and of course deciding on the menu.

6. Homeschooling- I’m encouraging my kids to do a bit of cursive writing practice, a bit of math, a bit of reading their text books, every single day.

7. Watching good shows on tv, netflix and amazon. Kids are enjoying the re-runs of Ramayana and Mahabharata, our great epic sagas on DD channel.

8. Working out in our home theater. We play “Workout with kids” or “Yoga for beginners” or sometimes Zumba on Youtube and follow along. It’s amazing how full of energy and inner and outer glow we feel after a bout of exercise.

9. Working on side-projects. I’m doing a lot of alterations on our existing clothes and working on sewing new clothes too. Medha is into drawing and Madhav is very much into Origami and stuff.

By Medha

10. Not listening to or reading news all day long. Disconnecting from social media to avoid constant negativity.

Also, Giving ourselves grace when things don’t go the ‘right’ way, when someone isn’t being ‘nice’, when WE are not being ‘nice’, when plans unravel, when trips get cancelled, when there’s nothing to do, when there’s too much to do…

Just… you know, taking it one day, one single precious moment at a time.

We will all get through this . Together.

Manasa.

Australia Part 3

You can read part 2 here.

Day 5

We drove to the mouth of Snowy river, a major river in South-eastern Australia. At a cool picnic spot by the river, we cooked Tandoori masala. Neel enjoyed running around the place.

On our drive to Lakes Entrance, we saw a lot of wallabies. After checking in at our caravan park –Eastern Beach holiday park, we headed to the beach and took a long walk before heading back and cooking Pizza toast for dinner. Park cost AUD 43/ night.

Snowy river

Day 6 & 7

We drove from Lakes Entrance to Wilsons Promontory National park. It was a 3.5h drive. We stopped at Yarram to have an amazing lunch at Yarram coffee place. When we reached the National park, we booked a spot by Tidal river inside the park. It was peak tourist season, so we had to pay around AUD 62/night. We took a walk along the Loo-Errn track. Dinner was pasta for Neel and Maggi for us with delicious mangoes for dessert.

Tidal river campground
Loo-Errn track

On our 7th day, after a breakfast of scrambled eggs, we took a long hike around Lilly Pilly nature walk and Lilly Pilly circuit. As Neel was still too small to make such hikes, we took our stroller. It was a 6 km hike and so beautiful, we really enjoyed it. Once we got back, we spent sometime on the beach, letting Neel play on the sand. In the evening, we took another hike to Pillar point. It felt like we were walking into the sets of Lord of the rings. And when we reached the lookout point, the view of the beaches and the river was so surreal, it was magical!!

Lilly Pilly Nature walk
Pillar Point

Day 8

We drove towards Phillip island hoping to stay there to watch the penguin parade. Unfortunately, it was fully booked and we also found out that they came out only after 7pm which we thought was too late with the little one. So we visited the Phillip Island Wildlife park where we got to see kangaroos, wallabies, emus etc. We even got to feed them. Neel was happy and so were we. From Phillips island, we drove towards Mornington Peninsula and from there to Sorrento, where we took a ferry (AUD 85/adult) to Queenscliff and stopped for the day at BIG4 Beacon Resort Queenscliff which cost us AUD 100/night.

Phillip Island Wildlife park
BIG4 Beacon Resort Queenscliff

Day 9

We drove through Great ocean road. Anyone visiting Australia must take a trip along this road. The views are to die for! After stopping to take pictures, we drove to Lorne where we had lunch at an Indian restaurant. Lorne is a seaside town popular for surfing and beach cafes. We camped for the night at Bimbi Park in Great Otway National park. After setting up, we took a 2h walk to the Lighthouse. It was really hot, full of mosquitoes and the lighthouse was about to close. But it was still worth it! We had a great dinner with burgers and fried potatoes. Camp costed AUD 40/ night Plus an additional AUD 2 for shower.

Great ocean road view
Great Otway National park
Walk to the lighthouse

Day 10

We drove to visit the twelve Apostles. On the way we stopped at Ottway Bistro to have breakfast. It was amazing! I had eggs on toast, avocados, roasted tomatoes, hashbrown, mushroom and spinach. Yumm!

Twelve Apostles was just as I had imagined.

Breathtaking!!

Twelve Apostles

From there we drove to The Arch and then to Bay of islands, all the while driving along the Great Ocean road. After another short drive, we drove to Warnambool. It was very difficult to find a free camping spot as every caravan park was fully booked and the reception was closed (due to Christmas holidays) and so we could not contact anyone. We drove to Port Fairy and finally found a spot available at Southcombe Port Fairy caravan park.  I made Dum aloo curry for dinner and after eating it with naan, we walked around a small but beautiful reserve near the park. The camp costed AUD 55/night.

The Arch
Bay of Islands

More to follow…

Madhurya.

Australia Part 2

You can read part 1 here.

It was almost a 23 hour long flight from Switzerland to Sydney, but we made it without any glitches. Though Neel had his moments on the flight, we tried to keep him occupied with books, toys, coloring and walking down the aisle and talking to other people. Once we landed, even immigration went quicker than expected (The first time I came to Sydney on a business trip, there was a long queue and it took me about 2 hours to get out of the airport.)

Day 1:

In Sydney, we stayed one night at the Holiday Inn Sydney Airport to recover from the long flight and jet-lag. We chose this hotel as it is not far from the airport and the Campervan Rental company. It’s in a nice residential area with lots of Cafes and restaurants. We spent the day walking around and relaxing in a cafe and letting Neel play in the park nearby.

Day 2:

We took a taxi to the rental company. It took almost an hour to complete all the formalities. The campervan we rented had a small refrigerator, a kitchenette, a toilet, a sofa that could be converted into a bed, a microwave, a TV with DVD player and AC.

We began our journey on the road. First, we stopped at Woolworth and bought our groceries. We drove for about an hour and stopped at Bulli. We found a beautiful Caravan park called Bulli Tourist Resort park. It cost us around AUD 37 for one night. This book helped us a lot in finding the best caravan parks around Australia. I highly recommend it.

Bulli beach is a popular surfing spot. The park has tents and caravan parking spots with a beautiful view of the ocean. It has clean amenities like a camp kitchen, a caravan dump point,a recreation/function room, laundry facilities, children’s playground and sheltered barbecue areas.

After parking the van, we ate lunch at Bulli Beach café. The burger there was delicious!! After a 3 hour long nap (jetlag!), we walked around the beach. We had a lovely time talking to our friendly neighbors. For dinner, we cooked rösti and watched a movie on TV before going to sleep.

View around Bulli Tourist Resort Park
Bulli Tourist Resort Park

Day 3:

We woke up to the soothing sounds of the sea. With a quick breakfast of bread and Nutella and fresh coffee from our coffee maker (which we brought from home), we got ready for the road. From Bulli we drove to Jervis Bay. On the way we took a detour and drove to Gerringong, a beautiful small town. From there, we drove to Hyams beach, because we had heard so much about it on all our web searches. But we were quite disappointed when we reached there as there was nothing but white sand. Not wasting any time, we drove on to Milton, another beautiful town and had our lunch at Pilgrims Café. We drove further to Bateman`s bay and settled for the evening at Bateman`s Bay Resort Park which cost us AUD 38 per night.

Hyams Beach
Bateman`s Bay Resort Park

Day 4:

We drove through Mimosa and Narooma before stopping at Tilba, a small town with vintage style shops. I just loved this town. We had a nice breakfast at Tilba Teapot café. It was drizzling most of the time, but we were still able to walk around. We drove towards Eden, before retiring for the day at Mallacoota Foreshore Holiday Park. Caravan park costed AUD 34/ night. Later, we walked around the park and spotted many kangaroos.  

Tilba
Tilba
Mallacoota Foreshore Holiday Park

More to follow…

To the Land down under..

I’m back after a long, long time. This post is about “ONE OF THE BEST TRIPS” we’ve made so far!!

It was almost a year ago and honestly, we never thought we would take this trip so early after Neel was born. We wanted to wait another year or 2 till he was old enough to enjoy the trip. But the decision was made on the spur of a moment. We were having dinner and Mike looked at me and said “what are we waiting for? We can always go back another time in another few years, there is so much to see.” And I agreed. And so after 3 months of planning, preparing, shopping and getting ready, we finally boarded that plane which took us to the land down under, Australia!

I am keen to share not only our experiences but also some tips to plan the trip, especially with a toddler.

When and for how long ?

We did not want a short trip. We wanted to go for a month and travel around a bit. We were able to extend our Christmas holidays and take an additional 3 weeks of vacation in December. So in total, we spent almost 5 weeks in Australia.

How did we fly?

We had a lot to consider here..

  • We had to find out where we wanted to start our trip in Australia. We checked for different options like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
  • Our preferred flights were Etihad, Emirates and Singapore Airlines.
  • We did not mind having 1 or 2 short stops in between in order to freshen up and let Neel get some play-time.
  • As we were travelling in December which is also Summer vacation in Australia and a peak season for tourists, we had to book the tickets way in advance in order to get good deals.

In the end, we came up with the best solution of flying to Sydney on Emirates.

Visa & Immigration?

It was easy for Mike and Neel to apply for Australian visa, they had to just fill an online form and that was it. I had to fill not only a form but had to get many supporting documents and wait almost a month for the visa. Visa information is available here.

How did we go around in Oz?

We wanted to go on a road trip with a Caravan/ Campervan in Australia (Something Mike had always wanted to do). As we were only 2 adults and a toddler, we did not need a big caravan. We decided to rent a Campervan.

The main advantages we found by travelling in a campervan were:

  • We did not have to book hotels in advance (December is a peak season for tourists, finding proper hotels can be impossible sometimes and even if we do find them, they are very expensive)
  • Additional costs for rental car could be avoided
  • With a campervan, we were more flexible with our plan and we could change it when necessary. Many times we did that after talking to local people who advised us to visit some nice places around (which were not in our original plan)
  • Our toddler could feel at home during the whole month. He was so excited and happy to stay and travel on the campervan
  • We did not have to eat outside all the time. Our van had a kitchenette and we could easily cook in there.
  • When we were tired, we could just find the next caravan park and stay for the night

We decided to rent this Campervan from Maui. We had to do a thorough research on the rental company and their deals before choosing this van.

Our Campervan

What we made sure to carry for this trip?

We were travelling with a toddler to one of the most expensive countries / continents in terms of food and cost of living; Considering these facts and also the fact that we would be staying 5 weeks in a van, we had to pack more efficiently.

  • Clothes: As it was summer in Australia, we made sure to take enough shorts and t-shirts for all of us but not overload our bags with clothes.  Caravan parks usually have all the utilities including washing machines. We were able to wash and dry our clothes whenever we wanted. We also carried our swim wear.
  • Food: We had a kitchenette (Including utensils) in our van and made use of it quite a lot. We decided to take many items from home like coffee powder, milk powder (For Neel), Neel`s baby cereal, Indian masalas, pasta, rösti (hashbrown) and snacks. Though we bought veggies and fruits in Australia, we were happy to save a lot on food stuff by taking them from home. Beware of the Custom regulations on what you can carry and what not.
  • Care kit: Shampoo and soaps, medicines (Especially for Neel), sun-screen lotions for all of us.
  • Others: Proper hiking shoes and swimming shoes, diapers, wet wipes, garbage bags, our camera, Neel`s Stroller, chargers and most importantly, my kindle.

Though we knew we could always buy them in the cities there, we made sure that we had enough of our supplies in our campervan as there were days when we would drive for hundreds of kilometers and still find no stores or restaurants.

Where all did we travel in Oz?

Australia is a very large country. 5 weeks is too short a time to see even 25% of the country. I came up with an itinerary after I referred to some interesting websites and spoke to some friends who had done such trips:

  • Arrive in Sydney
  • Drive from Sydney through coastal route towards Melbourne and Adelaide
  • Cross Mildura and drive towards Brisbane
  • Drive further ahead to Bundaberg to see the Great Barrier Reef
  • Drive back through Queensland`s Sunshine coast back to Sydney

Beaches, charismatic little towns and beautiful national parks were part of our itinerary throughout.

Our Itinerary

More about our trip in the next post.