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Van Ventures: Bellingen, Bondi & Botanical Gardens

river hazel

You know how sometimes you just get the urge to pack up and leave for a while? I am beyond grateful to have met someone who feels the same. Whilst on our last little getaway we said 'why not?' and as soon as we got home; we packed up and left again.

A trip from Tamborine Mountain to Sydney, The Blue Mountains and our new dream area to live in; Dorrigo/Bellingen. Part 1/3 - Bellingen, Bondi, Blue Mountain Botanical Gardens. 

We left late Monday afternoon and headed straight to my usual favourite rest-stop in Bellingen. Tuesday morning was Dan's 22nd birthday, I drove him out to The Promised Lands and set up a little birthday breakfast at one of the park benches.

It was a beautiful foggy morning, the perfect day to have a wander around town and then start the drive to Sydney. I gifted Dan twelve presents (one for each month of the year) and had such a chuckle as he opened them all. I have an 'odd' sense of humour, so the presents were mostly jokes or just punny. A tin of lentils with the label 'a lentil bit older, a lentil bit wiser' and a loo-roll with 'I love the shit out of you.' You get the idea.

After a coffee in town and browse of all the shops (and after deciding we'd totally like to move in straight away) we drove towards Sydney and met a friend of his for more birthday celebrations. Our second night was spent in a busy road-side rest stop on the outskirts of the city. (Ourimbah rest stop for travellers heading that way.)

Our first stop in Sydney was Bondi Beach so Dan could have an icy-cold swim. We ambled around a bit till lunch and made a bee-line for Soul Burger in Randwick. (A 100% plant based burger bar. YUM!) We then trekked into Newtown to have some Gelato Blue (100% plant based ice creamery that was closed for the month, boo) and then a wander through the vintage shops.

Our evening after Sydney was quite interesting; we couldn't find any near-by spots to sleep so decided we'd head out to the Blue Mountains earlier than planned. On the way I suggested we stop in to Lord of the Fries (super unhealthy, but super yummy vegan takeaway) in Parramatta and subsequently forgot where we parked the van. Luckily Dan's great at running and saved us a parking ticket (and a long night of walking around an unfamiliar spot.) Unfortunately it didn't get better for us from there; the first couple of rest stops I'd found on WikiCamps were super dodgy (maybe because we were driving there at night, but maybe also due to the 'beware of thieves' signs along the 10km gravel roads.) Eventually we got lucky and found a sweet little stop off in Bilpin. 

We spent quite a bit of extra time relaxing in the sun at the rest stop and chatting to the locals that stopped in before heading further into the mountains. Along the way we saw a sign for the Blue Mountain Botanical Gardens and in keeping with our 'why not' attitude turned in. This was one of the highlights of the whole trip; if you get out there I highly recommend stopping in. 

My favourite sections? Surprise surprise; Protea & Cactus! They reminded me so very much of my childhood in South Africa. The gardens were an absolute dream & the view behind them even dreamier. We'd live here too if we could!

Stay tuned for the next overviews of the rest of our trip :)