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Beach Crawling

The Road Trip

Frankston Beach

Julia, Lawrie, and I left the stunning Frankston beach today and began our long beach-crawling-drive to Sydney via the eastern coast of Victoria and New South Wales. The direct route would have been around 640 miles (1,280 kilometers), but our route took us to as many National Parks and beaches as possible, and so our mileage was about 1,118 miles (1,800 kilometers).

Tarra Bulga

Tarra Bulga National Park

Our first destination was the Tarra Bulga National Park, which is far from any beaches, but worth the detour. We drove through the beautiful rolling hills of Gippsland in Victoria. Then climbed up into the leech infested rainforests of the stupendous Strzelecki Range. This part of Victoria is a throwback to the Miocene, a time when megafauna roamed freely, undisturbed by humans. The large animals have long gone, replaced by many much smaller versions, but a significant portion of the flora is as it was back then. What an incredible place to hike and even just visit. I did get drained of some blood by several leeches, but all-in-all it was worth the plasma to experience this place.

Tarra Bulga

Lakes Entrance

Flagstaff Lookout

After visiting with a cattle-farming friend of Lawrie’s we continued our drive through Gippsland until we came to Woodside Beach, our first beach on this long beach-crawling-drive to Sydney. We took in the vista of this grand seashore and the estuaries buffering the little town of Woodside from the vast and powerful Tasman Sea.

From here we continued to Lakes Entrance where we walked the most stunning beach we had encountered so far. The deep blue cloudless sky, the soft yellow sand, and the continuous roar from the surf rolling up this wonderful beach hypnotized us. We walked the sandy coast until we reached Flagstaff Lookout, which marks the very entrance (or exit) of the Tasman Sea from the many brackish lakes that give this grand place its name.

We did not swim at this lovely beach, as the Tasman Sea that separates Tasmania from Victoria, is far too cold for me.

Lakes Entrance

Gipsy Point Lodge

Black Summer

The 2019-2020 bushfire season in Australia is known as the Black Summer. This horrendous fire burned some 18,642 square miles (30,000 square kilometers) of forests and homes. It directly killed 43 people and indirectly 445 people died of smoke inhalation. Julia and I were there when it began in 2019 and we could see the giant smoke reaching up to the stratosphere from Frankston, which was a very long way away from the main fires, this is how massive it was.

Part of the reason I chose this route to Sydney was to drive through the areas worst hit by the immense blaze to see the damage for myself. As we left Lakes Entrance the vast Eucalypt forests began to turn black with burnt trees. Hour after hour we drove past a forest filled with seared trees. The good news is that Eucalypt trees have evolved to cope with bushfires and three years after the Black Summer many of the murky-black trees were covered in new green shoots and leaves.


Our next beach on the beach-crawl was at Marlo. This little village was engulfed by burnt trees, a reminder of the massive fire of the Black Summer, but it too has recovered. Just as in Lakes Entrance the Tasman Sea pushes hard against the various rivers and creeks here and creates a briny estuary.

The next salty lake was at Bemm River. It too has many reminders of the Black Summer. The Tasman Sea works its magic here creating sand bars and a magnificent landscape.

Gipsy Point Lodge

At day's end we arrived at the Gipsy Point Lodge, which is at the confluence of the Genoa River and the Wallagaraugh River, near Mallacoota, and right next to the Groajingolong National Park. What a beautiful place this is. We were serenaded by the laughter of Kookaburras and the braying of mating Koalas each morning and greeted by Kangaroos each day.

On one of our days at this excellent place we drove a small boat from the Gipsy Point Lodge down the winding and sandbar filled Wallagaraugh River until we reached Mallacoota. This sleepy little town comes alive in summer with hundreds of campers and holidaymakers and so it was on this day.

There is only one road into Mallacoota and during the Black Summer hundreds of visitors were completely encircled by the fires and trapped. Things got so bad they had to be evacuated by the Australian Royal Navy.

Groajingolong National Park

On this day there were no fires, only a bright blue cloudless sky, yellow sandy beaches, and the blue-green waters of the Mallacoota estuary. Once again, the mighty Tasman Sea pushes back the ever-flowing waters of a mighty river and creates a paradise for swimmers and fishermen.


After swimming in the Mallacoota estuary, we crossed the giant sandbar that excludes the wild sea beyond, and experienced the raw power and beauty that is the Tasman Sea; and the spectacle of one more stupendous Australian golden-sand beach.

Wallagaraugh River and Skiper Lawrie

The weather changed on our trip back up the river in our small boat, and we were soaked in a deluge of rain. This rain combined with the burning hot sun and created a very sticky and high humidity. We seemed to be in the far northern regions of Australia and not this very southerly river. Climate change was made real here to us all, in Mallacoota, on this day.

Gipsy Point

Central Tilba

Our home in Central Tilba

We left Gipsy Point and Mallacoota and drove north to stop at the lovely little town of Eden. Here we took in the sights of the rugged coastline and of course more magnificent beaches. We also ate the best vegan burger we have ever had, at a small café called Sprouts. I recommend this plant-only burger to anyone including all meat eaters; delicious.

We continued our drive north until we came to the sleepy little village of Central Tilba. We stopped there for the next two nights.

The brothers

Central Tilba is just down the road from the even smaller town of Tilba Tilba and at the base of the massive granite mountain: Mount Dromedary or Gulaga as it is known by the native people. The native people refer to the granite monster as the mother mountain and the story goes that the mother gave birth to several granite islands just off the coast not so far away from Central Tilba.

Mystery Bay

We spent the next day on this coast at a lovely beach called Mystery Bay. Beaches in Australia are without rival. This includes the beaches I have experienced in Hawaii and all around the world. Beaches in Australia are bigger, longer, have cleaner, whiter, or yellower sands, bluer and clearer waters. They have far less people using them and are superior in every way. If you want a beach holiday, I recommend Australia.

Mount Dromedary

The next day we walked the forest surrounding Mount Dromedary. This sub-tropical rain forest is a beautiful sight to experience. And just like the Sierra Nevada in California there is gray granite everywhere. What a magnificent place this is.

The rest of our time we spent wandering about Central Tilba and enjoying the many arts and crafts the town has to offer and drinking a beer and listening to music at the local pub.

Central Tilba

Sanctuary Point


On our way up to Sanctuary Point, which is close to the vast Jervis Bay we stopped at more lovely beaches. The first was at Tuross Head where we encountered more wide sandy beaches lapped by blue-green waters. Next, we stopped at Batemans Bay as Lawrie wanted to eat Fish and Chips at the Innes Boatshed. Julia and I ate the chips, not the fish, but Lawrie assured us that it was worth the detour.

Innes Boatshed

From here we headed further north up the magnificent East Coast of New South Wales until we came to Ulladulla. Here we encountered even more beautiful beaches. We were beginning to get very jaded about extraordinary beaches by now.

We eventually reached our accommodation at Sanctuary Point. Our new home sat on the edge of the vast St Georges Basin. This lake is enormous and is ringed by holiday homes and small villages and is very close to Jervis Bay.

Sanctuary Point

The next day my brother Lawrie left us and returned to his job in Frankston. Julia and I continued our journey and went on a hiking/swimming excursion on Jervis Bay. We hiked the Scribbly Gum track and hiked to and swam at: Hyams Beach, White Sands Beach, Greenfield Beach, and Blenheim Beach. What an amazing day this was. We were able to combine two of our great loves, hiking and swimming in the ocean.


The next day we visited the lovely town of Huskisson, which is on Jervis Bay. Then we drove to the northern head of Jervis Bay, Point Perpendicular. Here we discovered the ancient volcanic geology of the area, the old Lighthouse, and hiked out to the world’s premier spot for shore-based marlin fishing. Of course, there are also many magnificent beaches here too. This goes without saying at this point.


Another lovely Beach

We left Sanctuary Point and the wonderful Jervis Bay and began the last leg of our long drive to Sydney from Frankston, which by now seems so far away. We stopped at the little beach town of Warilla and walked the yellow sands of another lovely beach on Windang Bay. We drove through Wollongong, a town with a history of iron and steel production. This was the beginning of the end of the lovely Australian bush we had become so used to.

We eventually began to leave the vast forests of eucalypt trees with their burnt-black trunks and green leaves, kookaburras, koalas, kangaroos, and echidnas. They were all replaced by buildings, shops, homes, cars, and people everywhere; we had arrived in Sydney.

Sydney Art Gallery

We visited our friends Sue and John in Sydney and enjoyed a lovely night of vegan food and jazz music. The next day we walked the beautiful Hyde Park and wandered about the stupendous botanical gardens.

We visited the exquisite Sydney Art Gallery, which I must say has the most innovative displays of old masters and modern art, often mixed together in the same display. Really incredible.

For such a small country Australia has a disproportionate number of artists and art lovers.

Sydney Art Gallery

We saw Giacomo Puccini’s La Boehme at the Sydney Opera house and were impressed by the quality of the singing and the production. The views from the Opera House at night are unique and very beautiful.

We ended our Sydney experience by visiting the small beach village of Watsons Bay, which is located on the southern most head of the entrance to Sydney Harbor. Walking past the many beaches we caught sight of a nudist beach, and of course averted our eyes (wink).

View from the Sydney Opera House

The lighthouse at the very tip of the peninsula was our goal and was worth the walk as the view of the vast and blue Pacific Ocean and Sydney Harbor is spectacular there.


Return Home

We packed up, headed to the airport, and left Australia behind us. It had been a wonderful time there with our friends and family, the Australian bush, the beaches, the great vegan food, and the culture. Goodbye to you, the great land down-under.

We stopped for two more days in the sun and on the beaches of Waikiki to slowly readjust to America.

Mai Tais at the Sunset Bar Waikiki


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