|Subject: Australia: Clockwise or Anticlockwise|
Hi Honorary Aussie Sue,
I second an anticlockwise drive, for the same reasons. We drove 12,500km over 6 weeks in 1989 while taking our two boys to see the Northern Territory and outback areas, didn't ever travel over 80km per hour and weren't pressed for time during that trip, we were camped each day by about 3-4pm, and left each morning around 8- 8.30am. There's so many expanses with nothing that you keep swapping drivers and just plug on, although do pull off from time to time to look at the nothingness, it's spectacular in its own way, and quite unforgettable.
There's plenty to see all up the coast from Melbourne, pretty coastal towns and lovely beaches. In NSW, call in at Eden, it has been mentioned before on the Zine, but it's a pretty spot with an interesting whaling museum.
When you get as far as Bateman's Bay, still south of Sydney, consider heading in a westerly direction toward Canberra for a look at our National Capital city, it's a planned city, so very orderly. The National War Memorial, Art Gallery etc are situated there and I think well worth a visit. If Canberra doesn't interest you think about taking a non-coastal route some of the way anyway.
February is hot and humid in Sydney, you'll get a nice coastal breeze, but head west to the Blue Mountains at least for one afternoon. If you drive past Katoomba to Blackheath there's wonderful views of sandstone escarpments, with none of the crowds you get at the Three Sisters, although they're worth a look anyway. Try to get a fine day though or you won't see anything through the haze/mist.
If you're at all interested in the Wollemi Pine, a recently discovered prehistoric pine tree, then Mt Annan Botanical Gardens near Campbelltown in Sydney and probably Mt Tomah Gardens (not too sure about that one) would have specimens. If you go up the Mountains from Sydney you can drive back along the Bells Line of Road through Bilpin and Richmond and you'll go right past Mt Tomah Gardens.
Further north, again there's plenty of beaches and towns to call in on the coast, but you could go inland a little and look at smaller cities like Armidale, a pretty University city. The roads are good and scenery a bit different from the coast.From Armidale you drive through granite country as you reach the border of Queensland.
A heartily agree about the Atherton Tablelands when you get in the Cairns area, (its 2000km from Sydney so I've left out lots of things to look at in the middle, I know). I posted some info. about that area on the Zine about 18 months ago, a search would find it. If I was back there I'd go platypus spotting, you sure won't see them anywhere outside Australia except in a zoo. The Daintree Rainforest is another must if you go as far as Cairns.
Finally for some really outback culture I suggest two things that you might like to do. The first is a visit to a School of the Air, have a look at a site like http://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/othersoa.html for some information. Not all SOA allow visitors, I've been to the Broken Hill one, there's certainly one in Alice Springs you can visit. The children receive their lessons via two-way radio and electronic media, they live on outback stations hundreds of kilometres apart. It's fun hearing them talk to their teacher, sing the National Anthem etc.
The final suggestion I have is if you drive through Longreach in outback Queensland on your way to the Territory call in at the Stockman's Hall of Fame http://www.outbackheritage.com.au This is an interesting museum dedicated to the cattle drovers and other people of the outback. It was 1989 when we went, so if anyone has been there recently they can tell you more, in case it's thought to be a bit daggy now.
Be careful of your accommodation once you leave the coast and drive west towards the Territory, places like Camooweal if you go that way are pretty small and may not have anything you'd want to stay in.
Regards, Sally from Sydney