Mrs Grubbys South Island Adventures in her JUCY Condo
08 April 2014 03:39 p.m.
I must start by saying, I never thought it was possible to miss a vehicle rental as much as we do. Whoever out there is currently driving Jucy’s HEY950, please give her a big hug and tell her we miss her dearly. In the 2 weeks that we had her, our Lucy became part of our family unit.
We began our journey in Christchurch. The Jucy crew was extremely helpful with making sure we had everything we needed for our road trip, including some great recommendations on places to visit. We stopped for groceries at a nearby mall, then immediately hit the road. Our first night in a holiday park, we met Paul and Betty Callahan, our campervan neighbors from Florida, USA, who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary by touring New Zealand in a Jucy Condo. The best part about being a Jucy customer, are the other Jucy friends you meet on the road. There is a camaraderie among Jucy’s that makes you feel like you have friends wherever you go.
The following day included swimming with over 100 dusky dolphins off the coast of Kaikoura. What an experience! We’re not huge fans of zoos with caged animals, so to be able to swim with dolphins in their natural habitat was something really special for each of us. Following our swim, we hit the road headed north towards Kaiteriteri Beach. The following morning we woke and walked along the beach. We visited Split Apple Rock and had one of the best burgers of our life at Fat Tui. Being from California and familiar with beautiful beaches, we decided to forego exploring Abel Tasman in depth and instead headed south to experience the glaciers and landscapes we don’t regularly get to see living on the coast of California.
On the way to Franz Josef, we stopped to see the beautiful Pancake Rocks and blowholes in Punakaiki then stayed in Hokitika for the night. A must see for anyone interested in the famed New Zealand glow worms, is the Hokitika Dell. Spending the evening surrounded by so many glowing lights in a quiet little dark dell was other-worldly!
We woke the next morning and headed to Franz Josef. On the way, we made a detour to the Hokitika Gorge. If you have the time, definitely add this stop to your itinerary. The drive is beautiful in itself, but the turquoise waters flowing through the gorge have to be seen to be believed. Just don’t forget your Goodbye Sandfly, they are fierce in this area!
Once we reached Franz Josef, we checked in for the night and woke early the next morning for the Ice Explorer tour, a very cool (no pun intended) and informative morning, hiking on and learning about the Franz Josef glacier.
Following Franz Josef, we headed towards Wanaka, a cute little lakeside town. The next day, we attempted to hike Roy’s Peak, but short on time and not equipped with enough water for the strenuous hike, we only made it halfway up before throwing in the towel and hitting the road towards Queenstown. First stop – Fergburger! We had heard so much about this place offering the ‘best burger in the world’ and we have to agree, it was a mighty fine burger!! But a word of advice for those who want to forego the hype and the sometimes hour plus wait, visit Devil Burger nearby, which has equally delicious offerings and no line.
As fun and alive as Queenstown is, we tend to gravitate towards quiet towns away from the buzz, so we headed out to Glenorchy. I just can’t find the words to describe this area; we definitely left a huge piece of our hearts in this sleepy little gem of a town. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan (which I am), the Ride of the Rings tour by Dart Stables is a must, as well as the Dart River Jet Boat and Funyak tour. Of course, no trip to New Zealand is complete without a little adrenaline excursion. Mine included a bungy jump from the nearby Kawarau Bridge, the birthplace of bungy.
While in the Queenstown area, we decided to take the Scenic Milford Sound tour offered by Heli Tours Ltd. This tour was easily the highlight of our trip. It’s one thing to see all this breathtaking scenery from below, but from above was something you just can’t beat. Our pilot Phillip was so informative and friendly, and with our teenager being a little uneasy in the air, Phillip made sure we felt safe during our entire flight. He took us over hidden alpine lakes, rivers and valleys not visible from the ground, out to land on a beach only accessible by air or water, and then into Milford Sound for a coffee and pastry. We then flew up to a glacier and landed for a photo then back into Queenstown. I really can’t say enough good things about this company. Katherine, the owner, will be the first person we call to book another amazing tour the next time we visit the south island.
After leaving Queenstown, we drove down to Milford Sound for a day of kayaking through the beautiful fjord (yes, it’s really a fjord, and not a sound). After our day in Milford, we headed north again making our way back to Christchurch. Along the way we drove past the beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki towards Mount Cook for a little hiking around the Tasman Glacier and Hooker Valley areas. We then headed to Lake Tekapo for the night, where we had the great fortune of meeting ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ New Zealand actor, Jed Brophy, while eating dinner. What a nice guy, and a big treat for me being a huge fan of the movies!
Our last night was spent in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I don’t know how Mount Potts and the Rangitata Valley aren’t at the top of every south island ‘must see’ itinerary. We loved that area the most of all. Our final morning we spent visiting the town center of Christchurch. It was surprising to see so much of the devastation of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes still visible and in the midst of recovery. Finally back to the airport, parting with our Jucy Lucy was difficult but we are certain that we will be back someday to reunite with her and explore more of beautiful New Zealand.
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Elisa’s JUCY Road Trip from Melbourne to Sydney
01 April 2014 10:20 a.m.
Elisa was the 2013 winner of ‘Best Jobs in the World’ in Australia. She took our JUCY Condo between the two biggest and famous cities in Australia: Melbourne and Sydney. In 15 days, here are her 10 top spots on her unforgettable JUCY Road Trip!
Day 1 : Great Ocean Road : Melbourne – Apollo Bay
Melbourne, Monday 10:32am: van checked and packed, Lucy on the rooftop, it’s now time to leave the Jucy branch and escape the city (which is great by the way!). Sun is shining, the Great Ocean Road and its fluffy koalas won’t wait for us all day! Max’s got the driver’s seat, I’m the lucky one who can soak up the beautiful beach views and breathe the fresh air, umh that feels so good to be on a Jucy road trip!
Day 2: Great Ocean Road: Apollo Bay – Port Campbell
After a first night in the campa, a brekkie in the nature with an ocean view, we headed direction Port Campbell. Thanks to a small detour to the Otway Lighthouse, we saw heaps of koalas up in the trees that was awesome to spot them in the wild! All the tourists were fascinated, no matter the nationality, koala‘s awesomeness is universal ! Our day became even more sensational once we got to the 12 Apostles. These “Giants” emerge so proudly from the Southern Ocean, it’s breathtaking! Loch Ard Gorge was also spectacular!! What a great day out on the Road with our Jucy Lucy, and yeah I forgot to mention that we made lots of new friends on the road, Jucy brothers!
Day 3: Great Ocean Road: Flying over the GOR – Timboon – Mornington Peninsula
What a better way to take in properly the scenic coast of the Great Ocean Road than by the air? We hopped on a chopper and took thousands of pictures! Nice! Then direction Timboon to taste good local products and we start with L’Artisan Cheese, because as good French people we love cheese!!! But Matthieu, the manager, does French style cheese and especially cheese from my own region in France J He offers us a visit of the cheese factory, all dressed up for the occasion (hygiene reason) we go through the different stages of the production to finish with a delicious tasting. We have the feeling to be back home, yummy! The tasting trail continues with whiskey, chocolate and fine ice creams. The stomachs full, we head to Queenscliff to board the ferry going to the other side Sorrento: Mornington Peninsula!
DAY 4-5-6: Mornington Peninsula, Philipp island and Wilson’s Promontory
Swimming with dolphins and seals! Sorrento is a lovely seaside town where you can swim with dolphins and seals, we don’t want to miss this opportunity, so let’s go for a 3 hour cruise with Moonraker Dolphins and lots of adventures! These animals are so playful! We say goodbye to the dolphins to say hello to another cute animal: the penguins! On the pretty Phillip Island, we are excited to observe the Little Penguins coming back home at night. A very cool experience, they don’t care about us, they just make their way to their burrows and keep doing their things!! After a few walks on the coast, many pictures taken on the wild beaches, we head to Wilsons Promontory, known as The Prom.
This is one of the favourite spots to the locals and we immediately get why!! The beaches are just so beautiful, calm, and the colors are magnificent. The camera doesn’t stop a minute there!!
Unfortunately time’s arrived to leave Victoria and drive further north to New South Wales, new adventures awaiting!
DAY 8-9-10: The beautiful south coast of New South Wales
After a bit of driving, we can’t wait to get wet and play on the pristine beaches New South Wales is famous for. Jervis Bay is a great spot to stop. Murray’s Beach, Hyams Beach: both come with white and squeaky sand, aqua blue water…what else you can dream of? Great to enjoy the view and the breeze, but what if you want to make the most of the waves? Nothing better than learning to surf to do so we choose Surf Camp Australia for a couple of hours in the water, yeah ha! Let’s rock the waves on the perfect 7 Mile Beach!…umh umh not that easy actually but Sam our teacher is so much fun that it doesn’t matter if we can compete with Kelly Slater!! There is always a beginning to something, I would say!
DAY 11-12-13: Adventures in the Blue Mountains
After so much sand and paradisiacal postcards pictures, we are looking for a different adventure: time to head to the mountains…the Blue Mountains! Here it’s a well new playground. First, we check Scenic World out and aboard the highest cable car in Australia (270 metres between cliff edges) and the scenic cableway, it makes it very easily to explore the Jamison Valley and say hi to the Three Sisters! Just what we needed for a start. Then, time to get into it and go canyoning and abseiling these wonderful canyons and waterfalls the Blue Mountains are well known for! High N Wild drives us for an day trip we won’t soon forget! In the morning, we get some confidence with heights and go rappelling 5, 15, 30 metres cliffs. Step by step. I pretty scared of heights but weirdly I’m ok. The most difficult bit is to stay on the edge and start the descent, once you have done that, it’s all good and fun to be in the air and take in the spectacular scenery! The afternoon is wet! Jumping in the canyon, waterslide and last but not least an awesome 30 metre waterfall to abseil!
DAY 14-15-16: SYDNEY
After great fun outdoors, we are excited to taste a city lifestyle and Sydney lies just at the corner! Hop on our Jucy van and less than 2 hours later we drive the harbour bridge with eyes wide open. The city skyline is pretty nice, we are amazed and we can’t wait to see the opera house from a closer perspective. We move through the city easily, the Jucy van is as much at ease in the mountains as in the busy streets. 3 days is the minimum to experience what Sydney is about. Leave the van and hop on and off a ferry, discover the beaches like the famous Bondi, or Manly. Go surfing, walking along the spectacular coastline or simply sunbathing. The choice is yours. Go back to the city itself and explore the garden and parks, go shopping, check out the Victoria building. Have a break in a coffee shop or simply have a drink in the Opera house bar to get the best view over the Harbour bridge, the bay and the Opera.
Missing your van already? Give it a ride to the alternative neighbourhood of Newton and feel like in Berlin! Drive to Taronga zoo if you fancy getting up close with some typical Australian wildlife!
Go in a club at night and feel the vibe! Told you, 3 days are not much !
5 National Parks people must visit in Western USA
21 March 2014 12:25 p.m.
The idea that everything is bigger in the USA can definitely be proven by the country’s national parks. Geysers spewing up to 8,400 gallons of boiling water an hour, North America’s tallest waterfall, as well as some of the world’s largest trees? Talk about value for money.
No trip out West is complete without a visit to one of America’s most famous national parks. In fact, road trippers could spend their entire holiday happily gallivanting across several or even just one of them. Whether it’s snow-topped mountains and glaciers you fancy in parks like Yellowstone, or endless desert and funky yucca trees in parks like Joshua Tree, this half of the country has something for everyone.
Grand Canyon National Park
Don’t be surprised if you catch a bit of vertigo looking down this one-mile deep canyon located in Arizona. The drop and mass of this National Park is impossible to comprehend. While the Grand Canyon is usually entered from its North or South Rim, most will travel beside it for hours leading up to its entrance. Eroded walls colored red, white and grey descend upon rivers that may look small from far above, but stretch 277 miles through the canyon. Those that are lucky might spot a California condor flying across the canyon.
Don’t miss: The South Rim from Mather Point at sunset. The canyon’s colors warm up as the sun sets opposite it.
How to get there: People can enter the park through its North or South Rim entrances, but its South Rim is the more popular viewing site and open all year.
Entrance fee: $25
Yellowstone National Park
Stretching almost 3,500 square miles across three states, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, from this geothermal area, people can see the earth come to life. Inside the first national park in the world, one can find the world’s largest collection of glaciers, over 300 geysers and active volcanoes. The park is also home to an array of wildlife, such as wolves, grizzly bears and bison.
Don’t miss: Old Faithful Geyser, which erupts every hour or so discharging up to 8,400 gallons of water at a time. Though this is not the park’s tallest geyser, that accolade goes to Steamboat Geyser, it’s one of the park’s most frequently erupting.
How to get there: People can enter the park through one of five different entrances, which are very far apart, so pick your’s according to where you are coming from and the time of year you plan to visit. The Park’s North Entrance through the town of Gardiner, MT is the only one open all year.
Entrance fee: $25
Yosemite National Park
Sculpted by glaciers, this UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its granite cliffs, Giant Sequoias and towering waterfalls. Enter the park and watch a natural drama unfold. Located along the Sierra Nevada in California, this is one of those places you want to see at every season, whether it’s covered in snow and gushing with waterfalls in the winter or brought to life American Black Bears prowling through meadows of wild flowers in the spring.
Don’t miss: Yosemite Falls, which is North America’s highest waterfall. Made up of an upper and lower level, this waterfall measures at about 2,425 feet tall.
How to get there: People can enter the park through one of four entrances west, east or south of the park. Check ahead for road and entrance closures before visiting, especially during the winter.
Entrance fee: $20
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Two national parks for the price of one, Sequoia and Kings Canyon link together just beneath Yosemite National Park along the Sierra Nevada. From these national parks, make sure to stop at one of several heavenly lookout points to see the parks massive forests and mountains popping out above the clouds and of course stand next mighty Red Woods and Sequoias.
Don’t miss: General Sherman, a triple-threat giant sequoia. While this tree is not the tallest, widest or oldest tree in the world, it comes in near the top of all three categories. Measuring 275 feet tall and 102 feet around at the ground, this tree is estimated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old.
How to get there: The most convenient option is to enter this park at its Big Stump Entrance located on Highway 180 and exit at the Ash Mountain Entrance on Highway 198 or vice versa as this route allows visitors to drive through most of the park. However, this is another park to be very weary of road conditions. Check ahead for road closures and invest in tire chains when visiting in the winter months.
Entrance fee: $20
Joshua Tree National Park
Drifting away from valley’s, trees, streams and canyons, Joshua Tree might be the most unique park on this list for a few reasons. First and foremost, the desert park is quite barren compared to the others on this list, but also because it attracts a more vibrant crowd. Walk sandy trails through dispersed Yucca trees up to unusual rock formations perfect for climbing. Don’t be surprised to find the most random things here, like a drummer playing on the side of the main road. This area is known for its hippy character.
Don’t miss: Keys View where people can see the San Andreas Fault.
How to get there: This is another park where it’s best to enter and leave at different points. There are three entrances to the park. A popular route is to enter at the Park’s North Entrance Station at Twentynine Palms and leave at its West Entrance Station at the town of Joshua Tree, or vice versa.
Entrance fee: $15
This list contains five must see national parks in the USA, but there are several more. Since each park costs between $10 and $25 to enter, those interested in hitting more than three national parks on their holiday should invest in the National Parks Service America’s the Beautiful Pass, which costs $80 and covers entrance into all US national parks for up to a year. Entrance into certain national parks is free during a few holidays or long weekends throughout the year.
If you can only fit in a few, this list gives a short overview of a few incredible ones as well as the price of entrance, directions and must see sights. Each entrance fee provided is for a private car pass, which is valid for up to seven days.
Spend a day driving through or weeks camping out, but don’t miss these incredible national parks.
Grand California Road Trip: Hit the Road for the Vacation of a Lifetime
17 March 2014 11:06 a.m.
Tina Buell from Trekaroo hits the road for a family fun-filled vacation in California!
I spent my entire childhood and young adult life road tripping up and down the Golden State. My parents, who were fearful of flying, definitely wanted us to explore California so I have racked up thousands of miles traveling along the coasts, mountains, and deserts of this grand state. To help you make the most of a family friendly California road trip, we are partnering up with our friends at Ciao Bambino! to present you with this amazing, hand-picked 10 day itinerary for the vacation of a lifetime. We’ve taken the brain work out of planning this road trip and are offering our inside scoop into what can be your perfect California family vacation. Buckle up, let’s explore California.
View full post here!
Ross and Jolene’s Australian Experience
12 February 2014 09:20 a.m.
American actor, filmmaker, philanthropist and adventurer Ross Thomas and his girlfriend, musician Jolene Rust, took the JUCY Condo out for a spin in Australia. They share the highlights of their trip with us.
After 2 weeks in Australia without our own set of wheels, we couldn’t have been more excited the day we picked up our Jucy “Condo” Camper Van. We were so ready to hit the road and explore Australia with a feeling of freedom and independence, and that’s exactly what we got! We had a rough idea of where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to see on this 2 week road trip, but were also leaving it to chance, completely open to anything that came our way. In the end, it was perfect, and will be a guaranteed highlight of our travels.
Day 1: Sydney—>Boomerang Beach
After getting the rundown on our new home from the awesome Jucy crew, we stopped at the store to pick up a few supplies for cooking in our incredible kitchen setup, and we were off. It felt so good to drive out of the city, wind in our hair, and not much of a clue as to what to expect or where we were really even going. We knew that we wanted week #1 to be all about the beaches and the surf, so our first stop ended up being Boomerang Beach, an epic little town with lots of beautiful beach, and very few people. Ross got in a couple of great surf sessions here and we stayed the night, cooking a great dinner and sleeping amongst pristine nature. The bed was super comfy, and by the time we were halfway into one of the movies Jucy gave us for our DVD player, we were asleep like babies.
Day 2: Boomerang—>Crescent Heads
Woke up and made some coffee and breakfast, cleaned up, then it was in the water for one more surf and swim before we were back on the road. We continued our drive north and ended up at Crescent Heads, but not before stumbling upon one of the most beautiful beaches we had ever seen. Not sure what the name of it was, but we saw the water through the brush as we were driving and knew we had to stop. We pulled over, and once we made it through the clearing we found ourselves on an endless beach and not a soul in sight! It was though we had magically arrived in a scene from Blue Lagoon. So, naturally, we got our buns in the sun and played the part. Heaven!!! As hard as it was to leave this beachside Eden, we continued on. Crescent Heads didn’t disappoint either. We found a great spot to park right on the water and watched the sky change colors as the sun went down. Listened to music as we made dinner, left the back open so we could stargaze and listen to the waves from bed as we drifted off to sleep.
Day 3: Crescent Heads—>Emerald Beach
This was one of those days that accidentally becomes an all-time favorite with zero effort or planning. We weren’t really sure where to head next. We had some options in mind as we headed north, our GPS being our loyal guardian, but something told me to stop when I saw the sign for Emerald Beach. And yes, it was simply because I liked the name. We stopped and found ourselves yet again in paradise. We headed up the road a bit and before we knew it we were surrounded by dozens upon dozens of kangaroos as we walked from the camper to the beach. I even had the pleasure of taking in a sunset with no one but me and a kangaroo by the water as Ross surfed a perfect left with friendly locals. This was a great day, one we will never forget.
Day 4 and 5: Emerald Beach—>Angourie
Ross decided to get one more surf in before we hit the road, so he headed back down to the water. I lazed about in the Condo for a bit, journaling and making tea. I didn’t expect the camper to be so spacious, which makes it feel so luxurious to just relax and take it easy. Eventually I motivated myself enough to walk down to the beach, and I’m so glad I did, because I was greeted not only by Ross, but a pod of dolphins surfing the break, jumping in and out of the water. It was like a dream! I quickly joined in the play. I can’t think of a better way to start the day. Every morning we have been spoiled with walking out of our home right into the ocean. Perfection. After a beautiful morning we made our way to Angourie. We spent time walking around the Green Pool and the Blue Pool, and found a magical spot to camp for the night. It was totally secluded and absolutely gorgeous. One of the best sunsets we’ve had so far. Every color of light filled the sky before it went dark. Then we played cards at our table, drinking wine and listening to music. It wasn’t long before we were in dreamland.
The next day we passed the hours surfing, swimming, sleeping, and sunning in our own little piece of heaven. Only seeing one other person the entire day, we truly forgot about time and just enjoyed the beauty around us. Retiring to the camper for a break from the sun, a bite to eat, or anything else we needed, we were totally self-sufficient and loving every moment.
Day 6 and 7: Angourie—>Byron Bay
As hard as it was to leave majestic Angourie, we were excited to make our way to Byron Bay. When we arrived to the busy little town, we were so thankful to have our amazing sanctuary on wheels to escape to when we tired of the crowd. We strolled along the streets looking in shops and did a fair share of people watching. Byron is quite entertaining with its combination of hippies, backpackers, posh travelers, and families. We walked along the water and went for a lovely swim. We were lucky enough to bring our camper to a friend’s place to sleep for the night. It was great to visit with friends, take in a house concert, hear some amazing music, and then retire to our own cozy little home when we were ready for peace and quiet.
The next day we drove the camper back to the beach for a nice swim in the ocean, and then we headed just down the road to Lake Ainsworth for a dip in the tea tree lake. The water was a beautiful cola brown that got darker as the lake grew deeper. We bathed for hours in these mineral-rich waters as a beautiful python rested in the tree above us. We have been so blessed with seeing such beautiful creatures out in the wild so far!!!
Day 8 and 9: Byron—>Mt. Warning
Ross and I got an early start to get one more ocean swim in before we headed inland. We reached the halfway point of our road trip and we decided to go take in some of the beautiful rain forests we knew were nearby. This drive was absolutely gorgeous!! Super lush and green, and full of music from the cicadas that filled the trees. I’m sure it took us twice as long to arrive, as I kept asking to pull over to snap photos of incredible landscapes that will live in my memory forever. We found a beautiful spot to stop off and make lunch, and continued on to Mt. Warning in the Mt. Warning National Park. We were in awe of this beautiful sight. We walked around the park for a while, made dinner and called it an early night so we could get up early to Summit the mountain.
The hike took us about 4 hours and it was breathtakingly beautiful. We saw so many different types of trees, plants, mushrooms, etc. and all to the soundtrack of the most beautiful songbirds and cicadas. We also saw snakes and brush turkeys and huge lizards and bugs. It was incredible to be surrounded by nothing but nature, and the view from the top was stunning.
By the time we got back from the steep climb, the camper van had never looked so good! We set up our bed in seconds and climbed right in to relax our tired muscles and watch a movie, birds and cicadas still singing in the distance.
Day 10: Burleigh Heads and Rock Pools in Corrumbin Valley
We woke up a bit sore, but ready for a new day! We packed up and met up with some friends of ours from Burleigh Heads at some beautiful rock pools in Currumbin valley. We hiked along the water in the rain, finding steep rock slides to plunge us into the deep pools. Quite a thrill!
We decided to stay out near the rock pools for the night, and our 2 extra guests were no trouble at all. They took the bed up top and we all had plenty of room. We were quite impressed with not only how spacious the Condo is, but the layout that makes the most of each inch of space.
Day 11: Corrumbin Valley—>Burleigh Heads—>Springbrook
Today was a bit of a driving day, making stops to drop-off friends, and heading on our way. Luckily the van is super comfortable, so we felt nice and relaxed as we made our way to Springbrook. Our friends had recommended this spot, so we decided to give it a go and I’m glad we did.
We packed our lunch, and spent the day hiking to different waterfalls, climbing Antarctic Beech Trees, and swimming in the refreshing pools. We rarely ran into other people, which made it feel like our own little piece of paradise. When we had our fill of the falls, we drove to the Natural Bridge for a look. It was about an hour walk to a beautiful rock archway, waterfall included. We decided to stay around here until dark so we could witness the glow worms in the caves. It was beautiful to see them glowing like stars on the ceiling of the caves, as bats danced in the twinkling dark! We hiked our way back to the camper and had a restful sleep.
Day 12: Springbrook—>Redcliffe
As much as we LOVED our time in the forest, Ross and I both woke up feeling ready to put our feet back in the ocean, so we headed back to the coast and up to the little beach town of Redcliffe, just north of Brisbane. Here we found a perfect little spot to camp and just enjoy the sound of the waves crashing right outside. We joked about how most people buy sound machines to hear the noises we have been listening to for nearly the past two weeks just outside the comfort of our camper. I think we started to realize how much and how quickly this became home. We are both going to miss this cozy Condo on wheels!
Day 13: Redcliffe—>Brisbane
We woke up again to the sound of the gentle shore break, had a peaceful morning by the water, and finally, drove just south, back to Brisbane. We spent the afternoon in the city, walking around, visiting the museum, and enjoying a wonderful dinner out. We decided to make our way out of the city to a nearby beach to enjoy one more night of peace in quiet in our camper, and of course, listen to the ocean.
Day 14: Dropping off in Brisbane
Thank you so much JUCY for this amazing 2 week journey up the coast. This adventure was incredible and your awesome camper made it the epic trip it was! It’s amazing how much better an experience is having the camper. We were able to really go with the flow, not be bound to a specific itinerary and be completely open to what presented itself. We are so happy with our experience and can’t wait to meet up with you again in the world!
Christmas Criss-Crossing Queensland
09 January 2014 01:46 p.m.
Meet Travel Writer James Hacon & his fiancée, Erin, who took Rocco, our Social Crib away for a free adventure in Australia!
When the opportunity came up to take Rocco out for a spin over Christmas, we jumped at it, of course. Perhaps the more difficult decision was the route. With 7 days, there were lots of options. We contemplated heading South towards Sydney, pushing on up to Airlie Beach or even heading inland to Longreach. As regular travellers, we were hungry for adventure and wanted to make sure the trip was action-packed.
After much debate between the two of us, long nights of trying various routes on Google Maps and of course – lots of conversations with fellow travellers on Facebook & Twitter, we finally decided on our route. We would be sticking to Queensland, heading up the coast and then circling back inland to Brisbane for a taste of the outback.
Departure Day – Time to hit the road
After finally escaping from a hectic pre-Christmas day in the office, I was happy to meet our 4-wheeled travelling home for the next week: Rocco. Not wanting to waste any time we drove into the darkness to reach our first destination, Hervey Bay.
Day 2 – Hervey Bay & Fraser Island
After a brilliant night’s sleep at our first campsite, we left Rocco at our behind at the Happy Wanderer in Hervey Bay, and headed for a day trip to the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island – not forgetting our third companion, the one and only Lucy of course!
If you’re reading this and are planning a trip to Queensland, Fraser Island is a must, take it from me. We joined a Fraser Island Explorer day tour and absolutely loved it. From extreme off-roading in a specially tailored bus to taking off on a scenic flight from the beach with lots of photographic opportunities along the way, this destination does not disappoint.
Back on the mainland after rustling up a few ‘snags on the barbie’ (which is Aussie for sausages on the barbecue) we took an evening stroll along the beach. By chance, we wandered upon a Christmas light show by the beach, set to the back drop of a very iconic local inhabitant – a statue of a Humpback Whale.
Day 3 & 4 – Bundaberg
With no time to waste, we set our alarms early each morning to make the most of the day. If you’ve not been to Queensland before, you need to know – it gets dark very early all year round, even compared to the rest of Australia during summer, as the state doesn’t practice daylight saving.
After a very hairy drive between Hervey Bay & Bundaberg with a few wrong turns, we finally reached Bundaberg’s most visited attraction, the Rum Distillery. As home to Australia’s most famous liquor, this town is surrounded by sugar plantations and many heritage attractions based around the industry. The distillery tour is a fun way to spend an hour. It’s rather limited in terms of what they can show you but it’s made up with the customary end-of-tour tasting. If possible, try to visit on a weekday to see as much of the process as possible.
Our main reason for staying in Bundaberg was more nature-based. To visit Mon Repos Turtle Rookery. Seeing a turtle nesting has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember and this is the place to do it. As the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland, from November to March, you can see nesting and hatching turtles on the beach at night. Whilst turtle viewing is not guaranteed, it is very likely, although do be prepared for long waits up to several hours. On our trip we were lucky enough to see a large Loggerhead Turtle nesting. This is a truly natural wonder and was the real highlight of our trip. Be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment and to get the best chance of being on the earliest group to head out to the beach.
We stayed at the Bundaberg East Cabin and Trailer Park. Although not the most scenic of locations, it offered good value, friendly service and easy access to both attractions. Camper sites come with en-suites, which was a nice touch too.
Day 5 – 1770 & Lady Musgrave Island
After seeing a turtle nesting it was time to try and see one in their usual habitat, out in the open ocean on the Great Barrier Reef. A couple of hours North of Bundaberg is the town of Seventeen Seventy. A beautiful seaside destination with a campground offering, arguably, one of the best views in Australia. With an absolute beach front location, great facilities and a nice fish and chip bar, be sure not to be put off staying at the 1770 Camping ground by the shocking website.=
Other than the allure of staying somewhere that has a really cool name, our reason for choosing this destination was for the cruise that departs here out to Lady Musgrave Island on the Outer Southern Great Barrier Reef. The boat trip is just 90 minutes out to the reef, making it one of the quickest ways to reach this natural wonder in Australia. Once there, you are treated to amazing activities including snorkelling above the coral cay, walking on the island, all accompanied by a basic lunch and afternoon tea.
While Erin enjoyed the free activities, I made good use of my PADI training and took up the two dive package. It was an awe-inspiring experience. In just under two hours underwater we saw both Green and Loggerhead Turtles, Manta Rays, Reef Shark, many species of fish and coral.
The tour leaves daily, offering diving and fishing options on limited days during the week. Don’t be put off by the rude reservations staff, once you are on-board, the service and experience is excellent.
Day 6 & 7 – Carnarvon Gorge & the Queensland Outback
With Christmas Day looming we wanted to settle down for a couple of night in one place. In the pre-trip planning we had been dreaming of getting further into the Outback, but local’s advised it would just be too hot. With a little investigation we discovered Carnarvon Gorge – and we are glad we did. We stayed at Takarakka Bush Resort. Boy, is this place is beautiful!
We celebrated Christmas Day in a far from traditional way; by setting off on a 15km hike into the Gorge. With few fellow hikers, we mostly had the track to ourselves and loved being able to explore the various side tracks along the way. These include a natural amphitheatre, aboriginal rock art, the so-called rock garden and beautiful waterfalls, to name but a few. While both the main and side tracks offer shade, it gets hot in the gorge, so it’s important to take plenty of water. To try and add a little spirit we stopped off in a shady spot and enjoyed some turkey sandwiches and mince pies, although decided against the customary port or sherry, given the 40oC heats.
Feeling like we’d achieved all we wanted to on this mightiest of adventures; we set off back to Brisbane after two wonderful days at Carnarvon, stopping off at various places to enjoy a small taste of the Outback on our way. I’d recommend pulling into the Big Rig Tourist Park in Roma, the Historic Village in Miles and be sure to enjoy a walk through the Botanic Gardens in Toowoomba.
After 1750km, 7 days and some great experiences under our belt, we arrived back to Brisbane just in time to hand Rocco over to the next lucky travellers. We certainly had a trip we shall never forget.
Thank you Jucy!
Ron Laughlin’s JUCY Trail of Discovery
19 December 2013 10:09 a.m.
Join NZ travel guru Ron Laughlin from New Zealand Travel Guide as he goes on a JUCY trail of discovery this summer! Here’s the first of Ron’s posts…follow the rest of his adventures on his blog!
So you finally made the decision to travel to paradise. Got all your ducks in a row, checked the costs, decided what vehicle to rent (Jucy of course), started to check the accommodations, the activities, the scenic drives and all of a sudden it came to you it was overwhelming.
You hung around the various travel websites with all their helpful advice and now it really got complicated. Everyone had an opinion even when they had only been here on a swift visit and they all became experts………..typical internet travel problem now a days. Then by some miracle you found a real New Zealand professional traveller who has spent over twenty years traveling almost every road in the country and most many times.
Over five years 24/7-365 days a year in his bus/home/office 7 metre bus checking out the various places to stay both for the van and car traveler, the massive amount of activities available and enjoying every minute of driving through the magical scenic world of New Zealand. Spending leisure time with local Kiwis who showed him sites introducing him to places only they knew… back road treats and special surprises he locked away in his mind to share them with the visitors he was to help on their visit to New Zealand. With over 10,000 photos and hundreds of articles Ron now has been asked to help Jucy with his knowledge for their many visitors.
It is one thing to provide the best vehicles but they knew it was important to make sure their visitors get the best information so they could find and enjoy exactly what they wished to when in New Zealand. So Jucy and Ron have joined forces to make sure everyone coming through Jucy will have the best directions and fulfill their New Zealand “bucket list”…..
But being perfectionists and making sure only the best is available they gave Ron a test….Let’s see if you really know what you say you do! Go out there for a couple of weeks with one of your itinerary customers and prove it to us and to our visitors………… Oh Boy!!! The pressure is on!!! So luckily he had just set up an itinerary for Rachel LoSecco from Virgina Beach and asked her to be a part of it. Luckily she said yes and so on the morning of the 24th Rachel flies in and will stay at the Jucy Hotel downtown Auckland and until the 12th of January will be the subject of Ron’s blogs (let’s hope she doesn’t get tired of me hanging around with my cameras). I have a nice smile!
So away we go when I pick her up in the Jucy car and travel through the North Island until the 2nd of January then fly to Christchurch (the ferries had a breakdown) and then the next ten days there.
So come on and join us….if you like what I am doing be sure to let me know on Facebook or via my email. I will be blogging each day (hopefully ..we have a really full schedule) to show you a portion of what you can also enjoy here……and then I would like to continue visiting and showing you everything that will make your visit the most memorable trip you have ever been on…….By the way…..Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…..
Adventures of Coco: Carrie visits NZ’s South Island
16 December 2013 04:55 p.m.
Usually when the sound of the alarm rings at 5.45am, I tend to pull the covers up and hide for a little longer. But not today! With the alarm still ringing in my ears, I am up and dressed and eager to go! Yes Coco and I have been together for two days now, but our trip starts in Wellington as we say good bye to the North Island and welcome ourselves to the awe-dropping-scenic South Island.
It is a must to take a picture on the ferry crossing between the islands. So out onto the top deck we go to practice taking “selfies”. I bet by the time we hit Christchurch we will have mastered this ‘selfie’ thing…maybe. Holding on to my hat, and trying to keep my hands steady for the camera, we pucker our lips for the photo and capture the picturesque hills as we cruise into Picton.
Hitting the road, we head to Kaikoura for some seal-spotting. When you eventually find them sunbathing on the rocks, they become such a distraction for the driver! It is best to pull over and go meet a seal. They do look cute and cuddly, so I get nice and close for our picture together.
“OORRRTTTT!”, the sound of the seal rips through me. Letting out a little scream, I jump over the rocks back to the safety of the car park. With that, we hit the road again. I am a scenic person, so we opt to take the backroads across country to the west coast. The car is silent. Not from awkwardness but from amazement; as we turn every corner there is another mountain, another dried-out river to stare at. And that is exactly what we do.
For the next 3 hours we stop and start driving so we can take in the scenery and capture it on camera. (Of course, still perfecting the selfie!) I have heard stories of how amazing Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are, and now it is my turn to experience them and relay my story for others to experience. Water bottle in one hand, camera in the other and walking shoes on feet, we head off on the 30-minute walk to Franz Josef. I like to think I am fit, but the 3 hour walk just doesn’t appeal to me.
Being completely new to glaciers, we walked along what looked like a dried river bed, with water falls to our right and a slight water flow to the left. We reach the barrier at the look-out point. I look around and I am slightly confused.
So I ask the question which is bugging me, “Where’s the glacier lake?” With all eyes on me, I can tell everyone is holding in their laughter while Mitch explains what a glacier actually is. I have now learnt, it is important to do your homework of where you are going on a trip! Oops. The place I am most looking forward to is Queenstown and it is next on the agenda. We made a pact that we will jump into Lake Wakatipu. I have planned lots of activities for us to do while in Queenstown in the hope that we run out of time to do the jump. But we have just finished our Fergburger, (a Queenstown must-do recommended to us by way to many people), the sun is beaming with not a single cloud in the sky. One would say perfect swimming weather, which it is…perhaps not into an ice cold lake though!
The camera is pointing at us for our before swim/jump picture. And slowly walking towards the water… dipping the very tip of my big toe in for a taster… and we both run scared from the waters edge! All I can say is thank god we picked a terrible part of the lake to jump in.
Running on rocks is a safety hazard so it’s a no go! So relieved. Coming to our last stop on the trip with Coco, we are in Christchurch. Another thing on our trip bucket list is Punting on the Avon. We arrive at the long wooden canoe boat. Excited to be able to sit down and enjoy some stories about Christchurch, told to us by the Punter steering us along the river. ( Punter=boat skipper if you didn’t know.) It is a relaxing way to say good bye to the South Island and to Coco, who has been our home for the last 10 days.
Adventures of Coco: Kim & Leanne’s interisland holiday
18 November 2013 10:32 a.m.
Want to go to your own FREE road trip? Apply now for Coco (NZ) and Rocco (Australia)!
We were thrilled to find out that we were able to have Coco for our trip as long as we picked up from Queenstown. Having both previously done Queenstown, we knew how beautiful it was and didn’t mind – especially because we could go back to the famous Fergburger!
Our route: Queenstown – Catlins – Kaikoura – Picton – Wellington – Tongariro Alpine Crossing- Taupo- Waitomo – Rotoura – Hot water beach – Auckland – Bay of Islands – Auckland Airport. Along our trip we played lots of hide-and-seek, mainly of hidden campsites, but also with Lucy. Here are some of our highlights (we could go on and on)…….
We collected Coco in Queenstown and our first little hunt started. Leanne lost a walking boot in between the carpark and JUCY’s office! After a long hunt around the airport, finally an airport cleaner spotted Leanne with only one boot and told us he had found the other, but it was in the bin, so we had to rescue it. Relief, as Leanne can’t do much walking with only one boot.
After a quick introduction to Coco, we off on our busy adventure. First stop: Fergburger! After refuelling, we had a little walk around the lake and then headed south ready to start our trip up to the Catlins.
An early start and we awoke to a beautiful sea view and sand just a few metres away. The Catlins are known as a “hidden gem and highlight of the Southern Scenic Route” for its rugged coastlines, lakes and stunning waterfalls. It didn’t disappoint. It was a busy day and the weather wasn’t the best, but thankfully we didn’t get too wet. We saw some beautiful places: from Curio Bay with its fossil forest to the waterfalls, which grew higher and higher as you got closer! Unfortunately the blow hole wasn’t blowing and the wildlife were not really out to play. But we didn’t mind as we were en route to Kaikoura shortly!
The first dolphin-watching trip was cancelled due to the wind, therefore we booked on for the following morning and spent the rest of the day having a walk around the peninsula watching the seals laze around and the young pups play. The next morning we headed out on the boat in our fetching wetsuits searching for dolphins. After a long search we found them and managed to swim 3 times with a pod of about 40 very playful dolphins! After this adrenaline rush, we warmed up in in 11 degree water up with delicious hot chocolate and biscuits, then back to dry land and a warm shower! Heading out of Kaikoura, we saw a little track which led to a waterfall where seal pups played – an amazing sight.
We then took Coco on the Interislander ferry, North Island-bound. Wellington was way too windy so our stay was short. We did an early morning walk around the Botanical gardens, then a few hours around Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. This was the best museum we’ve ever been to, lots of variety, and great interactive sections.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The sun was shining. It was a great day for a long walk, and a long walk it was! Approx 6 and a half hours later we had completed the Tongariro Crossing (with Lucy) and it was definitely worth it. At 1900 meters up, we could see down for miles. The sights on the crossing were amazing: the red crater, like a mini grand canyon, smoking rocks, gleaming emerald lakes along with many Lord of the Rings-looking settings. However we did end up with a touch of sunburn and sausage fingers due to the altitude!
We could not be this close and not visit the home of the glow worms! What better way to do it than tubing – this was also taking full advantage of JUCY deals. We floated along inside the cave in pitch darkness with only the glistening of the glow worms above us leading the way. On arrival to our free campsite, we saw that one cow was loose from the neighbouring paddock so took it slow. However once further in, we saw that both gates to the paddock were wide-open and soon enough the cows surrounded us. Using our dairy farm experience, we managed to move some cows out of the way so we could head toward the exit. We definitely were not staying here! Then they started to charge towards us and we were surrounded by hungry cows licking Coco. Personally, we don’t think Coco would be that tasty! After a long wait, they started to move slightly away from the car so we made a dash for it. Sure enough, they ran after us but we escaped. It was time to hunt for somewhere else to stay.
Hot Water Beach
On arrival to Hot Water Beach, the tide had come in too far for us to reach the thermal pools. So we changed our plans last minute, stayed near to the beach, and got up before sunrise to go down. It was a strange natural occurrence. The pools were boiling hot and I don’t think we could have managed to sit in them! After our morning dip, we had breakfast on the beach before heading to the massive Cathedral Cove. That night we stayed at Ambury Farm Park campground, a great campsite where you could walk around the farm and meet the animals, no loose cows at this one!
We had an amazing trip with Coco and Lucy. It was just over too quickly. Thank you JUCY!
Kim and Leanne xxx
Adventures of Rocco: Kev & Zeta’s Rocco Experience
13 November 2013 04:20 p.m.
So… We got a FREE Jucy campervan! For 10 whole days with FREE insurance and a bundle of gadgets! How? Simply apply online.
The backpacks were loaded and off we set to Jucy HQ in Sydney to pick up Rocco. There he sat in the middle of the forecourt for all to see and be jealous of: “Don’t you wish your campa was free like me” splattered down the sides.
Away we go like cowboys into the morning sunshine, except we are in a campervan and not on horses, and hit Sydney’s morning rush hour. Great!
Nevertheless we had satnav in hand with his unexpected Aussie accent and witty comments to guide us on our way. Our plan was to start at the Princes Highway and take the Grand Pacific Drive down to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road.
The first fascinating sight we discovered was the Sea Cliff Bridge, showing the roads to come which meandered around the coastline. We stopped off here at a viewing point to discover hang-gliders setting off from the hills and floating around like seagulls in the sky.
We jumped back into Rocco and headed for Wollongong in time for lunch and to explore the lighthouse and cannons. The final stop of the day was at the coastal town of Kiama where we set up camp a mere stone’s throw from the beach. We headed to Kiama’s main attraction, its natural blowhole. Zeta was as excited as a child that the visitors centre gave her a pack intended for school kids to tell her all about it. Unfortunately they included no crayons.
The next day we were greeted by Mr Sunshine, so we took out the free Wi-Fi tablet and headed off to Jervis Bay for a bit of sun worshipping. We arrived at Callala beach with not a soul in sight, crisp white sand and crystal clear blue water, something you can only imagine from a postcard.
We made and ate lunch out the back of the van and then continued our drive down to Batemans Bay, where Rocco picked up a cracked windscreen. After talking to Jucy they put our minds at ease and we continued to drive through thick woodland, seeing signs for Kangaroos dotted along the route, but no sightings yet. Batemans Bay well…it wasn’t for us. Let’s just say we packed Rocco up and got an early start the next morning after being eaten alive by mosquitoes and other blood-thirsty creatures.
The next port of call for Rocco was Narooma, where we had a whale watching tour booked the following day. The sun gods were looking down upon us yet again as we cooked our bacon and eggs in the back of Rocco with its well equipped kitchen, fridge, gas burner ring and sink, everything you need to prepare a gourmet meal on the road! The tour lasted around three hours where we saw humpback whales migrating, dolphins racing the boat and seals basking in the sun but still no kangaroos. Do they actually exist?
We found an itinerary of must-do things on our route and the Eden Killer Whale Museum was next. Now my understanding of a museum is a collection of things, not just one skeleton and some old newspaper clippings! So Rocco’s engine hadn’t even had a chance to cool down before we revved him up, cranked up the local country radio and off we shot to our next location, crossing the state boarder into Victoria and the town of Mallocoota.
We weren’t quite quick enough with the camera for a shot of the “Welcome to Victoria” sign. The campsite we found was an absolute gem! It looked right out onto the sea and the explorer in us found some secluded hidden beaches. Rocco’s view included boat jetties. To top it off, we could see whales doing acrobatics in the sea whilst barbecuing our dinner. Had we really spent a small fortune to see whales yesterday and now they were here? They were probably the same ones!
The following day the weather turned with non-stop rain for about 24 hours. What to do in the rain? Go visit the Buchan Caves. We accidentally stumbled across this but it was well worth the $20. A guided tour around the caves, Lucy got her money’s worth too, as she got to pose with all kinds of formations. The location is set in a nature reserve and when we re surfaced, low and behold there were kangaroos everywhere! So they DO exist on more than novelty t-shirts and inflatables.
Rocco’s next day of rest occurred at Phillip Island where we went to see the penguin parade. Hundreds of Little Penguins made their way back up the beach to their nests at sunset. We got to watch nature at its best right before our eyes, penguins splashing up onto the beach and calling for their mating partners. We followed them back to their nests along the boardwalk. It was truly an once-in-a-lifetime experience. We picked up a hitchhiker on the way back in the form of a cuddly penguin toy and called him Tim Tam (they are just Penguin biscuits in a different wrapper right?)
Our David Attenborough nature show didn’t stop there as the following day we visited the Koala Conservation Centre – another Aussie critter ticked off the must see list. We got closer to them than we imagined, we’re definitely coming back as koalas in our next lifetime. .. 20 hours of sleep a day!
After a well-deserved rest, refuel and gourmet meal made from Rocco’s appliances in Geelong, we were finally ready to tackle the Great Ocean Road! We had never seen sights like it and the textbook “meandering roads hugging the coastline with great scenic lookouts over the calm deep blue ocean” described it to a tee. There were many seaside towns en route but Lorne was definitely one we wished we had stopped at!
We had a packed schedule though, so we could get Rocco home on time. After a bite to eat, we continued on to the 12 Apostles where Rocco got to park next to one of his Jucy siblings. This location is full of amazing wonders of the world that words cannot describe! We also stopped close by to see the Loch and Gorge and London Bridge all created by Mother Nature herself. The best things in life really are free – these amazing sights…and Rocco of course.
The final day and Victoria gave us the four seasons in one go: hail, rain, wind and sunshine. We were headed to the gold town of Ballarat in our quest to find gold, so we went to Sovereign Hill. Here we took out our gold shovels and pans. We did find 3 miniscule gold pieces, so I doubt we will be rich anytime soon.
After 10 amazing days on the road with Rocco, we were sad to park him up at home in Melbourne and hand over the keys. So when you hire your next campervan…throw away the itinerary and guide books, stop where you want to stop, talk to fellow travellers and never forget to beep and wave at your Jucy friends on the road!