I've a few favourite places in Australia, the kind of places that you find by accident and then love.
Cairns in Queensland, for example, is beautiful, fun and almost every gapper in Australia goes there. But if you take a road trip from Cairns down the coastline to Brisbane you will see some fantastic things, including a little town by the name of Bowen.
Have you seen the movie Australia? Despite much of it being set in Darwin, it was actually filmed in this sweet little town. Sure, it doen't have the nightclubs of Cairns but the pubs are cheerful and this is one of the only places in Queensland where you can just walk out in the water to see the Great Barrier Reef.
I flew into Cairns after six months living in Japan and a friend picked me up, and after a few days soaking up the rays we set out on a long road trip down the coast to Brisbane.
We hadn't planned anything, or booked anywhere to stay, but it was summer so we thought if we couldn't find anywhere along the way anytime during the five-day trip we would just sleep in the back of the station wagon. (Although, thinking back this was not going to be a good idea given that we had no screens, mattress ...)
On day one we got past Townsville, then Ayr by the arfternoon and started to think about somewhere to stay. Bowen! It was the very next town, it would do.
And when we pulled into Bowen, it was a bit brown and dry, but the town was full of murals. Quite good ones, current people and past histories painted on walls of shops, council buildings, outhouses...
We found a dinky-di caravan park in town, and for only $30 for both of us we got a night in fully kitted-out caravan with the salt water of the bay nearby lapping almost at the door.
The next morning before breakfast we took a swim at the beach just around the bend, looking underwater at the coral and fish.
We stayed two nights in the caravan on the beach, in literally paradise in Bowen.
©Visa Bureau 2003-2013