Down The Coast With Mattea Carson

To celebrate the launch of our Australian made collection, Haven, we asked a few of our community who inspire us with wanderlust, to share their must-see Australian destinations.
On the fourth stop of our Australia Travel Guide series, we’re taking a road trip and exploring the country between the Gold Coast, Queensland and South Australia with photographer and adventurer Mattea @matteacarson.

Join us while we hit the road with Mattea and Stella (the ’75 VW Kombi) revealing all of the best places to explore, visit, eat and stay between QLD and SA…

 Must explore…

I recommend a stop by Girraween National Park. Just a few hours in from the Gold Coast, this magical place is made for the outdoor adventurer. 

The best camps are in the heart of the National Park where you’ll be visited by the friendly wildlife. 

During the day you can hike the many trails and see unique views like the Balancing Rock on top the Pyramid hike. 

Afterwards we recommend you see the beautiful Queen Mary falls. In just a few minutes from arriving you can stand on the viewing platform. On a sunny day you’ll see a rainbow shining bright at the bottom of the falls.  

Girraween means ‘place of flowers’ in the indigenous language. If you’re needing some time to reconnect with nature, this is the best place we found to be immersed in Australia’s flora and fauna.

Favourite beaches…

After making our way across the country, our craving for the coast took us directly to the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.

One thing that Jordan and I love to do is explore the coast everywhere we go. Rarely do we get the opportunity to have our kombi on the beach. We chose Sellicks beach to be our first point of arrival for this exact reason. 

Not only could we park our home on wheels directly on the beach, but the views out our window were pretty special too. Sellicks is a beach where ocean side meets weather worn cliffs. The vibrant colours and incredible textures made me feel like I was in a movie!

Best places to stay..

One of the best parts of travelling in from the coast is having access to the many incredible free camps. Those who are willing to brave the outback will find these hidden gems are everywhere. 

I was curious to stay in locations outside of the usuals caravan parks and accomodations, to me it feels more wild and free. At these camps, we were able to park up on red dirt tracks, under the shade of the gumtrees.

We use WikiCamps to find places to rest our head on long road trips.

Best coffee…

Finding a good quality cup of coffee can be hard to come by in remote towns, so when we do you can imagine our delight.

No matter where we are, we still love to stop in at the local coffee shop to say g’day. We find this to be a great way to experience a new town. There’s not much more local than the coffee culture here in Australia. 

A few of our favourite coffee stops along the way: 

Gardens Galore, Warwick

Warwick’s largest garden centre is on the way out to Girraween. With a cute gift shop and pink chickens out the back, we went back a second time. 

Hyde Store, Bellingen

Not only is the coffee amazing, I can’t leave Hyde Store without trying on a few gorgeous outfits. 


Campgrounds, Tamworth

They have dog donuts, need I say more?! 

The Crossing Cafe, Deniliquin

Just after crossing the border of NSW to VIC, this cafe was a nice stop to break up the long drive. This is the spot if you ever pass through Deniliquin.

Goodness Coffee, Aldinga

While exploring the Fleurieu Peninsula, we came here to escape from the wind. We found ourselves in the pet-friendly backyard of this timeless cafe. 


Do in a day…

Every day is a little different while on the road. Our experience has taught us the importance of healthy habits and routine. 

Each morning the sun shines bright through our white curtains. Our curtains don’t really allow for sleep ins which works for us as mornings are our favourite time of the day.

We hop straight out of bed and into nature. Then we like to do something to get our blood flowing.

Our preferred options are yoga, or circuit  training. If we’re just heading out for a stroll, we bring along our camera and our pup Zenna. 

We then roll out our kitchen bench to cook up some coffee and breakfast. 

After this is we get our work day started. We take a few hours to do any necessary chores (tidy our living space, do our washing at a laundromat, make bookings, plan our next route), and work tasks (check our emails, edit images and videos). 

Then we’re free to explore. If we’ve just arrived to a new location we like to drive around the town to get a feel for the place. 

Sunset is a big part of our day. If the weather permits, we will be in a beautiful location flying our drone, setting up a time lapse, and getting some shot. As photographers, these are the moments we live for and this is what gets us out into these wild places.

Once night falls, we head back to our camp to sit by the fire, catch up with fellow travellers and break out the guitar.  

Once our heads hit the pillow, it doesn’t take long for us to fall asleep. 

For a weekend trip..

Dorrigo is a charming town on the waterfall way. As we drove through Bellingen, up into the tablelands in northern New South Wales, we could feel the air getting cooler. The journey through the thick, ancient rainforest gave us a sense of adventure. The dramatic waterfalls are teaming with life including glow worms at night.

Some other great spots for a weekend trip around Australia are Margaret River, WA, Scenic Rim, QLD, or Crescent Head, NSW. 

 What to pack…

Our van is smaller than most so everything we bring along is essential to our day to day living. 

I use packing cubes to keep my clothing as organised as possible. The temperatures in the desert can go from one extreme to the other, so I made sure to bring clothes for all seasons. 

I have a special cube for my beautiful Arnhem sets as well.

As we have endless photo opportunities when road tripping. We like to carry an array of cameras and lenses. Recently, we’ve added to our packing list two film camera which help us capture the in between moments on film. We use a Canon AE-1 and a Leica Z2X. 

Insider’s tip…

Something that excites me most about living in a van is that every day you get to wake up in a new place. It requires you to adopt a nomadic lifestyle, you’re never really grounded in one place with regular routines. 

One way we have made this lifestyle sustainable long term is by following our daily routines listed above. This way we are able to enjoy our travels while being productive and achieving goals at the same time. 

Don’t miss…

Lake Tyrell in Victoria’s north west is a place of pure wonder. The pink salt lake is a unique visual experience over 120,000 years old. 

The vast openness and colours of the salt crystals at sunrise are a sight to be seen. 

As I strolled along the crusted surface, I imagined this is what it would be like to walk on the moon.

It’s a place you’ll see once and remember forever.