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Published: January 31st 2009
The Trip so far...................
the holiday is over, Pris back from the garage with a clean bill of health, time on the beach soaking up the rays is done for another day, it's back to the traveling and planning the rest of our trip around and through Australia!
We have the wheels, all we need now is the map. We bought the map, now we are ready!
Laying the map of Australia down which covers half the bed, we start to plan, only then do we begin to realise just how big Oz is, here's a clue, you can fit 32 UK's inside Australia or the whole of Europe.
After four sleepless nights, 98 cups of black coffee per day and 17 packs of unfiltered cigarettes we have our trip planned:
Sydney > Canberra > Melbourne > Adelaide (via the Great Ocean Road) > Alice Springs (via Lake Eyre & Coober Pedy) > Uluru > Perth (on the Great Central Road) > Broome > Darwin, well Kakadu National Park, which is near Darwin but not technically Darwin! > Cairns > Brisbane >Sydney.
And that's our trip in a 25,000km nut shell!
Let us give
and who wouldn't be!
you a quick introduction to Priscilla (affectionately known as Pris), our trusty 4x4 (well let's hope so!). She's the watchful eye as we play and sleep, she is keeping our wine cool on those hot days, taking us in comfort to those hard to reach places, she is our bedroom, living room and in some cases our dining room! Pris has been converted to a campervan of sorts, with a bed and a comfy bed at that replacing the five back seats, giving us loads of storage space under the bed. A V6 under her skirt giving her that Janis Joplin unleaded soaked voice!
Buying for all our needs; extra fuel tanks, gallons of water, spare cooking gases and 24 bottles of your finest cooking wine, it's amazing how good wine tastes in plastic cups!
New South Wales
Leaving Sydney behind our first stop was Canberra to visit yet another familiar face, Cathy who we used to work with back in the days of Hanson and a new face in the form of Nell a beautiful Golden Retriever puppy. Cathy the host then became Cathy the tour guide showing us the sights of Canberra, finishing each day with
Under the Bridge
that's the Harbour Bridge!
a bottle of wine! We're pleased to say some things never change, hey Cath?!
Australian Capital Territory
Canberra is a funny sort of place like its been dropped from space to see where it lands, then given its own territory, Canberra is surrounded by hectors of bushland but this purpose built capital is a celebration of Australia past and present and none more so than the War Memorial and the beautiful chapel with its stained glass windows keeping watch over its Unknown Solider.
The eerie silence as the Last Post was played by a lone bugler in front of the chapel before closing, a fitting end to a reflective day. The view from the War Memorial looks down along a road, across the lake past the old Parliament building to the new Parliament building with perfect alignment.
We both enjoyed Canberra but it was now time to move on, we said our farewells to Cathy and Nell, with a case of nervous excitement as we hit the road, it was now just the three of us.
Back in New South Wales
On our first night stop after leaving Canberra we hit “Top Trump” with a campsite
A lone sailor
Canberra War Memorial
at Mimosa National Park that was going to be difficult to beat; for location it scored 5/5; 4km's down a dirt track, our pitch had the sea directly in front and was surrounded by bushland; wildlife 5/5; Kangaroos at arms length distance roaming or rather hopping around including one rather large one that greeted us outside Pris at 5.30am when going to watch the sunrise. It was good to see so many roo's alive given that on the road on the way we passed loads of roadkill, it's never great when your first experience of seeing a wild roo in Oz is squashed on the roadside, especially when you have counted only 2 alive and 19 dead!! Anyway we digress.......back to the campsite, beach 5/5, beautiful sea with rolling waves and golden sand with no-one else on it apart from the odd roo for company. Expectations for our campsites were now running high, the tip off for this place was the “Camps 4” guide to budget camping, our Bible for the next few months! Unfortunately our first experience was not matched by our second.
Our next campsite read well, nice location and free of charge, perfect for the
budget conscious traveller, driving down a 4km dirt track our hopes were high, alarm bells should have been ringing when we realised that the sign had been forcibly removed! Driving onto the site it had a completely different feel, it was like driving through a scene from the film Deliverance, slowly you could hear the banjo start playing in your head, we smiled at our new neighbours, they didn't but stood up with banjo in hand, we didn't stop to see what was going to happen next, squeal like pigs sprang to mind but we will never know, about 10km down the road we stopped at a nice family site and paid! So the moral of the story is, even though the best things in life are free, so are some of the scariest!
Still hugging the coast we were heading to Wilson's Promontory in Victoria, a barbed hook shape piece of land that is a huge nature reserve, the guide book vowed you would not get a camping pitch unless you had booked during the Summer holidays, we were pleased they were wrong and bagsied one of the three last pitches. As we pulled up a group of
guys were all staring at the us, Kirstin thought that Rob was being paranoid but when we got out we were greeted by a group of Germans professing to know our vehicle and the guys we bought it from, they seemed to know their names so that was reassuring in as much as they were not crazy people; what a small world at times.
We were lucky enough to be able to sit at our pitch and watch the Kookaburras, various parrots and Huntsman spiders (huge great things of which you do not want to see too many! If you spread your hand out as much as you can, add three more hairy fingers, eight eyes; only then do you get the size of a Huntsman) which was then attacked by some type of fly that led to a tussle and resulted in both falling from the tree and the spider dead; this was nature turned on its head, a fly killing a spider; a big one at that, what sort of place is this! We later found out that it was a wasp that had done the damage, it paralyses its victim to lay its eggs inside until
they hatch. Now we are no fans of spiders but it was hard not to feel sorry for the huge hairy thing that it was; Miss Wasp now demanded total respect and a wide berth was kept at all times.
A visit to Wilson's prom was not complete without a trip to Squeaky Beach, which does what it says on the tin as long as you walk in a slightly funny manner whilst dragging your feet, a phenomenon caused by the beach being formed from pure quartz.
This was a truly beautiful place with azure blue sea, beautiful bushland in various greens with a granite stone backdrop. The only disappointment was our lack of Koala spotting, there were plenty of road signs warning you of koala's, were we ever going to spot this illusive creature in the wild?
After spending time in such a remote place arriving into a city felt strange, we had arrived in Melbourne where we stayed on a campsite on the fringes of town. Neither of us had given much thought to what Melbourne was going to be like but were pleasantly surprised to find that although it did not have the wow
factor of Sydney it had a really good buzz about it. As did the seaside area at St Kilda with its cafe society vibe and shabby chicness complete with a Luna Park and Laughing Clown gateway and the world's oldest roller coaster, a guy went around on it standing on the carriage letting the brake on and off, he had to really hold on when it loop-the-loopped! Just to clarify not any old man but one that worked at the park.
The Great Ocean Road, still Victoria
It was time to hit the tarmac again to journey along the Great Ocean Road, we had heard mixed reviews and were not sure what to expect. The road started out at Torquay; something that takes getting used to in Oz, a lot of towns/areas are named after places in the UK, at times these places have a remarkable similarity to the one in Blighty, this one being that they are both by the sea but this Torquay is the surf capital of Australia. The road weaved its way through cliffs and then rolling hills but for the majority of the time the road hugs the ocean and it is beautiful.
Following our trusty guide we were assured there was a road that would take us to the illusive Koala, both eagerly on the lookout we saw nothing, as we came around the corner a cattle jam!! Not quite what we had hoped for and then as if it would not have been fair if one of us had spotted a Koala before the other we both spotted one on opposite sides of the road! Hooray we could head home happy......which was our next campsite. As if we had not been spoilt enough, we had two up close and personal in the tree above over our heads on the campsite. The rareness of this sight was confirmed by an Ozzie guy who got his camera out rather excitedly to take a photo declaring “my Mum will never believe I've seen one in the wild, I've only ever seen them in the zoo”. As cute as teddies they look we were not expecting the big noise they make which kept us awake.
The 284km Great Ocean Road was built by the soldiers who returned from the First World War as a memorial to those who fell, taking 13 years to complete
we managed to take 5 days to complete the 284km journey! This Great Road provided stunning scenery and when the weather took a turn for the worse it provided amazing rough seas with huge waves rolling in showing us why the coastline is eroding at 2cm's a year! The erosion in the sandstone causes dramatic rock formations most famously the Twelve Apostles which we managed to catch during sunrise with only a few other keen early starters. And of course our first glimpse of wild Koala's.
Continuing to weave our way along the coast where we spotted Sea lions playing in the surf at Cape Bridgewater. We arrived in Adelaide to be met by the heatwave to end all heat waves, at 45.7 degrees it was breaking records in Adelaide. The thermometer we had in Pris which gauges temperatures up to 50 degrees exploded! Even in the shade if felt as though your skin was burning, when sitting and not moving sweat was pouring off us, during the night in the back of Pris it was scorching with temperatures still in the late 30's, it was the worst night ever, lying on soaking wet towels not being
able to sleep just counting down the hours until morning and dreaming (only awake) of checking into an air conditioned hotel. It is all set to stay in the 40's for the next week by which time we should have melted quite nicely!
Due to the heat the sightseeing has been limited and we have focused on stocking up ready for our journey into the Outback which we are looking forward to in a nervous, excited sort of way. Questions that keep going round our heads are “Is Pris up to the job? Have we got the necessary stocks available?” Is 55 litres enough water as well as an extra spare wheel on top of the one we already have, fuses, fan belts, puncture repair kit, CB radio.....................the list goes on!
Only time will tell when we tell it in the next blog! Disclaimer :- At no point did we take up smoking in the planning of this trip!
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