Going Walkabout in Aus land

Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
Trip End Sep 14, 2010

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Where I stayed
East Coast, NSW and Victoria, Oh and Canberra

Flag of Australia  ,
Friday, February 5, 2010

Australia.. the land of Shelia's and
Sharks, Beer, Pies, Surfing, Kangaroos, Koalas and Wombats,
Aboriginals, and a hell of a lot more.

We have just spent the last 6 weeks
driving in our rather classy Holden Commodore station wagon through
this famous and oversized slab of land and what a drive it has been,
we've been through monsoon rains, nearly got eaten alive by a
hatching of thousands of mosquitoes, had HUGE spiders in our tent,
our car and on ourselves. We have witnessed some of the most
breathtaking scenery you can imagine, also a few ugly looking places
too, seen an equal amount of live and dead Kangaroos and Wombats, got
up close to a Koala bear, been to do the business in the long drop,
slept under a blanket of stars, eaten pasta more times than I care to
remember, not showered for several days at a time, not even a wash!
met some great people along the way and covered more than 9000
kilometers in our trusty steed.. and that's just the beginning.

Australia has been good to us, we
arrived from Singapore tired and stinking early in the morning of Feb
5th, we had flown into Cairns in Queensland, up on the
east coast its a popular jump off for the Great Barrier Reef diving
trips. It was here that we spent a few days trudging the streets in
search of our home for the next 6 weeks, our car! And low and behold
we found her, a beaut as they would say in Aus.

She was in perfect condition for her
age (19yrs) and with only 300,000 kms on the clock not so bad for an
Aussie motor. The previous owner was a young 21yr old Belgium boy
whom we suspect had never owned a car before as this was in such
great condition and his paperwork was bordering on OCD to the extreme
but this was a definite blessing for us.

It was such an exciting feeling when we
got the car, freedom and the great open road and all that, very
Thelma and Louise although Adam refused to wear lipstick and a wig!

We knew we were going to camp our way
around Aus and although Mr 21yr old had included some camp gear with
the car it was pretty basic so off we went on a camping gear shopping
trip.. once we had finished all we were missing were the high wasted
shorts and matching waterproofs just so as to fit in as REAL campers!

Our first stop was Cape Tribulation up
in the Daintree National park, its about 250kms north of Cairns.
Queensland is a tropical state with boiling hot sunshine and at this
time of year monsoon rains making it very very humid and full of
mossies and we were to find out just how many there were but that's
for later on in the blog.

So off we went to Cape Trib, a
beautiful drive up there into the jungle coated hills followed by the
flats of land filled with sugar cane plantations. The sun was shining
we were on our way and singing careokkee as we went, life was good.
We crossed a croc infested river on the car ferry to get into the
national park and as we drove through the winding roads we spotted a
cassowary, now this is about the size and similar in shape to an emu
or ostrich but is black with red turkey like skin hanging on its neck
and blue around the eyes but its a feared creature with razor sharp
claws.. people bush walking have been known to stumble across one of
these and been mauled to death, lovely, thank god for the solid
commodore as our protector.

We finally arrived at our campsite
tucked in a clearing in amongst the rainforest and a 2 minute walk to
the beach.. although you wouldn't sunbathe on the beach and you
wouldn't go in the water. Basically up this way there are a lot of
saltwater crocs (these are more prone to attack you than a freshwater
croc and they are a hell of a lot bigger!) so lying on the sand
didn't appeal and going in the water, well there's the crocs of
course, the box jellyfish, the sharks and of course the rip in the
current so all in all not the safest haven but still a stunning
stretch of beach!

Back to the camping.. so we decided
that we would sleep in the car for our first night, we had brought a
blow up mattress which you have to hand pump..Adam started at about
5pm and by 6pm it was fully pumped, the instructions said that time
to inflate approx 10mins, as the Aussies say what a load of
horseshit! So after losing about a stone in sweat we put the bed in
the back of the car and secured our mosquito net the plan being to
sleep with the boot open and let the cool air flow in, however a
small downfall with our car was that you couldn't have the boot open
without the interior light coming on and there was no way to switch
it off so that idea went out the window, a very sweaty sleep that
night but no crocs so all was good.

The next day we took a walk through the
rainforest only Adam for some reason had a full arsenal of mosquitoes
surround him so he didn't really enjoy the beauty of it but some of
the plants and wildlife were stunning, I don't like spiders but even
they were great to look at, from a far. They were after all bigger
than my hand! We got the car packed up and headed off to a near by
freshwater hole which was classed as safe to swim in. When we arrived
just as we were about to get in Adam suddenly blurted out.. have you
seen the camera bag? Being that this was something Adam had last I
said no and suddenly the penny dropped he had left it in the camp
kitchen and worst of all our passports were in it! Great.. so we
dashed back thankfully we were not far away and to our amazement
there it was just where he left it and with everything in it.. if
that had been in the UK some little ASBO would have had it I'm sure..

So panic over and even more sweaty we
went back to the waterhole and jumped in and it was amazing.. the
water was absolutely crystal clear. There were some big fish and even
turtles in there it really was something special. Once cooled down we
got back in the car and off we set again heading back down towards
Cairns the plan being to camp near by and then make a move southwards
in the morning. Now I'm not going to bore you with every single
campsite we stayed at etc etc.. but lets just say this that as time
went on the tent became the better option apart from this our second

We thought lets try the tent so we
pitched up the little two man thing, again after an hour of pumping
Adam finally got the bed inflated but it didn't quite fit in the tent
but it was fine, then the heavens opened, we cooked our dinner in the
back of the car and huddled under the boot to keep dry, the rain was
endless and when we finally went to bed, sorry the damp bed as there
was a hole in the tent..So that night was a damp and sweaty one.. can
you see a pattern forming here!

Again we set off southwards following
the coast line down towards Brisbane which was about 1700kms away we
stopped off en route in several campsites one of which we found quite
late in the day and in some of the worst monsoon rain, driving was
next to impossible as we just couldn't see a thing and you have some
pretty big trucks getting up your arse on these roads so it was a bit
hairy. The campsite just outside of Townsville suitably named
Alligator Creek had a flooded entry bridge which we were able to
cross but it did come to our mind that come the next morning we might
be stranded! The site was great though, I mean not in terms of
luxury but we were surrounded by Wallobhys and Kangaroos as well as
wild Turkeys and a group of 4 Germans who were an absolute God send
to us.

They made us a cuppa tea due to the
heavy rain and lack of shelter we all sat around the toilet block and
spent the night swatting mossies and ridding ourselves of spiders and
all sorts of unsavory bugs. That night we slept in the car again, as
we were lying there I could hear a kind of whistling.. not sure what
it was at first then suddenly the bed got a bit lower, and lower and
lower still.. we had a bloody hole! There was nothing we could do
about it that night but we yet again didn't get much sleep, sleeping
on rippling metal is not the most comfortable I can tell ya!

The next day the rain had stopped and
luckily we weren't stranded, which is a good job too as I'mm sure
some of the roo's wereeyingg us up for dinner or something! So off we
set, next stop Mackay, we managed to fix the bed at the next site
kind of but still it was a little squidgy but better than the
previous night. It was in Mackay that Adam saw his first Possum, I
went to have a shower and when I came back he had a look of terror on
his face proclaiming that some tree monster had just crawled behind
him, he was so funny. The little possum's hung around but didn't
bother us that night in our tent.

We were driving about 350 – 400kms a
day stopping off here and there to take photos etc.. the east coast
is very spread out so you can go for miles before seeing a town or a
turn off its really quite bizarre After a couple more days we arrived
in Harvey Bay, a small little beach resort where a lot of tourists
come to see the migrating right whales. We found what has to be the
best campsite we stayed in, it was a bit of a luxury at $29 per night
but we had a pitch right on a small lake, with fully equip kitchen,
and amazing pool which was essential as it was baking hot there and
we got to cook ourselves some very good food at last! Not pasta!

Adam became a huge meat eater again in
Aus, the steaks, rump, sirloin and t-bone were all around 3 quid a
pop so you can imagine how many he had throughout our trip!

We spent 3 days at Harvey Bay, fixed
the hole in the tent, fixed the bed properly and showered thoroughly.
On our first night we sat in our brand new camping chairs with a beer
in hand watching the sun go down when all of a sudden there was this
mass exodus of fruit bats, each night they leave their trees and head
to Fraser Island just off the coast to feast on fruits etc. Millions
of these giant bats about the size of a flying chuawa dog or
something came past, some swooped into the tree next to us and spent
the night feeding there. It was an incredible sight to see and the
only time we saw it in Aus on such a large scale.

Following on from Harvey Bay we took a
detour to the town of Kenilworth, about a population of 360 it had
about as much to do as our home town.. but with a better climate, it
had to be done I'm afraid to say. So after the cheesy novelty detour
we swung through Noosa, Maroochydore, and by 6pm we found a campsite
about 50km north of Brisbane in a pine forest. The weather had turned
wet and humid and upon arrival at the campsite, which again was a
national park site so basic as they come we were set upon a swarm of
mosquitoes It was so bad that they were landing on our faces, fingers
and any other exposed bits of us, we caked ourselves in repellent and
put the mossie oil lamp on but nothing could deter them. To make
matters worse we'd just brought a new tent deciding the little two
man was really made for hobbits and not us and so we had never
pitched our luxury 4 man penthouse style tent.. we managed to get it
up even though we were covered in mossies.. and during this time a
lovely Aussie lady who her and her husband were the only other people
in this site came over and saw our distress at the infestation and
our attempt to pitch a tent at dusk, in a forest, in the rain and
being attacked by evil mosquitoes she made us some cheese toasted
sarnies and even gave us a little tiramisu pudding. We sat in our
tent and munched away despite suffering mild asphyxiation from all
the repellent we had on! It was that bad that we couldn't venture
over to the toilet block all of 100 meters away, Adam peed in the
water bottle and I held it till morning.

By the next day we thought maybe they
would have dispersed but Oh no they were waiting for us, it was like
a full scale assault at dawn, flaying arms and more repellent we
dismantled the tent, sprayed the car so much it became flammable and
went to say thank you to the lovely lady and her husband, only for
them to extend their kindness even more by giving us a huge fresh
baked fruit loaf and some eggs how amazing they were, seriously the
kindness of strangers, I wish we got their details because from this
day on I will never forget them and their generosity and genuine
warmheartedness. Thank you whoever you were, we wont forget you.

Surprisingly enough after such a
vicious attack we came out unscathed well almost only 2 bites
amazing! Apparently it had rained about 10 days before thus the eggs
were laid and then when it rained that night the little buggers all
hatched! I swear millions of them.. it was beyond belief how bad it

As we drove as fast as we could south
away from the little blighters we bypassed Brisbane and headed on
down to Surfers Paradise, well surfers concrete paradise. It was like
going through Benidorm or something, high rises everywhere! We
carried on down the coast and pitched up in a little site near
Burleigh Heads and the stunning Palm Beach. A beautiful powder white
sand beach with turquoise waters but waves that would knock you out!
We carried on south eventually crossing into New South Wales and into
the famous Byron Bay.

Famous because years ago it was one of
the biggest hippie drug fueled places in Aus, now its a cosmopolitan
town with a touch of the artistic all the hippies have moved inland
to a place called Nimbin of which there is a magic bus you can take
to get there, we passed though as seeing a bunch of spaced out old
cronies just didn't fit into our itinerary and we see enough of them
in London anyway! Byron is a bit of a too cool for school place but
we stayed 3 days to get a feel for it and we met Pat and Mel, a
couple from Paris who again as with Tom and Tilly were on a very
similar trip to us. We hit it off and Pat, Mel and Adam all hired
surf boards and caught some waves, well baby ones, the current was
too strong they couldn't get out to the big ones, or so they say! But
fair play to them I tried and got smacked in the mouth by the board
straight away and became fat lip 2!

All surfed out we went up to the Byron
Lighthouse, there were some beautiful views from up there out to the
ocean at the most easterly point of Australia.

We finally set off again following the
coast about 400km down to Port Macquarie, we had said goodbye to Pat
and Mel only to see them again here, it was so funny to see their
little wicked van with a graffiti ed Garfield coming down the road
towards us. We said our hellos again and decided to spend the next
few days traveling together into the Hunter Valley and the Blue
Mountains. So the next day off we set, the Hunter Valley is one of
NSW biggest wine regions and we did some tasting there trying to
pretend we knew what we were on about.. the drive was brilliant
passing through rolling hills of vines and farmland but the wine was
crap! But it was free so cant complain too much, seriously a day wine
tasting is the cheapest and easiest way to get drunk if you were so
inclined.. of course we didn't as we were driving and as I said the
wine was crap! From there we crossed inland through steep winding
hills into the Blue Mountains national park.

Its a huge expanse of Gum Tree
(Eucalyptus) forests and sheer cliff faces, some of the views from up
there took our breath away. We covered a lot of miles trying to find
somewhere to camp and found a great spot by Lake Lyle in the heart of
the park, it was quite dark when we arrived so I didn't see the
hundreds of HUGE huntsman spiders at first until I went to the loo
and there they were, everywhere and to top it off there were Ants the
size of small children, well maybe not that big but big enough for my
liking.. bloody things were everywhere too.. luckily that night we
didn't have any in the tent.

Next day was sightseeing day of the
main attraction, the Three sisters, a rock formation that sits out
over the expanse of the dense forest land. We took a sky rail (glass
cable car) over the center of the cliffs with a 400m drop below us it
wasn't for those scared of heights. We also took the worlds steepest
vertical train, Now I thought this would be a good 10min journey, it
was over quicker than you could say “Bloody Hell” as I did when
it tipped a vertical 75degrees or something like that down into the
blackness but within seconds it was over it was great fun I wish it
had been for longer. After wards we watched as it went back with a
carriage full of school kids who clearly didn't enjoy it as much by
the sheer terror on their faces.

Its hard to describe these sights we
have seen without repeating myself with incredible, breathtaking,
beautiful etc etc but that is what they were and the blue mountains
comes high up on the list of the phrases. However it was time to
leave and head back out and towards Sydney. We camped illegally so to
speak in a national park near Sydney, basically I tried to call the
payment line but it was closed and their was no ranger around so we
pitched up and did one in the morning before the ranger did their
rounds so as not to get caught, naughty naughty! Ha ha. That was the
same campsite when after dark we found a big spider sitting on Adams
shoulder, don't know what it was but it was big enough for me to get
the fear, seriously in the bush they are everywhere!
Mel had to remove it as I was too
scared and well Adam... hmmmmm that's all I have to say about that.

Next day we split, Mel and Pat had to
get their van back to Sydney but we would be meeting them again in 3
days as they would travel with us through to Melbourne and then
Adelaide. Me and Adam found a lovely campsite in Narabeen (cant spell
it) just outside of Sydney and on the coast near Manly, it was luxury
again for us, an oven and power too.. so all electrical s fully
charged after 3 days we picked up Pat and Mel and set off.
Our first stop was Milton, home ofAustralia's most award winning pies apparently, we had lunch there,pies all round and bloody good ones too. It was pouring down and a
raging storm followed us all the way to our campsite at Kangaroo
Creek. It was here that we saw our first wild Wombat alive too! It
was massive and only about 20meters away from us.. such a wonderful
sight to see, I didn't realize they were so bloody big though. Mind
you this is Australia where everything is big, I swear its like
America. Big portions, Big signs, Big country, Big animals, cars,
people.. etc etc.. And its definatley on the way to a McDonald's
society, even in the remotest of places there is a Macca's its crazy!
But then we have kebab shops and curry houses everywhere so who are
we to say anything.

Another thing about Australia that Inever picked up on before is that there are so many things theydecide to shorten and round off with an 'O' for example -
Ambo (ambulance) Bottleo (bottle/liquor
shop) Fireo (Fire brigade) Salvo (Salvation Army) Servo (service
station) Dingo (wild dog well actually I think they are actually
called Dingo's) but still you see, there are others but cant remember

Anyway back to the trip after thelittle factual interlude, we then headed to Canberra, God knows why we had all been told don't go there its boring as hell and you know
what it pretty much was.. boringO! However we had a nice time
camping and saw a group of Kangaroos bounding along as we drove into
the city. Also this was the night when a Huntsman Spider decided to
investigate out tent.. luckily it was on the inside of the flysheet
and not in our bit but still made me paranoid enough to bang around
the tent getting in and out!
After Canberra as there really isn'tt
anything to say but flat, dead and boring about that we headed down
into Koziosco national park which then runs into the Snowy
Mountains.. Believe it or not Australia does get snow, well up here
but this time of year it was just a bit chilly come July it would be
peak ski season up there. We passed through the mountains and camped
for free alongside a gorgeous lake that was something special. The
next day we took a stop off to swim in a thermal pool in Yarrongbilly
cave area, we were thinking a pool in a cave but no this was a
swimming pool construction but completely natural, mind you wasn't
that thermal! I had goosebumps but it was lovely to have a wash off
in the water as it had been a while since my last shower! When we got
back to the car I turned the ignition and nothing not even a little
click.. the flattest battery you can imagine, thankfully I managed to
flag down a passing truck and he jumped us but it took about half an
hour to get her started, so we detoured to the town of Cooma just to
get the old girl checked. After the all clear we headed back into the
mountains for another nights camping amongst Roo's and Possums. It
was pretty wet and dreary up there but that made the landscape really
earry it reminded me of the Moors really was beautiful even in the

We crossed in to Victoria after a while
and were forced to camp due to a huge storm coming our way, we were a
bit worried about the tents in such a storm and luckily the old lady
at the site had a battered and beaten old van, hadn't been cleaned in
months but was happy to let us stay in it for the night! Thanks! I
think Id rather have braved the storm, after de-cob webbing and
spidering the place it was almost like a little home, but we had to
have wine and lots of it to get through the night..

Our next stop was Phillip Island, its
just outside of Melbourne by about 150kms we stopped on route at
Wilson's Promentary a lush and dramatic landscape of national park
but it was piddling it down so made it a little dreary but well worth
a look. We arrived at Phillip Island where the sun was shining,
briefly, the huge storm that had hit Melbourne and us was still
hanging around and came back with some heavy rains in the night. Pat
and Mel went off to see Phillip Islands main attraction. The Fairy
Penguin Parade, it was $20 each to see them come ashore, nothing is
free in Aus, mind you I don't think it is in any western country.
Saying that though the next day was a sunny one and we went to Nobbys
Head, a group of rocks and cliffs at the edge of the island and there
we got to see a little penguin up close as they were hidden
underneath the boardwalk and in the marshes surrounding.. very cute.
We also took the lovely sunshine opportunity to take a series of
photos depicting shadow YMCA.. you will see these on the link at the
end hope you can spot them.

We finally arrived in Melbourne later
that day and it was bloody FREEZING.. typical! We dropped Mel and Pat
in town as they were hosteling it, I think the tent was getting a bit
much.. we camped but it was sooooo windy when we set up that I almost
took off trying to get the fly sheet on luckily some motor homers
were near by to rescue us. We spent our time in Melbourne advertising
the car for sale and I met up with my old friend Allison, who I used
to live with in Melbourne and met many years ago when I was in Aus at
the tender age of 20.. time really does fly.

It was so great to see her and in
Melbourne too... I do miss her so much so Al if your reading this
know that I love you and miss you terribly I hope that despite our
distance we will remain friends for life.

Whilst in Melbourne Pat and Mel took us
for a rather swanky and delicious meal such a treat and I felt so
scratty in my worn out smelly old clothes but what choice do you have
as a traveler.. they didn't seem to mind. Thank you to you both for

We left Melbourne all four of us, and
headed down the Great Ocean Road on route to Adelaide where we would
say our fond farewells. The GORoad was brilliant, it was a gorgeous
sunny day and we stopped as much as we could to take in the famous
coastline, we even saw a seal cruising in the water at the 12
Apostles! We drove on through and camped near Mt Gambier and what
was (but not to our knowledge) to be mine and Adams final night in
the tent.

The next day was a long old drive 500
or so Kilometers to Adelaide, and one of the flattest and dullest
roads yet, well it wasn't dull just flat flat flat and long long
long.. I did manage to avoid a couple of snakes on the road and we
saw the salt flats but other than that it was a day of driving before
we finally arrived in Adelaide and parted ways with Mel and Pat and
me and Adam found heaven in my Cousin Stephen and his wife Stacey's

However just as we were driving there
we stopped at some lights and suddenly out of nowhere this bloody
massive huntsman runs across the outside of our windscreen, I've
never wound a window up so fast. I sat there checking the vents
making sure it hadn't found its way in when we arrived at Stephens I
jumped out only to find it on my door I bolted as did it into the
road, so Stephens first look at me for about 3 years was of sheer
terror, he spotted the spider and said what the bloody hell is it..
now he's an Aussie and even he hadn't seen one like that, for all we
know it came all the way down with us from Cairns hitching a lift or
something. Urrghh I wont miss those buggers that's for sure.

Originally we had only planned to stay
a few days with Stephen and Stacey as we didn't want to be a pain and
we thought we would head back to Melbourne but it turned out that we
were having such a lovely time with them and their gorgeous little
boy Josh that we didn't want to leave so a week and a half later we
had to set off.. however in our time in Adelaide we met with most of
my family including my Graham, Erin and the kids and my Uncle Harold
and Aunty Gwen who live about 250k out of Adelaide. We went up there
for the day and Adam did a spot of fishing for the first time out on
my Uncles boat, It was hilarious he was so proud I think my Uncle
thought him mad being that all he caught was a Shiddy (or shitty
fish) as they say.. but well done Adam you did good.

Stacey was brilliant too, she took us
everywhere, we saw so much and did so much, when Josh was having his
naps I was too you knackered us out.. ... ha ha but all three of them
were wonderful to see and spend time with and we cannot thank you
enough for having us, we miss you loads and hope that it wont be so
long before we see each other again.

Another high of Adelaide was that we
sold the car.. woohoo.. to two young dutch girls who to be honest
didn't have a clue but still it sold and I'm sure they are doing fine
with all the spiders etc.. gulp! I hope they are anyway.

So car-less we caught a early bus to
Melbourne thinking a few days there then onto Sydney, however due to
the Grand Prix even the hostels doubled their prices ripping us off
so we had about 12 hours in Melbourne before catching another
overnight bus to Sydney where we managed to move our flight to New
Zealand forward and had about 4 days there and funnily enough
Stephen, Stacey and Josh were there on holiday so we did see them
again.. and brilliant it was.

I must say though I was glad for the
first time in my life to leave Australia, I loved our time in
Adelaide with my family and I loved seeing Allison in Melbourne. The
countryside was stunning but there was something missing for me this
time round. I cant put my finger on it, this was a completely
different experience for me this time around and I think I've got the
Aus bug out of me once and for all.. much to my parents approval I'm
sure. I love the people I know there but the place is not home for me
anymore and with this trip I'm really starting to appreciate what I
call home. We shall see how the next 5 and a half months go as we
still have so much to see. But thank you to Australia for the sun,
sea and sand, for the people, koalas, roos and more but I wont be
back too soon I don't think.. although we didn't do the West Coast so
who knows... maybe next time.. some time..

As usual here is a link to all our
Aussie photos, there is a lot I'm afraid but hope you enjoy them all
the same..


New Zealand is our next port of call
and I'm sure we will have lots to say from there soon.

Lots of love to you all

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