Road Trip Day 2 - Road Trip from Hell
Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
92Trip End Jan 01, 2014
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Things improved further when, following a dirty Hungry Jacks breakfast, we were able to tick off two of Australia's estimated 150 "big things". These are simply big models of everyday items which are generally used at raodside establishments to attract custom from passing trade. The two we saw within the first few minutes of hitting the road (which we managed to do by 9am, having learnt about how long things take and how early the sun sets in Oz in winter the previous day) were a windmill (which adorned Comfort Inn in Coff's Harbour) and a banana (on a cafe and slightly disappoiting in truth). After a few obligatory snaps we fairly ate up the 80 odd kilometres to the historic (by Australian, not UK, standards) town of Grafton - the first town settled on the central coast where Shelley was able to browse second hand shops at her leisure as I sipped coffee, confident of us arriving in Brisbane pre-5pm
It was immediately after leaving Grafton that things started to go wrong. We had been tipped off that Armidale - a nearby town - had some excellent second hand furniture and so set off, following a sign which confirmed that it was a mere 12km away. Twenty five minutes or so of driving later and I was starting to suspect that we had either missed a turn off or else that the sign had been wrong so we decided to double check matters with an elderly Australian couple in a rest area. They reiterated what we had so far been told so I continued to hammer the Micra deeper into the Bush. By the time we were 60 or so kilometres from Grafton I knew we were wrong and so we pulled into another rest area where a caravaning couple from Melbourne told us that although we were heading the right way, Armidale was still over 60 km's away. They were slightly horrified to discover that we had set off on a 1,000 plus km journey without a map and so kindly donated a spare Caravan Club map they had to us. I had no intention of retracing the wasted 60 km's from Grafton and so decided that a dotted weaving northbound orange line in the Caravan Club map labelled "Not Suitable for Caravans" was the best course of action. This "road" soon turned into a dusty, rocky, snaking single lane affair, at first climbing through woodland before descending into the valley floor where it headed into farmland as far as the eye could see. By this point we had been driving for around 30 minutes since meeting the caravaners and were still enjoying the rolling farmland, reminscent of rural Britain (if it never rained again). We were convinced at each crest or conrer of the road that we would turn to find civilsation or a better road but after around an hour hope was fading and I was starting to worry on a few fronts - (1) we were in a Nissan Micra on esstentially quarry roads and we did not have the benefit of the Top Gear support crew in the event of a puncture, (2) we had no water and (3) we were rapidly running out of petrol
Most of the remainder of the drive north was spent driving as fast as possible, but we did take the time for a small detour to the lighthouse at Byron Bay - supposedly Australia's most easterly point - and managed to catch the very back-end of what must have been a stunning sunset. We finally limped into Brisbane at 8pm, absolutely knackered and still with a few outstanding obstacles to overcome...
Firstly, I had omitted to note down the address or contact details of our accomodation for the evening, or print a map of Brisbane which meant that we had to take advantage of McDonalds' free internet sitting in the car outside and obtaining the relevant information. The landlady did not seem best pleased as check-in had been up until 5pm only and it took us a couple of spins of the one way system of Brisbane before we finally found Ellie's Guesthouse in the flamboyantly named Fortitude Valley area of the city. As it turned out, we were actually given a very warm (undeservedly) reception once she arrived to show us to our room, which was a mixed bag - offering a kitchenette, but no shower or TV (the latter being especially annoying during the Olympics). Anyway, it had a bed so I was happy enough. Unfortunately the wi-fi was not working in the guesthouse and my second issue was that I did not know where I needed to go for the start of the marathon the following morning. The solution was a visit to the 7-Eleven on the corner where I found a free local newspaper which had all the necessary details. Whilst out I also bought some chicken fried rice for a last minute carbo injection before returning to Ellie's for what would be around four hours sleep maximum. Of more concern was the state of my legs after about 18 hours driving over the two days of what Shelley candidly called "The Road Trip From Hell". Classic mara prep...