Clocking up a few miles...
Time for my second installment on my road trip around Australia. The mileage on our van when we started our road trip was 248,701km’s and the next month or so of our trip will certainly clock up a few extra miles.
I think I left when we had just left Sydney last time so I will carry on from there. We continued our journey down the coastal road towards Melbourne stopping along the way. We were finding it a little tricky in finding places to spend the night as there were signs up everywhere saying no camping or sleeping in vehicles – but in the end we just thought we would risk it – we spoke to an old boy in his caravan and he said they didn’t enforce that rule so we took that as a good sign. We were getting close to the Victoria state border so this would be our last day in New South Wales for at least till we end our trip back in Sydney.
We didn’t really put that much research into places before we turned up – which was kind of nice as you stumble upon random little towns that are pretty cool. Our next stop was at Lakes entrance, we found an amazing place to settle down for the night – overlooking the entrance from the sea to the great lakes. The lakes run for 90 miles down the coast, which is home to 90 mile beach. It is absolute heaven – if you like deserted beaches this is the place for you, not a person for miles apart from the odd fisherman that is. We spent a day down at Paradise beach in a free campsite and spent the whole next day fishing off the beach, we got excited as a fisherman said that he caught two hammerhead sharks there the day before – Tom caught two fish to my one but im still in the lead 3 to 2. Although we still haven’t caught one big enough to eat yet! After a hot shower (our first in a few days) we decided to book into a hostel in Melbourne as we arrived at night and there wasn’t many places to park up. We stayed in St.Kilda which is where the backpackers stay.
I met up with Neil and Tara, I met them both in America back in 2006 so it was good to catch up. We had a big night out that evening which was a nice after a week on the road not seeing many people - the night did end in another argument with a Taxi driver though as he didn’t have a clue where he was going and expected us to pay for it.
My poor foot
Melbourne has a totally different feel from Sydney, we took a strole around the centre and went down to the beach. Pleople say you are either a Sydney or Melbourne person – I am definitely a Sydney person. After some expensive days in the city we decided to head out to Phillip Island to see the penguins and the Moto GP circuit. Tom rides motorbikes so he has been keen to see it. We found a campsite that was overlooking the beach – set up camp and headed out to see the sights. We went to the Nobbies where apparently a colony of seals live – over 1000 – but did we see any – not at all! Fortunately we did see some penguins though. We also saw some Kangaroos and Koalas - probably the most boring animal in the world (apart from sloths that is).
We headed back to Tara’s place where she had kindly invited us to stay for a while (the swimming pool and hot tub was a very nice luxury). Now the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix was on that weekend which is my favorite race of the year so we bought 4 day passes for the race. By a stroke of luck we managed to get an extra two free tickets off someone Tom knows so we brought Tara and her friend Carman along for the Friday and sneakily managed to sell the tickets we bought at the gates the day after.
The race is held at Albert Park which is right in the centre of Melbourne and there was loads of other races and events on throughout the four days. On the Thursday we saw the V8 supercars race – Vipers, Lamborghinis, Porsches – great stuff. We had a scout around that day to try and find a good spot on race day.
The Saturday at qualifying was the craziest day – we met up with Kath and Jay who we met in Sydney who came down for the weekend. We kidnapped Kath for the afternoon and headed for the beer tent to watch the qualifying session. The F1 cars are ridiculously loud, ear plugs would definitely be needed for race day. That night there was a concert on and Powderfinger were headlining. I had never heard of them to be honest but they are huge over here, and they were really good.
The Twelve Apostles
On race day we had a perfect spot right on turn two near the start so we could see the first two corners. It was packed so we set up camp for the day. Zoe from Sydney and Neil with a few of his mates joined us so we had quite a big crowd to cheer on Button and Hamilton. They weren’t on the best places on the grid, Button was fourth and Hamilton was 11th after a poor qualifying session. It wasn’t the best day and it was going to rain at some point – always adds some excitement to a race. We were also right in front of a giant TV screen so we could keep up with what was going on. It was a fantastic race with action all the way through. There was massive support for Mark Webber being Australian but it was Button that won it on the day. Hamilton finished 6th so overall not a bad day for the Brits.
Port Lincoln National Park
After the race it was a free for all to get on the race track, it was crazy I almost got crushed trying to get on. Before the race I had spoken to my mum and she had told me to do something to get noticed as she would be watching on TV – bad idea. We had been drinking throughout the race and badly needed the toilet so we had to go against the barrier on turn one, if that didn’t get us noticed I don’t know what would lol. We watched the winning ceremony and headed to the centre stage where Simple Minds were headlining – I was quite excited as I saw them in Plymouth about 10 years ago. They didn’t disappoint… the weather was shit but it was a great night, I even got a photo with Brian Mcfadden from Westlife who came to see the concert which was pretty cool. So that was the end of my first F1 Grand Prix, I will definitely be going to another one.
What a view
We stayed the next couple of nights back at Tara’s where we were invited to join her and Carman to celebrate passover – a Jewish celebration, and I have to admit I think it was my best night in Melbourne we had a lot of laughs and alcohol which is always a good thing. Hanging out with Tara and Carman really made Melbourne for us, they were a real good laugh and I’m sure we will see them again at some point this year. Our last day in Melbourne involved getting the van serviced and ready for the long trip to Perth. That afternoon we headed down to Torquay which is known as the surf capital of Australia, they had a surf contest and concert on at Bells beach (where the film Point Break was based on) so we thought we may as well check it out for the Easter weekend before we hit the Great Ocean Road. There were signs up everywhere saying no staying overnight in vehicles but we stupidly ignored this and were woken up by the police to a $125 fine, ouch. So we decided to stay in a camp site for the weekend after that. Charlotte and Julia came to join us for the weekend from Sydney and it turned out to be a really good weekend apart from one thing:
Step 1: Chris steals Toms beer’
Step 2: Chris drinks Toms beer while giggling and congratulating himself on a good steal
Step 3: Chris drops Toms beer, steps on the glass and cuts his foot – bad!
Head of Bight
There was a lot of blood and I was so glad I was drunk when it happened as it would have hurt a hell of a lot more. Tom was great and bandaged it up – I went to see the Pharmacy the next day and they said I should have had it stitched up but it was too late as I had left it to long – great! This kind of ruined our plans a bit as I couldn’t walk – it was soo painful and I kind of knew it wasn’t a injury that would heal quickly – it was in a really awkward place on the bottom of my foot. I’m not sure it hit a nerve as I had pins and needles and my foot was numb – that would teach me for stealing Tom’s beer I suppose, Karmas a bitch, lol.
Anyway the weekend was over and despite my foot it was a really good one. Neil a friend that I met in 2006 in the USA was joining us in our trip to Perth which would be fun so we went to pick him up from Geelong and started our trip down the Great Ocean Road.
The Great Ocean Road is known as one of the best drives in Australia so I was quite excited after driving Route 1 in California a few years back – if it was anything like that we were in for a good drive. We wanted to take it slow as the road is only 250km long so we didn’t want to do it all in one day. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great but it didn’t spoil it too much, the road was great with spectacular views – Lorne and Apollo bay to mention a couple of places. We stopped to see the famous 12 Apostles – a rock formation off the cliffs, we counted and there is only 7 or 8 left standing now though. After the ocean road it was time to get a move on, we stopped in Bordertown to see Tahnee who I met in America a few years back and stayed there for the weekend. It was a good weekend – it’s a very small town but we went to watch a local Aussie rules football match which was a good experience. So after a good weekend we headed to Adelaide.
ooo young man!
We were kind of looking forward to a night out as it there hasn’t been much going on since we left Melbourne. We stayed in a hostel that night (the Cannon Street hostel) – I have to name and shame this one as it was disgusting, it would even give some of the $2 hostels I stayed in South America a run for their money – I would not recommend it. So we were parking up in the side street and Tom reversed the van in to a fire hydrant – it smashed the light so it wasn’t to bad. ( I could still not drive due to my foot so I decided to take the piss to much, lol). I gave Emily a ring a girl I met in the USA back in June last year so it was good to catch up. She took us on a guided tour of Adelaide so we could get our bearings which was really nice of her. We headed out that night and were not impressed, there isn’t much going on in Adelaide to be honest.
Fowlers Bay sand dunes
From Adelaide we headed up to Port Augusta and spent the night there after having to find a doctor for me due to my foot still giving me a lot of pain, I could still not walk on it and still could not feel a couple of my toes. He said the glass may have cut a nerve… ok, so what can I do about it I asked? Nothing – doctors are not the best over here in the small towns I have found out so I will get it looked at properly in Perth. He gave me some antibiotics, a tetanus jab and sent me on my way. It was starting to become a real pain, I couldn’t drive, I could walk much further then 100 meters and I was in pain. Serves me right I suppose.
On the dunes
We arrived in Port Lincoln and was told there was really good fishing off the docks – so we headed there and instantly started reeling in fish after fish. That was until two sea lions came by to show off in front of us. We didn’t mind to much though as it’s a pretty cool site sitting off a dock watching two sea lions whilst fishing.
So after spending the night in the city of Port Lincoln we decided to hit the Port Lincoln National Park. We were soon cursing the women in the tourist information as she said that we would not need a 4x4 to get there – ok we didn’t need one to get there but the 28km of dirt track didn’t do Sandy any good Im sure (Sandy is what we have called our van by the way). So we finally made it to the bay which had a camp site on it. This park is truly beautiful – it is un spoilt which makes it even better. I think this is probably the best place we have stumbled upon to camp so far. We only had tins of food left so unless we wanted dinner out of a can it was time to catch a fish big enough to eat. Me and Tom did not disappoint! We were pulling up loads of fish but then me and Tom caught two big Flathead fish – the guy in the campsite said they were really nice to eat. So I stood up to gut the fish. I have never gutted a fish before but I believe if you can eat it you should be able to kill it. Now it wasn’t perfect but I did it and we had a nice fried Falthead to complement our bolognaise. I was over the moon as that’s what I had wanted to do – catch a fish, gut it and eat it! The $200 plus that we had spent on fishing gear was starting to pay off (slowly, lol).
The start of the Nullarbor
That night we shared our campsite with Emu’s and Kangaroos’. Neil was a little worried when he got up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night when he saw a Kangaroo standing in front of him but it was all good.
We headed to Fowlers Bay the following day after a night stop in Ceduna. We turned off the main road only to be confronted with another dirt track – another 23km of it. We were beginning to think we should have bought a 4x4, but we trundled on very slowly and made it to Fowlers Bay. The town, if you can call it that basically consists of camping site, a kiosk and about a dozen houses and a jetty. We went for a bit of a fish but it was pretty uneventful, so decided to head up the sand dunes that towered over the little town. It was amazing, it seemed like we were in a desert rather than on the coast in Australia – so after about an hour of messing around and taking some funny photos (see below) we called it a night. We had to leave early that morning as we planned on a long drive to get to the fourth state on our trip – Western Australia.
My foot was feeling a bit better by this point, I still could not walk properly but it was definitely on the mend so I decided to give the guys a break and do some of the driving. One thing that was a bit of a shock was the fuel prices – we were paying $1.26 before we hit the Nullaboor and we didn’t pay under $1.70 a litre along the way, ouch. We had traveled around 850km that day so we pulled into one of the free campsites along the Nullarbor, before we hit Australia’s longest straight road (its 146km long!). We made it just before sunset so managed to cook before we lost the light, there was no light pollution so the sky was lit up with stars. I have never seen so many stars in my life – it was quite a stunning sight.
SA - WA border
We decided to have our first camp fire of our trip so Tom and Neil went off to find some wood – not something I fancied doing – going off in to the shrubs when its dark. The trip across the Nullabor was nothing like I had expected – maybe it was the time of year but it was very green – I was expecting more of a desert. I did think it looked very much like the plains in Africa though just a few trees scattered around and lots of sparse plains.
The next day we started around 7am and set off to our next destination, Esperance. Esperance has white sandy beaches and is a gorgeous town. Well I’m going to leave this installment there as its been quite a long one. We are heading to Margret River and then on to find some work in Perth – wish me luck!
Our first camp fire