Oi....the start to my Aussie adventure was lying sick in a bed sleeping the days away. I finally caught whatever was going around on the cruise ship and sadly, Sarah caught it soon after. Yet, a little bit sleep, a lot of prayer, and some mind over matter was what it took to get outta bed so we can start seeing 'Stralia.
First things first, making a plan. Oh yeah, cuz the four of us, Colleen, Sarah, Stephanie and I were really good at doing. The one thing I know that Colleen, Steph and I love to do and are good at are....road trips. So, how to start but by renting a "SPACESHIP,"
It was our new home built for two but with all of us on a budget, four and backpacks and of course our cruise bags and souvenirs. It was a Toyota Previa van that was converted with a fridge, water, stoves, storage all stored underneath a pull out bed.
I will say that I'm surprised we survived in that van as long as we did. Mind you, this blog only covers Sydney to Brisbane but, in the next blog, we took that van from Brisbane up to Cairns. But lets not jump ahead, alright? So, as I was saying I was surprised after spending thirty days in a small cabin on a ship then take everything we had and shoved into something even smaller like our spaceship, we're all still friends. Not to mention the many times someone's bag "vomited" everywhere...not just one person's bag but one after another. Before you get all grossed out by vomit, let me explain. Have you ever packed a backpack with enough clothes for an overnight? Sure you have, then you add your gadgets, books, literature, maps, toiletries, swim wear, extra pair of clothes, sandals, shoes....is your back getting a little over loaded? Yeah? well lets add a few more things, postcards, pens, medicine, SPF, more literature, another extra shirt, socks, journal, ipod. Alright, got it all zipped up? Barely? yeah...okay so an hour goes by and you wanna write in your journal....what happens? Vomit of crap happens....get the point? Good. Lets move on.
So, after spending two sick days in Sydney, the four of us jumped in our Spaceship and headed towards the Blue Mountains. Only about an hour away, the Blue Mountains was an oasis of quaint little towns surrounded by eucalyptus trees and waterfalls. Rightly named, the Blue Mountains had a blue hue due to the sun rays reflecting off the eucalyptus oil in the air which also had a wonderful smell. We walked to see beautiful waterfalls - Wentworth Falls, take pictures at Blackhorn look out, saw the 3 sisters/Echo Point.
We then drove out to Mt Wilson Botanical Gardens and Mt Irvine where we then parked our van to cook ramen noodles and nearly got scared by a random guy walking out of the woods, not to mention me being paranoid of snakes, spiders and any other random wild animals. HELLO we're in Australia, a continent that has the top 10 poisonous of almost all animals. I don't want to get bit!
The next morning, we were awakened by a construction truck but left to go make brecky (breakfast) and get ready for our day. We drove through Mt. Tomah up the Putty Road to Hunter Valley for a little bit of wine tasting for Sarah and I. It was where we saw our fist wild kangaroo! There it was out in the grape vineyards hopping around. Colleen and Steph stayed outside to take heaps of pictures while Sarah and I stayed in to learn and taste wine. It wasn't a wine I'd buy apart from being deary (expensive) but just didn't hit my taste buds completely. The experience was amazing though, in the end, the care taker gave us 4 free bottles of wine! Jackpot, looks like I like the wine now! Afterwards, we hung out at Macca's for a few hours to get some internet done and wait to see if we can see our friend Gloeta. Did I mention that I was driving in all of this?? Not the whole time but here I was driving on the right side of the car in the left lane! Which I did pretty good until I drove on the wrong side once and a car stopped and was nice enough to let me drive through...whew...no accidents! That night we drove to Merriweather where we met up with the Oceanographer, Glo, from the ship to chat and have a sleep over!!!!
The next day was a pretty lazy day. Woke up pretty late, hung around and played scrabble. When we finally left, we drove towards these sand dunes. Think of that beautiful sand you might have laid out on in Waikiki....yeah can you believe HI imports sand all the way from Australia????? CRAZY! Its no wonder HI is so expensive! Anyways, we got carried away and took pictures whilst in the air....trying to be kangas I suppose. After watching the sunset, and after a little flirty flirt with the gas station guy - no not me, I wasn't flirting...leave it up to the girls, we then drove to Kurran where we made dinner at Myall National Park.
We wanted to wake up next to the beach but we didn't have 4-wheel drive so we managed to get as close as possible. Colleen and I woke up to see the sun rise and saw dolphins swimming in the ocean. It was beautiful to see and discovered our feet barked! There's only a few places in the world where when you walk on the sand it makes a barking noise. In the words of Steph "its like I'm stepping on puppies." Anyways, as we continued our day we drove and saw Seal Rocks light house. Stopped at a beach where we watched whales out at sea and chat with a few locals. Drove to Green Cathedral where its a church made of fig trees...we couldn't really see the church since there was a wedding, which was beautiful. I was tempted to walk down the aisle to take a few pictures since the bride still hadn't shown up but I'm sure that wouldn't go well for the groom. From there we trekked and when I mean trekked...we trekked down a road in the dark to see Ellenborough falls. It was a long and I mean long dirt road where the shocks on our spaceship did not know how to handle any bumps let alone rocks on a dirt road. And to top it off, we got stopped a by a herd of cows. You know, you really can't try to drive near them....you just wait until they MOOOOve outta the way. Anyways, when we finally saw a sign...I swear we drove forever with no sign to see if we were on the right road, it was dark and it was a relief to make it to our destination and have a good meal.
In the morning, we walked to see the beautiful waterfall which was supposed to be the longest single drop waterfall but come to find out later it wasn't....I can't remember the details but none the less it was an amazing sight to see. I will say we had an amazing breakfast sandwich due to this bread we had found that had cheese and ham cooked on top and all we did was add a fried egg. MMMM.....Now, I'm only going to say quickly that I was in a mood...yes, it was my turn and in all honesty, I had nothing on my mind, nothing to say, and very few words came outta my mouth. Just those moments where I couldn't get away for some alone time and well we had a make-up session after some good lunch made out of beets!
For some reason, beets are a big thing here, instead of a pickle in a hamburger they used beets. But anyways, this restaurant was known for their menu of beets - beet shakes, beet beef curry, beet this beet that. I'm not usually a fan of it but I will have to say it was good & healthy for you. Did you know that? I sure didn't....looks like I'll be eating fresh beets now. Well anyways, we continued driving and saw another beautiful beach and another beautiful light house before stopping off at the Koala Hospital, thats right those cute little koala's have a hospital because they get ran over or hurt. We did a little tour and I really learned a lot about those little guys. I wouldn't mind having a koala outside my window. They just sleep a lot anyways. From their our next destination is Byron Bay. I haven't mention where we were travelling have I? Believe me, they don't call it an open road for nothing. I barely remember what we did and where we went!
Byron Bay, absolutely beautiful. We propped up the tent fly, and hung out at the beach all day.
Its nice not being stuck in a van...you really need to stretch out and stop driving, ya know? There was a lot of ground to cover but we didn't want to feel like all we did was drive drive drive. Even though thats pretty much all we did with stops in between for bathroom breaks, waterfall pictures, light house walks and whatever else. So it was nice to lay out. There were dolphins in the ocean and I ran to see if I could swim with them...yeah right, cuz I can swim all the way out there. Afterwards, we threw in some vampire fangs...thats right HAPPY HALLOWEEN and went to see the lighthouse and walk to the Eastern most part of the mainland of Australia. Kinda cool, eh? Hey, its a photo op I suppose.
After, Steph and I found a bakery where we stocked up on some good ol meat pies and bakery dessert items. Let's just say that was Steph's thing...bakeries...oh do they have some good bread items. Anyways, the driving continues and we did a quick drive through Surfer's Paradise. Sadly, it was late at night and as much as I wanted to see my Aunt and Uncle, I didn't think calling them at midnight would be appropriate so we kept driving through so we could be closer to Brisbane. We did have a deadline to make to drop off the spaceship. And if you know us and deadlines....OY! So we made it to Beaudesert where we parked the car and slept.
Now, the next day we drove right to Brisbane where we once again didn't have any plans except for Sarah who the night before booked her plane ticket out from Brisbane to Sydney. So plans were sorta evolving and Sarah was leaving us. I mean I knew she had to get back but man, it was so abrupt. Steph, Colleen and I didn't even know what we were doing. Here we have Sarah flying back to Sydney in a couple of days and us losing our "home" from the past week. Needless to say, we had to choose what was right for the budget....which meant...rent the spaceship for another week except only $1.00 a day! Can you believe it? They were having a relocation special so, why not drive all the way up to Cairns??? So sadly, we had to leave Sarah in Brisbane and say our goodbyes. We only had the spaceship for a few more days and there were plenty of kilometers to cover. I felt bad leaving Sarah behind but, at least she was in a city where it was safe and easy to get around. And, she was heading back to Sydney, a city we've already been. I gave her one last hug and kept heading north.
All in all, from Sydney to Brisbane the four of us covered over 2900 kilometers seeing so much in between. We had spent 30 days on a ship together and 7 days in a van. We were close....literally close, we didn't have much space to work with and all in all, it was a wonderful time. Yet the adventure continues.