Australia: Sydney to Ayres Rock, Queensland and Back to Sydney
We landed in Sydney and wanted to go to Ayres Rock and Queensland... the only way was to hire a camper and get on our way. This account is written as we went along!
Monday, July 20th 2009
After having a whole week in Sydney hanging about and seeing the sights, the day has finally come. Holly, my pal and Emily, my sister and I were embarking on the trip of a lifetime. A roadtrip across Australia.
Let's begin the adventure! It's 4pm and we've just departed Sydney. We're heading for Dubbo to spend the night there on day one of our adventure.
We've got a big red balloon tied to the back of the campervan and we're hoping to get a picture of it at Ayres Rock. 30 minutes down the road in Windsor- we've lost the balloon!!
We drive through the Blue Mountains as the sun is setting- it's really beautiful.
Continuing on to Lithgow in the depths of the Blue Mountains, we all agree that McDonalds is in order. We are served by a very rude lady but it's all ok- we're about to travel Australia and well, she's not!
Back on the road, we go through Orange and Bathurst. It's dark now so there's not much to see.
Emily has moved to the bed in the back of the van to sleep and after seeing- and being totally amazed by a train- Holly and I make the executive decision to carry on through Dubbo and stop when the fuel runs out- despite it being about 8pm and very dark, we don't want any kangaroos jumping out in front of us! We eventually pull over in a town called Nyngan, we park up in a museum carpark right in front of an old RAF helicopter. Where else would we rather spend our first night?
Tuesday, July 21st 2009
We wake up relatively early decide to do a bit of a food shop- main supplies such as cereal, milk, bread and chocolate required! We fill the trolly with $150 worth of chocolate, juice boxes, crisps and Milo! There are a few apples hidden in there somewhere but it's mainly junk food!!
We're on the road and today the aim is to get to Broken Hill. The landscape is becoming sparse and towns are getting further and further apart. We need to get used to following a long straight road as that's all we're going to be on for the next.... I don't know how long!
A strange light appears on the dashboard, looks like an oil can with squiggly lines underneath it. What could this mean? Not being trained mechanics, we pull over. Something to do with oil we boldly guess? We are about 30kms from a town called Wilcannia. We pull over slightly puzzled as we only filled the oil up yesterday. Because the van is hot, we can't use the dipstick to check the level or get the cap off the tank to put more oil in. We decide to keep driving to find a man who can help us!
Wilcannia has got to be one of the strangest places that I have ever been to. Townlike in appearance with it's many shop fronts and signs, yet ghostlike in its atmosphere with everything shut up and no one but a few lone Aboriginals wandering the dusty streets.
We arrtittve at a BP garage and ask if there is a mechanic or even a man to take a look at the light. I'm ''politely'' informed ''no''.
We drive to another service station (surprised that there are actually two in this town!) where I'm nearly mauled by some crazy looking dogs- the woman tells me ''they're just playing'' yeh right!!!
We buy oil from here upon Holly's recommendation and drive away to park and let the engine cool once again.
At the first service station I see a man so approach him and ask if he is able to help. He tries to open the oil tank and fails- it's too tight. Oh dear. He tells us to follow him to another service station. Upon arrival, we're back at the crazy dogs place so we explain we've already been here and no one can help us. He parks us up on the street and tell us to wait twenty minutes whilst he finds his mate.
We sit and wait, puzzling over the situation and town we appear to be in! It's very hot but so dusty, we're rationing the water already!
The hurly burly man we have found has a very long dreadlocked beard, we're expecting him to come back with a similar looking chap but he returns alone. His mate is out. We're wondering where exactly 'out' could be in this nothing-ness of a town!
We go to a mechanic but the building doesn't look like it has been occupied within the last thirty years let alone had it's doors opened in the last fifty!
The hurly burly tells us we will go to his 'pa's' house, he will definitely be able to help us. We park up and are stared at as though we are the freak show from a circus by all the Aboriginal kids around us. It's very strange. 'Pa' comes out and takes the dipstick out, wiping the oil with his bare hands. He is very hurly burly. He brings out a chisel and begins tapping the oil cap off. He fills it for us and sends us on our merry way. We're out of here!!!
We're back on the road to Broken Hill and enjoy the scenery of dead kangaroo road kill the whole way there. It's crazy how many roos have been hit out here!
At Broken Hill, we investigate the town for internet and the information centre. Scouting out a place to stay and somewhere to get online we settle for the night at Lakeview Caravan Park- although there is no lake, I think it must have dried up!!
We have dinner which was kindly donated to us by the Saunders family back in Sydney (a family I used to nanny for). Proper food!!
The campsite has power and a shower but sadly no power shower. Still, you can't have everything!
It's an early start tomorrow so an early night for now in our cramped conditions. Three in the back of the smallest campervan you ever saw.
Wednesday, July 22nd 2009
I'm starting to play Brain Training on the Nintendo DS and I'm currently assessed at 45 years old.
What was supposed to be an early start- wasn't. We are driving West today towards Port Augusta (just north of Adelaide) and then further north, eventually to Alice Springs.
Holly has been really excited to see the road trains, huge great trucks carrying three to four carriages. They begin appearing as the road becomes longer and straighter. We wave every time we see one! Each time they pass us, the impact of them is so exciting, it makes our windscreen wipers flap up like they're going to blow off. haha
We don't exactly have a destination in mind for this evening, we will just keep driving until the sun goes down really, stopping off at anything of interest along the way, as well as trying to get as far as possible. We all agree that it would be good to get to Ayres Rock before the weekend.
A long yet another ridiculously straight road, we're entertained counting the dead kangaroos, screaming 'Roooooad Traaaaaain', hanging out of the window squacking at emus, waving at cars and stopping to count the many many carriages carried by the actual trains.
We arrive in a small town called Orroroo where we found some lovely public toilets. They had flowers and frilly curtains and a notice board to leave notes. We wrote 'I love your loo'!
It has started to rain and I'm sleepy so we stop in this town for a rest. Holly goes off to buy coffee and cake whilst I play DS and nap. Got my brain age down to 26 in one day!!
Holly returns with goodies a plenty! She's been shopping, on top of all the junk food we purchased yesterday, she's just bought juice boxes, cheezles, tim tams, a new tea towel, novelty lighters and a packet of colouring pencils! What a treat.
One last stop before leaving this town- a visit to the giant gum tree.
We drive for what feels like hours, and actually was! The scenery reflects this as we started this morning in the desertous conditions and then went into mountainous regions and when we emerged from the ranges where we were fortunate enough to see a group of wild kangaroos (alive this time) frolicking on the mountainside, we found ourselves at an estuary and port- we had finally arrived at Port Augusta.
We've encountered a bit of a technical problem. Something has happened to Holly's camera and the lens/ zoom isn't working. It's making a terrible noise so we stop in Port Augusta to try and find a camera shop. They're not very helpful and just try selling her a new camera.
She's not happy and there is a lot of swearing. It's a little awkward in the van right now!
We're back on the road, we could have stopped here for the night but I don't mind driving on a bit further. We still have a couple of hours of daylight left.
We are heading for Woomera now, it is 171 kms from here so should take about two hours.
It's pitch black now and we need to find a place to stay. The fuel is running low and it appears that rather than being a town, as the map would suggest, Woomera is in fact a small collection of houses- as in 3 and a roadhouse called 'Spuds' for truckers.
Now in very desertous (and I know desertous is not a word, but I like it!) conditions, we decide to eat tonight in luxury- join the truckers in the roadhouse and eat burgers with them!
We walk in and there is a deadly silence, everyone is staring at us. You could say it was a little awkward. We head to the bar and there is only a barrel in the middle of the room so we perch around this as the other tables are taken.
We sit looking around the room and it is covered in licence plates from all over Australia and the world. It's a very strange place. Free camping is offered in the carpark though amongst many a trucker and the Ghan train (Adelaide to Darwin service) running past us. Doors locked tonight!
After dinner, Emily and I have an argument so she goes to sleep early and Holly and I sit out in our camping chairs and sleeping bags looking up at the stars. I have never seen them soooo clear, it's as though we are right in the Milky Way. We are so close and they are so big and bright.
Thursday, July 23rd 2009
We wake up this morning at 7am and head off straight away. Emily is still asleep in the back. There is a retired couple who leave just before us and give a little wave as they depart. The first stop today is Coober Pedy. An opal mining town that was half built underground because it is so hot- pre air conditioning cooling method.
There is a bit of a panic on the way as we are about 50 kms away and I'm not sure we have enough fuel to get there! The girls are both sleeping and I decide to leave them as they will only worry haha.
Fortunately we arrive at the service station just in time and fill up right to the top. Emily and I fight again but soon are enjoying breakfast outside the tourist centre. I am so hungry that I pour milk into the whole Milo cereal packet and proceed to eat the entire contents. I'm sitting on a rock in a desert town and people are looking at me strange. I invite Holly to join me so we continue eating the Milo receiving strange looks!
The Aboriginals are just wandering around- where are they going and what are they doing, I feel like we're encroaching on a secret, this mysterious little town! I don't feel it strongly enough to make me move from my Milo rock!
After a ridiculously large fill I have a nap and then some internet time.
Holly goes into the information centre wearing her Jack Wills t shirt and when the man realises she is a pom, he says 'Wills, is that your Pommy Prince?' She consequently gives him an informed view of the British Designer Jack Wills- it's fabulously British don't you know?
We head over to the underground bar for a drink. We are not entirely convinced as it's more like a bar cut into the side of a hill. The walls look like underground but you can clearly see it's all pebble dash and paint! We tell the barlady what we think and she gives us some sort of brain washed spiel about the history of the place. We leave, taking our drinks with us feeling unconvinced.
Holly and Emily go to buy an opal, I am doing my brain training. I've aged to 39!!
What seems like hours later, as if they've actually been down to the mines and dug the opal out themselves, they emerge from the shop with a bargain opal on a ring. Good work girls.
Next stop is the underground Serbian Orthodox Church. We head down several extremely bumpy dirt tracks wondering if we're on a wild goose chase, we're overtaken by a local in a ute who leave a cloud of dust for us to attempt to drive through. We can't see a thing and are coughing haha.
We arrive and are shouted at by a random builder from across the carpark which door we should use to enter. As if we can't read the entry sign? We enter the sanctuary, making a donation then proceeding to light a candle. I walk around the church with the candle apparently dripping wax everywhere, Holly shouts at me saying that I am supposed to put it in the sand in the doorway and then walk around the place. Oops.
Leaving the candles to burn, we take photos and then Holly and I got into a bit of a fight. Like an actual punch up in front of Jesus and Mary in the Serbian Underground Orthodox Church! I ended up with grazed knees and and elbows and she got a bruised arm..... potentially even a blood blister! I'm sure it gave Jesus a laugh.
Thoroughly disappointed with Coober Pedy, we make a quick exit, stopping to photograph mounds of rubble that have been pushed up above the ground from the minining underneath. This landscape is used to represent 'The Moon' in Hollywood movies.
Next stop is Marla, and this is where we will spend the night. It's 233 kms away so just over two hours of driving.
Not wanting to pay excessive camping fees, we arrive at the 'town', aka Roadhouse, Post Office and campsite hiding Holly beneath sleeping bags in the bag of the van. When we are inside she emerges and we begin cooking our very first meal. Pasta, tuna, sweetcorn and mayo. It's a real treat.
We look across the carpark and notice a relatively young guy- the first we've seen since our travels began. After dinner we decide we need haircuts, afterall, the pool is closed so what else can we do?
I am used to doing mine, a quick hack with a razor so I get to work. When done, Holly says she would like hers a little shorter so I begin. She's asked for a mildly short swooping fringe with the layered effect keeping the majority of the length. Easy. I assure her I can pull this off. Pulling out a fresh blade, I begin.
A floor covering of hair later, the new do is revealed. As she looks into the mirror, she asks why the right side is two inches longer than the left side. I explain that I got bored and would it be ok? She then asks why her fringe is sticking up into the air making her look like a cockatoo, I explain hair product will fix this, she then pulls at random parts of her hair revealing tufts and whispy bits and basically, a complete disaster. Oops. Maybe I am not as good a hairdresser as I thought?
The young guy from across the carpark calls out asking if we are checking for nits, we fall about in hysterics and set off to buy hair dye. Surprised they even sell it in the road house, we have to settle for ash blonde as it's the only colour.
We have the dye on our hair and head back to the van to notice an elderly couple sipping wine, the ones from Spuds last night, they're here. We stand and have a chat, making friends and explaining we are dyeing our hair.
With our new haircuts and hair colour (that you can't even tell we dyed), we head to the bar. It's the first time we've had an occasion to get dressed up in a few days so it's very exciting. However, when we arrive, it's a little awkward with the three of us and quite a lot of Aboriginals. Again, everything goes quiet when we walk in. But soon, we make friends with the young guy from the campsite and the conversation turns to pool, pool turns into a competition between us and the Aboriginals and before you know it, we've overturned the bar with music on the juke box, dancing and pool competitions and we're all friends!
Possibly a little too friendly as after a while, a couple of local guys are inviting us back to their place informing us 'We're not going to kill you'. Hadn't considered that for a moment!!!
Holly and Emily continue the evening with Steve, the young guy from Melbourne. They go hopping across bushes and shrubland in search of wood for a fire back at the campsite. They take the challenge and cross the highway being sure not to get hit by a road train, then climb a fence getting cut legs in the process and then carrying back the dead trees- not little branches but whole trees! haha.
Emily is seconds from falling down into a pit and Steve's pants split as he climbs a fence but soon everyone is sitting around the fire watching the shooting stars.
Thursday, July 24th 2009
We hit the road super early as today is the day we are going to get to Ayres Rock. We wave goodbye to the elderly couple- our new friends, but Steve is still asleep, as is Emily, again!
We are not far down the road when we hear a big crack, like wood splitting and looking in the rear view mirror, we notice the back shelf is falling down. Uh oh. We must pull over and fix it or we will be paying for the repairs!
We're passed by several vehicles and Holly and I try to signal the road trains to make them honk, then proceed to shelf fixing.
Our elderly friends drive past and then turn back around to help us. The man brings his tool kit to the van and fixes the shelf. We are very grateful.
As we are doing this, Emily tries her hand at getting the road trains to honk by waving frantically, not realising this is how you get someone to stop. A road train pulls over so we speed off quickly!!
We arrive at Erldunda, the service station where we actually have to take a turn off this ridiculously straight road on our way to Ayres Rock. We are totally going to be there by this afternoon.
We stop to get fuel and see giant statues of an Echidna and Bearded Dragon so take some photos. The door into the service station swings both ways but I don't realise so as I go into pay, I push the door behind me smacking a lady in the butt with the door as she leaves the shop. Oops. I hide behind the freezer chuckling.
A guy was pedantically cleaning his windscreen on the forecourt and as Holly does an impression of him a fly flew into her mouth- that will teach her!
On the road to Ayres Rock, and I will not lie to you, this is the most boring road in the world. There isn't even any road kill or anything or nothing or nothing!!
The girls are asleep so I can't even play a game. BORING. The road is long and straight, the colour is red, there's nothing happening.
Eventually we see that great glowing rock of loveliness and then we see the $25 entry fee and it's suddenly not so attractive.
Still, we pay the money and begin driving to the base of the rock.
Friday, July 24th 2009
After being robbed blind, we enter Ayres Rock desert and begin the drive to the base of the rock. We are told that the rock is open for climbing so look forward to doing this. As we pull up to the foot of the rock, the sign saying 'Climb Closed' has just been put up. Apparently, there is rain forecast so no one else can go up. Typical. Little did they know that the ''rain'' would come in sixty minutes and only last for ten seconds. We were gutted so sat and ate frozen nutella on bread- this has become my staple diet over the last week. But not the frozen part- our fridge thinks it is a freezer so it has taken to freezing everything. As we sat disappointed about the climb and eating the nutella, we had to endure the couple parked next to us kissing and then telling each other what they tasted of. We left quickly and began walking around the rock.
We began walking and it was suddenly so hot, you could feel the sun burning you straight away and we didn't have any water or anything. We took some amazing photos and just enjoyed the amazingness of what was before us- the rock, its colour and surroundings. It really is beautiful. The photos don't truly capture how great it really is.
We stay to watch a not very exciting sunset but enjoy it nonetheless, decorating our van with hand prints and painting our faces with tribal sand markings.
The sun has gone so we begin the drive back to the free campsite. By now, it is pitch black and no one is around but us and the desert, as most people can afford to stay in the resort at the rock.
Nonetheless, before we know it the old familiar dashboard light comes on again. We're out of oil. Fortunately we're carrying an extra litre but we're faced with the same issue of not being able to get the cap off to fill it up. We try tapping it with pens and anything we can find but it's no use. We do stumble across a toolkit in this moment, despite thinking we didn't have one and cursing the campervan company for not giving us one. Regardless of this, the screwdriver and wrench still aren't helping. We can't get out of the van because a dingo might try to kill us, or worse, an Aboriginal! We can't have the door open because the bugs will get in and it's soooooo hot. I have to put the heater on to try and cool the engine down as quickly as possible but this just ends up making us melt. We are disgusting hot and sweaty messes!!
Eventually, after having to pee in a shrub because I was soooo busting, we make an executive decision to flag down another car. However, we're all on standby to drive off immediately if this is needed because the person is a weirdo!
1,2,3, I'm waving, a car is stopping, it's a white couple, the guy is willing to help. We're saved!!
Back on the road and just moments later, it's clear that a moth has got into the van (I have the biggest fear of moths) so this was not welcome. I tell the girls that there is a moth in the van, they tell me it's fine, I tell them it's not. It flies into my face and I freak out. Emily tells me it's gone, but it's too late. I'm going crazy, hands off the wheel, arms flapping everywhere. Holly is screaming 'pull over'. I stop the van and jump out, crying hysterically in a heap on the roadside. What a drama. Holly says 'get back in the van- we're a beacon for more bugs' I can't argue so we drive on.
We arrive at the free campsite to be greeted by the fragrant odour of fresh human waste- it's extremely disgusting but we have no other choice than to stay here for the night. I pitch the tent with the help of a Swiss man whilst Holly and Emily head to the bar for internet. They meet two light aircraft pilots but despite the pleading didn't manage to arrange a sunrise over Ayres Rock flight for us. Never mind.
Saturday, July 25th 2009
The fragrance of last night appears to have alleviated itself from the campsite this morning. We depart waving goodbye to Mongrel, the local community Emu.
We have to drive back to the service station with the echidna and the bearded dragon before getting any further forward so we begin the boring drive back.
There is a mechanic at Alice Springs who can hopefully try to fix some of our van troubles but we don't expect miracles!
Entering Alice Springs is interesting, we're greeted by Aboriginals sitting on the train tracks, sitting in the bushes or just wandering- it's very interesting.
We drive around and find the tourist information and an internet cafe. The parking ranger tells us we're not a bus so to move out of the bus zone.
We find an amazing bar called Bojangles and it had snakes in a glass tank slithering over a skeleton riding a Harley Davidson..... a crocodile skin sprawled across the ceiling, toilets with signs 'Warning Open Hole', and 24 live webcam footage. Very exciting.
A group of people are eating monkey nuts and throwing the shells on the floor- we're very puzzled by their behaviour but no one is saying anything. Before we know it, a man has come over to our table and dropped a whole load of nuts on our table. He tells us we must throw the shells on the floor. We don't want to! It doesn't seem right.
We finish our drinks and stuff our pockets as full as possible with the nuts. We put a few shells on the floor and get out of there!!
Next mission is to find somewhere to stay in this strange little town! We drive around to all of the campsites to find out each one of them is full. One site, 'G'day Mate' offer us the car park area in front of the laundry room, sharing a patch of grass for our tent with five hardcore bikers, we have to accept as there are no other options.
After we have pitched the tent and secured our carpark site for the night, we head off to find the mystery mechanic. Conveniently, the van starts making a very strange tapping noise and whirring sort of noise when the wheel is turned. I hope that nothing is going to fall off. All we have is a street name and a man's name- We're looking for 'Dicko' on 'Kennet Ct' wish us luck.
We stop lots of people to ask for directions and send many messages to Sydney (Dirk the van owner is very vague having never met Dicko before!) We eventually find him but he's finishing up for the day. He takes my number and says he will call first thing in the morning.
Back at the campsite, upon recommendation from the bikers, we're going to head to the tavern across the road tonight. There is a special over 30's disco here tonight for the tour groups who are fortunate enough to be in Alice Springs.
We head through the disco to the bar where we meet a load of guys from Alice, working in the plumbing and drilling industries. They buy us drinks and convince us to go to the over 30's disco. We explain that we're not over thirty and nor do we do 'the over 30's dance', which we then proceed to demonstrate to them.
Holly and Emily wow them with their dance moves, much more exciting than what the rest of them were doing that's for shizzle- big strides in a circle swinging their elbows at head height.
We meet a whole random selection of blokes but have a very chilled night. At 2am we head back to the van after being offered a lift (and drugs) by a strange local- we politely decline.
Moments after actually going to bed there is lots of shouting coming from nearby. I listen for a while and can tell that it's actually pretty serious so I stand up in my tent and begin shuffling over to and in amongst where the bikers are. It will be safer there!
I continue listening, I want to get into the van but don't want to expose myself and then become involved in something terrible. I wait for a while quietly, anxiously and in anticipation of what might happen. Holly is doing the same inside the van. Soon, the police arrive and things calm down. I go to the van to see Holly- Emily is asleep. We go back to bed.
Sunday, July 26th 2009
After a very late and sleepless night I'm awoken early by a phone call from the mechanic telling us to bring the van down....... oh no, that was a dream. Little did I know that the mechanic was not going to call today , as it was Sunday, and we would be stuck in this nightmare of a town for a whole other day...... aaaaahhhh!!
It's 11am and there has been no word from the mechanic, the rude campsite man tells us we need to leave as new guests are arriving. We explain that we are broken down and waiting for a mechanic but he has no sympathy so we leave.
Driving around the town, we try to find the internet again and have a few minutes then before heading to the market. It actually smells really good and we could have spent heaps of money but we managed to restrain ourselves. There were all sorts of people selling all sorts of things- painted tiles, Thai cuisine, donuts, pancakes, jewelery, clothing and the teddy bear hospital.
We sat at a small cafe and ate toasties then fell asleep in the sun in a grassy park. It was lovely, especially after eating freshly cooked cinnamon donuts. Yum.
On the way back to the van, we meet a very interesting Aboriginal lady who took a particular shine to Emily- especially her legs. She showed her interest/ admiration with a tongue licking gesture pointing towards her legs. Lovely.
Back in the van, we're going to find another campsite (unfortunately), we manage to get a spot at the one which was full last night. We pitch the tent and fall asleep, waking up and craving a barbecue. We are all a bit meat deprived and in Australia after all so why not?
We head to the supermarket and stock up on meat- it's not very high quality and we're not entirely sure what animal we're actually cooking- however I'm sure it will all be eaten.
There is a reptile show tonight with snakes and lizards at the tavern where the over 30's were last night.
We make our way over there but it's packed out with people from all over the world in tour groups. Holly and Emily hold the snake and I have a hold of some lizardous creature and then we head over to the bar where we were last night with the drillers.
Chad, the young guy from last night is there to welcome us but none of the others are here today.
Instead, there are three guys who soon get talking to us, a father with a huge great scar down his face- fresh as the stitches are still in it- and dreadlocks, his son and a guy they just met called Mark.
Conversation seems to be flowing although a little coarse and awkward at times, things are going well.
Until Mark- the guy comes back to the table with a flass mig of beer- the dad is looking at it with evil eyes so Mark drinks it quickly and puts the glass on another table. The dad doesn't stop staring so we try to pick up conversation and carry on.
Chad, thinking we're playing some sort of game, returns the glass to our table and scarface picks it up and smashes it to the floor. His face is sooooo mad and we're all sitting there feeling totally awkward and everyone is staring at us! He is escorted from the premises.
After the drama, we call it an early night, taking Mark's number, being walked back to the site by him and having him offer to sleep in our tent for 'protection!'
It turns out scarface and his son are also staying here in this park so we're all a little on edge tonight! On a more positive note, I've just turned 24 in brain training!
Monday, July 27th 2009
Finally, the phone call has come. A little earlier that I would have liked, but I don't really mind because it means we can get the heck out of here!
We quickly pack up the van and head to the mechanics place. We're there in less than an hour after receiving the phone call, and Emily had a shower!
Dicko apologises for not getting back to us yesterday but explains that he went out drinking on Saturday night so was totally done for throughout the day. We said it was fine, he didn't charge us for looking over the van so we're all happy now.
Bak on the road again and this time heading north to Tennant Creek, this will bring us to a proper road that takes us into Queensland, unlike the dirt track I was insistent on taking days before before Holly researched it finding out it is impassable without four wheel drive access. Definitely no chance then in our van.
We're still following a very straight road, the road is still covered in dead kangaroos and there's still nothing too exciting to write about.
UNTIL!!!! We see on the right hand side of the road 'The Devil's Marbles', with nothing in sight but the flatness of the desert, all of a sudden these huge perfectly rounded red boulders appear, some stacked carefully on top of others, but so beautiful!
We stop to go and investigate trying to climb them and taking funny photos. We watch the sunset making the boulders glow like big red balls.
We continue driving and arrive in Tennants Creek for the night. I can't believe it's taken so long to get here, will definitely have to hit the road early tomorrow to try and catch up some lost time. Sneaking Emily in to the campsite, we have an early night.
Tuesday, July 28th 2009
We wake up in Tennants Creek after a crazy nights sleep- it was so windy and I hadn't pegged the tent down and thought (had a dream) that Aboriginals were shaking my tent. Eventually I went outside to see that it was only the wind. I shuffled the tent behind the van to make it a little more sheltered and went back to sleep.
On the road this morning, our oil that we bought the other day is leaking everywhere so we must clean it up. My diet of excessive nutella and bread is taking it's toll today after I indulge in far too much for breakfast. I feel reeeeeallly sick!
Today is just a day of driving- we're trying to get as far as possible into Queensland so we can be at the beach for the weekend.
I think that getting to Camooweal will be a good effort as that's right on the border of Queensland then it should only mean one more day of driving before hitting the coast.
We're running short on fuel (again) so I hope that we make it. We roll into a service station, just about making it! There isn't much to see here so I decide to carry on, we've been driving since six this morning and it's only early afternoon now so there are plenty of hours of daylight left.
We're heading south east now, towards Mt. Isa, maybe we will spend the night there. It's a long way and a very slow drive. Even though we are in Queensland it takes a while before we are no longer in the desert. We go through Mount Isa but not before stopping for McDonalds. There don't seem to be any free appealing laces to park up for the night so I say that I don't mind driving on. No longer hungry and back on the road, we drive to Clooncurry.
On the way, driving through the mountains, some cockatoo's fly out into the road and straight into my windscreen. The poor bird gets dragged along the side of the van leaving some of its brains on Holly's window. Hahahaha
Hoping to stay somewhere for free tonight, we arrive find there is still quite a large Aboriginal
population wandering this town so we opt for a campsite once again. Slightly intimidated, we sneak Emily in. It is more of a challenge this evening as we're given a spot right near the front office. We must now be inconspicuous in our movements!
We've arrived late and there aren't many people around so we should be ok. Holly and Emily look for a bar but there isn't one so we all have an early night. Holly sleeps in the tent tonight but we're right next to a highway so not much sleep is to be had because of the noise from the road trains.
Wednesday, July 29th 2009
It's a hasty exit this morning because we don't want anyone to catch us holding our stowaway in the back. Emily is still sleeping so we drive on until we find a suitable place to park up and cook bacon sandwiches on our gas cooker. What a great breakfast.It's not long before we're starving (quite literally) and pull over at a roadhouse to begin cooking.The sun is shining, there's a light breeze and it's going to be a lovely day. The smell of bacon is in the air and we're all very full after a good breakfast. We head onto the road house to use the bathroom and the walls are covered in money from all over the wold. Every other space is taken up by notes that travelers from all four corners of the globe have written. We make our mark in one of the few free remaining spaces.Back on the road and hoping to see a little more civilisation we carry on. It's a relatively uneventful day and we drive until the sun sets. We arrive in Baucaldine and pull up opposite a park- the cooking equipment is back out and we make a feast of beans and bread. (Some people call this beans on toast, but we didn't have a toaster). Holly has tinned spaghetti bolognaise because she doesn't like beans.After relaxing for a while, we decide to go and find somewhere to park for the night. We can't afford another campsite so we drive around the town. It's very quiet here, so quiet that kangaroos were happily hopping around- there's one watching us from the side of the road. We stop and wait for him to decide to hop across our path. We carry on out of the town a little and find a public toilet with free camping next to it. There are a few other people here so we park up- when we get out of the van, we're surrounded by kangaroos stating at us from within the long grass- it's amazing there are at least ten of them, just watching us.Emily and Holly decide they want to go to a bar tonight- I am exhausted after ten hours of driving so I drive them to the town and park up waiting until they are done.2am comes and they're back- I'm so tired that I don't want to drive anywhere so we sleep parked outside a bar in the middle of the street!
Thursday, July 30th 2009
We leave early so as not to get shouted at by anyone for illegally camping. Waving goodbye to the kangaroos as we go. Today we are going coastal! Fantastic. Both Emily and Holly are still both sleeping when I set off. We drive through several towns which seem more like a cluster of old buildings than a town. Eventually, we've used the half tank of fuel that we had so I stop in Alpha (appearing like a big town on the map) to get fuel and use the ATM. We really need to get to Emerald but it is further away than I had anticipated. The town that we now find ourselves in is slightly bigger than the others that we have passed this morning so all we need to do is find an ATM and take some cash out. That's our first problem. There is no ATM in this town and none of us have any cash on us. Let alone the van having fuel. So we're stuck.
I have a bowl of cereal and think the problem through. Holly says it will be easy to find a man to buy us a tank of fuel. I say maybe we should go to one of the local churches- they're all closed. We decide to go on the internet but the library is closed on Thursdays- typical.
We go to the service station to let Holly try convincing a man to buy us fuel. Finally we decide to raid all of our bags and pockets to see if we have any spare cash. Emily finds $15. It's like we've struck gold! The only problem is, we've run out of cigarttes. Thinking that Holly and I will be able to find enough money between us, I slink off to the petrol station and buy cigarettes. Knowing that we were out of cigarettes, Emily confront us about where they came from. We tell her we spent the money then proceed to search our pockets and bags. We don't find anything. Realising now we are in quite a pickle, then I suggest waiting for some fellow travelers to come along and asking to borrow he money and upon our arrival in Emerald we will meet them and pay them back after finding an ATM.
A caravan pulls up.... let's go! 'Excuse me, we say' and explain our predicament, the couple are unable to help as they are going the other way. We have a nice chat with them, they tell us they are from Ireland but have lived here for fifty years.
We return to the van to wait for the next lot of campers to arrive. The original couple come over to us and offer us $30 worth of fuel. We gladly accept, taking their address to send the money on to as soon as we can. How cool is that?
Finally on the road, we arrive in Emerald and use the internet for a while and stock iup on some fruit and veggies- yes we finally have access to some money again.
We leave the town heading to Rockhampton but upon arrival and we are excited because we're near the coast, in a proper city, no kangaroos to worry about on the road, and well, civilisation- the campsite tells us that they are full.
Not being too late in the evening and with me being so eager to get to the beach we drive on. We follow the road south but are nearing the coast all of the time, we finally arrive and stop in Gladstone where we get a nice cheap campsite in this mining town. I have now not washed my hair for eight days. Haha. It's going quite good!
Gladstone is bigger than the map suggested it would be and it's right on the water. There are lights everywhere as there is a big refinery in the distance. It looks really strange in the dark and took us ages to work out what is was. It's been a hectic day and I drove for twelve hours so I'm going straight to sleep now.
We are finally in Queensland, the Sunshine State, we're on the coast and from here on in, it's beach, beach, beach!!!
Friday, July 31st- onwards
Once we had arrived in Queensland, we sat on the beach and were told off by a local because she hadn't seen us putting any suncream on! After that we looked into taking a trip to Fraser Island and seeing as we were on the last leg of our trip it seemed like the right thing to do.
We were picked up early in the morning on Saturday and had arranged to have two nights on the island. It was a fascinating trip full of snorkelling, pristine lakes, tours through the trees and late night parties. We had three full days on the island and it was action packed and fun filed.
Emily opted to miss out on Fraser Island because she was running out of money and her plan was to stay in Australia for a year so she had to start being a little more conservative.
Our last night on the road was spent in a carpark at Tin Can Bay. When we woke up in the morning it turns out that wild dolphins visit each morning to be fed. We had the privlege of feeding those beautiful (yet smelly) creatures. What a high to finish the trip on!
We took a scenic route back to Syndey, stopping at the infamous Palm Beach to see if there was any filming for Home and Away happening. There wasn't! Then it was back to the airport to catch our flight home. What a blast we had! Again, this is definitely one trip that I would love to repeat!