Which leads to Cool Thing Number Two: Driving from Brisbane to Perth along the southern coast. I can say it was the longest, flatest, straightest drive I've ever endeavoured to take, but also completely worth it as I've seen not only a country, but a continent! And we had our iPods plugged in. We drove from Brisbane, Queensland down into New South Wales, stopped for the night at one of the many, many rest stops, before continuing into Sydney to pick up our bank cards that we'd ordered more than a month previous. I can faithfully say that if I can navigate through Sydney and the CDB, I can probably drive anywhere in the weste- well actually no, if I can get through Melbourne, then I can drive anywhere in the western world! More on that later. After the stress of driving through the CBD, Ann and I headed to the iconic Bondi Beach to soak up some afternoon rays and enjoy a dip in the Tasman Sea, as well as meet up with our friend Dan whom we'd met in Queenstown. It was a nice little visit, and before we knew it, we were on the road again, this time making it all the way to the Australian Capital Territory aka Canberra the capital, so I could look at the Parliament buildings, which werent that exciting and I only ended up driving around them. But still, I saw them!
The next day we pushed onto Melbourne, picking up a hitchhiking couple, one of them German and another an Aussie. They were nice and polite, and actually slept for much of the way. It felt nice to help some fellow travellers out. In Melbourne, we hoped to meet up with our German friend Melanie that we'd met Zorbing in Rotorua, NZ, but she unfortunately had some visa issues, so was actually back in Deutchland. She gave us her friend Roxy's number, and after successfully navigating the CBD and the hook turns* and having a shower at a pool, we met up with her and a group of her friends at the Queen Street Night Market, which only happens on Wednesday evenings during the summer months- timing is everything, as they say! It was pretty busy, and there were heaps of stalls selling food, clothing, jewelry, leather bound journals, artists sketching charicatures...the list goes on! There was also live music, and a stall that was selling sangria. We wandered about the market for a few hours, enjoying the company and atmosphere, until it closed down around ten, then it was out of Melbourne to the just before the start of the Great Ocean Road, one of the most scenic drives in the world!
It's not hard to see why they call it as such, although surprisingly, it doesn't always wind along with the coastline (causing uninformed backpackers to think they are a bit lost and must have taken a wrong turn somewhere...). It is pretty stunning though, pictures to follow this post soon. We took a small detour to "Australia's Most Significant Lighthouse" but didn't pay the $17 to tour it because we're backpacking hobos, however on the drive back to the main road saw all these cars parked on the side of the road, so we stopped, and low and behold, there were wild koalas hanging out and having a snooze in the eucaplytus trees! It's apparently pretty rare to see them in the wild, so it was a treat that we got to see even one, let alone three of them! We continued on our way, stopping for pancakes for lunch (I was craving them) before stopping at probably the most photographed spot, besides Uluru and the Sydney Opera House, in Australia: The Twelve Apostles (which there's apparently only 8 of). Of course, I snapped the iconic photo, and then Ann and I backtracked slightly, heading down to the bottom of this cliff to a really nice beach to chill and get out of the car for an hour or two. I fiddled around with my camera, figuring out the settings a bit better, and then before we knew it, the GOR had ended and we were in a small town called Port Fairy. We bought some bread and a cold bevvy each at the general store, then headed to a beach/scenic lookout to park the car for the night. We went for a walk that evening after sunset, taking one of the trails that meandered away from the lookout point, eventually coming upon this really wicked spit of a cliff that, to stand at the edge of, with the wind howling around you and the waves crashing into the cliff base, filled you with awe of the power of nature.
The next morning we were woken up by a Victoria Parks guy, asking us to move on because we weren't supposed to be camping there. Ah well, but at least we didn't get a fine! We passed Cheese World in Allansford, and decided to turn around and check it out due to our shared love of cheese! And there was free cheese tasting too... But I swear, it's because we love cheese so much! They had a few really good varieties, tomatoe and cracked pepper, garlic and cracked pepper, good cheddars, fruit cheeses, etc. AND they sold wine as well! And it was decently priced! So we bought a couple cheeses and a bottle of Yellowtail, checked out the cheese/local museum they had, and continued driving. And driving. And driving. We crossed into South Australia. And kept driving. Pine forests lined either side of the highway, if it wasn't for the high temperature, I could easily have been in Canada. It's actually quite a beautiful stretch of countryside, from Portland in Victoria to Adelaide in South Australia, I would have loved to stay in the area and explore. But alas we kept pushing onward! We spend the night at a rest stop just outside of a little town called Beachport, about 400kms south of Adelaide, enjoying a beautiful sunset and our wine and cheese. The next day we made it to Adelaide, a half way marker on our journey, around 2pm, and spent the next six hours in a McDonald's getting our online Responsible Service of Alcohol certificates. For bed that night, we drove out of the city and parked at a lookout, gazing down at the spread of city lights, refelcting on this crazy adventure we're on.
It was up and away again as our next destination, while only about 100kms away, was probably the most anticipated one, at least for me: the Barossa Valley. Aka wine country! I love wine! And one of only two things I knew I wanted to for certain do whilst I was in this country was take a wine tour through the Barossa. And I did just that! I tasted over 50, but no more than 80, different wines while I was there, it was so worth it! If I ever do another one, I'm going to make sure I break a full day tour up over two days, as you're pretty pissed in the afternoon, even if you've had lunch. After enjoying a few days there, we took Norrington into get serviced before we embarked on the Nullarbor, possibly the world's longest, straightest, most boring, and factually one of the most dangerous highways in the world; there is a 146.6km straight stretch at one point and all you see for miles and miles is scrubby bush, with the an odd road killed 'roo or two on the roadside, just to give you an idea. From Adelaide to Norseman, the western gateway to the Nullarbor, nothing of great import or excitement happened. From Norseman, we turned south to drive along the Southern Highway, and then cut up to Perth. We spent Australia Day, January 26th, in a medium sized town called Albany. We enjoyed a few ciders, and hung out at the community event outside their rec centre for the afternoon, Aussies decked out in I <3 OZ shirts and flags. The festivities finished with an impressive fireworks display, and we drove out of town to yet another rest stop.
And then we reached Perth! Finally! After more than 5000 kms, over 1000 photos, a 146.6km straight stretch, 16 bottles of water, 12 1/2 bottles of wine, 11 nights spent sleeping in our car, 5 state/territory lines, 3 phone calls from concerned friends, and one hot, sweaty journey later, we arrived in Perth! I completed my first legitimate road trip, and now I am thinking that I might just drive around the north coast back to the East Coast, if it should so tickle my fancy!
We stayed at Ann's friend's (Michael) grandfather's house for about two weeks, trying to get work organized for ourselves, and by stayed, I mean that's where we spent 98% of our time. It started to drive me crazy around the end of week two, and having bought my WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) book when we were in Brisbane, decided to try that out whilst I awaited potential employers' responses to my applications. Ann, having sent out numerous applications and getting few bites, decided to fly back to Brizzy to try her luck there. I wish her all the best.
I ended up going to an outlying area of Perth called the Perth Hills to help out at a horse riding school. Although I really enjoyed being around the horses and getting my hands dirty again, it unfortunately it wasn't a good fit for me right at this time, so I decided to leave after only five days to have a bit of a sit down with myself and figure out what it is I'm even doing in this country... at this point, besides priority numero uno of getting a job, I'm thinking I want to do five things here, which are, in no particular order:
It's long enough to be short, short enough to be long, and has enough in it that should keep me occupied whilst I'm here until December, I reckon. There might be some things added, and some things removed, but that's what it stands at :). And that's all the updates I have for now!