This weeks blog comes from Mackenzie, winner of the World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship 2016.
”I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d get lost in Oz. Someone had thought it was a swell idea to give an American a lefty manual camper van and send her into the Australian wilds with virtually no structure or cell service. The perpetual optimism of these people is astounding. There are no distances on any signs to Barrington Tops National Park. So when I was cruising down the east coast toward Sydney and I saw such a sign, it was like seeing a sign in Oregon for a national park in Canada. But I was a foreign fool, and knew not that Barrington Tops was in actuality several hours away, and a national park sounded pretty, so off I went inland, following a sign that said only “Barrington Tops follow Gloucester.” Two hours later I did make it to Gloucester, where no fewer than three people pulled up to my van and asked if I needed directions.
Maybe it was my furrowed brow over an outstretched map that called attention to me as an outsider. Or maybe it was the giant lumbering camper van with orange lettering reading TRAVELLERS AUTOBARN i.e. I’M A RAGING TOURIST SOMEONE SAVE ME on the side of said van. Who knows. It shall always remain a mystery. Off I went with fresh directions, this time down a one lane road heading into the deep green mountains. Can’t be far now! Then the road became a corduroy-patterned obstacle created for the sole purpose of rearranging your organs. So there I was, lurching and pitching through the perfect idyllic countryside–verdant hills, purple trees, cloudless sky, eucalyptus-scented air, when finally, the air became cooler and trees shady. I saw the official park sign. I had made it.
The sun was going to set in 3 hours, and I’ll be damned if I leave without some sort of spectacular view, so I drove my jalopy higher still into the mountains for another 40 minutes, passing ‘roos, leg-sized lizards, wild black turkeys, and red foxes; but still no humans. I found a lookout with a trailhead and decided to go explore. As the sun got lower I considered turning back, until I heard the falling water. Following the noise further I came upon Gloucester Falls, a pretty spot for a picnic but time was against me and I raced the setting sun back to the safety of my van. It was all very lovely but nothing was living up to my expectations after the arduous adventure of getting here.
No sooner had the darkness settled and the bright full moon risen that I started hallucinating. It took a few moments for me to realize that the floating glowing dots I was seeing weren’t figments or fairies–they were fireflies. Fireflies! I had never seen them before, and within minutes I was surrounded by hundreds of them, bobbing and blinking in the pitch black. They were utter magic. Feeling less alone and wholly enchanted, I was able to fall asleep to the wild sounds of Barrington Tops, cocooned in floating lights.”
Inspired to hire a campervan and road trip to Barrington Tops? It’s not too a far drive from Sydney, or you could detour on your way down from Brisbane. Head over to the Travellers Autobarn Website and get yourself a campervan quote!