Sunday April 8th, I am pleased to welcome my sister Emily who just crossed half of the globe to land in Queensland, the Sunshine State. Everything starts with a rest by the pool in order to recover from jet lag. Then we enjoy some beers in the tropical paradise that is the city of Cairns and share the stories of the last 3 months, so far from each other.
Now, it’s time to write our own story, which will be for sure a great adventure.
It begins with an appointment with the Great Barrier Reef from the air. Aboard a small plane, the ocean reveals all its grandness. Even the attempts of looping are nothing compare to this amazing sight! This first meeting was very successful, and we are invited to a 2nd appointment the next day to experience this natural heaven on earth from the inside. We ship early in the morning to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. It should have been an unforgettable day in paradise, but few minutes after leaving the marina, Emily begins to feel a deep sea sickness… No U-turn permitted! While I enjoyed diving and snorkeling with turtles and sharks, my poor sister was fighting her sickness on the foredeck. Mistake, the Australian sun targeted her… oops !
Before a last pub crawl in Cairns, we went to the Travellers Auto-Barn agency to pick up our campervan. The adorable receptionist opened the sliding door of the Deluxe Campervan that we discover with excitement. The equipment is very complete with everything needed to camp in excellent conditions. Gas, running water, refrigerator, microwave and dishes for the kitchen side, double bed, sleeping bag and pillows for the bedroom area … a real little house on wheels! Tea and coffee are even included! After a complete brief of the van and few signatures, we are ready to hit the road! iPod plugged in, let’s go !
Direction Townsville, 350 km south of Cairns. Emily is driving and see kangourous for the first time in her life; unfortunately all dead. The bodies of these poor marsupials are everywhere on the road and oblige us to some crazy slaloms. A local producer along the road allows us to fill our fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables in order to balance with the junk food. We finally reach the heights of Townsville for the sunset, beautiful.
Friday 13, we are lucky. The sun is back. We decide to spend the day in Magnetic Island, a few kilometers off Townsville. Crossing is a little hard for Emily who is definitely not a good sailor but relies quickly when she faced the beauty of the place. There, we meet the friendly rock wallabies that inhabit this majestic island. Perfect to forget their cousins ??met on the road! Later, during the ascent of “Fort Rocks”, we see a baby koala perched in his tree. Like any self-respecting koala, it was taking a nap. We let him in his dreams of eucalyptus and resume our walk to enjoy the sunset at the other end of the island.
We leave the coast and traverse the straight bumpy roads of the outback through countless national parks. What a freedom to travel in a van with everything close to hand, everywhere! Australia is the perfect country for campers. Barbecues, showers and toilets are everywhere, it so easy! Except when you forget to refill the water tank of course… Those quiet roads reinforce this sense of freedom that only the “Road Train” and “Oversize” disturb.
Back on the coast, it’s time to enjoy the Gold Coast! Agnes Water, Noosa, Surfers Paradise and Byron Bay where we find a parking space in the city center, beachfront, perfect! Midnight strikes, police too.
– Policeman: Police! You cannot stay here!
– Me: uh … sorry I’m french, I do not speak English…
– Policeman: Three Hundred dollars you understand?
– Nats: Ok, I move!
It is actually forbidden to camp in the cities; don’t even think to sleep in your van or car at the beachfront at Byron or Surfers… In fact, try to hide a bit and choose locations that are not overlooking. This did not stop us to enjoying the beach in the sunrise and afford a swim in the ocean, finally free of its jellyfish.
After 770 km from Byron, we reach Sydney by night, for a well deserved drink in front of the bay! Rogues, we hide the van near Bondi beach before enjoying the Sysdney’s nightlife. We decide not to move the van to keep our perfect parking space. Error, you forget to start the engine as it advised in the TAB Driver Guide. Two days later the battery is flat. This is an opportunity to try the customer service of Travellers Auto-Barn. A quick phone call to the hotline which announces a breakdown mechanic should arrive within 1 hour; sounds great! But it was not the case. Indeed, the repairman arrived eight minutes after the call and starts the van immediately. He took a minute to tell us some funny stories and went away. Incredible! What an efficiency; we were on the road again only 10 minutes after discovering the break down!
We leave Sydney to discover the Blue Mountains National Park and its winding roads. After enjoying a great barbecue, we went to a CamperPark for the night. And nights in the Blue Mountains in April are freezing! The outside temperature does not exceed 6 °, the inside either… Fortunately, the sleeping bags provided by TAB enable us to face this cool night! It changes from 30 ° in Cairns.
Then, we travelled along the 1,000 km of the Sapphire Coast, taking advantage of these national parks, beaches and small towns.
After 4975km from Cairns, we finally reach three days later our final destination, Melbourne. The road trip ends on three good days and awesome nights in the Australian cultural capital. Now it’s unfortunately the time to say goodbye to our campervan in which we spent such a great time, went across beautiful landscapes, cooked delicious meals, drank a lot, made a lot of dreams and some offenses the Highway Code … 😉
Thanks for everything Travellers, you rocks !
Thanks Stan and friends for these awesome pictures – more photomontages and stories (in French) here on his blog.
For more customer experiencers, head over to our blog!