Australian Road Trip: Week 1
Will and I are traveling from Sydney to Perth, and taking the scenic route. We're driving our 2004 Ford Territory, sleeping in a Big Daddy Deluxe swag, making our meals over a portable gas stove, and figuring the rest out as we go. We'll see some of Australia's most beautiful landscapes and surely have a few adventures along the way. The following is a raw, unedited account of our best moments, our antics, the inevitable struggles of living on the road, and our memories that are too good not to share.
Week 1: April 4 - April 11
It was an interesting first week on the road, as we only had to camp twice. We are lucky enough to have a lot of friends in the Melbourne area so most of our first week was spent catching up with them. It was a lot of beer and a lot of laughs, but the times spent sleeping outside are the most noteworthy.
Our first night camping went flawlessly. Everything went up without a hitch, even though it was our first time assembling all the gear. Dinner was delicious and easy to make. And, most importantly although under appreciated at the time, the weather cooperated. It was sunny and relatively warm, and at night we could see every star in the sky. The campsite itself was a lovely paddock in the back of someone's yard. They also had a well kept, long drop toilet and a book exchange box (at least I hope it was a book exchange box because I definitely grabbed a book), all for a $10 donation. I woke up on day 2 feeling excited and accomplished. I thought to myself, "We can definitely do this!" "That was so easy!" "Wow, I'm like, super outdoorsy." Fast forward to day 8 and it's a totally different picture.
Night 7, which was only night 2 in the swag, didn't go as swimmingly as night 1. First, I think it's important to note that it's getting into winter, and most people head north during this time, where it's warm and dry. True to form, we took the road less traveled and headed south for the winter (which, in Australia, is the opposite of birds and senior citizens flocking to Florida). The first part of the night, pre-sleep, was fine albeit cold. Will went fishing, I read the book I took from our beloved campsite 1, we cooked a warm dinner and crawled into bed for a movie once it got dark (6:30 pm).
We were cold, but the swag's canvas walls kept us nice and warm, so it was easy to fall asleep... for Will. I, on the other hand, could hear the wind picking up and couldn't sleep through the sound of wind getting caught in our trash bag. I must have dozed a little because suddenly I was jolted awake by a loud, crashing noise. I poked my head out of the swag and saw our entire awning system in shambles. I woke Will up and we crawled out of bed to save our campsite. The wind was crazy! So we packed things up the best we could and got back in the swag. Not 10 minutes later, but what did we hear? The distinct sound of rain drops hitting your tent. Normally, I love this sound. On night 7, however, all I could think about was all of our stuff getting wet and the tarp we put down to protect everything from the immense amount of bird shit on the ground collecting pools of water. I left it though, because what can you do? I left it, that is, until I heard another crashing noise. I woke Will up again, because apparently I don't feel equipped to handle matters of the campsite solo. I went out to assess the situation and packed things away even better. Although the wind and rain didn't totally stop until morning, I slept better knowing we'd done everything we could, and the flapping of the tarp on the ground only annoyed me a little.
Come morning and the dread of packing everything away put an even darker cloud over the day. We quickly cooked up some eggs, ate standing up for obvious reasons, and then started putting things away ASAP. I don't think a word was spoken while I did the dishes and Will packed things into the car. We actively didn't walk while rolling up the wet swag, which was swimming in the wet tarp, in case we said something we'd regret later. The hour and a half that this whole process took made me feel less than stellar. Where I felt empowered and excited on day 2, I felt worried and apprehensive on day 8. "That wasn't easy..." "I don't know if I can do this..." "Maybe I'm not as outdoorsy as I previously thought..." It wasn't until Will broke the silence with "Well, rain isn't fun," that I felt better. I wasn't alone in not enjoying the cold and the wet!
I immediately realized that not every minute of this trip is going to be perfect. A few less than ideal hours here and there aren't what are going to make up the majority of the trip. Most of the trip will be good times and beautiful views, and even the tough times will be looked back on fondly... with time. Night 7, for example, is already a funny story and a lesson learned (check the weather). And on the bright side, we saw two koalas on our way out of the park and through a series of honest mistakes, didn't have to pay for the site. Silver linings.