With the weather epically wet up the east coast, I decided to follow the sun to Melbourne with a couple of friends I made at the hostel at glebe. One of the main things you learn being a backpacker is that everything (and I mean everything) has to be financially justified, so obviously a quick road trip to Melbourne had to be done on the cheap
Luckily for us backpackers there is a service called Campervan relocation. Basically someone will hire a campervan in Melbourne, drive it to Sydney and then the rental company will need someone to return it… which is where we came in!
If you had to imagine a backpackers car, then you would imagine our car. Nick-named delphino it had many ‘quirks’…
Quirk 1 – 3rd gear was reluctant to work
Quirk 2 – The passenger door didn’t open
Quirk 3 – Offside mirror would not adjust
But in a backward way it would probably be quite boring if the car was in great working order. So with our car picked up and our last day in Glebe village hostel approaching it was almost time to hit the open road.
We left Glebe village on Wednesday 1st Feb. It was actually quite a sad moment saying goodbye to our newly made friends, who oddly enough seemed more like a family towards the end. We had grand visions of covering many miles in the first day to try to give us a head start. We had until Friday to deliver the car, so it gave us plenty of time (or so we thought!)
On the first leg of the journey we opted to get off the main roads and head through the local national park, taking in some of the amazing landscapes and scenery. After this we followed the coast down. Setting off at 11:30-12ish (later than we had imagined), we ended up at cave beach in Jarvis bay after 5 hours of driving. We were very proud of ourselves for doing such a long sting… Until we looked at the map and noticed we had managed to drag a 2 hour journey over 5 hours! Never the less it was an amazing spot, and we could not have asked for anywhere more perfect for our first stop.
The first thing you are greeted with at cave beach are wild kangaroos – wild but tame enough to not give a crap about you presence! So much so we were able to feed them. For dinner we headed down to the beach and found refuge in one of the caves entrances, quickly working out that when you cook on the beach everything immediately becomes sandy and the idyllic thought of cooking and eating on the beach again in the near future soon leaves your mind, but I’m glad we did it the once. For dinner that night we opted for scrabbled eggs mixed in with baked beans served on bread seasoned with a hint of sand. After tidying we moved back up to the picnic area, where we spent the rest of the night chatting & learning camp songs (courtesy of Colette who worked at a USA holiday camp a few years back) and drinking our posh goon (goon is the name given for cheap boxed wine, its something every back packer soon becomes accustomed to)
The second leg of the journey was mainly spent driving, following the coast again for a few hours we stopped at a place called potato point, we stopped here pretty much because of its super cool name. Oddly enough we found a family from Swansea also stopped here talking to a local, this is odd as there is absolutely nothing of interest at potato point and its quite a detour of the main road, so the last thing we expected to see were travellers! The local was more than happy to direct us to places of interest and after speaking to the Swansea couple they also recommended a few places, so we pretty much much left Potato point enlightened… just more geographically enlightened rather than spiritually.
The local from Potato point suggested we headed to Bermagui national park, so that we did. But by this time we were getting bored of the coast line and we were pretty much decided before arriving that we were not going to stay there. After 2-3hours of driving we arrived at Bermagui national park. One thing about the national parks in Australia is that there freaking huge, so we just headed towards the nearest campsite and soon enough found ourselves heading down a track which gave warnings of no heavy vehicles or large campers, so naturally we carried on… we found ourselves going down a track massively suited to a 4×4 rather than a little Toyota camper, but driving down it was brilliant! After 10mins of driving down this track into the middle of nowhere we found a campsite and after about a 20min stop we were off again… to where… we didn’t know, the general plan was to head into the mountains.
After a few more hours of driving we stumbled across a place called Bemboka and immediately this place had ‘stay here’ written all over it. It was a little community totally off the beaten track with all the amenities we could want… i.e. a park bench, community toilets and a place to plonk our camper. For dinner we managed to prepare pasta with a tomato sauce, burgers & stuffed mushrooms (home made) – who says back packers food as uninteresting!
The final leg of our journey didn’t start till late, we managed to oversleep and the sight of a local cafe was too much to resist, meaning we didn’t head off until 11ish and with 5 hours of driving ahead to reach Melbourne and places still to see this was probably a tad late! We cut through the mountains back to coast with a our next destination Raymond island.
Raymond island is a quirky little place, to access it you board a free ferry which takes all of 2minutes to cross. The island itself is mostly just made up of conservation area and houses. Almost immediately after we got off the ferry a local man offered us a lift and to show us round, an offer we couldn’t refuse! (All advice of taking lifts off strangers went out the window…) He also had one crazy dog! The main thing that brings people to this island are the wild koalas. In the 1950’s a whole load of koalas were sent to the island and they have been there ever since. It was one of the most surrealist moments seeing a koala in someone’s back garden!
After an hour or so at the island, we hit the road one last time for Melbourne, with little single roads turning into dual carriage ways the closer we got to Melbourne, the trip was almost over. The original 2pm target totally out of the window, 8-9pm was looking more likely… but who cares! We got to see koalas!
So here we are! We’re now in Melbourne… Sun is shining! And the hostel is very nice, so what more could we want! This road trip certainly opened my eyes, the best thing about it was having no plan, no set route and no real destinations, the unpredictability made it much more memorable.