The calendar tells me it's been one whole week since my last blog entry.
My body and memory bank feel it must be a month at the very least.
We have crammed so much in and let me tell you, a road trip is not relaxing! To be fair I knew this after spending a year on a motorbike travelling the Americas 15 years ago.
We set off from The Entrance last Wednesday after a frustrating day of taking care of business. On the plus side I got the data/wifi issue fixed but not without losing the van keys into the bargain.
Each of the following fifteen minutes stretched into at least an hour each. I frantically retraced my steps, my heart sinking and blood pressure rising with each negative response shop after shop.
At last at the final shop I faced the Spanish Inquisition to identify the huge bundle of keys (ignition, camper door, fuel cap, storage box, gas cupboard, toilet cartridge cupboard etc etc). The sales assistant took pity on me as I desperately hissed 'it's a rental Campervan, I have NO idea what the keys look like!!!' as she magic'd them up from behind the counter!
God the utter relief that flooded thru me!!
Night 2 in the camper was another early one - partly jet lag and partly a desire to get on the road bright and early.
So, apparently in Australia, T and I don't do early and it was past 10am before we finally got on the road. Heading in the wrong direction too - annoyingly!
Road signs aren't as ubiquitous as in the UK. My sense of direction hadn't quite kicked in either.
Finally after 6 hours and 449km we pulled into Scott's Point holiday park and found the most idyllic deserted beach.
Tempted as I was to stay, had I been alone I would have, we were surrounded by the ultra common Grey Nomad and I feared for the vitality of my daughter's youth!
Our final destination was Byron Bay and I felt pulled on by the adventures to be had there.
Another 320km and 4.5 hours and we arrived.
I felt a little stunned, not 'amazed' stunned but 'numbed' stunned. The distances and time it took. The enormous skies, cornflower blue scattered with wispy streaks of brilliant white cloud. The changing scenery, sugar cane, bananas, live stock and distant mountains brought closer as we ate up the kilometres.
It seemed time had stretched to match distance and Sydney felt a distant memory and London a past life!
Perhaps that's why Byron is so popular as a hippy hangout, an Eco haven, an alternative lifestyle choice. The journey
requires that you change pace before you arrive.....
This evening's view through the window of my dining room. Also my bedroom but that's life on the open road for you.
It's a peaceful vista, just about 5pm and the sun is starting to set. It's deliciously warm but shortly as dusk falls the temperature will drop.
The 36 hours preceding this oasis of calm have not been calm - not at all.
A late start yesterday morning caused by T's middle of the night wakefulness set the tone. When we finally arrived in Kingsgrove, Kingsagrovea if you're local, the mom and pop camper rental couple took over an hour to take my money and orient me around the vehicle.
Don't use the toilet or the shower he said - I bloody will if I want I thought!
Eventually I climbed into the cab and apprehensively pulled away to return to base camp - my sister's place in Darlington (as even the locals call it!)
Ninety minutes later and fully loaded I set the satnav destination for Terrigal and ignored all its attempts to take me over the Harbour Bridge. As iconic as it would have been - there's weird toll buckets that don't take money. I was tetchy already and simply wanted to clear the city limits.
Sydney sprawls so much I'm not sure we cleared the city limits till we got to Gosford!
During the 2 hours it took to get to Terrigal the satnav stopped working and I became very aware of how narrow the lanes are on Australian roads!
That said I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the van was to drive and T and I felt very excited.
Our friends in Gosford said they'd come and see us for dinner and I felt relieved when we pulled into Terrigal at 5pm.
No campsites in Terrigal.
Satnav ground to a halt.
Sister in cinema.
So I switched data roaming on on my iPhone, googled and found a site at The Entrance who answered the phone and said they had room.
They closed at 6pm - what happened if I arrived late I enquired only to be told - ah well, you'll be a bit buggered then mate!!
Data roaming stayed on and I drove the 15km as fast as I dared - we arrived in pitch black with a few minutes to spare!
£20 of data used in approx 40 mins!
My next challenge was to reverse onto the slab, figure out the loo and the electrics whilst trying not to breathe. Popular with the fishermen around here it is!!!
Inside lights on, curtains closed and feeling really rather pleased with myself!! Lack of data on the Telstra phone (grrrrr) meant I could not share this smug status with my FB ohana. However with $1500 of calls to use up a girl at the end of a stressful day can call her mum!!!
And so, you'd think the unexpected bonus of dinner with two of the sweetest men I haven't seen since leaving Australia in 2001 would make a lovely end to a fraught day eh?!
Well, you'd be right until they couldn't get off the campsite! Having used my pass to get in - it wouldn't let them out!!!
Eventually site security freed them and T and I retired to our cute campahome for a solid and comfy sleep.
To Be Continued.............
Finally the day has arrived and in 40 mins we will be in the air en route to Abu Dhabi. Out first leg on our journey to Sydney.
We arrive at horrendous o'clock in the morning on Saturday 3rd August - just missing my sister's 51st birthday.
Shame we couldn't make it on the day but flights were tricky and I had to negotiate my time off from work too.
Two days of eating and drinking in Sydney - catching up with old friends and celebrating the birthday girl with lunch and brunch and Moët. I brought clothing that forgives indulgence!!
Then on Monday we collect our micro deluxe Campervan and head off on our Aussie road trip!!!
Watch this space for trip reports :-)
See ya on the flip side kids!!