Location: Sydney, Australia
When we got back to Sydney Juliette and the gang welcomed us as warmly as ever. We only spent a couple of nights with them before we went down the coast a little to Lake Conjola, where Juliette has a caravan on a holiday park. We spent a week down there completely relaxing before we come home to face the real world!! It was beautiful and quiet and it gave us time to reflect on our time away.
What a trip this has been! It is only when we sit back and think about it that we actually realise what we have accomplished. We knew it was going to be an enormous task just driving round the whole country, never mind in a thirty year old campervan!! After selling the van we realised how lucky we were finding it in the first place, it was the first one we looked at and fitted our specifications exactly. When it came to selling, the first people to look at it bought it, and from listening to them and other peoples stories as weve been going round, we were very fortunate to have found such a good van. What an achievement in itself to have made it round with only one stop for maintenance.
The places weve seen and the things we have done on our route have been spectacular.
What has blown us away the most is the people we have met. Whether it be strangers on a campsite suggesting us a place to visit on our way, to people who take us in and show us what their place has to offer. We have met people from all walks of life, and what really astonishes us is the kindness of strangers. Kevin, who we met only the night before, took us into his house for over a week when otherwise we would have been stuck. Stuie whose door we knocked on after an invitation eight years ago, got the beers out and the Barbie on with no hesitation. Dizzle, who made David his didgeridoo, Dan and Muzz who took us out with them on the Harley and in the super Ute, Luke, who went out of his way to show us a good time in New Zealand and put us in touch with Frank, who took us out on his land. And people who we met up with along the way Rob - so kindly gave us a motel unit for a whole week when we met with him in New Zealand, and who also went out of his way to show us around when he was so busy with renovating at his place. Through him we met David, who put [our] David in touch with Australasias most successful pig hunter. Megan and Nathan, and Megans parents who showed us round their amazing farm.
Thats not even mentioning the people we met while staying in the backpackers
people just like us on their trip of a lifetime its so interesting to hear from others their stories travelling.
Our amazing highlights along the way have been breathtaking - the Whitsundays trip where we experienced paradise and luxury first hand with some amazing company. Snorkelling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef was always a dream of mine, and now I can tick it off the list!
Hot air balloon ride sky diving climbing Ayres Rock seeing crocs at Kakadu the giant trees and the rainforest climbing the harbour bridge - the snowy caps in New Zealand the tramping experience sampling all the wine at the many vineyards we have visited along the way.
When we arrived in Byron Bay we were talking to a hippie guy who told us that people come away from their home towns up there to feel the energies of the land. We thought hed been smoking too much of the funny stuff until we experienced that feeling ourselves further into our trip. Getting out into the baron outback was where it started, realising just how vast the country is, and just how harsh an environment it is. Whole towns that sprung up during the mining boom, which were then left like the Marie Celeste when the minerals had been depleted theres absolutely no sign of the towns even existing now as the desert has once again taken over and recaptured the land. That was the first thing that showed us the power of Mother Nature. The next, and most overpowering, was visiting Ayres Rock. There the atmosphere changes completely. It felt strangely oppressive as we stood with such a huge monumental landmark towering over us, another of mother natures weird and wonderful creations of which we have seen so many along our way.
Something shocked us as we were driving round Australia, we noticed white crosses on the side of the road roadside memorials situated where people have been killed. Some were elaborate with names and flowers and teddies lying next to them, and some were just simple white crosses. They were far too frequent for anyones liking, and each time we drove past them it was a stark reminder of how deadly the roads are in over here. With so far in between each place, the drives are long. Some people fall asleep, some people go too fast trying to cut time off their journey, and some people hit the wandering wildlife and livestock that roam the thousands of kilometres of unfenced roads. We have seen some horrific wrecks as weve been going, some of which people couldnt have got out alive. David made driving round the country his own personal goal, and he did it amazingly well. The van needed that little bit of TLC and nurturing to get us were we needed, and David checked everything regularly, looking after it like he would a person!
He looked after me, too, like he never has before, being true to the promise he made to Bill and Alec before we left. He kept me safe in every aspect of the trip - if I didnt feel comfortable when we stopped for the night, we would move on, no matter how far wed already driven. One night we pulled into a lay-by but I felt nervous for some reason. During the night I was woken up by passing road trains and I saw David subconsciously sitting upright and looking about to make sure we were ok.
Neither of us has ever spent so much time with one person before in our lives, and to say we have spent eight months with each other day in day out, we have never argued. We can both see why so many relationships fail when couples go travelling. The time spent together is so intense, we would soon realise if we werent going to last. We both feel that it has strengthened our relationship and has prepared us for our next big adventure
Although our trip has been our trip of a lifetime, thats not to say that things have been amazing all of the time. Like anything, it has had its ups and downs. Its seems as though the highs are higher than anything we have ever encountered, but also the lows are very low. Driving 35,405kms in all, including New Zealand, and in five different vehicles it really got tiring. The longest driving day was a massive 9 and half hours and as you can imagine, these days were long and mind numbingly boring. Saying that though, the longer the drives, the more David was up for it to beat the record! By the time we got to the Nullarbor we were over driving so far to get anywhere. It really dragged
people had hyped it up as an amazing vast space of desert and no trees and its ninety mile straight road, but in our opinion, the majority of the north west was much the same, and we were really sick of looking at the that landscape. Its times like that we realised what we have at home, and how lucky we are to come from such a beautiful part of the world.
Having the van broken into and all our photos stolen was the biggest blow weve had, and unfortunately something we will never forget when we have no pictures to look at from the beginning of our trip.
Living out of a campervan gets very draining too
goodness knows why I thought we could do a full year like that!! Its great to have all our things in one place and not have to pack and unpack every morning but my gosh, they werent built for comfortable sleeping.
Overall looking back, living in a camper has been an awesome experience, but something I wont be doing again by choice!! We would never have come across the things we have if we didnt do it that way, everything was on Rose and Davey time. We could sleep in the outback and watch the stars in complete silence and in pitch-black darkness. Something we will remember forever, along with hearing the dingoes howling and vixens barking both very chilling to listen to out of the darkness.
We are both very much looking forward to getting back home and getting settled into a routine again. Sounds mundane, but its something we have really missed. As much fun as travelling has been, we are ready for getting on with our lives at home now. Weve got the bug out of our system (we think!)
Thankyou all or reading these posts, I know I have been going into enormous details some of you love it and some of you hate it! But it has been my journal as well so this is what I have to read back in years to come.
Thankyou for all your messages as we have been travelling too, it really brightened our day when we get messages from anyone. Even if we didnt get back to you, its lovely to hear what youre doing and that youre reading what were up to.
I have to say a great big thankyou to Juliette, Eric and the gang for putting up with us for so long!!! We have stayed with them for nearly six weeks in total this year, and they have always welcomed us back with such enthusiasm and excitement even when we only gave them a days notice! Without having such amazing people to come back to and use their house as a base this year, we simply couldnt have done it. They threw us a leaving party on Saturday night and Juliette made it an Aussie Christmas. The decorations went up early so that we could enjoy them and see how they celebrate in a different climate! Our time with them has been magical. We all went to see the epic film Australia. Wow! What a film to see the day before we leave the country!! We recognised several of the places featured in the film and it was quite a kick to be able to say weve been there.
By the time youre reading this, I will either be on the flight back to England, or back home already. Its been a long time to be away, and we hope everything will be just the same as it was before we left! In a couple of months, itll be as if weve never been anywhere. Well just have awesome memories and stories to tell that will last us a whole lifetime.
Location: Invercargill to Christchurch, New Zealand
So from Invercargill, we drove up to Winton, where Megan and Nathan live. We met Megan and Nathan at Ayres Rock, where they were on their honeymoon after getting married in February. They wanted us to go and stay with them while we were down here so thats exactly what we did. We chatted about our trips, theyd done a loop from the east coast of Australia where they were living at the time to Ayres Rock and then down through Adelaide back to Sydney where they flew to New Zealand to live. They are originally from New Zealand; they just spent a few years living on the Gold Coast. Megans parents live on a farm just outside of Tuatapare, and she took us up there to have a look at how farms work over here. The family have just over 5000 acres of the greenest, lushest, loveliest looking land we have ever seen for farming, its not hard to see why the farming over here does so well. (Hed never tell you that though!!). It was interesting to see his stock and hear how he does things when we know all about the way things work in the UK. Hes a beef and lamb farmer, and at the moment his bulls are putting on 2 kilos in weight every day. Not surprising when you can see the grass they have to eat, very different to the fields at home. All his lamb is exported to the UK, and his beef are sold directly to McDonalds for burgers. We had a lovely few days exploring the Southland, walking the beaches and finding greenstone jade - washed up!
On our way back up to Christchurch, we stopped over at Omarama where we met Luke again for some hunting. This time, it is wallaby hunting. Theyre in epidemic proportions in New Zealand, after being foolishly introduced from Australia (along with lots of other animals). They are destroying the farm land, so any hunting of them is welcomed. We were woken up from our campsite at 6:30 in the morning with the words muttered get ready for a good long day
therell be a lot of death!! Luke was clearly excited to get out in amongst it and get hunting. Way too excited for my liking at this time on a Sunday morning, but Id go along with it as there was nothing else to do. I did want to see what all the fuss is about too, and maybe have a shot at one to see if I could compete with the big boys. I am going to go into graphic detail now, so anyone not wanting to hear about hunting (Kate) then scroll down.
We arrived at Franks house, the stock manager for a 5000 acre hill farm we were to go out on. David and Toddy jumped in the back of Franks Ute, while Luke and I got in the passenger side, along with an all too excited Jack Russell called Fizzle. She clearly knew what was going on as we drove up to the hillside to start walking. The walking was straight up a hillside steeper than I can begin to explain, the sweat started pouring out straight away. I did keep up with the boys though, Im pleased to say. They were each carrying rifles, from .223 to a .243, all with great scopes which they kept looking through to see if there was any wallaby action. The first 20 minutes walking was pretty uneventful where wallabies are concerned, although fizzle did put one up out of the bushes but it was out of shot before anyone could lift their rifles up. We climbed up to a ridge that looked over another valley onto a steep bank, and there was a wallaby sitting on the bank. David got his first shot at it, hit it well, but being a wallaby, it stumbled down a hill to be finished off by Fizzle, who wasted no time in getting to it. Cruel, some of you might think, but this is quite the norm its best not to think about it too much.
We pushed on into thicker country
big thorny bushes that Id previously spent time strategically moving out of the way to get past now Im just booling straight through them, in my hardest attempt to keep up with David and Frank. Frank and Luke were both wearing shorts, and by the end it our day, their legs were sliced to shreds. So were my arms, as it was far too hot to be wearing full sleeves!! David, like Fizzle, and Luke, was shaking with excitement, smiles beaming across his face as hes just shot his first thing since his roo in Aus. We arrive at another ridge, where we see two standing there. As soon a a shot was fired, we saw loads running about. David and Luke had a few shots at them running, and then a few more. David shot one at a very long range but missed it by a hairs breadth, but went on to shoot a big buck at a good range.
Pushing on through the tough terrain, Frank was trying to pick out a line for us to walk across the steep hillside. This is when a wallaby jumped out over the top of Lukes head and bounced off down the hill, only to be followed by Fizz, barking furiously. She chased it up and down, round and round, but the wallaby could not shake off the ferocious yet tiny Jack Russell. She eventually won the fight and took it down with ease, even though it was five times the size of her. Thats Jack Russells for you.
A little further up the valley David shot two more then we turned to head back, down the creek to where we started.
This is where we saw my chance to have a shot
over the valley, a good 280 yards away, Luke spotted one. I laid on my belly - true sniper style - with the rifle resting on its bipod. I could see my subject in the scope and knew what I had to do. Everyone else had their scope on it too - expecting that Id miss terribly no doubt and ready to fire should it be needed. Luke told me to squeeze the trigger gently, and before I knew it, the wallaby was dead as a hammer. Id shot it clean dead, no need for little vicious fizz to get in there
which none of the other shots had. I'd just got the shot of the day!! And that was my first shot with a rifle!! Everyone was made up for me, and there was a lot of praise.
Before we reached the creek bed, David and Luke shot another one running up the other side of the valley, which took our tally to nine. Five for David, one for frank, one for Luke, one for me and not forgetting
one for fizzle. The little dog with the heart of a lion.
We walked down the creek to meet Toddy, who was waiting in the Ute for us.
We went back to Franks house where we had a few beers and his wife Margaret made us some lunch
the perfect hosts! Once again, the kindness of strangers has blown us away. David was very aware and appreciative that, as keen as Luke and Frank were for a shot, they graciously let David have first crack at each subject. True sportsmen.
So we carried on back up to Christchurch and dropped off the van with no problems, they gave us a days rental and insurance back as an apology of what happened when we picked it up (things got a bit heated when the brakes were extremely spongy). We had two more amazing days in the Garden City', managed to get most of our Christmas shopping done and have a look around the beautiful cathedral. Now were ready to go back to Sydney for 12 days before we fly home. Were looking forward to having some sunshine before we get back to the winter weather!! The weather in New Zealand has been good to us, and although we have seen extremes of all seasons on our way round, its generally been sunny.