We picked up our home on wheels in the shape of a Mitsubishi Express from the depot and set off not really understanding what we were letting ourselves in for but we knew whatever will happen it’ll be an adventure. Our plan was to drive from Sydney through Melbourne and across to Adelaide. From there head up the red centre to Darwin to then go East to Cairns. From Cairns we would head south back to Sydney stopping along the coast and at Brisbane. We had no idea how long this journey was but had to get the van back in two and a half months. Sounded doable…maybe.
Day 1: 3rd November 2017
The first section of our journey would be along the Grand Pacific Drive. A drive that the official websites describes as “One Drive. One Ocean. Endless Experiences”. Sounds thrilling, if a little time-consuming. The main attraction of this part of the drive is the Sea Cliff Bridge which meanders majestically over the ocean skirting around the cliff face. Putting your foot down and hooning it (which in a Mitsubishi Express means doing a whopping 120kmph / 75mph) is a real joy and provides stunning views.
As we had left Sydney fairly late in the day time wasn’t on our side so after the bridge we chugged along to our first free campsite: a motorway rest area. Not the most glamorous spots but a good place for us to get used to our new home and try out our little kitchen.
Day 2: 4th November 2017
We were looking forward to some beach time today. However, we quickly learnt that year-round glorious Australian weather is a bit of a myth and we woke up to a cold miserable day.
We stopped at a small town called Kiama and found an Ocean Pool – amazing! Not wanting to let the weather defeat him, Rob couldn’t resist a quick dip. Another upshot of this pool was a free shower – little did we know at this point that showers were a real luxury when living the van life! After the pool we stopped to see the lighthouse and have a stroll along the beach.
Our campsite for this evening was a marked improvement as it was at a tennis centre and we based ourselves in a quiet field where we saw our first wild kangaroo. On top of this there was a free BBQ – result.
Day 3: 5th November 2017
At Murramarang National Park we stopped at Pebbly Beach and did a coastal walk. We managed to get up close to some Australian wildlife and enjoyed some secluded beaches.
Day 4: 6th November 2017
By day 4 the weather was beginning to piss us off as it had not stopped being cold and/or wet – sunny Australia where are you?! We therefore decided to skip some sights and head for an off-licence to pick up some booze for our next camp. The guy at the off-licence persuaded us to make an effort and see Australia Rock in Narooma. We were glad he did as despite getting utterly drenched (or maybe because of that) seeing a rock with a hole the shape of Australia in it was a fun experience.
Day 5: 7th November 2017
Today we would be driving through the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park and making our way to Ninety Mile Beach. The drive around the lakes was scenic but when we found a secluded free camp spot on Ninety Mile Beach we were memorised by its secluded nature and beauty. Along the whole stretch of the beach no one was around. Beach bliss (although it was still far too cold to sunbath and we almost froze to death sleeping in the van that night).
Day 6: 8th November 2017
After a morning sitting on the beach we made our way through some beautiful Australian countryside before arriving at Wilson’s Prom National Park. Here we hiked up Mount Oberon for some stunning views across the coast. Afterwards we headed to squeaky beach where the sands squeaks as you walk on it. Climbing rocks and squeaking the sand between our feet was an extremely satisfying way to spend an afternoon.
We then headed outside the national park for the Franklin River Reserve free campsite. Here we struck up a conversation with an English couple called Hayleigh and Kjel before settling down for the night.
Day 7: 9th November 2017
We started the day with a friendly and long breakfast with our new found English friends exchanging tips and van life stories. We were heading in opposite directions but this chance and brief meeting led to a good friendship – well, you know what they say, all great friendships start with fuel efficiency ratio banter.
From our campsite we heading to Philip Island which hosts the Nobbies Centre and it’s blow hole. Thankfully this isn’t a place of dicks and arseholes but rather an Antarctic Museum with a stunning coastal walk offering the chance to see penguins.
Our final stop for the day was Melbourne to spend a few days sightseeing and in the luxury of a paid campsite with hot showers…much needed after 7 days on the road. What a great start to our campervan adventure!