I think most people thought "those crazy Brits are at it again" when we randomly announced that we wanted to drive from one side of Australia to the other. The initial exclamations of "do you realise how BIG Australia is?" and "haven't you seen Wolf Creek?", were soon followed by "I want to do that too" with the realisation that it would be a road trip of epic proportions.
We would be driving from Melbourne to Perth, crossing through 3 Australian States (Victoria, SA and WA), taking on the vast expanses of the Nullabor Plain, dodging kamikaze kangaroos and taking in the sights along the way. The next 10 blogs will follow this adventure so bare with us as it may take a while to write up but we do get to Perth eventually
The icing on the cake was that we had found out about Transfercar, a vehicle relocation website that puts you in touch with companies looking for drivers to transfer a vehicle from one place to another, essentially making the rental of the vehicle free for us (saving approx $550) and saving the rental companies transportation fees... genius! All we had to do was pay for the petrol and the insurance although on a trip of this size the petrol costs were still quite a lot (around $1000)!
As fate would have it when we checked the website they had vehicles that needed to be transported to Perth by December from where we lived, Southbank in Melbourne! It was a sign, and so throwing caution to the wind we secured our vehicle and got down to planning our itinerary. We were given an allowance of 10 days and a maximum of 7000 kms to complete the trip, I think if you wanted to you could make the journey in 3-4 days but this way we could take our time and make detours where we wanted to, and also not go insane from the relentless driving. Having already done the Great Ocean Road we decided to skip that section and head straight up to Adelaide and beyond. This way in the first couple of days we would be able to get a lot of the kms out of the way including the Nullabor Plain. Then we could take our time through WA taking the less direct southern route along the coast and up via Margaret River to Perth. Doing it this way would also give us a time buffer incase we came into any difficulties on the road. Apart from swimming with sea lions in Port Lincoln and a wine tour with the Wine Dudes in Margaret River we had no other activities booked anything else we would discover along the way.
We took the time to plan where our final destination would be each day making sure to check that campsites would be open at our expected arrival time. Some require you to arrive and check in by 6pm but others would be happy to leave a key out to get access after hours so its worthwhile making a few calls to check. It also meant we could give our planned route to concerned friends and family (who had seen Wolf Creek) in case we didn't turn up in Perth when expected they would know where to start looking! We also planned where we would be able to get petrol too as running out in the middle of nowhere wasn't something we wanted to experience. With the vast distances involved being prepared for the worst case scenario is the best thing to do so we got a jerry can for spare fuel incase we had misjudged the distances and 15 litres of water too in case we got stranded in the desert!
The van itself was kitted out with all you needed, and could be transformed from seats in the day to a bed at night so you could sleep in the van. It also had a pull out hob to cook on and a pump action sink (although ours leaked so we tended not to use it). All cooking utensils you could need were provided too, along with an esky, bedding, towels and camping chairs. So you could just turn up with your backpack and go.
Although with all the stuff we had accumulated since living in Melbourne for the last 5 months it would take a bit of Tetris packing to be able to sleep in there but once we worked out the best way to store things and moved the larger bags onto the front seats at night we could sleep in there comfortably.
Once the van was packed and we had noted down any dents and scratches (she'd been through the wars a bit) and had been reassured that the loose bumper wouldn't fall off we were ready to go!
Our first destination was Wallaroo which is a couple of hours north of Adelaide!
It would be a big first day of driving that would end up taking best of 12 hours to complete instead of the 9 hours we had anticipated (we slightly under estimated how long this part would take, woops, take times on google maps with a pinch of salt!). The reason we had made the decision to push on past Adelaide so that we could make the morning ferry from Wallaroo across the Spencer Gulf the following day, rather than driving around it.
We waved goodbye to Broomy and hit the road (remembering to call up City Link to get a toll pass of course!)
As we left Melbourne behind us we took the now familiar route through Ballarat, Ararat and on passed the Grampians, reliving great memories of our previous road trips . This was where we spotted the Big Koala! One of the many 'BIG things' that they have in Australia, we had already been told about the big Pineapple in Coffs Harbour and a few of the others but this was the first one we had actually seen.
Our first lunch stop was just in a lay by next to a lake just outside of Horsham, where we had a quick bite and tried to move an injured bat away from the patrolling crows before getting back behind the wheel.
In the afternoon we came to our first border crossing, we were leaving Victoria behind and heading into South Austrlia! Before we crossed the boarder though we had to get rid of any fruit and veg we had so Dan quickly ate some so they didn't go to waste!
We continued along the Dukes Highway passing through sheep country and corn fields before making a stop at Tailem Bend to stretch our legs and marvel at the huge pelicans flying overhead.
Here are a few of the classic Australian road signs that made us giggle along the way, straight to the point no messing around!
Finally we made it to Adelaide around 7pm which was a welcome sight but we still had a way to go before Wallaroo and hoped we would be able to get there before dark.
As we left Adelaide we started to come across our first road trains, long lorries pulling several containers behind them (I'm not a road, I'm not a train... I'm a ROADTRAIN!) these would be our companions for the rest of our journey and are not to be messed with as they are huge!
We had been on the road for hours and as the sun began to get lower thought we were losing our minds a bit when we started to see silhouettes of giant rats, spaceships and Ned Kelly of his horse rearing out of the fields. We weren't able to slow down to get photos of them but I found this article where you will see them and find out more about what they are about.
We had really underestimated how long this journey would take us and with the sun setting and quite a few kms still to go both of us were on high alert of any kangaroos that might decide to jump out from behind the bushes on the roadside.
It was a draining last leg as we strained our eyes to keep vigilant and slowed right down to be on the safe side. It was a big relief when we finally made it to Wallaroo around 10pm with no kangaroo sightings!
Day 1 complete!