Leaving the likes of Sydney and Bondi behind, it was time to rent a car and head South and West. There’s nothing quite like being behind the wheel of a car (see the 4th thing I missed after three months abroad), even if the wheel is on the wrong side of the car. The Nissan X-Trail became our chariot and its All-Wheel Drive a necessity. The plan was to drive South a ways and stay the night in the Royal National Park, but a lack of planning left us high and dry without a permit to sleep in the campgrounds. Rather than risk a night on the side of the road, it was down to Bulli for an uncomfortable sleep in a tourist park beside a giant cemetery. It got cold and while the back seats of the X-Trail fold down flat, there is no cushion back there. I can sleep with minimal padding, but cold feet, the inability to fully stretch out, and constant shifting by my fellow roadie made for a rough night.
“What should I have known or written had I been a quiet, mercantile politician or a lord in waiting? A man must travel, and turmoil, or there is no existence.” – George Byron
The SeaCliff Bridge provided cool views in the morning, albeit in the wrong direction. Driving South again led through Australia’s Industryville around Port Kembla – literally, this place was a horizon of smokestacks, factories and other distopian imagery. Kept on moving. A quick stop at the Kiama Blow Hole was completely worthwhile. Waves create pressure in this underwater cavern and rocket water through an eroded hole, sending spray up to 100 ft in the air! The sound that goes along with it is amazing too. Check it out if you get the chance.
Further down the Princes Highway, we pitstopped in the small town of Berry before heading West towards the winding roads of Kangaroo Valley. This is when the roadtrip really began for me! If you’ve never seen The Princess Bride, stop reading this immediately and go watch it…seriously, I’ll wait. ………….(some Jack Johnson to pass the time)…………. You’re back! Good. Now, remember the R.O.U.S.s (Rodents of Unusual Size)? That’s what wombats are, though way less aggressive and actually pretty cute. Okay, okay, wombats are slightly less evolved Ewoks but I’m glad we all have The Princess Bride as common ground now. Day 2 wrapped up with us seeing authentic Australian wildlife, waterfalls and sleeping in a free campground – again in the back of the small SUV with slightly more padding but just as little heat.
We woke up to a sweet sunrise over the misty valley of roos before a good bit of driving. Stopping briefly in Jervis Bay, we walked along the beach and by this point, delirium began trickling in as I could not distinguish the names of Booderee and Budderoo National Parks. Places like Jerrawangala State Forest or Mollymook and Ulladulla became a blur while keeping a constant lookout for suicidal kangaroos through the trees and the turns and the fluctuating speed of going up and down hills and the signs telling you how drowsy drivers die (seriously, they should spend less money on the macabre poet creating these things and install instant coffee dispensers). But we saw things you don’t get a chance to see if you’re taking the Greyhound or a plane, so it was worth it. One thing we noticed was how American some of the small towns were – I literally thought I’d see a Sonic Drive-In on certain roads (and some tots would’ve been welcome).
The momentary pause at Pebbly Beach netted some great photos of kangaroos chilling by the surf and a Copper Python hanging out under a picnic area! After more hours of driving into the night, we crept into Mimosa Rocks National Park and learned a solid lesson: unknown, non-powered camp sites at night are freaky. I think I passed out more than fell asleep that night, so we’ll chalk it up as the first decent night’s rest.
Stay tuned for Part Two of …the most incredible… when I face off with Godzilla’s baby brother, meet the coolest, most Crocodile Dundee-like guy in Australia, and show pictures from the Southern most tip of the Australian mainland! If you haven’t already subscribed, do so in the top right corner. Also, comment and let me know which pictures you want more of: wildlife, scenic landscapes, people, or me with all of the above.