Cairns: Getting there

After the most amazing road trip trip from Adelaide to Darwin, I was definitely feeling inspired to keep the spur of the moment adventures coming. I didn’t have to waiting long- only a few weeks later I had a text from Jake saying “I have to drive a vehicle to Cairns. I’m coming home to pack.” He hadn’t even asked me if I was able to join him, but I was already mapping out the route when he came in the door.

“Do you want to go too?”

I smiled. “Well ya. I don’t work again until next week. Do you want me to come?”

Jake grinned. “Well what do you think?”

Into the shower I went, mentally packing the items I was going to take. It was already afternoon, so we wouldn’t be getting too far tonight, but we were planning to drive to Cairns as quickly as possible so that we could spend at least a few days up there before flying back. Unfortunately this meant that we wouldn’t be able to stop at all the cool places I had wanted to go along the way. Oh well, I told myself. You’ll come back before you leave and do the rest.

Maryborough

Maryborough

As suspected, we didn’t make it very far. It took forever to get out of Brisbane’s rush hour traffic, and as soon as it got dark, we found a place to stay in Maryborough. We weren’t driving a camper van this time, so we had to get a motel, and I’m really glad we did! We stayed at River City Motor Inn and the lady at reception, who I assume must be one of the owners, was really nice to us. She gave us a better room than we had booked, and was just all around friendly. The place was basic, but clean, and quite spacious for a motel. After checking in, we drove around to grab some takeaway food. We got lost like a gazillion times, which made Jake “hangry”, and of course cracked me up. Good times.

A big bowl of veggies!

A big bowl of veggies!

A massive brekkie for Jake!

A massive brekkie for Jake!

We were really lazy the next morning and slept in. We seemed to really be on the ball during our Outback trip, but for some reason we had an awful time getting up and going in the mornings during this one. My guess is that when you are in a camper van bed, there’s not a whole lot of incentive for a lie-in!  I managed to convince Jake to at least get some driving under our belts before stopping for breakfast, with the promise that he could get a full sized breakfast that would also tide him over for lunch. We would also need gas at some point, and we figured it would be best to stop for that and food at the same time! So Jake got his toast, eggs, sausages, beans, and tomato, while I managed to find a bowlful of vegetables! Both of us were happy! Of course I couldn’t finish mine, but Jake gobbled his down entirely! What I find funny though, is that he eats his meal one food at a time. Like, he ate all of his beans first, then his tomato, then the sausage… I think that’s weird. I like eating little bites of everything, but he says he was going to break his egg yolk and didn’t want it to touch the other food. Isn’t that the point? Who is with me?!?

Anyway, after our bellies were full, we continued on the road, heading north to Cairns. There were like a million places I wanted to stop off at, but just as the Outback trip we did, we were on a deadline, and stayed on the main highway.

We passed through quite a few downfalls and mini storms- it is the wet season after all. and of course things got a bit muggier the further north we went. We had hoped to make it all the way to Airlie Beach that day, but at about 9pm we realized it just wouldn’t happen, so we had to stop for the night. We stayed in a motel where we watched “Ice Truckers” on tv, which we found pretty funny seeing as we were driving through area that was the complete opposite of anything icy!

After another sleep-in, we were on the road again! I feel that somewhere along the way, my photos have gotten a bit mixed up. so I apologize in advance if the trees, mountains. and other bits of nature are not in sequential order. If anyone is from these areas and notices that a particular mountain looks out of place, please advise! My favourite roadside photo op was probably the Giant Mango at Bowen, which apparently was even stolen at one point as a stunt. You can read all about that here.  Crazy Aussies!

Pub with no beer

Pub with no beer

Unfortunately, the vehicle that we drove this time didn’t have a USB port, so a) my phone couldn’t charge, and b) we couldn’t play my music. I guess that’s a good thing seeing as on our Outback Adventure, we were cursed with having to hear Achey Breaky Heart a gazillion times, but it also meant we had to rely on the radio… which was abysmal at best. Thankfully though, I’m usually quite chatty during road trips so we did have some nice long conversations (although Jake might not agree). And of course, there’s always plenty to look at, such as this “Pub with no beer” called Slim Dusty’s. Obviously we were intrigued, so after some research, I found out that there is an Australian country song called “Pub with no Beer” which is apparently rather famous. I guess way back in World War 2, there was a shortage of beer, so some dude wrote some verses about it, and then someone else called Slim Dusty added some more words and music, and voila! It all makes sense now, but at the time Jake and I were like… what? You can read all about it, and watch the video here. It’s actually pretty funny and I admit, rather dang catchy!

The closer we go to Cairns the more I was thinking, “Man, my dad would love it out here!” There’s mountains, water, and it’s stinking hot- all the things he really enjoys in a place. Do you ever go somewhere wish you could transport one of your friends of family there too, just because you know they’d really enjoy it? That’s exactly how I was feeling! Someone really needs to invent a teleporting machine, that’s for sure.

Edmonton?

Edmonton?

By the time we got to Cairns it was dark, and we were dying to stretch our legs! Thankfully we didn’t have to find a place to stay for the night as there were beds at the Cairns depot- yay! Obviously the staff were gone when we got there, but no worries, Jake got us in and we had a quick nap before heading out to find some food. It was actually pretty hard to get Jake to leave the depot because of the air conditioning, but eventually his hunger won out!

 

Please don't look at my sweaty face, thanks!

Please don’t look at my sweaty face, thanks!

Hahah baller Jake

Hahah baller Jake

We wandered down to the Esplanade, and of course had a hard time choosing a place because I wanted to sit outside on the patio, whereas Jake was like “Are you freaking kidding me? I’m dripping with sweat and want to sit indoors with air conditioning.” It’s a constant struggle, but Jake won this time and we settled on the Woolshed, which, as it turns out, is actually a popular place with backpackers. Go figure. We were just in time to order some food before the kitchen closed, so we quickly made a decision and relaxed with some beers. Like I always say, there’s nothing like a cold beer at the end of a long road trip!

Find out what we got up to in Cairns in my next post!

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Delightful Darwin: WW2 Oil Storage Tunnels

The depot dog!

The depot dog!

After my rather costly mistake of missing the flight back to Brisbane, Jake and I decided we might as well make full use of the extra hours I had in Darwin, and visit the World War Two Oil Tunnels. They had been closed the previous day, which we had been pretty bummed about, so everything must happen for a reason, right?

Bombing of Darwin

Bombing of Darwin

The tunnels were built after Darwin’s fuel oil storage tanks were bombed by the Japanese on February 19th 1942.  I had actually forgotten that Australia had been bombed well before Pearl Harbour, and honestly didn’t know too much about this history. The tunnels were constructed to keep the oil safe underground from future bombings, but the whole project seemed to be a bit of a disaster right from the beginning in 1943. First of all the labourers worked in absolutely deplorable conditions and were underpaid and overworked. By 1945, it was discovered that the tunnels were leaking, and none of the attempts to fix the problems actually worked. They tried again to store jet fuel in the 1950’s, but again the project was abandoned due to leakage. Eventually the tunnels were reopened in 1992 for the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin, and self guided tours are now available to the public.

After we emerged from the tunnels, we got chatting with a local who knew heaps and HEAPS about Japan’s involvement in World War 2, and what the situation was like in the Pacific. Although I’ve read quite a bit on World War 2, my main focus is usually on the Holocaust, and what was happening in Europe, so it was interesting to learn about other events. Jake and I both decided that my dad and this man would have got on splendidly!

Close to the tunnels are some government buildings. We had actually taken these photos the previous day, but I forgot to share them!

Supreme Court

IMG_4136

Government

IMG_4137

Taking shelter from the sun

 

After the last night’s fiasco, we decided to play it safe and headed to the airport realllllly early. If I missed this flight, I would be out even more money, and quite possibly a job! It felt strange to be leaving Jake behind, and I felt a bit sad that my part of our adventure was finally over. It all seems a bit surreal now to think that I had driven so far and seen so many different and beautiful places. Although the trip had been completely unplanned, it ranks as one of my all time favourites, if not my absolute favourite (for now).

I definitely do felt that I left Darwin with a bang though. As I looked out of the airplane window, I saw some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen from the sky.

Thank you Australia.

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Delightful Darwin

Jake love Ducks Nuts

Jake love Ducks Nuts

All coffee'd up!

All coffee’d up!

After an amazing night of sleep, we headed out to find some breakfast. Jake loves eating first thing in the morning, whereas my only concern is coffee, and lots of it. We drove down Mitchel Street and settled on “Ducks Nuts”, mainly because the name made us giggle. To this day, Jake still raves about his breakfast here! Whenever we go anywhere for breakfast, he always says something like “Ah! Remember Ducks Nuts? That was awesome.” I guess nothing really compares to Ducks Nuts. It was pretty good though- we had toasted bread with mushrooms and a side of avocado and tomato. Yum!

A rather tasty brekkie!

A rather tasty brekkie!

Just before we headed in, we found out that Jake would be staying in Darwin a couple days, and flying to Adelaide, from where he would then be driving a vehicle to Melbourne. Of course, I was a bit bummed out as I had to return to work and had booked a flight for late that night (or should I say super early the next morning, if you want to be precise!). We headed over to the depot so that Jake could drop off the camper we drove up in. While we were there, we asked the staff for some recommendation on what we could do in Darwin for the day that wouldn’t cost a lot of money.  We were told to check out a swimming hole at Litchfield National Park, which sounded like an awesome idea since it was so stinking hot and humid.

Unfortunately, instead of plugging “Litchfield National Park” into the GPS, I put “Litchfield”, which had us going towards a town and not the actual park. Once we corrected my mistake, we ended up approaching the park from a strange angle and weren’t convinced that we were even heading towards where we supposed to be heading or not. By this point, we were concerned that we would run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, without any cellphone reception, so we turned around and explored a swampy little area instead. We had heard rumours of a saltwater crocodile roaming this park, and we had fun pretending we were searching for crocs! Obviously we don’t know a thing about crocodiles, but it was fun nonetheless! You can check out Jake’s crocodile hunting skills here! (Obviously not crocs were harmed in the making of this video and I am not in favour of ever harming a crocodile. I hate you, Hermes.)

After our unsuccessful attempt at finding a swimming hole, we headed back to the depot where we were told we had missed it by ten minutes. Bummer! We decided to chill for a bit at the depot, munch on some snacks, and then head out to East Point Reserve, where we were told there would be wallabies a plenty! I still hadn’t seen any kangaroos or wallabies in the wild, and seeing as I had been in Australia  8 months now, this was pretty ridiculous. As it turns out, it was a gorgeous place to have a nice stroll, and although it was reallllllly hot, there was quite a bit of shade.

Sadly, I didn’t see any wallabies, but we decided we’d come back at dusk when they would most likely be out and about. We headed on over towards the wharf, intent on checking out the World War 2 oil tunnels, but they were closed for the day. We did take some photos about the coming of Darwin by the Japanese.

Defeated, we decided to kill some time before dusk on the stretch of outdoor patios on Mitchel Street. I love sitting outside, but Jake doesn’t, so thankfully there were plenty of fans facing off so that he could stay cool! Once again though, when we returned to East Point, there wasn’t a wallaby to be found! I was beginning to think that such creature do not exist in the wild, and we went back to Mitchel Street disappointed. To cheer ourselves up, we ordered a massive thai feast, and enjoyed some time together before my flight.

At around 10pm, we both got a little sleepy, and seeing as my flight didn’t leave until almost 2am, decided to take a little nap in the car at the depot.  This is where I learned a very valuable lesson. No matter how tired you are, do not under any circumstances take a nap before you have to go to the airport. Long story short, I slept for too long, and due to TigerAir’s strict checkin policies, was not allowed to board my flight. Ugh. I had to call Jake to come and pick me up at the airport, panicking that I wouldn’t be able to find another flight that would get me to work in time. I did manage to get another one that flew out at 2pm the next day, but it ended up costing me an arm and a leg. A word of advice: If you fly TigerAir, makes sure you are at the airport ridiculously  early. Like hours. I found out afterwards that this has happened to lots of people!

Jake picked me up, and we headed back to the depot to sleep, and figure out what to do now that I was in Darwin for longer than expected! Don’t worry though, it was worth it!

Find out why, in the next instalment!

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Our Outback Adventure: Tenant Creek to Darwin

Good morning Tenant Creek!

Good morning Tenant Creek!

We woke up in Tenant Creek to an air-conditioned van and a super sunny morning. I’m not proud that we left the camper running all night, but Jake insisted and I must admit that I slept like a baby. Knowing how freaking hot the weather would get, we didn’t waste any time showering and hitting the road, coffees in hand. We were pretty pumped as we knew that as long as everything went according to plan, we would be arriving in Darwin by early evening. Seeing as we were on the final stretch, Jake even stopped the vehicle so that I could get an up close and personal photo of one of those crazy looking termite mounds!

A rather small termite mound

A rather small termite mound

What’s really funny is that people like to dress them up, by putting t-shirts and other articles of clothing on them, so that they look like actual people! Of course, when I went to take a photo, I couldn’t find one with clothes on, so all I have is a picture of a “naked” one. I’m sure you get the gist of it though.

We were very fortunate to have some absolutely beautiful weather on our way down.  Although the photos turned out great, I really wish that I could actually transport my readers  into the scenery, so that you could fully appreciate and experience just how incredibly gorgeous the landscape was.    The colours, the contrasts… I mean really, you couldn’t really ask for a better spot! We also started to see WATER!!! Check out the video here!

 

Dunmarra

Dunmarra

It’s funny how sometimes you can be as far away as possible from your loved ones, and yet still see things that remind you of them in the most unlikely of places. At one of our stops for petrol and a toilet break, I saw this beautiful tree that reminded me of something my mum would like. Whenever you go on a drive with my mum, she always points out trees and flowers that she likes, and most of the time will know the name of them too! My mum loves to garden, something she inherited from my great grandma Irene. The gardening gene unfortunately did not carry on to me, but I appreciate how excited my mum gets whenever she’s pointing out a plant that she likes. She’s very passionate about it, so when I saw this tree at the servo, I just had to take a video of it (which you can watch right here).

We figured that we would do our lunch stop of the day at Katherine, where we could hopefully get some cellphone reception. Jake needed to contact his work to let them know that we would be in Darwin that evening, so that he could arrange to leave the vehicle in the lot, as it would most likely be after hours when we arrived.

So close!!!

So close!!!

We had our lunch and also a giggle at this song that came on the radio. It definitely gave “Achey Breaky Heart” a run for it’s money!!!  And as you can see from the photo on the left, we were getting super close to reaching Darwin. This also meant that it was getting more and more humid, and every time we stopped for a break, we really noticed a huge difference, especially Jake who is not a fan of humidity. The poor guy actually has a permanent heat rash, which is absolute torture when it is so humid outside.  I guess he just wasn’t built for tropical weather!

Fill me up!

Fill me up!

At our next fuel stop, I decided to test out just how hot it actually was (Side note- check out the Jack Daniel pump! Tee hee!). I didn’t need to use the toilet, so when Jake went inside to pay for gas, I stayed in the car.

“Here I’ll leave it running for you so that you still have the air conditioner on,” he said.

“No, turn it off. I want to see how hot it gets.”

Jake looked at me like I was crazy. “Are you sure? It’s too hot! And then it will be too hot for me when I come back in!”

“I’ll roll my window down. Please?” He turned off the vehicle, shook his head, and walked inside.

Boy, oh boy, was it stinking hot! The cool air from the air conditioner was gone in seconds, and it wasn’t long before I felt the familiar beads of sweat start to form on my forehead. Having lived in Ecuador and China, I was no stranger to hot, sticky weather, but I think this definitely took the cake. Although Jake was probably only inside for less than five minutes, it felt like a lot longer. I wondered how quickly someone could die in a hot car here. I bet it just would take minutes.

Absolutely melting!

There was a full sized mirror at our next toilet break, so I whipped out my phone and took a bathroom selfie. Not because I looked good, but rather because I looked a hot sweaty mess. All I did was leave the vehicle, pee, and voila! This, boys and girls, is how you melt a Canadian in less than a minute. Bam. My makeup was definitely going to have to kick it into overdrive. This is also when the side zipper on my shorts decided to crap out, which meant that every time I had to go to the bathroom, I had to wiggle the zipper and slide it up right the right way. This is hard enough to do in normal weather, but when you are sticky and sweaty, it because an absolute nightmare. To make things worse, because you are so hot, you start drinking more water, which means more bathroom breaks. Torture!

As we approached Darwin, the weather suddenly changed, and we ended up passing through a series of storms. It was cyclone season after all, and just as we thought we were out of one storm, boom, another one hit. I tried to capture some of the lightening on video, which of course  didn’t happen, but you do get to see lots of rain! Check it out here.

We're here!

We’re here!

Cheeky name!

Cheeky name!

Jake wanted me to take a photo of the dog!

Jake wanted me to take a photo of the dog!

Finally, after three days of full on driving, we arrived in Darwin! As you can see from the map, this part of Australia is actually closer to Indonesia than it is to Brisbane, where we live. Pretty crazy, eh?

Darwin is kind of like your red neck cousin, who enjoys mud racing, croc hunting, and utes (pickup trucks for you Canadians and Americans). It was also bombed by the Japanese in World War 2 (the “big one”, as my dad likes to call it), which I will talk more about in my next post. There’s lots of reminders left over from the war here. I also noticed that there were also a lot more Aboriginal peoples here, as opposed to Brisbane or Sydney.

She's a hot one!

She’s a hot one!

Not wanting to camp out in this heat, we decided to splurge and find a cheap hotel room for the night. We could have stayed in a hostel, but having driven for three days straight, we pretty much just wanted to have a nice, quiet sleep! We found a room for about 80 bucks at The Cavanagh, which thankfully also had a pool- something we took full advantage of!

And of course, what’s a road trip without a nice cold one at your final destination?  Jake was sick, so he didn’t actually have a beer, but we enjoyed some food on the outside patio (complete with plenty of fans!), happy to finally be here!

Jake borrowing my beer!

Jake borrowing my beer!

Cooling down!

Cooling down!

 

So, what did we get up to in Darwin? Find out on  my next post: Our Outback Adventure: Darwin. And of course, don’t forget to like MyHollyDaze on Facebook to stay up to date on all of the action!

Our Outback Adventure: Coober Pedy to Tenant Creek, Part 2

Apparently it was dusty?

Apparently it was dusty?

A man and his sandwich

A man and his sandwich

Our first stop in Alice Springs was at a Subway. As I mentioned, Jake was “hangry”, so we needed food and we needed food fast. Once we were out of the van we were happy to stretch our legs, and found a small park where we could breath some fresh air, and eat our food al fresco. I should mention that Jake got the strangest sandwich combination ever. If I remember correctly, he had lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber, pickles, beetroot, avocado, carrots, capsicum, pineapple, and bbq sauce. A bit odd, but he looks pretty pleased with it in the photo doesn’t he?

Anyway, we didn’t stay long in Alice Springs as we still wanted to get as much distance as possible under our belts before sunset. I emailed, texted, and posted on social media like a mad woman, while Jake got us back out onto the highway, continuing our trek north.

This is where Jake’s favourite part of the trip happened. As it turns out, certain parts of the highway in the Norther Territory do not have a speed limit, which meant that Jake could go as fast as he liked! You should have seen his face! Actually you can, because I have a video of it right here! This is also around the time that we started noticing these little mounds at the side of the highway. We argued back and forth over what actually made these mounds, but didn’t have access to google to find out what exactly they were! Later on, we did discover that they are termite mounds, and trust me, we hadn’t even seen any of the big ones yet!

Partway through the afternoon Jake started to get really, really sleepy, so we pulled over and he took a little rest in the camper van. Of course we stopped at some historic looking place so I could roam around while Jake dozed. As it turns out, it was the remnants of a well which were dug as a part of the Australian government’s plan to “settle” the Northern Territory.

Thankfully Jake only needed a fifteen minute nap, as the flies outside were driving me bonkers! I can see why people wear those funny hats and fly veils out here- you’d go mental constantly swatting the bugs away!

Of course insects weren’t the only creatures we saw along the way- at this point we saw more and more cattle along the road, which was unnerving considering the lack of a speed limit! I kept reminding Jake to take it easy around the corners as I was terrified that we would hit a cow, which judging from the roadkill on the side of the road, wasn’t a far off possibility! Thankfully we didn’t manage to hit any, but we did have some pretty close encounters, as you can see in this video!

By this point, we had figured out that we would most likely be stopping in Tenant Creek for the night, even though we probably wouldn’t be arriving there until after dark. Neither one of us was overly enthused about that, but it seemed like a logical place to stop, and we calculated that it wouldn’t be too much night driving anyway. If all went well, we would be rolling into town shortly after dusk.

So at this point in the driver, things started to get a little eery. For the past few hours, we had seen more cows than people, and those termite mound things were clllllllll over the place. They looked like tiny, weird looking people, as as the sun began to lower, it cast shadows onto them. It felt like the beginning of a horror movie. And theeeeeeen we saw this: the UFO capital of Australia.

UFO of Australia, you say?

UFO capital of Australia, you say?

Normal enough looking pumps

Normal enough looking pumps

I hope it comes in peace!

I hope they come in peace!

 

At first we drove past it until Jake realized that we should a) probably stop for gas, and b) we should hit up the bathrooms. You know when you intrigues, but also a little freaked out? Ya the was me. The movie “Signs” still haunts me to this day, and I really didn’t feel like bumping into any little green men when I was in the middle of nowhere. I think the outback was really starting to get to me.  I do give them credit for a creative theme, though. This gas station was definitely a memorable, if not kinda creepy one!

Just when I thought the drive couldn’t get any stranger, we saw signs for something called “The Devil’s Marbles”.  Well that’s just peachy I thought.

“What the heck is going on?!” I exclaimed to Jake, who was just as creeped out I think as I was. “I dunno, this place is weird!” Soon enough we both figured out what “The Devils Marbles” were: giant freaky boulders! As were were racing against the sun at this point, we couldn’t pull over, but that didn’t stop me from rolling the windows down and getting photos from all angles!

Sweaty and exhausted, but we survived the drive!

Sweaty and exhausted, but we survived the drive!

Oh no.

Oh no.

By the time we reached Tenant Creek, we had definitely had enough excitement for one day. Granted we got lost trying to find our way to the campsite, but we did manage to eventually get there, and grab some Italian takeaway- yum! I should mention that by the point, we were experiencing some serious humidity. I’ve been in pretty toasty weather before, but this was sticky, sweaty, and messy. We tried eating our food outside the van, but Jake’s face was melting into his pizza, making his life miserable, so we went back into the air conditioning to finish our food. This is when we also realized that sleeping in the van was going to be a serious challenge. Rolling the windows down meant bugs could come in. Jake cannot sleep with the though of bugs crawling on him. If we closed the windows, we would most likely suffocate. Jake wanted to sleep with the air conditioning on all night, which I was completely against. The more and more we realized that the weather was not going to cool down at all during the night, the more frantic Jake got.

“There’s no way, man. No way. I’ll drive out to the road if I have to!” I was worried that the noisy, running van would keep our fellow campers up, not to mention the pollution!  “Just lay down,” I begged, “You’ll acclimatize eventually!” Eventually I was too tired to argue and we compromised. Jake could leave the air conditioning on as long as he parked the van away from other campers, and promised not to leave it on all night.

I woke up to a frosty van, still running.

I give up.

 

Our Outback Adventure: Coober Pedy to Tenant Creek, Part 1

Our campground!

Our campground!

All in one piece, thankfully!

All in one piece, thankfully!

After nearly burning down the campground the night before, we woke up ready and eager to continue on our long drive to Darwin. We knew that today would be a great opportunity to really get some good kilometres under our belt, so after showering, munching down on some granola bars, and filling up on coffee, we once again hit the road.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, and we were able to see what Coober Pedy looks like in sunlight. The odd looking opal mines that we noticed while driving in, were even more plentiful on the way out, and I was able to capture a video (here), as we left. It totally reminded us of Star Wars!

Off to Alice Springs!

Off to Alice Springs!

Seeing as we had a full day of driving ahead of us, we didn’t really plan on where we would be staying for the night. Our goal was to see how far we could get, and then once we were a few hours away from sunset, we’d decide on the nearest town. We knew that we would be able to make it past Alice Springs, so we tentatively scheduled that as our lunchtime stop.

Of course we saw so many things along the way! To make things even more interesting, our camper van had a usb port, so I was able to plug my phone in for music and to charge. After awhile we noticed that “Achey Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus seemed to be playing an awful lot. Now, I’m not a Billy Ray Cyrus fan, in fact I DESPISE country music, but awhile back I had downloaded an album full of 90’s hits, and unfortunately “Achey Breaky Heart” was one of them. As it turns out, alphabetically speaking that song is first up on my playlist and for some annoying reason, any time my phone was plugged in, it automatically started playing that song. It didn’t matter if the radio was on, or if I shut off my music app, Billy Ray Cyrus always magically appeared! Out of all the stupid songs on my phone, of course the one that I actually freaking hate was the one that we couldn’t get away from. Figures.

Up until this point, we had seen some wildlife here and there, but I had never been quick enough with the camera to get any shots. I finally managed to grab a photo of a wedge-tailed eagle after we almost hit it, as it was feasting on a kangaroo in the middle of the road. The wing span on that thing was crazy, and we both breathed a sigh of relief when it got safely away!

Hello Northern Territory!

Hello Northern Territory!

We soon passed the border from South Australia into the Northern Territory,  and you can tell from the following photos that the scenery had already started to somewhat change. You don’t really notice it right away, but after a while, we both noticed that there were more green patches than before. Okay, well actually I noticed because Jake is colour blind, but you get my drift.

Of course, we didn’t just see wildlife and nature in the outback. Every couple of hours, we would stop for fuel, and each gas station seemed to have it’s own unique charm. I guess when you are so far away from other towns, it makes sense to be creative with your rest areas. What’s cool about these service stops, is that not only do they have a gas station, most of them also have a roadhouse and either a caravan park, hostel or both. This one was one of my favourites:

A road train: My worst nightmare!

A road train: My worst nightmare!

You know how in Canada and the United States transport trucks are always on the highways? Here they have something called a road train, which is basically a massive transport truck. Every time we passed one, I freaked out. Way back in the day, my friend Kowan’s now husband Ben pointed out where the driver’s blind spot is, and ever since then I can’t seem to get it out of my head. Jake also noticed that other drivers tend to be quite friendly on the road, often waving as they pass. You can check out his theory on who waves and who doesn’t right here!

The closer we got to Alice Springs, meant the closer we were to getting lunch, which is when Jake starts to get a bit “hangry”. It had been hours since we last ate, so he has pretty excited to get there. I was pumped for a different reason- Alice Springs has cellphone reception, something I had been without since yesterday. I was dying for some data! Anyway, at this point we were only partway through the day and we had already seen so much, which is why I have decided to make this post a two-parter! Don’t worry though, I’ve left you with a gallery full of photos to tide you over until I get part two written!

 

As always, be sure to stay in touch through my Facebook page “My Hollydaze”!

 

 

Our Outback Adventure: Adelaide to Coober Pedy

And we were off!

We left Adelaide not sure what to expect on our long journey from the southern part of Australia, all the way to Darwin, right at the top. As I mentioned before, Jake had been asked to deliver a camper, so I had jumped at the opportunity to join him on the road. According to my estimations, if all went well it would take us three days of steady driving to reach Darwin, so we knew the we would have some long stretches ahead of us. We were also aware that there would be desert, isolation, and a whole lot of wildlife.

Bring it on.

The first part of the journey was pretty calm. I took a lot of photos, Jake tried to race trains (check out the video here). You know the usual. We saw these really cool “lakes”, but couldn’t figure out if they were made of sand, or just full of strange looking water. If we weren’t on a deadline, we probably would have pulled over to figure it out, but we were on a mission. I guess we will never know…

 

By the time we reached Port Augusta, my lack of sleep from the night before had caught up with me. I was nodding off so badly that I was becoming a poor navigator, and missed our turn. After correcting my mistake, Jake and I both agreed that I should probably have a nap, and I passed out within seconds.

When I woke up, everything had changed. I could feel the sun beating down on me, and when I looked outside, all I could see for miles and miles was beautiful, pink desert. The whole landscape had changed and I asked Jake how long I had been asleep for.

“Maybe half an hour”, he said. “I think we are definitely in the outback now. All I have seen along the side of the road for the last ten minutes are dead animals. ” Gross.

“We have a problem, though” he said. “We never did fill up that jerry can, and are on a 1/3 of a tank.”

“Ok, well when’s the next stop?” I asked. He shook his head.

“I haven’t seen a single sign since you fell asleep.”

OK don’t panic. We had just ignored the cardinal rule of driving in isolated areas: Fuel up at every single stop.

“There are these blue markers along the side of the road counting down the kilometres to “PI” whatever that is”, he said. “I don’t know if it is a town, or what it is. I just hope that there’s some sort of gas station there.”

“Maybe it means ‘Place of Interest’?” I thought aloud.

“Well if it does, I sure hope it has gas or we are in serious trouble.”

We sat in silence for a few minutes, nervously playing over the scenarios in our heads. I reached for my phone, and started filming my surroundings, trying to sound chipper and in control (You can watch the video here). Inside I was beating myself up for not reminding Jake to get gas in Port Augusta. If only I hadn’t been so sleepy!

There was a place up ahead where you could pull over and take photos, so we jumped out for a quick break. Jake was actually really sick with a sore throat at this point, so he needed to take his medication anyway. While he did that, I took full advantage, and snapped as many photos as I could. I’ve travelled a lot, but I can honestly say this was one of those times where I really felt overwhelmed by a place’s presence. The incredible stillness, the colours, the solitude, was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was so quiet, yet I just felt so surrounded by life. It completely blew me away. I’ve heard that these lands are special to the aboriginal people here, and I can see why. It was absolutely breathtaking. I filmed a bit, which you can watch here.

It was pretty hot, so after Jake had finished his meds, he dragged me back into the van, and off he went in search of fuel. Much to our relief, we discovered that the blue markers with the letters “PI” stood for “Pimba”; a stop complete with a roadhouse, petrol station, and bathrooms. YAY!

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According to this map (and the helpful attendant inside), we had about a three hour drive ahead of us to Coober Pedy, which would be our stop for the night. I felt pretty pleased with myself, as I had figured out that this would be a good spot to camp when I had looked at the map before leaving Brissy. I knew it was an opal mining town and that there were plenty of campsites, so we would be set there! The only worry now was if we would make it before sunset. Once the sun goes down, the animals, who have been hiding in the shade all day, come out to play. The last thing we wanted to do was hit wildlife. If all went well, we would be rolling into town just as it started to get dark. Now that we had our jerry can, we were pretty sure we could make it!

And we did! As we were approaching Coober Pedy, we started seeing all these signs warning people not to “walk backwards”, which we were super confused by. We also saw all of these mole hill type things, and eventually the penny dropped- opal mines! Duh! By the time we drove into town, the sun was setting and everything was pretty quiet. We actually had trouble finding a campsite that had an office that was still open, but thankfully we managed to find a motel with a caravan park. It’s a pity that everything was shut down by the time we arrived though, as there seemed to be a lot of interesting things to check out.

 

We were starrrrrving by the time we got to our campsite, so we whipped out our cooker and some instant noodles.

This is when disaster struck.

We weren’t sure what exactly happened, but when Jake went to ignite it, the flames were out of control! Panic set in as we realized that the butane was reallllly close to the fire, and it was so hot that Jake couldn’t get his hand close enough to switch it off. He managed to knock the cooker off of the table, away from the vehicle, and into the dirt. He grabbed a garbage can and covered the cooker, hoping to extinguish the fire by cutting out the oxygen supply. Nope. The crazy thing just wouldn’t stop! Eventually he managed to get his hand close enough to the switch and shut it off. Needless to say, we decided not to try it again, and grabbed some pizza instead.

We were both exhausted, and as soon as we had gobbled up all the pizza, we went to bed, eager to start the next morning off bright and early! All in all, we were pretty impressed that we had survived our first day on the road (even if we had almost set ourselves on fire!).

Will we make it to Darwin in one piece?

Guess you’ll just have to wait for the next instalment! In the meantime, make sure you like us on Facebook!