on the run, on my own: five out of five
When I last wrote, I was about to embark across the Nullarbor, the iconic journey spanning the lower part of Australia. I’d been warned that the Nullarbor was, well, a bit tedious after you get over the fact that there is nothing above knee height in view for possibly three days. The novelty wears thin.
I really loved it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect because all I’d heard was bad things but as soon as we left the civilisation of Norseman and headed out into the straight, golden roads I knew there was nothing like this anywhere else in the world. It’s difficult to get your head around just how vast the Nullarbor Plain is. I think it helped that we popped down to the coast as often as possible and the beautiful coastline was almost as stunning as the West Coast.
After we crossed over to South Australia and played dot-to-dot with some of the wonderful towns there, we finally arrived in Adelaide, which was a bit of a shock to the system! The idea of looking both ways before you cross the road was difficult to comprehend after the empty road of the Nullarbor!
As we left Adelaide, we were officially on the home straight. I was a bit sad that it was only the Great Ocean Road that lay between me and the end of my epic road trip from Darwin. But it was certainly a brilliant way to finish it.
The weather was atrocious and probably the furthest away from the gorgeous blue skies you imagine when you think of the Great Ocean Road, but the drive was still beautiful. The rain didn’t deter us from taking in the famous sights of The Twelve Apostles and London and we clocked our final kilometres as we wound our way towards Melbourne. It was on this iconic stretch of land that I saw my first koala and promptly took about fifty pictures of one lazing in a tree. The final few days of the Great Ocean Road were met with sunshine and we managed to watch a few surfers in Bells Beach without getting drenched.
My first Christmas away from home was spent in Melbourne with my friend, Leya, who I had travelled with from the beginning. Swapping roast potatoes and woolly tights for prawns and thongs, the whole experience was a strange one, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yes, it was odd to be so far away from my family but I was lucky enough to have been adopted by another family and saved from eating noodles in a hostel.
My first stay in Melbourne was short and sweet and after five days, I was boarding a plane to Sydney for New Year. I’m not really a “Bucket List” kind of girl, but if I was, celebrating New Year watching the fireworks explode over the Harbour Bridge would definitely have been at the top. I was extremely lucky to be invited to a house party on the other side of the Bridge and, as the second hand inched closer to twelve I said goodbye to that amazing year with the best view in the house.
It was pretty emotional to say goodbye to Sydney, where my adventure began, and all the friends I met there but I packed my rucksack once more and jumped on a plane to Tasmania.
I think I’ll always be surprised at how diverse Australia is and Tassie was no exception. If you ignored the eucalyptus trees and the odd wallaby, Tasmania could have been Europe with the rolling green hills, dense forests, winding roads and, unfortunately, overcast skies. We rented a car for ten days and toured up the west coast, taking in spectacular scenery of all the national parks but in particular, the moody Cradle Mountain.
After there we headed up to Launceston and then looped around to travel down the east coast, with places such as Bicheno (alas no fairy penguins) and finishing off with the famous Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park.
My last leg of my first Australian road trip saw me visit five Australian states in five weeks. I covered thousands of kilometres, met some amazing new people, was reunited with old friends, saw some beautiful scenes and did some unforgettable things.
It feels odd that my travels in Australia are nearly over but I’ve got two months to discover Victoria and the city I’ve heard so much about! It’s not over just yet…