So after the purchase of our new-used wagon (in dubious interior condition. I don’t think it has been cleaned in a long, long while) we hit up the second hand stores for some essentials for vehicle living (we have decided that the cost of hostels is waaaaay to high for us,$50+ a day, so for the next two months you will be able of find us living in our wagon. Which is not an unusual story, as there are a lot of backpackers living in vans and wagons all over Australia, but if you get a van it usually comes ready-equipped for life on the road. We however had to find our own gear.)
Our second thrift store stop yielded a full booty of gear and we walked out with silverware, spatulas, a grater, a wok, a covered pot, some Tupperware, a futon mattress that folds up, can and bottle openers, a Styrofoam cooler (Eskie in Aussie speak) and igloo thermos, some bamboo beach mats, a folding camp chair, a cutting board, some plates and cups, and a large Tupperware measuring cup/mixing bowl for $60. Subsequent visits to other store shave yielded us both board shorts, a pair of jeans, a tank top, a pair of Australian flag flip flops and another camp chair. I think we are now fully set up. We did have to buy a new stove and gas canister, as well as an atlas, but really it is a small price to pay to avoid the out-of-control cost of living here in Australia. The cost is unbelievable. It is more expensive than London even, and that’s just in Brisbane. I don’t even want to know how expensive Sydney is.
Say goodbye Brisbane! We have a car now and are leaving you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We moved into the wagon and onto the road and haven’t looked back since. The lovely atlas we bought ($50 for an atlas????) lists all of the free places to stay the night: mostly nice rest stops that have bathrooms and picnic tables and water available (and other backpackers staying there, too) but occasionally full-blown, beautiful campsites. My goal is to avoid having to pay for accommodation for the whole of our Aussie trip. Wish me luck.
Our first stop out of Brisbane was Byron Bay, an absolutely gorgeous section of coastline along the Gold Coast where the rainforest-covered hills of several national parks met up with the ocean in a rather amazing way. It is *beautful*. Why haven’t we been here before? I soaked my mosquito-bitten legs in the ocean and we walked around the cute little downtown full of tourists and backpackers and wondered at the lack of crowds. I know that it can get busy there, and this isn’t exactly high season with autumn coming, but still, it is their version of memorial day weekend and we had no trouble finding a place to park (free parking means you have to walk a kilometer back into town) and the beach wasn’t anywhere near packed. But this seems to be a theme in our trip around Australia. The first thing you notice about Australia is the space. There aren’t nearly enough people to overfill it, and especially after a visit to China the whole things just seems a little too, spacious…. Even in downtown Brisbane there was still no trouble finding parking, people have nice yards, ponies have huge dream fields full of grass and shady trees to run around in. Sam got some of the cheapest ground meat to have some hamburgers with and it was like some of the best in the U.S. We think it is because the cows are so happy with all of their grazing space. I love it.
Anyways, we stopped overnight outside of Byron Bay because I was tempted into taking surfing lessons, but the weather was just too windy and chilly. Still sunny and warm, but the thought of spending an afternoon in a cold ocean only to come out of the water as the sun was going down just didn’t sound appealing. Plus, lessons are horribly expensive. I’ll save the money for some pony riding in the outback…
We headed further south, making a stop through Surfer’s Paradise just to see the buildings and crowds. For one of the top tourist spots along the Gold coast it was surprisingly… empty. There was a little market going on by the beach though, which was entertaining, but we didn’t stay for long.
We spent the night at a rest stop and the next day headed for….ummmm…. I’m going to have to go find my atlas…. hold on…… I’ll be back later…..
New Italy rest stop
Driving the Waterfall Way
Armisdale fall leaves
Little Styx River free campground
New England National Park
Ebor Falls, Lower and Upper
The Big Banana outside of
Crescent Head longboarders
Booti Booti National Park