• Chase Davidson

SE Aussie Roadtrip - 9 Days | AUS

Updated: Mar 14

Prologue:

Let’s back track to January, 2018. It was this month I went down snowboarding on the off-piste run known as “Back Door” at Banff Sunshine Village back in the homeland of Canada. A lot of thoughts were going through my mind as I sat in the snow, completely immobile. If not for having my good friend Fraser with me, it’s hard to say wether or not I’d be here today.

*Click HERE to see the short video of the crash.

This accident taught me more about life than I have the ability to explain. During the 5 months of recovery, I had way too much time on my hands and instead of dwelling on it, I used that time to research the island state of Tasmania. I researched every single waterfall I could find, as well as any and every tip I could find within online blogs, vlogs and cinematic videos. I was going to be flying to Australia a month after recovery with high anticipation of this tiny island off the southern coast of the Australian mainland.

Louis and I with our vehicles.

Chapter 1:

Farm Work Opportunities

Just like France and Japan before, I needed to obtain a Working Holiday Visa in order to live/work in the land down under. After the entire application process, I was granted a one year 416 working holiday visa which meant I could apply for a second year if I met a certain criteria of requirements. The main criteria was to obtain “88 Days of Regional Work”. Now this could pertain to a number of different options but simply the easiest and most well known type of regional work that many backpackers take part in is farm work.

Thredbo Village

After working the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere at Thredbo Alpine Hotel, I was able to save up enough money to purchase a car. This was a big deal for me because even though I had owned two other vehicles in Canada at seperate times, this was my first solo purchase with no help from my parents. I was a bit nervous considering I’m not much of a knowledgable car guy and I’ve seen a lot of used cars breakdown shortly after purchase. The right opportunity came up however, and next thing I know, I’m the owner of a 2007 Volkswagen Golf. This also marked my first manual transmission vehicle, and even though I’ve driven manual a bit in the past, it took some time to get use to not only driving on the other side of the road from which I’m use to in Canada but also to shift the gears with the left hand instead of the right.

2007 Volkswagen Golf

This little black hatchback became my new baby. My whole plans for Australia changed dramatically at this point. I was no longer planning to stay just for one year and then heading over to Europe. I was committing to the second year in Australia at the moment I handed over the cash. With that commitment though… It meant I needed to get going on my 88 days of regional work. Nearing the end of the ski season, I began applying for different fruit picking jobs, farm hands and even construction based jobs with intent on starting as soon as possible.

Nearing the end of the first week of October, I had received a call back regarding an opportunity picking strawberries in the state of Queensland. I put my weeks notice in at work and began to transform my car into a miniature little home. I made sure that when I bought the vehicle, that there would be plenty of room for my luggage but also comfortable enough to live in from time to time for road trips and extensive travel opportunities around the country. Just two days before finishing up at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel, one of my co-workers had tipped me off about a company near Coff’s Harbour, NSW that usually begins hiring for blueberry picking around this time of year. He gave me all the necessary information I needed and the next day I gave them a call asking about any open positions. The reply was “Can you be here on Wednesday, October 17th?”. Sure as heck, I got the blueberry picking position with Costa Berries in a small little town called Corindi Beach roughly 25 minutes north of Coff’s Harbour.

The final crew I got to live and laugh with in Corindi Beach

In just two days time I would hit the road north covering approximately 1,400 kilometres as I made my way through the scenic country side up to Byron Bay for a quick visit with some friends before heading to Corindi Beach. Just a week before leaving Thredbo, I met my now good friend Louis De Aubeyzon from Argentina who was also looking to get his farm work completed in order to stay for the second year. I threw out the idea of applying to Costa Berries as well; Lo and behold, he got the job the day I arrived in Corindi which meant I could start looking into a more stable place to call home. Within just a few minutes, I was able to find a nice little share house on a farm run by Troy and Simone McPhillips. The one catch was I couldn’t move in until the following Monday which meant a few more sleeps in the car, showers on the beach and coffee at sunrise.

Chapter 2:

Costa Berries

For the next two and half months leading up to this road trip, Louis and I worked for Costa Berries. Initially, I had started with the company by picking blueberries in the field on a piece rate and let me be honest here, I completely sucked at it! I was lucky that the piece rate for my first day was increased because I still only made $70 in 10 hours of sweaty hot work under the sun. Upon the beginning of my second day I was asked if I’d be interested in an hourly rate job running the buckets filled with blueberries up the field and helping to sort the bad from the good. No hesitation on my answer there - Yes, please!

Blueberry Picking

I had done the runner and sorting position for the next 4 days in a different crew before the supervisor asked if anyone would like three extra hours of work by going to the packing shed and helping out in the warehouse. Again, I didn’t hesitate at all. My hand went up faster than a seagull diving for garbage. That opportunity was all that was needed to get me into the packing shed. Before finishing up that night, I was asked by the supervisor Shiva if I’d like to stay and work the rest of the season in there. Yes, yes, yes!

You may be wondering why the packing shed was so important to get into. Here are five main reasons I preferred the packing shed over picking personally:

1) The temperature is a stable 8 to 10 degrees Celsius which is A-Okay for a Canadian living in Australia.

2) It’s hourly pay at $24.90 with guaranteed 35 hours a week with the potential to work up to 55.

3) You’re not stressed as much knowing at the end of the day how much you are actually getting paid unlike piece work.

4) The opportunity to advance in the company is greater, as you work more closely with management.

5) Start times are later in the morning which meant more time to be productive first thing.

The Costa Berries Pack Team

Louis was set to start the next day in the field picking but luckily for him, he only had to do one day of picking and one day of running before I was able to get him into the packing shed as well. The two of us became permanent floor boys for the next two and half months getting to know everything there is to know about blueberries and how the whole process takes place from picking in the field up until the transport trucks take them away to consumers. We were able to meet a ton of great people working on the farm, many of whom were there for the same exact reason as us.

Chapter 3:

Transfer to Tasmania

When I began working with Costa Berries, I did my research on the company and learned that the potential to transfer to the Tasmanian based workplace was a possibility. Before too long, our supervisor was asking if I’d be interested in transferring since the season in Corindi would be ending near the end of December, with the season in Tasmania overlapping and continuing on until March, 2019. Sparing some details, Louis and I made that a reality by booking the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne, Victoria to Devonport, Tasmania on Sunday, January 6th.

One thing that I couldn’t be more stoked about is the fact that not only are we transferring to work in the island state I have been wanting to visit before even coming to Australia, but that we got specially picked to go straight into the packing shed without worrying about having to do any sort of fruit picking beforehand. Hooray!!

The Christmas Holidays were coming up and time off was few and far in between at this point, so it was necessary to use my free time wisely in order to plan out an epic little road trip from where we were living down to Melbourne. We figured if we left on December 29th, that would give us three days to get down to Sydney for New Years celebrations, and then four days to get down to Melbourne for a day of relaxation before catching the ferry over to Tassie. I spent hours looking up every national park between Coff’s Harbour and Melbourne. Do you know how many national parks are in Australia? Over 500! You can bet this was no easy task to narrow it down.

Our itinerary planning actually came down to just a couple days before hitting the road but when we had a visual on google maps, we were ecstatic to hit the open road once again after being cooped up on the farm for the past couple months. Here is what we had decided:

Day 1 - Waterfall Way {152km} -> Bangalore Falls, Dangar Falls, Ebor Falls and Cathedral Rock

Day 2 - Waterfall Way to Newcastle {489km} -> Wollomombi Falls, Myall Lakes and Stockton Sand Dunes

Day 3 - Sydney Bound {162km} -> Ku Ring Gai Chase and New Years Celebrations

Day 4 - Blue Mountains {113km} -> Govett’s Leap Lookout

Day 5 - Hyam’s Beach {285km} -> Mermaid Pools and Hyam’s Beach

Day 6 - The Drive to Victoria {727km} -> Tarra Bulga National Park

Day 7 - Melbourne Bound {359km} -> Wilsons Promontory and Melbourne

Day 8 - Melbourne Relaxation -> Relax

Day 9 - Spirit of Tasmania -> Ferry from Melbourne to Devonport, Tasmania

With a complete itinerary and a direction, we were ready!

Chapter 4:

The Open Road

With one last farewell party the night before, we awoke to a quiet house. Since both Louis and I had our own cars prepared for sleeping, it meant we’d be taking two separate cars down as well. We made sure to purchase some short range walkie talkies in order to communicate on the drive.

Now that we had the walkie talkies, of course we had to give ourselves code names. Out of nowhere Louis spontaneously decides upon T-Rex and I go with Candlestick. There is actually nothing behind these names. They were completely random in every which way. We finished packing the rest of our essentials into our vehicles and hit the road. At this point it was still a bit surreal that we were actually leaving Corindi and heading to Tasmania.

A quick stop for fuel in Coff’s Harbour and it was time to input our first destination into the GPS - Bangalore Falls.

Bangalore Falls

It was a beautiful drive as we gained elevation inland towards a whole heap of national parks, but the first national park we’d enter on the trip would be Bindarri National Park. Just before entering we were met with probably the longest and roughest dirt road we’d have to drive on all trip. We took our time in our low profile vehicles eventually making our way to the parking lot where we felt completely out of place next to giant four wheeled machines.

Bangalore Falls

It was just a short 10 minute walk to get out to the lookout for Bangalore Falls. There was a small track going down the right hand side, so we filled up the mate and made our way down to the edge of the falls. We were isolated from people and completely on our own at this time. We took it all in!

Mate on the edge

Once we had finished up taking a dip and enjoying the peacefulness, we headed back up the trail to our vehicles and made way for our next location - Dangar Falls.

Dangar Falls Lookout

Dangar Falls was a whole lot different in terms of not only the size of the waterfall, but also in terms of access. Dangar Falls was situated along the main road entering Dorrigo which meant a heavy flow of traffic. There was a great scenic outlook right next to the parking lot and then a path heading down to the base of the falls where a bunch of people were swimming by this time. Louis and I cooked some lunch in the picnic area before heading down for our own swim.

Louis is the water guy on this adventure, hands down. I’ve always been a little hesitant with water, but I do love it. Eventually I jumped in the water and swam up to the 30-metre high waterfall which was absolutely stunning. It was the swim back that proved difficult and almost killed me. In fresh water such as that, you’re not as buoyant as you’d be in salt water and with 20 metres to go, I started to lose energy. I made a hard dash for the side where there was some rocks. Using all my energy to get there and not sink, I grabbed ahold of the closest rock and just laid there like a seal out of water trying desperately to regain some energy. Note to self on this one… I am not a good swimmer.

Happier times before fighting to survive

That swim exerted everything I had but we were close to the town of Dorrigo at least. We headed in and picked up a few essential groceries, one of which included a “Mother” - Australia’s knocked off version of a Monster energy drink. We still had a little bit of a drive ahead of us to the final waterfall of the day so it was mandatory at this point.

Ebor Falls

We only had a 50 kilometre drive in order to reach Ebor Falls which was located in Guy Fawkes River National Park. For such an easily accessed waterfall with stunning vistas abound, we were surprised there was only a handful of people at this point. Another thing we didn’t expect to see when we rolled up was a group of individuals high lining way above the waterfall. That was so cool!

Initially, the plan on paper so to speak was to continue on to Cathedral Rocks National Park to camp for the night but there ended up being a free camping location just five minutes away from Ebor Falls so we decided to spend the evening at Ebor in order to watch the sunset, play some guitar and relax in the hammocks.

Sunset at Ebor Falls

A day well spent!

Chapter 5:

Australia’s Highest Waterfall

We managed to get a good night’s sleep for our first night in the vehicles but I had to do a bit of customizing to mine in order to make it a bit more comfortable the next time around. Since we didn’t end up at Cathedral Rock National Park the night prior, we made that our first mission of the morning. It wasn’t even 9am yet and we were already hiking our way up to the summit of Cathedral Rock. This hike was spectacular from start to finish albeit without any wildlife to see.

Cathedral Rock National Park

It wasn’t long before we reached a sign mentioning steep terrain and a grade 5 climb… This should be interesting I thought. We continued to work our way up over the rocks and through narrow passageways before reaching a section that involved the use of a chain. Understanding now why they rated it a grade 5, we made the last push to the summit where we were treated with a spectacular view of the entire area.

Standing at the top of Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock National Park

The view of the surrounding area was nothing like I could have imagined. The boulders that stuck up out of the earth, balancing on one another were straight out of another world. We had brought everything we needed to make a cup of coffee on the summit since we didn’t get our morning coffee in yet, but silly me.. I forgot the lighter and/or the flint I normally keep with the miniature jet-boil. Without further to do, we descended back down onto the trail and made some morning coffee back at the cars.

Feeling rejuvenated from the mornings activity, it was time to get back on track and head for Australia’s highest waterfall, Wollomombi Falls.

Wollomombi Falls

The drive there was short, maybe 45 minutes at the most. Upon pulling into the lookout parking lot, we could see the canyon cliffs in the distance and could tell at that point we were in for a sight. Our plan at this location was to go to the closest lookout, snap some photos and then make the long drive to Newcastle this afternoon. Let me tell you, that is not how it ended up going down.

As soon as we reached the first lookout point only 90 metres from the parking lot, a sign pointed us in the direction of the next lookout roughly 350 metres away, so without hesitation we knew we had to go at least there. Well, that 350 metre lookout lead us onto a further one 1.2 kilometres further down that had a sign stating that the path down to the canyon floor was closed. Typically, a path closed sign would cause many to turn around and head back to their vehicles, especially if they don’t have any water to make the venture down. Louis spoke the famous words of the trip at this point - “Let’s send it bro!”

There we were working our way down a worn out switchback that was clearly closed for a reason down to the canyon floor. Going down wasn’t too bad of course, the real battle was just trying to stay on the path since many parts had been overgrown and hard to spot. Nearing the end of the trail, it became increasingly difficult but by this point we were determined to go for a swim. Eventually we made it down to the Chandler River and a dip in the refreshing water felt amazing!

What was waiting for us at the Chandler River

Now comes the difficult part, getting back up to the cars in the dead of the afternoon when the sun is directly above and completely unforgiving. Louis pushed hard through the switchbacks as I struggled to get up. Each turn I was looking for the tiniest bits of shade to hide in for just a few seconds at a time. The whole adventure down and back up took nearly three hours but Louis was waiting for me back at the parking lot with some cut up pineapple that I happily devoured upon arriving. Another epic mini adventure in the books and it was time to get on the road.

We drove into the nearest town called Armidale to pick up a few essentials for the road and I received a message from one of my friends I had worked with back in Banff, Canada letting me know he was staying at a friend’s in Hawk’s Nest, just north of Newcastle. What perfect timing and a chance to catch up, so we made that our final destination for the evening, set it in the GPS and hit the road.

Epic New South Wales Sunset

A solid four hours later we were greeted with an epic sunset over the New South Wales countryside that we had to stop for. Between the sunset and arriving in Hawk’s Nest, my friend had messaged me saying that they were going for dinner and would see us soon. We continued on to Hawk’s Nest arriving around 9:30pm (21:30) and were met with a voicemail and no replies to the messages I sent. After an hour of sitting around waiting, we had to get some sleep. This evening Louis and I separated as he didn’t feel comfortable sleeping in the same location as I and vice versa.

Chapter 6:

Yacaaba Headland to Sydney

Since the original plan was to spend the previous night near the Stockton Sand Dunes and instead we found ourselves over an hour away in a little village we knew nothing about. I did some last minute research in my car for somewhere to go for sunrise and came across the Yacaaba Headland. It seemed like the perfect replacement. I set my alarm for 4:30am, woke up and headed straight to the beach where the hike would begin.

Louis had decided to move from the location he had previously chosen to sleep and unaware of his whereabouts, plus being on a bit of a time constraint in order to make sunrise, I went for it alone. The 3.5 kilometre walk along the beach and up to the summit solely lit by the stars in the sky and my trusty headlamp was peaceful in itself. As I continued up, the views only got better and better! I had reached the summit mere minutes before the sun began to rise over the horizon.

Yacaaba Headland

The rising sun would in fact mark the last sunrise of 2018 and it was certainly one to remember.

After the sun was up, I began to descend knowing we still had a solid drive to get into Sydney to prepare for the New Year’s Eve fireworks. On the descent down, I passed numerous others working their way to the summit. Louis and I met back up at the trailhead, went to a nearby park to have some breakfast and then hit the road to Sydney. It was a good three hours again on the road and due to the early morning rise, I needed another coffee fix to stay awake. Luckily in Australia, the next rest stop was offering free coffee to everyone insuring we could arrive safely.

The three hour drive went by pretty quick and we found ourselves driving through the busy streets of Sydney soon enough. We would be staying at my good friend Jalen’s with his lovely wife Freyja and three kids. I had just visited them a couple weeks prior but before that I hadn’t seen them since the day they got married six years ago. It’s always pleasant to catch up with them and I must admit, their two little boys Laken and Tekoa are absolutely adorable to photograph.

Nalu Living aka The Pickards'

As we arrived at Jalen’s, a group chat on Facebook that we were in for the fireworks started going off with potential locations to have a bite to eat and some drinks before the big night. Turns out we were only 20 minutes from the chosen location! We made our way over to Manly beach to meet up with our old housemates Christer, Giorgio and Federica. We were introduced to a few more great humans, built a sandman and then caught an uber downtown.

My best yoga pose

The rest of the night was a battle trying to get to the river but unfortunately with Sydney being an absolute hotspot that everybody in Oceania wants to attend, we couldn’t even get close to the water. After five hours of trying to get a spot to watch the fireworks, we had all got separated and I ended up catching a bit of it from the corner of two streets. Can’t say it was the best fireworks show I’ve had the luxury of seeing in my life but it’s certainly a night I’ll never forget.

My spot for the Sydney New Years Fireworks 2018

Now that the fireworks had ended, the next battle was figuring out how to get back to Jalen’s in Curl Curl. Every option was backed up or blocked due to the heavy traffic of pedestrians. Louis and I had met up together for a short period but were separated quickly in the turmoil. His phone now dead, and mine at 2%, I used what I had left to figure out a way back to Curl Curl. I tried multiple ways to get back and eventually found a bus to Manly around 2am. I don’t remember much of this drive as I was woken up by the bus driver when we arrived at the terminus in Manly. With my phone completely dead, I began walking in the direction I knew looking out for any bus going that way. In the end, I caught the right bus, arriving back at the house around 3am and crashing as fast as you can turn a light switch off.

Chapter 7:

Nalu Living to Blue Mountains

I woke up the next morning at 8am almost as if the night before didn’t even happen. How did I only sleep for a few hours yet feel so awake? Entering the living room, everyone else was also awake and running around doing their daily chores. Jalen mentioned that he heard Louis come in only about 20 minutes after me the night before. We started talking about different places in the blue mountains that would be worth a visit and he mentioned Wentworth Falls. Without looking into it, we took his advice and set a marker on the GPS.

Before making our way to Curl Curl, I talked with Freyja a bit about doing a small little photoshoot with the family and Nalu, their bus that they’ll be moving into near the start of 2019. It’s a good thing we were able to wake up early because the weather was perfect. We set out to a headland not too far from the house, shot a bunch of quick photos together then said our goodbyes.

It was time to hit the road for Sydney’s infamous Blue Mountains. This place has been on my list of places to see for quite a long time, and it actually felt a bit surreal to be driving there at this moment. It was only a two hour drive to Wentworth Falls but it was this drive that the lack of sleep really began to hit me.

The parking lot of the falls was completely packed which meant we would have to park on a nearby neighbouring street. The street ironically also called “Wentworth” offered some shade for the cars. One thing about driving around Australia as you may have guessed, is that it gets extremely hot during the day so finding some shade from time to time is perfect.

Perfect little side street

We set out towards the first lookout point where we were greeted with a dominating view of Kanangra-Boyd National Park. It was this moment when we understood the reasoning behind the name “Blue Mountains”. The eucalyptus trees discharge a fine mist of eucalyptus oil that reflects light in the hot sun which makes the haze in the distance look blue.

First view of the Blue Mountains

As our eyes were mesmerized at the distant mountains, we could see others looking down to the left at the magnificent Wentworth Falls for which we had come to see. The drop well over 100 metres was jaw dropping to say the least. The next step was figuring out how we could get to the base of it for a swim.

We meandered throughout the pathways until we made it to the top of the waterfall. We could see others down below bathing in the fine water, but were unsure on how they got there considering all we could see were cliff edges all around us. Following the signs located throughout, we found our way but the steep descent was unexpected. What determines the difference between a ladder and stairs?

This descent was no doubt way better than the previous one to Chandler river days before mainly because it was straight down instead of the annoying switchbacks. The stairs were narrow and steep but ultimately pretty easy to descend. As we arrived at the base of the falls, it was as if we entered the movie Avatar. If you haven’t had the chance to see this movie yet, imagine floating islands with waterfalls dripping off into infinite air. That’s how it felt looking up towards this majestic cascade as the water plunge into the rocks below.

Wentworth Falls aka Avatar Falls

A well deserved cool off before making the steep climb back to the top.

By now it was getting later in the afternoon. We decided to have a quieter evening down by the local lake. A perfect place to sip some mate, play the guitar and watch the sunset. Whenever you enter a new local or community, it’s nice to scope out a place to sleep right away during daylight hours. Naturally, we keep our eyes on the lookout for these types of places while we drive. There was one off the main road along side a one-way street which meant we wouldn’t have to worry about traffic coming from both directions. It would make the ideal place to sleep. Best of all, there were no signs that said “No camping or overnight parking”.

Perfect sunset by the lake

After enjoying some music down by the lake, we packed up our things and headed to the location we had spotted earlier. It didn’t take long to get our beds ready, play a quick game or two of FIFA 19 on the Nintendo Switch and then call it a night for tomorrow would be another big day.

Chapter 8:

Mermaid Pools to Hyam’s Beach

Okay, so the first thing we noticed when we woke up the next morning was that I was in fact parked in front of a sign that side “Keep Out, Asbestos in the Area”. - Really?! Oh well… Too late now. We were ready to roll out but I was seriously itching for a quick ride on the BMX. I had noticed a small little park when we were coming into the town and figured that’d be a fun spot for a quick ride.

It was a small skatepark but it was empty. We got some coffee going, clocked a couple clips and then started our two hour drive towards the Mermaid Pools. A mutual friend of ours from Thredbo had told us about these pools you could jump into that not too many people knew about. He showed me some videos and it looked pretty intense but either way, beautiful!

Mermaid Pools

As with most of the drives we’ve had throughout the southeastern part of Australia, the views of the landscape were extraordinary. My playlist for most of this trip switched between a non-stop mix of Twenty One Pilots and my Swedish podcasts. Singing and talking along with every opportunity, I’m surprised I still have a voice after it all.

Arriving at a dirt parking lot, we had a bit of a hike ahead of us at this point along the side of the Bargo river. It seemed like prime snake territory but nothing ever appeared. Ten or 20 minutes later and we were standing at the Mermaid Pool. A hefty 15 metres from the lowest jumping point, not to mention the climb up the waterfall via ropes left me knowing I’d only be shooting photos/videos here while Louis did all the fun stuff.

I don’t know if it was the nervousness of the drop, the fear of getting stuck down there or not being able to swim to shore after the event that occurred at Dangar Falls, but I was confident I wouldn’t be doing the jump.

The closest I got to the water...

We spent quite a bit of time here talking with the locals and enjoying the beauty surrounding us before we had to get on the road to Hyam’s Beach. Hyam’s Beach was supposably the whitest beach in the world which is a pretty high standard to claim in my opinion so it was 100% worth checking out. We got some quick groceries from the nearby Woolies in Tahmoor then hit the road yet again.

About halfway to our planned destination, the clouds above turned dark and the rain began to fall. Rain can usually put a damper on any mood, especially when your destination is the beach but we chose to make the most out of it. Seeing a sign for Fitzroy Falls directly en route to where we were heading was ideal. Fate or destiny? Who knows… but it was perfect waterfall weather in my opinion.

Fitzroy Falls

We stopped in Morton National Park to admire this breathtaking 80 metre waterfall just as the rain took a short break. Australia keeps setting the bar high for waterfalls and keeps on continuing to match it. The overcast skies allowed me to shoot at a slower shutter speed really accentuating the beauty of this scene. Before long the thunder was roaring through the sky, which meant the rain wouldn’t be far behind. Within moments, we were sprinting back to the car park completely soaked. Worth it? YES!

After checking our weather apps, it looked as though the rain would stop yet again but the chances of sun were limited. We stuck to our original plan of heading to the beach even if it meant getting wet on shore, rather than in the ocean. The amount of cars leaving Hyam’s Beach was ridiculous. It was like rush hour in a city but not to matter, we were on the other side of the road.

Parking was easy to find due to the weather and the fact that the New Year’s holidays have officially ended. We grabbed the guitar and headed out to the beach. Was it the whitest beach in the world? I don’t know. Personally, I think there may be others whiter but for now, I think it’s at the top!

Hyams Beach

As always, we needed to find another good place to set up for the night so we moved over to the nearby town of Vincentia. We sheltered ourselves off into the brush so we wouldn’t disturb anyone and called it a night in order to get up early for another sunrise and then hit the road for what would be the longest drive of the trip.

Chapter 9:

The Long Road Ahead

The alarm went off around 5:20am. The lack of sleep over the last few days has been exhausting but there’ll always be time to catch up later. I opened the trunk of my car, headlamp on and ready to walk through the bush to Blenhiem Beach which was just north of Hyam’s Beach. We chose to do sunrise at this location as we figured it needed a share of the spotlight as well. With mate, camera and a banana in hand, we were ready to start our big day.

Blenheim Beach Sunrise

We scanned the rocky coastline for an ideal location and moments later we were greeted with a bit of colour in the sky. It was cloudy out in the distance which interfered with our sunrise but there was a small break in the clouds once the sun had risen over the horizon that made for some perfect lighting.

By 7am, the sunrise was behind us and we knew we had quite the drive ahead of us. Our plan was to drive roughly 10 hours over 800 kilometres in order to get down to the southern most point of mainland Australia, Wilson’s Promontory. The weather was still a bit over cast at the moment which made this full day of driving much more forgiving knowing we’d be driving through it into what’s suppose to be the hottest day I’ve ever experienced yet. After a quick stop at the local Woolworths yet again, we put the pedal down and leaned back along the open road.

Interlude:

Musical Taste

Believe it or not, I actually listened to other music on this drive with the occasional conversation with T-Rex along the way. If I had to narrow it down to my top 5 artists I listened to along this 10 hour stretch it would be (in no particular order):

~ I’ve included two songs by each artist next to their names for recommendation, along with a link on their names.

Rock has always been my niche, and I absolutely love singing along while driving so these five bands offered quite a bit of different styles along the drive. From my all time favourite Canadian Alternative group Three Days Grace, to the more heavy Metalcore group Every Time I Die back to my current favourite duo of Twenty Øne Pilots to a band that has an entire mix of styles over their past three albums, Bring Me The Horizon. A new band that is still up and coming from Frankenmuth, Michigan is Greta Van Fleet. Resembling Led Zeppelin is this group led by three brothers that will be a mainstay on the scene for years to come! I highly suggest taking a look into each of these artists!

Chapter 9.1:

Still Cruising

We arrived at Lakes Entrance by 4:30pm (16:30) and couldn’t believe the view that the state of Victoria first greeted us with. Lakes Entrance was a bit of a detour off our planned route but by this time we needed a break in order to stretch our legs and get some food in us. Macca’s seemed like the appropriate choice at this point, and a good ol’ flat white coffee was a sure thing.

Lakes Entrance

While we were having our coffee and a bite to eat, I took a look at the plan ahead and realized just how big Wilsons Promontory actually was. It was MASSIVE! Finding out now that it was next to impossible to make the trek (32km) to the southern most point in only a few hours, we changed our course slightly to a National Park a bit closer to ease up on the lengthy drive. I had researched Tarra Bulga National Park before starting this road trip and knew it had received good reviews but it wasn’t until this day when I understood why.

As we began to leave Lakes Entrance, the highway went upwards along the coastline and really showed off the beauty of Australia’s southeast coast. It felt like a movie, or a vacation destination for a better word. Louis and I just looked at each other, laughed and said...

“Yet, we’re technically just driving to work”.

It took us another two and half hours before we reached the Tarra Bulga National Park, passing by paddock after paddock followed by the biggest nuclear plant I’ve ever seen. We didn’t really know what to expect, let alone how the landscape we were currently driving through was going to transition to a temperate rainforest. Then the road began to climb in altitude. Up and up we drove as the road slowly became more of a one-lane road typical of rural Australia. Where did this mountain come from? Seriously… The last thing on our minds or in our sights was an increase in elevation, yet here we go up to 700 metres above sea level. Now, typically 700 metres isn’t that high depending on how you look at it but when the rest of the countryside is sitting close to zero, you can imagine how good this view actually is.

The sight of our camp spot

The sun was beginning to set and the vibrant colours that were bouncing off the distant trees was gorgeous. It was nearing 7:30pm (19:30) and we just cruised past the spot we knew we’d be parking the cars for the night. We hadn’t yet crossed into the national park nor have we entered the rainforest that was described but that all changed in a matter of moments. Not even two minutes past the lookout point we’d be sleeping in, we entered into Tarra Bulga National Park and the sweet scent of rainforest air entered our nostrils.

T-Rex and Candlestick alone in the forest

The parking lot for the Corrigan Suspension Bridge had one car parked in it, but we never saw a single sign of life while we were there. Since it was already pretty late and we wanted to witness the sun fully set, we shot some quick photos and then headed back to our sleeping area.

Not a bad place to call home

There was one other vehicle there when we got back but they took off within a few minutes and we were left completely alone aside from a couple visitors as the night went on. No question about it, this was the best sunset and ending to a very full day we had all trip long!

The Milky Way one last time before heading to the city

Chapter 10:

Melbourne

Waking up this day was slightly different than the rest knowing very well that it was the end of our road trip. We would be making the final three hour drive to Melbourne shortly where we’d meet up with some friends and have a bed to sleep in. Not to let a single day go to waste, we headed back into the nearby rainforest for a morning walk.

If you're first, you're getting the cobwebs

Not quite thinking about what takes place during the night, we were met with a ridiculous amount of cobwebs across our faces. Both Louis and I becoming startled every time we felt one brush across us. At least we had cleaned out the paths for any future travellers through the area. One of the pathways brought us towards the park’s visitor centre where there was a sign of the entire area. A sign which indicated there was an abandoned school nearby…

Abandoned School in the National Park

We headed back to the vehicles and quickly set about going to this abandoned school. On the way, we passed by a sign pointing in the direction of two other waterfalls as well. First thing first however, let’s go check out the school. The school was still in emasculate condition considering it had been abandoned for some time and one of the window latches was open so we hop’d inside for a few shots.

It looked as if we weren’t the only ones to have done the same, as there were indications that others have previously entered. Perhaps it was best to leave this place alone. I remembered about a fire tower that was on the same map as the abandoned school. Supposably you could see Wilsons Promontory from there so quickly we headed in that direction.

Wilsons Promontory

Back onto a dirt road we drove, carefully avoiding the potholes and oversized rocks. Just as we got to the entrance of the road leading up to the tower, we met one of the guys who was working at the tower. He was super nice and just warned us to be careful. A kilometre hike up to the tower and we were looking out towards Wilsons Promontory. Even though we didn’t make it there on this trip, at least we got to see it! The plan to climb the tower was shut down quickly once we saw how many people were there working. We turned back to the cars with still some time to kill. Louis suggested checking out the two waterfalls we saw on the sign heading to the abandoned school. Why not?

The first waterfall was called Cyathea Falls. The short circular loop down to the falls ended up being the most memorable part of this segment since the waterfall itself was little more than a trickle due to the lack of rain this area has seen. While we were sitting down having our morning mate however we met a really nice couple that gave us some tips on where to go and what to see in Tasmania. The four of us walked back to the vehicles together and the husband, really knowledgable of the area was practically a tour guide for us explaining the different flora and fauna. He told us if we were looking for another quick stop on the way to Melbourne, it’d be worth checking Port Welshpool as they just built up a brand new pier offering another great view of Wilsons Prom.

With one more quick waterfall to check out before making a break towards the city, we were hoping it was going to be a good one. Only five minutes down the road and we came upon on the parking lot that had a few cars in it. Already promising, we hoped out to see Tarra Falls but unfortunately just like the previous one, the lack of rain almost ran this one dry as well. The day was really starting to heat up by this time which meant it was time to head to the beach for a swim.

Port Welshpool Pier

Twisting and navigating our way through the rest of the rainforest, we were getting eager for a swim. It was becoming so hot outside that even the air-conditioning in the car was proving difficult to stay cool. Fortunately, it wasn’t much of a drive and before we knew it the salty water of the bass strait was cooling us off. At this point of the day, it was hitting a cooking 41 degrees Celsius!

Louis had begun to feel a bit dizzy in the water, perhaps from the heat? We grabbed a quick bite to eat with what we had in our cars and a sandwich from the nearby overpriced general store before the final push to the city.

Two and half hours later we entered the city border and could feel the traffic start to pick up. Melbourne traffic wasn’t nearly as intense as the Sydney traffic was, but I’m assuming that may be due to the fact it’s also not New Years Eve anymore.

When I first came to Australia, I lived with my friend Chloe in Carnegie and at this moment, the sights began to look familiar for the first time on this trip. We had made it to where we’d be catching the ferry over to the island state of Tasmania!

Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne

Epilogue:

As much as I’d love to continue this epic road trip, all good things must come to an end in order for great things to become possible. We spent the next couple nights staying with friends in St. Kilda, catching up on sleep, and some editing. I was able to have a quick little lunch catch up with Chloe, and also a short walk to the St. Kilda Pier with Louis during this time as well. On Sunday morning at 7am, we began to board the Spirit of Tasmania and the nine hour boat ride to our new home commenced. Both Louis and I felt a bit seasick by the sixth hour, tried to get some sleep but had difficulty finding some room. Must say though, the scones were excellent with a bit of jelly!

Devonport

We docked the boat in East Devonport around 8pm (20:00) and headed straight for the Costa Distribution Centre to give ourselves an idea of where we’d be heading the next morning for a quick induction. Turns out it was only five minutes from the ferry terminal. Without any plans for Tasmania yet, we looked around for a place to park and sleep. What better spot than next to a skatepark right? As much as I’d like to say I put my bike together right away, I had lost a nut for my axle along the way which meant I couldn’t tighten my wheel…

We cooked some food on the free park stoves, enjoyed the free wi-fi that Devonport offers to look for some possible accommodation within the area and than called it a night. The night closed off with a beautiful sunset, not to mention that the sunsets are now almost two hours later than we were use to on the mainland thanks to being further south.

Welcome to a new coastline

I awoke to a message asking if Louis and I would like to take a look at a room in Leith. It was only a 15 minute drive from work and the location was perfect. Beachside with an incredible view of the bass straight, mountains in the distance and best of all, our own room even though we’d be sharing the house with 10 other backpackers. Without hesitation we paid our bond and first weeks rent to claim our spot because we knew how fast this type of place would get snatched up. The one catch is that we couldn’t move in for another four nights since the two girls that were currently in the room still needed to move out. What’s a few more sleeps in the car right?

After induction later in the morning, we did a bit of sightseeing throughout the area. I drove to the airport in Launceston to pick up our friend Aline and just so happened that on the way the homeowner we just met asked if Aline would like to go in our room with us. That way she could purchase a bunk bed and get it all setup for us by Friday. Perfect! It was so nice to see another familiar face from the small town of Corindi Beach. We scooted over to the BMX shop in Launceston since none of the shops in Devonport had the part I needed. We got lucky since the owner wasn’t in and his wife didn’t know much about BMX, but was able to walk away with the part and a new helmet. Aline booked into the Formby hostel for the four nights Louis and I would be staying in our cars.

With one day off before beginning our farm work, the three of us made the most of it by gathering some last minute essentials and relaxing along the Mersey Bluff. With the sun shining, it was time to begin our new lives together for the next two months here in Tasmania!

Good shit aye!