Travel Stories

We’d practically packed the van the night before, in anticipation of a few taps of the snooze button and the inevitable last minute remembering of essential items, like tickets for example (yes, we were printing tickets at 4:15am). By 4:30 we were off to Kate’s place, where we’d be meeting our convoy companions for the long journey up to Byron Bay.

Apparently the pre-dawn hours of the morning are the coldest in the dead of winter (who knew?), and you could tell we’d all dressed in the dark. Onesies were a popular choice of travel attire in our 12-person troop, and fingerless gloves, beanies and socks with ballet flats featured too. Once the cars were packed to the roof, we were off! The road was virtually empty but for our four vehicles filled with camping gear, flower crowns and excitement. Once we were on the freeway it was a race (within the speed limit of course) for the yellow jacket – the leader of the convoy! “Never leave a man behind” was the motto, though it didn’t last long.

Via walkie talkies and our mobiles we’d collectively decided to stop at Maccas just outside of Maitland for breakfast, but when the freeway made a sharp turn to the right, one foolish car followed the signs straight ahead into Maitland, condemning them to becoming so lost that the rest of us decided over our Bacon and Egg McMuffins that they’d just have to catch up with us later…rookies…

After we’d eaten our fill of hash browns and the like (along with many other Splendour-goers), my sister Lou and I pumped the tunes – some Frank Ocean to get us in the mood – and drove into the sunrise. The drive up the coast really is a spectacular one, especially at this hour of the morning. As the rising sun began to peek through the rippling clouds, the sky turned all shades of blue and yellow, and against the rural Australian setting of bushy hills and cows grazing upon the paddocks, there was nothing to do but stare in wonder, then promptly whip out the phone and Instagram the glorious view. Everyone at home will be green with envy…

Jethro Batts, Jethro Clayton, Park My Van, PMV, Caravan, Caravanning, Camping, Backpackers, Travel, Australia, Road Trip, Campervanning, Campervan, Splendour in the Grass,  Mudfest, Byron Bay, East Coast, Northern Rivers, New South Wales, Festival
Sunrise

The highway was crawling with Splendour-goers, easily identifiable by their Wicked and Jucy campervans, the pillows stuffed in boots and the long-haired hipster dudes in their Ray Bans pumping Portugal. The Man with the windows down. Somewhere along the way we lost another of our convoy cars, simply because Anna is a rev-head and “doesn’t like driving behind people” (her words, not mine..). And then we were two…

We’d made pretty good time up until this point, and I can tell you Lou and I weren’t complaining with our spacious, air-conditioned van ride…the poor plebs in their Yaris’…

Jethro Batts, Jethro Clayton, Park My Van, PMV, Caravan, Caravanning, Camping, Backpackers, Travel, Australia, Road Trip, Campervanning, Campervan, Splendour in the Grass,  Mudfest, Byron Bay, East Coast, Northern Rivers, New South Wales, Festival
The Road North

Grafton was the next stop, and our last before Byron Bay. We all had to head into Byron together if we were to camp together at the festival, which seemed a logistical nightmare given that we’d lost half our convoy. However, against all odds, and with KFC Grafton the landmark meeting point, they convoy was reunited once more!

We’d eaten far too much fast food and wasted far too much time in that KFC, and half the group insisted upon stopping at the shopping centre to buy some tent poles and other last minute items like cash and Gatorade (essential? I’m not sure…), which resulted in about an hour and a half delay and lots of waiting around and my patience being stretched to its limit.

Once we were finally back in our vehicles, we managed to get supremely lost coming out of Grafton, as somehow we’d ended up leading the troops and my iPhone map-reading skills were waaaay below par. Lou having to brake suddenly to avoid a kookaburra sitting in the middle of the road didn’t help matters, especially when a very hostile man decided to yell abuse at us for stopping for a “bird”, which unnecessarily escalated stress levels even though we’d saved a national icon’s life. Douchebag!

After the Grafton shemozzle we were on the pleasant coastal road, the convoy staying strong and anticipation for the epic weekend ahead brewing. A whistle-stop in beautiful Byron Bay so we could pick up another friend and conceal contraband vodka and dusk was setting in. We’d be setting up in the dark…not ideal.


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