It all started very innocently. Four girls and one big - Betsy. Easy, just one thousand kms to drive. On the left side. (Another reason why Australia is so special!) I was very close to crashing into cars heading toward me in the beginning of our journey. I managed not to thanks to my friends who were screaming at me each time to pull the van back in to my lane. Oops. I was a very safe driver the rest of the drive. :)
We started in Newcastle where I was supposed to pick up the van. The sun was all the way up and when I got the pink key I knew that this was going to be very VANtastic road trip.
We hit the road to Port Stephens, where we stopped to do Sand boarding in Anna Bay. It was absolutely the highlight of the trip. The dunes and view on Birubi beach was just breathtaking. We were always a bit behind the schedule as we got easily lost. One way street or no right turn was a killer for me. So we arrived for sand boarding late but fortunately the influence of four girls was strong enough to convince the 4WD driver to give us a lift to the dunes.
We got quite late to Port Macquarie. I drove to the main beach where a group of English backpackers were camping. Apparently nobody knew about legal camps in the town. After a few rounds around the city I found the sign pointing to a campsite. It was already after midnight when we snuck into camp. Given our pink van was pretty obvious, we were ready to be kicked out anytime. We spent an hour at the laundry room waiting until all our phones got recharged. That night was the first night of our adventure, four people sleeping in one van, alarm clock set for 5am.
We spent the morning in Coffs Harbour and in the afternoon we finely got to Byron Bay. After the first night we decided to spend the second night in the hostel. Julia suggested The Arts Factory Lodge - backpacker’s hostel where you can sleep in Teepees, set around a small billabong, where you can camp as well. That night was ours, we took the shuttle to the city for some entertainment.
We were surprised that we hadn't found any. The pubs and clubs were empty. Tuesday was not apparently party night in Byron Bay.
Next morning we were heading to Nimbin. On the way there we got lost in the hills, we were basically traveling without any navigation and I was following just my instincts - which was not such a good idea. Anyway, after we got lost in the middle of nowhere I found a light shining under my fingers. It was a sight that we were running out of fuel and it definitely hadn't just come on. but who cared I was enjoying the view and the feeling of freedom. The fact that we were probably more than couple of kilometres from the closest gas station just dampened the awesomeness of the moment. Heavy rain didn’t make it any better. After a couple of minutes we passed a house, hidden between the hills, where we saw a man. I bravely got out of the van to ask the man about the closest gas station. This situation reminded me an Australian horror story - Wolf Creek.
I was waiting for a scary creapy answer but the man was actually alright, very high and rather slow, but all right. Definitely not a serial killer. Phew. It turned out the closest gas station was 30 km away from the place we met the man. We would certainly not make it if the man hadn't offered us his fuel that was left in his container.
We made it to the Gold Coast during the afternoon. The weather there was not at its best but the Gold Coast is always special if you know how you to make it special. Get a bright pink van and drive with friends, get lost and not have a place to sleep but this is the point what makes a road trip unforgettable.
On our last day when we were heading back to Sydney one more funny thing happened. We stopped for pee break, it was hot, in the middle of the Pacific highway and my friend Sonja got stuck in the toilet cabin. For some reason she couldn't open the door. I was laughing for a couple minutes but then I stopped. I felt it was getting serious when the woman from the counter came out with a long knife to try and break the door lock. After one minute all shop came to see what is happening and offered few useless advices. Sonja got crazy as she apparently didn’t want to die in toilet cabin. The counter woman called her grandpa Steve who called John who called George to come over to get the princess out of her castle. After five minutes it seemed like all the town was there. I felt that everyone was included into the plan. Suddenly, we heard “krrr”. Everyone did a step back, silence and after couple seconds Sonja came out from the doors. :)
I was so happy that we all got back to Sydney safely.