Our first official day of the road trip! As we mentioned in the last post we started slow, fighting a combination of rush hour, weekend and school holiday traffic getting out of the city. We didn’t care though we were finally on the road, windows down, music turned up, surf boards strapped to the roof, Australia was waiting to be explored! The benefit of traffic, you get to really take in all the sites when you’re only moving 40km’s an hour.
Traffic finally eased up as we made it further north out of the city, with only a little time travelling in Australia you can still really get the sense this is a land of extremes. It’s evident with every second vehicle being a fully decked out 4×4. A lift kit, bull bars, off road spot lights and a safari snorkel are just standard equipment here. It’s hard to believe driving through dense forests and wide open arid grasslands that flooding is such a huge concern, but there are metre sticks every few Km’s to let you know exactly how much water is on the road during extreme wet seasons. Cruising along in our little Toyota 4Runner we received what I can only assume was a “Toyota Wave”. Being Jeep owners back home this is a phenomenon that we thought only occurred with Jeep owners, but we got a approving head nod and a wave from a guy in an awesome late 70’s Land Cruiser “Troopy”.
Our goal for today was Rainbow Beach, only a few hours drive north of Brisbane, however with the heavy traffic and getting away late we ended up stopping just a little short of the beach. Carly’s aunt and uncle lent us a great travel book listing all the campgrounds and caravan park throughout Oz and we found one that sounded great just before Rainbow. We pulled off the highway onto a dirt road to reach Standown Caravan Park. I almost crashed the truck in excitement as a large red kangaroo jumped out onto the road a few hundred metres in front of us. My first proper wild kangaroo! I’ve seen many in zoo’s and sanctuaries but there is nothing like seeing animals in the wild, especially when it’s an animal you have spent your life dreaming of seeing in its own habitat. Australia and it’s creatures have filled my dreams since I was a little boy and it truly is a dream come true to be spending this time traveling the country. With all the time I spent reading and watching nature and travel shows on Oz it’s no real surprise that I ended up marrying an Australian!
With it getting dark we struggled a little setting up the giant tent Carly’s brother Luke had lent us, but we got it figured out eventually. The 6 man, two room tent is a little more complicated than the 2 minute set up of our 2 man Sierra Designs backpacking tent we use back home. After getting set up we went over to check out the facilities at Standown. What a great little spot! Originally opened as a Veterans retreat then expanded into a caravan park Standown has it all. The kitchen structure has BBQs, two convection ovens, a couple of fridges for cold storage, dishwashing sinks and a whole host of kitchen appliances to make life easy. There was also a fire pit and great toilet and shower facilities on site. We cooked up some chilli and introduced ourselves to the crew of people staying at the park. We met some great characters and heard some fantastic stories and got lots of trip advice from the seasoned Aussie travellers. After a couple of beers it was time for bed, When the sun goes down Australia comes to life! Kookaburras laugh, galahs and cockatoos screech in a futile effort to drown out the rainbow lorikeets. The crickets are incredibly loud and the sky fills with giant fruit bats who’s swooshing wing beats can be heard overhead. It’s a beautiful symphony of sound, that does make it a little tough to sleep at first but once you’re used to it the sounds of Australia’s bush birds and insects are an amazing way to fall asleep.
We were up with the sun, as it’s hard not to be in a tent, it’s HOT! We woke up and freaked out a little as we noticed a large croc head in the pond directly behind our tent. We then calmed as we realized it was a fake put in the decorative pond by the owners of the caravan park. We made coffees, broke camp and headed to Rainbow Beach for breakfast. A quick drive to the ocean where we set up in the shade and had a fantastic breakfast on the beach. After our meal we packed up and headed north, destination Agnes Water.
In our next post, we visit Agnes Water, the oddly named town of 1770, surfing and more!
Ewan & Carly