We drove from Byron Bay for 3 hours at my favourite time of day to be on the road; late afternoon into early evening where the colours in the sky change the most and you experience glorious sunshine both bursting through the trees into the road before you and it casting orange, yellow and purple shades behind the mountains as it sets. One of the best things about travelling the east coast of Australia is the gorgeous, diverse scenery you are gifted with down the vast roads, dotted with classic motels, low houses, stations and truck stops.
I will miss being on the road for the time it offers for peace and reflection, for the beauty I witness, and for the craziness of travelling with Tiia in the back with me (without her beside me I would be concerned as to the state of my mental health at this point!) and Matthieu and Umberto and their enthusiastic singing and ‘bizarre’ Italianisms 🙂 On this particular journey I finally managed to snap a photo of a Lindsay van after passing numerous warehouses and vehicles over the last 3 weeks on the road.
We arrived at Bellinger free campsite at around 7:20pm, opening the van door to be greeted by the refreshing smell of horses and manure, being situated right next to fields of cows and horses. Small but compact with toilets and water, we set up the van for Tiia and I sleeping in the front again (me in the driver’s seat this time) and ate dinner. I got into the front seat quite early, settling in with my head torch to read a couple of chapters before trying to get an early night. Kerfuffle then ensued as Matthieu and Umbi settled in behind us, only a curtain separating our faces, once again pointing out how crazy they think we are for sleeping like this. I stupidly assumed this must therefore be the most amount of people they have experienced sleeping in one vehicle together as they seemed to think 4 in a camper was insane, for them to reveal 4 of them had slept in one car on a holiday once – yet we’re the crazy ones!?!
I struggled to get comfortable behind the wheel and stay warm, resulting in a very disturbed night. I woke just before 7:30am feeling physically weak and in need of a proper break – I know there will be challenges with being in one place and having “routine” in Sydney after 5 months on the road moving from place to place, but it will be good for me physically to slow down the pace of my body (and my mind, despite me wanting to race ahead of it).
We drove for 2 hours before making it to Port Macquerie, somewhere I had heard was good for beaches and coastal walks. However when we arrived we discovered they advise you not to swim in the sea due to the strong currents and the only coastal walk would take 4 hours, which didn’t really appeal to everyone in the midday sun. We therefore wandered to the Lighthouse for views across the beach, the mountains and the ocean, spotting a huge whale in the distance surfacing and diving back in alongside a lucky boat, whilst the deep waves crashed into the rocks below us. Australia has some truly gorgeous spots to sit by the sea and watch and listen.
We then continued driving for another hour or so to a rest stop for lunch; Australia equips its long stretches of road with truck/rest stop facilities including toilets, running water and benches, accommodating those on-the-road and making it far easier to travel. God bless Australia. Matthieu pointed out we were only 3 hours from Sydney and could make it that evening instead of the following day as planned. This brought up mixed emotions for me – I am being reunited with, and staying with, a best friend from home whom is currently living and working in Sydney so getting to see her sooner than planned is massively exciting. At the same time I had expected to be travelling like this for a whole extra day and, whilst it doesn’t provide the greatest sleep at night and can be tiring, it has been such a crazy and wonderful experience and it would take some mental readjusting to that ending early.
When I saw the tarot reader in Eumundi she said I have had – and will continue to have – a lot of beginnings and endings (although that just sounds like life to me??!), which is something I would have to just accept. And travelling, by its very nature, comes with many beginnings and endings as you move from place to place, leave one country (or continent) for another, meet people and create friendships to then go your separate ways, never mind all the ways in which you change and bend as a person. Endings, and not detaching from them, is something I was working on before I left home and fortunately am getting better at doing, but it can still be a shock and an adjustment to have a “scheduled” ending appear sooner than expected.
Driving from the rest stop onwards I therefore made sure I took in the experience of coasting along the Oz roads in a camper with my travel companions, feeling tearful to have it be over soon yet mainly grateful and appreciative of having this experience and what it had offered me. I will miss travelling in this way, being with these guys and the craziness and uniqueness it offered me, but I am ready for the next part… I THINK 🙂