Australia

The Campervan Life: Our Final Big Day of Driving


Today is our big final day of driving

and I will admit that I am ready to get out of this damn campervan.

We are up relatively early as is everyone around us. It is about 7:30 and John has been up puttering for about an hour. I pull open the shade and look down at Back Beach. There are a number of people, some with dogs, who are already making the trudge back from the point. They must have started out at about 6:00 am. God, such fortitude! John and I have come to realize that not only are we the only two men travelling alone that we have seen (in style, cocktails before dinner and wine with), but we are also the youngest people in the campervan parks. This suggests there may be a new target market of potential caravaners and campervanners waiting to be discovered.

Back to Sydney in a Campervan

We dump our grey water (we are experts at this now), fill up with fresh water, and head out on the road, saying goodbye to our 48-hour beach address. It is only about 400 km, but the anticipation of this part of the trip finishing makes it feel a lot longer. Much of it proves to be dual carriageway, which makes the driving faster and smoother, but also increases the tension for John, especially as we get closer to Sydney, and the drivers get that familiar big-city aggressiveness that we haven’t seen till now. (The joys of driving in a huge country/continent where there are only 20 million people, and about half of them live in 2 cities – Sydney and Melbourne. When you add Brisbane and Adelaide to the pot, with another 2 ½ million between them, you have an awful lot of space, as we’ve come to recognize over the last week, with very few people.)

A Koala Stop

We stop after about 45 minutes to visit the Billabong Nature Reserve because John just has to pat a Koala and they promise us, and a number of other tourists, a pat at 10:30. We stroll through the small park and see a number of Kangaroos (and a new baby albino wallaby) lounging in the shade and oblivious to us humans. That is unless you have purchased special kangaroo food – then they magically spring to life and love you. We, however, didn’t want to spend the exorbitant amount being asked for the tiny cup of ‘roo food; we are content to watch others delight in feeding baby kangaroos.

Our official petting starts and a nice young man entices Suzy down from her slumber, and the group of us are allowed to pat and say hello to her. Koala’s love to be held and hugged and Suzy is no exception. The handler explains that it is now illegal in NSW for anyone not employed at a zoo/reserve to hold koalas, so we can only pat her. As the 10 or so of us try not to crowd her, Suzy gets restless and clings to her handler. We are done in 15 minutes and head to the highway again.

A Reminder of Home

I keep counting down the mileage as we approach Sydney. Quite a familiar town appears on the map and has several exits and mileage signs indicating the fast approaching exit. It very obviously reminds us of home. Our plan is to stay just outside Sydney and then to drive into the city tomorrow morning to retrieve the keys to the flat we are renting, pick up our stored bags at Arts Hotel and drop the camper off near the airport. From the information we’ve found, there are only three campervan parks in the entire Sydney area, one conveniently north of the city. We are both ready to stop as we drive up to it – only to see a sign announcing that a new subdivision is being built on the site, and the park is being closed – in August 2003. We fight through Sydney traffic (the motorway mysteriously ends and scatters all those cars onto local streets for eight km before the next highway starts again) to the 2nd best location, in the far western suburbs. After check-in, we hear some of the residents talking and come to understand that this caravan park is also about to be redeveloped – the neighbourhood has become a decidedly upscale suburb, and a developer is trying to buy the site.

Indeed, our campervan backs onto the backyard of a nice, suburban home. Camping in the ‘Burbs. Only in Australia!

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