Day 1 and 2: Sydney – Gundagai – Mildura
As I start to talk about our road trip to Perth (and back) a few of the funny stories start to flood back. Not everything was funny but there were some memories that are worth sharing. After driving out of our driveway on December 27th and saying goodbye to my parents (and our animals) we were all a bit zoned out to start with. It had been a very busy week with my hubby doing five different church services that week on top of a very crazy school term. The staring at nothing was good for us as we looked forward to our adventure.
After a long drive we decided to stop at Gundagai and followed the signs to a little caravan park next to the river and next to the railway bridges. I got a lot of really gorgeous photos of those bridges although I nearly missed the first sunset as a very tipsy traveler stopped me to tell me to go and take photos of the bridge at a different spot.
Our first set up was exciting but chaotic, we’d had very little time to pack the van the way we wanted to so I spent a fair bit of time rearranging the storage space the next day. We have no annex so it was all open air eating and cooking for us.
The first morning we woke up to a little surprise. On the curtain not too far from where my youngest was sleeping was a HUGE huntsman type spider. My youngest is very scared of bugs but especially spiders and I knew that if she woke up to one a foot from her face on the first morning we would have a hard time for the rest of the trip getting her to sleep in the camper van. I tapped hubby and pointed. He quickly but carefully took down the curtains which were on a wire and took them outside. The whole time my daughter didn’t wake up!
We never told her about the spider and don’t intend to until she’s much older. The funny thing is, my hubby said that they had seen that spider when they were fixing the camper trailer ready for the trip and didn’t know where it had gone. In a way, that was comforting because it meant that it didn’t sneak in through a gap in the canvas but had instead hitched a ride!
Day two was spend driving to Mildura which was our second marker. At no point did we book anywhere, we just drove in and asked if there were powered sites available. We got one every time so this seems to work. Going to Mildura meant crossing the border into Victoria. It also meant crossing the Murray River which was a thrill. We saw houseboats down on the water as we drove across the bridge.
Crossing the border into the Riverina meant having to get rid of all our fruit and veg. We didn’t realise this before we went through this area as we had only expected to go through a fruit fly quarantine area when entering Western Australia. This meant of course that all the fruit we had brought from home had to go. The fine for getting caught with fruit and veg from outside the area is $11,000, no cucumber or apple is worth that. In the van we had a bunch of bananas which were very hard to get to. As we were driving along we were explaining quarantine to the girls and Miss 7 pipes up with ‘what happens if we can’t get the bananas out of the van?’. We told her we would get a big fine to which she asked ‘what if we can’t pay the fine?’ to which we said ‘oh, I don’t know, maybe we’d go to jail’ (trying to emphasise the importance of obeying the law of the land and the consequences of not doing so). Well, you’d think we’d done the wrong thing as this was met with actual tears and wailing of ‘I don’t want to go to jail!! We have to find the bananas! Please Daddy don’t leave the bananas in the van!’.
We got the bananas out eventually.
Ah dear. PS. Notice the fruit fly bin has ‘Queensland’ on it. This was taken at the Vic border so not sure why that has Qld on it. Odd.
Another part of driving to Mildura was the Hay plains. As someone said, this would prepare us for the Nullarbor later. What we didn’t expect to see there was many many emus! There was whole groups of them wandering around together which was a real treat to see, especially for the girls. They both drew an emu in their scrapbooks to record them.
During our trip we hardly saw any kangaroos. We thought we would see lots of them but unfortunately the first one we did see only lasted a few seconds. We spotted a big red on the side of the road and as we were watching it bounced right in front of our car. Michael screeched on the brakes (carefully) but as he got to the other side of the road there was a road train (big truck) coming and we heard the loud thud. We didn’t see it but we knew it was hit. Miss 10 drew a picture of a gravestone with ‘RIP kangaroo’ on it.
In Mildura we followed the signs to a caravan park which turned out to be ok but probably lower on the list of places to stay along the way.
It was small so we were on the grassed area in the centre of the permanent houses. Not good for my introvert self. However, little did we know how much we would grow to appreciate that grass as most of the other stops after that were patches of dirt! This was the only caravan park where the girls went for a swim in a pool too.
Highlights from Days 1 and 2: The beautiful historic railway and foot bridges in Gundagai, Emus in mobs, crossing the Murray River.
Funny Memories: Spider in the van, jail for bananas.