The morning after or rather later the same night we packed the mini-van full of all the essential stuff; camping gear, portable “barbie” (no Aussie leaves home without one”), an enormous “esky” (Australian cooler bag) full of beer, people and luggage. Finally we were on our way towards our first stop, McDonalds. Well, you can’t undertake a long road trip on an empty stomach, can you? You certainly can’t if you are going to indulge in lots of beverages along the way. A beverage or “bevvy” as they are called “down under” is quite simply, a can of lager. We had a massive esky full of them. The esky was standing in the middle of the van and it was so big that Veronica actually slept on it for a while. Australia is a very civilised country so when the number of cans decreased along the way, there were plenty of “drive in” bottle stores that as well as beer, also sold bags of ice. Supply was no problem and demand was high.
As you can imagine, after a few hours, the van was rocking with music and even some dancing on the famous esky. This centrepiece of our trip had indeed multiple functions. We stopped for lunch at the Ettamogah Pub. Not the real one which is up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, but a copy one. The pub is world famous in all of Australia and based on cartoon series, in which it is known as the outback pub. The massive building looks like it was built by craftsmen who worked after they’d been to the pub, rather than the more normal, other way around. In short! It looks funny.
After having sampled the “bevvy” in the pub the Australian van crowd got to work. Doing what an Australian van crowd does second best, after downing “bevvies” that is, cooking barbecue lunch. The portable barbie was assembled and soon there were burgers and snags (Australian for sausages) sizzling away. Our drive and head chef served this lovely cuisine in sliced bread with a choice of mayo or Heinz sauce. It was excellent. And just what we needed. All rustled up in the car park of the pub. Not bad!!
Upwards and onwards! We just had to wait for our driver to sober up a little. Sydney, our goal, was still a long way away. After a while when spirits were particularly high we came across a “lollipop man”. A lollipop man is the guy who holds the “stop and go” sign at the end, or beginning of a road works. The sign resembles a lollipop, hence the name. This mans lollipop said, “STOP”, we did so and chatted to the guy. Feeling sorry for him who had to work, we gave the thankful guy a cold beverage as he turned the lollipop and let us get on with our journey. Now these guys work in pair. After a few hundred meters his colleague was standing with his hand out as we drove passed laughing and cheering. They’d obviously had radio contact but our speed was too high and the second guy had to remain thirsty.
As you can imagine all this drinking, cooking, eating, beverage pit stops and numerous toilet breaks, took a long time. It was well after dark when we reached our destination, a beautiful camping site on the outskirts of Sydney. Relieved after a long trip, we drove up towards the gate and our driver popped in to say that we were there. We had of course pre-booked a spot at the site. The manager at the camping site took one look at us and said. “You lot are not getting in here! This is a family camping site”.Pleading with him, got us nowhere. My friend “Magic” said it was probably a very wise decision of that guy.
It was now late, dark and we had nowhere to go. This called for drastic measures. During the trip the name of a friend who had moved to Sydney, had been mentioned. I have a feeling that one of the girls on the road trip had been very friendly to this guy some years earlier and that she was quite keen to see him again. We called this guy and explained our situation. 30 minutes later we carried all our stuff including the esky through this guy’s house and into his back garden, where we put up camp. Our savours girlfriend did not look that very pleased, but thankfully we were not thrown out. Their Saturday evening dinner with another couple had been abruptly disturbed by a group of people that had just been refused entry to a camping site. We turned their garden into an all night camping party. The friend who had moved to Sydney seemed however very pleased to be visited by some old friends. I am not sure if they are still together.
The day after we moved into a camping ground on the Kurnell Peninsular, 30 kilometres south of Sydney, very close to where Captain Cook first landed in Australia the 29th of April in 1770. We had driven a whole day to come to Sydney. Instead we came to the birthplace of modern Australia. We did go into Sydney as well and took a ferry to Manly and had a swim. Sydney is in my opinion the most beautiful city that I have been to. We did however not see much of it during this trip. It was only after we came back to Melbourne that I realised that it was the trip itself that was the goal. Not Sydney! Thus making this a true road trip!!