April Fool’s Day started with us arriving back into the city from our Road Trip through the Great Ocean Road. The going in circles and BS came back as soon as we made it back to Melbourne. The great thing it was still a sunny day. I (Junior) had to start work the following day as the Pastry Chef at an Italian Restaurant. It was not too bad there, a lot of hours and Italians. At times I forgot I was in Australia with them speaking so much Italian. The city and its cold, cloudy weather finally got to me, I got sick for the first time in nearly 6 months. I would later pass it to Ben.
As I worked, Ben worked vigorously in finding us a home on wheels, which he eventually did a 1992 Mitsubishi L300. A bit smaller compared to what Dorothy was in New Zealand but no complaints it was a step forward in getting out of Melbourne.We were also visited by a familiar face, Carlos. We worked together at Cardrona back in Wanaka, New Zealand, it was awesome to see some one we already knew. The following day all three us went to the Yarra Valley outside of Melbourne, a wine region on the pursuit of checking out Domaine Chandon as they are connected to Cloudy Bay where we worked. The wine wasn’t anything spectacular, I believe the brand name just increases the price but that’s just my opinion. Since we were in the region, we went to a couple of other wineries and a brewery, learned some new stuff about wine. This trip made me want to leave Melbourne even more.
And that’s what we did, I had work the following days, we determined to leave on Saturday and so I resigned work on Thursday. We had the intentions to go up the East Coast of Australia but a phone call to Ben of a job in Darwin changed our route the day before leaving. Our last full day in Melbourne was great, met up for picnic at the Botanical Gardens with a large group of people through CouchSurfing. We’ve never done anything like that, was a good experience. We later went to the pub with some new friends from the picnic. After a couple of hours, we had to leave to see a show headlined by Opiuo. Ben knows his music quite well and we got to see him also at a festival in New Zealand.
The show was spectacular, the lights, sound, bass, people everything was so well for the last night in Melbourne. I left before Ben, wasn’t sure if he would make back to apartment as the trams always get us confused. Woke up in the morning luckily he was there, somehow he said he made it home. A trip to the Victoria Market for some delicious, inexpensive vegetables to cap of leaving Melbourne.
Off to the Grampians National Park and to the Outback. We got a late start as we drove for 3 hours before the darkness set in. Another day of driving before making it to Grampians, a lot of vineyards we passed. We entered the park with no knowledge of it, when we finally made it to a I Site, and learned we drove pass so much. The park reminded me a bit of Yosemite with less giant rocks and more tress. We did a few tracks and view points, a trip through the Grand Canyon yes we can say we’ve been to the Grand Canyon of Australia. Haha. Amazing views and the continuation of getting to the Outback. After a few more days of driving and restocking of food and water, also a view of the Southern Ocean. Cold was no longer an issue. Now headed towards Port Douglas and a trip on the Wellington Ferry, second time we ride a ferry of the same name. We finally made it to the beginning of the Outback and the redness began. This was the only time we would see live wild kangaroos.
The first night in the Outback we were quickly welcomed by a swarm of flies that don’t leave you alone. Our goal was to make it to Uluru in two days for April 20th. The day followed with 900 KM’s of driving, along with many dead kangaroos on the side of the road, victims of the Road Trains (massive semi trucks). The desert is like nothing I’ve seen everything is red literally the rocks, sand, road, some bush. Driving through the Outback I learned what they mean when they call it Bush. There’s only bushes in the Outback, some grow like trees but they’re just bushes.
Finally, we made it to the “greatest” thing in the Outback, Uluru, I had mixed vibes when we got there. It’s this amazing rock, biggest in the world and the sacred site of the Indigenous traditional owners of that area. The site is exploited by tourism and people disrespecting the values of it and climbing the rock. I’m a bit ashamed to have visited Uluru but that’s my opinion. We saw an amazing Sunset with a nearly Full Moon rising in the background. We left the park and camped some 25 K’s outside park, there we saw our first Dingo and they didn’t eat any babies. The Outback has some amazing wild life especially the birds, Cockatoo and many other beautiful colored birds. Along the way at a road house the ladies convinced us to stay the night there. She said it was going to be busy Friday night with all the locals and Australian Footy was going to be on. We later met a group of backpackers living and working on the adjacent Camel Farm, one was from California, very friendly people. They wanted us to go ride a camel the following day. We went in the morning to see the Camels, freaky animals but we didn’t ride one.
The journey continued to Alice Springs, the biggest town in the center of Australia, mixed vibes there as well, a town with thousands of people after seeing nothing and no one for nearly a week, a bit overwhelming. Bought some more food and water and went to the West MacDonnell Ranges to a water hole. Beautiful view, cooked a quick lunch and continued the driving as we still had 2000 kilometers to go. At one roadhouse while paying met another backpacker from Germany/Turkey, very friendly chatted a bit and served us the best cold water we had in a while. We later stopped a rest area to cook lunch and the neighbor told us of some amazing thermal springs in Mataranka, that became our target for the day to make it there and relax. We made but the darkness beat us and couldn’t afford to pay for the campsite, we park a bit away and visited them in the morning, got to see Wallabies(small kangaroo animals). Beautiful, clear, warm water naturally coming from the Earth. We stayed a while and then visited similar thermal springs down the highway, even more spectacular, this crazy clear water in the middle of tropical forest, something I’ve never seen before.
The driving continues with Darwin 420 kilometres away, along the way you can see the change of plant life, also ginormous termite and ant mounds. Some were easily 3 mteres high and some as wide as 2 metres, that amazing building by tiny, smart animals. Stopped at Litchfield National Park, amazing waterfalls unfortunately an overflow of water brought the potential of crocodiles in the water. We hiked to the top and could not resist a swim the amazing clear water holes. After the hike and wanting to meet people we saw a group of fun looking people at the grass and joined them, Giacomo, Camille, Alex and Kimbely. They were also headed to Darwin we made a bonfire and chatted for the night. The following day we followed them to another water hole with jumping spots and went for a swim, then to a park for lunch and some futbol and frisbee. The weather was hot and humid. We finally made our way towards Darwin less than 100 K’s away but the longest, traffic came something that didn’t exist in the outback. As it later turns out we were at Uluru the same day and camped at the same site but they left early in the morning before us. We took different routes the next couple of days but later met and Litchfield and it was then our awesome van lights reminded them they have seen the van before.
We were welcomed to Darwin by humidity that made you sticky and sweaty and now the search for where can we sleep, it was getting dark and options shrinking. Eventually drove out the city to a caravan park that was closed and waited finally the security checked us in and enjoyed a swim in the pool along with a shower. Some dinner than drinking games was fun, by the end it was half past 3 in the night. Woke up to the sun shinning at my face and had no choice but to wake up. There was this amazing bouncing playground that the more you jumped the more you laugh. Finally made it to the city and wondering where to park everything was payed parking and as backpackers cannot afford that. Finally found parking walked around, went to the lagoon and relaxed. It was now time to meet with the job that brought us to Darwin, a dinner cruise ship that goes around Darwin. We boarded on not knowingly what was coming, some free dinner, beer, cold water and amazing views all free. Can’t complain for the second day here, it’s amazing where cooking can take you.
A worker at a caravan park told us about Mindil Beach where the backpackers go to park and sleep, perfect just what we needed and there was a market there that we had to work at on a food truck. Its like a backpackers at Mindil Beach just have to wake up before the Ranger arrives around 6 or 7 in the morning. Awesome Cowabunga people there, also I believe its the Little France of Darwin. Fridays Matthew of the Solomon Islands comes with bread to give away, great person he is. We would go on to stay at Mindil Beach Backpackers for one week.