Leaving Kangaroo Island was incredibly emotional and many tears were shed. Over the three and a half months, we forged some great relationships with an incredible bunch of people and also fell in love with the island itself.
That’s the thing about travelling, saying goodbye is an all too common affair and something you have to adapt to deal with. The things you encounter and the experiences you have, generally outweigh the difficult moments which in our case, was leaving yet another place we happily called home and saying adios to people we now considered as family.
As we pulled out of the driveway for the final time, we cried happy tears. We had survived the mouse-ridden tin shack, 88 days of physically demanding work, rock and stick torture, drop bears, liver failure and succeeded in getting our second year working holiday visas. What’s more incredible is that in that time, we didn’t earn a cent and had absolutely no control of our food supply, yet we were both as content and healthy as could be.
The two hour drive to Penneshaw was a mixture of sobbing, laughter, reminiscing and more sobbing. As we pulled up to the ferry I noticed the sea was looking delightfully rough. “It’s just a bit choppy”, Yasmin tried to reassure me as an enormous wave crashed up against the rocks and a seagull literally blew off a wall. About an hour later and halfway across the Backstairs Passage, I was violently vomiting into a paper bag, severely traumatising both Yasmin and the poor young couple a few seats in front.
If you’re an avid reader, you’ll know that I ALMOST made it a year without being sea sick and in that time I have frequented many an ocean vessel, so this was a sad defeat for me. I was also exceptionally annoyed at myself for consuming the world’s most expensive sandwich moments before.
Back on dry land and feeling a little shaky, Yasmin took the wheel and we set off back to the city of Adelaide. We arrived late afternoon and were reunited with our good friend John, his cousin Maddie, her boyfriend Chris and Lulu the dog, our new housemates for the next few months. John and Maddie were renting a brand spanking new townhouse in an up and coming suburb west of the city. When we entered we were terrified to touch anything – this was a bit of a jump from our previous living situation.
We spent the night in John’s bed, which he kindly gave up for us and slept for a good 12 hours. The following week was a blur of purchasing necessities, reacquainting ourselves with the city and job hunting.
For the next three months, we spent the entire time sleeping on $12 blow-up beds from Big W which, can I just say, was the best damn idea I’ve ever had. Who needs to spend hundreds on a proper bed when you can practically camp indoors every single night!? Granted, it’s a little odd living in a swanky town house, then retiring to your blow-up bed in the evening. What’s more, both me and Yasmin experienced punctures, waking up on the hard floor engulfed in squeaky blue plastic, but beggars can’t be choosers – am I right?
During our short stint back in civilisation we both worked hard to make up for our lack of income on Kangaroo Island, myself in a coffee shop and Yasmin back at her old job in a café.
On our days off we frequented Henley, our beautiful, local beach…
…enjoyed Adelaide night life…
…and cafés a little too much…
…and generally made the most of spring time in the city.
After 3 months of frolicking, we realised that city temptations were to blame for hindering our money saving plans. Both of us were barely breaking even every week, what with rent, delicious food so readily available and weekly ‘treat yo’ self’ trips to the cinema. We were both also suffering with the all too common backpacker medical condition known as ‘itchy feet’. It was time to move on from South Australia to new pastures, faces and experiences.
And within a few weeks of planning, that’s what we did. If Kangaroo Island taught us anything, it was that we could handle remote – and remote work is where the money flows and the people buzz. It was a toss up between Western Australia and a return trip to our beloved Tasmania. I hit Google hard and emailed almost every remote resort I could find in both states. Over 40 emails, a Skype interview and two phone interviews later, Tassie was our winner.
After much deliberation, I decided to hang on to my car. Road tripping across three states sounded like fun and nobody wants to be stuck in the middle of nowhere without a means to explore. We planned our route, booked our hostel in Melbourne and a shared cabin on the Spirit of Tasmania and had one final night out in Adelaide to celebrate.
This just so happened to result in me sprawled over a toilet for approximately 2 hours. I was then gracefully carried out by two bouncers, where I forcefully lay on Yasmin’s lap in an alley way, then lay on Yasmin in our friend’s car, then lay on my blow-up bed for a solid 5 days, drinking rehydration salts by the bucket load and cursing my love of Jägerbombs. Worst. Hangover. Ever. This also got me sacked from my last week at work, but my boss turned out to be a misogynistic bastard so I was pretty delighted that I would never have to look at his ugly mug again.
Adelaide – Melbourne, 8 hours, 726km
After cramming the car to bursting point and hugging our housemates goodbye, we set off early to avoid Adelaide’s usual weekday morning gridlock. Once out of the city, we climbed up into the hills and then out onto South Australia’s rolling plains of nothingness. The roads were eerily quiet, except for the occasional enormous truck whooshing past in the opposite direction. Towns would come and go, some with just a couple of houses lined along one small street. With each one, I wondered how people could live so far from civilisation – just popping to the corner shop involved a 4 hour round trip.
Just before we hit the Victorian border we stopped for a spot of lunch and rid the car of any leftover fruit – carrying fresh produce from state to state can land you with a hefty fine in Australia.
Over the border (which we expected to be heavily guarded by the fruit police, only to find a sad little sign welcoming us to Victoria), we continued on. Yasmin enjoyed an open mouthed nap whilst I enjoyed field after field after field and the chilled soundtrack of Ben Howard. Eventually, the Grampians came into view. A year before, we had climbed these beautiful mountains and it brought back some exciting memories and a topic of conversation for a short while.
We arrived at our hostel in St. Kilda early evening. Feeling hungry and in need of a leg stretch, we quickly changed and headed out for food and a well deserved cocktail, before wandering back to our bunk beds and passing out.
The Spirit of Tasmania was an overnight trip the following day, so we had until the afternoon to explore St. Kilda and surrounds:
Melbourne – Devonport, 12 hours, 460km
Loading onto the ferry was a long process, but well organised and surprisingly fun. Our car went through an inspection (to make sure that we weren’t harbouring any illegal fruits I presume) and after a bit of queuing, we were crawling up the ramp into the ‘mouth’ of the ship and then parked up ready for the 12 hour overnight crossing.
First things first, we headed straight to our cabin, a 4 bed share. The Spirit of Tasmania had very recently been through a revamp and our hotel-like room did not disappoint!
We then headed down to explore the huge vessel, which had it’s own casino and cinema, as well as restaurants and bars. We had a tasty buffet dinner and watched the sunset – which was spectacular.
As we cruised along Port Phillip Bay, I couldn’t help noticing how calm the water felt. A wave of smugness rolled over me as I lead myself into a false sense of sea-sickness defying security.
A few hours later and once clear of the shelter of the bay and onto the Bass Strait, things took a dramatic turn. As we lay in our beds, 5 meter waves and 40 knot winds thrashed against our little porthole window. I was soon on my second travel sickness tablet – which I’ve discovered does peculiar things to you physically and mentally. Even Yasmin was in a terrible state. For 10 hours, we were rocked and rolled around, it was torture in its purest form and by morning, I looked very much like I had been at a rave and tripping on acid.
Devonport – Strahan, 3 hours, 226km
The next leg of the journey was a tough one. We set off from Devonport around 6am and headed to the nearest café. Eating was a struggle and I could still feel the motion of the ocean as I sat there poking my food around my plate.
After an hour and a half or so of driving, I could feel my eyelids slowly starting to give in to fatigue. I pulled over into a quiet corner of a little town named Tullah and we both power napped. Little did we know, I had parked right next to the beginning of the Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway and I woke up abruptly to find about 40 train enthusiasts looking at us like we were a couple of homeless people.
Moving on, we drove up into the mountains, along tranquil lakes and through a number of peaceful old mining towns. The wilderness along the west coast was so ruggedly beautiful.
When we eventually got into Strahan, we collected our induction packs for our new jobs and were set up in a complementary hotel room each for the night. As the long day drew to an end, we treated ourselves to some local fish and chips and sat up at the town’s view point.
I was in bed by 7pm and slept for a good 14 hours. Just to put it all into perspective, over the 3 days we: Crossed 3 states of Australia, spent approx. 24 hours on the move and travelled a distance of 1,412km.
We have now been living and working in Strahan for just over a month and things are already nothing like we expected, but I will save those stories for my next blog posts…