What a weird day that was. We were up at 5am after being plied with roast lamb and red wine at my parents the night before, and quickly made our way back over to North Bondi for the final farewell. However, with belongings still lying in uncategorized mounds around the boys’ house, it was never going to be a swift one.

The real bizarreness came with the film crew turning up to capture our friends and family as they bid a combination of sad goodbyes, hopeful messages and both subtle and unsubtle mocking directed at the car and Joe’s handiwork on it. Some comments were made about the curtains being different lengths too, although I ignored them.

Then it was our turn to be interviewed about ‘the big trip’ and I seemed to go on screensaver. It’s not that I haven’t resolved my thoughts about it and it’s definitely not that I haven’t talked about it – in fact I’ve become sick of talking about it in the last 3 months and keen to just get on with it. But this was like a final justification of what we were doing, how we’d planned it, why we were doing it and what our fears and excitements were – and to me – it came out of my mouth so clinically, with zero excitement, and almost pure nervousness. I walked away really disappointed that I’d misrepresented why I was doing the trip. I’d wanted to say something meaningful and profound instead I said things like ‘it’ll definitely bring us closer together’. Duh, we’ll be living in a car.   

 With that done we really just needed to say goodbyes and get stuff into the car, rather than just around it. Our first failing was that although we’d packed the car a few times before for various camping trips, we’d never actually done a dry run of packing it up as our home for the next 12 months. This proved to be stressful and challenging, and so the first round of culling began. True, we need two knives, forks, plates and cups to travel the world with; we probably don’t need two guitars. Time ticked on to the point where we needed to do a ‘staged’ goodbye for the folks who had gathered in the driveway so that they could get on with their lives and then it was just the two of us in the bleating sun trying to make constructive decisions about what to take and what to toss. After planning for a 9am take-off, we drove out the driveway for the last time at 6.31pm. Clearly not the finely tuned packing machine we need to be.

 Determined to get on the road that day, we took the fairly easy drive through the Sutherland Shire, and into the Royal National Park, finding a campsite at Bonnie Vale just before sunset and drizzle set in, the Sydney skyline still in our sights. A Danish guy called Christian on a motorbike had pitched up beside us, getting organised in the time it took us to reverse the troopy into the right spot. He’d ridden all over Australia in 3 months and had come back a few years on to do it all again. I was immediately jealous about how little stuff he had, until it started raining, and then I saw the benefit of having not one but two 4WD awnings and a dry store carrying at least 50 changes of clothes not to mention a fridge stacked full of wine.