On the boat trip back from Tasmania, we pulled out a map of Australia (not to be confused with a map of Tassie), and the
calendar. It was the 6th of Feb and we’d had exactly one month covering the east coast from Sydney to Melbourne, and
Tasmania.


A twelfth of our time gone, just like that. Panic struck. We ordered some overpriced beers. We started to calculate some of the distances, and agonise over the wet season in WA and NT  (oh yeah, and the floods and cyclones and tempests in the rest of the country). The goal was to do the rest of Oz by the end of March; along the Great Ocean Road up through Adelaide to Port Augusta, then nip up to Uluru and Kings Canyon (only a 3000km detour!), then along the Nullabor and down to Espereance and up through Margaret River, Perth and then north, north, north to the reefs and onwards to Darwin to meet Leo and Sarah for Kakadu.

 

We knew the distances were huge and that we needed to be brutal with our time. Joe also reminded me on more than one occasion that Australia was his last opportunity to surf on the trip before the boards would be shipped back to the UK (apparently Indonesia is a different kettle of trouts). So we laid it out, a week on the Great Ocean Road (leisurely), then blaze to SA and up to the centre for a few days, then blaze along the Nullabor and spend some decent time in the southern part of WA.

 

Our first week didn’t disappoint. Joe squeezed in surfs every day from Winkipop at the start of GOR to Cape Bridgewater at the very end. I started a new fitness regime (which is yet to be reinvigorated). BOB was also put on a weight loss regime that involved throwing out unnecessary baggage each day. We bequeathed some nice Danish backpackers our double air mattress and two wine glasses (they’d previously been sleeping on the ground, I perish to think what they’d be drinking their Sauv out of).

 

The great ocean road was…er, great. Days were generally spent burning around the clifftops in search on the perfect wave (the surf was sooo good it turned my knuckles white as Joe momentarily became more interested in it than the oncoming cars and/or cliffs). Most days I was placated with a lighthouse or a chocolate milkshake before being put in charge of navigation for the next ‘break’. They were easy distances to cover over a week, with great ocean and cliff views around every corner punctuated by nice but touristy towns all along – plus there was awesome free camping (we think it was free) at Great Otway NP (Hammond Road, impossible to find, thus we were the only people there) and Johanna Beach (busy but right on the beach with ‘pumping’ surf, but too big for any sane person).

 

The Twelve Apostles were a pretty decent sight but the pathways pushed and swarmed with tourists; I haven’t felt that much like a herded sheep since my last visit to Ikea. It was also the first time I’ve seen a tourist attraction catering for its market by installing a squat toilet (which I’m all for if it means there are no nasties on my seat.)

 

After the Apostles (which are dropping like flies btw), our last stop along the Great Ocean Road was at Cape Bridgewater. It was an old light station being done up for school camps perched at the top of the hill with a view spanning the beach on one side and a wind farm on the other. Bar the French labourers and some German blokes who I saw eat three straight meals of two minute noodles (amazing!) we were the only ones there and since it rained and rained and rained I became lethal at table tennis. You can translate ‘lethal’ however you like.

 

All too soon as the water got sharkier and the locals got more Christian commune-esk, and it was time to turf our fruit and vegetables and head over the border to South Australia.

 

South Australia is famous for wine and shark attacks, and those were the two things on my mind for the first couple of days as we made our way up to Adelaide. Not that we were near the ocean, just that it was so boring I really had nothing else to do. My cousin Jen and her husband Marty use to live there (Marty was a winemaker in the Hills) but I suspect since they moved back to NSW its gone rapidly downhill. Not even the authentic apfel strudel and wursts of Hahndorf excited me and after a few days it started to seem obvious why heavy wine production and consumption, nuclear testing and detention centres were so popular in this part of the country.

 

So we blazed through the Murray River bit, Adelaide and Port Augusta, and onwards to the rolling tundra of the Stuart Hwy bound for the Northern Territory.