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Darwin to Melbourne, via Adelaide and Sydney

Straight through the middle...strewth!

sunny 40 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

When we got back to Darwin, we were relieved to find our lovely campervan just where we'd left it and still in perfect working order! We were lucky because the hotel we'd stayed in before we left for Thailand had agreed to let us park in their secure car park for free!

We planned to spend Christmas in the Blue Mountains, about 3500 miles away, so after 2 more nights in the hotel in Darwin we thought we should hit the road!

It was strange being back in camper after so long, especially after staying in such nice hotels in Thailand, so it took some re-adjusting! The first place we stopped was Edith Falls near a town called Katherine. The fish in this rockpool were nibbling at our feet like they did at the foot spa in Thailand!...


While we were away from Oz we had serious T-bone steak withdrawal, which we quickly remedied...


Further south was Devil's Marbles, it's amazing how these huge rocks seem to balance so precariously...




There are roadhouses (service stations) every few hundred k's along the way. They usually have a good restaurant, bar, accommodation/campsite and lots of character (and characters)!!


One of them had some cheeky peacocks wandering around...



We were doing A LOT of miles everyday which wasn't always easy with the heat and monotony of the Outback, but it is pretty gorgeous in it's own way!...



There are plenty of interesting things to see and nice places to stop and have a cuppa along the way though...


Tropic of Capricorn...


We were really excited to get to Alice Springs and be right in the middle of Australia!...



In the shopping centre in Alice they had Santa's sleigh being pulled by roos (or 6 White Boomers as the Rolf Harris song goes)...


We only stopped briefly in Alice though as we were so keen to get to Uluru (Ayer's Rock). It seemed to take forever to drive there (about 300 miles from Alice Springs) but it was all worth it once we saw the huuuuge shape looming in the distance...


The Uluru Resort is basically a whole town, with restaurants, a bank, a supermarket, etc. It's been done really nicely and the prices are pretty reasonable considering they're literally in the middle of nowhere! We checked into the huge campsite, had a cool off in the pool and raced to get to Uluru for sunset...


Before we went there, I'd always said 'I'm not driving all that bloody way to look at a big rock' BUT I take it all back! There really is something special about it and the light at sunset made it look amazing.

The next day was a whopping 40 degrees so we were among only a few it seemed that were stupid enough to walk around in the heat - think all the sensible people got up early before the heat of the day! It was great though because it meant we virtually had it to ourselves so it was worth it! It was surprising to see the shape of it close up, it always looks so smooth in the pictures but it's all lumpy and bumpy and full of holes...




Nearby are the less famous, but still impressive, Olgas...



After Uluru we continued our journey down the middle to South Australia...



As we pulled into a roadhouse one day we realised there was a problem with the brakes (we probably just hadn't noticed earlier as there isn't really any need to use them on these roads!) they worked but were very spongey. We tried replacing the brake fluid but it came spurting out under the van so we knew it needed looking at properly. We didn't want to have to wait around there for the local mechanic, plus we knew we'd get stung as it was about 150 miles to the nearest town, so we decided to plod on to Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy is famous for Opal mining, and because it's so hot there, a lot of the town was built underground, in sort-of caves, to keep cool. The company we bought the van from recommended a mechanic called Vince. He was really nice and told us that he'd not only built the road leading up to his place, but he'd also blasted the rocks to create his own house and garage!!


He managed to fix and service the van, while giving Steve a mechanics lesson down in the pit!...


Some local sights:

Underground church...



We visited an old mine that has been turned into a museum (and still has opals in the wall!)...




An example of an underground home...


Our next major stop from there was Adelaide, which marked the end of a VERY long road!!

The Adelaide Oval...



We didn't actually stop in Adelaide for very long because we were short of time and because it's always hard to camp in big cities...plus the nearby Barossa Valley wine region was drawing us in!...


We had lunch, and a few tasters, at Jacobs Creek...




Steve was cheeky at Penfolds and got a taster of a $200 bottle of wine (all tastings are free!). I tried some of his one, as I was too embarrassed to ask for some myself, but I actually preferred the cheaper stuff...luckily for him!


On the way out of South Australia we stumbled across Banrock Station, we bought quite a few bottles there and then saw them all cheaper in the supermarket afterwards!...


On our last night in the camper, we found a lovely (free!) campsite at Carcoar Dam...


Last Supper...


Finally, 13 days and 3500 miles after leaving Darwin, we arrived at my Aunt Lynn's house in the Blue Mountains at 5pm on Chrismas Eve...talk about cutting it fine!!

We had a lovely Aussie family Christmas at my cousin's house (also in the Blue Mountains)...





Steve giving the possum its Christmas dinner...


Feeding the birds in Lynn's garden...



On Boxing Day we drove out to Millthorpe, near Orange, to visit my other cousin and had a biiiiiig Aussie barbie...


Steve couldn't resist having a go of their sit-on-mower!


On the way back from Milthorpe we passed Bathurst Racetrack and Steve had a drive around it in our camper...



Once all the excitement of Christmas was over we got to work on preparing our van so we could put it up for sale. It took ages to sort out all the stuff we had accumulated in the past 6 months (and 22,000kms) on the road! We eventually advertised it late on New Year's Day, got some calls on the 2nd, had it viewed on the 3rd and sold it on the 4th!! It was a real relief to have that out of the way, although it was sad to see it go, so we knew what we had to play with for the rest of our trip!

After that we decided to celebrate and booked a lovely apartment in Darling Harbour and tickets to see Psycho at the Opera House...



We spent a week in Sydney meeting up with friends and enjoying the sights...



Sydney by night...






After that we returned to Melbourne (where we arrived a year ago) for our final 2 days in Australia...

Steve's 100th photo of his beloved MCG!...


The Yarra River...


On our last night we went out with Larner (Steve's friend from school who now lives in Oz) and his girlfriend Laura for a few (possibly a few too many judging from this photo!) drinks...


We had some amazing views as we were flying over the Outback and leaving lovely Australia...



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Posted by Steve-Kay 03:02 Archived in Australia Tagged automotive

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