It all seemed like such a long time in the future when we first hit on the idea of driving from Sydney to Perth the long way (ie via Cape York, and Darwin rather than straight across the Nullabor) but I must say it's come up rather fast. One minute you're pootling around Sydney in a modest hatchback wearing a suit and tie and the next you're clanking about in a smoky Nissan Pathfinder with wheels as big as small children and a blind spot the size of a small car (sorry about that dent). Dressed in Kathmandu's entire winter sales clearance.
In a nutshell, the plan was to chuck in our jobs (check), swap the hatchback for something a little bigger (check), and point it north out of Sydney's winter gloom for the sunny skies of Queensland and beyond (we'll come to that later).
Resigning on the day Fairfax announced 1900 job cuts and while News Ltd is embarking on similar retrenchment was a nice irony, I thought. Let's laugh in the face of the GFC (Australia's having its crisis a couple of years after everyone else) and quit before they can sack us. At least that way we keep our pride ... although the redundancy money would have been nice .... oh well.
So far all's going according to plan. News Ltd accepted my resignation with
After discovering there was simply no way of fitting everything we'd bought into the back of even a large 4WD, I've fitted roof bars and a basket to the top of the Nissan (called Chuck, partly because it rhymes with truck but mostly because the girl gets carsick) so now we look like a giant white shopping trolley. Not sure how it's going to handle the corrugated roads of the Outback, but we'll soon find out.
The first stage of the G.A.R is an easy drive up to Port Stephens, an idyllic hamlet around two hours' north of Sydney. At least, it was idyllic last time we were there. Mind you, that was summer. And it's now cold and raining. And we've only got a tent. But it's bound to get warmer as we head north, right?
Then it's Brisbane via Byron Bay, where a bloke called Jasper is waiting to fit a bull bar for us. I have no idea why we need a bull bar. I'm not planning on encountering any bulls. Or shoving anything. But several Australians have looked at our vehicle and mused, 'strewth mate, ya gonna need a roo bar on that where you're going'. So given such sage advice, who were we to argue?
After that it's Fraser Island, the Whitsundays, Cairns, Cooktown, and on up to the tip of Australia - Cape York - which from what we've been told is pretty much crocodile-infested swamp, bush, raging rivers that we're expected to drive across, mud, and at the tip, a corrugated iron shed with a sign on it congratulating you on reaching the northernmost point of the Australian continent.
If we survive that, we'll point Chuck west and head across the Savannah Way to the Northern Territory and the delights of Uluru, Kakadu, and Tenant Creek. Oh and Darwin. Then it's through the Tanimi Desert and up to Broome via the infamous Gibb River Road, which should shake loose what we haven't already lost off the roof earlier in the trip.
The plan is then to track down the west coast of Oz to hit Perth later in the year. 12,000km, 30 tanks of petrol and god knows how many spare tyres later.
I'll keep you posted.
PS I was kidding about the crocodile alarm. Although it would be useful.