So I went back to my second favourite travel discovery (second to house sitting) which is campervan relocation. Within an hour of looking I had scored one, and 24 hours after that, I hit the road. I had about 1000kms ahead of me and two and a half days to do it in. I was alone, just me, and my fabulous 'hippie camper'!
I finally crossed the border into New South Wales and left the Hume Highway. 400kms after I'd started, I stopped at Culcairn to stretch my legs and get some fuel. It looks about halfway but it really is nothing of the sort. My route from here on in took me through some places I'd long been fascinated by. But the roads, although reasonable, weren't going to be a straightforward motorway trip.
The town is attractive, neat and tidy and easy to get around. It's also big enough to have 'things' in it. I like these inland towns. Their remote nature leads to great community spirit, and I got chatting to other customers in the line at the supermarket as well as the friendly cashier.
There was another reason I wanted to go; Bill Bryson mentioned a shop in his book 'Down Under' which sold pet supplies with a surprising sideline. I'm sad it was closed, but the window display was good enough for me....
The girl steps out of a photograph and interacts with real-life objects in the cabinet, as she tells the story. She sits on a box, leans against the other picture, and lights a candle. It was totally mind blowing and I can't believe a tiny place like Cowra boasts such an amazing display for tourists. My fellow viewers were an Australian couple who'd clearly been many times before and said 'we come here every time we pass Cowra'. I don't blame them.
I headed up the 'Bells line of road' which is a name extremely familiar to me after working for the ABC on the NSW bushfires in October. The damage was clear. I drove for about an hour and not once within that time was I able to avoid evidence of the fire.
The bush actually recovers amazingly well from fire, but to see the proximity of homes and businesses was frightening. My goodness the firies did a fantastic job up there.
I stayed at Catherdral Reserve Camping ground, again, totally alone, but it was such a peaceful area and beautiful in the morning when I went out to take pictures.....
A few hours after I took these shots I'd reached Sydney, and handed the van back. 1022 kms my final distance.
There are two main routes through the mountains from Sydney and this is the less touristy one....but I had plans to come back to see the rest...
Blue Mountains: revisited
Amy very kindly drove me around and we stopped at Springwood for a coffee, Leura for a lovely pie, and then somewhere near Wentworth Falls for a three hour hike in the rain. It reminded me of home!
I regret not spending more of my time in this wonderful area, but I never waste a day and when I was living in Sydney I was often working seven days a week, so days off would be concerned with organising myself for the next stretch of work.
But it's places like this that make Australia so much more than just what you see in the soap operas. It's not all heat and beaches. There are mountains higher than anything we have in the UK, cold places, extremely hot places, mad characters, vast stretches of nothing, rain forests, rolling countryside, coral reef, farmland, and of course terrific cities and spectacular coastline. This will be the last of my 'travels' for now. Next stop, the place I've fallen in love with more than anywhere else on earth so far: Central Australia. I am moving to Alice Springs to see what it's like to live and work in the middle of the desert! :-)