After having spent 5 weeks on the road in our campervan “Moonbat” it was time to bring it back to Spaceships Australia today. As it has been our home for so long, it was a little sad to say goodbye. We were so used to the small and tight space, the routines and necessary tidiness. It took us a few days to begin with, but then we were quite happy with all the fantastic opportunities you have when travelling this way.
The van cost us less per day in rental fees than any other normal car would have cost. On top of that, it was equipped with a fridge, 2 gas burners, mattresses, covers, sheets and pillows, plus cutlery, plates and mugs for 4 persons. In other words, we were able to stop and stay wherever we wanted, and if we were more in the mood for a hotel or motel, we had the liberty to do that, without feeling that the tight travelling budget would suffer too much.
As a matter of fact I had expected that we would use hotels or motels more than we ended up doing. Quickly we established that the campervan was the more convenient option, as it did make it very flexible as to where we could make a stop-over. Thus we slept to the sounds of the rainforest animals, the waves at the beach and the palm-trees rattling in the wind. Oftentimes in a combination of all three! And if there was something we did not like, we had the freedom to move on the next morning. We only booked the first 2 nights on the trip. The rest of the time we simply dropped in and asked. They always had available camping sites.
When staying at camping parks you quickly start to talk to other campers. Of course this is also due to the fact that we travel with a child. The children start to play and talk, and shortly thereafter the parents follow. But we have also talked to people in the camp kitchens that did not travel with children.
Australia is an enormous country! And there is plenty of room for all to just embark on a long journey. We have met many people from southern Australia, who were on their annual “winter-cruise” in the warmer, tropical north. And then there were the ones that slowly, bit by bit, told us their stories. By coincidence we travelled with a guy named Robert for about a week. Checked into the same camping sites... He normally lives in a small town in the mountains outside Sydney. But 2 months ago his wife died of cancer, and he simply could not just sit at home in solitude with his thoughts and grief. Instead he went on a journey through his own country. A journey, with no fixed end-date, that has so far taken several weeks and with many, many more months planned. When he is finished with Australia, the plan is to go by cruise-ship to London, and then onwards to Greenland. It was Greenland that connected us, as I have been there a couple of times. And I certainly understand Roberts wish to go there to experience the magnificent nature. As we talked we both opened more and more, and told our stories. It is my experience that it is very rewarding to “share yourself”. Only to the extend that is suitable and relevant for the occasion, of course. If you can let go of the fear of feeling naked and exposed, you will see that others are more than happy to give back, and tell you who they are, and why they are travelling. We all have in common that we are on our way to “something”... And well, our story is already told here on these pages.
We also met Brandon. A fantastic man, who many of the fellow campers described as the very essence of anything Australian. He had an extensive range of outback equipment: Camp kitchen, a large trailer that could be turned into a big tent with bedroom and ensuite lounge within minutes, a magnificent four-wheel drive car and lots of fishing-gear. I never found out what Brandon do for a living. Maybe he had gone into retirement early. It wasn’t relevant for our talks so I did not ask. But he had time to travel, and he had time to slow down and just enjoy the days by the beaches fishing, driving dirt-roads north of Cape Tribulation and relaxing. By the time we met him, he had been away from his home near Melbourne for several months. However, the plan was to be back for his daughters birthday in Mid-July. Also by coincidence we went to the same camping parks as Brandon for about a week, and thus got to know him a bit better.
And then we met Archie and his parents Claire and Aiden by Ellis Beach. We met Chase and his parents Tash and Ty at Cape Tribulation. A few days later we went to the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas with them. And finally we met Oliver and his parents. We never actually got their names, and it wasn’t important either. We talked with them about their current life as expats in Qatar and how different it is from the UK where they are coming from.
I recall the times I have been on music festivals in Denmark, listening to music with managing directors, school teachers, students and unemployeds. Social status did not exist while the festival was ongoing. I had a bit of the same experience here on those camping sites. Often we met in the camp kitchen, preparing our dinners and started talking. It was a wonderful and unexpected addition to our travel, which I am sure we would not have had, had we stayed in hotels or hostels, or travelled by other means. We met quite a few international travellers, but for the most part we met australians. Through them we have now gotten a much more detailed and complex picture of Australia, its inhabitants and its nature. Australia is an isolated country, alone due the fact that it is so far away from other western societies. So they embrace tourists well and like to tell about their country. And just as much as they like to share, they like to listen to where we come from and how we got to Australia. And EVERY time we get just a few good hints and tips for sights to see or meals to eat. You have to love that!
But now, for a while, we are on to other adventures. We are headed towards Sydney, where we will explore the city for about a week. The temperatures are significantly lower than the ones we have had pretty much since our departure from Munich in early April. But it doesn’t matter! Being Dane I am not used to much summer, so I should really not complain about the amount of sunshine I have already had this year!