Arrived in Sydney after the long flight from London, to be met by Jules, Flave and the kids. Bit of a wait as the Kincaids had been to see Green Day. So we were left eerily alone at Sydney's international terminal for a few hours, just us and the local tramp.
A couple of hours later we had driven south of Sydney on quite roads, arriving at Murramurang Resort at 3.30am. Having now been up for 30+hours we instantly crashed, but woke a few hours later to the sound of the crashing sea, Kookaburra's and Kangaroo grazing in the camp site. Murramurang is on the coast south of Ulladulla close to Bateman's Bay and makes a pretty place to spend the first couple of days on the GPA.
After a day vegging out, watching the kids learn to surf, swimming and swapping yarns we packed in a for an early night and a day's travel on Sunday, Ash's birthday. The Kincaids have a fantastic camper trailer that unfolds revealing beds for all four of them and has space for food and all the necessities of camping. A fridge goes in the back of the old Toyota 600 series 4WD with space for extra's on the roof.
Clang and Bop have rented a similar Land Cruiser from Britz, and while the car is great the customer service has been appalling. Definitly not recommended. With 3 kids under 10 in tow it gets a little fraught at times but in general the youngsters are adapting well to life under canvas and are having a wonderful time playing in the dirt, swimming in beautiful fresh water and hanging out with Ash & Mal.
Sunday provided our first drama of the trip when shortly out of Murramurang on our way to Cooma, as we crossed one of the steeper parts of the Great Divide the car 'blew a sandshoe' shearing the bolts in the right rear wheel, which strangely allowed us to use 4WD but not 2 WD. A bout of worry ensued but we decided to crack on to Canberra and see what we could find by way of a repair shop.
The Blakes had forged ahead without the encumberance of a trailer and to buy Krispy Kreem donuts for Ash. Undeterred we skirted the capital and made through rolling hills towards Tidbidilla, then deciding it was too hot for lunch there back to Australia's contribution to the space race, the satellite tracking station at the Canberra Space Station. Set in rolling hills four huge dishes probe the sky, still reporting back to NASA. The Moon Rock cafe is good for a traditional meat pie and the interpretation centre gives a good history of the space race in the 50's and 60's.
On to Cooma where a garage had been located for repairs the following day and our first tent set up, slowly done but we will get faster as the GPA progresses. Cooma is a small town serving the Snowy River region. A pleasant place to spend a day with a cheap garage, (thanks Massimo), hotel, bottle shop, a couple of restaurants, camping store and information centre. The Macdonalds in Cooma is a prime contender for the slowest service ever in a fast food joint, 20 minutes for 6 shakes, but the owner of the Thai restaurant shows just how friendly the people can be by givving some very tired campers a lift home after a nice andf suprisingly authentic meal.
From Cooma into the Snowy Mountains with one night at Pinch River and two more at Little River Bend. At both campsites we were the only people there making for a very relaxed few days.
The Snowy Mountains are not at all what I expected. Having visited Mt. Kosciuszko 17 years ago when it was cold,wet and misty I hadn't appreciated the beauty of the region. More an endless series of rolling hills, characterised by eucalyptus forest, small sparkling rivers and some precarious mountain roads.
Setting up just above the Snowy River after an exciting drive over a fantastic, challenging dirt track that undulates its way to the deserted campsite at Little River we all plunged into the clear river washing away the grime and dust of the journey. The water is cool but not cold, with a mild stream running. One evening we see a wallaby grazing on the opposite bank and have possums and goanna in the camp. It is fantastic.
On a GPA you always eat well. Everyone loves food and is happy to cook. As with everything we resume roles that we first entertaimed years ago ensuring that our camp food is gourmet not gross. Highlights so far have been Bop's paella and Mandy & Jules's fajita's, with an honourable mention to Flave's camp pizza and the garlic & cheese damper. Rest assured we do not starve.
Have now moved on, back into relative civilisation in Bemm River, where Annie our next GPAer has joined. Staying at her folks holiday/fishing house overlooking the Sydenham Inlet and enjoying a real bed for a couple of nights.
Next onto Melbourne with a stop over at Wilson's promontory National Park.