Well we've made it to Oz, but our first few days here weren't quite what we were expecting...
On Thursday morning, we woke (in a hotel room - what a luxury!) to a pretty dull day. By the time we left the hotel it had started to pour with rain! It was very humid though, so at least we weren't cold. We picked up the new camper, 'Brucey', and were pleased to find that he is bigger and newer than the Jucy. A massive bonus being the fact that cutlery, crockery etc is stored in cupboards and drawers, rather than under the bed a la Jucy! We made our way south from Sydney, via the Princes Highway, stopping at a campsite just outside of Wollongong for the night. The weather hadn't really improved all day, but we still had no idea what we were in for during our first night in the camper. We basically had to endure the worst thunder and lightening storm I have ever experienced... This together with a night of torrential downpours and a leaky window in the van, meant a fairly restless night!
So on Friday morning our first stop was a campervan repair shop to get the window fixed. It looked like the weather might be improving so afterwards we decided to continue south, stopping at Kiama to see the blowhole. The sea was ferocious and we could see a storm coming in again, but this led to some pretty spectacular shots of water out of the blowhole, so not all bad! It wasn't long before it started raining again, so we decided to continue down the coast and stay at Shoalhaven Heads for the next two nights. It didn't stop raining then for over 48 hours!! Sometimes it was torrential rain, other times it was drizzly rain, but it was relentless!
Luckily on Saturday, we were told that Berry was holding its annual food and wine fair and it was inside the village hall - outside of the rain! There are a dozen or so wineries in the Shoalhaven area, so this was a great way to sample them all!
On Sunday, we'd had enough of the rain and decided that our first stop of the day should be the Visitor Centre in Nowra to find out where the sun was! We were pretty disappointed when they showed us the weather maps, which quite clearly indicated that the whole of the coast from Cairns down to Melbourne was being affected by a cyclone depositing cloud and rain everywhere - great! Nevertheless, we decided to continue south in an attempt to get away from the worst of it. We stopped briefly at Greenwell Point, a little fishing community, then Huskisson and Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay. The beaches in Jervis Bay were amazing and in particular Hyams Beach boasts the whitest sand in the world. Even in the rain, it looked stunning, so we can only imagine what it must look like when the sun is shining! Further down the coast we stopped at Tilba Valley Wines, a winery just outside of Tilba. We were expecting live music, but unfortunately were a little late for it. However, we still got to try the winery's dozen or so wines and got chatting to some really interesting locals. One of them was a Dutch guy who travelled the world before settling in Oz. He told us about a friend of his who lives in a secluded bay at the start of the Nullarbor (the drive between Adelaide and Perth). He suggested we stop by there as the guy will feed and water us, so we'll bear that in mind for that part of the trip! On the advice of the locals, we then headed to Tilba and decided to give 'free-camping' a go in the car park there. When we arrived in Tilba the rain had stopped and the local pub had live music so we went there for a few drinks before going back to the van for a huge Aussie steak (yum!)
On Monday we awoke in great moods - one, because we'd free-camped successfully (no disturbances from any 'hoons' i.e. hooligans!) and two, there was some sign of the cloud thinning at last! By the afternoon, the sun was out and we finally did what we'd been longing to do - sit on a beach all afternoon! We went to Mystery Bay, just south of Naroomba, so-called because just over 100 years ago, 5 men in a small fishing boat went missing and their bodies were never discovered. This didn't seem like much of a mystery to us because there were some huge rocks in the sea and the water was pretty rough!! After sunning ourselves sufficiently, we continued south. We had a brief stop at Camel Rock, where Alex spotted the first snake of the trip! It slithered across the path in about a metre in front of us as we were walking back to the van from the beach! We continued to Bermagui where we decided to stay for a couple of nights. We bought a big pack of beer and made use of the barbie facilities in the campsite - in true Aussie style! Whilst cooking, we got chatting to some guys who were on a fishing holiday and were barbequing their catch. They were quite excited about the fact that one of the boats had hooked onto a couple of sharks that they reckoned were over 3mtrs long! It wasn't these that they were cooking up luckily!
Yesterday, we decided to make the most of the fact that our campsite was opposite a beach. Alex had a rest from driving and we just spent the day on the beach - bliss!
Photos to follow...