Long dusty road to South Australia

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There’s something about taking the open road, the uncertainty, the badass feeling of evading all problems, the adventure, the risks, just simply getting fresh sights on everything, but most importantly the good times. The open road was what we wanted.
Jess and I flew to Byron Bay to start the adventure with the Alex and Loz from the Will & Bear family. We had a quick sneak peak at the new caps that were coming out then we were on the road. Hitting the highway, going inland. A long trip to South Australia and back. From a friend we were pointed to an epic spot on the coast (sorry we’re keeping that location to ourselves). We had the destination, the only thing left was to find the journey.
Broken hill, and awesome place but I was very much broken. I was grumpy. Somehow I was suffering back pain, it was shooting down my leg too. I’ve never had problems like this in my life, was it age, was it something I did, or diet?? I was a sour shit for a couple of days, I couldn’t function, I didn’t realise how bad I was. It was a huge eye opener to what Jess has dealt with and still dealing her spinal surgery recovery. Mine was only a small portion, She’s gone through so so much more its incomparable. I have so much respect for her, such an inspiring woman. Check more about what she has been through here.
How good is camping out in the bush, like seriously. Just nature, setting up camp, foraging, getting wood for a campfire. Oh that brings me to when we were camping in the bush, the sun dropped, while looking for wood I saw so many eyes pop up from my torch light…. From 50m away I would narrow down to exactly what they were. It was spiders, from big ones down to the size of a pea. It was this point I felt slightly uncomfortable that I wasn’t in New Zealand where nothing kills you.

Back to eating though, We had an amazing roast over the coals. We had full bellies and heavy eyes. Sleep had to wait though, Loz made an amazing desert. I’d like to say there’s a name for it, but really I don’t think there was, it was just so frickin yum.

Camp cooking is interesting, there’s people that pack every single thing from the kitchen and cook what they would at home. Then there’s campfire cooking, its quite an art too. I really want to expand my knowledge more on it. I’m not talking just the classic roady wrap, but knowledge of basic foods thats a healthy, quick, and easy to make while on the road or fire. Also washing up. limiting water use so there’s not heaps of scrubbing. In terms of cooking, she’s well known but needs a mention, @missarahglover. Outdoor chef, She’s got a cool book I want to get. Go check her out!
TIP: I find using toilet paper to wipe the bowls and plates straight after use before they cool down and dry out. It’s a simple wipe then can burn the paper in the fire after. Saves using litres of water scrubbing
Australia is big, it’s so vast. Massive red, barren flat land much further than the eye can see. Simply staring out of the window, pondering, wondering what is out there or if I walked in that one direction where would I end up. I have got to give it to Australia. It’s prob one of my most favourite countries, everything is so unique, the animals, the plants. The aboriginals amaze me with their knowledge of the land and survival in harsh conditions. What to eat, how to eat it, how to hunt, navigation. I’m keen to visit Arnhem land in Northern Territory, would be amazing to visit. Get a true taste of aboriginal culture that we’ve sadly destroyed through early exploration. Only now are they getting a marginal recognition for what they deserve.

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On another note about foraging of food, A friend of mine Zac Imhoof is such absolute legend. He’s a mongrel like me. He’s never doing the mundane, he’s out there in the outdoors doing what he loves. It’s never a boring time with him. He told me recently about a course in Australia about foraging. It would be what I expect from him. Such a valuable knowledge that few know of. At a later date I plan to meet up with Will and bear on their road trip around Australia. It’d be quite cool to have the skills to not us sleep in the bush, hunt and light fires. Also utilise the bush. Rather than depending on a super market, knowing native roots, flowers or stems that can be harvested to a safe way to eat. Even if its small, supplementing the main food, thats my goal.
There’s something special about finding hidden gems on a road trip. It’s always the first time that’s the best and cant be replicated. Something you didn’t plan or expect but makes the best memories. Like a simple road side stall with home made chutney, a cliff jump or a second hand store owner invites you to a dinner. Those small quirky things that mean more. We were passing through a town and found a sign pointing to alligator Gorge, we’re all making a group decision do we turn around. The “Ooo”, pressure before driving further, will it waste our time. The further you go, the more the pressure and more dramatic the ‘u’ turn is. No we didn’t handbrake skid the van around but it was an excited swing around though. Up into the hills through a national park. Pause before you get led on like me, ok no bloody alligators which is highly disappointing. Why name it that when there isn’t any. Its like offering lollies when they don’t actually have any. Back to it. The valley was actually really stunning. I didn’t care that hey didn’t alligators, more just to make a point of the mischievous trickery. The valley was exactly a valley but down the bottom was a gorge with cliff walls of red and orange tones. We spent ages exploring the valley before we realise hunger had set in and time was ticking on. Steep stairs out and bellies filled we were back on the road.
Have you ever seen the biggest windmill in the world? yeah na didn’t think so. This is one of those quirks we saw on the road. It was pretty frickin huge, well that and the paddock of a gazzilion windmills surrounding it. To me it’s not really a common thing to see nowadays. You forget there’s actually a use for them, not just to tell you its windy outside. Like the actual purpose of harnessing the wind has been used for yonks. Talking pre-electricity era, using windmills pumping up water from a well or grinding grains. I want one just to keep the tradition going.
Driving through the night can be an experience and a half in Australia. Its like a reaction game, well a very serious life and death game that you cant replay but more for the fact of a story, they aren’t wrong when they say everything in Aussie will kill ya. The bloody kangaroos frickin jump on the road at every direction like missiles. Then you get to land of frickin wombats and they like the land mines that move slow. Sometimes our best progress in covering distance was during the night as we explored too much during the day. So a bit of caffeine and playlists repeated 10 times that I’m still belting out to my own amusement… we got to the Ocean.
Well actually the first time we got to the ocean we never actually got to touch it, the tide was so far out and the road leading to it was collapsed with mud. That’s when our mood changed. We needed that swim. It’s like when you eat a whole 4 bags of salt and vinegar chips, the dry thirst. I’ve never eat 4 bags straight to myself, i’ve done two and that was painful so i imagine 4 would be next level. I haven’t crossed many deserts but the need of a drink after heaps of chips is on a comparable level. Either way we contemplated a one way journey in the van to the beach to get out dose of salt water. The oasis waving over the hot sand could have been the water, google maps said so.. but the sun wasn’t in our favour. I didn’t want to die. We made a smart decision to hold out another couple of days till our next bit of coast. Actually it was only 14hrs, we made a group decision we wanted the water time that bad so I did an overnighter pin balling our way to get closer to our destination, the South Australian Coastline.
Me yelling “We’re here” to the sleeping crew in the van at 4am unsurprisingly they weren’t over the moon but opening the door to the smell of salt water helped. Frustrated sleepyheads setting up tents mixed with bitter cold wind cross with hearing the waves in the darkness, was a love hate relationship.
Holy shit, the following morning, well not really following, more like a couple hours later we woke to huge rough cliffs and beautiful raw coast lines. And I mean it. This was more stunning to me than the Great ocean Road. It was raw, it was rough, it was untamed and fun. It wasn’t manicured, it was adventure and we were there to see what we find. 
The whole area I cant sum up enough to be honest. It had so much to be discovered. We had to decide to go south or go north.
Loz and Alex got sick on the way there, I followed but sadly for it happened at the main destination we all looked forward to. I had chills and fever, then locked up in the tent hallucinating and poking the air mattress of little cactus men that were appearing on the patterns. When I did get out of the tent OMG. Stop ha I have to cover the tent story, we got a ‘military’ tent from Kmart. Ok it was $39 so it’s quite hypocritical for that price but it sucked so so bad. No ventilation so it rained inside the tent from out condensation, collapses from the wind of a fart. Ok wait another tangent of a story, Wind. It’s actually a bit of a story so I’ll cover that later. Just have to remind myself on wind. That tent sucked badly. Back to the final destination. It was awesome, I found a blue tongue lizard that was pretty friendly. There were pink lakes nearby. That was weird to see, haven’t seen them before but have to stay everyone on instagram needs to tone down the saturation a bit. There were sand dunes, epic waves and a fun campfire we had marshmallows over, it’s not a proper campfire without them. It prob would have been a lot better if I wasn’t sick but I was hit hard by it. Would have loved to be my normal self.
We spent days chillings on wharf, brief dips in the ocean, fish and chips, watching massive swell hit the cliffs, dolphins, exploring caves, general mishap. The coast was awesome, we did have to get back on the road eventually though.
We couldn’t make up our mind on a camp spot for the evening, it just kept getting better, then the pressure from the sinking sun we were all over the place. We chased kangaroos in a competition who could get the best shot. We chased the sunset. BOOM flat tyre. Surprised we hadn’t gotten one earlier to be honest with some of the spots we were going with the tyres we had. Quick repair plug and we were B lining it for the nearest town. It was getting windier and winder. We were getting grumpier and more tired. And it was a good thing we didn’t camp out in the bush. Oh yeah wind. Next paragraph its a goody.
Late evening we dusted ourselves off and eager for food at a truck stop. Our eyes were 3.54x larger than our stomachs. It wasn’t a joke. Ordered way too much. We were at the end of our tether. A clean shower would be good. Out the door and the wind was stronger. A normal tent would even struggle so obviosyly our ‘state of the art top of the line mac daddy’  $39 tent didn’t cope. We pulled the van to shelter the tent, Myself and jess in the tent, the tent tied to the tree so we don’t blow away. 30mins in the ‘no ventilation tent’ somehow had a lot of vents and we were filled with dust, the tent had collapsed three times. We were done, we pulled the tent down or more so on the 4th time it collapse we dragged it over to this shed and slept inside there. Whistling of the winds was the worst it got, it could have been a lot worse.
Nice deeds, hows good helping people in need. This guy came over offering us food as they told us they had come to the end of the road trip, well the end found them. Their van wouldn’t start and they were going to get towed. They were done. I inspected and found it was a fuel problem, I started with the fuel filter. The old bugger had a bad back and a lot of bad luck. I was happy to get under and see what I can do. Still no hope and it might be out of my league with a fuel pump. Soon after I was covered in petrol, skin was burning. That was a quick dash to the shower!! Sadly we couldn’t help anymore and they had to do a lengthy (costly) tow.
I hope you’ve watched the World Fastest Indian. The salt flats. It’s a dream to see them one day. They look stunning. We found the Aussie version. smaller yes but still epic. We got down with the van to the edge, slowly inspected the hard ground. We were on it and all was fine, kept going more and more. Then it got bad. We broke through. Bogged, and bogged bad at that, ill prepared. We’re talking bad, bad. No winch or recovery gear. No shovel. 3 hours of digging with our hands and jamming sticks under the car didn’t help. The low rear mounted engine made it even harder, couldnt go back, we had to go forward. Alex and I were done, we were spent. We walked barefoot and mud up to our knees to the roadside. Waving down any truck we could. No one was keen. Then we see the couple we helped in the morning getting towed. Cheeky wave, and their curious minds left pondering as we looked homeless. Well technically we were homeless, our van wasn’t in a good state.
Our desperate waving attempts weren’t doing it. Seeing we both have long hair and tanned, we might have had more luck borrowing the girls clothing. Maybe it was Alex, I’m the nicer looking one. Actually on second though maybe it was me that did the scaring. Thinking back, prob the state of both of us I wouldn’t have stopped either. Well one car did, The cops. They saved us big time. Winched us out. Big thanks to them. Seriously big time.
I think the biggest thing to take from this trip is preparation. It was a test for Marty really. Just a taste of the big road trip around Australia that Loz and Alex plan to go on. Yes we had more mishaps like a water pump stop working, the van tipping off the jack, not have the correct spanner for the wheel nuts, more flats. But hey thats part of the journey.
Jess and I were so amped to do our own road trip, we’ve looked to do one in a year’s time. Hit the road and take a slow route back though some parts we missed. Big thanks to Alex and Loz for an epic time on the road.

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