by Squage
on Feb 13th, 2007



Yep, after pining for (and moaning about not) driving a car for at least two months, Pat finally got the chance to get behind the wheel of a car and do some driving!

This particular ROAD TRIP was 6 days long and over 1000 miles. Starting at Sydney we went to the Blue Mountains, down the New South Wales east coast, into south east Victoria, to Phillip Island and into Melbourne.

Pat was really pleased to have the freedom of having a car, even if it were just for a week and even if it were an automatic Vauxhall (sorry, a “Holden”) Viva (Yeah, it’s ok to drive but it doesn’t really match the style, elegance and above-all fantastic drive of the New Ford Focus – Pat). Suck up. (Hey, you’ve gotta keep your “what to do when returning” options open… – Pat).

iRiver FM!It was also cool being able to listen to his iRiver and Jersey’s iPod on the journey, thanks to the AWESOME (read: tinny, quiet and slightly distorted) 20AUD car transmitter thing Pat’d bought in a Sydney market.

On the downside, driving could be a little stressful for Pat and Jersey sometimes – mainly on the first couple of days due to the Cartoscope Global Explorer, which contained road maps with:

  1. Incorrect scale
  2. No mention of 4 kilometre tunnels travelling under apparent turn offs
  3. No mention of certain major roads
  4. Mention of certain, seemingly major roads that simply didn’t exist.

That and coping with the NSW / Victoria road signage, which involves you carefully looking at bushes/trees at the side of the road in case there might be a half-obscured sign (usually the only sign), indicating what road it is that’s up on the left and you’re just about to pass.

Pat says he actually missed English roads at points during the trip. I don’t quite think I can believe him.

On the way, there were plenty of cool sights seen… so here’s a day-by-day summary of such things:

Sunday 28th January: Sydney -> Blue Mountains

  • Word of the day: Tired
  • Summary of the day: After checking out of the hostel, Pat and Jersey grabbed The Beast (i.e. the car) and Pat drove to the town of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. After checking into our (rather quiet, slightly run-down looking) hostel Jersey drove down to the edge of town, where the cliffs lay. Pat and Jersey did a lot of walking around, checking out the amazing (high) sights and descending down a path along step mountain sides… then got escorted back up to the top by the Scenic Railway – featuring carriages with foot rests at a 45 degree angle to the seats. Why? Because it’s the world’s steepest railway, with up to a 51 degree gradient, that’s why! After some more sight checking out (and Getting-Scared-Standing-On-An-Overhanging-Ledge-200m-Up) Pat wandered back with Jersey to the hostel for a relaxed evening watching such delights as Erin Brockovich on telly. Hmm.
  • Highlight: The view of the Three Sisters with the sun low in the sky.
  • Lowlight: Pat watching Jersey walk to the unshielded edge of a ma-husive cliff, just waiting for him to slip. Funny, no matter how many bridges he jumps off, Pat’s STILL scared of heights…
  • Memorable Moment: Pat getting breathalised at the side of the road. He passed, before you ask :-)
  • Sights: Lots of lovely mountains:

    CLIFF AGAIN! The Three Sisters Again
    Yes Yes, Three Bloody Sisters Etc, Etc
    Squage In The Blue Mountains

    And some cool stuff in Katoomba:
    Crazy Film Wall! LOL

Monday 29th January: Blue Mountains -> Wollongong

  • Word of the day: Lost
  • Summary of the day: Pat and Jersey checked out and set off back towards the east coast of New South Wales, ready to start descending south. Most of the day was spent in the car, getting lost occasionally due to the TERRIBLE maps inside the Cartoscope Coastal Explorer, which Pat tells me missed out such details as 4km tunnels, had roads that didn’t exist listed and vice versa… so they ended up in some surprising places. One; La Perouse, was actually quite a nice little place and so they spent some time taking photos and grabbed some lunch there. Also, some coastal sights on the (intended!) roads were pretty tasty. Aside from that it was mainly a case of missing turn offs, ending up on roads that weren’t listed and, well, being a bit annoyed. On arrival at Wollongong, Pat had a 2 hour doze and despite then planning on a night socialising with Sarah and Laura (two lovely Canadians in their room), no bars, pubs or even offies seemed to be open so a good night’s sleep was decided on. If it wasn’t for the telly blaring out from the lounge through the paper-thin walls, they probably would’ve got one.
  • Highlight: Enjoying the views at the (unplanned) destination of La Perouse.
  • Lowlight: Ending up on an unmentioned major road for the 5th or 6th time.
  • Memorable Moment: Pat’s realisation that, perhaps, he should’ve bought an actual road map – he did this evening.
  • Sights: Lots! La Perouse was pretty damned nice to look at, with its fort and towers and lovely view of Botany Bay:

    La Fort At La Perouse Water And Rocks
    Hanging Tough... Tower: Conquered

    Unfortunately, I wandered into the fort (created to defend against a Russian invasion in the mid 20th century… seriously!) and was promptly captured and held prisoner:
    Squage Feeling Fortuitous
    Ahem. Also, the views of the Tasman Sea coast from the Grand Pacific Highway were pretty tasty:

    The Coast Of The Tasman Sea The Tasman Sea
    Nice Views! Big Ocean

Tuesday 30th January: Wollongong -> Batemans Bay

  • Word of the day: Buddha
  • Summary of the day: After waking up a bit tired and pissed off, Pat and Jersey gave Laura and Sarah a lift over to the rather cool Nan Tien Buddhist Temple. Pat partook in some caligraphy “to calm the mind” and was really impressed and humbled by a lot of the beliefs and practices of the Humanistic Buddhists (I think that’s what he said they were called). I don’t think he’s going to join the faith yet though (despite looking a bit like a Buddha (OI! – Pat)). After that the girls were given a lift back to Wollongong and Jersey and Pat kicked off their journey to Batemans Bay. Along the way they stopped in Kiama to watch a Blowhole… er, blowing… and for lunch in a lovely cafe (SeaChange) – run by a very friendly couple (the wife an ex-Upminster lady, which Pat was very excited about). After that it was straight down Route 1 to Batemans. Jersey and Pat enjoyed some quality Chinese food on the bay (JUST avoiding getting a Domino’s pizza) and then chilled in the lovely hostel (Batemans Bay YHA), watching Die (slightly dated) Hard and chatting with some of the guys in the hostel.
  • Highlight: Chilling out at the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple.
  • Lowlight: Feeling cheesed off for the first part of the day.
  • Memorable Moment: Posing like idiots by some tiny buddha statues (see below)
  • Sights: Firstly, of course, the Buddhist Temple:
    Buddist Keep Fit Video Snapshot Inscense Burner
    I Couldn't Help But
    The Writing's On The Wall

    Including some “Wholely Appropriate” photos:
    Showing Respect To The Buddhist Statues

    Kiama (and its blow hole) was impressive too:
    The Kiama Blowhole! Living On The Edge
    Kiama Scenery

    And Batemans Bay is pretty:
    Batemans Bay Bridge

Wednesday 31th January: Batemans Bay -> Buchan

  • Word of the day: Driving
  • Summary of the day: After a morning of booking Tasmania flights and accomodation and uploading photos, Pat took the wheel and drove to the reconstructed mining town called “Old Mogo Town”. Jersey and Pat spent a couple of hours wandering around finding out what it was like to work and live on a 19th/early 20th century gold mining settlement (it involved lots of panning and a little too much mercury for Pat’s liking) and enjoying our slightly-jittery tour guide’s stories of cheeky miners’ many attempts to “liberate” gold from the mines… mostly without success. Following that, the small matter of driving to Buchan in Victoria was to be achieved. Unfortunately, we kinda misunderstood the time it’d take… and after leaving Old Mogo Town at 4pm, via a quick diversion to see a dam (as you do), we didn’t actually get into Buchan until 11pm! Luckily the owner lives on site so he was awake to greet the two rather tired travellers.
  • Lowlight: Driving in the dark, with less than a quarter tank of fuel, avoiding Wallabies on the road, hoping that, unlike the town they’d just gone through, the town 50km away would have an open petrol station…
  • Highlight: Getting to an open petrol station and filling up!
  • Memorable Moment: Getting to an open petrol station and filling up!
  • Sights: Old Mogo Town was quite entertaining:
    Old Mogo Town Villain! Mining Equipment
    Pat Looking Tiny.  Or Minor.  Eh? Panning For Gold

    The damn we saw was pretty cool:
    Dam Impressive! Dam It, Squage!

    Finally getting into Victoria (before we realised quite how much more driving was really needed to get to Buchan) was a relief:
    Hello Victoria!

    And yes, getting to an open petrol station late in the evening was quite a relief:
    ROAD TRIP: Phew!  Petrol Found!

Thursday 1st February: Buchan -> Phillip Island

  • Word of the day: Beach
  • Summary of the day: After a late rise (the fully awesome Buchan Lodge hostel didn’t have a check out time – oh and was picturesque, in the middle of the countryside and run by a 60-something Aussie Fella who had plenty of stories to tell), Jersey and Pat headed to the very pretty Buchan Caves for a tour, which was pretty interesting and looked awesome. After that, Jersey took the wheel for today’s driving entertainment whilst Pat monged out in the passenger seat. A couple of hours of driving in the sun along long, straight roads and the odd windy country lane saw them arrive at Phillip Island! After checking into Amaroo Park (the place Pat stayed last time) and grabbing some dinner, Pat and Jersey wandered to the beach with some beers in hand and spent the evening looking out to the moonlight water, chatting about travelling and what they wanted to do in the future. A fully chilled out evening.
  • Highlight: Pat says it was “Chilling on the beach”, but I reckon it was more “chatting to the fit waitress in the pizza restaurant at dinner”.
  • Lowlight: Having to leave Buchan Lodge. Pat could’ve stayed there for AGES.
  • Memorable Moment: Jersey’s suggestion that Squage and Pat could be the next Rosie and Jim.
  • Sights: Buchan Lodge was lovely:
    The Awesome Buchan Lodge

    The caves were gorgeous:
    The Font Of The Gods Translucent Stalagmites
    Biiig Cave Big, Red Cave!

    Enjoying the views from the car was good:
    Squage-View Mirror!

    And sitting on the beach by moonlight provided some rather nice photo opportunities:

    Lots Of Moon Staring Was Going On Jersey Joins In The Moon Staring

Friday 2nd February: Phillip Island -> Melbourne -> Hobart (Tasmania)

  • Word of the day: Transport
  • Summary of the day: Lots of mileage done today. Firstly from Phillip Island to Melbourne, which Pat drove and enjoyed as it was on decent dual carriageways for a lot of it. Well, I say “enjoyed”, he felt a rather large amount of fury on getting into Melbourne due to the usual crap road signage (and perhaps not getting off the motorway sooner) meaning they suddenly ended up on a toll road into Melbourne. Which, according to other signs, without a pre-paid pass meant they’d just been automatically fined $100. Luckily, despite the fury this caused for a while, it later transpired that you could buy a pass up to 3 days after travelling. Phew! The afternoon was spent wandering around Melbourne, Pat showing Jersey a few bits and pieces, before heading out to Melbourne airport, handing the car in and grabbing the plane to Tasmania! After a rather bumpy flight, the plane got into Hobart at 11:40pm and Pat and Jersey grabbed a bus to their hostel (Allport’s)… and quietly snuck into the (almost full) dorm room at close to 1am.
  • Lowlight: Pat finding out that he’d just been fined $100AUD.
  • Highlight: Pat finding out that he hadn’t actually been fined $100AUD.
  • Memorable Moment: Getting out of the plane in shorts and tshirt at Hobart Airport and realising that Tasmania’s a lot bloody colder than mainland Oz.
  • Sights: Not many, really. But Pat was glad that he didn’t have to clean the car:
    Post-Road Trip Dead Flies

PHEW! So that’s it. That was the road trip. Hopefully that wasn’t too much of an ordeal to get through.

A (briefer) Tassie summary will be posted in the next couple of days – meanwhile I’m off as Pat’s dragging me to Boost to grab a smoothy and then spend some time away from a PC. He’s looking forward to a Melbourne-based catch up with Kate, Jen, Chris and Welshy tonight – should be cool!

Toodles for now,


One Response to “ROAD TRIP!”

  1. James21on 13 Feb 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Sounds like a great trip, I whent on a road trip a few years ago and rented a Vauxhall. We were unluckly enough to have a small accident when someone cut us off and had to replace a bumper. I will never buy or rent a Vauxhall after how much Vauxhall parts cost.