January 2017: Australia Again!

Australia’s a big country, and we wanted to see a little bit more of it before we headed out of this part of the world, so we headed back to the land of kangaroos and didgeridoos. For about three weeks, we stayed in a small town called Castlemaine, and then we did an RV relocation across the Nullarbor to Perth.

Castlemaine

With the RV relocation in a few weeks, we wanted some quiet, out-of-the-way place to relax, and so we settled on a little cabin in Castlemaine that we found on Airbnb. It had everything we needed, including a backyard area for Anna to play, complete with sandbox and toy trucks. If she wasn’t in the “put everything in my mouth, especially sand” phase, this would have been great. Even with the occasional sand-eating, we couldn’t complain.

The best part of our stay in Castlemaine had to be our hosts, who lived in a larger house on the same property. They were friendly and helpful, and went out of their way to make sure we had a nice stay. They even invited us to a get-together to celebrate Australia Day (which was SO Australian! Eating lamingtons and seeing a New Zealander arguing with the Aussies about which country invented Pavlova. I don’t know who’s right, but it was so delicious that I totally understand why you’d resort to fisticuffs to claim it).

The cherry on top of our nice little stay, though, was Annabelle’s first birthday. Our hosts had us over for dinner and cake and presents, and made us feel less distant from family and friends during that milestone.

We are pretty introverted people, so it’s not that often that we create new friendships on the road. This was one time where we were able to connect to people we didn’t know, and that’s a great feeling.

Annabelle turns 1!

RV Relocation

After our little break in Castlemaine, it was time to hit the road for our first ever RV trip, a relocation from Melbourne to Perth. Basically, a rental company had an RV in Melbourne that needed to get to Perth, and in return for us moving it there for them, we got to live in a rental RV for several days without paying the expensive fees normally associated with doing so.

Melbourne to Perth is a long way, and they don’t give you an unlimited number of days to get it there, so the number of hours on the road each day wound up being a bit large, but we’d been thinking for a bit about maybe buying an RV, so this would be a good chance to try one out!

Our free RV rental, courtesy of being willing to relocate it for them!

One major issue, however, was Annabelle. Due to how little time she had spent in a car seat up until this point, it should be no surprise that she wasn’t a fan of being strapped into this contraption and forced to stay still for an hour or two at a time. That first day of driving was rough. But kids adapt, and pretty soon she was napping in her seat like a champ and playing happily as we put on the miles.

The RV was pretty nice, and this was our first experience with this type of travel, which really kicked into high-gear the thoughts of an RV purchase in the future. Living on the road, free to go wherever we want… living the dream.

But first we had to get to Perth.

The Nullarbor
There’s this giant stretch of road between Melbourne and Perth that’s not very populated by much of anything. It’s called the Nullarbor. Null, as in no, Arbor, as in trees. And the name is very apt. There are no trees, no cities, and very few people. It includes the largest stretch of straight paved road in the world.
But you do have to keep your eyes peeled, because animals can hang out on the road, and not just little animals: kangaroos and camels (yes, camels. There’s a whole story behind how they got there), and you definitely don’t want to hit either of those.

Hanging out at some crossing signs you probably wouldn’t see anywhere else in the world!

I can see a lot of people hating the Nullarbor. You can see in the featured image for this post, in the circle at the top, it’s just a long stretch of nothing but shrub bushes, and desert. After spending so many years in Las Vegas and growing up in the California high desert though, it felt like home, and we appreciated its beauty. While the price of fresh fruit was a bit of a shocker once you got out to the middle of nowhere (right after they confiscated any that you already had, at a checkpoint), most of the trip to Perth was actually really pleasant.

Some coastline along the way to Perth.

Perth
We spent about two weeks in Perth, staying with some Mustachians who graciously offered us their spare room for half of that time. Anna got to hang out with a dog and we met nice people, played games, and saw literal black swans, so really it was a win for all of us.

View overlooking the city of Perth.

While in Perth, we went to King’s Park, this huge park with plenty to see, including a shadow light show I absolutely cannot describe in text and a section of protected bushland. So we spent about five minutes getting really deep into Australian culture and strolling on the designated path through the bush. Because that’s totally what it’s like, I’m sure.

A neat nighttime light show we went to see.

There’s a pretty big Mustachian community in Perth, and we were able to spend time with several groups of people who were willing to come hang out with the traveling Americans. We loved our time in Perth, and if it wasn’t so stinking far from everything else in the world, it would be a place I could see us settling in and living in for a good long while.

Ali dips her feet in the Indian Ocean, on the western side of Australia.

After Perth, it was time to leave Australia again and make our way to New Zealand, the land of hobbits and natural hot tubs on the beach.

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