Stories from the Great Southern Road Trip: Part 1: It’s raining, I’m camping.

Steady rain is falling on the roof of the tent. It makes a peaceful sound as I sit here typing, surrounded by the plastic storage tubs filled with my camping gear.  The air is still and there is only an occasional puff of breeze to ruffle the polyester. I’m dry and I’m content. Big drops turn into even bigger drops on the green roofing fabric. They can only get to a certain size before gravity overcomes surface tension and they slide off. This leads to the need for a MacGyvered dam system to re-route the said water. It seems to be holding, and for the most part the vestibule area of the tent is staying dry too. Mental note to self:  next time you set up the floor tarp, make sure it does not extend beyond the perimeter of the tent. Let the ground soak up the drops. 

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I did have a walk planned for today but it can wait. I’ll call this an official rest day, a perfect day to do the washing. A perfect opportunity also to do some writing and get ahead on the bank of blog posts. 

A different sort of holiday

This extended holiday is a little different to the last few I have taken. In 2019 I went to Scotland, in 2018 New York and in 2016 – Canada. There were my trips to Israel (6 times), Thailand, the US (twice) Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Vietnam. Ten years ago I had my 50th birthday in France. And even further back, Burma and Italy.

I had always planned to stay in Australia for this trip, nominally a celebration for my 60th birthday. Continuing concerns about COVID and travel bans have meant that my decision back in 2018 was prescient. More recently border closures in Australia have meant even this “local” trip was uncertain. 

I’m also camping which is a very different mode for me and my car has become my turtle shell carrying everything I need. Knowing me, probably way more than I really need! 

Traveller’s eyes

It’s not only the distance travelled that is different, it’s my attitude. I don’t have to worry about language, or exchange rates or jetlag or keeping track of my passport. There is no chance of Bali Belly. Still it’s more than these logistical things. Unlike these international destinations which I will probably never get to again, there is a chance for me to come back and revisit places I miss on this trip. I don’t have to move like a whirlwind to “make the most” of the air fare. I can take my time, relax a little and not wear myself out. That’s a change.

On the other hand, I am finding it hard to get my “photographer’s eye in” and  to look at things like a traveller. Scenes and vignettes that would catch my eye elsewhere seem ordinary. I need to change that. I need to take on the persona of someone new to this continent. 

Are wombats less exciting than Scottish red deer? 

Here’s a case in point: I remember being wildly excited at Knocken Crag when, after rounding a corner on the hiking trail,  I came within a few metres of a red deer. Luckily I had my camera in hand and managed to get an in focus shot before it bounded away. 

Compare this to my recent encounter with large wildlife. At Green Cape Lighthouse there was a huge wombat grazing on the lawn near the cottage I was staying in. I’ve seen fat wombats before and walked on by. My interest was raised only by the excited chatter of some Chinese (?)  tourists who stopped and exclaimed in amazement. I told them it was a wombat. They asked if it would bite and could they pat it. That question made me rethink. I wasn’t sure if wombats did bite but I suggested they didn’t pat it. I felt a bit guilty that the wombat went unphotographed. Thankfully wombats are not as swift as deer and I managed to capture an in focus image. 

My challenge now is to cast aside the veil of familiarity and get excited about the little things and the fat wombats!

Wombat eating grass

That’s one big wombat!


More stories from my Great Southern Road Trip will follow. This is just a warm up. They’ll be prepared on my iPad so the formatting will be a bit dodgy. The SEO will be tackled later!

PS: about an hour after publication, the Premier of Victoria declared a snap 5 day lockdown. I had to quickly pack up my wet tent and get back into NSW. I Am not sure now what will become of my road trip! 😕

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