January 2000Originally, it was only meant to be K8 and Snafu's holiday, but by coincidence me and Raven were planning on doing the Drive South For Summer Thing at the same time, so we figured we could drop in and camp with them for a couple of days. Di, Tone and Andy were tagging along for the camp too, which was fine by me. No one had decided exactly how long they were staying. I figured maybe we'd camp two to four days, then drive south somewhere, whether it would be just to the border, or inland, or even back up to Canberra - where to was yet to be determined. That's the way a road trip should be.
Woolongong, Kiama, Nowra and Bateman's BayUnlike those other slackers, who were planning on leaving at 10am Sunday, Raven and I wanted to hit the high road a bit earlier, and consequently we were driving before 8am. The car was full of mosquitos because I had left it parked in the driveway for two nights straight with the windows open.
The first day of your holiday is just so exciting, mainly because you get to get away from hippie parents and hoser work. The further we got from Sydney, the more relaxed we were getting. It is roughly 450 km from Sydney to Mimosa Rocks National Park, where we were planning on camping. I wanted to drive relatively slowly and take plenty of breaks on the way down, hence the early departure time. It started to rain.
We stopped at Wollongong Maccas for brekko, where I rang K8's house and woke everyone up at like 9am to inform them that we'd broken the mould and left early. Next stop was Kiama, famous for it's Blowhole, a hole in the rocks at the beach, where if the right wave hits it, a huge spurt of water goes up in the air and gives all the tourists a good soaking. Well, the right waves weren't hitting it, and the only way we were getting wet was from the howling wind and the bucketing rain. The blowhole sucked, but not to worry.
Soon after we hit Nowra. The highlight of Nowra is the fact that it has a Kmart. My plan was to stop at every Kmart and Toyworld on the way down and on the way back in search of older Beast Wars Transformers. Of course, Kmart didn't have any I wanted, so we went to Franklins and stocked up camping-type groceries instead.
We skipped Ulladulla and rested at Bateman's Bay for lunch till about 1:30pm. On the menu was a spud for Raven, who's a spud addict, and a crappy hamburger for me. A guy stopped me an asked where the markets were. What markets? I'm just a tourist in this city.
The Search for the Perfect Campsite - (ie no hippies)About 4pm we stumbled on to the first Mimosa Rocks campsite - and what a disappointment it was! It was exactly not what I had figured (wanted) it to be. There were fenced off tent-size areas, about twenty in total, all full of hippies living between tents and combi's. There was no room for two people in one car, let alone seven people in three cars, so we parked the car in the designated non-campers car park, and wandered down to the beach to think about things for a bit. We had no idea where the other two cars full of our camping buddies were - and the good news was that our phones weren't working. If you're going to go to all the trouble of making car parks and ready made hippy communes, you might as well put up a mobile phone tower.
At about 4:45 we got the fuck out of there and decided to drive further south in search of more campsites. I left a big sign at the campsite entrance on the main road telling the others that we'd gone ahead. Of course when they read it about an hour later they couldn't ready my crappy writing and misinterpreted it. I knew I should have bought my laptop and portable printer. Even my P-Touch label maker would have done the trick.
The next campsite was still cordoned off, and still full of hippies - but there was enough room for about three or four cars in a section close to the beach. That section was a large open area, with about half a dozen hippie camps already there. A hippie came up to us and said that they were leaving tomorrow, so we could take the remaining shit spot tonight and move in to their spot tomorrow. Thanks, but no thanks, hippie. We pressed on.
Time was-a-wasting. We drove about five miles down a dirt road to a lake and an oyster farm in search of a campsite, to apparently no avail. It turns out there was a campsite there, but it was full anyway. We kept driving south, passing two more campsite entrances and hit the happening town of Tathra about five miles out from the original campsite. Raven had to use the public phone at a caravan park full of Kmart Skegs - you know, bleached blond country kids wearing Billabong and Rip-Curl, and drinking West Coast. Cool man.
It must have been about 6:30 by then, and we figured we'd head back to the original campsite and wait for the other hosers to turn up. As luck would have it, we passed them on the road between there and the Caravan Park. Looking quite frustrated, but relieved to see us, K8 and Snaf followed by Di, Tone and Andy hadn't found any decent sites, and Di was running out of gas. Cheap ass little Jap cars - you need a big old Australian car for country driving, that's for damn sure. My Monaro was still had a third of a tank left after 300 miles. The others went to Tathra to tank Di's car, while we checked out the remaining campsites.
The third site we got to was much better. There were no fenced off sections, just a very large open area on a cliff overlooking a very large and very beautiful beach. We figured that was the one, so we went back up to the main road to get the others and returned to set up camp.
2 Days and 3 Nites of SunburnBeing of pure English Anglo Saxon descent, my white arse was sunburnt quite nicely by around lunchtime the first day, Monday, a grand total of about 4 hours in the sun. So much for being the master race. Also that morning me and Tone went beach fishing. The only thing I caught was some rays, and a lovely big gash in my right big toe from stepping on a sharp rock. That's what camping's all about - getting gibbed.
After lunch we went fishing in Tathra. There was a historic wharf full of fishing pro's with three or four rods each with about twenty hooks all baited up on each rod. We had no chance against these guys. Tone set the mood for his fishing holiday and caught about five big sticks and some seaweed. Di caught a sea sponge and was so scared she ran off. Me and Raven were watching these stupid brown fish eat the prawns off our hooks. K8 actually caught a proper fish - but at about seven inches, it was a bit on the small side so she chucked it back in to get re-caught by the pro's.
Back at camp it was time for dinner. K8 and Snafu had completely organised all of their meals - and it was all fresh - like rissoles and steaks and shit. Me and Raven brought baked beans and Stagg. That nite we had sausages, spud and Stagg for tea. Tone had oysters, which he claims were the best oysters he had, and cheap too. He got them in Tathra out of some chick's garage. I don't see the point in eating salt-water-flavoured snot from the sea. Just quietly, I think our tea was the best.
Tuesday morning me and Raven woke up glowing - literally. My neck and knees were a shiny red, as was her ankles, neck and lower back. We layed about in the shade reading books for a while, then we all went into Bega, about 20 miles west of the coast where we were. Snafu did a crocodile Hunter and chased a Goanna up a tree on the way out of the campsite. The goanna kicked his ass.
All Bega is famous for is cheese. After selling out and eating KFC for lunch, we went to the cheese factory. It sucked. Me, Raven, K8 and Snafu went back to camp. Di, Tone and Andy went wine tasting, and Di brought back 4 bottles of 20$ wine, two red and two white. It must have been good stuff.
That afternoon around 4pm, me, Di and Tone went fishing down at a beached off lake at Tathra. It was seawater, but really still there - unlike the beach and the wharf which were complete chop. As soon as I chucked a line in I had a bite - a baby Snapper according to Di. The line wasn't even in one minute. I unhooked the little bugger and threw him back in. Right after recasting, I had another! - again a baby Snapper. By then I was bored with fishing. Another talent mastered. Di chucked my line in and out came another baby Snapper. Tone had the red ass - because his gay rod hadn't caught him dick, while mine had caught three, albeit young'ens. So I lent Tone my rod - and lo and behold within a minute he had caught something, and boy was it fighting! It was a big one - a big fucking stick and some seaweed. We were jack of it by then, so Tone bought some more sea-snot and we went back to camp.
That nite we had the dodgy-arse shish-kebabs that I had acquired from the Tathra Trailer park, and mashed spuds. Then me, Snafu and K8 got stoned and I broke my jaw on a packet of Kool Mints. It still hurts five days later. That'll learn me.
The Long Road to MelbourneWednesday morning, myself and Raven packed up and left at 8am, leaving the others behind. They were going home. We were going to Melbourne. Sydney to Melbourne is about 700 miles, or 1100 km taking the coastal road, which is effectively what we were doing, and Mimosa Rocks was a shade under halfway between. We were well stocked up on CD's and junk food.
At Merimbula, not even an hour out of camp, I spotted a Toyworld and had to go inside. The first Toyworld of the trip - YAY! We don't have Toyworld's in Sydney any more - they can't keep up with Toys R Us and World 4 Kids. Theoretically, country town Toyworld's have older stock, and maybe some old Beast Wars that I don't have. But of course this one didn't have any good Transformers. Next!
We crossed the border into Victoria in about an hour and a half, which was about as momentous as flushing the toilet. Raven, accustomed to travelling overseas and not interstate was quite disappointed. She also left her passport and Victorian currency at home. Silly girl. You can tell the Victorians love their tourism trade - they have big colourful signs up saying Welcome to Victoria and You'll love every piece of Victoria, and other propaganda. On the way into NSW you get Thanks for Visiting - come back soon. On the NSW side you get We couldn't give a fuck - don't steal anything on your way out.
The coastal road from Sydney to Melbourne is really quite a pretty drive - well OK, just loads of trees. The Princess Highway between Bega and Melbourne doesn't completely follow the coast - it cuts a corner and goes inland for a bit, and hits the coast again at Lake's Entrance, 200kms from the border. Before we got there though, we made a pit stop at Orbost, one of the doziest towns I've ever been to. Their claim to fame is that The Man From Snowy River was filmed there or some shit. Or maybe the real Man lived there in 1800 or even just dropped some friends off in their pool, I don't know. All I know is that their sandwiches sucked, and that the locals didn't look like they had seen people from the "Big Smoke" before. On the way out I stopped to get petrol. The station had old style pumps which had a big lever you had to throw to make 'em pump. The service attendant came out and supervised the pumping of my gas - I think he was worried that I was going to break his bowser. He spotted the www.swut.net sticker on the back of my car. Is that a website or something? He asked.
Lakes Entrance looked like a place I really want to go back to. I wish we stopped. They had a big harbour and loads of rusty clammy fishing boats. I think I want to retire to a place like that. Hopefully by the time I do in 30 or 40 years they'll have phones out there so I can take my modem.
At either Sale or Bairnsdale we stopped and walked around. I went into Toyworld number 2. It didn't have anything good either. Next. After that we did the long haul to Dandenong, and we made Melbourne by about 6pm.
"To St Kilda Beach Please", "Duh, Can U Show Me the Way?"Melbourne, where do I start! The first thing you notice is their fucked up road system. Imagine having to share the road with trams! Positively stone age! If you happen to be unlucky enough to have to make a right turn on a road which with you share a tram, you have to make that right turn from the very left lane - and not only that, you have to give way to everyone, including people on your side of the street. I had to do it once, and I was shit-scared. What a backward community. All of the city streets are divided and have trees down the middle, or even some shitty sculptures. People just drive anywhere. I think the road rules in Melbourne are like: just don't hit the trams, everything else goes. I took the opportunity, with my Sydney-honed ultra driving skill and flare, to break as many road rules as possible, like U-turning at traffic lights and doing left turns from the right lane for a laugh - it was a blast.
The other thing of note is that Melbourne has more nutters per capita than Sydney, and that's for damn sure. In Sydney, you might see the odd nutter, or maybe one or two homeless people in your whole day out. In Melbourne, you see a nutter on every block. And I'm not just talking about geeks with bad dress sense - I mean people completely lacking in the chromosome department, as if the best part of the Melbourne population are the psychos who escaped from Sydney's loony bins.
Anyway, we managed to find our way to sunny St Kilda, the only suburb of Melbourne I know, in search of a motel. What I was looking for was one I had stayed at a few years back, called Kings Court (the name of a brothel in Sydney), but it had disappeared. We end up staying in a hovel on Carlisle street for 70$ a night. It had running water, which was cool, but the fridge was too noisy to turn on, and the bed sank in the middle. The TV barely worked, but Melbourne television is no better than Sydney's. No wait, I take that back. The ads are more entertaining, because they are 10$-budget ads with nutters in them jumping up and down. They had an ad, which was for some Monkey Magic rip-off street theatre. We do monkey magic in our backyard on a Saturday afternoon for a laugh and then we get bored. Melbourne dresses up some loonies and makes it a tourist attraction. The guy who played Monkey had the fakest sideburns ever, and baked-bean teeth, which u had to study each time he did the Yatatatatatata thing he does in pain whenever that whore Tripitaka makes his headband tighten. As you can imagine, we stayed well clear of that.
Thursday morning we went into the city to check it out on foot. We caught a genuine tram in. My big theory for the morning was that if u have a pride of lions, or a gaggle of geese, then u have a tram full of Victorians. I'm quite clever in that respect. First stop was Augogo, a record store not unlike Waterfront in Sydney, undoubtedly the highlight of Melbourne shopping. We wandered around, keeping well clear of the nutters. I got some Sin City comics and we both got some neat shoulder bags from the disposal store. We then made it up the hill to the markets, which are supposed to be another highlight of Melbourne, but are easily just as shit as Paddy's in Sydney. By then we were so fucking tired it was time to go back to the room. To lazy to find a tram, we caught a cab. All the cabs in Melbourne are yellow - a Jeff kennet initiative, apparently. The Victorians voted him out of office because he was too good for them. In his place they put some unknown socialist. No doubt Victoria will be going from bad to worse in the near future.
The cab-driver was absolutely fucking clueless - he must have been from northern Queensland. To St Kilda Beach please! I said. Out came the map. Can you show me the way? In Sydney if you were a cab driver and you didn't know where Bondi was for example, you'd get hung, drawn and quartered. He drove about 40km/hr all the way. He took a right turn at a set of lights, and at the red light of the street he was turning into, in the middle of the intersection, he stopped! We couldn't believe it. At the motel, the meter read 15$. I gave him 20$ and he only gave me 4$ change. Only in Melbourne would you find a dopey fucking cab driver like that. Needless to say, we were utterly flabbergasted.
After a nap and some more Pokemon, we ventured into St Kilda in search of booze and food. I like St Kilda, but it's getting a bit too trendy for its own boots. The main drag, Acland Street, has two lanes for cars and a tramline down the middle. There are loads of cafes and restaurants, and loads of stupid clothes shops. The street and sidewalk are all paved, and there are palm trees here and there. Probably the closest thing Victoria has to Hawaii. The guy in the pizza joint was as cranky as all hell, and Raven commented on how big all the tits were on the waitresses. Just like that Seinfeld episode where all the coffee shop waitresses had big tits, but they turned out to be the owner's daughters.
After pizza, it was more pokemon, and some TV for a treat. We were tossing up whether to wander up to the Esplanade to see a band, but they were all no doubt really crap, so we didn't go. Originally that night we were planning on going Melbourne's star attraction, the Crown Casino. We had to settle for passing it in a tram instead.
How to Get Nicked by the Victorian Police and Not Get ShotCome Friday morning it was time to leave. With heavy heart (yeah right) we packed the car and began the long trip home - around 500 miles in almost a straight line - to Sydney. The plan was to break the drive into two legs, but where the break was to be was yet to be determined. On the way out of Melbourne I stopped at my second favourite shop, Mind Games and picked up some more Pokemon cards, and a Magic the Gathering 6th edition Starter Set. Screw pokemon - that's a kiddie's game.
At Coburg, on the North side of Melbourne I tanked and bought a cheap pair of sunnies. The blue frames really suited me (puke). I had to take them off after a couple of hours as they were making my eyes sore - but I don't know whether it was the shitty lenses or the fact that the frames were clamping the sides of my skull like some karate manoeuvre. But I guess they served some purpose. The last pair I bought were 8$ at the markets, and I had accidentally busted the frames within 10 minutes and chucked them out the window on my way home.
On the highway I was trying to keep a steady 75 mph (about 120 kph). I passed a sign saying Police now targeting Donut Shops. Outside Wangaratta a Mercedes passed me and being the wise ass that I am, decided to go as fast as it for a bit. Five minutes later we had both been nicked - a Victorian Highway Patrol overtook the two cars and pulled us both up - quite an amazing move - they must get Blue Heelers down there. But rumour has it that Victorian police are a bit trigger happy, and don't mind pulling out the old service revolver on young drivers (so to speak), so as you dear reader can imagine, I was petrified. Fortunately, all I got was a breath test and a 160$ speeding ticked instead. It must have been the sunnies that saved me.
We made Albury/Wodonga three hours out of Melbourne, exactly one third of the way home, by about 1pm. There was a Kmart there so I just had to stop. We got some lunch at a dodgy little café run by a deaf old lady who's eyes were practically falling out of her head and onto my sandwich. Raven ordered a salmon and salad roll - she got tuna instead. Dozy country towns.
Canberra - more Toranas than you can Poke a Stick atWe passed through Gundagai a couple of hours later, and then Yass an hour or so after that where we left the Hume Highway and took the Barton Highway down to Canberra, where we decided we would be staying overnight. If you want interesting shopping, don't go to Canberra. I think even Campbelltown has a more interesting selection of shops than Canberra. You know you're in trouble when there's no Kmart. Otherwise Canberra isn't bad. I don't think there's much night-life there either, but I'm not really into that anyway.
Canberra must have been designed by a Victorian who'd had a few cones. It has the wide divided streets with trees down the middle, and the same sort of signs and traffic lights as Victoria. Where Melbourne is based on a centralised grid, Canberra is like two large circles, one on each side of Lake Burly Griffin. On one side you have the city and business districts, and the other you have Parliament House and all of the embassies and other tourist attractions. Parliament house looks fucking ace. Apparently it's one of the Seven Wonders of the World now, and so it should be. I almost felt patriotic for a while, but I'm back to normal now.
After a Junior Whopper and the flattest, warmest, most syrupy Coke ever, we managed to find a motel in Forest, a suburb, apparently. At 90$ a nite, it was a lot more than 20$ better than the joint in St Kilda. We even got free brekko with that. We stayed in and played pokemon again.
Next morning, Saturday, it was time to pack up and make like a tourist for a while, then head home. When I was in primary school, I'd been to a war museum of sorts in Canberra, which had old tanks and bomber planes, and I wasn't going to leave until I'd seen them again. I asked the guy who ran the motel where they were, but he could only suggest the War Memorial, and I was certain that the War Memorial didn't contain any relics. We went to the War Memorial anyway, at least to get some info. At the back of the memorial there's this large church like room, with a high tiled dome and five beautiful stained-glass windows, each with a picture of a soldier with a cardinal, or even pope-like aura. Each soldier has a virtue, Endurance, Audacity, Coolness, Courage and one other that I really wish I could remember. In the middle of the floor there's a tomb with the Unknown Soldier in it. You know how you're meant to feel a reverence when you visit a big church, well I've never felt that knowing what a load of arse religion is, but I felt it at this place.
After helping myself to 160$ worth of change out of the wishing well, Raven and myself departed. It was time to find the tanks. On my map of Canberra there was a place called the National Museum, next to the Mint, so we headed in that direction. In the end there was no museum, just the mint. The mint had a tourist map though, and it had no museum either. Rorted. I rang the Canberra info-line asking where the tanks where, and discovered they're kept in a warehouse in Mitchell which is only open Wednesday and Sunday. No tanks or bombers for me. Arse to Canberra! I was depressed.
To make matters worse, the roads had suddenly become gridlocked on the way out of the City - it was the Summernats weekend, and all the boosties in their toranas from Sydney and Carmack-knows-where had driven down to Canberra to get drunk and race each other, and to see who had the biggest tacho. The population of Canberra approximately doubles when any meathead with a V8 finds his way into Canberra, getting each other's girlfriend's to show us your tits.
So we were stuck in the gridlock, just barely moving at about 5 mph. There were old street machines everywhere, some nice but most shit, and the dudes driving them were all eyeing off my old HK Monaro. The good thing about HK Monaro's are, that not matter how scruffy they are, like mine, old car and racing buffs always check it out, and you know the boosties in torana's are way jealous. Torana's are the shittest Holden's ever, without doubt. I had a mustang in front, which was actually really nice, an LJ torana (the small one) to my left, and a very shit LX torana (the big one) behind me. It had a bad yellow paintjob and a huge tacho. The dork driving it would wait till I was 100 yards in front, then he would drag race and slam on the brakes just when he was about to hit me. If he did, I was ready to jump out with my cricket bat and make a mess of his tacho.
The Last LegTwenty to thirty minutes later, we were out of the gridlock and onto the Federal Highway, with roughly three hours worth of driving to Sydney. It's about an hour on the Federal Highway, and then 2 hours back on the Hume Highway. Goulbourn is about halfway between Sydney and Canberra, so I figured we'd stop there, as not only is there a Kmart, but a Toyworld as well, and I was determined to make my day improve.
Of course, by the time we got to Goulbourn, both Toyworld and Kmart sucked. I got a chocolate thickshake and we pressed on. We made it back to Bankstown by around 3pm.
When I got home my plants were wilted and my cat was about twice as big as a week ago when I left. That will learn me to leave mum in charge.