As great as our time was in Perth, this was our opportunity to explore. I had spent so many hours convincing Corrinne that this was going to be an exciting adventure. Let’s put it straight out there…. Corrinne does not do camping! tents, caravans or anything associated with sleeping in anything less than 4 stars, just simply does not get considered. “Glamping” was definitely introduced for her…
This whole adventure was in jeopardy long before we even left the UK. Her youngest daughter had been travelling for six months around Asia and Australasia and was now with three other friends, in a camper van, travelling around Australia. Their road trip had been nothing but constant problems with the van. They were constantly on the phone back to the UK for help trying to resolve issues. To all of us waiting at home, it felt like they were in a mobile death trap (slight exaggeration, possibly!). As you can imagine this was not working in my favour, trying to convince Corrinne that this was going to be amazing. However, the promise of the luxurious of Motor Homes eventually persuaded her that all was going to be ok!
After waving a temporary good-bye to Perth we boarded a flight to Cairns. A short flight across to the other side of the country, only four and a half hours. We had travelled less for most of our holidays! Kinda puts into perspective the size of the country. Quite a standard non-eventful flight. We had only brought half our clothes with us on this trip as we were not sure on how much space we would have to store, but even so Corrinne’s case was at least twice the size of mine!
After a short taxi ride from the airport to the Motor home hire centre, we then had the tedious task of sorting all the documentation. Another fact, Corrinne is not the most patient of people in situations like this, she just wants it sorted and on her way. Two drinks, a long walk and a bit of sight seeing later, after having to “kill time” whilst the van was being prepared we eventually completed all the necessary insurance details and finalised all arrangements.
The centre had a wide range of vehicles on its premises and of course we played the game of selecting which one we hoped would be ours. As long as it was not one of those dreaded green cheapies that travelers used and were always broken down on the side of the highways.
We certainly were not disappointed! OMG! ….. this was luxury on wheels. We had hit jackpot, and oh so big and roomy. I then remembered that I had to drive this, but wow it was so much better than we had imagined. All doubts were instantly removed and nothing but excitement remained. And so our road trip began……
Our plan was to drive from Cairns to Brisbane (1,750 kms) in ten days, we would select places to stay en route. The idea was to enjoy the day at a location, then travel evening time to the next caravan park. We had been recommended that before we began our journey south it was well worth the trip to head north to Port Douglas first. This is exactly what we did. A nice relaxing first evening, enjoy a walk in the town, have a nice meal and begin to explore.
Port Douglas was quaint so many lovely little places to visit. However, what struck us both the most on that first night was the sound of the bats flying overhead, what a racket. Whilst we were out exploring we booked an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef for the next day. Again, swimming in the sea with fish etc…. definitely NOT one on Corrinne’s bucket list!
Of course it was a lovely hot day, as we sailed out to the reef. The only downside was that we had now entered “Jelly Fish Season” so In preparation for our dive we had to put on full stinger suits to protect us. It was amazing as we swam out and dived around, and what we saw was so inspiring. We also decided to take a mini excursion on a glass shelled mini-sub to go deeper and see even more amazing sights. The day was finished with a huge seafood banquet, before heading back to port.
After such an amazing day, our road trip had to begin, so we packed up and headed to our next destination. Mission Beach. We comfortably arrived at the sight, in plenty of time to set up and wander out for an evening stroll before retiring for the evening.
This was where I began to notice that Corrinne was becoming more confused than normal. She seemed totally disorientated and well and truly out of her comfort zone. She was needing more and more assistance with more basic functions. She wasn’t retaining any details and repeatedly asking the same questions. Naturally, the medication, the travelling, a strange environment and general tiredness were what I thought were causing this. It was no bother to me, to help her so that she could enjoy the experience.
Mission Beach was number one on my bucket list. A skydive over the Great Barrier Reef. If you are going to throw yourself out of an aeroplane it has to be with a spectacular view. This certainly ticked all the boxes. This had been something I promised my Nan that I would do with her (when she was in her 90’s!), sadly she never got to do it, this was my opportunity to do it in her memory. Corrinne was going to wait on the beach and watch.
I have total admiration and have been in awe of Corrinne for all the things that she has done. Never one to stand on the side. As this trip was showing, things might not be her preference, but that would not stop her from doing them. After a lengthy wait due to weather conditions I finally got called to go. I couldn’t believe it when at the last minute she decided to come with me as there was a space available. Wow what an experience, we both had. A story that always brings a smile to her face when I remind her that she jumped out of a plane!
The next phase of our journey was quite lengthy with some stops on the way. Eventually we arrived at Airlie Beach. We needed to relax, so stayed an extra day here to allow ourselves time to unwind. Here, we took an excursion to the Whitsunday Islands. Such a beautiful pretty place, with beaches of the most magnificent sand. A lovely day exploring, swimming and enjoying the sights. The sand is so pure that if you rub your jewellery in it, the items are revitalised and cleaned. This sand is protected from tourists taking it. You are checked before boarding a boat and hosed down to remove any sand on you.
The next part of our journey, we were now heading towards Brisbane. This was a little more routine and we were just going to stop as and when, or if we saw something that we wanted to visit. One such place was Bundaberg. It was a quiet Sunday with very little activity anywhere. We saw the rum distillery and they were doing tours, this was a good idea to break up the journey, and hey we might even get some cheeky tasters too.
Having previously been to Dublin and seen the Guinness factory, this was equally as fascinating. Of course the highlight was the tasting at the end. The tour guide took great pleasure in ridiculing all poms saying how we kill the taste of rum and whiskey by adding coke to it. His advice was lemonade or for spiced spirits, ginger beer. I have to say having tasted the drinks, it has changed how I drink them from now on. A few bottles of Spirits to take back home, were soon added to our luggage.
During this last phase of our journey we had been in contact with Corrinne’s daughter and her friends. On our current schedule, we were due to catch up with them around Brisbane. So we arranged to meet them at the Steve Irwin zoo just outside of the city and spend the day with them there. There faces were a picture when we parked our luxurious motor home next to their little camper. We were shocked to, how four people could be crammed into such a small space was way beyond us.
An amazing day at the zoo, doing all the tourist things. Feeding the kangaroos, holding the koalas along with watching the crocodiles. We decided that the girls needed a little treat so we booked them with us at a site for the night and took them into town for a meal and drinks. Then back to our van where all six of us could comfortably sit and relax. The next day we all decided to go into Brisbane, do a river cruise, visit a museum and enjoy the city together. In the evening the girls insisted on cooking us a “travellers dinner” as a thank you before we both set off on our different routes.
For us it was the end of the road trip. It hadn’t been without its challenges. Corrinne was totally disorientated within the van, was unable to remember where anything was and needed constant guidance and help, but we managed, made the best of it all and enjoyed a memorable experience. We were giving our motor home back. Our next part of our sightseeing trip was a flight to Sydney and three nights in a City hotel.
Sydney was everything you imagine it would be. We had a great few days there, visiting the sites, The Sydney Opera House was magnificent. Bondi Beach is definitely for the tourists, there are much nicer beaches along the coast and a lot quieter too. Sitting in the harbour restaurants in the evenings enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city life. On a Saturday there is always a spectacular firework display to enjoy as well..
Another activity that we managed to do, was to walk over the top of Sydney Harbour bridge. We were the last tour of the day, and were right at the highest point in the centre of the bridge at midnight. Wow, what an amazing view of the city.
Tired and with some fantastic memories, undoubtedly the journey of a lifetime. Quite literally nearly 2,000 miles down the A1 (The Bruce Highway) and for the majority of the time no other vehicles. The only real danger was making sure you didn’t hit any Roos…… We headed back to Perth for the last ten days. Family time for Corrinne, something that she has always held so dear to her heart.