29th November 2005 - Australia

Hello from Australia!

Those of you who thought we were in Central America are wrong. Because of the hurricane in Cancun, the airport was closed and the airline refunded our money. Also, storms and mudslides hit Guatemala and Honduras closing all road borders with Mexico. Because of all this we decided to go in the other direction to Australia. 

After arriving at Sydney airport via a stop-over in Singapore we set off to look for a campsite. After only one mile we were invited in to an Aussies house for a cup of tea and given directions. We found a site by the beach south of Sydney and booked a cabin.

Although we have our bikes and full camping gear our intention is to get a campervan for the duration. We have several options, but the cheapest is to buy an old van and re-sell it at the end. Cycling into Sydney is horrendous as most of the roads are fast, busy motorways. But, cycling on them is allowed as often there is no alternative. As we found out the last time we visited Australia, it is very cycling unfriendly. There are very few cyclepaths and very few cyclists. As a consequence, although the drivers are generally careful, they are not used to cyclists.

We finally bought an old Toyota pop-top from a dealer who specialises in selling to tourists. Probably paid more than we would have paid privately, but we have what they all a guaranteed 50 per cent buy-back, which means that they will give us half the purchase price at the end of our trip and we have the option of selling privately for more if we wish. It comes with breakdown repair cost warranty and Australian AA. membership. The cost of all this is about 1800 pounds over four months assuming we get half the purchase price back. Although a lot of money, it is a lot cheaper than renting. So, this time we will not make a profit on our trip.... 

During the week spent sorting out the van we stayed in Ramsgate! David caught several fish including one for supper. Eventually we set off via the Blue Mountains to go north towards Cairns intending to go south of Sydney during the last part of our trip.

The Blue mountains were touristy and cold. The First night we had hailstones and had to buy cheap jackets from a charity shopo as we had no warm clothes. As we headed north inland over the Great Dividing Range we camped at a variety of places, some free and some commercial ones that charged the equivalent of 8 pounds anight. As usual, plenty of Kangaroos, lizards and flies. The days range from cold in the mountains to very hot lower down with the occasional thunderstorm. 

The van seems to go ok but we very rarely overtake anything as its a bit underpowered. It needed several minor repairs to the inside and several modifications to suit the storage. For the moment, the bikes go inside, but we have an idea for a rear rack. The side awning is made of canvas and needs reproofing sometime and we are looking for some cheap carpet for inside.

There are not that many internet places and they are expensive and so we can't get on the internet as often as we would like. At the moment we are just south of Brisbane and still heading north.

Regards,

Dave and Joan Wooldridge