Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Australian Van Odyssey - in Video

Hi everyone,

Well, this vid is the culmination of 12 months of epic traveling around Australia, and many an hour of clipping and editing to get it all down to 9 minutes!  We hope you enjoy it - I tried to capture some of the amazing sights and sounds that we experienced of this spectacular country.






Much love, the wrinkle-free rovers. xx

Monday, November 7, 2011

An Australian Van Odyssey - in Words

Hi folks, Nick here.

Well, this is it - my 'written word' homage to our epic travelling adventure.  I wrote this just after I had returned from our trip a few months ago, and was hoping to get it published in a local magazine.  This didn't happen, so i figured I would post it here, as what will most likely be our second last blog entry for The Wrinkle-free Rovers.

I have just pieced together an epic 9 minute video account of our 12 month odyssey as our final post, so I will get that up here soon.

Until then, I hope you enjoy my final words...


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A wave of nostalgia washes over me when, after 12 months of life-altering adventuring, I drive once more into my hometown of Brisbane.  My arms are still bronzed from the Territory sun, my shoes have red dust caked on them from WA, and my hair, which I promised not to cut for the whole journey, curls down past my shoulders 80’s glam-rock style.

I have just completed a circumnavigation of Australia in a small campervan – over 30,000 kilometers, roaming through every state and capital, dodging fires, floods and federal elections all the way.

For the year or so before leaving Queensland on this trip I strongly felt I needed a travel ‘Yang’ to my working life ‘Yin’.  Something was out of balance.  A kind of ‘overloaded’ feeling had been swirling around in my head and stomach for many months.  There were 52 weeks in the year, and 48 of mine were spent working, with the remaining 4 for ‘holidays’.  But these ‘holidays’ turned out to be time that I needed just to cope with everything that was whirling around me.   They weren’t really holidays; they were ‘breaks from work’, in order for me to be able to return to work, to do more work.  Did I mention work?

So I sold my business, I sold my xbox, and I sold my sense of responsibility (or perhaps stored it for later, time will tell), saddled up and departed with my beautiful wife who had just the right amount of crazy and courage to join me.  Our life was now confined to one small box-on-wheels and one very large continent for the foreseeable future.

Some travelers enjoy plush hotel rooms with movie channels and room service at their fingertips.  Others enjoy the beachside shack get away and spend the whole time in their swimsuit.  Others venture to the thriving super cities of Europe and America to chase arts and culture.

I was seeking to find the heart of Australia’s outback that can only be discovered in secluded creek-side camps, isolated beaches and lonely mountain bluffs.

Of course we spent time in the cities, surrounded by activity, and clawed our way through popular tourist spots (Uluru, Broome, the famous Aussie wine regions et al) whilst swimming against a rising tide of caravanning grey nomads, but it was the vast emptiness of the deserted Australia that resonated with me the most. Perhaps this was the ‘Yang’ I was searching for, the complete opposite to concrete jungles, busy weekday schedules and hectic weekends that my life normally held.

Invariably I have been asked what was my favourite place, or what was the most memorable or amazing moment.  In reality there are too many to choose from and they cannot (and should not) be ranked one above another. The breadth of experiences that were taken in over the year is quite overwhelming to recall.

I swam in a naturally heated spring in the red centre and attended the Ashes at the MCG.  I spent my 30th drinking wine and eating tasty morsels at Maggie Beer’s garden in the Barossa.  I worriedly watched the Queensland floods from a TV in Tasmania. I hit a kangaroo south of Perth and a dingo broke my right plugger on the Nullabor plains.

I climbed to the Mt Kosciuszko lookout at Thredbo in summer while battling icy 80 km/hr winds.

I got sun burnt cheering on 2 indigenous communities battling each other on the AFL ground in the blazing midday heat in Yatala in South Australia.

I spent many weeks exploring and photographing the extraordinary and  numerous rivers, gorges and grottos of the Northern Territory, all flowing with water after the brutal wet season earlier in the year.

I felt the excitement and satisfaction of driving into the most remote capital city in the world (Perth), only to suddenly experience the trepidation of the many thousand of isolated kilometers to be travelled in order to ‘arrive’ anywhere remotely as populated.

I met inspirational food producers in Tasmania’s North West region, photographed for an exhibition their amazing farming practices and found myself marveling at the immense range of types of food this tiny region of Australia produces.

I had a freezing cold shower in the frosty morning air on the top of a mountain near Orange, nudie running around our campervan to warm myself.

To say that one of these moments or places was the ultimate, well that’s impossible.

There was a defining realisation though, something that helped me restore my balance and re-energise my soul.   And here it is:

Until I left Brisbane, I swear that I had never properly looked at and appreciated the sky and its morphing kaleidoscope of colours, shapes and moods.

Once on the road with time aplenty I discovered cloud formations could enthrall me for hours, the shifting colours of the sky could evoke peaceful reflection and awe, and some of the sunsets witnessed have literally forced me to stand in utter silence and humble respect.  The sky and its many incarnations became a personalised lava lamp for my daily viewing consumption.  Nature knew how to deliver some quality and all I needed to do was slow down and take notice.  That, and take a hard drive full of photos to look back on.

The experience of driving around such a vast expanse of land has, at both times, made this country feel larger and smaller in my mind.  It is bigger than I ever imagined – so many highways, national parks and vast landscapes stretching endlessly.  However, it all feels so close together now that I can go back to these places in my memory whenever I desire.

As for my new-found inner balance, time will tell if I can maintain it as I return to ‘normal life’ and those awe inspiring sunset moments become rarer, but I do feel now that the clich├ęs are true.  Life is short, and there is so much to experience.

The rest of the world now tempts these traveling shoes.

See you out there.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The End

I guess you could say I have been delaying this post, as if postponing a final blog entry would somehow mean that the trip has not ended.

But ended it has.

I have just washed the last of the red Northern Territory bull dust from the outside of the van (after spending at least 12 hours cleaning the inside!), making our happy motor-home sparkle like new once again.

Unbelievably, we have both been back home for over a month already, and how quickly normal life absorbs us into its whirlwind of activities.  But, a final post on this blog about the epic adventure we embarked on is in order, so here goes:

We travelled 32,000 kilometers over 12 months, and visited every state and capital city in the country.  We appeared on ABC radio national, curated an exhibition in Tasmania, had over 15,000 views on this little wrinkle-free rovers blog, and have racked up nearly 35,000 views of our videos on youtube.

We cracked our windscreen four times, hit a kangaroo in WA and averaged 100 kilometers a day of travelling - which doesn't actually seem like that much until you remember we did this for a whole year.

We saw some of the most inspiring natural features of our lives, met some amazing people, and shared stories of tantrums (well, Cate's anyway...), pictures of our precious van and thoughts and insight into this country's towns, cities and outback.

But looking back now on a year well spent, it is easy to see that the most inspiring thing by far was having the courage to take a year off work during our twenties to have these experiences.  My personal thought - we all work too hard.  If you love your job and are filled with passion for your working life, that is great - I urge you to give it all you have.  But if you ever get (or is that make?) an opportunity to take some time off for a similar adventure, do it.

You will not regret it.

I will post here again in the future - I am in the process of editing a mega-video of some of the footage I shot during the year, so check back for more soon.

Love,

Saturday, June 18, 2011

One Last Adventure

So I am very close to the end of this amazing trek (only 20 hours to go!) - but there was time over the previous 3 days for one last adventure.

I linked up with my friend Jimbo and we high-tailed it into Canarvon National Park to explore the Canarvon Gorge for a few days.


So this is what we are dealing with - 30 kilometers of spectacular sandstone gorge that is 200 meters high most of the way.  The winding river that carved this monstrosity hides canyons, grotto's and even a natural amphitheater in it twists and turns.

This is a truly inspirational landscape and a very fitting way to end this year long odyssey.  Here are some snaps of the gorge and our sights over the last few days.


Jimbo's car in my rear vision mirror, with a few pedestrians taking up the road


It is hard to show the scale of the gorge in one photo

So many creeks and canyons to explore

King Fern searching for light

The amphitheater

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Queenslander!

So I have hit my home state of Queensland after 30,000 kms on the road! What a journey to get back here, and sadly not long now until the end of the trip.

But, until then, I have been exploring some of outback QLD, so here is a small collection of photos from these recent adventures...

Flock of birds at sunset North of Cloncurry

The classic outback 'mill and shed

Sunset moon

Gigan-terous tree that I camped under

The clouds started in about two days ago

The iconic Aussie Stockman's Hall of Fame

Inside the hall

More snaps soon!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hunting Eagles

The numerous eagles and I have been playing a game.

I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get a close up photo of one of these magnificent creatures as it sits on the road, or takes off from a branch or eating some roadkill.

And they have been trying to stop me.

It goes like this - I am driving down a highway, and the eagles are eating a piece of roadkill up the road, see the van and take off. I drive past the roadkill, pull over a kay down the road, saddle up with my camera and hook it on foot back to where they were eating, hopefully to see them land and begin eating again. I sneak up as quietly as I can, but EVERY time they see me and fly away. 

Damn eagle eyes! Once they know you are there they will not land again, content to cruise the currents and watch from afar.

I got one photo, posted below, but it is not perfect. The hunt continues....