We have always been huge fans of camping and to venture into outback Australia and travel the dirt tracks has always been on our bucket list.
After a couple of trips exploring different states of Australia for two and three months here and there, we decided to take our love of camping to the next level – nine months on the road to tackle some of Australia’s iconic outback tracks!
We originally started out in an OZ Trail two-man tent but we have since upgraded and our humble abode is now an ARB rooftop tent. Only occasionally do we pull out our ARB swag…. either way we love this camping life!
We were finally on our way to Devonport.
After some last minute packing and a final check to see that the rooftop tent and mountain bikes were secured to the roof racks we headed for Devonport to meet up with family for a meal before boarding the Spirit of Tasmania … our next destination, mainland Australia!
It was hard to believe it had been four and a half years since our last trip around Australia and now we were about to begin another.
The last week or so had been really crazy for us, cleaning, packing and final additions to the Hilux, and after spending so long getting ready to go, it was finally time for us snowbirds to say farewell to our family and hope our grandchildren would remember us when we returned at the end of the year.
It was a mixture of excitement and sadness for us as we left!
After a quick and easy check-in on board the ferry, we parked and turned off our engine and made our way upstairs to settle in for a long night across the big seas… what a perfect way to start our adventure!
Our beds for the night were the comforts of a recliner each, and they did not disappoint – and if you like looking at ocean views, they didn’t get much better than this.
We chose the recliner option to travel this time in preference to the confines of a small cabin and surprisingly we had quite a peaceful night as we were hummed to sleep by the engine, the gentle rocking of the ship and the pitter patter of rain on the windows.
The crossing of Bass Strait was considerably smooth, or so I thought, but apparently I slept through the huge swells, the pelting rain and the strong winds oblivious to the fact that Guy spent most of the night gazing out the window and a little word of warning for those not-so-happy-morning-risers – be prepared for the 5.00am EARLY wake up call. Disembarking at Station Pier at 6.00am was a little of a shock to the system.
Our first glimpse of mainland Australia…
We woke to a very wet day as the boat sailed through the heads of Port Phillip Bay.
We donned our backpacks and wandered out into the corridor and lounge area to join the other people who had gathered and as they chatted and waited patiently to be called to their cars I gazed around the many faces and wondered at their destinations. Were they travelling for school holidays, returning to loved ones, or setting off on an adventure of a lifetime, just like us?
When the call finally came to go to our cars we shuffled down the flights of stairs to our car and just as quickly drove off the boat and across the border onto Victorian soil where we were greeted with a very early, wet Melbourne morning.
For us the excitement of crossing the border from one state to another and setting foot onto mainland Australia was made real as we descended from the stern of the ferry to be greeted by tall sky scrapers and a busy hive of people as they moved around the pier.
Actually, technically speaking the border between Tasmania and Victoria lies somewhere in the northern part of Bass Strait, so the border crossing probably took place while we, or rather I, was fast asleep.
We were now faced with the task of braving the wakening Melbourne traffic to head north to Albury Wadonga where our Hilux was booked in for a quick suspension check before making our way to Yackandandah for the night.
Excited about what lay ahead and the thought of the big, beautiful country out there just waiting for us to explore we grabbed our map and with our GPS set on our next destination, we headed over the West Gate Bridge to the Western Ring Road and we were soon on the Hume Freeway.
Continuing towards New South Wales we made good progress as we continued north along to Seymour where we stopped for a break, then with grey overcast skies threatening more rain, we continued on.