One of the risks of leaving Seattle in spring to visit Australia in fall is that you land in Sydney to this view out the airplane window:
We spent most of our first day in Australia in a desperate attempt to get our cell phones working on the Australian network. Back in the old days (2010) one could reasonably expect to navigate an unfamiliar land without a cell phone. But when we had to visit 3 separate petrol stations to find a paper map of New South Wales, we knew we’d need functioning GPS to get around.
After visiting two malls in suburban Sydney in our quest for cell service, we finally hit the open (albeit wet) road. We had arrived at 7am after an all-night flight, and by 3pm we were ready to be done moving. Unfortunately, in true Intrepid Explorer fashion, we hadn’t done much research about our destination, and we had arrived in the middle of a 4 day national holiday. All the motels in the area were booked. We finally found a room in Lithgow at the Commercial Motel. We climbed a set of disturbingly slippery metal stair on our wobbly, jet-lagged legs to our room that smelled of 50 years of, well…motel. But the room was reasonably clean and we were unreasonably tired.
After a good 12 hour nap, we were ready to hit the road again. We read about a hike to an abandoned train tunnel filled with glow worms. No way of taking a pic of the worms, but here’s a pic of us at the entrance to the tunnel.
We spent the next day on a long slog into the outback in a quest to visit Mungo National Park, the only part of our trip that I had booked ahead.
Much of the park can only be visited with a guide on dirt roads. Unfortunately, the morning of our tour, it rained buckets, making the roads impassable and closing the park. I was heartbroken. But there was no time for self-pity. On to Yanga National Park, instead. Yanga is an old outback station in operation from the mid 1800s to 2005. We got a good feel for what life was like out in the middle of nowhere! We toured the station then took a walk down to Yanga Lake, which during times of drought is completely empty. But today it was full and we saw lots of birds, including Willy Wagtails, various parrots, and two emus. I didn’t get a picture of the emus, but here’s a shot of C’s hand next to an emu print in the mud:
In the afternoon one the rangers invited us to make Johnny cakes by the Wool Shed. “What’s a Johnny cake?” we asked the rangers. “It’s like a damper” they replied. Hmmm. After a little description, we figured out it’s just cowboy bread. After helping make the cakes:
…we were introduced to Golden Syrup, a uniquely Australian sickeningly sweet sugar syrup. There’s no way of eating this stuff neatly. Notice the gobs of syrup on C’s hands?
That night we ventured out at sunset to hunt for kangaroos. Though we’d been told kangaroos were plentiful in the outback, up to then we’d only seen them as roadkill on the sides of the highway! Thankfully, our efforts were rewarded with both kangaroo and emu sightings!
The next day we began our return to civilization, but not before a hike to the top of The Rock in Wagga Wagga and a visit to the thermal pool and caves in Yarangobilly!
And now for what you’ve all been anxiously awaiting… I present to you, the 2015 Australian equivalent of the El Camino:
And in case that isn’t enough for you, we happened upon the Australian Panel-Van convention which is a forum for devotees of this beauty, which can only be describes as a miniature hearse designed for shagging…