The end of one adventure and the start of another. It is no secret that we fell in love with Tasmania when we visited. Now we have returned to the island, to work and live, hopefully forever.
To get here we put a lot of kilometres under Gary's wheels, here is the story:
Familiar turn-offs flew by. Robina where Ruth began her epic defective shoe refund adventure (that finished in Karratha). Signs for O'Rielly's Plateau and the gorgeous Lamington National Park. Mount Warning, where we enjoyed a lovely couple of nights in Uki. The Tyagarah site of Bluesfest. Byron Bay. Grafton. Coffs Harbour, where Adam was ill and it rained and rained and rained.
These places aren't just places on a map to us anymore, they are a wealth of memories and experiences. Wanders along main streets to coffee shops. Hikes through beautiful natural surroundings. Public Art. Craft Shops. Supermarkets. The extraordinary and the mundane. Exploring Australia, the islands we call home has been a wonderful experience. The beauty (and sometimes the ugly), the desolate and abundant, the developed and the pristine, the coast and the outback, ours is a land of contrasts, characters and colours.
We stopped for the night in Port Macquarie. Wandered past decades of painted rock armour ocean breakwall, drank some beers and hid from the wind.
One hundred and ten kilometres per hour. The Pacific Highway is a four lane engineering masterpiece. Especially when Gary started overboosting (probably a sticky or dead boost controller / waste gate actuator) and went into rev-limiting power-limiting acceleration-limiting engine protection mode. The uphill stretches heading south have been less fun than normal. But the ferry beckons so we keep going.
Last Monday we rolled into Newcastle at lunch time, nabbed a coffee from The Press Book House then camped over the bridge at Stockton Beach. Newcastle Black to Port Headlands Red, we saw the coal export infrastructure - rail carts, stockpiles, reclaimers, ship loaders, all the same, just a different colour. Bonta Vera was closed Monday and Tuesday or we would have devoured some more super ultra delicious vegan burgery goodness from there. Adam mixed driving with job application work all day.
A shorter drive to Sydney, Gary crossed the Harbour Bridge and took us into Newtown for Bliss and Chips at lunchtime on Tuesday. Yum. We ate all the things.
We rolled out of Newtown to Rosebery to catch up with cousins Alex and Sara and baby Talon again. He is nearly one now and getting huge! By curious twist of universal fate, the family that we stayed with down the road through AirBnB were actually adolescent friends of Alex's! Small world.
Wednesday morning we got to catch up with a long lost friend of Adam's - Jason. We shared breakfast at The Clean Treats Factory. Former bartending, music playing, Fremantle adventuring partner in crime, he now teaches 3D Animation and works for a bunch of studios. He is also getting married soon to a really great girl we will have to meet another time.
We had a very important stop to make on our way to Melbourne - returning Uncle Ewen and Aunty Dee's spare house keys that we had been carrying around since we were in Canberra in March. Canberra had progressed in the light rail construction but was super dry - all the grass brown and grey, dead and lifeless. We pushed on to camp the night in Gundagai.
Morning saw ice on tables and grass as we packed up Gary early - roof tent is not quite as snug when temperatures get below freezing. We got out of Gundagai and headed for Melbourne.
We made it to La Panella for a late lunch. Adam upped his vanilla slice tally and then we headed over to the Caravan Park to rest a couple of days before our ferry trip.
On Friday Ruth had a job interview scheduled via skype, so we enjoyed a restful morning before commandeering the TV room at the campground for interviewing privacy. We had a celebratory dinner at The Cornish Arms.
In case you haven't guessed, the last week has been mostly about revisiting some awesome vegan eateries we loved on our first time through.
Saturday we went Op Shopping for warm clothes and had lunch at Yong Green Food then afternoon icecream. Early to bed for our Sunday Sailing. It seemed that everyone camped around us was Tasmanian and sailing back to the island on Monday.
Sunday we woke early, packed up and drove to the port. Without too much hurry-up-and-wait we got Gary stowed on deck two and retired to the Top Deck Lounge for the crossing. We shared the story of our adventure with a few friendly strangers, read books, relaxed and crossed Bass Straight for a third time.