“This is your Captain speaking…. Uhhh… We have a little issue with one of the rear doors not sealing… Uhhh… Unfortunately we’re going to have to move over to the service area for the engineers to look at it…. Uhhh… shouldn’t be but a couple of hours.”
Being late for my seating call onto Qantas’ and for that matter, the world’s largest commercial passenger liner, the Airbus A380-800, I was last to arrive in my area of the plane, meaning my backpack would have to be shoved under the rather cool carbon fibre seats, leaving no room for my feet. By the time we finally lifted up into the air, my legs were already numb with the lack of circulation. Fifteen hours later, and very little in the way of sleep, I worked my way through customs, bought a SIM card for a borrowed cell phone and caught a cab to the Britz Campervan rental company.
I was renting a 4WD camperized truck, a very capable Toyota Landcruiser Troop carrier with diesel engine and an air snorkel for the engine, something that would come in handy down the road. But the brilliance of this 4WD was the camperized rear section. The long bench down the one side of the truck held storage underneath, and then slid over to become a rather comfortable bed. The other side held a cabinet full of pots, pans, cutlery, gas stove, sink and fridge. The truck even came equipped with bedding linens and pillows. The roof could be unlatched and raised to give standing room in the back, while a series of boards slid rearward creating a bunk up in the raised tented section. It would be perfect for what I wanted to do, get out and meander my way up Australia’s East coast, stopping off on beaches or scenic parks to bed down for the night.
The only problem was, “Sir, your credit card has been declined.” While I had a good chat with my lovely fiancé that going away for two and a half months, five months before our wedding was fine, she decided to deactivate my credit card while I was in the air. After some calls to the credit card company and to my lovely fiancé, a deal was worked out and the Landcruiser was turned over to me only a bit late.
With nothing more than a small map of the city taken from a travel brochure, I wanted to see the Harbour Bridge, then make my way north out of the city to find a suitable place to bed down for the night. I was on day two without sleep, in a foreign country driving on the other side of the road, and I just wanted to stop traveling. After crossing the impressive Harbour Bridge, catching sight of the Sydney Opera House, I made my way north on Highway #2. However, by this time, I was beyond the reaches of my little tourist map, and was driving blindly north – I think. Highways began to split, traffic began to fill the streets for the rush hour and rain poured from the sky like I’ve never seen before. Some aimless wondering down traffic arteries, I noticed a sign that told me I was only 10 km from Olympic Park. Knowing that Olympic Park is more in town than out, my fears were realized when I crested a hill to gaze upon the Olympic Stadium and Sydney Harbour. I had done a complete horse shoe from the Harbour Bridge – Doh.
With directions from an IKEA clerk taking a smoke break, I turned 180, and was back on track, following the signs to Newcastle. Finally I hit the Pacific Coast Freeway and was out of the city, heading north. Only, the Pacific Coast Highway doesn’t follow along the Pacific coast, but several km inland. Being a typical freeway, there was nowhere to turn off, and my exhaustion was getting the better of me, so the romantic stop by the beach would be replaced with a truckers stop on the side of the highway. The hypnotic crash of rolling waves faded into the roar of truckers flying by in the middle of the night. Maybe tomorrow night I'll be in a nicer environment.