Newcastle to South Australia and Back - 2013
The first of a series of terrible ideas. 3000km. A WRx. An obstacle course and a bucks night.
2013 was a hell of a year for me. It was the end of my job in retail hell and the start of my current career path. It was my last year living in the same 250km ish radius in NSW.
I took my job as seriously as my shirt/job position title that said "CLEVER DICK" allowed me.
But most importantly it was the year I started doing something I find totally addictive. Crack cocaine..... Sorry. I meant roadtrips. I started doing road trips.
In crack cocaine's defense I suspect it's far cheaper than 3000+ Km round trips in fuel hungry cars.
The nuts and bolts of this trip where simple.
Leave. Drive 1400km to Adelaide Airport.
Pick up half of a bucks party.
Drive to a place where they make wine.
Run a 15+ km fitness based mind and soul destroying course designed by a bunch of people with pixelated faces.
Get right proper drunk.
Drop people back at the airport.
Drive 1400km home
Return to soul crushing job.
Crawl. Run. Climb. Or in my case, Fall Over, Walk, Try Not To Die. Yes there are many good looking people there, why do you ask?
Easy peasey. Especially the obstacle course part.
My legit reaction of someone saying "This is what we are doing for Mitch's bucks. Yes you have to run the course."
Well not really. From memory my longest drive at this point was a couple of trips to the south end of Sydney and then back to Newcastle, roughly 300km in a day. The only long distance experience I had was riding along as a passenger.
A plan of "Sleep, read, talk shit to the driver" doesn't really work when it's a one man show.
Luckily I had an edge. The best car platform for doing anything ever in the world. A GD WRX.
I'm not lying here. It totally is. I'll explain it one day on here for sure with graphs. It had tune, cold air intake and nice, free flowing 3" turbo back exhaust. Hell of a little car and I miss it occasionally.
So I had myself, my car and a free GPS I won at work. After a basic service, a splurging on a full detail of the car (hugemistakeincoming), buying a jerry, sleeping bag and a pillow I was ready.
At some point I decided that to save money I would sleep in the car.
I don't know when, how or why I came up with that. I was sure that I could kip up in the backseat no problem. Reality would have other ideas.
I loved that jerry. It was older than sin and looking back on it I really should of realised it was going to rust out the second the roadtrip was over, but god damn that aesthetic is awesome.
Keen eyed types will see that the rear suspension is already sagging. If there is a fault with the GD platform it's that the rear shocks die at about 150,000km. No big deal.
"I think that the navman is slightly optimistic with that 14ish hour claim." - Facebook 8th of May 2013. Barring that and the ETA function being totally fucked due to the timezone changes and sheer distance I couldn't have rated that MY60T higher.
I gave myself about 2 and a bit days to do this. I had to meet the sane people that decided to fly at the airport. I packed mostly the night before, grabbed some last second supplies at Autobarn and took off for an adventure.
I left at 1pm ish after lunch. Looking back on it that was the key thing I took away from this trip. Lunch time is the best time to leave for one bloody reason.
You're simply not tired.
You're not hating life and depending on coffee to stay awake at 4am in the morning. You're not starting a drive when your body is saying "Sleep you fuckwit." You are good to go.
Moral of the story is leave at lunch if you can. You can use the morning to sleep in, do a final check out of yourself, the car and your gear. You can chase up that one to five things you always forget when you pack the night before. It's great.
Bungie cords, old belts, a HDMI and broken headphones make for a hell of a strap system. I was messaged by a much wiser friend that told me to rotate the jerry so it didn't spill all over my clothes about 20min after I took this. Great success.
240km later I splashed up, had a snack and shit talked on the internet. Also I had my eyes destroyed by that Dr Who car.
I mean it's amazingly well done but how could you not go that tiny bit futher and get a plate that says "TARDIS" or "UTEDIS" or something. It's a crime.
That blue at night.....
I took the de Havilland Vampire park guardian as a sign that I should sleep there that night.
I made it to Wagga Wagga and decided to kip for the night. In the car. What could go wrong.
I unpacked my new sleeping bag and readied my pillow. I shoved the front seats alllll the way forward and tried to lie down the in backseat of the car.
And it fucking sucked.
The middle of the seat was slightly higher than the sides. It wasn't going to work. At this point I said many swear words.
Deciding not to panic that my home for the next 5 nights was going to be unbearable I decided to try the driver's seat.
Best. Choice. Ever.
It turns out Subaru are a bunch of geniuses. They made a seat that can hug you though the corners, isn't bad to sit on for long periods of time that can recline back to about 160ish degrees flat. When you do this and shove it all the way back you even stretch out your legs a little.
Thank. Fucking. God. For. That. Roadtrip saved.
I can not overstate how surprised I was when this worked.
Thanks to a car charger and some sweet mobile network action I could even watch the Daily Show before I slept.
Not bad. Looking back on it I should have taken that route over the Blue Mountains, that would have rocked. But at this point I was going for speed/time over twisty corners and fun.
It's a very nice looking hotel.
I woke up pretty happy, hell I think I even slept in for about a quarter of an hour. Hotel de'WRX was seriously comfy.
South of Wagga Wagga is where things started to change. Long sweeping bends and the odd bit of climbing/descending was replaced with dead straight roads boarded by never ending farms of wheat and other growable things.
It really hit home when I stopped in Hey for food. The second I turned onto the one-and-a-bit street town I was greeted by a rather proud looking dog guarding two recently deceased pigs.
Narly. The dog was chowing down and gave me a bit of look when I took the shot. "Fucking city people." - That dog. Probably.
On that note Hey is a great place to stop if you are out that way. I really wish more towns had a awesome little tourist center that you can pay $2 for a hot shower in a clean environment. Bloody excellent idea.
At this point I realised I forgot my towel. While Hey was a great place, no where in the town sold towels. They did have this tea towel at the local store. It kind of worked.
The country side was seriously awesome. Passing road trains and seeing how quick the blue rex could go from 90km/h to 'safe enough to merge' was a fun and educational game.
New day, new state.
But seriously. I can't sell how dead straight the roads where. This is where I found out that podcasts and audiobooks are a lone roadtripper's best friend.
So cows are a thing.
They are everywhere. Forever. They don't care that you have places to be. They have more rights on the roads in this area than you do.
"I'm going to zig zag down the road like I'm a 90s video game and there is sweet FA you can do about it."
You can rev a flat four turbocharged engine to great a hell of a racket. A cow will not care. You can hit the horn. It might blink.
You can see forever down/up the road in this part of 'Oz. The cowlopyse is now.
You have no choice but to drive around around the fuckers.
They are a mobile autocross cone. An autocross cone that weighs over 2 tons of delicious Maccas cheese burger. If you hit one you have to pay for the cow. This is seriously a thing.
At lunch I had a challenge from the internet. I had to write up a review. Here it is in unedited glory.
Not bad. Tasted like a fish. I suspect it enjoyed swimming. The batter was rather delightful and reminded me of beer, which I enjoy immensely. So that was good.
The batter crumbled away like a hilariously tragic South American landside into a staving village or broke off in chunks with the fish intact like Tony Stark's mansion in Iron Man 3 depending on how I deftly wielded the knife fork tactical combo. This allowed me to dynamically eat the fish depending on my whim. The fish also mixed nicely with the salt that fell off the chips.
Speaking of salt and chips.
FUCK. THESE. CHIPS.
THE CHOCOLATE MILK:
Like cocopops, only liquidy. 10/10. Could bring peace to Afghanistan.*
*I may or may not of survived on Coke and Redbull liquids + maccas/servo food/local tacos at this point. I'm pretty sure 4 week old poo infested bong water would of provided a similar response.
Fuel was becoming a worry. I went though two towns with no 98RON fuel, which is a bad thing if you drive a car that is tuned for that fuel and that fuel alone. I bliz-ed two towns and had lunch with no luck of finding good fuel. This was my nightmare.
I was semi prepared for this, I had 20L of 98 in the jerry and a dubious bottle of octane booster. My thinking was if I had to use 95 that I could slap the booster in with the 20L of 98, then fill up 30ish liters of 95. Hopefully this would produce acceptable results.
Luck would have it that a town called Lameroo would have not only a mildly funny name but also delicious 98 octane fuel.
It's brother Bestroo frequently bullies it. Bastard.
It was pretty as this photo is blurry.
Cue the music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWfVfwz7rTM&index=1&list=RDgWfVfwz7rTM Also the GPS decided to work at under 1000km to go. It was really nice to see the ETA and TTG tick down as I made good time.
Blood was in the water. I could do this.
Dusk and night fall came.
I settled into a rhythm.
Stop. Fuel up the car. Eat something. Stretch the legs. Shit post on facebook.
Drive for two and half hours.
Stop. Jump out of the car, take a photo, reply with "I know you are but what I'm I?" on facebook.
Drive for two and a half hours.
It felt good. Seriously good. At the time my job was dragging me down and this trip was a total 180 on my metal state. I had a goal. I had a plan. I was doing something I found fun and doing it in a rather competent fashion.
I think it was a bit of a light bulb moment that I didn't have to be miserable all the time. Life had something good to offer.
They banned anime, facebook and tumblr in South Australia. I also missed the state crossing sign but somehow managed to get this. #priorities.
I smashed out the remaining two hours.
I clocked in at 7:30pm local.
Turns out 30 odd hours of dubious quality take out makes your hands greasier than bottle of KY.
Or about 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. I left at 1pm the previous day. 31 hours of driving, sleeping, stretching my legs and internet shit posting later and I had made it with 12 hours to spare.
1500km in two days with one driver and one seriously great car.
I was over the moon with myself. It doesn't seem like a big deal these days but at the time it was a legitimate achievement.
I spent a few hours stumbling around trying to find an open movie theater, which was way harder than it should have been in a state capital. I bounced off three shut down complexes, found the seediest street in Adelaide and totally forgot about dinner before I found a place.
Star Trek wasn't horrible. It was good either.
If you want a review it's this:
"Sherlock Holmes fights a bunch of people from Star Trek. Also I don't really blame the bad guy for being pretty pissed off."
I watched it and so exhausted that I forgot to eat. Whoops.
I nailed in about six and half hours of good sleep and went to pick up the two guys my car was slated to cart around for the bucks.
Which happened to be two of my best mates.
We tooled around the city, waiting for the rest of the group and their rental car.
Say what you will about the place and how boring it can be but you can't deny that Adelaide is a beautiful place.
The WRX was starting to collect a ton of insects on it's front. Good times.
At least it's not a bug eye.
We met up with the Buck and the other half of the party.
This is where the car did something seriously impressive.
It had all my gear in it.
Plus the gear to support it.
And Chris and Dan's gear.
Also Chris and Dan.
And a 6 man tent.
And Neil's stuff.
So recap. 3 Adult males, 5 guy's worth of stuff, a 6 man tent, a 20L jerry and a whole bunch of other stuff has been shoved into a almost 10 year old sub compact Japanese car.
Say what you want it's one way to get a car 'low' like all the cool kids these days.
Years of tetris has payed off.
And it fucking nailed it with class. Sure the rear was almost on the stops, but it didn't protest the abuse once. It just got on with it. It also could still get up and perform. Fucking. Fantastic.
We had a table fire. It happens.
Good times and drinks where had that night.
We woke up at an hour that can only be disturbed as too early and made our way out to the vineyard.
15km of hellish exercise with a mild hangover is a go.
Reality has not set in yet. Which is why some of us wore jeans. huge mistake.
Reality very much set in.
We all got though the course, enjoyed our free beer, kicked back for the night to fire and good times. I highly recommended, even if you are a slightly unfit nerd like myself it's good to push the boundaries with something new on occasion.
During the late night/dawn hours it poured. Like seriously it came down like Noah's arc. I was fine inside hotel de'wrx, but the tent was soundly trashed and the ground turned to total shit.
That was the state of my thongs about 3 hours after we got out of the car park. The car was pretty much on mud slicks as the ground went to the consistency of wet clay.
I wish I got some shots/video of the car here. The WRX proved that it had that rally DNA in the smuggest way possible, deftly moving itself out of the clay swap car park while overloaded without a hint of trouble.
I had a bit of an egotistical moment when the wife of a commodore owner piped up with a "WHY ISNT HE STUCK." only to get a reply of "It's because it's a Subaru." from an exasperated very much stuck in the mud commodore owner.
I dropped the lads off an the airport, found a shower and checked out the local air museum.
After getting my plane nerd on, I went and brought a towel, grabbed dinner punched out of Adelaide fairly late, I think I made it roughly 250km before I called it for a night.
I woke up and found out I was 500m away from a general store! Jackpot. Healthy breakie is a go.
I got the rhythm again and got into Hey for a proper shower. Can't oversell how good that felt at this point.
The GPS continued to fix/brake itself. It stayed at 1141km for over 200+km.
After a fair bit of rain and half a day of driving, the car still had a crap ton of mud from the 'carpark'. It looked proper rally.
Shittttttt. For the record I had to replace my rear shocks/springs because of the silly overloading/general age of the car. Other than that the car was totally perfect.
My poor springs/shocks.
IT'S SPOILING THE PAINT JOB. GUYS? GUUUUUYYS?
It looks like it's walking, but I had to go alllll the way around. Prick.
COW II. RETURN OF THE COW.
Finally back in the home state.
Things became business like at this point. I could smell home. I rolled in at about 10~11pm utterly stuffed after a detour up the old pacific highway for a bit of twisty fun.
At this point I was physically shattered from 5 days of constant driving, living in and out of the car and of course doing True Grit in the middle. Naturally my photo taking rate dropped as apathy set it.
Anyway. Not bad for my first solo road trip. It really opened my eyes about what I could do and what I actually enjoyed.
I also learnt a bunch of stuff which I applied in later trips. Hopefully I can remember some of it when/if I bang out more posts on here.