After demolishing a whole BBQ meatlovers pizza in the comfort of our motel bed, we set our alarms for a 5AM wake up call...
With Day 1 of my Stay Driven Road Trip complete we were absolutely wrecked, and in a serious food coma so we decided to call it a night and get some much needed zzz's. The plan was to wake up at around 5AM to get ready so that we could check out from the motel and catch the sunrise (our favourite time to shoot). Except it didn't really go to plan - well for me at least.
I'm not sure if I was just way too excited about Day 2 or what but I could not sleep no matter how hard I tried. With Haylee passed out in the bed opposite, I was up almost every hour on my phone thinking about what was to come. We decided over stuffing ourselves silly with the pizza, that we would head straight back to the never ending pines in Jenolan State Forest to get some cool sunrise shots. But during my 3AM can't sleep thoughts, I decided to be spontaneous and change that plan and head somewhere else.
Whilst driving towards Oberon on Day 1, I remembered spotting a sign which read 'Industrial Park'. At the time I had no idea how far away it was or what it even looked like but the second I saw the sign, I knew I had to check it out.
Those that know me, know I have this thing for all things industrial. Whether it be industrial interiors, industrial warehouses or industrial parks, I just can't get enough of them. And so, whilst Haylee was sleeping, I played on Google Maps looking for the Industrial Park and decided that we would head there first thing in the morning instead of going back to the pines.
Once Haylee was up and ready to go, I told her the new plans and by 6AM we hit the road. Since the sun doesn't rise until about 7AM during winter, we had an hour to make it to the destination, so we drove slow and looked for that sign we had passed the day prior. By this time it was still pitch black so I had to keep flicking my high beams on until we spotted the sign we were looking for.
Once we had spotted it we drove down the empty streets trying to get a feel of how big the area was. All that I could see ahead was whatever lit up from the glow of my lights so at this stage I had no idea what surrounded us. We then drove down a quiet, dead end street and as I looked into the distance, I saw a huge billow of smoke. It looked sooo cool!
I quickly stopped the car, grabbed my tripod and camera and braved the cold to take some photos. As I hadn't really shot in darkness before, Haylee gave me a few tips on how to get a clean shot with such low light and after being satisfied with what I managed to capture, I then raced back inside my car and cranked up the heater. It was friggen' freezing outside and from the filter on my Snapchat, it told me that it was just a mere 1 degrees.
Just before it reached 7AM, the rise of the sun started to reveal our surroundings and I could finally see just how epic this location was. I felt like I was a little kid again in a huge amusement park. Which reminds me of a game I used to play called RollerCoaster Tycoon. Does anyone remember that game? I would kill to play that again!
As I looked around, I discovered endless places where I could shoot my car so it was just a matter of choosing one and not getting too overwhelmed at all the options. I decided to drive onto a huge open dirt field and as the sun broke cover climbing higher and higher, we witnessed a magical moment where the sky lit up pink, but before we could capture it with our cameras, the pastel hues vanished within seconds and the clouds started to roll in.
The location was that of a dream and if it wasn't so cold I probably would have stayed there all day exploring the Industrial Park.
Since I hadn't taken any photos wearing the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ T-Shirt, we drove to another spot down the road that I remembered passing when it was still a bit dark. It was now around 2-3 degrees at this stage but it didn't feel any warmer, so I quickly took off my woollen gloves, hoodie and jacket, changed into my white T-shirt and got Haylee to grab a few photos before I froze.
After just 5 minutes of shooting without a jacket on I couldn't take it any longer so we decided to rug up and head off for breakfast. I was kind of bummed because I wanted to explore the Industrial Park some more but on the positive side, for once my stomach was actually hungry (I usually never have an appetite) and to my surprise I was craving a bacon and egg roll, so we headed into town to find a quiet cafe.
With sustenance in our bellies and a great desire to hit the road again, we departed from 'DJ's Cafe & Takeaway' and headed towards the rolling hills. Haylee mentioned that we should check out Jenolan Caves on the way back so she directed me there.
I remember going to Jenolan Caves as a kid so I vaguely had a picture in my mind of what it all looked like but I had no idea that you could actually drive through it, and so the second we descended into the cave and reached the middle, I hopped out and quickly got snapping.
I took a few photos but I wasn't too happy with how they were looking. Except for one...
I actually took this shot by accident when I had some lady pull up behind me whilst shaking her head. She must have thought that I was blocking the way, so I smiled and assured her that she had plenty of room to drive around my car. She continued to shake her head whilst speeding off and I looked down at my camera and laughed at what I had captured. At first I thought it was rubbish but when I got home later that day and imported all the photos, I had a closer look at the shot and thought it turned out really cool! Now it is one of my favourite photos from the trip, all thanks to that impatient lady!
After our short visit at Jenolan Caves, we continued our journey back towards the concrete jungle but as we were driving we began to notice something strange on the side of the road. Intrigued to have a closer look, we pulled over and hopped out to see what it was. Those who were following along on Snapchat at the time, would have witnessed the second we spotted it! What we first thought was just foam, was in fact snow!
We couldn't believe our eyes so we decided to have some fun and I ended up jumping into it to see how deep it went, resulting in some very wet socks - whoops! After I emptied out the snow from inside of my boots, we jumped back in my car and spontaneously decided to head home through a town called Bilpin via the Bells Line of Road.
Like the roads on the way out to Oberon on Day 1, this was another stretch of road that I had no idea existed.
It offered a blend of beautiful bushland scenes and sandstone cliffs and the route had numerous sections of road that were steep and winding, perfect for those that love driving. Each time I looked around with a huge grin on my face, I was either treated to great views out towards the blue mountains or another sign warning of curvy roads ahead.
After enjoying the winding roads, I realised how sleep deprived I was feeling and desperately needed something to wake me up, so we made a stop at the famous Pie in the Sky Roadhouse. Haylee had been going on all weekend about how good these pies were that her and her father had on their last trip. With my tummy still going strong I was eager to suss these pies out for myself but the only problem was, we only had enough money left to share just one pie *insert crying face emoji*. So we split the pie in half and they were gone within seconds.
During our final leg home we began to notice the surrounding terrain becoming more and more different and the concrete jungle becoming closer and closer. I started to sigh that the trip was coming to an end but at the same time I smiled at all the great memories we had just created.
This entire road trip has opened my eyes to the world that lay just a few hours west of me. When you’re behind the wheel, you're in control and you can stop and explore whenever your instincts point you toward something intriguing. There’s so much out there to be discovered and this adventure has made me want to explore more of what Australia has to offer and most importantly has inspired me more than ever to keep staying driven.
The best thing is, road trips breed insight and perspective. When you’re out on the open road, it allows your mind to wander, helping you recognise and address deeply ingrained thoughts, memories and emotions. Simply put, road trips allow us to unwind and decompress. In the process, we learn more about ourselves and the world around us.
No matter where you live, all countries, both large and small, are full of a diverse array of people and landscapes. When you travel by road, you’re exposed to the idiosyncrasies that both bind and separate this planet. You experience firsthand how people change from cities to rural areas, and you watch the land transition from beaches, mountains, rivers, deserts, plains and beyond. Simultaneously, you recognise that, in spite of apparent differences, there is an undeniable connectivity to all life.
Road trips foster both inward and outward discovery. They help us value diversity, and make us more appreciative of different viewpoints.
So get out there and drive. You never know where the road will take you or what you will discover!