So today, 29th July 2018, we have finally got off on our Big Lap Adventure. Was it only a month ago that we saw tenants moving into our house in Maidenhead? Seems a lifetime ago as so much has happened.
With our van not being ready for when we arrived we put our time to good use by doing lots of shopping, hanging out with our grandchildren and learning the ropes of our new electric bikes all of which have been enjoyable. We have never owned or driven electric bikes before but my goodness me they are fantastic – at the push of a button we can sail up hills no problem!
As the day neared for collection we were informed that unfortunately Sydney RV had only just ordered the bull bars we requested and they would not be able to fit them in time. They had suggested we could come back a week later and spend the day in Penrith whilst they fitted them but this wasn’t going to be possible in our timeframe. We also found out that they didn’t do check outs on a Sunday so we put back collection until Monday 23rd July. Daughter Jenny did the honours by driving us over to Penrith with a whole heap of first night ‘essentials’. With the children still being on school holiday it meant taking them with us but unfortunately they had both been up the previous night vomiting with a stomach bug – travelling between children with a sick bucket on my lap wasn’t quite how I’d pictured the journey!
Our induction was booked in for 1.30 p.m. and we got there with 90 minutes to spare. Paperwork was filled in, the children got a chance to look at all the different massive vans and then our time slot came ….. and went. With the time pushing on towards 2 o’clock and still not having caught sight of our van, we requested that the children at least got to see it before they needed to drive the two hours back home. We were told that the delay was due to another two “newbie” inductions running over time. When we entered the workshop to see our van for the first time I have to say we were sorely disappointed. It was still in bits – the bike rack was still being drilled into place, there were parts of the internal layout scattered around inside alongside a vacuum cleaner, very muddy boot prints and no number plate. It was upsetting that they had not been upfront and honest with us from the outset. Long story short, we were left waiting around until they could finally show us how things worked. Far from the two and a half hours induction, we got a ‘quick’ hour and a half, more form filling and then it was off to the campsite in the dark. We had been told that since we would be arriving after 5 p.m. we would be sent a four digit code to my mobile to access the site. Thank goodness we had our sat nav with us as we’d have never have found the place …… but no code. Rang up the out of hours number to be told that our reservation had been cancelled – to this day we have no explanation as to why this happened. Anyway, we struggled to try and attach cables and such like in the dark but decided it best to just use the toilet block across the road! The good news was that the bed was super comfy and the pillows I had spent ages selecting were worth their weight in gold!
Next morning and we unfortunately discovered the reason our table had been so wobbly was because the clamp holding it into place was broken. There was no alternative but to return to Penrith and try and sort it out – something they really should have done before letting us drive off into the sunset. Needlesstosay we will not be recommending Sydney RV to others.
Setting aside the pretty disastrous start we are now keen to move on with positive energy. We left Penrith and drove for over five hours through the Blue Mountains to Merrygoen where we spent the night with our very good friends the Yeo’s who own a huge farm. The drought, described as the “Armageddon of all Droughts” is having a dreadful impact on farmers all across New South Wales. Thankfully Ross and Gail still have enough feed for their livestock and the delicious roast lamb we had for dinner that night was not a drought casualty! We could not get over how much roadkill we saw on our journey especially kangaroos and wombats. No night time driving for us until we get our bull bar fitted down in Melbourne.
Next we drove another five hours or so to the east coast and spent the night with my cousin Sharon and her husband Steve. Another lovely dinner and a shower in the morning in the most wonderful bathroom we’re likely to encounter in over a year! Next it was back to Dee Why and our starting point where we camped for three nights in a very civilised spot. This allowed us to have the children come and stay overnight which was so much fun – including giant marshmallow cooking, rabbit hunting and Sophie picking up how to ride a bike with stabilisers for the first time! People at the camp were very friendly and it just so happened that parked up next to us was the author of Australia Free – a book we just had to purchase after over two hours of sales talk! He is very passionate about his work and it does look like an excellent resource for our trip.
And so on to today ….. Mike’s handling of the van has been superb and so we decided to go right through the centre of Sydney rather than deviate by ring roads that would have taken us a lot longer. I managed to stick the e-Tag on the window upside down and in a spot that obscures the driver’s position a bit – oops – but it did beep as we went through the tunnel at Sydney Harbour so it’s definitely working. Advice we were given was to take the Grand Pacific Drive, travel through the Royal National Park, go over Seacliff Bridge and head for Kiama as our first stop. We got four massive ticks – and so here we are. A couple of nights here to see the big and little blow holes and then on to the Guinness Book of World Records whitest sandy beach at Jervis Bay. We are on the road!!!