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We wanted to celebrate our 10 year anniversary with a holiday we'd never forget - we reckon 6 months of travelling the world (from trekking on the Inca Trail and through the Amazon to riding an elephant in Thailand) should just about cover it!

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Cramper-van

Arriving at Hippie Camper's HQ, we were shocked to discover that all their campervans were built for Lilliputions.They were tiny matchboxes on wheels painted with lairy graphics all over the exterior. Ours had huge daisies painted onto a multi-coloured background with peace signs on it.
"Are they having a laugh", we asked each other nervously as we inspected the cramped interior. After parting with 800 pounds for the privilege of driving around in a bright orange sardine tin, we set off on the next part of our journey. We had 3 weeks left in Australia so had planned to drive from Melbourne around the coast via The Great Ocean Road, before heading back to Melbourne in time for the weekend. Then we would drive from Melbourne to Sydney and possibly up to Queensland, time-permitting.
Our van is a tiny Mitsubishi, comprising a bed which is supposed to come apart and become a table and seating area. One problem - you can't actually sit up in it. That's how small it is. We tried, and found we had to tilt our heads at right angles to be able to get our bums on the seat.Not the best position for eating your dinner, seeing as you can't actually swallow with your head bent at that angle. Unless you're a snake or something.To cook, you have to open the tailgate and there is a little cool-box style fridge and a single-ring portable gas stove.This is all good if the weather is fine as you have to cook outside. We hadn't banked on the mother of all rainstorms wreaking her vengeance on us for the next 3 days and nights...

Obviously, the first thing I insisted on doing once we had transport was to drive down to Ramsay Street, of Neighbours fame, to check out Harold Bishop's house,seeing as it is filmed just down the road in a Melbourne suburb. The street is actually called Pin Oak Rd, and to my dismay it was blocked off as they were filming.Liam was appalled that I wanted to stake out the Neighbours set so waited at a safe distance in the campervan, although seeing as it's bright orange with flowers all over it he was hardly incognito.There were another couple of English girls hovering around nearby also hoping for a glimpse of Dr Karl so I had a chat with them and we managed to take a few pics of "the street" using our zoom lenses. Saddos!
The first evening with the crampervan we found a campsite near to Melbourne city centre and managed to cobble together a meal of sorts, which was some fresh pasta and a jar of Dolmio.
The next day we went into the city and wandered around the funky, boho region of Brunswick. This area had loads of cool little boutiques selling unusual items and I had a field day rummaging around all the vintage shops. I thought I showed great restraint in not buying every darling pair of brightly-coloured stillies (buying impractical shoes is a dirty little habit of mine), and after ferreting around in the bargain bins hoping for a reduced pair of designer trotters I appeased my appetite with a cute little pair of earrings with swarovski crystals instead.Ahh, there's nothing like a bit of retail therapy.
We walked around the city, taking in the sights and stopping for the odd beer, before visiting an art gallery and a few museums.
A nice day, but that evening all our problems began when it started to rain. No, that's an understatement (and we all know I don't like THOSE)..it absolutely poured down. We hid in the van, horizontally of course, seeing as we couldn't actually fit in upright and waited for it to ease off so we could cook our dinner. And waited. And waited. The rain continued to hammer down all through the night and into the next day. Did I mention that I've also got the haircut from hell? After having it cut short in New Zealand I found it hard to get it to stay like the hairdresser had done and got impatient with it one day for sticking up. I know it's hard to imagine me being impatient ;-) , but I literally went berserk with a pair of nail scissors and chopped the offending chunk of hair clean off. Some of you may remember a similar incident several years ago when I got angry with my hair and cut myself a ridiculous fringe, approximately 2cm long. I'd had a few drinks and wondered what a fringe would look like, but then cut it wonky so had to tidy it up.It got shorter and shorter...
So my hair is now a "choppy" bob to say the least.To add insult to injury I then got Liam (!) to cut the back of it and it's just gone downhill from there really.
Anyway, I digress.So torrential rain, coupled with the frizzy haircut from hell, meant that I was not the happiest of bunnies, and Liam wasn't too impressed being cooped up in a confined space whilst the heavens opened outside either.
When we awoke the rain hadn't relented one little bit, but we'd planned to drive along the Great Ocean Rd, which was built by returning soldiers after WW2 in memory of their fallen comrades. This road is carved out of the rock and runs alongside some achingly beautiful beaches, which we'd been told we mustn't miss.
Determined, we set off, hoping that the weather would improve by the time we got there. It didn't. Liam could hardly see out of the windscreen to drive, the visibility was that bad. The next few days were spent driving along this great stretch of coastal road looking at the lovely beaches through our steamed-up van windows in the pouring rain. I kid ye not, this rainstorm was of biblical proportions. Even Noah would have been bricking it over what to do on this one. We needed a friggin' reinforced ark, not a tiny campervan. Have I mentioned how small it was??
Needless to say, those few days were not good.We got soaked even trying to run to the shower block at the campsite, pack-a-mac on and flip-flops sinking into the mud. Not a good look. My hair stuck up at right angles and we were wearing our fleeces 24/7 cos it was cold too. I'm actually mentally scarred from the experience, and doubt I'll be camping too often after this trip. In total, we'd have lived out of a caravan for almost 6 weeks, and we're beginning to feel the strain. I honestly don't know how pikeys cope.

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