After my interview at Aristocrat I had to get back home. As I wrote earlier I found two girls to travel with me and share the fuel costs. My passengers were Rachel from Canada and Anni from Germany.
Similar to my journey to Sydney, everybody got to know each other. We talked about our plans in Australia, our interests and home countries. At that time Anni had been in Australia for 2 weeks, Rachel only for 3 days. None of them knew how to drive on the left side of the road.
About 3 hours after my start in Sydney the traffic on the highway decreased and I decided it was time for one of the girls to learn to drive on the left. Neither of them were very enthusiastic about it but finally Anni agreed to do it.
Anni turned out to be a fabulous student although she sometimes drove faster than the speed limit. She only needed a little bit of coaching in urban areas. Other than that she was perfect behind the wheel.
The initial plan was to drive for 2 days and spend one night somewhere in a rest area in tents. Luckily Anni saved the day… or more accurately saved the night. When she was in Sydney she met a woman at some market. They just talked for a bit and the woman said that if she ever needed a place to crash near Coffs Harbour then she should give her a call. Coffs Harbour is about 500 km north from Sydney and it was on our way to Brisbane. Anyways Anni contacted the woman and her husband Richard to find us accommodation. Richard agreed to host us, gave us his address and we were on our way to his farm.
Richard lived in a place called Upper Orara, about 20 km west from Coffs Harbour. The road to our host’s place was very curvy. At one point the tarmac road ended and we were driving on a gravel road. We found the road Richard was living on but finding his house turned out to be a bit of a challenge.
At one point the gravel road ended. A stream of water went across it. I thought that maybe there was a detour or bridge nearby but didn’t find it. I checked the water depth and thought that my awesome Ford Festiva will have no trouble driving through 20-30 cm of water. I backed up to get some speed and went through the water barrier. About 100 meters later everybody was very happy when we saw Richard’s house number on the mailbox.
Past the private property sign we saw one house. Three cars were in front of it. Somebody was definitely at home although no lights were on in the building. Two little dogs were barking at us as we approached the house to meet Richard.
I had a flashlight with me because it was pitch-dark there. We looked through the windows but didn’t see anyone inside. We were knocking on the windows and doors trying to get some attention from the inhabitants. We did this for a couple of minutes without success. The girls decided to go get their phones from the car and try calling Richard. I stayed at the house to continue knocking.
Suddenly the light went on in the back room and a woman opened the door. I asked whether Richard lived there. She was quiet for a moment then suddenly realized “aaaaaahh… Richard… over there” and pointed me somewhere into the darkness. I apologized for waking her up and went back into my car to find the second house.
About 300 meters down the road we saw another large house. We saw a very similar picture: several cars were parked in front of the house, shoes were in front of the slide doors but no lights were on. Again we used the same technique – knocking and making some noise. We felt like burglars in the night. Nobody came to answer the door and we couldn’t call Richard because none of us had any reception.
We discussed our options. Maybe we should just put up our tents on the lawn in front of the house?
No! It was cold outside and that woman also said that Richard lives there. We travelled too far to give up like that.
Again the girls knocked on the doors and this time they managed to wake somebody up. A rather sleepy man opened the door and said that Richard lives next door. Basically where were two houses next to each other but they were connected with a roofed patio or terrace.
We knocked on the doors again but since that didn’t work and the door was open the girls just walked in. I felt very uncomfortable with that. The last time I did that I was lucky to not get arrested. Anyways Anni and Rachel turned the lights on in the house and looked around. About 30 seconds later we heard somebody’s footsteps from the back of the building and Richard appeared.
Everybody was glad to see him. He was a very interesting person. Somewhat of an artist. I think he was an artist/painter. He made us tea and some sandwiches, we had a small chat and listened to Simon & Garfunkel. There was a lot of room in his house. The girls slept in one room and I had a separate room to sleep in. It was good to sleep in a bed.
Richard left rather early in the morning and left us alone in his house. He said that if we wanted we could stay longer at his place. Richard was really cool about everything.
Sadly we had different plans and had to leave. We packed our stuff and headed to Byron Bay, NSW. Anni did most of the driving.
We weren’t as chatty in the car as on the day before. I was also sick of listening to my 100 greatest driving songs CDs. Once we got to Byron Bay, we went to the beach.
Rachel was like a little kid in a candy store. There was the sea, the beach, beautiful surroundings, rocks and nature. Anni and I laughed as Rachel went into the water and battled the waves. It was funny.
I had a quick swim too. Later we went to see Australia’s most easterly point and took some pictures along the way. Anni decided to stay at the beach instead.
When we came back Anni said that she got a text from her friend who will arrive in Byron Bay the next day. She decided to stay there. I dropped her off at a hostel and we said our final goodbyes. Goodbye Anni, I will miss you and your German bread very much.
I took Rachel to Gold Coast to see the beach and after that drove back home. It was a bit late so we decided that Rachel will crash at my place and will continue her journey in the morning.
Before saying goodbye to Rachel we took some pictures in my home garden. Thanks for joining me Rachel. This trip was a lot of fun. I’m glad I had such wonderful people with me.
Although a bit unrelated to this post I also took a pic with my roomie and his girlfriend. Now you know who I’m living with.
PS: Aristocrat called me and said that I didn’t get the job.