When I say my previous experience with camping has been bad, I mean it has been BAD! I’m definitely over exaggerating but I have been camping twice before when I was a kid, the first time I woke up in a puddle. The second, the tent blew away. I guess that’s camping in Scotland for you! Being in Australia I have been wanting to push myself to try new things, but when my friend suggested a 12 day road trip I was not keen. At all. Nevertheless, I agreed. Who knew it would turn out to be an incredbile experience?
After renting a car in the city, we pretty much had no plan. We knew we wanted to start off in Bendigo and end somewhere near French Island. Other than that, we had 12 days to fill. Praise WikiCamps for helping us find a free place to sleep each night, it would have been a much more complicated trip without that godsend of an app. Both myself and my friend were going to share the driving duties, and neither of us had ever driven an automatic car before. Let me tell you, I may never go back to a manual car again. I used to stress out so much about driving back home, but here I love it. It’s amazing. Not having to worry about stalling your car on a motorway really makes a difference! (I’m not a very good manual driver, can you tell?)
The first two camps we stayed at were stunning and very secluded. The Pines Camp out by Bendigo was lovely. We had the place to ourselves and yes, there was a thunderstorm and we went to bed at about 8pm, but I really surprised myself with how unfazed I was about it all. I slept like a baby. The only downside to The Pines Camp was the ridiculous amount of mosquitoes that devoured us all night. The second night at Starlings Gap in the Yarra Ranges had a different kind of pest. Leeches. Again, stunning camp all to ourselves but at night my friend found a leech just chowing down on her ankle. Which, in hindsight, was a handy warning as on our very muddy hike the next day, I think I pulled at least 20 leeches out of my shoes. We wouldn’t have known to look for them if not for the one the previous night.
There’s a Storm a Comin’
A few days later is where my bad luck with camping comes in to play. If you are from Victoria, you will know that there was recently a storm that was apparently the biggest storm in a decade. Is that true? I’m not sure. But there was a LOT of rain. By Scottish standards it was just a particularly rainy weekend. Our trip wasn’t too badly affected and we chose the worst day of it to go to Phillip Island. We didn’t hang about to see the Penguins as that wouldn’t have left us enough time to find somewhere to sleep, but we did go see the Koalas! They were all snoozing in their trees but we were able to get super close! Afterwards, driving on the motorways with nearly zero visibility was getting to dangerous, so we pulled over and booked a place in a nearby hostel for the night.
To avoid the storm which was moving East, we came up with the bright idea to head West and skip under it. So from down by Phillip Island, we drove the three hours to Ballarat. The storm was right over Ballarat that night! So yeah, turns out we’re not great at predicting weather! We found a campsite called Slaty Creek, which is down by a Goldmine where prospectors camp out an pan for gold by the river. Still pouring with rain, there was a handy wee gazebo at the site which we just pitched our tent in for extra shelter.
Other highlights include the campsite on a hill that was so uncomfortable that I just slept in the car and the site that we had neighbours the likes of Cockatoo’s, Parakeet’s and Kangaroos. But nothing compares to the last place we stayed.
Sunrise on the Beach
Point Leo is a caravan park and campsite by the beach which we decided to shell out for to end the trip. Hot showers were the main draw if I’m being honest. The Ranger, I think, felt bad for guessing that we were Irish instead of Scottish, so he charged us for two adults and a child and gave us a site right on the beach. We instantly set up our tent, went for a long shower and washed all of our clothes in the laundry room. On our way to breakfast the next morning we passed by themain office. The Ranger told us that his friend who owns the local surf shop said he will give us some Paddleboards for the day. Honestly, to just happen across this random little town and meet such lovely people was amazing.
Having heard none of us had been Paddleboarding before, the shop owner gave us a quick little lesson in his shop before sending us out. It was much easier to stand up on the boards than I expected. In saying that, we were right by the beach so I’m sure the further you go out the more difficult it becomes to navigate the waves. The tide came in really quickly, as it tends to do, so we didn’t have long on the boards. We soon just put them back and went for a swin the ocean.
Finally Feeling Like Oz
So far, being in Australia, everything has felt very familliar. Melbourne is very much just like a big London. The landscape of Victoria doesn’t seem that different to the UK. But swimming in the ocean and having it not be painfully cold? Paddleboarding? This is what I thought Australia would be. And all we had to do was find a little surfer town in the middle of nowhere to experience it.
At the end of the camping trip some of us parted ways and I am now housesitting in West Footscray with two incredibly adorable little puppies. I have another two weeks to chill and hopefully find a job somewhere. Not a hard life at all!
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