Take one bunch of exchange student add a weekend off work plus copious amounts of goon, enough sausages to put a cartoon to shame and one Wicked 5-sleeper camper van and what do you get? Possibly the best weekend of camping ever!
Setting off Friday with only a map printed out from Google Maps and a smart phone “gps” system (with a flat battery and the inability to update our current location) we some how managed to get from Melbourne to The Grampians in less than four hours. The van purred like a kitten the whole way providing you didn’t exceed 90kph- but why would you need to? You would miss all the amazing scenery if you do.
So why The Grampians- well I had heard rumours about this incredible National Park and was told it was a real hidden gem and something very few tourist see but rather where locals go to experience the best rock climbing in Australia and to get away from the beaten track of the Great Ocean Road where you will find Wicked camper van after Wicked camper van (not that there is anything wrong with this- it’s exactly what we are doing in 3 weeks time… )
To say the least we stood out like a sore thumb driving through some of the most idyllic scenery I have ever laid my eyes on and to put this in perspective Scotland is my regular haunt! The thing is with these vans you spend most of your time inside them which pretty much makes you forget how un-inconspicuous you are from the outside but whats to say we were trying to blend in- and most people couldnt help but smile or laugh.
So we come rocking up (already sound like an Aussie- only been here 6 weeks) to this campsite after sunset try to make a fire and make some food and much to everyones surprise we do a splendid job- everyone fed and wasted it was time to bed down for the night.
Tip: Try out setting up the beds in the daytime before trying to master this in the dark whilst intoxicated
But much to everyones surprise we did it and ended up sleeping 6 in the van that night. NOT RECOMMENDED!
But yes after a nights “sleep”. Conversation at one point went as follows…- Ryan: You awake Brady?
- Brady: Yeh, I’m f**king freezing.
- Ryan: Why?
- Brady: I thought my goon blanket would keep me warm all night so no need for sleeping bag.
- Ryan: Seriously?
- Brady: Seriously! Hardly slept- literally laying here praying for daylight.
So learn from out mistakes- take sleeping bags and sleep a maximum of 5 in the van.
Well daylight did finally arrive and half the van decided to stoke up the fire again and the rest of us sneaked another half hour of shut eye. Although being an early riser when camping is such a treat when the weather is as incredible as what it was for us. Nothing but blue skies and sunshine.
We then enjoyed a day of driving, walking and taking in The Grampians and oh my god what a treat- cliffs, mountains, waterfalls, sheer drop, incredible viewpoints, lakes you name it- it’s got it! Check out the photos…
Then it was for another evening of more successful cooking (with daylight), camp fire banter, marshmallow roasting, star gazing and not to mention round two with the goon and the sudden appearance of a bottle of rum. Which equalled the point of no return.
The next day was another treat- incredible weather and a day of rock climbing and abseiling followed by a little slice of heaven in the form of an Olive Grove with free taster, excellent food, great coffee, soap and hot water to get clean hands for the first time in days and for me the animal lover there were two dogs for company )
After another day of shear pleasure it was time to admit the truth- it was time to go home. No one really wanted to although the thought of a hot shower (bucket over your head was the only option at the campsite- and with it still being officially winter no one was in any rush to test the facilities) really did make going home just a little easier.
As such the the trip and the journey with the van was almost over, only a trip to a well-known Chicken fast food chain, teaching a yank to drive a manual transmission and a nose bleed whilst driving stood in the way of us returning the old girl to her rightful owners. And to those owners we are eternally thankful- thanks for the ride and thanks for the adventure. Until next time here is our trip in pictures rather than words…
Nina, Monique, Ryan, Alex and Brady.