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From Sydney to Byron Bay

Subaru's first miles with me on a first part of our road trip from Sydney to who-knows-where. New South Wales: Blue Mountains, Worimi sand dunes and Pacific coast. And Nina, the journeywoman.

On 3-Jun in the morning me and Nina set off for the road trip to Byron Bay, the first part of my adventures with “my” (Nik’s) Subaru. It’s around 800 from Sydney if you follow the shortest route – Pacific Highway – but I took us more than 1500km, so you can imagine how many sideways and long-cuts we took.

First major sideway was trip to Blue Mountains. It’s seems to me more of canyon lands than mountains, but whatever. It’s a piece of Texas right outside of Sydney: forested plateau dripping down in magnificent cliffs into a deep gorge, with lots of waterfalls. Away from the drop zone the area looked almost like Slovakia with its gently rolling green hills. For the night we found a quiet illegal spot on a dirt road in a forest and my mini camper stove came back to life.

From Blue Mountains we crossed Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine regions. I couldn’t resist and we went for 2 small wine tastings in local wineries (Nina, thanks for driving, which allowed me to drink) and I bought couple of bottles. Wine tasting in Australia – check.
From there we continued across inland forested areas and slept in another scenic illegal spot in the forest.

On day three we finally made it to the ocean and visited marvelous Worimi Conservation Area with beautiful sand dunes, piece of Sahara nested in midst of New South Wales. As a result, we witnessed a sunset on dessert. Mighty beautiful! We spent the night on yet another deserted place, near smaller sand dunes and the ocean.

Next day we continued up the coast and through Myall Lakes National Park. It’s a birder’s paradise – area between the ocean and few large lakes, full of pelicans. Sugarloaf Rock Lighthouse, with amazing cliffs rising high above the ocean was clearly the highlight of the day, perhaps of the whole trip, but the whole scenery was very sublime and yes, by now it really resembled road trip along the coast of the Pacific Ocean.

Day 5 started quite surprisingly with a ferry ride, because it turned out that the road which we had chosen required us to cross a lake and so our road trip packed in even this unusual event – the ferry. The naval adventure – the crossing of the lake - was no more than 150 meters :-)

After leaving the lakes area we ventured into inland again, and again we found ourselves surrounded by rolling hills, not very different from what you would find in Europe. This piece of Australia quite surprised. I always imagined it as a dry, red tinted wasteland but here in NSW, Australia is green, with pastures and rainforest all around.
We visited Bellingen, small New Age town, full of second hand shops, Buddhist literature and stylish and not-so-stylish home decor. These inland Australian towns are quite nice with their historic houses (well, as historic as it gets in Australia, so it pretty much looked like Texas… again), hat wearing locals and relaxed atmosphere. After making a huge sideway inland, which was made even longer by taking detour caused by my lack of navigational skills, by sunset we accidently arrived to home village of Russel Crowe (how the hell did he make it from such a middle of nowhere to Hollywood is mystery to me) and then continued toward Byron Bay, but finally decided to sleep about 1 hour drive from it, this time for the first time legally - in camping.

Next morning we did the last portion of coast south of Byron Bay and successfully arrived to Byron Bay, the easternmost point of Australia. First part the Ozzie road trip with the Subaru, by now nicknamed Garuda (Vishnu’s vehicle, the giant eagle) complete.

And now few words about Nina, because it’s interesting story. Nina comes from Cologne in Germany and she is a craftswoman – dress maker – and now she’s on her 2 years mandatory journey outside of home. In Germany there is a long running tradition, dating from the medieval times, that once a craftsman finishes his studies and practice, he must become “journeyman” and leave for 2 or 3 years his home. The first year he should spend in German speaking country and second year he should spend at least some time in non-German speaking country. During this whole time every journeyman mustn’t come closer than 50km from his hometown, must travel in journeyman uniform, and should live as much without money as possible. Carrying any possessions not essential for survivor is not allowed. And so Nina has been travelling in red uniform (each craft has a different color), with journeyman’s stick, instead of backpack she used clever system of wrapping he things in small rolls, and traveled without computer or cell phone. As she said, there are less than 500 of “real” craftsmen in Germany and they try to keep their traditions alive, and so nobody can of course force you to make this journey, many craftsmen undergo this difficult but pretty cool adventure. Thumbs up guys, it’s nice to see people still doing crazy things in name of tradition!

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak