Temperature – 26 degrees C
29 stops and 29 cuisines…
11 time zones…
60 degree celcius temperature differences…
13 languages and countless dialects…
Numerous trains, buses, campervan, coaches, ships, tuk-tuks etc. …
… we have arrived!
Without planning it we somehow end our journey by arriving into Sydney on Australia Day(!) to find the population of 4.5 million people (plus tourists) enjoying a sunny public holiday, celebrating the arrival of the first fleet in 1788 (though some local people also call it ‘Invasion Day’ or ‘Survival Day’). We drop off the campervan, are kindly picked up by Chloe’s sister Holly, who then takes us to the beach to meet more family – all of which are as surprised as we are that we made it – from London to Sydney, without flying.
The newspaper front page written just for us! (though possibly adapted)
Someone is happy to be home...
The Sydney Harbour Bridge welcomes us back to civilisation!
Is there a more fitting way to end this journey than a barbeque on Australia Day? (left to right: Vikki, Sam and Jerry, with Yuen behind the lens!)
Finally, we bring Kangaroo home!
This is it – the final leg of this long journey! We leave sunny Adelaide to head to the East coast and head North to Sydney. Incidentally, within this one drive (and within Stephen’s first week of being in Australia) we pass through four states – Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and finally New South Wales!
Many landscapes, even with roads, look like paintings.
We drive through the Barossa Valley - home of one of the world's great wine regions.
Another night in the remote beauty of Australian countryside.
We see emus, a snake, many dead kangaroos and a wombat, galahs, eagles, ravens, a mouse, cows, goats, sheep, horses and lizards...
We drive alongside and over the Murray River, which at 2995 kilometres is Australia's longest river.
So many amusing signs!
If you know us, then you probably know that although we have managed to get from London to Australia without flying so far, we are on the ‘wrong’ side of Australia! In Perth we aim to get a train across the country, which would take 3 nights, but to our dismay the next one is sold out! We want to visit Adelaide before getting to Sydney so we take a chance on a car relocation. We luckily find a company that has a campervan located in Perth who actually needs it to be located in Sydney – within 6 days! We grab our bags, leave the horrible hostel that we didn’t manage to sleep at in Perth and for just a dollar a day we pick up the keys to our ‘new home’ ‘ for the next 6 days. The journey to Sydney is from the West coast to the East – around a mindblowing 4,100 kilometres in total. First however, we head to Adelaide in South Australia – some 2,700 kilometres away…
Our campervan is a retrofitted Toyota - complete with cooker, bed, water tanks, power sockets, kitchen sink, dining area and a 'shower' (a hose pipe!).
The landscape is instanly mesmerising - forests, deserts, rivers, lakes, mountains and cliffs - all in layers of constantly-changing colour.
Sudden dust storms brew in the fields alongside. We cross our fingers and hope for a journey without bushfires or flooding.
We stop for lunch in Cunderdin (aka 'Cundy') - a town 160 kilometres East of Perth with a population of less than 700 people. Why here?... Because it is where we meet one of our friends who we met in Bangkok - Jayne!
Jayne kindly picks us a bunch of grapes from her garden for our long journey!
One of the many beautiful salt lakes we pass by.
We cross the famous Nullabor Plain, which has Australia's longest stretch of straight road - 146.6 kilometres! If you know your Latin then you may have recognised 'Nullabor' as 'No Tree', which didn't turn out to be strictly true, but a fascinating place all the same.
We stop to see a section of The Great Australian Bight - an open bay generally thought of as being towards the Southern Ocean, but also classified as being on the South Eastern part of the Indian Ocean.
We spend the night before reaching Adelaide in a campsite near Ceduna - which turns out to be one of the best places in the world to see stars!
Many towns along the way have rather obscure claims to fame. We are halfway along our coast-to-coast drive as we pass Kimba - a town known for having a large model of a native cockatoo known as a 'galah'. We can confirm that the original bird is exceptionally more beautiful.
Temperature – 32 degrees C
Perth is where our ship arrives. With a population of 1.7 million it is Western Australia’s largest city – and its capital. We a shocked by the price of things, not helped by the astonishing exchange rate – as we arrived we find that the Australian dollar is worth more than the US dollar, and the massive resource base in the 2.5 square kilometres of Western Australia is one of the main reasons why. We spend just a day and a night in Perth, and are happy to leave when we do! It is not really our kind of place…
We have arrived in Australia, we think...?!
We have definitely arrived in Australia.
Given their piles of cash and not much else to do, people seem to spend their day shopping in the pedestrianised outdoor malls. These are rarely to be seen in South East Asia, but here it is significantly less humid.
There are a couple of interesting smaller streets with big surprises.
Modern architecture, fairly nice urban planning and free bus services puts Perth in the top ten of The Economist's most liveable cities in the world. However, to us it seemed like a big country-town which brought with it a slightly narrow mentality... Enough said!
Once we had made it to Bali without flying, the key journey would be this long boat journey to get us to the land of Australia. With the help of Chloé’s mum we find a cruise boat that leaves Bali on a five day direct sailing to Perth, in Western Australia! After travelling ‘around the world in 80 days’ the boat was an absolute luxury!
We say a sad goodbye to our travel companion Severine, who kindly escorts us to the port of Benoa where we meet our boat, the Athena.
Our first action - to find the food! We needn't have rushed however - food is served an obscene EIGHT times a day.
The boat has a pool, a sundeck, cinema, theatre, casino...
Views are breathtaking for the whole five days. we could barely choose just one photo.
Sun rises at 5.30am, completely unobstructed by anything on the neverending horizon line.
Australia awaits Stephen for the first time...
... whereas it is a first return journey home for kangaroo!
Temperature – 29 degrees C
The last stop before our big boat journey to Australia is also probably the most covered in tourists. We don’t mind though as it gives us a bit of space from the local scammers, who concentrate their efforts on other non-Indonesians. The island is relaxed and covered in decoration, on every door step and at every meal table. The wet season dominates and leaves many tourists having to explain to their partners that they didn’t realise it wouldn’t be ideal beach weather until after booking their flight tickets to Bali!
Whether old or new, development here follows fairly traditional methods of building.
Our Balinese hut is beautiful, though surrounded by animals and insects that wake us every night!
Bali is a predominantly Hindu island, unlike much of Indonesia. The difference in peoples' rituals - and behaviour - is quite startling.
It rains every day, drawing us away from the coast and towards the higher, central town of Ubud, where culutural tourism flourishes.
Despite the rain we finally manage to relax in Indonesia!
Traditional Balinese dance and music at our dinner table.
A rare piece of open ground in the town where for the first time we see children who play football with footwear on.
Bali has an artistic style of its own.
We decide to hot-tail it out of Java, and embark on an epic journey from Yogyakarta to Bali. First we take a train to Surabaya, a town which nobody recommends. We stay the night there, then take a train, a bus, a boat and bus to Denpasar, the transport capital of Bali. This is our last overland journey before reaching Australia, and as we step of the bus in Denpasar we are rather frazzled from the experience.
As always on Java, the natural environment is beautiful. Villages exist with jungle all around.
Surabaya is the focus of Indonesiaʹs independence, meaning statues are all over the otherwise
pleasant but featureless city.
The train is comfortable – and a bargain!
At Banyuwangi we waited an hour for our connecting bus. If you ever do the same, look for this
lady! She makes Gado Gado from scratch, grinding the peanuts as we watch. Her stall is just across
the road from the station and she charges local prices to tourists. Either that or, like some other
people here, she thinks that Stephen is from Indonesia.
Our bus boards the ferry from Ketapang to Bali. Itʹs pleasant on deck!
Night falls while weʹre on the boat. Looking back at Java we see some beautiful volcanoes.
We take a 4 hour bus journey in the dark from where we disembarked the ferry to Denpasar. Never again will we risk our lives like this. Note the hole in the windscreen and aisles of rubbish / luggage.
Temperature: 29 degrees C
Yogyakarta provided us with some steep learning curves. We had high hopes for this city, which is touted as the cultural heart of Java, with dancing, cooking and art all around. But what we found was just another high stress destination. When all the hostels, tour agents and taxi drivers work together to make sure tourists pay high prices for poor service, where do you turn?
On the plus side, we meet Severine, a lovely lady who is to accompany us for the rest of our Indonesian adventure.
A fairly typical street in Jogja
A not so typical street. This is a cross-roads within the Kraton, a walled neighbourhood surrounding the Sultan's Palace.
Still raining, every day. Unfortunately, this umbrella does not belong to us, and we neglected to pack wellington boots.
If you go to Jogja, go to this restaurant! It's called Milas, and it's set in a secret garden. The perfect place to hide from the rain (and the hawkers).
Borobodur! A 9th Century Buddhist monument just outside Jogja.
The details are beautiful, and well preserved.
But still, Borobodur is not interesting enough to command the attention of these school girls, who would rather take pictures of us. They asked permission, which was nice, but we got over it as they began to line up for individual shots.
The journey from Indonesia’s capital city to Yogyakarta, another Indonesian city in Java is possible by way of a simple, though expensive train trip of 8 hours. The landscape is beautiful along the way…
We see a layering of farmland, homes, mountains and perhaps volcanoes!
The 'Taksaka' Executive train heads East. Mostly only tourists can afford it.
Hard working farmers still brave the wet season.
Precarious looking railway bridges have been built directly over terracing rice fields.
Whenever the train stops, young children come to beg at the window. The people sitting in front of us on the train have given this boy some money, and he runs to get his friends to ask them for some too.
Temperature – 29 degrees C
Our next stop is the most populated city in South East Asia – Jakarta. With a population of almost 10 million and very serious pollution and traffic problems we find it difficult to find redeeming features about this grey place with very few green areas. We also learn what the wet season means as it beats down on us every day, sometimes lasting minutes, sometimes hours!
The Jakarta we had expected...
The large National Monument symbolising the country's independence.
The old town was attractive in parts, but not exceptionally interesting.
Horrific traffic problems everywhere. Spot the rabbits for sale on the street - centre of the picture.
The canal is polluted, and some of the people, rebellious!
We didn't realise that men and women are split up - even on the bus.
The childrens' bus doesn't have much of a safety system!