Earlier this week, me and two of my roommates, Nicole and Gabby, decided to make the rather impulsive decision to borrow a battered old car from a couple of German lads in our Brisbane hostel and drive up north.
Within an hour of being offered the car, we were handing over $350 and planning our trip. Spontaneous or what?
Fast forward to 5am Friday morning and we’re filling up the tank, ready to smash out a long day of driving. Considering that I’d not driven in five years, had never driven an automatic and had never driven in a foreign country, this may not seem like the brightest idea. In fact, the night before we left, we took the car out for a spin around Brisbane in the dark with no sat nav and my stint left everyone in the car a little shaken up.
Sebastian Vettel; I am not.
Before I start, I’m keen to emphasise that this is not a rant (or not too much of one anyway). We actually had a great laugh, I loved being back on the road and it’s a good story to tell. Spontaneity really is the way forward.
So anyway, I suppose you’re reading this imagining what could possibly go wrong, right? I can safely say I’ve never experienced so many sinking feelings in such a short space of time. What is surprising, however, is that none of this was caused by my driving and I was just a little rusty. It’s just like riding a bike, I guess. In case you’re wondering; I was shit at that too.
Anyway, here’s a quick summary of the main talking points since 5am Friday morning (as I type it’s 10am Saturday morning).
I didn’t realise how important a cigarette lighter is
The built-in cigarette lighter in the car didn’t work, meaning we had to stop regularly and buy food to charge the sat nav in a cafe. I reckon this probably added around three hours onto what was already a monster journey.
This also meant everyone’s phone died at some point, which is always reassuring when you’re driving through the dark, rainy outback.
There really isn’t much to look at
Realising that the next instruction to turn off from the sat nav is due in 200 miles is horrible. Even more so when you’re driving down a road with nothing to look at other than roadworks and road kill.
If I see another dead kangaroo or traffic cone within the next week I’ll probably go into a corner and start rocking back and forth.
German music is dire
I’m sure that’s a massive generalisation – although I’m yet to be proven wrong. When they handed the keys over, the lads were very keen to emphasise that they’d left us a load of CD’s in the car.
Our smiles soon turned to frowns however, when we discovered it was all German techno and R&B. We resorted to creating a “good pile” of CDs. At the last count, it consisted of two CDs; both of which were Red Hot Chili Peppers albums. Now I’m a huge fan of theirs, but even I got a little tired of listening to “By The Way”. That’s saying something.
Sleeping in a car is uncomfortable
I’m sure you’re all thinking; “no shit Sherlock”, but I had to mention it anyway. At 8pm it was lashing down, the sat nav was out of battery, and we’d been driving for around 15 hours. We knew we weren’t too far from our destination, so we pulled up on a random street in Mackay, and decided to call it a night.
Despite getting no more than two hours uninterrupted sleep at a time, I’ve probably had worse sleeps in hostels. I knew the eye mask and ear plugs they gave me on the plane coming here would come in handy at some point.
Missing buses is a pain in the arse
Again, it goes without saying. As I type, I’m sat in a park in Proserpine, a small town about 40km from my destination of Airlie Beach. As the girls are carrying on for another eight hours or so, we decided I’d get out here and get the bus to Airlie, so as not to add even more time onto their journey.
As we arrived, I’d missed a bus by ten minutes. Not to worry, eh? Imagine my shock when I saw that the next bus isn’t for over four hours and a taxi would cost $60! There’s really not much to do here; I’ve walked up the main street twice which took a grand total of around five minutes.
Add to this the fact I have no phone battery and you have a pretty boring couple of hours, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Then again, I’ve just spied a couple of pubs opening up – every cloud, eh?