Our Adventure tours Perth to Exmouth tour was a 7 day round trip; 5 days up and 2 days back. On the road driving north it seemed that we stopped at every location of interest and heading back to Perth it was mostly driving. We stopped only at a petting zoo, the Hutt River Province and an overnight at a farm home-stay. I had originally intended to depart the tour in Exmouth after 5 days, do some traveling on my own and then rejoin a different bus with our operator back to Perth. As I told my plans to Andrea, I learned that she had planned almost the same. Interestingly, we were flying back to Sydney within one day of each other and we agreed to continue travelling together.
You never know who you’ll meet on the road, the friendships that you will make, romances that may blossom and adventures that will unfold. I had really come to admire Andrea and appreciate her company. We seemed to be hitting it off like two old friends who had known each other for years. We discussed where we might go for the next week and several options came to mind.
In a little store in Exmouth we saw some postcards of beautiful desert canyon scenes – waterfalls and pools that snaked through rugged canyons. We looked on the back and kept seeing “Kirijini National Park.” As Andrea was looking at one of the post cards, another traveler commented that it was an amazing place – he gave it a strong recommendation and said that if we had time we should visit. We inquired a bit and found out that it was about a 10 or 12 hour drive from Exmouth. We began discussing renting a car and making the drive and soon our talk turned into plans.
Should we rent a car and stay in hotels or hire camping gear? They do rent tents, kitchen kits, sleeping bags – pretty much everything that you need. With all of this we could drive by car and still stay at camp grounds if we chose. We made a few calls and found that the local car rental agency was renting Wicked Camper-vans for $100 a day (including insurance bond). We had seen Wicked Vans all over the west coast; they were painted up in all sorts of obnoxious graffiti and silly stickers. The little vans came equipped with sleeping mats, storage space, cooking stove(s), dishes and eating utensils, cups and even a little sink for washing dishes. We had seen some of the Wicked Camper-vans and I was a bit reluctant as some had some really obnoxious writing and slogans on them. But we couldn’t beat the price so we put in a reservation and made a drive out to see which van we might get.
We arrived a little before the car rental shop opened and saw that they had a ferocious guard dog. Of course, Andrea had to give him a pet and say “hello” (photo above). She is quite the animal lover and I always find it so endearing when she looks at animals with such love and affection. Later in the day, she spotted a flock of cockatoos and she walked over to say hello to them. They let her get quite close and looked at her, with heads sideways and one eyeball staring curiously. I’m always amazed at how smart the cockatoos and parrots are.
We turned over our drivers licenses, filled out some paperwork and then took possession of our van. It was quite a sight – graffiti all over it, funny stickers – but best of all, a fully contained transportation & lodging vehicle. It took a little while to get used to the van. While inside it was like a regular car, but whenever I came back from a gas station or restaurant, the site of it startled me a bit. But the convenience and the price couldn’t be beat and I slowly grew fond of this crazy looking camper-van.
As we prepared to depart Exmouth for Karijini, we stopped for gas. I shot this pic of Andrea as she filled the tank. Another thing to get used to is fighting a woman for the gas pump; Australian Women are fiercely independent – quite a break from Texas girls.
The bed of the van had a raised plywood floor; under this false floor were storage spaces where we could store our luggage, ice chest, lawn chairs and propane stove. At night, with all of the gear under the floor, we would lay the bed cushions inside the van and sleep in it like a little motor home. In the back, a little sink drew water from a jug that we refilled at gas stations and rest stops. The drain went right through the bottom of the truck and emptied below the van.
In the photo below you can see the kitchen sink and water reservoir. Over to the left, you can see the raised floor that makes for storage and a bed (mattress on top). Off to the side of the truck you can see the propane stove; we had two of them and each had a cooking head attached. We boiled water in our pots, cooked pasta, made coffee and even made pancakes with bacon for breakfast. I was really impressed with the little van. It drove great, had everything we needed and was surprisingly comfortable. It even came with a pair of lawn chairs!
The Wicked Travel Company is quite cheeky as you can tell by the stickers below. These stickers were all over the van and I’ll let them speak for themselves. The Wicked Company had some great travel deals. Later, I would use them on Australia’s eastern coast to save on hotels and bus tickets.
Inside the van, each of the previous passengers had “signed” their name and the dates and locations of the places that they visited. There were quite a few trips across Australia, some around the coast, some right through the interior. We saw “dead kangaroo” hash mark counts, “number of rivers crossed” (numbered 70 or 80) and all sorts of backpacker “wisdom” and clichés.
Once we got on the road we were both ear to ear smiles. We had our own traveling hotel, a fridge full of food and beer, a full gas tank and hundreds of kilometers of beautiful red Australian desert ahead of us. We took turns driving and took photos during the drive and at many of the dozen stops we made to look at the local wildlife.
I’ve always loved a good road trip. I looked out at the road that stretched ahead and I knew that this trip would be a journey to remember.
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