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Jan 23 / Amy

Australia: Day 5, Campervans and Kangaroos

I’m not going to lie, in planning our trip there were certain days that I *knew* would be way more exciting than others.  Today was one of those days.  I woke up at 5 am, partly due to excitement, and partly due to jet lag.  Oh, the jet lag.  Since Josh was having no problem at all sleeping, I laid in bed until 7:30 am before I gave up.  We had places to be and I couldn’t wait to get there!

After packing up our suitcases, we went downstairs to check out and grab a cab to drive us over to the Britz Campervan location.  It was time to take our chances on the open roads of Australia!  We booked the Elite 2 Berth Campervan but when we got there, they didn’t have our vehicle, so we got an upgrade to a Maui Ultima van.  It was so nice!

Seeing that we would be driving a vehicle much larger than we were used to, on the other side of the road, we opted to get full liability on the campervan.  We also rented a GPS unit, as well as a satellite phone – just in case we ended up somewhere without mobile service.  With the liability upgrade, they threw in a bonus pack with chairs and a table to use outside of the van.

Once all the paperwork was signed, I took the keys, we loaded the campervan, and Josh and I spent a good 5 minutes asking if we were really up for this part of the trip!  In the entire eight months that I spent in Australia studying abroad, I drove once, from campus to go pick up pizza in a friend’s car.  I did pay attention to the road rules, so I was confident I could do it – just nervous about attempting to do it in a campervan!  It was 7.2 meters (23.6 feet) long, and I’m used to driving a Mustang on a daily basis.  Since I had more experience, I took the driving duties for Day 1.

Over the course of the next week, we would be driving from Adelaide to Sydney, 2116 km (1,315 mi).  Lots of driving!

Our road trip mapped out

We plugged in the address to the Cleland Wildlife Park, I took a deep breath and started the van, and I pulled out onto the road.  We were off!

I nervously drove the streets of Adelaide making our way through city roads, then onto the motorway.  As I was starting to feel better about driving the campervan, it was time to get off our exit.  We came to a roundabout, which I’m a huge fan of!  As we got closer to the park, we started going up narrow roads, sharp curves, definitely not roads I wanted to drive in a campervan – on my first day driving, but alas, there we were.  To top it off, there was a stretch of road with bicyclists – talk about nerve-wracking!

We made it into the parking lot safely (thank goodness) and managed to find a place to park the van.  Walking in, we paid our admission fees ($18 per adult) and bought a bag of food to feed the animals ($3).  Knowing that the Koala close-up was about to end, we went straight to where we could take a picture with a koala.  We got to meet “Hank” and take pictures of and with him – he was adorable.  It was a nice warm up for Josh, knowing that we were going to come back at 2 pm so he could hold a koala.

A photo with “Hank”

After the close-up, we decided to walk around the park and find some kangaroos.  It was so much fun watching Josh interact with kangaroos for the first time.  These guys were open to people walking up to them (for the most part), feeding them, taking pictures of them.  It was a great way to spend the afternoon.  We also saw birds, lizards, ducks, but no dingos – they were hiding apparently.

Josh with a ‘roo!

I just love kangaroos!

Around 1:30 pm we walked back to get in line for the Koala Cuddle, which started at 2 pm.  We were the first in line, and shortly after we arrived, more and more people lined up – definitely glad that we got there early.  We paid $30 for the hold and souvenir photo and waited for “Vincent” to come out and join us.  He was a big fella, heavier than Josh anticipated too! They took our photo on their camera, then took a few snaps on ours.

Cuddling with “Vincent”

We’d seen all we wanted to, after looking at lizards, birds, but no dingos (they were hiding), we went to get lunch at the café before hitting the road.  Josh had fish and chips and I had a sausage roll (oh, how I love sausage rolls).  After filling up on food, we made our way back to the campervan to hit the road to Padathaway Campervan Park.

300 km (186 mi) later, we arrived at the park at 6:45 pm.  It was tucked away behind a vineyard, which was nice scenery.  The owner (Rosemary) informed us that the stores nearby had closed at 6 pm, and the only remaining place left with food closed at 7 pm.  We hadn’t had a chance to stop for food yet, so we hurried over to the deli to get food before they closed.

When we walked in, the owner, Lyle, looked thrilled to see us.  The ATM inside had been turned off for the night, luckily I still had some cash from our time in Adelaide on me.  We ordered two ham sandwiches, two drinks, and while we were waiting for our sandwiches, Lyle told us about the Coonwarra Wine Region (Australia’s Red Wine Centre).  He gave us a map, showed us where we were, suggested a few places to stop, and then handed us our food.

We went back to the park for the evening to eat and relax – there really wasn’t too much more we could do because it’d started getting dark.

It took us a little while to figure out how to use the air con on the campervan, but we were glad to have it available.  I setup the bed using the cushions and inserts, laid the sheets out, and we attempted to watch the TV in the van.

Josh excited to show off our home for the week.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out how to get it to work.  Josh was a little stir crazy, so he started watching Anchorman on his iPad while I was catching up on notes for the day, as well as looking through photos and backing them up on the hard drive.

Around 10:30-11:00 pm, we opted to go to bed – it seemed as if we were getting past the jet lag, which was a nice feeling!


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  1. Daisy / Jan 24 2012

    So cool!!!

  2. Nomadic Samuel / Feb 9 2012

    Great article and lovely photos. Vincent sure seems like a nice cuddly companion 🙂

    • Amy / Feb 9 2012

      Thanks! 🙂 Vincent was definitely cuddly (and heavy)!

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