You’ll Cry Twice – Welcome to the Pilbara

We arrived late in the night, too excited to stop in Broome to sleep in the tent as planned. We’d already driven 4500kms in the past few days – what was the harm in another 700 tonight? We looked at each other; a reckless glint in our tired eyes. The setting sun cast warm orange rays over Kyle’s dusty skin. “Yep, let’s keep going.”

Wired on zero sleep, buzzing with the constant forward movement of the truck; we switched off the air-con and let the warm summer air flood in through the open windows. The red sun had now set; the country road-side was dry, yet bursting with life. I’d never seen such a thing. How can something so isolated, surrounded by silence and nothing but constant heat look so at peace?

Small pockets of wild fire burned in huge open paddocks; the red flames munching dry grass hungrily with a well-practiced crackle. Our headlights gave us just enough warning to spot the cows; their beady eyes glowing brilliantly in the middle of the highway. They knew what the deal was. We honked, they continued chewing; they owned the joint.

El Questro: 1 million acres of bliss

Oh, El Questro.

A genuine paradise in the rugged Australian outback. Red dust whirls on broad gravel roads. Open blue skies so vast that you forget about the world. Landscapes so ancient, it’s an absolute privilege to be a spec passing by in the outback wind.

El Questro Wilderness Park is a private property located in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. If you’re around the northern WA town of Kununurra (near the NT & WA border), El Questro is just 110 kilometres west on mostly sealed roads. If you’re coming east after completing the Gibb River Rd (hooray for you!), El Questro is just 36kms down the road – and bliss awaits you. If you’re driving from Darwin, El Questro is just under 10 hours drive along sealed road.

The oh-so-stunning Kimberley, Western Australia

Three weeks from the moment Kyle had said: “Let’s do the Gibb River Road in three weeks time”, we started driving across the arid landscape towards the Northern Territory border. We only had five days to do our HUGE mini trip which would seem absolutely crazy to most people. “The Gibb? Are you serious?! We spent two whole months driving our way across that bloody rough road!” Yes, five days people. Be calm.

If we had of waited for the fabled perfect time for us to explore the Kimberley, we’d still be waiting. Like the saying says (one of my favourite ones): ‘There’s no time like the present’. While basing ourselves in Port Hedland Western Australia, we used every opportunity that we could to see and experience the vast outback tracks, tiny dusty towns and stunning blue coastline.

 

Travelling with dogs (excitement overload)

It’s the age-old, travel tear-jerker… alright, only for some people: does the puppy come along for the trip, or does it stay at home? It’s a tough one. On one hand, you’ve got your little best friend who would be the happiest creature in the world to be by your side on your adventure; on the other, are you SURE you’re willing to share your travel time (constantly) with your pooch?

If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll have seen snaps of our beloved English Staffy Quinn a.k.a the adventure dog getting around the place. Like, all around the place. He’s a very well-travelled, four-legged critter.

It’s not easy being a gypsy who loves to move from place to place, as well as have a dog best mate. I’m sure some of you are reading this thinking ‘well, you shouldn’t own a dog if you’re going to travel’. The truth is though that travelling with your furry friends is much easier than you might think.

Keeping valuables safe while travelling

There’s always the risk of your valuable, lovely possessions being stolen. It sucks. Alas, it is apart of living in the big, wide world. Here’s what we’ve learned to keep our precious items safe when on the road:

Is a life change calling to you?

Suddenly our big exciting adventure was over. We were back to our familiar life in our home town. We would still hit the road on the weekends to get our kick of freedom, but in reality we were back into the routine of life at home. Working during the week to pay the bills. Dinner and movies and walks along the beach with our dog Quinn. Weekend nights with friends by the fire drinking wine and long days in bikinis. What a beautiful life, we were so blessed; but it just wasn’t enough.

The plan had been to be back home in Tweed Heads NSW for a short while, and then scoot back off overseas to live in a van and seek the unknown like wandering gypsies again. We knew we’d get there but as it happens, life at home had gotten in the way. Our savings account wasn’t ready to launch us back overseas just yet (like, nowhere near). I had started working for myself with my graphic design business and it would be a while before income started flowing well again. We were going to be in Australia for a long while yet. Life was good, but we weren’t ready for this life yet.

Something needed to happen.

New Zealand’s delightful south island

We visited New Zealand’s North Island in 2010. It left us feeling a dire need to get back. If you’re a nature / adventure junkie then this magical country is for you. It really has everything.

We flew into Christchurch, hired an awesome camper van from Mighty Campers and set out on the ultimate NZ South Island roady to see as much as we possibly could. Kyle and I always choose to drive ourselves around when travelling. You see so much more of the country (not just the cities that you fly into). You can stop at every single amazing spot that catches your eye! Endless possibilities AND cheap accommodation with 5 star window views every single day. With our usual map with a few rough dots on it, we set off to explore New Zealand’s winter playground!

So here it is – our Best of New Zealand’s South Island list.

The world’s largest sand island: Fraser Island, QLD

We arrived to Rainbow Beach, located on the Sunshine Coast of Australia’s ‘Sunshine State’ QLD to watch the spectacular sunrise over the sea. The streets of the small coastal town were calm and peaceful first thing in the morning – that is, until you reached the service station. Some 4WDs were squeaky clean, while others were coated in sand and salt; it wasn’t difficult to work out who was coming back from Fraser Island.

Although, if you were still somehow unsure, the vehicle occupant’s faces would be the next best clue. City folk departed with sun-kissed skin, heading back to reality unwillingly with tired smiles. Groups of excited foreigners were being directed onto tour buses. Blokes were letting down the pressure in their enormous mud tyres, ready to tackle the soft sand and rugged, endless adventures of Fraser Island.

Milford Sound, New Zealand: stunned into silence

Our memory of visiting Milford Sound will always be one of complete and utter awe. The drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound was incredible in itself: a winding long road through beautiful coastal towns, that carves through wild mountains, past fast-flowing crystal clear rivers, and into vast stunning valleys.

We arrived at Milford Sound. The chilly winter air fresh on our faces. Early morning light flickered through surrounding branches. Standing on the waters edge, turning on the spot to see 360 degrees of stunning mountains like diamonds sticking out from the sea. The snowy tops glistened in the winter sun. The only sound came from an enormous waterfall; water rushing over the edge of a nearby mountain into the glassy sea below.

We stepped over the pebbles and sticks that covered the sea shore; stunned by Milford Sound’s natural (ridiculous) beauty with every turn we took. We ended up sitting on the shore, simply looking out across the bay, soaking up the silence and breathing in the beauty.

My wanderlust mantra

Many things in life are important to me. Sometimes I know exactly how I feel about something, but don’t know how to explain myself in words. But why should I feel like someone else needs to understand what I believe in?

Every time that I have spoken out loud about things I want to do or places I want to see, there is always someone who doubts it. An individual who doesn’t understand why I want to do something or feels the need to tell me that it’s a bad idea without having any experience in the matter. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m always open to hear advice from other people. I believe listening to other people’s opinions is a very important trait for a human being. However, as a young person who is passionate about seeing the world and having adventures as often as possible, I have to admit, I get fed up with people making me feel bad about what is important to me.

In this modern world where we are ‘free’ to do as we please, there are still certain expectations from the people around us to follow the ‘normal’ path. This is complete nonsense. You must do what suits you, and what makes you happy!

3-day roadtrip: NSW South Coast & the Blue Mountains

We woke up on Saturday morning with itchy feet, and half an hour later had decided a rough destination (South Coast, NSW). We hit the road with our favourite travel companion, our dog Quinn.

We’re constantly jumping in the car and going on random drives (often, long drives) to amazing places, without plans. It is second nature to us now. We can’t get enough of the freedom. All we need is each other, somewhere to sleep and a change of clothes. We freedom camp majority of the time thanks to awesome apps like Wikicamps, so the only costs are fuel and food. We see so much, yet spend so little.

We had three days. Let’s get to it. Keen! Here’s what we got up to:

Overnight ferry: Italy to Albania

While in Rome, we did some research and decided to head to Albania in our van/house. Ferries cross the ocean to Durres in Albania departing from Bari on the south-east coast of Italy. We booked our tickets online to take ourselves and our beloved van across to Albania. The rough plan was to drive through Albania to get to Greece.

We didn’t know anyone who had been to Albania, and to be honest we’d heard next to no information ever about the country besides some basic research we did ourselves online.

Monte Carlo to Cuneo

The drive from Monte Carlo, Monaco to Cuneo, Italy is truly beautiful. We discovered it on a whim while we headed toward Switzerland. We did this drive in early April and were blessed with warmth and sunshine in Monaco, crystal clear mountain rivers in France and snow-capped mountains in Italy. Yes, all in one day. We started the day in shorts and singlets feeling summer calling early, and ended the day snuggled in thick jumpers and cosy scarves.

10 reasons why you should travel

Looking for a little inspiration to walk out your front door, either with your car keys or luggage to do something different? Here are 10 reasons why you should travel. But seriously, come on man, do you even need 10?

Welcome to Albania

The ferry ride was over. We peeled ourselves from our make shift sleeping arrangements: the carpeted floor and bar booth seating – overwhelmingly happy to see the sun finally shining through the deck windows. Our van once again joined the slow procession of vehicles leeching their way into the port. The variety of “authority” figures spun at the first sniff of fresh foreign meat, their tired eyes brightening at the sight of our English number plate.

Fighting our way through the paper waving crowd, I was pleased to be seated safely between the boys as a collection of voices began shouting of “insurance” to travellers in broken English through our regrettably open windows. Our escape was approaching: a gated exit harbouring empty space and constant vehicle speed. As a swarm of sweaty men in dress pants and long sleeved shirts surrounded us, Kyle hit the accelerator. The man was faster than expected with his crutches in hand, suddenly he bounded purposefully to block our way. Kyle swerved, I swore loudly, we exited the port and did not intend to stop our vehicle any time soon.

Welcome to Albania.

Read about:

Join us:

We live in our Nissan Patrol camper that we built ourselves to roam Earth. Come along for the ride.

Instagram | Facebook

Interested in being a sponsor, or would simply like to say hi? hi(at)collectingbliss.com