After landing in Australia, we had one aim – to buy a van, name it and travel every scrap of the East coast.
This was surprisingly a fairly swift process… After one week of trawling the internet and we found an old but charming Mitsubishi Express van up for sale on gumtree within our budget.
My brother (who we were staying with at the time), being a very smooth talker, managed to persuade the man to sell the van for 600 dollars less than advertised. Not to mention he agreed to build a wooden shelf for a bed in the back for no extra cost… (to this day I don’t know how he managed to convince this poor bloke to do this, but thanks Paul!)
We signed and sealed the deal and purchased the slightly beaten, yet perfectly working van for just 2,200 dollars in Cairns high street. Our home on wheels. Freedom! We were buzzing.
Things did not get off to a smooth start. My boyfriend had come down with a nasty stomach virus a few days before hitting the road. After delaying our journey for a bit until he felt better, we eventually thought ‘sod it’ in the hope that the fresh sea air would cure his sickness. Alas, this was not to be. Approximately one mile after leaving the driveway, he took a turn for the worse, went a sickly shade of grey and we screamed into McDonalds car park so he could dash to the toilets.
A few hours (and dioralites) later into the trip, we eventually made it to Mission Beach, our first destination. It was a truly stunning journey through the Queensland countryside with jaw-dropping panoramic views. Neil Young blasted out our crappy van speakers and spirits where high.
After arriving at the super basic but perfectly adequate campsite, we found the ideal spot. The aqua ocean rippling just a few feet away, swinging palm trees either side of the van and cold beers in our mini fridge. Life could not get much better.
I declared to act ‘chef’ for the evening and sorted the pots, pans and gas cooker carefully on our pop-up table to knock up some delectable noodles. We thought we may as well start as we mean to go on, cheap and cheerful. Being a little clumsy and incredibly hungry, I over excitedly poured the boiling water from the pan into my plastic bowl and in the process, knocked the whole lot down my thigh. “SHIT! HOT! OW! DAZ HELP!” My boyfriend, still recovering from his illness, was then sent on a mad mission to save my leg from an unsightly scar. All our carefully laid out camping gear got chucked into the back of the van and he sped to the nearest bar to find ice. What a start!
That night, temperatures in the van reached over 40 degrees. We sat there, dripping in sweat and started to freak out a bit.‘How are we going to sleep?’ ‘I’m melting’. We thanked our lucky stars we had a tiny electric fan – our savior. The heat wasn’t such a problem for me but after a few hours sleeping on the thin air mattress, my back went into spasm and my sciatica came on in full force. At 3am I got up and paced around the dark depths of the beach like the hunch back of notre dame trying to rid the pain. Yoga downward dog, cat stretches – you name it I tried it. I even made mates with some gigantic (and seriously suicidal) flying insects head-butting the toilet lights. We very seriously considered going back to Cairns that night – a place where we had left a comfy bed, relatives, a full fridge and blissful air con. After weighing up our options we decided to stay and see what the morning would bring. Best decision ever! The next few months turned out be unforgettably incredible.