The first stop on our 12-month trip around Australia was at Sovereign Bend, where we overlooked the Murray River and a quaint little house on the river bank opposite whose lights began to twinkle as the sun dropped and dusk settled in around us. Where we had to cross a narrow single lane timber bridge and dodged the pot holes along a dusty track to find a spot to call home for the night.
We were the only people in the national park, just outside Koondrook, on the border between Victoria and New South Wales and more than once we asked ourselves, are we in the right place, are we allowed to camp here?
With a small fire kindling we talked about the adventure ahead us of and the enormity of living in a tiny van for the next eight months. We looked up at the mass of stars overhead and watched the flames of the campfire dance in front of us and relaxed into the life we had chosen, to explore as much of Australia as we can, to take ourselves entirely out of our comfort zone, to live in a van.
I didn’t sleep well that first night. We were on a slight incline, metres from the banks of the river. My night brain took over and I worried we would roll into the water. I was sure I could hear noises around me and got it into my head that the people in the house on the opposite bank would sneak across in the middle of the night and steal our e-bikes, which is funny really, because they had far more stuff for us to take than vice-versa. Plus, how would they get our bikes on their kayaks or tinny?
Want to know more about camping in Australia? Read about our trip to Narbethong here.
So, my overactive imagination, combined with the sound of the in-van fridge switching on and off constantly and getting used to a tiny bed (the size of a king single) in a tiny van, kept me awake throughout the night.
When I did sleep, Ade shook me awake. I was having a nightmare and was agitated and scared. In my dream I was trying to tell a guy to ‘fuck off’ but the words wouldn’t come out, almost as though I’d had a stroke. The man was following me and while he wasn’t creepy, I was agitated that I couldn’t speak.
Which is a strange way to begin an exciting adventure around Australia.
If you like this post you might also like to read about Ade’s four-wheel drive adventure through Western Australia here.
In the morning we woke up to see the sun rising over the Murray River and the terrors of the night before were soon forgotten. In their place was excitement at the adventures to come, expectation over the stunning views we’ll get to see and a growing sense of freedom at the knowledge that the only responsibility ahead of us is to stay safe and to enjoy the journey.
That and the knowledge that there will be many more sleepless nights, nervous moments on the road and a mental note to myself not to park the van downhill when camped next to a river.
We are realists after all.