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London to London, via tip-ex

We were at the end of a 10 month odyssey, only a few days drive from the finish line and we had just discovered that we were off to the USA on route to circumnavigating the globe.  Avid followers of this blog may have got the impression that our final few weeks in Australia were a haze of parties, beer, BBQs and beaches.  And they would be right.  There were beaches…  and BBQs…  and certainly beer, but they lacked that all-important ingredient that binds these wonderful things together.  The sun.  The coldest day everrecorded in Brisbane had just passed and it was grey, cloudy, and for the first time since we passed through the high plateaus of Tibet three months previously, I was cold.

 

Santa, baby!

On the way out of Brisbane, we stopped by Adam’s place, a Brit who has been following us on Facebook from the beginning and had always promised us a BBQ and beers ‘if’ we ever made it.  But it was raining.  Never fear though, Adam had built his BBQ under shelter, so we sat in hoodies, digging into mountains of meat and beer, chatting.  Although we’re never ones to turn down an offer of a free dinner, Adam had something that set his invitation apart (other than the pool and huge house): his very own bar in his garden.

A bar, in your garden? We’ll be right over! 

Still suffering from carnivorous overload the next day, we loaded up the car with Leigh and Char’s 30 bags along with Johno’s friend Rob, and headed off in the pouring rain to the greatest testament to the Australian ‘call-it-as-it-is’ mentality to naming, Surfers Paradise.  Six months previously, we had met a couple of Kiwis on their honeymoon in Cappadocia in Turkey.  The new husband, Robbie, had promised that ‘if’ we ever made it to Oz (see the running theme), we would make us a ‘Hungy’. 

We had all looked at him blankly,

 

Paradise?

“It’s a Maori BBQ, bru, you bury the food in the mud then build a fire…  but we never bother with that, we just cut open a beer barrel and put a fire underneath it and cook it for the whole day whilst we get drunk.  It’s gonna be sweet, ‘ehy.”

They also happened to be one of the most fun couples we ever met and we looked forward to catching up again in their home in Surfers’.

A gift sticker from the Kiwis

But it was raining.   So we sat and played with their really big, ill tempered snake instead.

 

The most easterly point in Oz

On our whistle-stop, rain soaked tour of all the big names on the gold coast, we kept moving south, stopping by Byron bay then hot-footing it to Coff’s Harbour for the night.

A Giant Banana in Coffs’ 

We had pledged to arrive in Sydney on December 10th, with the plan of getting some press attention and having a bit of a do.  But as Sydney was no longer the finish point, we kept our ‘big’ arrival quite subdued. The taxi was not in a good way.  Her gearbox had been through the wars over the passed few months.  Obviously not helped by being taken up to 5200m, off-roaded for thousands of miles and pretty much abused in ways never conceived by its manufacturers, the main problem was actually a symptom of another problem.  The brakes. 

Byron

Our brakes were always a bit crap, and they got worse and worse as the trip went on, with little we could do (they are custom taxi parts, impossible to find abroad).  This meant to save them we tended to use our engine breaking to meter our speed, leading to wearing the gearbox out from the wrong side….  meaning that we could only accelerate or coast in neutral, anything else resulted in a skin-crawling crunch of metal.  Worried we would not make it the final few hundred miles into Sydney, we stopped in a town called ‘Newcastle the night before. 

 

On the morning of the big day, we left early to give us enough time if we needed a tow!  However, Hannah’s a tough ol’ bird and we limped into Sydney under our own steam at around 1pm, excited, and feeling slightly odd.

 

I had imagined this moment in my head numerous times.  However, in that imagination, it was the finish line, we were triumphant, we had finished.  But in real life it was just the end of a leg.  It felt odd, but, all things considered, we had still achieved what we set out to do:

 

We had broken the World Record, or possibly two.

We had driven to Sydney in a taxi

We were all still alive, and further more, all still friends!

 

The huge mass of steal and concrete that was the Sydney harbor bridge rose up ahead of us. 

“Shit, there it is.  Get the camera out”

We were suddenly over it, passing into the thriving business district south of the bay and trying to find the point where we said we’d park up for some pictures. 

 

We’d made it.

 

Who cares about how it feels, let’s party!

We’re in bloody Sydney and off to the USA!

 

Footnote:

Leigh and Char flew out of Sydney the next day, Crazy Craig (our longest and swearyest passenger) flew home from his travels the day we arrived in Sydney and met us in the pub that night.  Johno, Craig and I gave Hannah to the shipping company and then got on the 28 hour flight home to the UK.

 

Hannah is taking five weeks to ship to San Francisco, so we went home for Christmas and to buy a new gearbox (and a mountain of other spares) as she sits in the Pacific.  We go Stateside on Jan 30th.

 

Next up: the new route!