I’ve always wanted to roadtrip across the Nullarbor, but the amount of time it takes and the pesky need to then drive BACK across the Nullarbor, or then pay for your car to be freighted on the Indian-Pacific while you fly home has always rather put me off. It’s too long for a long weekend and not a trip on which I’ve ever wanted to use precious vacation time.
Given that I have been using baseball as my organising principle for the last couple of years of travelling, baseball will be my organising principle this time as well. I’ll be checking out all of the Australian Baseball League teams at their homegrounds over the course of 3.5 weeks. From here in Perth, I’ll be watching the Perth Heat on the 27th of December as the opening game of #ABLroadtrip. Then it’s 2700km across the Nullarbor desert to Adelaide to see the nearest team, the Adelaide Bite. I’m planning on taking about 4.5 days to get to Adelaide, and the rest to follow, in a row, as pretty as you please.
I’ll have plenty of time for luxurious cooked breakfasts and stops to gaze at the views over the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. Given that I’ll be on my own and also that I’ve done no driving or even had a job that requires long periods of sitting in well over a year, I’m going to need plenty of breaks. I’ve also bought a yoga mat, because I’m pretty sure I’m also going to need plenty of stretching. And probably a massage in Adelaide.
The key thing to decide was my timeframe for moving across the cities in the best order in which to catch a baseball game in each city with no back-tracking. Australia is too big and the population too sparse to back-track. Given the shortness of the season (13 weekends) and my other commitments, I had a choice of travelling in December or January (or possibly both, but I would prefer to spend Christmas with at least some of my family and friends).
December was a pretty good option – the All Star game would be in Melbourne, followed up by my beloved Perth Heat being in town for a series. Then I would spend an easy week in Melbourne at the baseball catching up with the oh-so-many people who have moved to Melbourne over the years. Unfortunately, I would miss out on Brisbane.
Going in the other direction, from Brisbane to Perth, was also appealing. However the logistics of starting in Brisbane compared to the logistics of starting in my hometown weren’t great. Perth contains lots of people I already know and love, making acquiring things much easier. Once I looked into whether to buy or hire a car and it became clear that buying was going to suit me better, Perth became the obvious option.
So we have a late December / early-January roadtrip. It’s not THE hottest time to cross Southern Australia, but it’s getting pretty close to it. In terms of the schedule, the only thing that’s a little annoying is having to try and get to Adelaide and Melbourne in the same series, so I’ll lose one whole baseball day driving between the cities, but it can’t be helped.
I’m going to finish up on the other side of Australia. I’ve already decided not to drive back, so it looks like I’ll be setting up on the East Coast somewhere for 6 months-1 year. I still haven’t really decided where, but it’s probably going to be Sydney or Canberra, depending on where I might find some work. I’ve never given Sydney a fair go and I think Canberra is severely under-rated. But to be honest, I would also be perfectly happy to hang out on the Central Coast of NSW or in the Blue Mountains – or anywhere beautiful with a strong outdoors culture and some work going
Once I’d decided on a road-trip, I asked friends in Perth to keep an eye out for me on cars for sale. In the meantime I investigated one-way car hire and kept an eye on the move-the-car websites. My primary difficulty with the move-the-car websites is that I actually have a set of my own goals for cities and times and don’t have the level of flexibility you need to make that your primary means of travel.
I couldn’t find anything cheaper than $4500 to hire in Perth and finish in Brisbane and it was still well over the $1000 mark to hire in Perth and finish in Adelaide. The guaranteed buy-back camper schemes took more out of the kitty than I wanted to part with originally and the buy back rate (40%) is not worth it. The only bonus is that they will replace the car if you break down within the first 30 days.
So buying, and then having the flexibility to work rural/regional, with a chance of selling at a price similar to purchase-price late on seems like the most sensible way to go. Of course, having a fortnight between arriving in Australia and everything shutting down for Christmas may not have been the most sensible way to go about things.
I had figured out a lot of this before I even left Korea and knew two people who had unused cars sitting in their driveway that they would be willing to sell. I’ve picked up a 3-door 2003 Accent with a tendency to idle on 0rpm that is currently known as The Mighty Steed, but may yet be called ‘Marengo’, but I don’t want to cast myself in the role of Napoleon.
So, given that I left Korea early, I have way less cash than I expected. I am also not in the country I was planning on, so things are substantially more expensive than I was anticipating. So I’m going as cheap as possible. Lots of camping on the side of the road and couches where I can get them.
I had the odd bit of camping gear scattered around Perth, including the key pieces of a tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag. I have had to replace some essentials that were stolen in Mexico, but that I definitely want to own – stove and cooking gear primary amongst this. And I bought another camping chair, because they’re always useful and since I’m car camping, I can have nice things that are useful.
Overall, setting up for camping has cost me about $100 and I don’t have a table, which shouldn’t be a problem, giving that I am anticipating camping in campgrounds and rest-stops, both of which have tables.
I have couches lined up for Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney and the Gold Coast and I’ve simply assumed a couch for Melbourne, but I should probably check on that. And get on couch-surfers to try and find a place to stay in Brisbane.
I’m looking forward to this hugely. I have an offer to have a squiz at what the scorers do in Canberra and beyond that, I’m particularly looking forward to meeting some of my Twitter friends.