Drive Around The World (Australia)

One family, one car, one year, one planet

Day 1 and 2 – Melbourne to Swan Hill

Day 1 and 2 – Melbourne to Swan Hill

7-8 April 2008

Soundtrack: This is Not the Way Home – The Cruel Sea

This is it. Today’s the day! All done, all finished, all silent, no further bidding. We’ve planned, discussed, finalised, made lists, made lists of lists, created spreadsheets, developed work-plans, cross-referenced spreadsheets with work-plans, and ticked them off. We’ve modified the truck and purchased some new equipment. We’ve got the iPod and DVD player (if ever used) hooked up to the car stereo, the laptop synced with the PDA, the digital cameras talking to the laptop, and, subsequently, an entire box filled with various power chargers, cables, plugs, disks and sundry digital paraphernalia. It never used to be this hard.

We’ve practice packed, and practiced again. We’ve tested equipment, refined ‘need’ versus ‘want’, and generally speaking moved from quiet panic to subdued confidence.

We’re ready to go.

And then Sandy got sick.

It was brewing for a while, but in her reserved and stoic way, Sandy chose to ignore it. The sore throat, the sore muscles, the need for extra sleep that avoided her. The throat wasn’t great on Sunday, but a mild distraction compared with the gravity of the impending voyage.

But the lurgy had a mind of its own and, coupled with the realisation that we were leaving family – some frail – and friends behind, as well as the almost physical ‘letting-go’ when all that was now required was a road trip to the next destination, Sandy basically needed to be in bed. For quite some time.

We left Sandy’s parents’ place in eastern Melbourne at about 11am with the planned Cruel Sea song playing, and lunched in Bendigo. Sandy was going reasonably well, and Maddy and Raffy started finding their groove – a delicate balance between being excited or anxious about finally commencing The Big Trip, and annoying the crap out of each other and their parents. 

We stopped at Lake Boga, a town and, more importantly, a lake, which currently is a contradiction in terms; a vast area of land that once boasted marine and aquatic life, both natural and motorised, but now is a desolate and somewhat whiffy mud patch. The drought has reeked havoc on much of Australia, but here was a vivid and rather disturbing example. The Yacht Club remained rather proud, as did the motor-boat business across the highway, and the jetty and boat-ramp, all of which rather anachronistic. No water, no life. We raised a collective eye-brow when we passed the sign heading further north that read “Goodbye Lake Boga”.

Sandy then snoozed, which for her, in a car, is always precipitated by a bout of the ‘noddies’. Noddies are one of the most annoying and frustrating things for someone to witness, even out of the corner of one’s eye when supposedly concentrating on the road ahead. The person afflicted by the noddies essentially pretends to be aware, conscious and perhaps interested in the local goings on, but their eyelids, and then neck, have other ideas. “You can run, but you can’t hide,” the noddies say. “You’re mine, all mine!” it blurts with an almost audible cackle. When you must sleep, the noddies make sure it comes, regardless of your intentions or desires.

The lids droop, and your head starts bouncing, matching your capacity to slip into and out of sleep.

I have begged Sandy in the past to simply put her seat back and schloof, but of course, this requires a conscious decision, while the noddies beat you to it.

Finally, Sandy found a comfortable position – this is usually with feet up on the dash, but we need to put a stop to that, or the airbags will – and slept. Maddy asked me to play a Clare Bowditch album, and also fell asleep before the first track finished.

Through dry and rather desolate farm land, interspersed with verdant green pastures (can any other colour be verdant? Please let me know) fed by water sucked from the fast approaching, and reducing, Murray River – a shadow of its once robust and unstoppable self – we slipped into Swan Hill.

While the rest of the family slept, and I listened to the rest of Clare ululating, I considered that today would not be the best day to break out the camping gear. Quite simply, Sandy needed to sleep, and would not hold back if I was setting up camp. So, we rented a cabin at a local caravan park and set up home a few dozen metres from the Murray. Not the promised barbequed fish for dinner tonight, but a pasta Napoli with calamata olives. And kids bouncing off the walls, including Raffy satisfying his innate desire to investigate and report on every light switch, fan, air-conditioner and sundry electronic device.

Sandy’s voice gave way the following morning, and I paid for a second night. The children and I spent almost the entire day at the Pioneer Settlement next door – and had a blast – while Sandy recuperated. She was up and about when we returned to the cabin, and we had another crack at packing the truck, making better use of the space available. It’s looking pretty good now, and will only get better with time, as will Sandy’s health.

We’ll assess the situation in the morning.



  ablay1 wrote @

After all the planning, imagining and dreaming, you’re on your way! Thank you for your detailed and colourful descriptions of what you’ve been through so far. I’m sure there’ll be lots more to come. I wish you continued exciting (but safe) adventures and good health.

Love, Nene

  auntiefranny wrote @

Great to hear that after all of your hard work you can now enjoy the wonderful experiences together. We look forward to sharing your journey with you.

Have fun!
Fran and family xxx

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