Road Trippin’ – Over Yonda with Jane
T – Chantelle had just accepted a new job. We had two weeks during which we needed to buy and fit out a camper wagon and then drive 4500kms to the city of Darwin, which would be our new home, in time for Chantelle to start work.
C – Yes, we could have flown to our destination in just a few short hours.. But really, when have we been known to take the easy path towards our destination???
Who’s this Jane?
We began our search for a car and found the perfect one. A 1988 Subaru wagon. She was sitting in a farmers shed, unregistered, in near new condition, waiting to be loved. Another unique form of transport for another journey!
T – By the time we had turned the wagon into a camper we only had one week left. One week of hard driving in a car we didn’t know, across a part of the country we hadn’t seen before, using a camper setup that we hadn’t actually tested. All in the blazing 40 degree heat of an Australian summer.
So we packed our few belongings into the back of the car and said a sad goodbye to our two postie bikes, Mabel and Rosie, and set off from Mount Barker.
C – We knew our girls were safe and sound at my parents place, but the minute we left we missed them like crazy.
We arrived in the city of Perth, our first intended stop on the journey. The reason for the stop was to finally meet Tamara and Xander, a fellow adventurous motorbiking couple who had invited us to give a presentation of our Over Yonda on a Honda adventure at their two wheel adventure shop, Overlander Adventure Equipment.
It was such a pleasure to meet these guys and all the wonderful customers who came to see us. We took some time to check out their shop and can highly recommend stopping in there if you are ever in Perth and of the two wheel adventure variety (check out their website or hook up with them on Facebook @Overalanderae).
We knew we needed to name our new family member before we travelled too far. So, that evening, we christened the car… ‘Jane’. As in Over Yonda with Jane….. (Fonda)……’
We left the concrete jungle of the city of Perth the next morning.
T – Soon we were rolling down narrow roads through farmland in the Wheatbelt region. The traffic thinned out and we let Jane stretch her legs out at a whole steering wheel wobbling 110km/hr.
We had replaced the timing belts, radiator and water pump on Jane and given her an oil change. She was purring like a kitten. But this trip would test her to the limit.
The temperature climbed rapidly as we headed for northern Western Australia. The brown soils of the farms soon gave way to the bright red dirt of the Pilbara desert. The trees grew scrubbier and the wildlife seemed bigger, meaner and tougher and more inclined to wander onto the road in front of us!
On our first day we managed to knock out just over 1000kms and we ended the day trying to cook some food in the dark, in a small pull over on the side of the main highway. Our first night camping with Jane!
C – We made it further than we expected to, ending up just outside the mining town of Newman. We had explored this area by motorcycle a number of years ago and we were itching to cover new ground. The plan was to make it to Port Hedland quickly as from there, everything north was new country for both us.
T – Well, we quickly discovered that camping in a car is quite different to in a tent. We had a real mattress and pillows which was so nice. Plus we could sleep with all the windows down and the rear tailgate open. This allowed a nice amount of airflow through the car. Perfect!
Unfortunately the awesome openness of the car allowed every biting, blood sucking insect within cooee to feast on us. So we spent a big part of the night scratching, swearing and swatting in between short stints of sleep.
C – Our home made flyscreens for the windows had failed us. But, we did learn something. Glue does not stick to flyscreen in 40 degree heat… who knew?
I can not explain how amazing it felt waking the next morning. The crisp fresh air, the sounds and smells of the desert.
Life on the road is oh so sweet.
T – After a quick breakfast and a hot coffee we were soon back on the road. Jane was running nicely and we were glad that we had decided to get her air con regassed. It was now pushing 40 degrees outside and we had the aircon cranked right up. Poor Jane only had 80 horse power when she was new, and with the aircon now running fulltime she was suffering quite a drop in power. But no way in hell was I going to suffer in the heat!
We blitzed along, stopping only for fuel and drinks. We had decided to take the inland road and that meant no ocean breezes for 1600kms. On the plus side it also meant almost zero traffic as most people take the coastal route. All we encountered were four trailered road trains. These behemoths can be over 50 meters in length and once moving they can take a long time to stop. In Australia they are a common sight on our highways as they shift goods from ports on the coast to the remote communities in the deserts.
Each time we caught up with one of these road trains we would turn off the aircon and wind down the windows. Jane needed a fair bit of time to get around these things, about a kilometre in fact, and so we wanted her to have all the horsepower she had available. Some of these overtaking manoeuvres were quite nervy. I would plant my foot to the floor, Jane would immediately NOT leap forward at all and we would crawl past the truck, trailer after trailer, until we edged in front of the truck and then with a big feeling of relief we would pull back into our lane, unclench our sphincters, wind the windows back up and turn the aircon back on.
C – We continued down the main road, passing through Port Hedland then little else until we turned west off of the main highway.
We were looking for the cool waters of Cable Beach, Broome.
Cable Beach stretches for miles (14 of them actually! Or 22km to our metric friends) and with its crystal blue waters it is easy to see why Broome is inundated by tourists every year during the dry season.
T – Cable Beach would be the last beach we would see where we could swim without fear of being eaten by an estuarine crocodiles, aka ‘salties’. Every creek, river and beach from there on out would be a no swim zone unless signed otherwise.
Unbelievably, the temperature climbed even more! We were hot, the land was hot, the road was hot, and soon even Jane was hot. She never overheated but we did notice that she progressively became harder to start when we had switched her off for 10 minutes or so. It was hot enough for the fuel to be evaporating out of her carburetor. Now that is hot!
C – We called into Derby along the way and spent a sombre moment at the ‘prison tree’ – a massive boab tree used to hold Aboriginal people who had been captured for, well, being Aboriginal. We spent some time reflecting on Australia’s shameful treatment of the Aboriginal people, the terrible policies of Governments past and the impact of these policies still being felt by generations today.
We were both so excited to finally see the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Its vastness, contrasting colours and sheer beauty.
Continuing along the main road (well actually, it is the only road!) we drove through Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek. Towns infamous in Western Australia due to their portrayal in the media, mainly due to the unrelenting heat.
T – Each night we would lay in the back of Jane and try not to touch each other. We would both be drenched in sweat, uncomfortable and hot and each morning we would stagger out of bed bleary eyed. But in spite of this, or maybe because of it, we were loving it! It was great to be back on the road. The sense of freedom, the scenery, the stars and the people. We would always find other travellers to chat to. From caravanners to motorcycle travellers. It was great to reconnect to our fellow nomads again.
C – We took a detour into the small town of Wyndham and braved the 42 degree temperatures to take a steep walk down into ‘The Grotto’. It was definitely worth it! The steps had been carved into the rocks and it was a beautiful descent into a narrow canyon, lined with trees growing straight out of the cliff edge. Small birds chirped and the noise of bugs was incredible. I had thought of a how nice a cool dip would be… but then I remembered the crocodiles. The Grotto is listed as a swimming hole. But you never know, right?
T – We drove and drove. Each night we would camp in some magical quiet little spot and reflect on how this nomadic life was definitely the way for us.
C – Driving into Kununurra was exciting and we both kept an eye out for a glimpse of Lake Argyle, Western Australia’s largest man made reservoir. The lake was formed as part of the Ord River irrigation scheme.
We knew we had to push on, with so much ground to cover in such a short amount of time. Jane kept motoring us towards the border and finally, we saw the sign.
The Northern Territory.
A place of culture, country and harsh extremes. Having travelled the southern part of the Northern Territory before, we knew we would love the north of the Territory as well. And boy, we were right.
Crossing the border led us straight past the Keep River National Park. Crocodile signs everywhere, warning us to stay out of the waterways and keep well back from the waters edge. We did not have time to go into the park, but were blown away by the jagged red cliffs, the green vegetation and the small wallabies feasting by the roadside.
In the rearview mirror, I watched the sunset with a smile. The red ball of flames was sinking behind us and closing the day, but encouraging us to look forward to the new adventures of the future.
T – Finally after five days of driving we arrived in the city of Darwin. Jane had done us proud! She had battled the heat without a hitch. She had proven to us that we could in fact build and use a camper that cost just $2500 and took us a week to make.
Along the way we made a pact.
That we wouldn’t fall back into the rut of the working life. We would make sure that we went on many mini adventures, even if that was just a day trip to a museum. We knew that we would forever be wanderers and after having lived on the road through the Americas and now these five days with Jane, there was no going back.
We were going to live in total freedom. A life we would live how and where we wanted. A life full of adventures and experiences. A life lived. A life together.
Like this post? Share and Pin Now!
Would you like to connect with us about this article? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org