Springbrook National Park, The Outback & A Pyramid In The Middle On Nowhere
In my last blog I arrived in the Gold Coast of Australia and moved in with my cousin in order to get prepared for the adventure ahead. After outstaying my welcome and buying a campervan nicknamed Evangeline it was time to set off on my first solo trip of Australia. I made the decision to drive towards the outback, try sleeping in the camper for the first time and visit some sights along the way. I hoped to reach a national park known for it's beautiful forests and waterfalls.
After packing all my gear up in the camper I said my goodbyes and set off West towards my new destination. My camper trundled along struggling to get through the gears as I pushed hard on the accelerator with my flip flops. As I left the Gold Coast and got out onto wider roads the sun was in full flow. I had started to get used to having sun every single day out here and it felt magical. It lifted my spirits and made we want to stay outdoors constantly. As I got onto the highway with my music on I screamed and shouted 'wooooo' into the air. I felt free, like nothing could stop me.
The more I drove the roads began to change. Gradually they turned to nothing but gravel stretching into the distance forever. My camper slowed down to a snails pace winding up steep hills and mountainsides. My wooden bed rocked back and forth in the back scratching the paintwork. My air con didn't work so the only way to keep cool in the 35 degree heat was to lean my head out of the window. With nothing blocking the UV rays I quickly began to burn. Pulling into a small petrol station I looked in my windmirror. My left side was pale, a clear indication of someone newly travelled from Europe. My right hand side was burnt to a crisp, a deep brown with red underneath.
Walking into the petrol station different colour on either side of my body I grabbed some food that would fuel me as far as I could drive before stopping for the night. I thought about topping up on petrol but guessed I would be okay until later. That was where I made my first mistake...
Listening to some new bands that had consumed by time recently I drove on towards the outback. Palace was a favourite of mine at the time and I sang along with it on windy roads. Everything became more baron as I progressed, more desert like. Giant snakes crossed the road in front of me, I stopped to let them pass. Sand, rocks and grit flew off my wheels onto the side of the camper. Kangaroo corpses littered the roads, some up over 6ft in size. On and on I drove at my slow pace when as the sun began to set a small blinking light showed up on my dashboard.
I was on empty. I had broken one of the most important rules of driving out in Australia. Always top up at any petrol station you pass! I looked at the maps on my phone. I was miles away from any place that I could get petrol. My heart began to beat a little faster. Out in this heat I wouldn't stand a chance, the walk back would take a long time and I had nothing but a twix bar left to get me there. I imagined pulling over for the night and waking up to the camper not starting. Right that's it! No chance I'm stopping till I've found petrol. The dark closed in around me but I kept driving. My headlights barely powerful enough to see the road.
I pushed on doing my best to use the pedals as little as possibly for some reason hoping this would help. So I rolled down each hill occasionally swerving around cattle crossing the road of another dead kangaroo. After lots of crossing fingers I let out a big sigh of relief. The campervan rolled into a petrol station that was closed for night. I crawled over the back seats and went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up amazed that I'd slept through. Feeling that I may have suffocated in the night I left the windows open and could already feel the warm breeze urging me outside. I got out, splashed some cold water on my face and filled up to the brim on petrol. I bought a petrol container, topped it up and put in under my bed in case this happened again. Off I went looking forward to seeing the first stop on our trip! As I drove down the first road a group of crows was striping apart a carcass in front of me. The closer I got they all started to fly away so I carried on driving knowing that birds always fly away in the end.
One by one they flew off until the final crow sat looking at me. It will fly off I'm sure of it, I thought to myself. Moments before impact it attempted a pathetic push into the air and then splattered on my front bumper with a big thud. I can only apologise to Australia for this terrible act. Now that I've written it in my blog my conscious is clear after all these years. After a few hours of driving I stopped at my first spot courtesy of Atlas Obscura!
First Stop: Ballandean Pyramid
STANDING ABOUT 45 FEET TALL, the stone pyramid folly of Ballandean was built of local granite chunks left over from a construction project.
Said to be the result of a local man asking the property owner what he planned on doing with the rock debris, the 7,500 tons of rock were moved with a dump truck and excavator over the course of eight months.
The pyramid is on private property but can be admired from the street.
- Atlas Obscura
As I pulled up on the side of the road I could make out the pyramid in the distance. Out here in the middle of nowhere surrounded by grasslands, sand, some sparse trees and the occasional cow. I got my camera out to make a video and flew my drone above the pyramid to take a closer look. IT felt like something I would do if left with too much time on my hands. Turning to my neighbour and saying 'hey! I'm thinking about building a pyramid in my garden' and expecting them to be okay with it.
Even this small replica of it's Egyptian cousins was enough to confuse as to how they built it. It must of taken hours to build. This was the kind of story I loved although at the time not many others found it interesting. I love to see people interacting and shaping the land around them. The fact that people are still creating this sky view driven art fascinates me and you never have to look too far to find markings, crop circles, stones or chalk paintings spread across every country. Who was the intended audience for this stone pyramid? I'm not entirely sure but I appreciated it anyway and carried on towards my final stop for the trip.
I stopped in a small car park and began walking towards the main waterfall in Springbrook National Park. I will come to speak on Springbrook in more detail in a later blog as I returned and filmed a Youtube here! The trip takes you on a trail through a biome entirely independent to it's surroundings. Rain and damp ground your constant companion as you weave along the paths, cross bridges and hop over stones in rivers intercepting your walk. I put my camera on timer function and posed for a snap under the cascading waterfall fuelled by the rain.
My first outback trip was over and I felt confident I could survive on a big trip around Australia. It was time to begin my loop or so I thought... I got back in the camper and started to head north in search of Cairns.
In my next blog I travel north up the Australian coast to reach Cairns. I settle into a new hostel and head straight out on my first dive trip on the great barrier reef. There will be fish, seasickness, lot's of coral and best of all. Sharks!