So from Port Augusta, it was a day's drive through the Flinders mountain range (made a change to have roads with curves) to the little outback silver mining town of Broken Hill.
We decided to stay in Broken Hill a couple of nights to have a break from the driving, and to take advantage of a welcome pool and sunshine combo. It was quite a nice place, with some attractive 19th century buildings and many many pubs – think that might have something to do with its mining heritage...
But the highlight was definitely spotting our first live kangaroos in the wild. We'd gone at sunset to see a group of sculptures made from local stone on a hilltop, overlooking the outback. As it was dusk, the 'roos were just rousing themselves and we were particularly excited to see a mother carrying her baby joey. Ridiculously cute – the koalas have some competition in the adorable stakes.
Then we were treated to the most stunning sunset of our trip so far – the sky looked like molten lava, and the sculptures provided some pretty striking silhouettes. The grand finale was some of the best star gazing so far, with the galaxies clearly visible. An evening to remember, for sure.
From Broken Hill, it was on to Cobar – a very uninspiring half-way point. This is still very much outback territory, with no towns or villages for hundreds of miles and just the very occasional petrol station - it's incredible that people can (or choose to) live so remotely. So we were glad to arrive in Dubbo, a relatively large city and our last (hooray!) camping experience at a really lovely place with gorgeous pool to cool off in.
And then it was the home stretch – back to Sydney, via a lunch stop in Orange (we thought of you Krissy!) We really enjoyed our time travelling through the outback and the bush - we felt that we saw a bit more of real Australia and there's certainly something impressive and rather humbling about the sheer vastness of the landscape.
Having already spent two weeks in Sydney over Christmas and New Year, we didn't really have too many things left on the tourist agenda to tick off. It was more about selling the camping gear and Ruby – both of which we managed to do within 24 hours of arriving in Sydney. And we even managed a profit on the car, not bad! I was very sad to say goodbye to Ruby. She was absolutely brilliant and managed 13,450 km (or 8357 miles, which is the same as driving from Land's End to John o' Groats nine and a half times!) without too much complaint and only one breakdown, thankfully well before our outback adventure!
Since being back in Sydney, we've been able to catch up with Dave and Carolyn again (and in fact, we're housesitting at their beautiful home in Neutral Bay on our last night – going out in style), and we've also met up with my Dad's cousin, Sue. We had a lovely day out with Sydneysider Sue who took us for delicious fish and chips at Balmoral Beach, and to explore some of the other Northern beaches (including Palm Beach where Home & Away is filmed - in fact, we saw a film crew while we were there) and through some the gorgeous North Shore suburbs.
We're now staying in a cool suburb not far out of the centre called Newtown – it's quite bohemian and a little bit grungy (in a good way!) It's good to see a bit of an edgier side of Sydney, it feels much more Melbourne with interesting boutiques, great bars and cafes and everything from Peruvian (we'll pass on the guinea pig thanks) to Sri Lankan to Lebanese restaurants.
We've had a brilliant time in Australia – can't believe we've been here three months, it's flown by. But equally we're looking forward to the last part of our trip in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and getting back to 'real' travelling ie. not in a car, and not in a language we understand! Our wallets are also looking forward to not being completely screwed by the super-strong Aussie dollar...
Hope all good back home, and we'll have another update in a couple of weeks about our time with our latest temporary travelling companion, Alice, who we're meeting up with at the weekend – not long now!
Take care, and lots of love
Helene and Roland xxx