The day had arrived! It was time to pick up our Jucy Camper Van! I had booked this several months before our trip and was very excited to do some camping in Australia. Clay and I love camping. He proposed to me on a camping trip, we camped in both Australia and New Zealand a few years ago, and we have taken the boys camping several times – but always with a tent. It would be fun to have a camper van!
Since the rental place was only 4 km away, I decided we could be very ‘frugal’ and walk there! This, of course, ended up taking forever, and our breakfast of bread and peanut butter (a cheap breakfast we could keep in our hotel room!) had long since worn off, since it was now nearing noon. However, we finally arrived and got through the paper work for our van. The girl at the rental company ran us quickly through how everything worked: button for roof pop-up here; overdrive here; stove here; convert the bed like this….. I am always completely amazed at how, after a 3 minute walk-through they can hand you a set of keys for a vehicle and trust you with it! I just assumed Clay would want to do the driving so I let him get in the driver’s side (Once we remembered which side that was! The steering wheel is on the right side of the car in Australia). I don’t remember either of us hesitating for a moment last time we were in Australia – when we were in our twenties! Now, we were both looking at each other like, “What are we doing?!”
Fortunately, there was a big sign on the dash that kept reminding us to “Keep Left”! Using the GPS on our phone, and our memories of where we’d walked, we started to make our way back to the Holiday Inn. Clay was rather nervous driving, and I was rather nervous “passenger-ing”! Needless to say, by the time we arrived back we were both hungry, cranky, and not the best of company. Clay’s parents were standing there to greet us, along with their friends, with whom they would be visiting for the next week. We made quick introductions and then began transferring our gear into our “new” set of wheels.
I had thought I would be clever and rather than packing everything back into our duffels, I put it in piles in our hotel room, so we could transfer it straight into the drawers and storage cupboards in the camper van. The only problem was, there were no drawers or storage cupboards! Nope, not a one! In fact, aside from the bench which faced the back seats, there wasn’t much space to put anything! This was going to be tricky!
They boys were over the moon excited and offered to help us “load up” the van, as did Clay’s dad. I had to quickly revamp my plan and started shoving things back into the duffel bags. Plan B. I needed a plan B! I squeezed our backpacks under the seats, put our 2 roller duffels on the seats, shoved the 4 campchairs and table they had rented us in the back window, and decided that it was best just to get the stuff in the van, and I’d have to re-organize at our first campground.
Our plan was to stop at a Kmart outside of Sydney to pick up a few supplies and then go to a campground not too far away (80 km). We said farewell to Clay’s parents, thanked them for 2 ½ wonderful weeks together, turned down the offer to go for lunch with their friends (the thought of driving around Sydney looking for a restaurant in our green and purple camper van was just not appealing at this point!) and off we went.
Clay decided that between hunger and nerves, it was best that he not drive, so it was my turn! While driving a camper van for the first time and driving in the middle of a big city could have been a recipe for disaster, we managed just fine and in about an hour pulled into a Kmart parking lot. After eating a long overdue lunch and purchasing a few groceries, and camping items, we were on our way again.