It’s winter in Melbourne. The days are brief and sunshine is in short supply. If wealth were measured in street light hours this city would now be positively opulent. I knew it could get cold here, but I foolishly thought that Australia’s cold would be mild by British standards. I was wrong. June in Melbourne feels like November in Liverpool. So while it is not my only motivation, I will confess that my envy of the weather on the other side of the world has spurred me leave Melbourne to seek out the Australia I day-dreamed about on cold winter days in England. I’ve taken to the road in search of the sun. There’s no map and no time-table. The plan is simple. The plan is North.

NORTH - Australian Road Trip

As much as I love Melbourne, I didn’t come to Australia to stay in one place. I wanted to spend the time I have here exploring this country, meeting it’s people, and generally immersing myself in the Aussie way of life, whatever that may be.

Of course, it hasn’t been all blue skies and smooth sailing since I arrived here. For a start, Melbourne is an expensive city to live in with rents comparable to prices in London. In addition to that, the unusually weak UK Pound is taking a beating from the Australian Dollar which is enjoying never seen before strength. As a result my money isn’t going as far as it otherwise might.

Then there have been the set backs. Like finding a room to rent, then quickly discovering that my would-be housemate was suffering from chronic depression and was prone to radical mood swings and anti-social outbursts.

Taking a punch in the face from a French girl in Tasmania also goes down as a moment that I didn’t see coming, but then that’s a whole different story. (And no, it’s probably not what you think!)

Those set-backs, however, just add a little more color to this ongoing story. They’re like minor sub plots or momentary diversions. The depressed would-be housemate, or moody French girl served as passing protagonists in my life, that to me, sometimes feels like a blend of TV travel show and theatre.

It’s been six months since I arrived in Australia and as winter grips Melbourne now is the perfect time take to the road and head north. So I’ve bought a van, loaded it up, and set off in search of sun and a whole lot of whatever else life has to offer.

I’ve actually been on the road for a couple of weeks already. I made a slow start and stopped for nine days to visit a friend in Sydney after driving along the Eastern Victorian coast.

That relatively short distance brought home to me just how vast Australia is, something which is hard for me, as a European, to really comprehend. Back in the UK even when you’re far from anywhere your still pretty close to somewhere.

My plan, such that it is, is to get to Cairns in the far north east and perhaps even a little beyond that. I’m going to drive along the coast which I am told is quite amazing in places. I have no timeframe and will stop frequently so I suspect it will be a while before I see Cairns.

According to Google maps my coastal route could easily be over 5,000 miles (8,046 km). That’s quite a difference from the 1,766 mile (2,843 km) direct route.

To overcome any possible loneliness along the way I plan to ‘couch surf‘ with locals as often as possible. I’ve ‘couch surfed’ in various places around the world and have always had fantastic experiences meeting people I would not have met otherwise. Couchsurfing is a fantastic way to get local ‘insider information’ hints and tips, and also a good way to escape the confines of my camper van from time to time. I might also look at doing something with Help Exchange if a suitable opportunity presents itself.

Hopefully I’ll be able to find a little more time to write while I am making my way north. My plan is to try and keep my blog as up to date as possible, sharing the pictures and stories from the road.

For those of you who might be interested at seeing where I am on a map, I’ve created a page that will show you my location. In the sidebar on the right of my blog just click the ‘Where is Simon‘ link and you’ll be able to see a map with a pinpoint on it. You can also click links on that page to zoom in or out of the map. It’s not up-to-the-second accurate, but it will at least show you the last location that I ‘checked-in’ from.

So that’s it. I’m on the road heading for the tropics, pursuing the sun and chasing the dream. For the next few weeks the plan is simple… the plan is North.

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