Why Did You Come to Australia in the Winter?!
A puzzling look will come over their face, and they look at us in a bit of wonder. It could be a kangaroo, but it’s actually an encounter with a human. “You shouldn’t have come here during the winter,” usually follows the look, which is then followed by a little smirk and a few minute overview of how we’re traveling in their country when the weather is at its worst.
“We know, we wanted to come visit earlier this year, but our plans didn’t work out that way.”
If we had a dollar for every time this exchange happened in New Zealand, and now in Australia, we could finance a never-ending around the world trip. When we were in New Zealand and started to get the winter weather response, we gave the full story – how we planned to come in January, but had a chance to volunteer in Cambodia and decided to come in the off-season to save money, blah, blah, blah. Now, we have perfected the one line response and digress no further. If the person we’re talking to is familiar with the U.S., we will tell them we grew up in Chicago so 50 degrees is really not that cold. They still look at us like we are idiots.
And, we probably are. Some days it is unbearable if the rain and wind partner in a way that makes our van jump across the road. I seem to have misplaced my gloves somewhere between Melbourne and Adelaide and taking showers in unheated campground bathrooms can be so miserable that I will go a few days without one (if you know me at all, this is completely against my personal hygiene code). I knew that traveling to other countries would mean showering less than normal, but I never imagined it would happen in other developed countries.
What we have become good at is searching out the sun. iPhone weather apps tell us where the sun may be shining in our general vicinity and we head there. Sometimes it is where we already planned to be, other times it takes us a few hours away, but we are so much happier for it.
We have learned a lot about each other on this trip and continue to fine tune our travel likes and dislikes. Like – being able to have a campfire at Australia holiday parks (take note New Zealand!). Dislike – rain and time away from the outdoors. Our quest for good weather, campfires and beautiful scenery has led us to some of our best travel memories in Australia so far.
A few hours west of Melbourne sits Grampians National Park. The park has rock formations that rise out of nowhere and kangaroos bouncing over open fields and hiking trails. Two days of hiking, a couple of campfires and more roo spotting than we could have ever dreamed of capped off three great days in the Grampians. Tack on a stellar wine tasting at Mount Langi Ghiran winery and we left the area two happy campers.
North of Adelaide and the famous Barossa Valley wine region is the start of the Southern Flinders Range. The southern range gives way to the Australian outback as the road continues north, but short on time and a strong desire not to add on 1,000 kilometers of driving, we settled on a few nights near Mt. Remarkable National Park. Two more days of hiking, a couple more campfires and lots more roo spotting left us giddy as we headed back to civilization and wine tasting in the Barossa.
While we do get the weather comment from many people here, by and large Australians are some of the most genuinely nice people we have met. After hearing our story to continue traveling for the rest of the year, we have been generously offered dessert pancakes from a neighboring camper (they eat pancakes for dessert here – it’s genius!), a kettle full of filtered water to avoid whatever came out of the camp kitchen tap, “mates rates” on buying wine from local wineries and an offer to come to a fellow camper’s house if our travel plans brought us through their town. It’s like Australia has been settled by a bunch of Midwesterners. If it weren’t for them (and our adopted family in Macedon) we would be having far less fun.