When I first mentioned it to people, they looked at me like I was mad. Actually, people looked at me like that when I was actually doing it too, alongside a look of bemused admiration.
From January to August of 2019, I lived on the tiny island of Gili Trawangan. If you look it up, it looks like a tiny slice of Indonesian paradise – glittering turquoise ocean, white sandy beaches and no motorised transport. I can’t deny it was every bit as beautiful as it looked. But by the end of my 6 month stint trapped on an island that measures 7km around the coastline, I was feeling like a bird in a cage. I was literally having dreams about driving down an empty highway, heading into the horizon.
A serendipitous conversation with a guy at the dive shop gave me an idea. He had been intermittently driving around the coast of Australia for around 18 months and was only half way across, but he assured me it was definitely possible to do it far quicker than that.
Perhaps it seems insane, but I was headed for Sydney in the September of 2019 and had yet to decide on what to do whilst in the land down under. I had some friends in Perth and this idea combined the only two concretes about Australia I had in my head – why not drive between them?
The idea immediately appealed to me for a number of reasons. I like driving and the sense of freedom it brings and, at this moment, I was desperately longing for that feeling. The second is that, as a natural introvert, the hard partying and social lifestyle of Gili was starting to take its toll on my emotional wellbeing and some seclusion sounded ideal. To me, it also felt like the ultimate exploration – actually driving across a continent, alone – whilst retaining the security of an English speaking country where I knew a few people.
Though this plan consumed my brain almost immediately, I spent a good few weeks thinking it over and reading everything I could about the mammoth 4000km drive from Sydney to Perth. When I confided my idea to people, they sat in two very distinct camps: “Oh my god that sounds amazing!” and “Why on earth would you do that?!”. Fortunately, it was the severely negative reaction of the second group which made me positive that it was what I wanted to do.
As a dedicated lifelong planner, I decided to play this one a little different. When I landed in Sydney on the 11th of September, jetlagged and cold, I had a hostel booked for 4 nights and a slight leaving Sydney in 6 weeks time. Nothing else, no car, nothing. Perhaps ill-advised but hey, what’s the worst that can happen…?
End of Part 1.