Well after listening to all of the very many arguments from people we now consider to be our good friends, about how it would be a crime to humanity if we did not traverse the Western side of Australia I guess something must have sunk in as today we were going to investigate the costs involved in hiring a campervan. I had spent some time crunching numbers and had investigated campervan websites and as we had our mate Sue egging us on, we were in the market for some hot (but comfortable!) and serious (but spacious?) wheels!
There was a bit of a problem though and that was because of the time of year, wheels of any kind were disappearing and disappearing fast too! Also, we soon found out that although many vans were being posted on websites as being ‘available’ this by no means meant that the companies involved actually had any of the vans left! We only found this out though after Sue had driven us into Perth to visit one of these companies. The old lady running the place kept blowing hot and cold about the vans and seemed very vague but in the end she finally admitted that she could not get us anything. So we quizzed her about the Wicked vans we had heard about and she was not very complimentary at all so we decided to try somewhere else and, unfortunately for us that someone else was exactly the other end of the market – Britz vans. Now here at least they had a couple of vans but these were definitely out of our price range – for British readers it was a bit like seeing ‘here’s what you could have won’ on the old Bullseye darts series! Their vans were superb and had all the mod cons but we simply could not afford them.
At this point we decided, what the hell, let’s see what Wicked have to offer, at least we could see the other end of the price spectrum. To be fair when we got there it was not only a vastly different van type but also a very different selling experience as well. An example of this was soon to be viewed at their sales desk where they had loads of photos of happy campers … all in the nude! We found out that having a nude photo taken with your van actually gets you a bit more money off it! The van hiring process also was more akin to haggling but I actually enjoyed it and it seemed to be working. They showed us their older and newer styles of vans and though the old vans claimed to be three stars this only meant that you could see this many stars through the holes in them, so against my wallet’s better judgement we went upmarket.
The older vans were also painted with quite crude jokes on the sides of them whereas ours had Lance Armstrong on one side but Sir Les Dawson on the other and I felt this to be like a message from God, not sure whether it was a God who was in favour of us getting such a van but a message is as a message does, so this was the van for us. We got paid up and had a couple of photos with our wheels so I dropped my trousers and they knocked money off the van simply for me to put them back on and delete the photo! Then we ‘saddled up’ and got behind the wheel and it felt strange but really quite nice after being so long not driving.
However, following Sue back to Freo was quite an unnerving drive and quite difficult too as I was not entirely sure she knew where she was going so you can imagine my surprise (and not a little horror) when she stopped at the cemetery! No worries though because she had only stopped to show us the resting place of Bon Scott, one of my heroes when I was growing up. I have always been an AC/DC fan but it was the records on which he had sung which had really got me rocking and rolling. He was someone who just seemed so very real and it turned out that Sue used to do Bon’s Mum’s hair – claim to fame or what eh! There is also supposed to be a statue to the great man too in Freo so we shall have to see if we can catch a glimpse of this too at some point.
After the poignant stop off we carried on to Sue’s house to prepare the van and I am not really sure what happened in the next few hours as it just seemed to be a flurry of Sue mainly giving us stuff, I am not even sure it was stuff she did not want, Liz was washing the van and then we both went off to go and buy provisions for the van and our Unexpected ‘Sidestep’ to our Adventure!
So it was then that in the evening I plotted our new course and although I am not really sure of the actual distance it looks like we would be undertaking a huge drive round the little island of Oz. I have first planned us to take a wee excursion down South, then if we get on with the van and have everything we need then to pop back to Freo to touch base with our adopted family and then continue to head on up the West coast before then popping across and up again to Darwin, then plunge down towards Uluru to go and see the Rock. Then next up we shall pop across to the East coast towards Cairns and Port Douglas then down the coast to Sydney and then Melbourne before heading across the water to Tasmania. It all seemed simple enough in my simple little mind, well no actually it seemed quite terrifying but in for a penny, in for a pound or Australian dollar eh! Small steps first though and a little test drive down South to see a bit of the scenery there and try out sleeping in our new ‘big rig’ our wicked Wicked van, man!