soul searching road trip oznz – day 1 (06/06/2010)

it’s long overdue but….

the night before, when we arrived on our air asia x flight d72722 from kl to melbourne, we didn’t book any accommodation. the plane touched down at 11:30 pm local time and the temp was 6°c. the terminal at tullamarine airport was already empty, zack, alif, yomi, aina and ija were already bunking at the airport’s prayer room with 3 other malaysian students and i felt a bit awkward to hang out with them so i tried to sleep on one of the metal benches and it turned out very badly as i was shivering with cold. so i ended up walking alone through the night towards formula 1 hotel, about 1 km from the airport to try to get some good rates on a room to spend the night although it was already 1:30 am. while walking in the dark, i got the strange feeling of not feeling safe when i realised that i forgot to pass the bulk of our aud and nzd cash to zack for safekeeping and i had to give up and return to the airport lounge, exploring every inch of the airport instead until the sun rose. now that i think of it, i’m now a tullamarine expert, yea me! that was the first mistake of only two we had on the whole journey. from that day on, it kept getting better and better until the final day, 17 days later at….you name it, tullamarine airport again!

the morning of day 1, with temperature closed to freezing point, we had our breakfast at villa & hut, we ate sandwiches and drank coffees, and by 8:00 am, we walked across the road from the terminal building towards a row of car rental offices. avis was the first one and it was also our rental car of choice. we were duly instructed to wait for our car at the covered parking lot at the back of the office and after 10 minutes, we were presented with the key to our 8-seater hyundai imax (or starex here in malaysia). since there were only 6 of us, the space was what they really needed after being cramped inside the prayer room the night before. me, i was just a bit sleepy and when i asked the avis guy if he had any roadmap of victoria or even australia map, he said that i should’ve requested those maps at the counter of the office beforehand. since i’ve already studied the roads to our destination (through google map of course), i passed the idea of walking and returning to the counter and reluctantly drove through.

without using any gadgets or gps, the thrill and satisfaction of getting to your destination were tenfold. from the airport, i knew that the road will lead to tullamarine freeway which linked the airport to melbourne cbd. i also knew that i must exit the the freeway after 2-4 km and get on the western ring road eastbound before hopping into hume freeway northbound. that’s what i did and it went perfectly smooth, so smooth that all my passengers were sleeping soon after and i was overjoyed at watching their tired but happy faces. in the hectic and tired condition i was in, i totally forgot to snap any pictures.

while cruising along hume freeway with the average speed of 90 km/h, overcast weather, raining and cold, and slightly sad thinking about the weather, thinking about bad photos if it’s cloudy, all other vehicles were overtaking our car but i wasn’t sure of the speed limit. once i saw the road sign informing the limit at 100 km/h, then i was confident enough to step on the pedal. our first rest stop was a service area somewhere along the freeway, just before the seymour exit, where there was a mcdonald’s outlet and i requested zack to get me a fillet and fries. she went inside with ija and aina while i looked after the still sleeping kids and smoked on the pavement.

▼ the sleeping kids at the first rest stop

they did get me fries but no fillet, since it was still early morning and zack also got me an isotonic drink. we continued our journey and soon after that, i can see the sky was clearing right in front of us, i woke them up and they were excited too of the things to come and when we drove passed that formation of clouds, the sky was totally blue, as blue as i’ve ever seen, as if the heaven above us heeded our silent prayer, my cup of tea!

soon i stopped into another rest stop, grass tree rest area, where i relieved myself in the not quite maintained toilet. there i brought out my dslr and let alif, zack and ija posed in front of the foreign trees and surroundings. yomi was still sleeping. later we stopped at another rest stop, near lake mokoan where the eucalyptus trees were everywhere and the leaves gave a nice reflection under the sunlight. there was some family of arab descendants having a barbeque there which i thought quite odd and dangerous given its dry climate. we then left and after driving for 200 km, we exited hume freeway near wangaratta (birthplace of nick cave!) and proceeded to drive along the great alpine road.

▼ alif and zack at grass tree rest area

◄ zack with our rented imax

▲▼ mokoan rest area

when the road veered off the freeway and running towards south east, we were entering the alpine national park, with grazing lands, farmlands and lots of cattles. there were many stretches that were so beautiful that we had to stop to take some pictures. although it was officially winter in australia, some of the trees were still giving its autumn foliage with red and yellow leaves and when we reached myrtleford, we had to stop as the scenery was truly breathtaking!

▲ having a break on the great alpine road
▼ on a footbridge across barwidgee creek, myrtleford
▼ under the maple tree at rotary park, myrtleford

after aina voiced out that she was hungry and we realised that it’s already 2:00 pm, we rushed to our destination (within the speed limit) and arrived at bright around 2:45 pm and was surprised that the town was almost empty! we gorged some extra nice fish and chips and strolled around mafeking square and the war memorial. the townspeople seemed to hide themselves from us to give us the peaceful moment to enjoy the place. zack bought snow caps for alif and yomi, wool socks for me and a 2 dollars poncho for her.
later we decided to walk from the town centre to a park along ovens river where the kids played at the wooden playground.

▲▲ ovens river and war memorial
◄ war memorial, mafeking square
▼ shivering while having fish and chips

▲▼▼ along ireland street, bright

▼ zack and alif at mafeking square, bright

◄ yomi at the war memorial

▲ resting next to ovens river
▼ at the lions club park, bright

▼ walking back to town centre

it was almost dark around 4:00 pm when we travelled back to our parked car in the town centre and got some supplies for dinner. we drove through the quiet town (it was a sunday), lost our way a few times and eventually found pine valley tourist park, churchill avenue where our cabin was. we got the cabin key and parked our car next to it. the cabin was modest, with a master bedroom, 3 tier bunk beds and a sofa bed in the lounge, a kitchen and a toilet. i took a bath, had dinner of bread (i think), and watched some doctor who confidentials on the tv. aina and ija went to the wifi area near the laundry section of the compound but they returned as it was too cold for them. it was 4°c. aina took the top bunk, ija took the middle one, our luggages on the bottom bunk, zack, alif and yomi on the sofa bed. i lied on the queen size bed.

that was the first full day of our 17 day trip. after driving more than 310 km, and more than 34 hours of being awake, i finally slept.

next» soul searching road trip oznz – day 2 (07/06/2010)

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