During my Phillip Island trip, my car started to make a new sound, which was quite unusual. I thought that the new timing belt was stretching out and making the sound, but over the next several days, it progressively got worse. I began to cringe at my car’s pain every time that I started the engine. I had already given my notice at work and I was set to leave in one week. I decided to have a mechanic take a look before driving up the coast.
After a 10 minute inspection, I got the bad news - it turned out that the mechanic that did my timing belt did the worst possible job. Nothing was lined up right, bolts were missing, and things were zip-tied. I had no option, but to open everything up and see what the damage was. The next day, I received a call from the new mechanic, Anthony. He asked me to stop by after work. The bad news turned into even worse news. It looked like someone took a hammer to several parts, leaving the car in an extremely unroadworthy condition.
I was already determined to leave Melbourne, so I decided to pay whatever it costed to fix my car. We needed to order several parts from all around Australia, which would take a few days to receive.
While I waited for things to finish up, I finished my last day at work. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone that I had met and all the good food, but I definitely was ready to leave the bitter cold of Melbourne. I also found a travel mate who wanted to go from Melbourne north to Coffs Harbour or Byron Bay.
For the next week, I had nothing to do but wait and stay warm. One week felt like a month. Cold rain and cloudy days took all my motivation for doing anything with my last few days. My travel mate, Hailey, and I spent several days talking and shopping for random necessities.
Somehow one of the parts got lost in transit, so 3 days turned into a week and a half. We were both anxious to leave, but had no other option but to wait. Then, Hailey met a German girl who was planning on doing the Great Ocean Road with another German guy. The Great Ocean Road is supposedly one of the most beautiful drives in Australia and is a “must do”. They invited us to join their 3 day road trip. We had nothing better to do, so we said yes!
Both of the Germans were interested in photography and wanted to take their time exploring the coast. Since I am also interested in a slower pace with an emphasis on photography, I thought it was an optimum situation. Another benefit was that I didn’t have to make any decisions. Hailey and I simply said yes to everything and went with the flow.
Even though it was almost 3 weeks after I had originally wanted to leave Melbourne, I was stoked to have the opportunity to do the Great Ocean Road. For the most part, the weather was nice and the drive was slow, but absolutely stunning! Similar to Highway 1 in California.
Hailey and I were not too keen on spending money on hostels, so we opted to sleep in the car. The first night we paid a few dollars to use the facilities of the hostel that the Germans were staying at and to safely park the car in their parking lot. It was a long and uncomfortable night’s sleep in the passenger seat, but not as bad as I had thought.
The second night started to pose more of a challenge. Hostels and motels were either too expensive or did not have any vacancies. On our 4th stop, I opted to go into the reception and see what I could get. After a quick conversation with the owner, I got $5 off for each of the Germans, which was about the same price as a 10 person dorm bed. I also got him to let Hailey and I sleep in the parking lot. It was a small victory for a budget traveler.
Leaving for the adventure
My car was finished during our little excursion. I didn’t have enough time to pick it up when we got back to Melbourne, so I picked it up early the next morning. The first couple hours of the day involved packing everything that I have in the back, picking up Hailey and last minute shopping. Then we hit the road north. I did not bother to do any research on where we were going to camp or drive to on that first day. I only had one thing on my mind, “Get out of Melbourne!” and so the next adventure began.