We left Sydney in high spirits after exploring its famous shorelines and harbour and began our mammoth road trip up to Cairns. All set in our hire van, excitedly we embarked onto the Australian highway and headed for the Blue Mountains. I was under the impression that Australia is a hot country. Not just warm in some places, but hot all year round, everywhere, every day. Ignorantly believing that it is a red desert island with a perimeter of white sandy beaches and a few rainforests, I would not experience cold temperatures which seemed alien to such a place. On the first night of our coastal road trip we ventured inland to the blue mountains. Naturally, in the middle of winter at the top of one of the country’s tallest mountain ranges, this part of the country was not the idyllic sun laden tropical climate I had hoped for.
Even as we left the city, the heavens opened and down came the heaviest downpour of rain I have experienced on the road. Rain so heavy and pounding that it impaired vision as it hammered the windscreen. Rain so substantial it overwhelmed the wipers and we looked out as if staring at a road system in an aquarium. The lorry ahead could only be spotted by its strong tail lights as it slowed to plough through the thundering drops. Swimming behind it we followed in its wake as we struggled to make out the road’s path. Bani’s driving is terrifying enough in good conditions so in this apocalyptic hail I nervously wished that our destination was close. Rain still beating down we continued our climb to the Blue Mountains. As we soldiered on, pushing through the beating rain it seemed it wouldn’t be too long until we would require paddles to keep moving along the soaked road, but just as I pondered the idea of rafting back down the mountain, we pulled over into a quiet layby not too far from the areas big attractions.
The van we had rented was advertised as a four-berth vehicle, where two occupants slept in the raiseable roof compartment whilst the other two flatten out the back seats for their bed. Being the taller half of the group, moose and I were delegated the ‘penthouse’. After some sausage saarns over a few games of cards, we finally braved the torrent and climbed up to our elevated compartment. Room would be too generous word. The space on the roof of the van was an enclosed sun lounger, just long enough to lie in and only wide enough if we both slept on our sides. Moose was sandwiched in the lower half whilst I was pressed up against the tent-like material on the raised side. As the rain continued to hammer down on the thin sheet separating my face from the outside, I turned to a view of Moose’s feet and drifted off to sleep.
In my slumber I obviously took quite the liking to my roommate’s feet as I woke up embracing them. Backing away in shock, I fell into the soaked side, instigating a waterfall of condensation and rain water to shower me to a chilling wake up. When we hired a van, I pictured waking up to a view of a sunny, sandy beach, rolling out of bed and going for a swim, not being woken up by a wave of rain to the sight of mist and puddles. Of course, sausage saarns were on hand to cheer me up and prepare me for a day of trekking around waterfalls.