Victoria To Queensland, Australia – 2018

2004 VW Golf R32

Technically this road trip started in Sydney, New South Wales when I bought the car. The intention was always to go from Melbourne as far north as I can before I get sick of it or some other reason. Only 200 of the 2004 VW Golf R32 models were imported into Australia so not a lot for sale at any one time. Missed one in Melbourne by a week so I ended up getting one that was for sale in Sydney. I wasn’t only looking at these cars and very open minded about what to get as long as it was fun, rear wheel or all wheel drive, manual transmission and not a four door, unless a wagon.

I have to register it in Victoria so that necessitated a drive back to Melbourne. Before that though, a quick trip out to Bathurst and a couple of laps around Mount Panorama. If you are not familiar with that name, this page about the Bathurst 1000 might help.

After that it was a drive down the Hume Highway from Sydney to Melbourne. As usual, I bought a car 1000km from home. Or technically my ‘Australian’ home. Roadworthy completed for minimal cost. The dark window tint had to be removed as the legal minimum amount of light to let through is 35% and the light meter showed 11%…

While waiting for the appointment with Vic Roads I have made a couple of short trips. One down the Great Ocean Road to Lorne and the other down the Mornington Peninsula to Portsea.

I left Melbourne with the intention of driving east until I hit the Pacific Ocean. Of course it’s slightly south to go by road and the first couple of nights were spent in Lakes Entrance. It’s only a few hours from Melbourne. I lived in Melbourne for about 16 years and never went there. I tried to hug the coast and saw plenty of remote places. Australia has so many beaches that you often go to one and don’t see any other people, or if you do, it’s not many.

Planning is only a day or two in advance and I debated whether to stay in Mallacoota. In the end I went a bit further up the road to Eden. The drive from Mallacoota was interesting. It was very hot and the outside temperature was showing as 38 degrees celsius (100 fahrenheit). There’s a good twisty road going in and out and on the way out, all of a sudden a bunch of warning lights appeared. Never a good sign when the brake and ABS lights are flashing. I bit of research showed maybe not as bad as expected. Lifting the bonnet showed a melted fuse box on top of the battery. Not an uncommon thing for VW models of the same age, not just a 2004 VW Golf R32!

Progress was sort of slowed by this problem as I was a bit hesitant to drive too much until I had researched a bit more. An out of control fire that evacuated the town of Tathra also slowed things down and I spent a couple of nights in Merimbula. All seemed fine, the lights went away and I made more progress north through the New South Wales central coast.

In Sydney I spoke with a VW specialist and they recommended replacing the harness between the battery fuse panel and the alternator. Ten day wait so I decided to order one online and have it shipped to a friend and I would then make arrangements depending on where I was when it arrived.

A few days in Sydney over Easter and I was ready to leave the big city life. Having been to Terrigal before I wanted to visit again. A nice beach side town that can get busy at times and you just have to pick the right time.

Planned to catch up with a mate in Newcastle and he decided to have a minor stroke a day before my arrival. He’s fine. I poked around there for a day and walked a heap down near Merewether and then the downtown area.

More beaches on the way to the two towns of Forster and Tuncurry. After a few one night visits I stayed here for a couple. Too many one nighters and it gets tiring. It’s just difficult sometimes to pick the places that are worth staying at for more than one night. It was only a short drive up to the next overnight stay at South West Rocks. There’s a few places up the coast where it’s a bit of a north facing bay and so, a bit protected. Perhaps the most famous being Byron Bay.

I’ve been staying at mostly local hotels/motels rather than the more well known chains and the next stop was a bit different. Decided to brave a cabin in a caravan park at Nambucca Heads. I’ve driven past here so many times and never called in so this time I wanted to look around. Turned out to be a good choice. Except for the hill over to the beach that added a bit of effort to my morning run. Luckily the swim made it worth while.

Next up I decided to blow the budget and spend a couple of nights in Byron Bay. Another place I have bypassed on every other trip. Knew it was going to be a love/hate place because of the reputation. I did find a few too many alternative types. Actually I felt many were just pretending. The same kind of vibe I get at Asheville, North Carolina in the USA. Overall though I enjoyed the visit. Fantastic beach to run/walk and plenty of people out and about. Don’t eat in the restaurants, grab some takeaway and go and sit on the foreshore. It’s a nice raised area looking out over the beach and water. If you want gluten free, artisanal, farm to table, single source food then Byron Bay is the place…

Like some of the other trips I’ve done, after a while I want to just stay in one place for a while. The call went out and once again I stayed at a great holiday home owned by a friend’s parents in Broadbeach on the Gold coast. Caught up on a lot of work and gave the free internet at Pacific Fair a good workout. Fast, reliable and free is perfect. I stayed here for five weeks and also managed to get the part fixed on the car.

By this time I was thinking I might split the trip into two. It depended on finding a place to store the car for a few months. The planets aligned and another mate on the Sunshine Coast offered to look after it for me. That worked out perfectly because Mooloolaba was the first place I stayed when I started this long term travel thing back in May 2009. I stayed here for a month. Did a heap of work and tried to get the eating and fitness back on track as I was only a couple of minutes from the beach. Run and swim each morning and walking in the later afternoon. Exactly what I needed.

So the trip finished in mid June and I made a quick visit back to family in Tasmania and friends in Melbourne. Then it was back to South Florida to start the next trip. Well actually, I had no idea what I was going to do and depended on the progress on the Porsche 993. On to the next chapter.

The second leg of my Australian trip will happen in early 2019 and the intention is to still go as far north as Port Douglas.

UPDATE – For once my plans did work out and you can read about my road trip from Southeast Queensland to Far North Queensland in a VW Golf R32.