We said goodbye to our HelpX family and drove to Brisbane airport to catch a flight to Adelaide. We were going to see Nick, our Aussie friend, to celebrate his 30th birthday with him.
We’d just left Little Pocket and got on the motorway when we felt a bump every second or so on the right side of our van. ‘Is that the road?’ Chris asked. No, the road was pretty new and smooth looking. We pulled over on the busy motorway to see a massive bulge on the side of our right rear tyre.
I felt pretty confident though! Thankfully the guy who sold our van included all the tools needed to change a tyre. Plus our spare tyre was a full sized one. So we got to work, putting the wrench under the van and hoisting it up (even though you’re meant to loosen the tyre nuts first) and then tried to get the nuts off.
But they wouldn’t budge… I started googling tips and realised the van shouldn’t be lifted up at this stage, so we tried to get it lowered again, even that took a while to work out. Finally we got it lowered and tried again to turn the nuts with the cross bar spanner we had. We tried everything! Chris was putting all his body weight into turning the spanner until he was red in the face, when that didn’t work, I jumped up and down on the end of the spanner while Chris held it in place, but the nuts wouldn’t budge. And yes, we were definitely turning them the right way!
Time was getting on, Chris was soaked with sweat, and I was getting scared standing so close to the oncoming traffic. Lorries were hurtling past blasting their horns at us. After calling around tyre repair places and getting advice we decided to get back into the van and make our way towards the nearest tyre place, which was still 20kms away. We drove at about 30km/hr along the hard shoulder; I was shitting myself that the tyre would eventually burst!
When we came to a rest area we thought it would be a good idea to pull in and try again in a safer place. Chris started having a go with the spanner again but I’d given up so tried calling road side assistance. The girl on the phone was telling me it would cost about $200 to have someone come out when Chris came over to say a couple had come over to help, thank god!
The couple were in their 60s and on a camping trip in their caravan. They had a whole compartment full of tools and things! The man started spraying the nuts with some kind of rust buster stuff, waited a few minutes, and then got Chris to have another go.
I really thought we weren’t going to get anywhere and then eventually there was a loud screech and the first nut gave way. It seemed to take forever but eventually he got the last 3 unscrewed. By the end he was exhausted and his hands were blistered, poor Chris.
With the spare tyre on, we thanked the couple and continued on our way to Brisbane with no more mishaps.
We arrived in Adelaide to hugs from Jennifer and Ian, Nick’s parents. Nick was at a wedding so they picked us up and drove us back to their home. And there’s no better place to be after spending a few months living out of a campervan, it felt like a 5 star hotel! We had something to eat and a cuppa followed by beer, champagne, and a catch up.
Nick got in later that night and we met his girlfriend Mel. We had a quick chat but everyone was shattered so we just went to bed to rest up before the party.
The next morning everyone was up early and making preparations for the 50 odd people that were arriving later. Jennifer was busy in the kitchen making yummy food, Ian was sorting the alcohol and ice, and Nick was making chocolate brownies. Chris and I helped where we could without getting in the way!
Before I knew it people were starting to arrive and the party was getting going. There was such a mixture of people; Nick’s sisters and other halves, old family friends, new friends, old school friends, friends with babies. And then there was me and Chris, the crazy travelling Irish couple who were living out of a campervan.
Because we spent last Christmas with Nick we’d met quite a few of the people there. Back then we’d only been in Australia a few weeks and everything was just beginning. 11 Months on and a lot of Nick’s more middle aged friends were asking the same questions. “When are you going home? Don’t you miss home? So what will you do for work when you go home?” And then there was Harry, a guy from Northern Ireland who moved out to Aus years ago, who just kept saying, “Yous are mad, I think it’s great what you’re doing, but yous are mad!”
It always makes me smile when people find the idea of travelling long term so foreign. They think it’s crazy, they smile and nod along but you can tell they’re genuinely worried for you. You know they’re really thinking, ‘but what will you do with your life!? You should be at home with a well paid job, a house and getting married!’
As the night went on and copious amounts of alcohol were consumed the party started to get going. A few dodgy dance moves started to come out, especially from Nick and Ian, like father like son. Eventually there were only about 8 of us left and we somehow found ourselves dancing in a circle taking turns to invent new moves, luckily there’s no photos or video of this!
The next day we woke up surprisingly not too hung over and helped with the clean up. After a greasy fry, Chris and I went shopping with Nick and then for a coffee at the Mount Lofty Summit. From here you can see great views across Adelaide.
The next day we said our goodbyes once again to Nick, and Ian dropped us into the city centre. Our flight wasn’t until later that evening so we decided to spend the day in Adelaide. I’d spent a good bit of time in Adelaide already but it had been a while ago and before I’d experienced much else of Australia. One thing that hit me was that Adelaide is different to where I’d just come from in New South Wales. The weather is different, it can be very cool one day but roasting the next, and most definitely the people are different. Hardly anyone wears flip flops, most people are in business suits, and I think anyone walking around a supermarket barefoot would definitely get odd looks. It’s no Byron Bay that’s for sure!
We managed to get ourselves to the airport and catch our flight back to Brisbane. The plan now was to go back on ourselves a bit, to see the famous Gold Coast.