There’s No Place Like Oz For The Holidays

There's No Place Like Oz For The Holidays campsite-with-caravans-morning-light-hyden-western-australia

The Stop, Book and Go sale is on! As 2017 comes to a close, there’s no better way to celebrate the end of the year than with one last great adventure. What? Nobody ever said the best decisions couldn’t be last-minute ones. Book by December 31 and get up to 30% off select tours departing by January 31.

The idea of making it to Australia before turning 30 always seemed like an impossible dream. The costs associated with the long-haul flight from Canada and the unfavorable currency exchange rates made it appear out of reach. However, my dad had a brilliant suggestion: instead of the usual Christmas gift exchange, we should pool that money and embark on the ultimate Australian adventure.

Those four weeks would provide an uninterrupted stretch of quality time with my family – the longest we had spent together in over a decade. It was an exciting prospect, but also filled with questions. Would we all get along? Could we survive the challenges of a month-long trip as a family? And, perhaps most pressingly, would we survive encounters with Australia’s notorious deadly creatures? After all, the country is home to numerous hyper-deadly animals, including a sea snail with venom so potent it can claim a life within minutes.

However, as soon as we landed in Sydney, our fears began to dissipate. The city greeted us with its breathtaking beauty – a harmonious blend of contemporary and Victorian architecture set against a backdrop of lush, subtropical scenery.

Manly Beach Harbour in Sydney.
Manly Beach Harbour in Sydney.

Despite my initial concerns about potential family conflicts (mainly due to my own hot-headed nature), there was only one instance where tempers flared: on Christmas Day.

On December 24th, we embarked on an epic three-day road trip, exploring the southernmost reaches of Australia. As Christmas morning dawned, we set off on the second leg of our Great Ocean Road adventure, journeying from Melbourne to Adelaide, with plenty of sightseeing opportunities along the way.

Driving through the fragrant eucalyptus forests and along the breathtaking coastal highway that hugged the cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean had been an absolute delight. The first day had been filled with kangaroo encounters and beach explorations, setting the stage for an incredible journey. However, the harmonious rhythm came to an abrupt halt on Christmas Day itself.

Nothing like a sandy beach on December 25.
Nothing like a sandy beach on December 25.

Also read: How To Travel Australia On A Budget

With the hotel kitchen closed that morning, we hit the highway in search of a roadside meal. After hours of driving through remote Australian countryside, we hadn’t come across a single open gas station, let alone a place to grab food. The two clementines we had rationed were long gone, and everyone in the car sat in solemn silence, battling hunger-induced irritability.

Finally, we arrived at our campsite in Robe, only to find no staff present and not even a vending machine in sight. All we had was an envelope containing camper keys with our last name on it.

Despite being described as a coastal fishing town with a population of 1,246, Robe was a deserted ghost town on Christmas Day. We couldn’t find a single soul to direct us to a warm meal. After wandering aimlessly for over an hour, we pounced on the first local we spotted, hoping for a glimmer of hope. They vaguely pointed us in the direction of a Malaysian restaurant, its name escaping their memory.

Arriving at Don’s Kitchen, our hearts sank. The posted opening hours on the locked door indicated a 4:00 p.m. opening time, while our watches read 4:45 p.m. Faced with the reality of going to bed hungry on Christmas Day, my mom tried to inject some optimism, proclaiming that we would have a grand breakfast the next day.

Just as we were about to accept our fate, an elderly lady emerged from the back of the shop and called out to us, “Come back, fifteen minutes!” It suddenly dawned on us that we had driven through a time change, and it was actually 3:45 p.m.!

With a stack of takeout boxes from Don’s Kitchen in hand, our group made their way to the beach, ready to feast on a Christmas dinner of laksa and char kway teow. As my dad, chopsticks in hand, was about to sit down and savor his meal, I gave him a nudge, almost sending his food tumbling into the sand.

There was no yelling, just surprise, as a skink (a snake-like lizard) swiftly scurried away, disappearing into the rocks. While I had been the one fretting about snakes throughout the trip, it was my dad who nearly had a close encounter. For the first time in hours, all four of us erupted in laughter, finding humor in the unexpected skink encounter. We quickly found a spot without any skinks and settled down to enjoy our Malaysian feast.

To this day, my dad playfully compares every Christmas turkey to the unforgettable flavors of Don’s Kitchen, delivering his dad joke verdict with utmost seriousness. “Well, it’s good, but not quite as good as Don’s.”

Also read: 26 Reasons You Should Take A Year Off And Travel To Australia!

Getting there

Thinking of booking a trip this holiday season? Get up to 30% off select tours with our Stop, Book and Go sale. But hurry! The sale ends on December 31.

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1 thoughts on “There’s No Place Like Oz For The Holidays

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