Category Archives: Australia and Oceana

Camper Van Road Tripping in Australia – My Vagabond Dream

A friend asked me recently what I’d like to do for my next adventure.  A whole slew of things crossed my mind – a sailing voyage, a big game photo safari, an Antarctic exploration – but none of those quite hit the mark because the truth is – for my next adventure, I want to have my wife and my little girl with me and neither of them are quite ready for those extremes – and then it hit me.

Australia Surf Adventure

I’d like to get a camper van and explore Australia.  The more I thought of it, the more it sounded like the thing to do. So much so, that I started looking at the options.  In truth, at the moment, we don’t have the option of renting an expensive camper or RV or even of airfare when it comes to it – but that didn’t stop me from finding one of the coolest options available – and I’m going to share it with you, because who knows? Maybe you will make it down under before we do.

A little bit of research turned up oneway campervan relocation  – here’s why I love this – you can get a camper van for almost nothing if you drive it to their destination. In some cases they even provide you with gas money! This is so awesome as to be almost unbelievable, but when I checked it out, it’s totally legitimate. Here is a bit from the website:

Rental companies frequently need to move and relocate campervans around the country. This can be due to seasonal changes or because demand for vehicles is greater in different cities due to festivals, sporting occasions or other events. Rather than pay for a driver to relocate a campervan, rental companies offer them to the travelling public at knock down prices producing the perfect win-win outcome.

Could it possibly get any better? Well, I suppose if they paid for my family’s airfare, took us on a big game photo safari, gave us a sailing adventure to the Antarctic, and fed us – that would be better, but that’s a dream and this thing is a reality. Totally off the hook cool.

camper vanIn continuing with my Vagobond dream, I would want to drive from Sydney to Melbourne to visit our friends who live there, we would of course, have to take a surf trip along the Gold Coast and then – if we wanted to get really crazy – we would somehow find a way to get a campervan in Tazmania – I’m told the Tazzies are odd, so we would fit right in.

sailing in australia

Alright, now I’ve got to figure out how to get us to Australia….

What’s your vagabond dream?

Discovering Tahiti Part III

Here is the final installment of our trip to Tahiti….
Punatea Village

On our second to last day in Tahiti, we flew back to Papeete where we rented a car and drove south on Tahiti Nui. Tahiti is beautiful and surprisingly undeveloped, this is especially true when you compare it to the tourist infrastructure that exists on Oahu.

bounty tahitiWe visited Point Venus where Captain Bligh, Fletcher Christian, and The Bounty first visited this idyllic land. Driving further south we were surprised by the lack of signage for what in Hawai’i would have been major tourist stops.

Papeete TahitiAs a result, we missed the leper colony and decided we would rather continue driving than stop at the Nordhoff and Hall museum. We stopped and made sandwiches while watching local kids catch waves and then continued South to Teaheapoo, Tahiti’s most famous surf town. We thought we had lucked out when we found a small cottage for rent next to a scenic pier. We went to get groceries and when we returned found that the manager had made a mistake and already rented it to someone else before we had arrived. He arranged for us to stay at Punatea Village on the East shore of Tahiti Iti. The smaller islet connected to Tahiti Nui by a narrow isthmus of land. We arrived a Punatea shortly before sunset and enjoyed an ice cold Hinano on the porch of a modest bungalow room. For the first time since we had arrived, it rained. It had, we later found out, been raining in Hawai’i the entire time we had been gone.

the good life in Tahiti

After a restful nights sleep, we ate a decent breakfast and decided to continue our circuit of Tahiti. The rain of the night before had created incredible waterfalls that seemed to fall into the midst of simple villages. The rainbows that burst from the sides of steep pali seemed to clothe crumbling huts in vivid pastel colors. Needless to say, we were entranced. I think we both felt that we had never been anywhere quite so beautiful as Tahiti Iti after a night of pouring rain.

The rest of our circuit was a mad dash to see what little roadside attractions exist in Tahiti. The Gauguin Museum was difficult to find as graffiti had completely obfuscated the sign pointing to it. No one had bothered to repair it. The dismal Lagoonarium connected to Captain Bligh’s restaurant smelled of stale urine and was made of hopeful 1970’s plaster of paris ferro concrete and dirty sand. It was a bit like visiting one of those horrible zoos that you find in third world countries. Tahiti’s best value, or maybe not.

church in TahitiThe Museum of Tahiti and her Islands had also seemingly been constructed in a wave of tourist optimism combined with French nuclear guilt in the 1970’s and then abandoned. The strangest part of all these ‘tourist attractions’ was that we seemed to be the only tourists to visit them. They were more vacant than the eyes of a junkie. Keep in mind, while these were somewhat dismal attractions, they were the ONLY attractions, per se. So it was quite a surprise to find no one but us willing to visit them.

Along the road we stopped for Chaud Mace (boiled chestnuts), rambutans, and pickled mango (we think). We opted to not buy any of the tons of fish which vendors lazily hawked to passersby. Our trip ended with a lovely dinner at the International Resort and some surreptitious views of the Captain Bligh Musical Review that was being performed there. We were fortunate enough to be able to catch the accidental sinking of the canoes that came out to welcome The Bounty. I’m guessing the ancient Tahitians were better seamen.

Discovering Tahiti part II

During our stay at Pension Vaihonu, we took a tour of Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti. It is worthwhile to note that Huahine means variously ‘pregnant woman’ and ‘penis woman’ from the Tahitian words Hua (penis) and (wa)hine (woman). You can see the reason for this in these pictures. First a pregnant woman lying down (head to the left) and then the hua that got her pregnant (head at the top)

On the tour we learned about one of Huahine’s major exports, Vanilla. I had no idea how complex the growing, propagation, and preperation of it was. On the flight back to Hawaii there was an excellent article about it in Hawaiian Airlines in flight magazine Hana Hou.
fishponds in Tahiti
Also on the tour we visited some still in use ancient fish traps, a stream filled with sacred blue eyed eels that the locals say purify the water so that it is fresh and clean. A local girl and her dogs volunteered to get in the water and played with the eels while we were there.

Huahine in beautiful and not really developed. We were staying close to the village of Fare and used bicycles to get back and forth from there to Chez Vaihonu. In Fare we used the internet one day and noticed that the locals like to hang out on the balconey and watch the peole go by. We joined them. There were several excellent food trucks in Fare and we enjoyed crepes and the favorite local dish Poisson Croux, a delicious marinated fish. One evening we met a couple of local guys and sat with them in the bar where they both broke into tears while telling us about their relative who had joined the US Marines and gone to Iraq.

Flowers in TahitiStrange to see grown men weeping. Mink gave one of them a kleenex and he wasn’t sure what to do with it for a while. The older of the two men lives on an unclaimed sandbar between Huahine Iti and Huahine Nui. They were friendly, if somewhat too exuberant and effusive. After three nights near Fare we woved to Huahine It is for our final night in Huahine at Pension Mauarii .

This was a wonderful little oasis filled with hibiscus flowers, gardens, a great restaurant (complete with huas on the bannister) and kayaks. We kayaked in the beautiful bay, had a delicious meal, and slept in a huge bed under a very nice mosquito net.
more to come…