|Bark photographed at the rest area before we left|
We arrived in Melbourne in good time to return the campervan. Melbourne is a massive contrast to the environmnet we have travelled. Huge roads, multiple lanes, crossing the Yarra river. It was just like crossing the Thames on the QE2 bridge! We had written detailed instructions on how to find the Travellers Autobarn garage, and our hotel, and found them quite easily, with only one minor detour. However we had not been told by the Perth branch that we needed to return the van clean. Water restrictions in Melbourne mean businesses are strictly limited to how much water they can use, so Travellers Autobarn make it the customer's responsibility to return the van clean. We had a short trip to the carwash to clean off the dead insects so we could return the van in pristine condition.
We listened to a very interesting conversation in Travellers Autobarn. We were able to use the campervan free, because we were returning it from a one-way hire to its origin. Travellers Autobarn were not openly promoting this option. A customer was trying to work out whether he wanted to hire a station wagon (estate car for the British!), or a campervan. Prices varied from $49-$89 per day. Alternatively the dealer suggested the customer buy a vehicle, up to $10,000, and then sell it back once they had done their road trip. If you include fuel and living costs, this makes it a very expensive option.
So, for anyone reading this blog, who is considering a road trip and is flexible about where they want to go and when, try the Transfercar website. You can have a roadtrip where you don't pay for vehicle hire. Transfercar links a variety of businesses/individuals to people who want to drive long distances. You normally get the use of the vehicle, insurance for one driver, and the first tank of fuel free, but pay for all other expenses. With Jim driving, he thinks it cost us $360 in fuel and oil to cross from Perth to Melbourne. We stocked the van with food before we left, and bought very little on the crossing. We had no accommodation costs because we always chose campsites that were free. Jim worked extremely hard for 6 days, driving an average of 8-9 hours per day. I was chief cook.
Once in Melbourne, and settled at our hotel, we had a walk around the area. We are in North Melbourne, which appears to be a Victorian area, with lots of arty types and young professionals living here. There appears to be a thriving art scene and lots of museums in Melbourne. I have good plans for what to do for the next 3 days. Jim says we can extend our stay here if I find more things to look at. The original plan was to see how soon we could get another vehicle on Transfercar and head to Brisbane, but as Jim sagely observed, we have travelled the east coast of Australia a couple of years ago, and the further north we go, the hotter it will get. If I'm intellectually stimulated here, we may stay another few days.
Distance travelled - 400 k