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Unforgettable road trip: My big drive from Sydney

This is probably my most challenging adventure on wheels if I may say. My drive from Sydney, though I expect it to be smooth, was very much full of surprises. I already learned to expect the unexpected, but this one’s on a new level. 

“I’ll “recalulate” you!” 

I wanted to shout at the posh voice coming from the GPS stuck on my windscreen.

It was such a bit of a mess, one after another, and I’m going to share with you how my adventure went. I still managed to pull it off and reached my destination. But I did have a hard time getting over my GPS debacle. To note, this was still the infancy of this technology when I used it, as this experience dates back 14 years ago.

My arrival in Sydney

My flight from Auckland to Sydney in the front seat of Qantas (yesss!) was a good one (and not the 7am red-eye either, so I not too bleary for driving). Because of my up-front status, I had an ‘express card’, which meant I slipped through customs and immigration like a fart. So far, so good.

It’s always funny when the arrival doors open, and you are suddenly standing in front of a sea of greeters with signs, and you know no-one is interested in you. It’s times like that I think about running up to someone and giving them a hug. 

Starting my drive

Looking at the greeters were very nostalgic, but with great restraint, I headed to the Avis counter. There, I signed the appropriate docs, got my trusty GPS, and found the sensible 4-door family sedan that was waiting for me.

I was heading north to Port Stephens – about a 2.5-hour drive – and with a little assistance from the nice Avis man, plugged in the first address – Oakvale Wildlife Park at Salt Ash. The weather was cooperating very nicely, and I thought I was going to have a normal drive. 

Read my post on Palm Beach, Sydney, which is an hour away from Sydney Airport.

My GPS debacle

But nothing ever goes according to plan – just ask my family! Unbeknownst to me, the GPS had frozen up, so I tootled merrily (actually looking left and right and left again like that terrible intersection crash ad). 

But with no GPS signal on my entire round of Sydney airport, I pulled in to discuss the matter with the local taxi drivers. 

“Oh, no worries,” they said in thick Indian accents. “It’s always like that here, it’ll come on soon.” 

So off I went. But it, somehow, did little to ease my frustration.

A miniature hula girl placed on the front car near the GPS gadget.
When all else fails trust the hula girl

After driving for a while, the GPS didn’t come at all! I had brought the print-out from Avis with me that said the domestic terminals should be on my left, and they were on my right. 

From there, it told me that I should follow the signs to the Harbour and Tunnels, but I could only see City and Botany. I pulled into a garage to discuss the matter again and beat the GPS senseless

Resetting my GPS

I was going crazy with this gadget and thought of other ways to reach my destination. Driving from Sydney to Oakvale would be difficult with a malfunctioning GPS, so I figured it’s not an option.

Fortunately, an angel disguised as a burly roadside assist man filling his ute up with petrol came to my rescue. He knew how to pop the cover off the posh woman and reset it. He also pointed me towards Botany (that is north, FYI).

I was determined to reach my destination and after a few “recalculatings” due to one-way streets, I was whizzing along like a local. It was officially the start of my big drive from Sydney!

Watch out for tolls

Oh, another Sydney-driving thing to beware of is tolls. I had prepurchased an e-tag which meant I could scream through the e tolls and would be charged later. If not, you would have to pay by phone or sometimes there are toll booths that take cash.

I highly think of this to be a great decision. Imagine what sorts of problems are waiting for me if ever I had to pay by phone or cash.

Arriving at Oakvale Farm

Anyhoo, my posh friend and I soon got along fine. After a few hours of driving from Sydney, and with cruise control at 110 (you’re allowed to go 110 here!), we arrived at Oakvale Farm where joeys in pouches and baby koalas awaited…

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!