True to our normal way of travel, we had no idea where or how we were going once we left Sydney. When we discovered just how very expensive Australia is we decided to do some planning. Before leaving the US we had reserved a car but could cancel since we didn’t have to pay in advance. We looked again at renting a motor home and decided we didn’t want to go that route at this time. That meant driving the car and staying in motel and hotels. But they are very expensive and we didn’t want to be hauling our luggage in and out of the car and eating all our meals out.
Susan and Alison convinced us that Air BnB was the way to go and once I looked online at the huge number of choices all around Australia we were convinced. The very day before we had to leave our hotel in Sydney I found a nice place to stay in the town of Orange for a few days. However, in order to register as a member of Air BnB I needed a phone with texting capabilities to get a verification code.
We walked to a convenience store and bought a $2 SIM card and $10 worth of time for an old unlocked phone. The store clerk is Jordanian and asked where we were from. I really considered saying Canada but was honest and said the US. Oh boy did he let loose…….not at us, but at our government. He stressed over and over that the people of the US were nice and that he liked us. But then he told me we should really tell people that we were Canadian.
I didn’t put the SIM card in correctly and jammed up the phone. Steve to the rescue got out his little tools and took the phone apart. I had my fingers crossed that he wouldn’t be able to repair it and my wish came true. So we walked to the Vodafone store on George Street and picked out the least expensive prepaid smart phone they had ($63US). We got an honest clerk who was adamant we not buy it because it is a locked phone and would be worthless when we left Australia. She told us to go two doors down to Dick Smith’s electronics store and buy an unlocked phone. Good deal! We bought a Samsung refurbished smart phone for $80US. Then we returned to the Vodafone store for another $2 SIM card and a prepaid plan. Good thing all this happened the way it did because I never would have been able to activate the old phone due to the security measures Australia requires when registering a new phone number. The clerk had to have a lot of personal information and my passport. We bought one GB valid for one month with unlimited phone and text for $27US. The phone can be tethered to the laptop too.
What a lot of work to register with Air BnB but it feels good to know we can communicate at all times. We booked the place in Orange and the next morning got up early and took a taxi a short distance downtown to the Hertz car rental. Now comes the scary part: Driving out of downtown Sydney on the left side of the road in unbelievable traffic with lanes so narrow that busses come over the line.
It took a hair raising hour+ to get to the outskirts of Sydney. We drove through the pretty Blue Mountains but I did not take a single picture because of watching the road and coaching Steve. The hardest part of driving on the left side for Steve is staying centered in the lane but he is getting used to it.
After we dropped down out of the Blue Mountains the landscape changed to pretty rolling green hills.
This is the only picture I took on the drive. Orange is about 170 miles from Sydney and was plenty enough driving for the first day. We almost got into an accident just blocks from our accommodations because of a traffic circle. Most are one lane and and simple to negotiate but when you enter one that has two lanes you are supposed to immediately go to the inside lane unless getting off at the next exit. Steve stayed in the left to go around two exits and someone on the inside thought he was going to turn out and came within inches of plowing into us. Steve immediately exited the roundabout to avoid getting hit.
Home for three days. This is a newish cabin with a little kitchen area, bathroom, breakfast included and unlimited fast internet. When you search for accommodations on Air Bnb you can select whether you just want a room in someone’s house or an entire apartment. A place with kitchen will be in our requirements from here on out, along with the requirement that internet be included. Having a kitchen and not eating out often will be a huge savings.
Next, we went to K-Mart and bought an $8US collapsible cooler to carry in the car with whatever cold items we had to our next place. We had brought an ice pack with us from the US in our luggage and it has been so handy already.