Finding my way to paradise

The instructions from my host to her Airbnb stay were not very specific. A hand drawn map with images of alpacas and roos by the side of curved roads gave hints at a rural location and her artistic streak, but little else. The GPS on my rental car had given up miles ago and I was now going by misguided instinct and some vague instructions from a sheep farmer down the road.

Friends in Budgeree
These alpacas adopted a goat as part of their blended family. © Melissa M. Hamel

Up a dusty hill and down another with vistas of rolling farmland and pasture passed by my window when suddenly a blur of dark grey appeared in my peripheral vision. My first wallaby! There on the side of the road, slowly hoping down the embankment. And then another. I was spellbound and drifted mindlessly into the middle of the dirt road when suddenly from around the corner came a massive logging truck, fully loaded, and heading right at me. His horn blared and I moved to the left, attempting to give him a wide birth and almost driving into the steep ditch where presumably, more wallabies sat snickering at the novice move.

After catching my breath, I continued up the road, sun beginning to set along the ridge of blue tinted mountains in the distance. The road winds and twists and ends at a pasture. To the left are horses and alpacas, to the right nothing but a purely magical landscape.   There is also a small house with a 1950’s camper parking in front. The yard is an artist’s paradise with sculpture, painted furniture, and projects half completed. This is also a working farm with an assortment of livestock happily milling about.

The sun sets in Budgeree, Australia. © Melissa M. Hamel

My host for the evening is Samantha, an artist, who along with her partner Eric, have refurbished antique camper vans and parked them in various locations around their property as snug, classic accommodations.   Sam meets me at the door and shows me down a steep path to my home for the night. I pass a club house/shed with a small open kitchen and fire pit ready for a “barbie.”  (Now I’m wishing I had brought some shrimp.)

My camper is a bright orange and white classic with private deck and lawn chairs in which to watch the setting sun. Inside every small detail is perfectly curated with vintage hand towels, crocheted throws and magazines and books from days before color television. I am entranced.

The interior of my vintage camper van. Budgeree, Australia. © Melissa M. Hamel

I pop open one of the two beers I had stowed away in my backpack and ease myself into a lounge chair to watch the sunset and the moonrise. Stars emerge slowly as the blazing sun sinks. The kookaburras are quiet now and one lone horse is silhouetted against the sky as she lumbers home after a day of grazing. I feel connected and just as relieved to find myself home for the night in paradise. Tomorrow I’ll wake to see wallabies once again hopping in the valley below and a koala bear munching eucalyptus leaves in the tree near my camper. I wish I could stay longer but the road is calling and in Australia, distances are longer than you can imagine. So, after a quick cup of tea, it’s off once again.

Sunrise in Budgeree, Australia
Sunrise in Budgeree, Australia. © Melissa M. Hamel

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