Rose Week/Thorn Week: First Solo Road Trip to La La Land

 “That's why I love road trips, dude. It's like doing something without actually doing anything.”

― John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

For a person like me who actually uses excel sheet to plan a detailed itinerary whenever I travel, this non-itinerary first-time solo road trip was something uncharacteristic of me. I decided to leave Brisbane city as early as 6am to embark on the 180-km road trip to Mount Burrell. Mount Burrell is a town and a mountain in the Nightcap Range that is located in the Tweed Shire in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. The duration of the journey on google maps showed 2hr 10mins. I took that figure, re-adjusted according to my cautious slow driving speed, measured possible stops required based on my body condition and concluded that I would be taking atleast 4 hours.

Road trip in reality isn’t like what they show in most of the movies, where you start partying in the car the moment you are inside and that the breath-taking scenic views begin right away. I spent the first 45minutes of the journey on the wide and boring 5-lane highway. After a brief stop in Tweed Heads West, the real filmy fun began when the highway ended and the roads to La La land welcomed me with open arms. 

The roads in the remote forest area that looked like a strip of black velvet ribbon were complimenting AR Rahman’s Roja songs that I was listening to in the car. The first random stop was at Murwillumbah farmers’ market as I injected my body with more latte for I needed to stay awake for the rest of the journey. A man-made toilet stop was compulsory. 

Another 45-minute drive on the non-stop winding roads made me realise the best way not to fall asleep was to sing along. What doesn’t kill you, makes you strong. But killing the songs in my way, made me stronger. My pitch, tone and everything else associated with singing were so threateningly horrendous that it was a necessary distraction that was close to the decibels of vacuuming and drilling noise, and that kept me going without me falling asleep. I have yet to solve the mystery of where exactly the schools were located because I saw too many school zone go-slow boards and signs in the remote forest. If only schools were such back home, I could totally imagine myself being part of ‘after-school-forest-patrolling’ committee.

After driving along the river site that flowed like an artery of blessed water, I reached a very small town, Uki, for lunch. Next, the journey continued on to my favourite part of the trip-  A 24ft luxury Jayco Caravan accommodation on a 6-acre land at Mount Burrell for the night. 


The nirvana quiet mountains festooned in clouds embraced me with its beauty and serenity. The Airbnb accommodation was well-maintained and run by Jenny and Dave, one of the sweetest and friendliest couples I’ve met. Dave introduced himself and did a mini tour on this cutely magnificent caravan that was more like a 5-star hotel accommodation. His wife Jenny after work, dropped by to greet me and ensured that I was comfortable.

Having to strictly follow the scheduled 400 touristy activities each day during trips in group tours and religiously ticking off the must-see- (don't know for who) list at every museum, monuments, cathedrals, factory outlet was one phase of my travelling history. That was how I thought we were suppose to travel. There were always these constant reminders in our minds- hey must do this. Hey must do that. Hey go see this place. Must take pictures. Why you wasting time sitting down? You came all the way here to do this only ah? A month later, the visit would be reduced to a vague impression of ornate tombs and marble floors. Not that I regretted visiting those places, however I wish I had travelled differently to those places. 

Right now, my travelling ways are having a middle-aged crisis.  I'm not finding a remedy in bungy-jumping and museums, however. Just the opposite: I just find myself slowing down.  So this trip was all about me spending time doing absolutely nothing.

I sat by the riverside near a caravan park. I observed the friendly lady at the Uki town café cheerfully narrating how she survived the night with 2 screaming sick babies. I slept on the colourful hammock in the afternoon, looking at the spectacular mountains, enjoying the lullaby the nature and the momentum of the swinging-hammock sang just for me. I penned a few story ideas. I walked around the mountainous area that barely had 2 neighbours. I was amazed by this charming multi-colour painted house. At this age, few simple things are entertaining and enriching than waiting for an hour at the universal studios. What truly makes you happy, is something that only you know best for yourself. The best part about solo travelling is that it gives one so much of space and unlimited time to find that inner happiness.

The sun set at 5.30pm and I wanted to check out the only café in the vicinity. Unfortunately, it was closed for the day and I wished I had checked the opening hours info in google. But then, it was yet again another realisation that there wasn’t a need to know that as I could always go to the café the next day. The other valuable lesson I learnt in this trip was not to consume too much information. In this day and age, we are being fed with the constant greed and need to know every single thing. Perhaps taking life as it comes may actually create more fun in life. Since I have packed some biscuits and Jenny offered me to cook dinner, I knew I wasn’t going to starve. Having said that, I couldn’t afford to be unintelligent and not check the weather conditions. Especially in this unpredictable weather, one has to be a smart traveller. The changing weather was worse than the fluctuating moods of a growing teenager and hence, I was prepared with sufficient jackets and medication. Because as far as I know there was no Mustafa centre nearby.

The fish cocktails served for dinner, was certainly a surprise as I didn’t expect home-cooked food to be garnished and presented like café-styled food. It only showed how much the hosts wanted their guests to enjoy and feel at home. Really felt blessed and much loved.

Unfortunately, I have clearly underestimated the cold night. There was a well-functioning heater but anything below 22degree celsius, I shiver like a drug-addict suffering from withdrawal symptoms. The weather decided to sustain its 14Degree Celsius throughout the night. I tried layering myself with 2 winter-jackets I had and wrapped myself with another thick blanket. 

I wondered if I should watch one of the movies from the massive DVD collection in the van. I decided I couldn’t as I didn’t want my hands to be exposed to the chill-raging air particles that were waiting to prey on my skin. Finally, I did manage to sleep and I missed out on the sun-rise. Jenny and Dave informed me that I could check out late the next day if I wanted to, as there was no other booking for the day.

This trip, wasn’t without its uncertainties and relatively frightening moments when the phone showed no network during the drive in the remote area and that I had to just continue driving till I reached the next town hoping that the signal would be back. No matter how slowly and safely one drives, there is always going to be more adventurous and crazy drivers and bikers on the road. You just have to sing louder and keep yourself awake all the time!

Wanderlust- Having immensely enjoyed both parts of the word on separate occasions, wanderlust, on its own, this time round was nothing but a serendipitous, soul-cleansing and liberating experience!

(If you want to read about other rose week/thorn weeks, click on the rose week/thorn week label below)