Port Stephens, Melaleuca Backpackers, the place which has been soaked in heat and sunshine for the last week, the birds and the baking sun waking us at 8am most days.
Now it is 12.30am on a Monday night. A storm rages, not yet tired having lasted all day, steadily worsening.
We (Taran, me and our Scottish friend Innes) are sat indoors a wood cabin that houses the hostel kitchen and lounge area, which has become our little bolt-hole for most of the day, as we bury ourselves in our phones and laptops, comforted and simultaneously quiet against the rattling and thumping coming from the bushland surrounding us.
Hours before, Taran and I had gone to swim in the sea, finding it like a warm blanket against the relentless chilly rainfall. Taran's cheeks turned a little bit blue but it was the most fun we've ever had in such horrid weather.
Finally, at this late and still loud hour, we decide to brave the winds that have battered the hostel and the rains that have drowned the camp-site, and walk to our tents. Wading through puddles that have deepened to over 4ft in the past hour, we get whipped with rainwater. Reaching our little make-shift homes, Josie the kangaroo cowers at the back of our friend Innes's tent. Her tail is poking into the outer sheet. Her whole body is soaked but god forbid her tail gets wet.
Innes goes into his tent, a $32 3-man from K-mart, to find the tent was moving quite a lot, as to be expected in the winds that are at this point, Wizard of Oz-blowing-dorothy-away levels.
Yes it felt a bit wet inside but that must of been from opening the door right? No. Touching all his belongings he realizes, water has penetrated his tent and soaked all his stuff, including tickets, mementos, his electricals and his thermals. A little piece inside Innes dies. Even as I write this Innes writhes in discomfort on the sofa at the memory of finding everything he owns soggy and useless, including the thermals he'd not long before thought about putting on to keep warm.
The sound of thunder fills our ears, adrenaline surges through us, as we scramble our things into our backpacks, ready to run back to the relative safety of the lounge; a building surrounded by trees, perched on stilts, frequented by greedy mice and cheeky possums...
I find myself panicking as I collect my stuff, also thinking how dry the tent still is inside. Until I touch below my bed-roller, to find the floor damp; the water is coming in from underneath.
I run through the newly-formed lakes, negotiate the slippery platform, and make it into the dry of the building, dropping my bag which is already soaked, putting my sleeping bag down on my new bed, the sofa. I know I have to go back out there, to where Taran is securing the tent and Innes is slowly and sadly gathering his stuff together. I wonder why he's taking so long.
I cautiously walk through the lake again, to pack up Taran's things.
A part of me thinks the water will have crocodiles and snakes in it now, so I make a child-like whinny as I walk. I load Taran's bag onto my back and then ask him how I can help, as he fiddles with the tent. There is a rising tide of fear inside me as the extremes pound down on us, tents falling around us, chair cushions floating, a sad wet kangaroo now nowhere to be seen.
I race back indoors. Standing at the open door, yelling for them to come in, annoying myself with how shrill I sound. I see torch lights, so know they are not yet not struck down by a tree or lightning. I sit down on my phone next to the heater to inform Facebook of the situation, of course. Soon comes the slow down-cast figure of Innes. He has to make several trips to bring his things in.
Taran meanwhile chooses to stand outside amidst the elements, because, that's what Taran does. I have had my share of excitement already, and am quite happy to be in the warm and dry, even if tree debris is hitting the roof every other minute. Eventually we are all inside, stood like scarecrow's in our wet clothing.
Innes slowly sorts his things into wet piles and dry piles. I make a bed on the sofa. Taran fidgets and looks out the window a lot. Then as we are all stood up, out goes the lights.
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at Nomad'erHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!