Google maps is, without doubt, an incredibly useful tool. Able to guide you precisely to that bar downtown where friends are waiting, pinpoint your hostel in a foreign city (no more taxi scams), calculate the best routes with least traffic and even provide you with timetables, recommendations and opening hours, it’s hard to imagine how we ever got anywhere without it.
However, amongst all this convenience, something has been lost. Being lost! Getting lost is, for me at least, one of life’s best opportunities for spontaneity, adventure, and the joy of the unexpected. That local you meet on the street when asking for directions, the family who takes pity on the weary traveler and offer shelter for the night, the breathtaking view waiting down a tiny back road in the countryside… These kinds of potentially life-changing encounters are being missed as we eschew risk and discovery, to be guided with ruthless efficiency to our destinations by satellites in the sky.
This story proves however that there’s still hope for the technologically-enslaved romantic. Even Google gets it wrong sometimes! Driving to a campsite in Australia’s gorgeous Blue Mountains, a popular area of outstanding natural beauty near Sydney, keen off-roader Bruce decided to take up Google Maps’ offer of a 15-minute’ shortcut.’ He had supplies, fuel, and a rugged off-road vehicle, so why not explore a little? “I don’t generally worry as I always travel with at least 20l of water, and a full tank of diesel, so if I’m lost it’s just a matter of time,” Bruce told. “But Google’s representation of back roads in Australia is a bit interesting, it tends to think there are a lot more viable roads than actually exist.”
Ultimately though, Bruce’s adventurous detour led to a fair dinkum camping trip, catching up with some old mates. “It was just a quick one-nighter as we could only really manage to get the 5 mates together for that one night,” he told us. “As soon as I’d set up, it was beers and steak with the boys. We do these trips every few months – as we’re all from different areas, it’s one way we can always meet up.”
Scroll down below to read about Bruce’s scenic ‘shortcut’ for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments!
“So I have a reasonably heavily upgraded Ford Ranger, and when google maps told me that there’d be a quick, 15min savings while doing off-road, I thought “yeah sure, let’s give it a try”. I was meeting mates to go camping for the night.”
“The road google maps took me down initially… this road hadn’t been traveled for a while D: This is in a pine plantation – hence all the felled trees.”
“After this area, I realized I might have bitten off more than I could chew due to the fact there was very limited space to turn around…. so I kept going anyway. I had about ~1000km of diesel (~550miles) left, a tent, a CB UHF radio and enough water and beer to survive a night. Cell access is available from the top of some hills.
This is in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia.”
“About 500m road leading down a mountain…. These drops are each heavily rutted. No problems. But I did realize that after this it could be troublesome going back… so onwards!”
“More ruts… There was a lot of “controlled” sliding going on, which is where you are literally sliding on the belly of your car, using the steepness to help keep you sliding, without guarantee of wheels touching the ground.”
“After the sketchyness I ended up in a bit of a rainforest. So took some photos while crossing rivers.”
“The road turned to more of this which was nice and just a scenic drive.”
“Allo there. The kangaroos here were pretty laid back and didn’t really care that I was driving up next to them.”
“Hey buddy. Apologies for the fuzziness, the phone camera was zoomed. Come at me bro!”
“More come at me bros.”
“The one on the left decided to hop away. After this I made it to my campsite, not 15mins early but 2hrs late… It was worth the adventure anyway.”
“And this little guy gave us a visit the next day. It was 45c/113f according to my car… It felt like it. The previous day was about 38.”