Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Homeward Bound

So it is only 8.00 pm and all is quiet in the world of Watsons, Mike has fallen asleep next to Lola whilst trying to get her to sleep and the other two flaked it as soon as their heads hit the pillow, I finally have a little time alone. Now, whilst travelling, I seems that I have all the time in the world but I have less time for myself, there seems to not be a minute in the day when I don’t have someone around me, there is nowhere to hide in the camper, not even from yourself., there is no other ‘life’ distractions, just the here and now. As I try to reconcile the person I am, I have been for the last 6 months with the person I am at home I am flooded with questions….will I be this relaxed when I get home, will the same things that bothered me at home, bother me when we get home, will I still be plagued by indecision and unhappiness with some parts of my life, or will I just not care anymore.

Will the questions that once kept me up all night still be there when I am home, or will there now be answers, logical thoughts a PLAN.  Whilst travelling for the last couple of months, I have wound down, so much so I think I have nearly stopped thinking, I have relaxed so much, enjoyed just being in the moment, being with Mike and the kids,  not planning anything, not having to be responsible for anything except our little family.

As the kilometers clock up and the line on the map pointing home gets shorter, I find myself conflicted about my return home. I am a little anxious about returning home to a life without a job, without a purpose other than me and my family, also a little excited to start a new chapter of our life afresh.

I am excited to be planning future adventures around Australia, adding places to return to and places we didn’t get to onto the list. I am looking forward to the many trips to camping expos, caravan places and researching where we will go, what we will upgrade to, what lessons we have learnt from our first expedition to not repeat again.

I have loved nearly every moment of this trip. I have loved the anonymity of moving on every few days, of no-one not really knowing you, but I have also loved the feeling of seeing someone you have met before at the caravan park, the instant connection of recognizing a face in an unfamiliar surrounding. I have loved meeting new families who are on the road also, conversing about where you have been, where you are going,  the different journey each of you have travelled to get to that destination. I have loved the serenity of the outdoors, of watching my little girl so happily playing outside, picking up sticks and stones to show me just how magical the outdoors really is. I have embraced the heat of the North, not caring about how sweaty I might be or get, just doing whatever it was that I wanted. I have loved wearing shorts nearly every day for 5 months, feeling the heat on my bare skin and not caring to cover up from the hot sun. I have loved watching my kids play, make friends, laugh so hard until they could burst. I love watching Mike play with the kids, seeing them light up with his stupid games. I love that they groan everytime he says ‘Hi starving I[m dad’, when one complains, “I’m starving”. I love seeing how the kids work through their frustration of being bored, of being sick of each other. I particularly love watching Scarli annoy Oscar as it reminds me of how annoying I must have been to my brothers. (I couldn’t possibly have been that bad!)  I wonder how many times worse my precious Lola will be by the time she starts to annoy Oscar.

I love that Lola’s first words are based upon birds, fish, trees, sky….I love that Lola doesn’t even have to say a word to get her message across,  a look, a grunt and she has the whole family running to be on her beck and call. I love that Lola no matter where we are always puts her shoes on and heads for the door, she will not be kept inside for a long period of time! I love that she has her first bubba that she loves, puts blankie’s over, cuddles and kisses, and defends from Scarlett trying to steal her away. My Lola has grown into such a big girl on this trip, not my little baby anymore.

I love that Scarlett is fearless and fuelled by the excitement of what the day may bring.  She is so full of life and ready for adventure, If you suggest anything with the right tone to your voice, Scarlett will be up for it, she is the first to jump to action, her eyes lit up at the simple thought of doing something with you. No matter how stubborn and obstinate she is, no matter how much she pushes my buttons I always remember just how similar we are and enjoy her spirited nature! I hope that I will remember to be like her more often.

I love that Oscar is quietly determined, a little shy and reserved, but bursting with questions and an inquisitive nature once he is comfortable in his surroundings. I love that he is such a caring brother to his sisters, he is gentle and kind. I love that he is protective and caring of the people and things he loves. I love that although he never wants to go anywhere or do anything, by the time we get ‘somewhere’ he is the first out and exploring the situation, the first to run into the waves, or finding the walking tracks, making cubbies in the scrub and climbing the tallest trees. I love that he too like me, loves his own company, needs his time to himself to play, think and wonder.

I have loved spending time with my children, I love watching Scarlett and Oscar play and Scarlett trying so hard to keep up with Oscar and Lola trying so hard to keep up with Scarlet and Oscar. I love that when you ask Scarlett a question her answer is always ‘whatever Oscar is having/doing).

I will not miss my heart skipping a beat when I hear a car coming and I have lost my line of vision on Lola. I will not miss the morning dash to the loo in my jammies, braless and busting. I will not miss getting up to wee in the middle of the night and the coldness of the night air. I will not miss Scarlett saying she needs to go to the toilet 5 min after I have returned, I  will not miss the bites all over me that have left my legs looking like a scarred join the dots puzzle. I will not miss the the screams of boredom from the kids in the back of the car, Lola constantly trying to ‘hudini’ out of her car seat on the long drives.

I will miss the nights of laughter with my kids when they danced around tent poles and had competitions who could dance the longest. I will miss not knowing what day of the week it was and that being a good thing. I will miss having no obligations to anyone but my kids. I will miss the long car journeys, sleeping with the sun warming you through the windscreen. I will miss the relaxed attitude that comes with being on the road for so long. I will miss waking up in the morning, not knowing what town we may lay our heads down in that night. I will miss lazy mornings and even lazier afternoons.

I am excited to see my family and friends, to ‘move’ back in to my home, to decorate, add my personal touches to each room and meld the old me with the new. I am looking forward to having cuppas with friends, to having adult conversation and ‘things’ to occupy my mind. I am looking forward to family celebrations, Anthony’s wedding, birthdays, Christmas. And as our time away draws closer to an end, I am excited about what the future will bring the Wandering Watsons!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Berry, Berry Delicious

So we left Sydney destination unknown, and unfortunately for my scarli wags had our first incidence of ‘car sickness’ for the whole trip. Poor little Scarlett tried so hard to get it into the sick back, but was not helped by the big hole that was in the end of it!!! OH DEAR!!!! I think we can count ourselves lucky that this has been the first real car/spew issue we have had on our travels to date. We finally arrived at our destination, BERRY! We set up camp in the showgrounds for the low cost of $20 a night for a powered site and hot showers. I was very excited to be in Berry as I had always wanted to come and explore this area and trust me it did not let me down. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this area. The beautiful green hills that roll all the way down to the beach, the amazing views, the gorgeous little towns around the area, EVERYTHING was beautiful. There was also another family that were camping at the showgrounds too and again we all enjoyed our new friends’ company at happy hour every night. The kids had a ball exploring all the old sheds and pavilions around the show grounds, they set up cubbies, ‘man caves’ (as Mike called them) and had a great time playing with their new friends. It is truly a small world as our new friends Paul and Juli are also friends with people we know. 

I particularly loved wandering around the streets of Berry, I found my new house, (once I convince Mike too move and persuade the owners to sell), it has a turret, a tree house and a flying fox, beautiful gardens, a big deck and such a lovely feel about it. I wandered into town every day to feed my coffee addiction (and maybe do a little spot of shopping for my birthday….you know ......just in case Mikie forgets to purchase me something!!!!) My morning walks were full of beautiful sites, gorgeous old houses, amazing landscapes and the smell of spring in the air, even the rain and gale force winds didn’t dampen my spirits. We went to the beach, hung out in KangarooValley and went on some amazing drives through the country side. On the Friday I celebrated my birthday with my gorgeous family and luckily I did a spot of shopping for myself, because lo and behold Mikie said he just didn’t have time to get me a present, I said ‘not to worry love. I have more than taken care of that for you!!!!!’ I had gifted myself some beautiful presents, man I do have good (if not slightly expensive!!!!) taste!  I spent the day doing what I love most, playing with my kiddies, shopping, eating and drinking…life does not get any better!!!!

I did laugh at Scarlett when after she had given me a microwave egg poacher for my birthday, she commented, ‘You love you new egg crack don’t you mum, it’s much better than your arse one!!!’ I wonder who taught her that language!!!!!

After an amazing five days in Berry and the surrounding district we packed up, dodging the rain long enough to remain dry and took off, again destination unknown.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Family, Friends and more Family

Well we left the Amamoor state forest, all set for a few nights at a caravan park at the strawberry farm, however mother nature was against us. It was pouring with rain as we packed up camp and continued to team down on the drive to the sunshine coast, so instead of staying and having a look around this area we decided to hightail it to the comfort of a house and some friendly faces and made the unexpected arrival at Gerard and Julies. Well we did give them a few hours notice (just enough for them to go “F&*^ look at this house, it’s a mess we had better clean up so that the Watson kids can trash it again in a second!!) I did manage to convince Mike to make a stop at the Eumandi markets and the Ettamogah pub before making it to Brisbane, I LOVE this market, Mike says he is seeing Australia via every playground the kids can find and every market I can find! So after a quick bit of retail therapy, we ventured on to the Ettamogah Pub for a yummy lunch and finally made it to Gerard and Julie’s. What a great week we had visiting the Brisbane family. It was so much fun to hang out with everyone, the kids had a great time playing together, and I think the attribute of cheekiness has definitely been handed down the Saunders gene pool, Scarlett and Keeley are running contenders for the title of cheekiest kid, and I am sure that Matilda and Lola will soon be close contenders!

Mike became Kasey’s new best friend, they spent a lot of time watching the ipad, playing the zylophone and singing! I love that under Mike’s gruff demeanor is a softer side that Kasey automatically identified, it was beautiful to watch these two interacting and having a ball. Whilst at Gerard and Julie’s we did very little sightseeing, when we managed to pry our children away from the big screen tv and their cousins, and me away from the washing machine, we did venture to Dream world and White water World for a few days. I managed to once again whimp out of the big rides, and watched with terror as Mike and Oscar conquered some of the more scary rides. I was happy with the tea cup ride in wiggles world and I managed to up my bravery and did the scary waterslides in white water world. We all had a great time and Mike only did a double take once at the price of everything!

We had recharged our batteries, drank copious amounts of coffee made by Gerard the barista, enjoyed sleeping in a house (well everyone except Mike who would kiss me good night and he walked out to the camper that was set up in the driveway to sleep alone) and the convenience of having the toilet in the next room, and, after a great week, of visiting playgrounds with cousins, and competing with Gerard and Julie to see whose kids can stay up the latest (it’s currently a tie), we bid a fond farewell and drove away to Matilda calling out ‘see you ev’ry body’ and a family sing a long of ‘hot cross buns’, heading towards my happy place, Byron Bay. (wow what a long sentence!)

We crossed the border into our second last state on our journey, Mike again forgot my  mandatory border crossing photo and cruised straight past the sign!!! Bloody bugger! We meandered our way through the beautiful hinterlands, with me sighing in contentment as we drove over gorgeous hills and beautiful country side, as we reached Byron Bay my happy place feeling washed over me and I thought to myself, this is it, I just need to convince mike that we are not going to leave this place. We set up camp in the caravan park right in town and loved being able to walk anywhere we wanted. Even the rain didn’t put a dampener on my mood, I was happy, I was in a beautiful spot, with my beautiful family and had a beautiful friend coming to visit the next day. The following morning Binny Bum Fluff came to stay, our cosy camper became a little cosier for the next 3 nights as we welcomed our dear friend into our little home. We drank lots of wine, ate lots of food, played lots of cards, where binny bum fluff whipped me but in the game of sixes and laughed lots.

In true Binny style she knew someone the moment she arrived at the camper, her aunt and uncle where staying there for 3 months so we had a great ‘happy hour’ with them and their friends at the most enviable site in the park, the one with the most spectacular views!!! Binny and I had a great day exploring the country side around Byron, enjoying a morning of retail therapy, Japanese tea and delish coffee in Bangalow, then driving around falling in love with the views from the beautiful hill tops in the region. I think it’s safe to say when I finally convince my hubby to move here, Binny will be a regular visitor! Oscar and Mike loved body surfing in the warm water and the girls made sandcastles and splashed through the little waves as they broke on the sands.

On the Sunday we woke to the kids singing “Happy Father’s day’ to the tune of Happy birthday  to Mikie. We ventured off to the Byron Bay Market to see all the amazing products that were on offer, we had a great time wandering around, listening to some great music and watching the kids having a jam session on the drums in front of the band. We had a great father’s day lunch at the pub in Byron, enjoying the views, even if it was raining, the kids even behaved long enough for us to enjoy eating too! On the Tuesday after Binny had endured the dreaded snot city that were our kids, I bid a sad farewell, thankful that she had come and shared this special spot with us on our trip. Mike dragged me from Bryon Bay kicking and screaming I was not impressed to leave as I think I could have set up here for the last few weeks of the trip, however New Castle and Sydney was looming and the thought of spending some time with my neice and her family and my sister lured me away from this magical spot.

We headed to Grafton for a short overnight spot at my Uncle John’s house. We spent a great afternoon and evening with Uncle John, his fiancĂ©e Barbara and my cousin Jacinta. It was lovely to visit Uncle John, wander around his amazing collections he has amassed over his lifetime and listen to his stories. We shared a delicious meal most of it prepared from their own garden and had a great night. Uncle John had turned his beautiful home into a BnB and Mike and I were lucky enough to get the Honeymoon Suite, yippee! After a great night sleeping in the most comfiest bed we packed up the kid for the long drive to New Castle, to see  my neice Jamee, (aka poo chunks), Nic and my gorgeous great nephews Eli and Fyn.

We spent a great five nights with Jamee and her beautiful family. The kids loved having all those toys to play with and running around with little Eli. I loved getting my fill of baby cuddles from my gorgeous 6 week old nephew Fyn and spending time with the Jarrett Family. We hung out, shopped, went to the toboggan hill near their home and had a great afternoon whizzing down the hill and getting lost in the maze! (lol). Nic took Oscar and Mike to the RAAF airport and showed them around his work which was so lovely. The area that they live in is close to the beach so the kids had a great play at one of the many playgrounds down by the bay. It was gorgeous watching my kids dote over Fyn, Lola would crouch down next to him, look at me to see if  I was watching then inch closer until ever so gently she would touch his face, it was so cute to watch her, she was a real little mummy. Whenever Jamee was holding fyn she would bring a blanket over to her to make sure he was covered and warm, Oscar also loved having cuddles with his second cousin it was really beautiful to watch and if Mike wasn’t shooting blanks these days I might have been tempted to go for no 4!

On the Monday we packed up gave as many kisses and squishes that we could to the boys and Jamee and headed to the big smoke, Sydney. We made a stop not far from New Castle to see an old friend, Bec Thompson, who I went to Loreto with many many years ago. It was so lovely to catch up with Bec, in true Theresa style I rocked up with all the Watson's in tow, with no 'plate', but not to worry Bec was all prepared, there was freshly made sandwiches, cakes, slices and lots of coffee! We had a great catch up whilst my kids played with bec's youngest, Summer. It was so lovely to share a few hours with Bec, chatting about our families and lives that we have created with our families and we left with a full belly thanks to wonderful hospitality. I had to drag Oscar out kicking and screaming, as again he was happy to be playing with a new friend. We made one more stop to put our camper in storage for the week and headed to Aunty Bernie’s (aka the best babysitter in the world!!)
We have had such a great week with Bernie. The kids have been spoilt rotten by their loving aunty, sleeping with her every night, I have loved waking up to the sound of their laughter as the play around with Bernie when they wake up. We have had a great time relaxing at Manly, frolicking in the ‘freezing’ water (it was so warm when we swam last in Byron Bay), we have visited the museum, played at the beautiful parks in Sydney, drank lots and lots of good coffee and wine. I had a lovely day wandering the Paddington market and oxford st with Bernie and her friend the ‘other’ Bernie, looking in beautiful shops and enjoying a lovely lunch (without the kids). On the Saturday night Bernie was on babysitting duty and Mike and I went out for a romantic evening (eg dinner and the movies), we went to see Red Dog, and loved seeing the country side of WA that we had so recently driven across. We then had dinner at a gorgeous Lebanese restaurant to celebrate our 12th anniversary as old married farts.

The kids have loved all the attention that Bernie has lavished on them (and me) and I have loved ALL the yummy food Bernie has cooked us each night, but most of all I have loved her company. Mike has been kept busy ticking of the jobs from Bernie’s list of things for Mike to fix. He even renamed Bernies’ laundry, it is now called Bernie’s shed. (Bernie was regailing this story to her friend Sophie and Sophie responded that her shed is the third drawer down in the kitchen!) He added a couple of new tools to her (very limited) tool box, a thank you present for having us is what he called them!!!  I will miss my sister and I think that when we get back Mike may find himself being a single dad for quite a few weekends, when I take a leave of absence to visit Bernie and enjoy Sydney without the kiddies!

We have enjoyed the last month of being with friends and family and even though we are so close to home, the reality of home is yet to sink in, I feel refreshed and happy to continue on our journey, I am not ready to come home, but I don’t think our funds will last for much longer! We are planning to spend the next 2-3 weeks slowly making our way down the coast, I think after a week of the big smoke, Mikie is ready for a little more fresh  air and a bit more space around him, so back to the confines of the camper and the wide wide open spaces of free camping! 

see you all soon xoxo

Friday, 26 August 2011

More Queensland

We left Murray Falls, not knowing where our next destination would be, and as the kids were being so good in the car and Lola was snoozing through we continued to drive, we made our way to Ayr and had a brief stop for the night to recharge our all electrical equipment, do a million loads of washing and have a warm shower that didn’t involve warming the water in the sun all day.  As much as I loved the relaxing few days at Murray Falls, I do love a good shower! It was whilst we were staying at Ayr Lola decided to let us know that she was ready to be toilet trained, every time she did a wee she would try and take her nappy off, I was sick of listening to her carry on and watching her try and rip her nappy off that I just let her run around naked whilst I was finishing brekky for the other kids and packing up the camper, I casually said to her, ‘if you need to do a wee or poo go outside’, and as a joke added “and do your business just near you dad’s shoes”  Well the next time I turned around, Lola is standing just near her dad’s shoes and lo and behold there is a nice little poo deposited right  on top of her dads’ shoes. Man I laughed and laughed, Oscar and Scarlett also thought it was hilarious, I’m not sure how amused Mikey was, but it sure made my day!!!

That day we ended up in Airlie Beach, not a bad spot at all! Here we spent the days wandering around the market, playing at the pool and playgrounds. The camp kitchen had a big tv in it and all the kids from around the park would end up there first thing in the morning still in their jammies to watch abc kids. You would see the parents coming in to try and drag them away, then with a resigned look on their faces, would bring back the kids brekky’s for them to eat in front of the tv. I’m sure Osc and Scarli were the first kids there every morning, as they tried to make up for the lack of tv for the last four months!

We enviously eyed off the boats in the harbour, Oscar was choosing which one he wanted to sail around Australia next time we travel and Scarlett just wanted to get the purple yacht to sail the seven seas in. The weather in Airlie was beautiful and on the last day we took a cruise to Day dream island and then over to Whitehaven beach. We had a great day and Whitehaven beach was definitely one of the most beautiful beaches we have seen on our travels. It was such a glorious day and our kids were so tired from the day they were asleep before their heads hit the pillow.

After an expensive stay at the Big 4 in Airlie beach, we headed off in search of some cheaper lodgings, we ended up in Rockhampton for two nights and although I’m sure it is a lovely town we didn’t see much of it, we preferred to relax at the camper, again washing a zillion loads of clothes and doing the much needed grocery shop! It was lovely to again do not a lot of anything, we chatted to the grey nomads who had set up in the park for the winter, many of them were too getting close to the end of their trips and getting ready for the trip home. We also had a lovely visit from Naomi and Chaz, my dear friend, Jewls’ mum and dad. The kids loved having them come and visit, Oscar is really missing his grandparents, and monopolized Naomi’s time, constantly chatting about his pokemon cards, enlightening Naomi to which ones had a better value and what damage each one could do, I’m sure Naomi has remembered every single pokemon that oscar explained!!!!! The kids also loved getting a little presie from them too, it was so sweet and I was so touched that they took the time to come and have a cuppa with us. I think they enjoyed getting some cuddles and having our kids around as well, as they are missing their grandkids too!!!

The next day we packed up, again a little unsure where we were headed, we just started driving with the aim of free camping for a few nights in the bush, however the spot we had picked was right on the highway so we just kept driving and ended up in Bundaberg. We only stayed in Bundaberg for a few nights, just long enough for me to get my hair cut and coloured. OMG I was so embarrassed to sit in the salon and actually have someone look at the damage I had done to my hair. Five months of swimming in oceans, and chlorine had certainly left it’s mark on my ‘beautiful luscious locks’ and combined with the grey nomad streak that was getting bigger and bigger, it was time for some serious action. So after a few good inches being chopped and a darker than normal colour appearing from underneath the towel I left a new woman. We then had a great afternoon catching up with Aunty Trudy and Uncle Jon. The kids were rapt to see a table layed out with all the treats they could find, chocolates, cake, biscuits, softdrink, you name they had it!  They also enjoyed playing with different toys and of course ‘watching tele’, you would think we were subjecting our kids to a form of child abuse the way they carried on about NEVER seeing tv!!  It was lovely to catch up with my cousin Marietta and her soon to be husband Mike, and have already teed up accommodation for our next trip around aus. Scarlett never stopped talking, as usual, talking, talking and talking to Aunty Trudi about EVERYTHING. Oscar again enjoyed being the centre of attention and seeing some family, as I think he is getting very homesick for some time with his Oma.

Saturday August 20
We have set up camp in the little spot called Burrum River. It is close to Hervey Bay and some beautiful little beaches. I think we will be staying here for the next week and checking out all the beautiful spots around this area. I can’t wait to go to Frasier island and do a whale watching tour. I am enjoying the slow pace we are travelling, as if we are putting off hitting any cold weather for as long as possible. It is just beautiful here, there are lots of birds to keep Lola happy and Oscar and Scarlett are happy to play around with the soccer ball. I am whipping Oscar’s but in Uno everyday and Scarlett is trying very hard to play with us, when Oscar has the patience to let her!

Unfortunately Mikie doesn’t  enjoy my love of card games and will not join in the fun that action packed game of ‘spit’ can bring….ah well I’ll just have to wait till I see the edenhope clan again and whip Di’s butt!!!! I have tried to engage him in a few card games but he claims that it distracts him from his ability to finish a can before it goes hot!!!! (he’s male and can’t multitask!!!!)

This morning was an early start, Oscar is waking earlier and earlier and doesn’t get the idea of not waking me every morning, so he comes and snuggles and wiggles around  until I am fully awake, this morning though I told him to wake his dad as he had promised Oscar that they would go fishing, I bid them farewell, telling them to not return until they had caught me my dinner! Unfortunately they didn’t catch one the first day, but the next day Oscar caught his very first fish, he was so excited and was jumping up and down and running around and around on the jetty. He was sooo cute. I think my highlight was then watching Mike try and gut and clean his very first fish, as many of you may know I only every imagine my meat to come wrapped in plastic, so the thought of helping him was definitely out of the question!!! I sent him back down the river, to bring me back a nice filleted fish, well he tried his best, but I don’t think Mike would win a Masterchef competition for filleting a fish, a few of the oldies came down and gave him some help and even told him what type of fish he had caught!!! (we are such a fisher family!!!!)  the next day Oscar caught another fish, so he know thinks he is a really little fisherman, although when I cooked them up he was less than keen to eat what he had caught!!!! Mike can however, say he achieved his goal for the trip of catching a fish!

Unfortunately for the last few days, it has been a little wet and windy, I am most definitely not used to this weather and was very annoyed to not be able to go out looking for whales, as it was so windy the tour operators advised it would not be a pleasant experience for us or the kids, so again we changed our plans and spent a few days around the camper. Mike is enjoying the time just hanging around doing nothing, I on the other hand have got a serious case of cabin fever, as it is pouring with rain, we are all stuck in the camper and it is definitely feeling smaller and smaller by the minute. I am looking for a little more excitement that unfortunately Burrem River does not really offer, even the pub was closed!!! We did however get a list of things to do from the caravan park managers and it said to go to the local haberdashery shop as it is a real hidden gem.  Well I was that bloody bored that I actually did go to the local haberdashery shop, and trust me it was not the hidden gem at all!!! It did make me laugh to see bed jackets and long flannelette nighties still being stocked, I’m sure I just stepped back in time to the 80’s with the treasure trove of items that were on display!!!! After a very brief wander around I returned empty handed from my ‘shopping’ adventure, I did contemplate purchasing a ‘racy’ new sleeping attire to tempt Mikey boy, but wasn’t sure how much he would enjoy me looking like the grey nomads we have befriended!!!!

It is fair to say I am looking forward to moving on, catching up with lots of family and friends along the way home.

Thursday August 25
So after a few days of wet weather and not much to do we headed off, Mike had chosen the next spot to stay as he is trying to get in as much free camping as he can before we hit the leg of the journey I have planned out (which includes lots of family and busy cities). Mike chose a gorgeous spot just past Gympie in the Amamoor State Forest. Unbeknown to us though it is about 4k’s from the Gympie Music Muster, as we were driving the signs kept advising we are getting closer and closer to the muster, it cracked me up that Mike chose this spot for it’s seclusion and to have it pretty much to ourselves and it has ended up to be busy with lots of people camping around for the muster. I was so excited at the thought of getting ‘my muster’ on and quickly checked out the price of tickets, my excitement did a quick turn around at the price for us to go for the day and decided it was just as much fun to listen to the music from the comfort of my deck chair next to the fire!! I am pretty happy with my decision as it has continued to drizzle rain for most of the afternoon and tonight it is pouring down!! My dunderhead of a husband is as I write, standing next to his dismal fire, beer in one hand and an umbrella in the other, as it pours with rain!!! GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!
I am looking forward to getting on the road tomorrow, we are staying at a strawberry farm tomorrow night, (how much are we going to LOVE that) then heading down to Brisvegas to see Gerard, Julie and their gorgeous girls!!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

North Queensland

Mission Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas and Free Camping thru the National Parks
Mission Beach was just beautiful, heavily hit by the cyclone, the devastation to the small town and the surrounding national parks is still clearly prevalent. We happened upon this very small caravan park in south mission beach that had only reopened for business 6 weeks ago. For the low price of $25 dollars a night you got a powered site, amenities and the great company of other travelers. The park had a very relaxed feeling about it, the manager, Marty, (picture attractive hippy like man, with long flowing locks big sun hat and barefeet) waved us in as we drove past, nearly running onto the street to tell us they were open, he then offered us freshly baked chocolate cake and coffee for morning tea which was a hit for the kids and their mother! We sat down with the other campers and chatted whilst Marty pottered on his pottery wheel with the clay. He then wandered me over to our site and helped to pick out a good one, introducing us to our other new neighbours and instilling this relaxed, friendly approach in us all. We spent a few days here wandering around, playing at the beach and playing pool whilst having a few drinks with the other campers.

Wednesday August 3rd
Mike and I are a little sick of each other’s company. Yep I said it, four months in a little camper with not a lot of other adult conversation can really test a marriage. In many ways it has been the best time ever, but. our gags are a little stale, we can finish each others sentences without even starting them and even the kids are sick of hearing us talk!. 
We now literally jump to talk to the nearest adult that passes by, eager to engage in conversation with someone different, someone exciting. We are the couple that we used to laugh at, that wanders up to someone’s campsite for a quick chat, only to find that they are still there 3 hours later. I find myself talking to anyone I can just to get some more conversation in, I even try to talk to the overseas tourists who can’t speak English when I am desperate!

Now it’s not just me and mike that are a little ‘over’ each other. Oscar now asks how old do you have to be before you can move out? He says he is sick of us all and would like to spend less time with us! He wants Mike to build a little hidey spot in the camper for him to go and be by himself without the girls chasing him!......yep it sure is cozy in the camper!!!!

Even with our confined space issues we are still enjoying our travels, I think we have become  a little complacent to the beauty of Australia, we now go to a national park and start to think, yep that’s another waterfall, yep that’s another gorge….what ungrateful buggers we are!!!!!  So to pep us up for our last 10 weeks of travelling we have had  a bit of a holiday from our holiday. We have spent the last week staying at the coconut cairns resort,  it has 2 jumping pillow, a water playground, 2 pools, a bike track, mini golf, movie nights, pancake breakfasts….it is a kids paradise. We have kicked back and relaxed, played with the kids, done minimal sight seeing and regrouped. We have surrounded ourselves with people and had a great time. Oscar made friends with the boy next door and had a great time playing for a few days. Mike and I enjoyed the company of his parents and enjoyed having new things and people to talk about.

Cairns is very pretty, we have enjoyed wandering around the town, the esplanade and the lagoons. Today we went to kuranda and wandered around the markets and the beautiful rainforests. Mike and the 2 older kids took the skyrail back down to Cairns and the kids loved being that high up! Their mother did the sensible thing and drove the car back down with Lola…..(as I am not a great fan of heights at the best of times!)

We are heading to green island tomorrow for a day of snorkeling and coral viewing, it should be fantastic! Then the following day we are off to Port douglas for another week of relaxation….what a tough life this is!

Thursday August 4th
Today has been a great day, unfortunately when we went to confirm our booking for green island the lady advised that the weather is not too great to take kids out on the boat. She regailed a few tails about the amount of vomit that the crew have been cleaning up this week and we quickly agreed to abandon our boat trip. So instead we have just relaxed by the caravan park, playing at the playground and laughing with the kids. I have been partaking in my favourite activity, people watching, there is a group of campers all set up with lots of kids ranging from 8 – 16ish. The kids are having so much fun running around the caravan park, playing in the laundry and toilets at night and generally doing what kids do. It makes me think that in years to come this scene will be filled with Hodge, Mahar and Watson kids getting into mishchief, Oscar chasing Jess around, the hodge and mahar girls leading my angelic Scarlett up to no good and Lola bossing the boys around, making them chase her all over the park. I can’t wait to see what they get up to! By then I imagine that one of the menfolk will have got a boat and be out catching us dinner, (eg drinking on the river!),The women  folk will be kicking back ‘looking after’ the younger kids, (eg drinking wine from coffee cups, whilst gossiping over a game of  cards.) I can only hope that our kids grow up to have great memories of these camping trips I forsee for our future!

Mike and I spent the better part of our last afternoon in Cairns, chatting to our new neighbours and having a few beers, it was great to  relax and hear about another families travels, where they have been and what they have seen. We have arranged to meet up again in Airlie Beach in a few weeks time. I think Mike was happy for some ‘bloke’ company and Ben was more than willing to sink a few beers and spend the day chatting away. For someone who was so reserved, Mike has been the consistent friend maker on this trip, I think it has been great for him to have this chance to relax and enjoy the company of others as many of you will  know he is more than happy in his own company most of the time!

From Cairns we drove the picturesque drive to Port Douglas, the highway travels right against the coast so the view were amazing, we spent a few beautiful days in Port Douglas  wandering the streets, visiting the great Sunday market, playing on the beach and generally hanging out. It was so lovely to get back into a relaxed rhythm of enjoying each others company again, Cairns had certainly pepped our spirits back up and even thought the weather was not great we still made the most of any bursts of sunshine we had. We visited Mossman gorge and did a a very beautiful walk through the rainforest. We will however endeavour to read the sign next time that says the walk is a ‘moderate’ walk, and although it wasn’t too hard having a tired Scarlett and Lola who we had to carry for much of the walk did not make it any easier. But with a lot of cajoling Scarlett into believing that we were hunting for fairies in the magical forest we made our way around the walk. Scarlett was so funny as I would pretend to sprinkle fairy dust on her legs to get her to walk a little more, she would get all excited and circle her arms around and around as if she was building up momentum and then woosh she would be off, for an ever so brief moment climbing up the hills and stairs until a very short distance on she would need more fairy dust and the process would begin again. Another couple who were doing the walk were very impressed by my ingenuity and you could see them giggling every time Scarlett would do her very pronounced ‘circle work’.

After all this effort a poor little Lola fell asleep in my arms before I could lay her into the pram and Scarlett announced that her tummy had worked up an appetite for an icecream! Scarli’s tummy tells her a lot of things, that she is hungry, that she doesn’t want to do her chores, that she loves mummy more than daddy, that she should have some chocolate…..in years to come I think she will continue to use her tummy as an excuse for EVERYTHING, she even pushes it together so the skinfolds can ‘talk’ to me when I don’t believer her, she is such a funny little creature!

I loved the short time we spent in Port Douglas and now can totally understand why my dear friend Kym says Port Douglas refreshes the soul, it was great! So after a beautiful last play on four mile beach we packed up the camper and headed to our next destination, Paronella Park, to learn more about Jose’s dream!!!.

Paronella Park is a castle and private gardens that a man called Jose built for his beloved earlier this century, (not very good with the details, but it was maybe around the 1930’s) We drove to Mena Creek to do the tour and stayed in the caravan park attached to paronella park for the night. The story told about Jose was very interesting and the amount of work that this single man did to build these beautiful buildings, by hand, was incredible. We did a couple of tours, one during the day that described the historical story about Jose and his ‘DREAM’ (this wording featured very heavily in the tours)  and then the night tour which was just even more spectacular. Although the castle and other buildings have been heavily hit by cyclones and time, you can picture so clearly what these buildings must have been like in their hey day. Scarlett and I wandered around the night tour and she was so excited to be seeing a ‘real live castle’ she even asked if santa could make her one like that for Christmas!

The next day we headed off for a few nights of free camping at Murray Falls, even though we had visited this national park previously Mike loved it so much that we have come back to have a few days ‘out in the bush’.

It has been a lovely couple of days out here communing with nature. We have swam in rock pools, getting carried away by the rapids, the kids have played and explored the bushland. Oscar has found some secret hiding spots to try and hide from his sisters and has had a great time at night sitting by the fire chewin’ the fat with his old dad. It is so gorgeous to eavesdrop on their conversations, I love listening to what they talk about.

We have read books, relaxed watching the waterfall and roughly plotted the next leg of our journey to Brisbane. We also met another great family who have been on the road for approx 4 months too. They had two daughters and Oscar has had such a great time playing with their eldest daughter, Honey. They hit it off so well and it was so cute to see them cosying up by the fire toasting marshmallows! We were so disappointed to see them head off as Oscar had so much fun. Scarlett loved it too as all the kids sat with Sara and made lip gloss, Scarli wandered around all day reapplying her lip gloss to her lips until they have doubled in size, she then tries to kiss you and you end up wearing half a pot of lipgloss all over you too! It is nice to see the kids playing all day outside, as much as Oscar loves his ds, he is just as happy to be outside playing by the river and climbing up hills exploring. Free camping is a great way of ensuring we do this more often as you can’t power up the ds or the computer, you do stop and take time out. I think I am so relaxed from the last couple of days I could fall into a coma!!! ( quick get me  to the nearest facebook access and shopping mall!!!)

We have now made our way to Ayr for the night before we hit Airlie beach tomorrow, happy travels!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


We arrived in Camoweal, and after a quick walk up and down the main street decided that the only thing left to do was have a cold beer in the pub! We had pulled the camper up into the sites behind the pub and once we were set up ventured over to the pub for a few quiet ales. Well it was definitely a few quiet ones as we were the only ones in the pub! The next day we set off again to Mt Isa, the kids are so sight seeed out that we just drove straight to the caravan park and kicked back for the next two days, we restocked the pantry, recharged all our electrical devices and continued on the ‘Overlander Way’ the next two days were spent driving and sightseeing across to the coast.  We stopped at some great little outback towns for lunch, a quick stretch and to curb the kid’s addiction to icecream for another day or so. We had a great time checking out all the fossils and dinosaurs in Richmond and Hughendon, it was great to see Oscar actually interested in one of our ‘touristy things’. I think we have national parked, gorged, tourist attracted our kids to boredom and they are in need of the simple pleasure of a playground and lego!.

After a couple of long days driving and free camping we arrived at Townsville! We treated ourselves to the luxury of a BIG 4, and as they had no powered sites left had to get one with an ensuite (woo hoo!!!!) The kids had free reign over the playground and jumping pillow and mum and dad could relax for five minutes and enjoyed the company of some great neighbours. They had kids the same age as Oscar and Scarlett so our kids were very happy to have some new friends to play with!
On the Sunday I happily had a day to myself and lo and behold I chanced upon a market!!! I had a great time wandering around and having some time to myself, soaking up the rays and having a little shop (I think I was having ‘shopping’ cravings!). The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the wait for a trolley to do some groceries! It was that busy at woolies that I had to wait in queue to get a trolley before I could even start my shopping, and when I finally got to the registers it was another 45 minute wait! Thank god the kids weren’t with me (and even worse Mike, he hates doing the groceries at the best of times!)

In Ballarat we have in house joke about Ted, our friendly check out chick at the Eastwood st complex. He is so slow that he now makes Mike and I nearly cry with laughter, once he was so slow that he would pick up an item, really look at it, as if he was trying to memorise what it was, then he would slowly scan it, look at it again, and then put it in your bag…..once he took so long that I kept giving the kids money to put in the spinning wheel. Then good old Ted actually stopped scanning my groceries and watched the coin spin all the way to the bottom!  The lady behind me was so annoyed and I just laughed and laughed. Poor Ted must have no idea why we find him so humorous!  (Ted recently moved to the Deli section and man you should see him cut it up with the meat slicer!!)

Anyways, after reading the latest new idea and women’s weekly I finally got to leave the supermarket  (mental note to self, never do shopping in Townsville again!)

The next day we went to the Aquarium and The Strand, it was a great day, the kids loved playing at the water playground and Mike and I loved paying over $40 for some over priced fish n chips (NOT!) lucky they were bloody beautiful! After a big long walk on the beach and a bit of climbing of trees in the gardens we headed back to the car to see we had a bloody fine. I thought it was because we were over the limit, but noooo it was for not reverse parking! So now we have our first holiday fine and let me tell you I am not paying it!!! There is not one sign saying that you have to reverse park into the parking bay. I have already emailed the Townsville council advising them this and sent through photos of the signs regarding parking…lets see if they can get the $20 out of me!!!!

So the next day we packed up and headed up towards Cairns, again we had no idea where we were going as we hadn’t planned very well. We ended up in a little town, Caldwell. Although there wasn’t much to do here it has been amazing to wander around this area and see the damage that cyclone yassi did earlier this year. You can see where houses have been torn from their stumps, roofs and sheds blown over and the trees that are still standing are all on a lean. After having a chat to the people at the caravan park and looking through their photos you really feel for these people. The cyclone has caused heart ache and so much damage but the amount of work these communities are doing is so commendable. A lot of the drives and walks in the mountains are still closed due to the effects of the cyclone, you see big metal steel things (or ‘acro props’ which  Mike has advised is the correct technical term) holding up the roofs in some of the shops and some house still have tarps over them. The trees are broken and bent, but the regeneration is wonderful to see. Today we went for a drive to Murray Falls and the Tully Gorge, the debris that is still everywhere in the national forests is amazing, the fallen trees, broken limbs are everywhere. It was an amazing day spent in the national park, we went for a walk to the waterfall, swam in a beautiful watering hole, took a drive up to the tully gorge. The scenery was amazing in the rain forest, but I was more excited that we spotted a Cassowary! Mike didn’t believe me about these native flightless birds and I finally got some proof! There is nothing better than proving my husband wrong! (in my head I sing the ‘I WIN, YOU LOSE, I WIN YOU LOSE’ song over and over…..)

After an amazing day playing with the kids, we saw the obligatory ‘big thing’ the golden gumboot in Tully and made our way home. Tomorrow we are heading to mission beach for a few more days of relaxing and frolicking by the sea! What a hard life we lead!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The last few days in the Northern Territory

Matarankah (or as Mike enticingly named it, ‘what about a wank, ha?’)

We pulled up late in the arvo to Matarankah homestead and after taking the last powered site settled in for a relaxing evening chatting to the other campers in the area. I think our common bond that begins all our conversations with fellow campers is ‘Oh no what happened to your legs!’, Since Broome I have had the curse of midgees and mozzies attacking me wherever I go! I have been offered all types of remedies, repellants to try and get rid of these pesky bites but to no avail. Mike has loved that as soon as it turns dusk I go and put on long pants and top no matter how hot it is and then sit there and complain that it’s bloody hot!.

We had a great couple of days at Matarankah, we swam in the thermal hot pools, had camp fires at night eating marshies and generally just relaxed! Mike made some new friends and every night was next door having a few quiet ones with the old guy. The ‘old guy’s’ wife always turned in really early and every morning would apologise to me and say she started on the scotch way to early the night before and had to retire to bed! They were very funny and great company for a few days.

We left Matarankah on the Tuesday, on a mission to cross the Northern Territory outback as fast as we could. We had absolutely loved our brief time in the Northern Territory and can't wait to return when Lola is a little older so we can explore some of the national parks some more. So for the last couple of days we have had a few long drives across the country watching the same view for hours on end. We had a few stops to break the boredom, the first at the Daly Waters Pub for lunch, even though it was only 11am we ‘forced’ ourselves to have a beer at Australia’s oldest pub. We loved that there was so many people turning up to see this ramshackle old pub and I enjoyed the chat with the Irish chick behind the bar, who came out to Daly Waters to save some money, but found that she put nearly all her earnings back into the pub every night!  

Today , after a night of free camping at one of the rest stops near the highway, we headed off again, we lunched at the iconic Barkly Homestead and drove to our next destination, Camoweal QUEENSLAND! With much excitement (well ok with only excitement from me), we have finally crossed the border into Queensland. We plan to spend a night in Mt Isa tomorrow and make our way to Townsville by Saturday….looking forward to some more beautiful coastal country side!


KAKADU _every time I write it, say it or see it, I hear the tune of Zanado by Olivia Newton John playing in my head, with Zanado replaced by KAKADU. I think that I have even hummed it for the last four days as I have wandered around this amazing part of Australia. I can add Kakadu to my list of favourites! Kakadu had a very special feel, I think immersing myself in the traditional owners appreciation of the land, and embracing the culture, country and they way they perceive the land has been such an eye opening experience. I have seen so much and learnt so much in these few short days that I already can’t wait to come back and learn so much more.

My favourite time was at Ubirr, looking at the rock art that has told such important stories for such a long time, gazing at these spectacular views of amazing land, such important land to Australia.  Just being there in the moment, feeling the earth’s heat, letting the feeling, the specialness just sit with me for a time.

I think that Kakadu has burrowed into my heart, searing my soul with a little of it’s magic. I have left Kakadu feeling right with the world, I feel a sense of clarity that I haven’t felt for quite some time, the questions that plague me may not all be answered but I feel a direction has been plotted. 

Kakadu was amazing, in amongst my new found feelings of love and peace (I may even start my own commune), was the day to day goings on of travelling, We visited awe inspiring places, saw spectacular views and learnt so much in our brief time here. We also swam and frolicked at the pool, enjoyed many a happy hour with the Labbetts who we were lucky to wander through this kakadu diversion with. We laughed, watched our children play with their friends and enjoyed the familiar faces of some great friends. It was so much fun to spend these few days with the Labbetts and will be a part of our trip that I will remember fondly. I even love that they followed us to Katherine mac donalds and Woolworths!!!!

I am  looking forward to the time of year when they put nothing but reruns on tv so I can watch Crocodile Dundee and be able to see all the places I have visited, whilst singing ZANADU in my head!  The balance between the ridiculous thoughts of croc Dundee and zanadu and the strong impression Kakadu had on my pyche mades me giggle!

Scarlett and I did an amazing dawn cruise along the Yellow waters, and it was lovely to have a couple of hours of special time with my big girl. We did some great walks in the park and I am a little jealous of the Labbetts who went to Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls, (definitely  next time!)

So after our brief sojourn into this amazing land, we headed back towards Katherine, via a quick dip in Edith Falls. After such an amazing time in Kakadu the stark reality of Katherine (aka Shitsville) hits you in the face nearly as much as the stench does. We drove straight through the town centre to the beautiful Katherine Gorge and set up for the night at the caravan park there. We enjoyed again a dip in another beautiful pool, Scarlett and Lola are becoming more and more confident everyday in the water. The serenity of all these amazing national parks has soaked into my skin and I was becoming very ‘one with the land, and the animals that reside there’..................... that was until the BLOODY bats turned up. OMG they were everywhere, the noise they made all night long was enough to turn all these good loving  naturist thoughts into ‘where do I find a shot gun to start a mass bat massacre!!!! I battled through the night listening to the caucophony of sounds and finally drifted off to sleep. The next day, to the sound of Mike impersonating Robyn saying ‘holy bat shit Bat man’ we packed up our campervan, washed as much of the bat shit off the roof and headed to our gorge cruise.

The beauty of the gorge certainly made up for the bat shit, we drifted down the river bribing the kids to be good with lollies so we could enjoy the view. The gorge was impressive and the tour guide very educational. So after bribing the kids for the last couple of hours, we made our way to Mac Donalds in Katherine, again we were stalked by the labbetts who were also making there way to the gorge, we said a fond farewell and enjoyed another 30 minutes of peace as the kids scoffed into the fat laden burgers and played on the playground. We then bet a hasty retreat out of Katherine to Matarankah.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Northern Territory

Northern Territory – July 1st

So after bidding a fond farewell to the Kimberley’s we ventured into the Nothern Territory. With Lola asleep and the others refusing to get out as they had just been allowed to watch a DVD, I was alone in my obligatory ‘crossing the border’ photo. I was lucky Mike even stopped the car as he hates it when we have just overtaken the grey nomads (or slowmads, as Mike calls them) and I call for a scenic photo stop! We ventured down the highway for another night of free camping. We had a quick stop at Timber Creek for lunch and were bitterly disappointed to see a sign for fireworks, and then a big SOLD OUT sign over it! We continued down the road and stayed at a rest stop about an hour from Katherine.

As we pulled up we noticed that another family who we had been meeting at various spots on our trip had also pulled up for the night. They had 6 kids, so our kids had a great time playing with them as the parents swapped stories of where we have been and where  we have stayed. I loved to hear the mum talk about what she feeds them and where they stay as they are very budget conscious, it is so interesting to get ideas from other people. We were also very excited as they had purchased fireworks and invited us to watch the
“’Spectacular’ So after a great afternoon where the kids enjoyed playing, the parents enjoyed relaxing, we waited until dusk for the firework show, it was so strange to be in the middle of nowhere with just  a dozen or so other campers around you lighting fireworks. Some of the fireworks were great, others were a bit of a fizzer, but the funniest was when an old nomad came out of his caravan and in a very gruff voice, firmly told us to stop all the rot, we are going to start a fire! He was very concerned his caravan would go up in flames!

So after moving a suitable distance we let the last of the fireworks off, and headed for an early night. As it was a beautiful night Mike and I slept with the sides down under the stars, at about 3am we were woken by a very noisy car pulling in to the rest stop, the guys got out, used the toilet and then proceeded to have a very late tea, or a very early brekky. They had obviously been celebrating ‘territory day’ (the only day fireworks are permitted for sale in NT) and had had a couple, they were shouting to each other, as they scoffed a bbq chicken, it was a little weird to  hear one yelling ‘Wanna leg mouldy arse?’, after such a peaceful star watching drift off to sleep. As they were leaving they screeched out the road throwing ground fire crackers and laughing there heads off. 

After a brief few more hours of sleep we got up, said good bye to our friends and headed for Katherine, we drove into Katherine at about 10.20, Mike and I saw the golden arches sign, peered at the clock and gave each other a little nod, we had 10 minutes to find maccas before the brekky menu closed. We did a quick drive down the main drag and tried a few corners, we were nearly about to give up when I turned a corner and there it was, we then told the kids our plans but mentioned they had to run really fast to get there before 10.30. Well I have never seen my kids sprint so fast, their little arms and legs were pumping and breathlessly they asked if we had made it in time for pancakes….WE HAD YIPPEE, the Watson kids inhaled their food faster then lightning and then gave mum and dad a few minutes of peace as they went and played on the play ground…aaah the simple things in life are really the best!

We then continued our trek to our destination, Darwin. My cousin Damien, had very kindly offered a lovely site for us to set up camp (at his house), we had a pool right next to us and bathroom facilities right next door. Damien, Nicky  and the kids were away camping themselves, so we just pulled up at his house and set up camp. As they were not home we were hoping we had set up at the right house, imagine if we set up, let the kids jump in the pool and then the owners came home and looked a little confused to find us Watsons invading their home. We were very grateful for the offer to stay at Damien and Nicky’s, we made use of their beautiful pool and outdoor area whilst they were away, did a million loads of washing (there is nothing better then fresh sheets after a few weeks of camping!) and commenced sight seeing!

On the Sunday we headed into Darwin, Damien lives in a beautiful country area about half an hour from Darwin, so after doing a much required grocery shop we set off to the Mindle markets, I absolutely loved the markets, the place was buzzing with people and there was so much to see, so even though we had tired and grumpy children we hang around for as long as we could, enjoying the entertainment, yummy food and lively atmosphere.

We headed back into Darwin and wandered around town, visited the esplanade for a picnic lunch before heading to the museum. We all had a great time at the museum the exhibitions were so interesting, displaying the different seasons, animals and landscape that is the Top End. I particularly enjoyed watching the kids get excited when they named all these different creatures and species that three months ago they wouldn’t have known. The Cyclone Tracey exhibit was haunting and very emotional, it was well worth a look around. The kids spent ages in the interactive area and Mike and I enjoyed the chance to sit and watch them play. We then made our way back to camp and enjoyed the beautiful pool once more.

We went to casuirina, a huge shopping centre, the kids saw cars 2 at the movies, whilst I shopped with a sleeping Lola, what bliss. That night Damien Nicky and the kids arrived home from their camping trip, it was great to finally see them, although I am sure that they were tired from the long day of unpacking and driving.

We went to the Territory Wildlife Park which was amazing the kids really enjoyed wandering around, seeing the different seasons of the top end and the amazing animals, Mike and I also enjoyed learning so much about the top end.  We walked around the park to most of the exhibits, it was fascinating as they had recreaated the different seasons, so when you got to the moonsoonal rain, you pressed a button and the 'rain' poured down. When the heat of the day became too much and the groans from the kids were no longer ignorable (or GINORABLE, as Scarlett says to us know), we jumped onto the train that wandered through the park in the hunt for icecream. I think the watson's should have bought shares in icecream the amount we are consuming!

Today we went back into Darwin and wandered around the monuments and attractions based on Darwin’s involvement in WWII, dragging the kids to different aviation museums, much to their horror! (they wanted to play with Lachy and Claire) and although they won’t admit it, they did have a good time. That night oscar and I ventured back to the Mindle Markets, it was nice to spend some time with my boy, he loved wandering around watching the buskers perform, he danced to some music and ate huge amount of fairy floss!!! It was a lovely few hours with my gorgeous boy.

On Friday we did a day trip to Litchfielf National Park, the scenery was amazing and although the Wangi Falls were closed to swimming, (there was a croc sunning itself on the rocks) we wandered around the monsoonal forests and swam at Bluey’s rock pool. The kdis loved it there being carried away with the water rapids, Oscar was watching the older kids jumping off the rocks into the deep pools and although he got up there twice he couldn’t quite make the jump! It was an awesome day in the sun just relaxing and enjoying life.

Saturday welcomed us with another market, at parap, Mike gleefully followed his wife around the market, waiting with Lola at every corner as it was so busy that he couldn’t get through with the pram, but you know Mike hejust loves a good market, nothing would keep him away….there was not a thing he would have rather been doing!!!! I did enjoy again the diversity of culture that was on offer and wandered around picking up a few little items that I can store in the camper until we get home. That night we caught up with the lovely Labbett family, who were holidaying from Ballarat. I think Mike enjoyed having another bloke to talk to and I know I enjoyed having a laugh with Jo, we had a great night, even if the boys had to walk a mile to cook the bbq. Mike again felt the urge to don the frock as the photos on Facey will show you, even Ash got in on the action with his sunnies! What a laugh we had! We hope we see them again before we head across to the east.

On our last day with the Collis Family, Damien had generously offered to take Mike and the boys fishing. With a glint in his eye Damien also mentioned there may need to be a little stop on this fishing expedition at goat island but wouldn’t reveal the reason. The boys headed to the river for a leisurely fish, hoping to catch us some supper. Oscar put his rod in and not long after felt a bite.  Mike and Damien came round to assist and sadly told Oscar that they thought he was just caught in a snag. They kept pulling trying to unhook the snag and much to their surprise a BLOODY BIG CROCODILE was attached to Oscar’s rod. Oscar had tangled around it’s foot, so they quickly cut the line before he got too angry and started chomping at the boat! The boys say he was about 3 metres in length, I think that this is such a great tale to tell when he returns to school, and even though they spent the day fishing this was the only bite they got. They all had such a great day, in the afternoon Damien steered them in the direction of Goat Island. This is an island on the river in the middle of nowhere and to Mike’s surprise the only thing on the island was a PUB! They pulled up next to another boat and were about to jump out when they both realized that they had left their wallets in the car (ha ha) They were about to leave when the publican came down and said where are you going, they explained the situation and he said, ‘Doesn’t matter we will work something out’ I love this tale that the boys tell as it exemplifies what great characters Australia is made up off.. Here in the middle of nowhere surrounded by  a river full of crocs is this pub, run by a man originally from denmark, who has owned it for about 8 years, they all went inside and had a cool beer and softdrink. The publican then got the boys to work with his can crusher making them show him their muscles to see if they could do the work. The boys set about crushing cans, leaving Mike and Damien to have a few minutes of peace. The publican was cluey though as when the bag of cans ran out he told the boys to made their dad’s drink quicker so they could crush their cans!  As luck would have it the only other people at the pub were known to Damien so they borrowed some moola to pay their way! I love that this was the boys last day in Darwin, what a great memory for them to share!

It was so lovely to stay with Damien and Nicky, we hadn’t seen Damien since our wedding over 11 years ago, and although had always received progress reports from Aunty Sue and Uncle Kev, it was great to catch up and meet his lovely family. The kids had a ball playing together, as Damien and Nicky have two kids close in age to ours, Claire is Scarlett’s age and Lachlan is a few years older than Oscar. They all got on like a house on fire, Oscar wanted to know if we could move to Darwin so he could see Lachy all the time! We often had to drag them away to go sight seeing as they did not want to leave. Nicky kindly offered to babysit the older two a few times so that I could duck in to the shops and get a few things done!!! (what bliss a little me and Lola time!) We really enjoyed the quiet evenings chatting with Damien, Nicky and their two older kids Alicia and Jake. It was lovely to be welcomed into their home and spend this time with getting to know each other, we greatly appreciated their generous offer, hospitality and their warmth. (oh and the fish that Damien caught during their camping trip was delicious!!!) I also loved our extended stay in Darwin, I felt right at home wandering around the city and I think Darwin had such a lovely feel about it, I loved learning a little of the history, enjoyed seeing the ways they build to maximize the climate they live in and would love to return in the wet season to witness how this amazing land can change.

So after a lovely 9 days in Darwin we packed up are camper, said our goodbyes, tore the kids away from their new friends and headed off to kakadu. We are going to spend about four nights wandering through kakadu and seeing as much as we can of this beautiful land. The first day we have spent relaxing by the pool and visiting the cultural centre. I have learnt so much already and we haven’t even ventured too far from our caravan park. Tomorrow we intend to see some rock art, go to a traditional basket weaving demonstration and go on some lovely walks. We are looking forward to the Labbetts joining us again for another night of fun and laughter!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Free camping Treenie (Broome to Kununnura)

Free camping Treenie (Broome to Kununnura)
So after as much procrastinating as I possibly could the day (or should I say night) had arrived, Mikey was making me free camp. We couldn’t possibly justify paying $65 just to pull over for the night and my budget conscious brain clicked in and agreed to free camping on our way to Darwin. Don’t get me wrong I usually don’t mind free camping in the middle of no where with no facilities but for some reason I just wasn’t that interested in doing it on the trip. Well was I mistaken, we have had so much fun pulling up in the free camp sites and meeting lots of others doing the same thing! I must admit I now have caravan envy as I see people exit their caravan in the morning looking freshly showered but hey I can cope with  the ‘shower in a can’ for a few nights. We free camped for (two nights) our way past Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek, stopping to see the sites and visit some beautiful spots in the national parks, we had a brief 'power and shower' reprieve stop at Parry’s Farm Stay about 20k’s out of Wyndam.

This was an amazing spot, they had powered sites on their farm, and the kids loved wandering around and trying to find the crocodile they told us was currently residing in their lagoon. Although the thought of staying the night in Wyndam did not hold much appeal for me, Parry’s Place was beautiful and a great spot to kick back. We ventured into Wyndam and saw some amazing sites, we visited the lookout where five rivers meet, we saw the aboriginal sculptures that pay tribute to the land we live in and met some very interesting characters. The highlight of the wyndam stop was the Croc Farm. The kids loved seeing these amazing reptiles so close to us and when we did the tour they were enthralled watching them being fed. The old guy who took the tour was so entertaining, he was truly living on his own time, he had a quick smoke before the tour then as we were wandering around he would light up and then throw a big bit of meat to the crocs. He told some fascinating tales about how the crocs came to be at the croc farm and used some very ‘entertaining’ language in front of us all to explain them. I was killing myself laughing watching Oscar’s face as he kept repeating ‘swear word’ after swear word in front of the kids. Scarlett thought it was hysterical and kept wanting to repeat them for the next few days, cheekily telling me that the croc man said it so so can I!  After a great few hours listening to this entertaining man we were on the road to Kunanurra. I gratefully paid to spend a few nights in the Big 4 caravan resort, it was lovely! Great shower pressure, playground and pool for the kids and some beautiful shady spots to rest under.

Mike and I have a running tally on the shower pressure at each of the parks we haved stayed at, Mike has mentioned on a few occasions that he is just going to go and buy a shower head and ‘install’ it every time we get to a new park so that he can enjoy his shower, And I  have turned into ‘that’ person, you know the one that tells everyone who walks into the amenities what shower I have found to be the best. In the quest for a decent shower I feel that I must now empower all others with my knowledge, I LOVE it, I am the one at the basin who when I see someone approaching the shower will try and get their attention through the mirror so I can deliver my best intentioned advice…”the end shower has the best pressure…or the first two showers go hot then cold”….OMG I think there is a little Peter Saunders coming out in me yet!!!!!

Kununnara was great. It was such an interesting place, we visited lots of aboriginal galleries and learnt some amazing things, we fed fish that literally jumped on top of each other to get the bread, we picnic’ed at some beautiful spots near lake argyle and the national parks and generally just hung out at the caravan park. The kids were in their element as they finally had some more friends to play with and it was so nice to see them having a great time with their new friends, it was a shame to be going so soon as I think Oscar had really needed some time with some kids his own age.

But the NORTHERN TERRITORY was awaiting. After nearly 13 weeks (half of our trip) we were leaving Western Australia. We are taking some amazing experiences with us and as I watch the kids write and draw in their journal, looking back at the photos to remember things I hope that this is just the start of our adventures in WA. We have so many things we didn’t get to do or see and are already planning our return visit (mind you in the next visit Mike has already upgraded the car and campervan so we can do the Gibb River Road and other off road adventures!)

Favourite things in WA
Theresa – Coral Bay, definitely somewhere I want to go to again, it was just beautiful, the Ningaloo Reef was amazing and I loved that the fish just swam around you and you ventured only metres of shore to see the coral reef.
Michael – Coral Bay ( what a surprise we actually agree on something) Mike loved that we didn’t’ move the car from the time we pulled up, we just walked across the road to the beach or the shop.
Oscar – climbing the Gloucestor Tree in Pemberton (oh and his birthday in Perth)
Scarlett – Playgrounds! Her favourite was in Donnybrook, but she wished it wasn’t raining so she could have gone on everything..
Lola – I think that lola would say the birds, she has loved that they are everywhere and she can constantly point to one and say ‘bird, bird’ I also think she has loved having 3 months of full time mum and dad time. What a great gift for her to have her family doting on her every day.

So the first three months of our trip are done and dusted, this time has been so special for me, I have loved (most of the time) being with my family, watching the kids grow and develop so many new skills. Oscar has changed so much in the last three months, still a little shy until he has sussed the situation out, he is learning so many new skills daily. I love watching his relationships with his sister’s grow and develop. From the frustration he displays when Scarlett always wants to do what he is doing, to the tenderness and care he shows to Lola. Oscar is such a gentle and kind soul, he wears his heart on his sleeve and is compassionate and caring. He makes me so proud.

Scarlett is so like her mother, we constantly but heads as she is fiercely independent and has such a confidence in herself for a three year old. She will hold herself determinedly, shoulders set back and her body rigid, she is already learning how to hold her own in this world. I love watching our relationship develop, I see so much of myself in her already (particularly when she imitates me scolding her), she is quirky and funny, laughs at her own jokes, is constantly singing and making up stories. She  has an answer for everything and does not back down. She has grown up so much and already constantly talks about going to kinder and school. The other day she told me that when she finishes school she is going to move out and travel the world! In the next breath she also wanted to know if we would come with her so someone can buy her icecreams when she wants them! 

Lola is also developing her own personality. She delights everyone she encounters, and will babble away to anyone who is willing to listen, I love watching her talk to the ‘oldies’ whilst I do the laundry. Lola loves helping me to move the dirty washing from one spot to the next and put the pegs everywhere, quite often a quick trip to the laundry will take 3 times as long, as everyone wants to chat to her and watch her as she plays with the pegs.  Lola does the funniest expressions and I love watching her play the older two off to see who will be at her beck and call! Lola is cute and funny to watch, she LOVES it outdoors and is horrified when we try and restrain her from taking off down the caravan park roads, she has a wandering spirit already. She is truly delightful!

So after three months  living in close confines I believe that the Watson’s are travelling quite well, we are still laughing and loving the life we are living. We are so fortunate to have seen the things we have seen and shared the experiences together! I am looking forward to the next 3 months of our adventure as we try and take in what we can of this big beautiful land of ours!

Northern Territory awaits!

Friday, 24 June 2011

80 Mile Beach and BEAUTIFUL BROOME

80 mile beach

This was only going to be a quick one night stop for us, but when we reached the caravan park we quickly decided to stay longer. In the middle of nowhere we took a turn of the highway and down an unsealed road of red dust, at the end of the road was the 80 mile beach caravan park. And just over the sand dunes was the most stunning beach that went of for miles (well 80 of them actually) it was beautiful. Again the park was full of grey nomads, but it had such a relaxed cheerful feel about it and OMG the bestest fun ever, a wed arvo market on the grassed area….well tickle me pink we all know just how much I love a market and this one was a douzy!!!! We wandered down to the ‘grassed area’ just after one and the stalls were all set up, (all 9 of them) there was knitted hats, crocheted rugs, SHELL PEOPLE, (I had so forgotten the old shell people), my favourite stall was the old dot selling Videos and burned dvd’s…I couldn’t help but think did she plan this before she went on her trip, is this her way of supplementing the pension?) there was fishing ‘stuff’ second hand clothes (nothing like blending in with the  nomads)  second hand books and wait for it ….my favourite….nan and pop with a microphone and electric keyboard singing up a storm for everyone!!! OMG so funny. I was mesmorised by the turn out, I particularly loved the oldies who were singing along to the old songs…it was an awesome afternoon (ok 40 minutes) of fun!!! Then it got better Wednesday night was BURGER night, for $6 and byo chairs you too could enjoy the fun of burger night! So at 5pm the Watsons headed off for burger night , we headed up to the general store (well the only store at the site) and there was a see of grey as the nomads had all got their early to secure a good seat, they were chilling and drinking and the laughter was non stop….the kids were accosted by all missing their grandies and played right into their hands! ! oh and the burgers were delicious! Who would think that in the middle of nowhere so much was going on! 

We ended up staying in 80 mile beach for another night, the stars were enormous and the beach walks were beautiful, as much as the kids tried to go for a swim it was a little cold to go all the way in so we just enjoyed splashing about and having some family time. It seems that we really enjoy these places in the middle of nowhere and are readily preparing to free camp some more along the way to Darwin…..that’s if we ever leave Broome!  The only downside was that Mike didn’t bring enough beer with him to last two nights and that we didn’t have enough petrol in the car to go 4 wheel driving along the beach!!!!!

On the Friday we headed off to Broome, with all the hoo haa about not having booked months in advance we had no trouble getting a site at a caravan park. We may not have been in the park right next to the beach but we are pretty happy where we are. Again Mike and I are making up stories to match the people on other sites, we love wondering what they are doing, why they are here, how long they are staying….we think we are pretty good at spotting the short termers now as you can tell by the amount of stuff they put up. My favourite at this park is the ‘boys’ across the road’. On an unpowered site there are about 3 or 4 boys, probably early 20’s they seem to be doing some work around the caravan park, (possibly for cheap accommodation) they have two cars, and two tents but the funniest thing is that they have a fridge and a BIG Screen TV just plonked in the middle of nowhere….then they have this super long power cord running across the country back to a powered site…it is hilarious….here are these guys  with next to nothing but they manage to have a super huge tv! And tonight they were playing games, so they obviously have some gaming device with them too, it is hiliarous!!!
The only downer of this park is that the walk to the loo’s is about a 1km return trip. I know this isn’t far, but it sure feels far in the middle of the night!

We spent the weekend wandering around checking out the markets, watching stair case to the moon, which is an event where the moon’s reflections on the mud banks creates what appears to be a stair case leading to the moon, so very beautiful, and just relaxing by the camper watching the world go by.

Monday June the something (I have no idea what the date is anymore!)
Some days can be really really long on the road, the small living quarters, the lack of personal space, the inability to hide for 5 minutes to regain your composure, the constant ‘wanting’ and questioning by the kids, the nappy  changes the I need to go to the toilet, the I need to do poos after you have just taken them to the toilet, the I’m hungry, I'm thirsty, I spilt my drink, I’m still thirsty, the I’m bored, the ‘mum, can I play on your phone’  the ‘mum can I play the ds’, the ‘what can I do then’ the snot forever pouring from someone’s nose, the smell of 5 people in a small camper, ( my kids are big FARTERS!) can sometimes drive you to drink (and it’s only just gone 10am!). Today  was like that,…..today was meant to be a great day, we were going to do lots of touristy things in Broome, but it ended up being ‘one of those days'.

We piled the kids in the car, turned the key…nothing, zip nada……so we jiggled the gear stick, turned the key and away we thought we would go, but no, our car drove forward but the stick was stuck in reverse YIPPEEE our car is fucked again!!! As we could not put our car in park we were then stuck with the problem that once we turn it off, we can’t turn it back on!!!!!! So mike dropped me and the kids in town and went in search of an available mechanic in Broome, during the dry season….(yes I can hear your laughter!!!!). Mike pulled up to the holden dealer ship, they said we won’t be able to even look at it till tomorrow and we don’t have a vacany to do any repairs for a fortnight….(apparently all the grey nomads book their cars in for a service whilst in Broome!) so thank goodness for racv total care, we have a hire car and are having a possible extended holiday in Broome!!!

Holden did call us back later that afternoon and said that the cable was broken, a minor job, then the pause….BUT they don’t make those cables anymore so we will need to try and source one from a wreckers somewhere in the state!!!, wow I am seriously loving our car right now!!!!

So, deep breath in and out, righto a few weeks in Broome what a great thing!

So for the remainder of the day Mike did the running around, changing car seats out of our car, into the rental, removing ALL our shit from our car into the rental and I enjoyed a 6 hour wander around town in 30degrees with three kids in tow!!!  During this time scarli ran away and nearly ran onto a road, Lola managed to spill drinks all down her so I had to purchase a new change of clothes for her, Scarli also managed to spill a goodly amount of softdrink EVERYWHERE at lunch (and by everywhere the majority hit me and mike!) we had tantrums from Lola who  did not want to be in the pram….oh happy days!!! By the time we got back to the camper I was in need of a little ‘alone’ time, so mikie took the two eldest to the pool whilst Lola napped and I read a mag, I recharged ready for the onslaught of tea etc, however Mikie didn’t quite manage to regain his composure and has had ‘one of those days’ I am so glad that he is experiencing ‘one of those days’ as I am sure he always thought I was exaggerating what ‘one of those days’ could be like! Now it is a little after 8, tea is cooked, dishes are done, I have had a dance with the kids in the camper, put Lola to bed, read them the final chapters of James and the giant peach, put the eldest two to bed, had a relaxing shower and am sitting back with my milo….I am leaving Mike to his own devices outside (eg drinking beer!)

I do think though that even on the crazy days like today, where it wouldn’t matter where you were, it takes a lot of energy to parent the kids and still be pleasant, that I would rather be here, doing this than anything else in the world right now! Tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday June the something
So after the commotion of yesterday, Holden called back and said that they repaired our cable and the car is all good to go Yippee!, today I had a little ‘me’ time without Mikie and the kids, I had a pedicure, shopped, drank coffee, listened in on other people’s conversations, visited art galleries and working artist studios, chatted to the locals, had a lovely peaceful lunch without any children spilling their drinks or food on me, I window shopped at the very expensive pearls and generally recharged with a little Treenie time! What a hard life I am leading! Broome really is lovely, not too commercialized (yet), and although there is a very obvious relaxed touristy feel, there is something else in the water (or air), the place seems to hum to its own rhythm, or  maybe I am in my own little happy place and the hum I can hear is my heart a smiling ALL the time!

another relaxing day spent kicking back at the caravan park on the Wednesday (well except for the quick trip to Hospital for Lola who had done a runner straight of the bed face planting into the side of the cupboard and had appeared to split her lip open),  we geared up for our last full day in Broome. On the Thursday the kids and I swam at the caravan park at the icily cold pool, we went for a camel ride down the beach and then a four wheel drive down the beach past the nudist beach. There I was sitting on the camel with Oscar and Scarli watching all nude nomads (I didn’t look close enough to see if they were ‘grey’ if you know what I mean), Oscar looks over and casually says to me without a care in the world “Check out there big bare buts mum!” I was trying very hard not to fall off with laughter! After the camel ride, Mike took as back past the nude nomads on a four wheel drive adventure, well again we couldn’t stop giggling like a bunch of school girls everytime a ‘nudey’ would bend over in the direction of their friends, it seemed a little funny to see all these ‘senior’ people just swaying in the breeze without a care in the world, and to have oscar making farting sounds everytime we passed one that was bending!

The mood was then set for a very funny evening, Mike and I watched as the boys over the road packed up their HUGE tv, packing it back into its box like a prized possession, they then put the picnic table and chairs back in the ‘makeshift camp kitchen’  (this was a fridge with tarps around it), they then packed up every thing but one tent, Mike and I could only imagine the cramped night’s sleep all four of them would have that night in the small two man tent!

The site on the other side were having a farewell party for one of the travelling companions, so we sat tucked up in bed with our canvasses down listening to the funny stories they were telling about fishing and four wheel driving and fu$%*….well you can imagine the rest!  Then everytime one would walk past to go to the toilets mike and I would amuse ourselves by doing different animal noises. It started out as soft bird calls, cats meowing, skippy calling for sonny, until we couldn’t help ourselves and started ‘raaaing’ like dinosaurs! We were literally crying with laughter as we watched startled people trying to work out where the noises were coming from. By the end of it I had tears, snot and teaspoons all in one hit, the belly laughs were awesome, and Mikey again had the silent shaking shoulders, the sign that Mike has once again cracked himself up! What a funny night!

Friday June the something
Good bye Broome, hello Derby
So with a great deal of feet stomping, screams of ‘I don’t want to go’ and tantrums (from Theresa not the kids) Mike packed up around me, eager to head off to our next destination, Derby. This is just a quick overnight stop on our next leg across the kimberley’s. We visited the local touristy sites, the Boab prison tree, the jetty  that has the highest tidal movement in Australia and the longest trough in the southern hemisphere and are ready for an early morning departure. A bitterly disappointed Mike is just waiting for the day we can go four wheel driving down the Gibb River Road, but his cautious wife has vetoed the drive as we are not prepared at all for the conditions, so instead Mike is settling for a few days of free camping, with no showers, toilets, electricity…OMG what am I in for!!!!)