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… 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!