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 fiancée 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