Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Cruising down the Queensland coast

Crystal Creek was a tiny caravan park on the highway, we nearly had the entire park to ourselves, sharing only with our friends the Cooksons. The kids were so excited to see a camp kitchen with TV and fans! They claimed ownership of the couches and spent their days divided between the pool and the TV. We crammed some more schoolwork in each morning in the hope that the pile of unfinished modules would reduce to zero. We hung out with our friends, sharing many cups of teas and a few ciders. We swam in awesome rock pools, went to visit more waterfalls, national parks and ate so many pineapples and mangoes from road side stalls that we started turning into tropical fruit!!! 

After a few days kicking back we moved on to our next stop. Airlie Beach. The time we spent in  Airlie Beach is one of my favourite passages of time on our trip. We spoilt the kids against appreciating the attraction of free camping ever again and went to the Whitsunday Big 4 resort as they had a special for only $20 a night for a powered site for the month of October. Mike decided there and then that he was staying for the entire month, and he nearly did! Set up with a pool, water slides, an awesome camp kitchen, table tennis table, mini golf, tennis courts and pedal cars we were in holiday luxury!!! Nearly all our travelling family joined us there and the kids spent many many happy days hanging out with the posse! The adults also hung out in our posse, many a games of uno and sequence were held, table tennis challenges,  tennis games played and morning walks along the beach for the ladies. It was heaven on a stick!!! I am even erasing the most terrible time I had with the migees from my memory and pretending that it never happened!!!

On my last day in Airlie before flying back to Sydney for Bernie's surgery we all cruised out to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and swimming at White Haven Beach. Decked out in our flattering stinger suits the three travelling families  had the most amazing time snorkelling around checking out the coral and fish. I enjoyed having the snorkel back on, time certainly stands still as you watch turtles, fish and sea life drifting around the colourful  coral as you float in the turquoise waters. I am so proud of all my kids who have tried so may new things on this trip, snorkelling, swimming with whale sharks, hiking in spectacular gorges, they have done such a great job. I do hope that even though they have lost the travelling mojo at the moment that they remember the good times we had together as a family, celebrating life with our new friends and seeing what an amazing and special country Australia is. 

I will always be grateful for the generosity and care our new friends showed to my family as I flew in and out to Sydney as we made our way down the east coast. It made it so much easier to leave my babies knowing Mike had friends around to share the load with and to spend time with. Their concern and love is appreciated and will remain a special part of this trip for me.  

So leaving Mike happily living the dream in Airlie, I jumped in the backseat of the Warren's car and happily chilled out listening to Greg's awesome music selection as they drove me to the McKay airport. I flew back to my SIFELY duties and Bernie whilst she had her operation. In what can only be a demonstration of Bernie's determination (some like to call it stubbornness) she recovered incredibly quickly like the champion that she is! I'm not sure if it was Bernie's immense patience or the awesome drugs she was taking, but she coped incredibly well with me asking every five minutes, 'are you ok?', 'Do you need anything?',  'On the scale of 1-10 what is your pain today?'  'Are we annoying you?' 'Can I get you a drink?' 'Are you hungry?','Do you feel like anything?'

After a few days of waking in hospital to my face beaming inches away from her slumbering body the doctors decided Bernie was ready to go home. After a million trips to the car to take down the billions of floral arrangements that Jerusha and I sent to Bern, the numerous patisserie delights that Jerusha and I whipped up and the meaningful gifts that Jerusha and I purchased (hehe, we totally changed the names on all her gift tags to be from us), we were on our way home. They do say that laughter is the best medicine, and I attempted to provide the best care possible as Bernie convalesced at home. However I'm not sure they should say that when an abdominal surgery is involved and I'm sure poor Bernie was glad to see the behind of me when I finally left her in Mum's capable hands and made my way 'home'.

2 and a half weeks later it was time to see my babies, I flew into Harvey Bay happily walking across the tarmac to be leapt upon by my babies! It was soon good to squish them all and I think Lola never left my side for about 48 hours, clinging to me like a life jacket! The weather varied in Hervey Bay and we spent a cruisy couple of days watching Disney movies, walking along the foreshore, swimming in the warm sea and generally lazing about.  In what was a stroke of luck Binny was in Hervey Bay at the same time so it was great to catch up and have breakfast with her at the cafe on the beach whilst she was there. 

Realising that Christmas was fast approaching and that we still had a few stops before landing on the Brisvegas Saunders' we packed up and drove the short distance to Noosa for a few nights. Noosa was amazing, we had a few cracking storms with lots of thunder and lightening it was cool watching the lightening crack over the ocean. We wandered around town seeing how all the beautiful people holidayed, there were lots of beautiful shops, resort style accommodation and fine eateries that after 9 months in camp clothes certainly made us feel a little shabby.  We did some beautiful walks through the national parks, lots of gorgeous forest trails and walks along the cliffs over looking the ocean. I can't wait to return and be one of the beautiful people in the resorts one day (when we finally scrub the last of the red dirt of our feet!) 

Atherton Tablelands

We hit the amazing Atherton tablelands and after the best pub lunch in Mareeba we drove on to Lake Tinaroo. This idyllic setting was our home for the next 10 days. From here we explored as much of the tablelands as we could. All the small county towns had beautiful jacarandas trees coming into bloom, the beautiful purple looked so stunning against the rolling green hills and all these majestic old trees truly made for spectacular scenery.  We enjoyed relaxing as a family and spent many mornings catching up on schoolwork and then the afternoons exploring the many scenic drives and destinations in the area. 

We went for a beautiful rainforest walk at Lake Berrine, conjoling the kids all the way around with the possibility of ice cream at the end. We explored the many waterfalls and had a dip in as many as we could, we desperately tried to see a platypus on the platypus walk but had to 'settle' for only seeing the tree kangaroo, we visited cheese dairies, drank some great coffee at Coffee Works and watched the kids as they excitedly climbed the massive cathedral fig, I closed my eyes and didn't thinks of all the snakes and spiders that could have been lurking In the twisted boughs.  

We had an awesome day at the Yungaburra festival, wandering through the market in the morning and then chilling out in the arvo, listening to lots of cool music, ukele players and cool little trios rehearsing in the rehearsal stage. The kids had a ball with their friends in the kids area, lots of crafty goodness and dress ups to amuse them all, Mike was so impressed by the amount of crafty artwork that the kids brought home to fill our campervan with crafty love! We finished the day with a beer and cider at the pub with Deb and Greg, another beautiful day to store as a memory when the doldrums of real life set in. 

We were lucky to spend this time at Lake Tinaroo with our travelling friends. After exploring all day, we would enjoy many a peaceful happy hour watching the kids running around and enjoying all the space around us. It was even cold enough for a few fires at night. We stayed on a few days longer than our friends and had the whole place to ourselves. Little Lola was happily ensconced in the happy hour tradition and I found her making a great happy hour snack for Mike, salami, crackers, cheese and a beer on a platter, she surely knows the way to her dad's heart. My favourite happy hour was when she decided that we should have naked happy hour, she stripped off and happily ran around in the nuddy, coming back for a bite to eat before running off with Scarlett like a little forest elf frolicking in the gassy clearing. 

The following week we packed up and made our way down from the tablelands, we meandered down slowly checking out all the amazing waterfalls and soaking in the goodness of the rain forests. Mike dropped me off in Cairns to fly to Sydney for what was meant to be Bernie's second round of chemo and went to spend a few more days with the Warrens in Innisfail. 

So thinking chemo was looming on the Monday, Bernie and I made the most of the weekend, markets, shopping, movies on the Saturday and then an amazing long lunch on the Sunday for Jerusha's birthday. The weekend passed super quick with us trying to ignore the thought of chemo.  Then in a world wind foggy daze, chemo treatment no2 quickly turned into organising surgery for a few weeks time. I flew back into another regional airport earlier than anticipated and found my family set up at a tiny little stop on the highway called Crystal Creek.