Saturday, October 29, 2011

Road tripping.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have been keeping a proper travel blog.  A blog where I write about where we've been, what the indigenous name for it is, how many miles above sea level, what it is famous for and what we did there. Then I could have our trip all neatly and tidily categorised. Then we could read it back and have a proper record of this journey.

But on the road I am constantly hearing people talk about how far behind they are in their travel blogs and I know for certain that would have been me. I'd probably be stuck somewhere back at Uluru. And I wouldn't want to miss a detail and it would feel like homework and I'd be stressed.

Instead I've got this strange all over the place blog. Part travel, part personal, part craft, part food, part anything else I feel inspired to write about at the time.

There are certainly bits I've skipped over, but so much happens in one day on the road. So many miles, so many thoughts, so many plans, so many observations.

Just for fun here's a little summary of the past few days...

On Thursday morning we watched Piccolo's new born dolphin cub at Monkey Mia. It was born over night and I'm not sure there is anything cuter than a tiny little dolphin. Wowee!! Not too sure about the every 7-10 minute breast feeds though. That poor Mama dolphin.

We also watched Puck, another dolphin, struggle to understand why she was not the centre of attention for once and try to win it back with all manner of tricks.

And then, later on that morning we packed up and left Monkey Mia and the best caravan spot EVER!! It was not easy I tell you.

We spent that night at Denham, at the western most caravan park in Australia (WINDY!!) and caught up with lots of friends for handstands and later on for drinks.

On the way out on Friday we visited Shell beach. Like the name suggests, Shell beach is covered with tiny white shells. Its about four meters deep with them

We dug around in them, made piles of them, sorted through them and threw them in the air and into the water.

I wish I could share with you the tinkling sound they made as they hit the water. I loved that sound.

And then we visited the stromatolites.

At The Billabong road house where we ate our lunch, we looked at hundreds of photos of tattoos and I decided I don't think I want one any more. I don't know exactly what it was but something about them just made me feel like I do not need to belong to that club. I might change my mind. Who knows.

In Geraldton it was SUPER WINDY and apart from a bit of play ground play, we sheltered in the caravan and played clapping games, watched movies and thanked goodness we have a van and not a tent.

Also in Geraldton Farmer Bren was voted best plaiter in the family!!

I know!!

And I finally got my Textured Leaf dress. (Please excuse the caravan mess).

This dress arrived at Carnarvon post office long before we had passed through there. My Tassy friend Jo tried to pick it up unsuccessfully and then a few days later Fiona got lucky and brought it south with her. Yay! I adore it Wendy, thank you. xx

So there you have it. A couple of days on the road. Some of it anyway. Of course in this time food was prepared and eaten, miles and miles and miles were driven, podcasts were listened to, conversations had, games played, decisions made, music played, books read, a ukulele strummed, crocheted ends sewn in, photos taken............................................................................................................................................

Happy travels. x

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Very early on in this trip, maybe even before we left home, I wrote a blog post describing it as a caravan adventure. It felt like that. It felt like we were taking a risk, doing something exciting and unusual. Someone, I cannot remember who, left a comment on that post challenging that thought. They said that hopefully it would not be an adventure because that meant that things hadn't gone to plan. That we would be taking risks. That the outcomes were uncertain.

Early this morning our family of five boarded a catamaran in Monkey Mia hoping to spend the next few hours sailing about watching the dolphins, sharks, dugongs, turtles and other sea life. 

Farmer Bren helped the crew 'heave ho' and then we settled in for the ride.

At first the trip was glorious.

The ocean was turquoise, the borrowed Polaroid sunnies gave us a giggle and let the girls see the water better, there was a pleasant breeze and an optimistic feeling on board.

We sailed for a while and we did see a couple of dolphins, some logger head turtles and some jumping fish, but try as we might none of the bigger sea creatures were anywhere to be seen.

And then the 'severe weather warning' that wasn't meant to reach us until this afternoon turned up.

We watched it in all its dark grey gloomy glory heading towards us from across the bay. 

At first we thought we would be able to outrun it back to shore. But then we realised we couldn't 'run' that fast. 

So we stowed all our valuables, donned borrowed yellow waterproof jackets and huddled under the  tiny bit of shade cloth shelter and waited.

And it didn't disappoint. We saw spectacular lightning, heard thunder that made us scream with fright and got absolutely and completely saturated. 

When we finally arrived back at the dock the crew offered us another sailing trip for free to take over the next few days. We declined ours because we are leaving tomorrow, but the truth is I think that all of us feels like we had our sailing on Monkey Mia adventure already.

We may have not seen many of the sea creatures they advertised but we had such an exciting and thrilling time. We explored unknown territory, experienced something potentially risky. Things hadn't quite gone to plan.

But we had a ball. We yelled at the crazy loud thunder, we laughed at each other as we got progressively wetter and started dripping, we huddled in tight to fit more people under the tiny shelter and we chatted with people from all over the world that we otherwise might have not even noticed.

After we got off the boat and had warm showers and changed into warm, snuggly clothes, we had a hearty lunch of pasta with pesto and spent the afternoon listening to the rain on the roof, watching movies, crocheting and writing in our journals. 

What an amazing, adventurous and cozy last day in Monkey Mia. One I am certain we will never forget.

Happy travels. x

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On time and ageing

I've been thinking and wondering about age a lot recently. Age and time and years. Maybe its because I'm speeding towards a milestone birthday. Maybe its because I'm in one of the most beautiful places in the world and I have time to think. Or maybe its because at this time of the year all my girlies turn one year older.

I don't know.

Here's a bit of what I've been thinking lately:

I don't feel like I am old enough or mature enough or sophisticated enough to be turning forty. It's funny but I was having a big think about this on the beach early this morning, when two friends walked past discussing the exact same thing. Unless they are sick, almost every adult I talk to in life feels younger than their years. My own grandfather told me recently that he could easily switch the numbers in his age and be 39 like me instead of his own 93.

I have a husband and three kids, a business, a house and a car like a forty year old might, but I just thought that as a forty year old I might be more organised, neater, more settled and serious. Nope.

My farmer boy doesn't think like this though. He says he is what he is and age means nothing.

This younger than your years thing doesn't seem to apply to children though. The six or so kids I asked this morning all told me they felt well and truly the age they are or are turning soon.

Then there is the fact that so often adults struggle with aging while kids seem to be in such a hurry to reach their next birthday and their next and their next. On New Years' Eve this year as soon as the clock struck midnight and we had wished each other a happy new year, all the kids started excitedly comparing notes about the age they would turn next year (ie not this year's birthday but next.) My kids were terribly excited to be turning five, nine and twelve, but I was not exactly thrilled to be skipping straight to forty one.

And lastly, my kids love celebrating milesstones and cannot wait to reach them and celebrate them. Whereas I and a lot of other Mothers I speak to feel a twinge of sadness at these times. First days of school, birthdays, weaning, lost teeth, growing out of clothes... ouch!

This mother has never even given her last baby a haircut and she is four!

Birthdays and milestones mean time is passing and that means lasts and farewells and they are hard.

Late last night I carried my newly minted four year old back to the caravan. We'd had the most incredible day that had finished off with a pizza by candle light dinner with the entire crew and then an outdoor movie where every single child fell asleep. As I carried Miss Pepper to bed I nuzzled into her sleepy neck and started crying. My baby.

At the end of the happiest and most beautiful day I was crying because time was passing.

I was happy and grateful too of course.

There are 10 more days until my big day, I'll try not to bore you with my aging musings too much between now and then.

Happy aging. xx

ps. Monkey Mia with her dolphins, her crystal clear waters and our camp site right on the beach is possibly the most beautiful place we have been.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Miss Pepper is Four.

Our Beautiful Pepper Berry birthday girl.

Very, very early this morning there was a discussion from the bunk bed end of the caravan. Someone told you that today was your birthday and you said it couldn't be because your birthday was going to be in Monkey Mia. As soon as you realised that it was Monkey Mia and so it must be your birthday you were up and excited. Birthday day was on!

You sat at your birthday table and surveyed the scene. You opened your prezzies and ate a few lollies and wore your birthday tiara proudly.

Then we got dressed and looked out of the caravan door to the beach and saw a dolphin right in front of our van doing a special private show. We squealed with delight and were certain she was there to wish you a very special happy birthday. (Mum embarrassed you by coming to see what the fuss was about dressed only in a bed sheet, but let's not go there.)

Then we walked down the beach to watch the dolphin feeding.

By the time we got back to the caravan and cooked up your birthday love heart pancakes we were all super hungry, but you refused to eat until we invited all your friends to eat too.

You spent the day swimming at the beach and the pool, doing make-overs with the big girls, pretending to chat on the mobile Phone Jazzy made for you, watching the movie Dad made of your life and running from van to van to beach and back.

You and your friends were super excited about your party and asked about it all day long. When finally it was time to get ready for the party, you and Ivy helped with the cake and everybody carried the food and drinks outside.

And what a great party!

I love that you did a bit of break dancing while everyone was posing for this photo. I also love that you took lots of breaks to have 'time out' in the caravan over the course of the afternoon.

Because of the sea breeze, birthday candle time needed a bit of shelter in the form of a couple of beach towels. It looks like you had a bit of help from Ivy and Georgie with the blowing out too.

Your Dad finally got to perform 'happy birthday' on the ukelele.

And you cut the cake and knife came out dirty and you kissed the nearest boy.

What a day!

I hope that your year of being four is as happy as today has been.

We love you hunormously.

Miss Pepper's third birthday here.
Miss Pepper's second birthday here and party here.
And yes, she has worn the same tutu for all three birthdays, but sadly I think it might retire after this trip.

Happy days. xx

Friday, October 21, 2011

The big one...

I'm having a birthday in two weeks today. A big important birthday. A birthday that ends in an 0 and is often the cause for a crisis.

I'm not feeling like I'm in crisis though. I'm feeling ok about it. Calm even.

No matter how good the 20 year olds on the beach look in their skimpy bikinis, I wouldn't want to be them again and although I do have the odd new baby twinge, I adore the stage our family is at and wouldn't want to be where I was at 30 either. I'm pretty lucky and happy to be right here where I am today.

A few weeks back I thought I might make a list of forty things to do before...but when it got down to it I didn't have anything really to put on the list. I mean sure there are things I still want to achieve and learn in life, but nothing urgent. Nothing that will complete me.

Except maybe a tattoo. Maybe. I've had the design for ages but it hasn't happened yet. There's still time. Maybe even on my actual birthday. Just a small, simple one and nowhere too obvious. Maybe.

I have no answers to the present question I keep getting asked either. This trip has shown me how little I actually need and want. And I am so lucky to have more than I need and want already. I wonder if I'd have been able to answer this question if we hadn't been living the gypsy life for months. If I'd had more than a shelf to store all my road trip belongings.

So the last question is the where and how to celebrate. This is the question that has us pulling out maps and googling destinations.

I am super lucky that my parents are flying over to join us in their own rented van for a week so no matter what we'll have a great birthday week. But do I want to be in the middle of nowhere picnicking on a deserted beach or having a long lunch at a gorgeous restaurant with lots of vegetarian options?

I don't know. My birthday being right in the middle of our family's birthday season often means it is low key.

Maybe I'll feel differently as it gets closer and closer and maybe I shouldn't even try to think about it until we have celebrated Miss Pepper and her fourth birthday on Monday in Monkey Mia.

I guess time will tell...

And I guess I do feel even more fine about it all now that it is written down.

The pics for this post were taken on a walk to the shark sanctuary yesterday. That's them in the last picture. The shadows. There were dozens of them swimming about just off shore. We stood there for ages admiring them and feeling pretty happy that they are reef sharks in their natural habitat and not threatening ones with big, sharp teeth.

So tell me lovely peeps, how would be the most amazing way you could celebrate bringing in a new decade? Any decade? Suggestions and personal stories are always welcome.

Have a wonderful weekend you guys. xx

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Part three...

I guess road tripping can be divided into three parts;

Part one - is seeing the sights. Doing the touristy thing. Exploring and enjoying and experiencing new places.

Part two - is the driving. Australia is hunormous (Indi's word invention). We have driven thousands and thousands and thousands of kilometers. Sometimes there are interesting things to look at along the way and then other times the road is long and straight and nondescript.

Part three - is the hanging out at the caravan part. Doing the chores, reading, writing, relaxing, knitting, playing, cooking, journaling, blogging, dealing with stuff back home, strumming the ukulele, crocheting and hanging out with friends.

Sometimes part three makes me feel a bit guilty. Why am I wasting time sitting on my camping chair reading my book when there is a whole new environment to explore? Why should I hang out at our friends' caravan having a drink and crocheting granny rounds, when we are sitting next to one of the most magnificent beaches I have ever seen? If I spend my time doing the laundry will I then have less time for seeing everything there is to see? Isn't there something else more important that I should be doing?

But it seems that the hanging out at the caravan is an important part of road tripping for us and for everyone we meet along the way. No matter where we've been on this journey, there has always been a bunch of kids running around playing, people sitting around reading and chatting by their vans and others doing chores, giving themselves manicures and chatting away on skype.

As well as being an adventure, road tripping also includes the non adventure. The time to stop and relax and enjoy and smell the roses. Slow time.

As I write this farmer Bren is fitting more hooks to the outside of the caravan, Jazzy and Pepper and Austin are playing a game with a bunch of plastic fish, Indi and her friend Jordan are playing 'Guess who' and I am alternating between writing this post and doing rows of my new granny crochet project. It is windy and not all that warm. I heard it is warmer in Melbourne than in Coral bay today. I think my plans for a walk up the beach to the shark sanctuary might just have to wait until tomorrow.

Ok, time for another row of the great big granny...

What are you up to?

Happy travels. xx

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