logicaldreaming

one family on an adventure around Australia

Pretty Zombie Greatness

ImageWednesday 27th February

Our neighbours in the caravan by the Blue Wren tree moved on today. They gave us lots of brown onions! I cannot remember their names but I liked these travellers. We had bonded over polite and knowing smiles whenever I had walked past with my noisy herd of children. At least I had felt something lol. Talking about noisy, Milly Mad Cow Mayhem and Phil travelled to Mount Gambier together to visit a washing machine that was about to hit the jackpot. Supposedly Phil couldn’t get a word in and Milly accepted nothing but his undivided attention, raising her voice over his or the radio if required. He was without options, held captive in the car he listened to her very important and elaborate stories she needed to offload. Love that kid. Crossing the border for the second time with her Daddy, Milly saw wild emus running through the Christmas tree forest. What a treat!!!

Christopher and I could not get enough of Fletcher today. The three of us tackled schoolwork and Fletch gave us the giggles when he mistakenly thought the USB stick was called the “awesome B stick”. It’s hard not to be charmed by his innocence.

In the afternoon when I had all my children together again, I decided to find the natural spring I’d heard everyone talking about. I thought it would give Phil the chance he needed to tinker with the power issues we were again experiencing and to also rest his poor ears lol. I let the kids lead the way giving them clues based on the directions I’d been given. The walk was peppered with finding our initial sticks (so far we’ve got F’s, L’s and C’s but no M’s and P’s), spotting Bigfoot and figuring out the password required to gain entry at the gate. I’m sure my children were all sentries in past lives! I made everyone walk in slow motion through the field with the fallen branches, constant nagging with reminders to keep their eyes peeled for snakes. Poor kids must think I suffer with short term memory loss. Then we had to remove our shoes and socks to pass through water that was running over the trail. The children concurred they had found a Bigfoot print in the middle of the crossing. That was very exciting and observant of them. We then managed to locate the apple trees we had been told stood next to the spring.

By the spring there was a wooden bridge. Hanging on a wire by the bridge, kindly hung a cup. I held the hand of each child as they leaned toward the spring water that streamed over the rocks. They wanted to catch their own cupful of water which they looked upon as treasure. Never have I seen my children so eager to drink water. They loved it! I loved it! We walked back to camp, collecting more feathers for our journey and chattering none stop about animals we’ve seen and not seen, Bigfoot facts and what truly makes a good bush walking stick.

Meanwhile Phil had managed to discover that our power issue is due to the amp of the charging lead affecting our capacity to charge. This may sound technical but it’s really not! This factor was overlooked by us and many others we had spoken too and quickly pointed out by Geoff, one half of our new neighbours Geoff and Maria. With many thanks from us, Geoff informed us this is what he does. Cheers for doing what you do and being our neighbour buddy!

Pushed by circumstances to purchase another power source earlier than we had hoped, the debate was for solar or generator. We somehow settled and bought a generator online. We’ll get the solar panels later. It’s necessary to stay put to have the generator delivered to the local post office. It should be here within the week. We can wait it out as we are already behind our initial schedule and even though money is getting tight it should last. Our plan to reach Adelaide within two weeks of our departure date expired 6 days ago. Ha! Adelaide equals work. Work is necessary for us to continue to travel and I’ve chosen to work first. I’ve made contact with a nursing agency in Adelaide and I’ve been told to drop into the office when I arrive. God I hope they still feel that way when I walk in!!! As yet I have no start date, or definite job for that matter. Happy liberating daze?!?

 

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Princess Cowboy Rapper

our substitute counters for schoolwork

our substitute counters for schoolwork

Tuesday 26 February.

School work is proving to be sooooo overwhelming at the moment. We chose to use distance education with the boys as they are in their first and last years of primary school and we felt it would be too important to miss any work. In addition, we are unsure of how long we will be on the road. If we take longer than the originally planned 12 months, they could be disadvantaged with only Phil and my guidance. My supporting evidence here being that I chose nursing at university instead of teaching because I believed there would be fewer essays… Yes it is easy to take the piss out of myself so why not!

The boys have amazing teachers with Sydney Distance Education Primary School. THANK GOD!!! So lucky they are great at what they do and they are so approachable. Until we have a mailing address, we have to continue printing copious amounts of worksheets that are emailed and drop boxed to us. Arrrggghhhh!!! Positivity… The benefit is how we can print extra work assigned to Fletch and little Milly can complete these duplicated worksheets. Having Milly do work with the boys originated from necessity and desperation. Trying to keep her entertained while Phil and I were frantically supervising the boys in the first few days had us questioning the benefit of distance schooling in general! It was a challenge to not panic whilst we were playing catch up and there were many moments where we caught ourselves in a cold sweat!

We found our groove though. Phil prefers to work with Milly and Fletch and he excels at it. I am nowhere near as animated and fun as he becomes when I try and help the little ones. They look at me like I’m speaking a foreign tongue and I feel strangely sympathetic for that English teacher who always had the detention class and never smiled or shaved her legs in high school.

Surprisingly, Chris and I preferred to buddy up (and lucky). This is the same child that I haven’t been able to help complete his homework since grade one as everyone said I was being too intense and overwhelming. Such growth, YAY me!!! Aware of my ability to get too serious with learning and realising I cannot stuff up this union, I find I am guiding my boy and learning so much more in the process. It is not that I’ve ever expected too much from my kids, it is that I expect too much from myself. I’ve always tried teaching Chris the tools to learn and not take over but my mistake has started when feeling a failure in myself whenever he didn’t get the concept straight away and then applying my personally trusted remedies by proxy. This has always been to punish myself with more writing, more reading, and more repetition, in hope that if I saturate myself in the task maybe I’ll learn by osmosis. Effective if applied to oneself. Possibly criminal when applied to one’s child!!!

Despite all the hard work, I love the learning I can see in my children. Phil and I have always managed to recognise that the best memories we’ve had are those we’ve earned. It’s usually bloody hard work to make these moments happen, but it’s so rewarding to reflect and realise the journey was a damn good one. For that reason alone, I will always fondly remember Chrisso’s component on vegetarianism. Included will be his ability to complete 3 whole expositions. I’m taking this opportunity to blow the lid on the exposition and reveal their true identity as being an essay with a fancier name! Thankfully I have begun to bask and only sometimes burn in my new found ability to supervise without personal expectation involved. I was overly rewarded and spoilt with Chris’ completed work. His brilliant and entertaining decision to affirmatively debate “Vegetarianism for all”, despite his favourite meal including a juicy BBQ’d steak, reaffirmed my belief that he is one very clever cat. Its moments like these I glimpse an adult version of my son and I just know that he is going to be fabulous company. I am sending a message with ‘cc’ to the universe, I’m prepared for this journey to slow down though and I can wait a long time to meet my adult children!

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Gangster Sunglasses Dude

From here on in, my children will apply names to these posts. The titles may hold no relevance to content. They are purely a silly dedication to allow my children creative involvement as I am just the guardian of these stories.

Saturday 23 February

Huntsman Number 2 on Phil whilst camping here in Dartmoor. Heeheehee 😉

Sunday 24th February

I finally met all the travelling bus people today. No longer will my children be satisfied to stalk the bus door with makeshift telescopes and report on any movement. They will now nag to visit whenever they detect the door opening! They are a lovely family with three kids who have been travelling for a few years. Even though Chris is double the age of their eldest child he somehow figured how to be involved. Chris taught the bus family’s eldest child to ride Fletcher’s bike without training wheels!!! Being six and on the road without a bike meant that she had not had the chance to learn before now. Chris had her independently riding within half an hour and she couldn’t wipe the smile from her face. Chris’ reaction to all the thanks was modest. He enjoyed helping. To the bus girl it meant the world. Her family were thrilled. I was in awe of my 11 year old who chose to do this with his time.

In other events…. Being beside the border to South Oz, you cannot take produce across from VIC basically because of flies. I’m not sure how regularly its monitored and how the flies spread or breed, but I won’t break the rules because they’re there. Today I had travelling foreigners give us Spanish onions. I was weirdly embarrassed and I may have energetically bowed in thanks at the onion exchange! I even did the big neighbourly wave as they drove off in their hippie van! I’m sure my reaction unsettled the kids. I know they are just onions and the foreigners could have thrown them out. But they didn’t. They did the right thing. I was just so happy that this was in my everyday world.

Monday 25th February

We invited the bus people over for dinner. I burnt the potatoes for the mash. FML! Nobody would let me throw them out though. I literally had adults throwing themselves in front of me and the pot as I was trying to toss them away. Phil had everyone testing for the taste I said would make the potatoes inedible. Nobody could bring themselves to be impolite. So we served them up alongside the BBQ steaks and snags.

Carrying only enough plates and cutlery for our family whilst we are travelling, our meals had to be staggered with our visitors. This actually worked out well for the kiddies all eating first. It reminded me of a tea party with the crowded little table, the giggles, the chatter and the spilt drinks. So adorable to see kids just assimilate so quickly and be sharing a laugh. And the mashed potato was almost gone before the adults ate. Go figure!!!

Each day since arriving in Dartmoor, the 5 of us have played cricket religiously. The kids can’t get enough of it!! They start some games without Phil and me but we always get roped in. They have used everything from camp chairs to buckets as stumps because the actual stumps are too hard to get in the ground and surprisingly the bails have vanished already. They enjoy each role as long as they have a parent watching how great they are at it. Seems they are good enough to keep each other satisfied and the games flowing so that’s a bonus. With visitors, it’s seen as a chance for a big match. It’s great to watch them sharing the batting and bowling and actually fielding when it’s their turn!!! The littlest bus people are so adorable, calling out to my kids constantly in the match, “Hey boy, hey boy, look how good I am!” It seems all kids want their cricket skills acknowledged. How very Australian!

On dusk I was a little unsettled to hear gunshots. Whenever I’ve thought I’ve heard gunshots before I’ve always been told, “No Laura, it’s something else”. Or I’ve known the foxes were being sorted out on my Uncles farm. Not this time. These shots were getting closer I was told. Trust me; I’m sure Phil was trying to silence my informer. I coped fine. I explained to Chris that we were safe and that they were probably too far away. That’s when I decided to Google how far the sound of gunfire can travel. I didn’t get to finish that search as I realised Chris had started laughing at me. I guess he really wasn’t worried and it was only me. Whilst everyone else carried on BBQing, I did find myself realising that my home is made from canvas, and the trailer and the BBQ flipped on its side would be my only protection from bullets if we were fired upon.

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Friday 22 February

We decided to drop a line in the water today. It took forever to set the rods up for a fish as we had not used them yet and we had to locate all the bits and pieces. Finally we managed to reach the river with 3 very eager children in high spirits. We picked a spot to set down our tackle box convinced this is where the fish would be. Casting the line for Milly, I stopped when Fletcher screamed. He was petrified and scrambling to reach me. All I could see was blood squirting from his foot and the panic in his eyes. It was like slow motion reaching him and in that time Milly had begun to scream and Chris and Phil were yelling “OMG Look at all the blood!!!” I grabbed his foot and squeezed his ankle and tried to tell him he was safe now. But really I had no idea how bad it was. Somehow we got up the muddy bank together, pushing the gaggle of family out of the way. I had to remove him or the family. Their reactions were enough to send anyone over the edge including myself! Phil stayed to calm the other two down and I left with Fletch. Divide and conquer.

I carried him back to camp screaming in my arms. Still squeezing his ankle in my hand and holding it high above my head. The blood finally stopped pumping but it covered his legs and my arms. I managed to settle him with cuddles in the quiet with just the two of us. I convinced him it was okay to now wash the blood off and have a look. I thought for sure I’d have to get my suture kit out for this one. Just as I popped his foot in the water, we saw the family frantically scurrying up from the river with fishing rods bobbing around and concerned faces squinting to see if his foot had fallen off yet. They were so lovely with their concern and support for him but their comments were beginning to freak him out again so I shushed them. When did I become such a Mum???

I cleaned a big laceration on his great toe. No sutures this time. Luckily because I have only ever sutured a pigs trotter over a glass of wine! Some steri strips, an occlusive dressing, a little antibiotic cream and a dash of analgesia. I had Fletch help as much as possible and I told him he would have to do it daily with a little help from his Dad or me. He was again a happy little vegemite, only a little quieter than normal.

I couldn’t help it. I had to investigate. I went to the river bank with a spoon and followed the bloody trail. Chris re-enacted the entire event, covering everyone’s movements, even including Milly’s screams lol. I guess it’s good to debrief. I managed to dig up a piece of glass deep in the bank. It was an unlucky step for my little man. It was only then that I realised I could barely move from pain. My broken tail bone was agony. How amazing is adrenaline for pain relief?!? Maybe there should be more trials investigating this phenomenon.

We also crossed the border to SA today!!! Woohoo!!! It was only to go visit woollies for our groceries. So in South Oz I found shopping bag options limited to BYO or purchase. Go them! It will take a little to get used to coming from NSW but I’m sure I can adapt as I always say families that recycle together stay together. Unprepared for this visit and refusing to buy bags because I know I have heaps already in the trailer (I’m stingy) we packed everything into the car like a homeless kitchen. This trip was also the children’s first experience of time travel as we passed the border. They were excited. Even though the two little ones cannot tell the time yet, they knew it was a big deal by the over excited reactions of Phil and myself as we passed an imaginary state line. Fletch loved the Christmas tree forest that we drove passed too. He was positive he saw Big Foot! The rest of us bloody missed him 😦

 

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Thursday 21st February

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Dartmoor has free camping AND public showers!!! This is part of the experience we wanted right? With only cold water for showering, this was a challenge for us all in the cool weather. Fun!!! First shower in Dartmoor… I cannot explain how hard it was to coax Milly under the water whilst trying to maintain composure and a friendly smile. She was screaming at me to turn the heat up, the look in her eyes was utter disbelief and pity. She really thought I had lost it. This was not a time for words; soon I would have frostbite for sure. I had to change my approach. I showed her there was no tap for hot and quickly covered myself in suds and with gay abandon I splashed through the shower like there was no tomorrow, laughing and singing hysterically. Somehow this looney behaviour appeals children or at least my children because now she wanted to join in. I covered her in suds and then told her to quickly run through the shower with me to see who could wash the bubbles off first. Dangerous? Definitely! Mother of the Year? I think not! Squeaky clean kid? YES!!!

Phil has made new friends!!! A local man called Boots and Ken with the bus. As you do. Boots has kindly offered for us to access his water and told us where the natural spring is. Phil went to check out Boots’ water to make sure we didn’t steal someone else’s accidently. Not prepared for more humiliation just yet lol. He also had to check out the bus. That was 5pm. I decided to call him in a panic at 12:30. Until then I had assumed he was chilling out with a beer and the boys, but mostly I hadn’t given him a second thought as I’d been reading in the peace and quiet of sleeping children. But then it had hit me… I was having a wolf creek moment. What if he was held hostage inside the bus of torture? He didn’t answer the call!!! WTF!!! I was sure he was a goner! How would I explain how long it took to report him missing to the police? They would think I was stupid or unloving for sure when in reality I just enjoy a good book sometimes! I raced out of the tent and fumbled with the lights. A massive Huntsman on the camp table. POW!! I smashed it. It was the least I could do for Phil. Poor Phil. I was about to go and wake Chrisso up to watch the little ones to search for his missing father when my phone started ringing. It was Philly!!!

“Hello sexy lady is that you in the camper trailer up there in front of me?” Is not a good opening line when you are drunk and lost in the dark trying to find your way home. Especially when I think you are dead. Secretly relieved and smiling. I hung up and turned the lights off. He could find his own way back lol. I hope he likes his dead Huntsman. I left it with a note near the switch for the lights hehehehe xxx

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Wednesday 20th February 2013

Fletch learnt how to float in the pool today!! He is a cool dude! Phil and I decided to try out the free camping scene again after charging the power pack completely whilst in the Caravan Park. It was an easy drive to Dartmoor the hard part was deciding where to set up. Phil and I couldn’t agree on the safest spot amongst the enormous and incredibly old gum trees that covered the fort O’Hare reserve. It is possible that it may have taken an entire hour for me to dramatically discuss the pros and cons of every spot Phil drove the trailer into. In the end Phil had to tell me if it were our time to die then it wouldn’t matter where we were. We set up camp in the clearing.

We erected the two annexes here. All children had to grab a pole and help. They were very good little workers but thank goodness for Chrisso. Phil did get a little frustrated and I light heartedly asked the kids “Who bought Daddy?” Milly answered with “I did because I got the money!”

Millarny learnt how to ride her bike in Dartmoor!!! We are unbelievably proud of her perseverance. Because we didn’t have access to buying more training wheels, it was necessary to learn or she had to go without. The reserve was perfect for learning to ride. Her big brothers were so encouraging and beautiful to watch. She needed help with starting but she was so funny to watch. So proud of herself, she couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. The result was a contagious crazed grunting laugh that we’ve managed to capture on film. I will have to find that.

With everything set up and the kids riding, I was the first to use the porta potty since Joannah Beach. I’m still trying to convince myself that it was better that it was me and not one of the children. Tightly squeezed into the porta potty tent, I’d managed to drop my pants to my ankles before remembering to open the hatch. I released it the tiniest bit and there was a massive “BOOM!” I was covered from head to toe in shit! I admit to trying to laugh but I don’t think anyone was able to hear past my howling and sobbing screams. I was a mess. With my pants still around my ankles, Phil set up the camp shower and tried to undress me without touching me. He also tried to explain what he thought may have happened to the children. They couldn’t stop laughing. They also couldn’t stop pointing out the toilet paper clinging to the roof of the ensuite and the fact that I had it in my hair. I managed to scrub my body red raw with the cold water and the only cover being from our camper trailer. Philly was my hero coming to my rescue. I still think it would have been better if it happened to one of the kids though ;-P

That night Phil had a Huntsman spider scamper all over him. It was my turn to save him. He insisted it must die because it meant to scare him and he believed it targeted him. I made him do it because I wanted to only capture and release it. With the innocent Huntsman dead, Phil insisted on packing up and moving on. He took a bit, but I did manage to reassure him that he wouldn’t have any problems because they would be scared of his ruthless ways. He made me promise if there were any further attacks we would leave. Lol!!!

 

 

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Tuesday 19th February

We decided to visit the LaTrobe Park in Warrnambool as the weather was beautiful and warm. We had some hot chippies by the lake and we were surrounded by birds. The kids had so much fun chasing the birds and scattering them all through the park. There was also the token drunk in a beanie and mittens with a pushbike. He had 3 long necks of VB so he was only just settling in at 10am. We decided to go on a wander over the bridge and through the paths. Feathers +++. The kids just kept handing them to me to hold in a safe place. I had feathers in everywhere trying to keep them safe.

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We found a flying fox!!! It was crazy. There were 2 types and Chris went first on the big one. It went very fast and it was very high. I think my tummy even flipped lol.

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Milly and Fletcher commandeered the kids’ flying fox. That was still a very large one. We stayed here for such a long time just going back and forward haha.

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It got the better of Phil and he had to have a go too. He was hilarious!!! I’m sure his shorts were stuck on the flying fox at one point and it could have ended much differently. That man’s got some moves that’s for sure lol!!!!

 

 

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We found a life-size maze for the children to play in. They were so cheeky and clever just cutting under walls so I had to get them to close their eyes and change the game. We took turns to direct each other’s steps along the correct path. That proved to be funny at first when we realised the little ones weren’t too sure of their lefts and rights haha. However by the end they were pros when it came to direction.

When we were leaving the park the ambo’s had arrived to check out how the long necks were treating the old guy in the beanie. Seems as though they were having a lovely conversation (if the drunk guy’s smile was anything to go off). He looked so happy sculling his last longy and having what seemed to be a health check-up. The kids didn’t miss a beat and asked where the Ambo’s will put his pushbike if he had to go with them???

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Monday 18th February, 2013

IMG_4388I should have known the day was ominous when we woke to the red sun caused by fires in the Grampians.

I stuffed up my Father’s electricity bill prior to leaving!!! Seriously, how hard is it to remember which energy provider to pay with online banking? I’m cutting myself some slack because it was chaos prior to leaving. However, this doesn’t help me though when I realise how ridiculously hard it is to get my money back, especially whilst on the road!!! In the process of fixing same.

Finally I manage to have time to print out the children’s schoolwork. The boys have been begging me!!! They are behind but we plan on catching up quickly. I naively think it may take an hour. So 4 and a half hours later I’m a shell of my former self and only ¾ of Fletch and Chris’ schoolwork is available. FML. I’ve chewed through 4G downloads setting up the software they needed too. I wish I had picked up the package from the school in Surry Hills on our way through. It would have been so much easier. Phil has seen the warning signs in my darkening mood and cleverly managed to entertain the children whilst I was trying to sort all this out.

I’m stressed enough today and then a kind grey nomad informs me that they saw a baby brown in the shrub between our campsite and the tennis courts!!! I see a man walking the paths around the park, an orange parrot on his shoulder. I realise he has been walking in circles for hours! I go to the toilets to have a break and wash my face. Music is creepily filtered throughout the amenities. I realise the Quentin Tarantino music that’s playing feels like a theme song to my mood. That’s me! I had to find Phil and the children. I was escalating!!!

The family were in the pool so I joined them. I realised I was yet again sunburnt (Ironic when I know we’ve packed over 12 tubes of sun cream). Thankfully I could breathe a full breath again. I felt so much better after having a giggle with the kids and a few swimming races. I have still decided to call a family meeting as we had all promised each other to do that if we thought it would help a situation.

So many sparrows were present for our family meeting. Such a comforting feeling. Family meeting minutes are as follows.

Allen Family Meeting 18/02/2013 at 1600hrs

Present Phil Allen, Laura Porter, Chris Allen, Fletch Allen and Milly Allen

Topics raised

Fletcher- Wants more treats and rewards for good behaviour. Plus he would like everyone to know he likes jet skiing.

Milly- Would like to be fishing more. Plus she would like everyone to know that she like paper drawings. Milly would also like to add that Fletcher annoys her when she is reading books.

Chris- Sad not to see his friends but he is very happy to be swimming so much.

Phil- It makes him so happy to experience things together. Phil also identified communication needs to improve, so reduce the tantrums and whinging.

Laura- Seeing everyone happy makes me happy. There are things that have to be done aside from the fun things; these things may require patience because they are important and sometimes boring.

1620hrs close of meeting.

 

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Sunday February 17th, 2013

 

We had to leave Joannah Beach due to the issue with the power pack. There was a fuse loose so we were thinking maybe that was that was the problem. Positive thinking people!!! Pack up is not too bad… a few hours. A lot like a jigsaw puzzle. We had set the porta potty up at Joannah Beach and there wasn’t a drop point so we had to be very careful transporting the half full potty. This was a first.

The kids in the car were wired!!! At one point I started making empty threats about turning the forbie around and going back if they didn’t settle. To where? I don’t know. Empty threats always end badly. They almost had me. The kids started to take the micky out of me. They started singing to me “What time is it? It’s howdy doody time!!!” They kept singing it over and over and laughing like maniacs. I still don’t know what the hell they were teasing me about but I did threaten them with no snacks if they kept going. I must talk to Phil’s father Stuart because I’m sure he taught them that song. What the hell does it mean? It must be a secret message or code to each other perhaps.

With the kids in a wild mood, today was the day we were to see many of the sights along the Great Ocean Road. Great! This was a big deal to Phil and me. The first stop was the 12 Apostles. Busy, busy. After having a group discussion regarding the rules once outside of the car, Phil and I proceeded to individually address each child as they filed out of the car regarding cliffs, crowds and dangerous wildlife. Hats, sun cream, last drinks before leaving the car, each child knew whose hand they were to hold. I ended up with Fletch. OMG!! Damn Phil always wins out with the good child at dangerous locations!!!

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I was thrilled to discover the children appreciated the sites of the Apostles even if it was mostly due to the reality that it was keeping them focused and out of danger. We were mindful of how long the sights would keep them captivated and once they started pointing out other people’s lost belongings that had ended up beyond the safety barriers, we knew it was time to bail. A few quick happy snaps and we fought the tourists back to the car. Somehow I ended up with Millarny, Sneaky, sneaky Phil. And yet again she needed to “weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.

I accompanied her to the loo stop and discovered these ones provided Asian pit toilets. Knowing her budding interest in perhaps commencing a blog on public toilets when older, I took the opportunity to explain to my daughter the fact these were Asian toilets, covering the who’s and the whys and I was met with silence. Feeling pretty chuffed with myself, Millarny rushed her regular routine. Running outside to catch up with the men of our family, Millarny then broke her silence and informed them that “Mummy just found where the ocean people toilets are and I got to see them and you boys didn’t!” hmmmmmmmm…..

Phil and I decided to take turns to look at the remainder of the sights along the road. The kiddies didn’t care. Phil and I had an absolute ball. Standing on the edge of cliffs alone (Phil obviously closer than me), spying iconic Australian sights, in weather that was flawless. The Great Ocean Road is magic.

We drove through to Warrnambool and we checked out the different caravan parks for over an hour. I lost out to everyone else’s preference for a Big 4 just outside of town. It had a rec room and indoor pool and spa. It was when we started to set up that we received a massive shock. The tailgate had fallen off!!! OMFG!!!

Somehow the tailgate remained, hanging precariously on the bike rack. The only thing stopping it from landing on the road were the 4 bikes attached to it. Unbelievable and seriously messed up!!! Thanks again to God that there was no permanent damage and that Phil has talent and managed to rehang the tailgate lol!!! Set up? Not so long when you consider the time taken to fix the tailgate 😉

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The blog begins…

Phil & Laura with Christopher (11), Fletcher (5) & Millarny (3) are on an adventure around Australia.

Hilarious to read through stories that feel like a lifetime ago and then realise we have only been on the road for less than three months. I had good intention to begin this blog the moment I walked out my father’s front door. Yes I am 31. Reality intervened and I had to be sufficed with jotting down the moments that mattered in my journal. Thank God I was hell bent on doing that in the crazy hectic time the first few weeks were because so much happened that could easily have been forgotten. I’m now playing catch up with the blog entries. It’s not the story of where we’ve been or where we are going that I need to write about it’s my family. Through the eyes of my kids I’ve seen things in a completely different way than I could have ever imagined.  The truth behind this group of genetically linked individuals is that we present well, most of the time. The stories that create our memories we couldn’t even dream up. We are real. We are challenging for each other’s attention every minute of the day, not always happy with bonding in the light of day, we sometimes find kiddies squeezing events into our night to treasure too.

Friday Feb 8

I moved out of home for the 5th time and this time it is to live in a camper trailer. And this time it was my Dad I left behind. Emotional is an understatement. This is the first time I have gone to live somewhere that’s not within a 5 minute trip back to “home”. Ridiculous as it sounds, anyone with only one parent left in the world would understand my hesitation. If Mum was there I wouldn’t have been worried as much. Will he go out of the house? Will he eat food? Will he have friends check on him? Will my friends check on him? Will he not take that as insulting if they do? I know he can look after himself but these are the thoughts that went through my mind.

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We travelled from Lemon Tree Passage, registering the camper trailer on the way. Managed to argue with the 12 year old behind the counter that it’s not just a trailer, it’s our home for the next 12 months so give us the cheaper registration please. We looked like the Griswold’s. But it was the Terrace so we didn’t stand out. I travelled with Phil’s parents Tracey and Stu and his brother Ryan. Phil travelled with our three kiddies and Pop Bill arriving in Greenwell Point for Skie and Boo’s wedding the next day.

Set up of camper trailer once reaching Greenwell Point…. Maybe 4 hours. And we still weren’t happy with the result. The floor on the camper trailer doesn’t match the walls. The rhino racks were difficult to remove. The cage on top was far too heavy to lift. Especially since I had broken my coccyx the week before. Not one to focus on how hard and unworkable the process was, I couldn’t help but see the fear and concern in the eyes of Phil’s family who helped. WTF was I thinking???

Saturday Feb 9

Skie and Boo’s wedding in Greenwell Point. A new day. Gosh my bum hurt!!! I hadn’t ever been to a wedding that I wasn’t completely presentable for. This was a first. The communal amenities were a shock. Although really nice amenities, sharing the shower with my daughter, not slipping in my thongs, and realising that I would be showering with her and my thongs for the next 12 months was petrifying me. We dressed with our clothes sticking to our skin, unable to completely dry ourselves regardless of how much we patted, wiped, or rubbed at our skin with our tiny beach towels. Mine is a kid’s pink monkey one. Then I realised my pale pink dress I’d chosen for the day was see through. Mortified when I realised my underwear collection had been culled to fit in my plastic tub. No nude knickers for me. I decided to wear the ones that had love written all over them as they were the least noticeable. This was just one of those times I would just have to look confident, act as though I wanted my target knickers on display, suck it up and remain seated.

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The wedding was very special. Not many weddings include a boat and a freight liner for the beautiful bride to dismount. The kids couldn’t believe there was a boat filled with oysters and prawns in the marquee. I couldn’t believe all the jams and chutneys that Boo’s mum Liz had made for bonbonnieres. They were delicious. So many laughs and cuddles with family I’ve adopted as my own. The bar interfered with my efforts at remaining seated though as I found the alcohol to be an effective pain reliever for my broken bum. A fantastic wedding. Only problem was Fletch losing his handcuffs when he was running around arresting all the children in his police uniform.

Sunday Feb 10

Breakfast the morning after with the whole family was a hit. We said our final goodbyes to Stu Tracey, Pop Bill and Ryan as they went back to Tilligerry. Very emotional even though we knew it was inevitable. I was a blubbering mess. Not sure the children quite understood how long it would be between cuddles so they were my rock.

We found a crab in the pool at the park we were staying in. That was cool. We also did our first load of washing and drying. It doesn’t sound much but 8 dollars in 1 dollar coins is frustrating to find when you’re not a pokies machine.

It rained all afternoon and night. I woke up in the early hours of the morning and freaked out. I could hear someone say “Muummm, Mummmmm”. They kept saying this over and over. I managed to slide down the ladder in the dark and find the lamp and checked on each of the kids. They were all safe in their beds sound asleep. I could still hear it so I thought a kid was must have been lost outside in the rain. I nudged Phil and told him what I thought so he jumped up half asleep. I ran out and couldn’t see a lost child anywhere. But I did see lots of ducks. I felt ridiculous standing in the rain with them waddling around me saying “Mummmm, Muummmm”.  Phil was still half asleep and very confused when I told him I found ducks. He was trying to figure out why the ducks were lost, why I was outside with them and what that had to do with the lost child I woke him up to find. I’m so glad he loves me xxx

Monday Feb 11

We left Greenwell point with a pack up time of well… 4 hours lol. I insisted we had to go via Kangaroo valley as we had missed it on our trip last year. So glad that we did. Despite the drizzly rain, which I think may have in fact made it prettier; it was everything I had hoped for. We saw a lyrebird, we think. We saw the Hampton Bridge that was built in the 1800s. Very pretty. We stopped at Fitzroy Falls. Somewhere between the bridge and the waterfall Fletch lost a shoe so he required piggy backing. Nice move by the kid. I didn’t get a brilliant view of the falls because of my fear of heights. The platform juts out over the edge of a cliff. The platform is also mesh you can easily see through to the drop below. At least the kids thought it was funny.

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At dusk we saw the submarine Otway in Holbrook. The kids got to have a stretch of their legs while climbing all over it. Definitely feeling the tight space of the car on their first big day of travelling but they were well behaved. There was no stopping us but. We wanted to get as far from home as we could in the first few days so we wouldn’t freak out and run home I think. We wanted no safety net.

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Ettamogah Pub was found for us by Pop Bill. With a phone call on the road, Pop realised roughly where we were and directed us, with surprising accuracy, how to reach Ettamogah. It was nice. Kind of like he was in the car with us. Ettamogah Pub was shut with 6 foot high fencing. It felt like we were in the middle of the Wild West for some reason. We pushed through to pass the VIC/NSW border and find a free camp with wiki camps and our camp 6 books guiding us.

We found Huon reserve in the dark and decided to just unpack the little two man tent and leave early in the morning. I voted not to stay, firstly because the toilet sign had lost the LA and when our headlights shone on the sign dramatically now read “DIES!” Secondly because our spotties then found paper signs nailed to trees saying “stay away from rocks, snakes active here!” I was a mess to say the least. Once convinced by Phil that the children will not run straight to the rocks when released from the forbie and after I made him do multiple figure eights on the dry lake bed so I could make sure all the shadows weren’t snakes, we decided to set up a quick camp. We had the fun of finding and setting up only what we needed. Not as easy as it sounds. If we knew where everything was exactly maybe it would be simple but we only had general ideas. We had only made sure that we had our overnight bags within reach but that proved to be not enough preparation whilst trying to set up a tent, make tea and mange children who were potential snake bit victims. Phil was A-mazing. He had a head lamp. I had never thought one looked so sexy when he took charge of our night lol!

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Our children barely ate their dinner, they were too excited to camp all together in the little tent and play with torches looking for snakes for mummy. Just as we were about to all hit the air mattress, Fletch declared he had to poo and he had to poo right now as it was coming out. I told Phil he’d have to dig a hole because the toilets were located past the snake infested rocks and that he wouldn’t make it anyway. That man loves me. Phil had to first cut the cable ties holding the ridiculously oversized shovel from the camper trailer. I had told him we would never need it, I was so wrong. Trying to find a soft piece of dirt on a dry lake bed was hard and we thought Phil had struck gold when he managed to start digging. They kids were even saying “Go Dad”. Then Phil noticed something wiggling in the hole. We got down close to check it out with Phil’s head lamp and it was then we realised it was maggots and that we had dug up someone else’s turd. Such is life. There were lots of eeeeewwwwws and oooohhhhhs and don’t touch it Fletcher!!!

After the excitement of the minimalist camp and realising it was almost 11pm we hit the sack. We discovered one of the three single air mattresses were flat!! So in true fairness we put Milly and Fletch head to toe on that one and Phil, Chris and I squeezed onto the two remaining. The kids fell asleep faster than I could believe. In true kiddy style they grew 10 times in size and took over the entire surface area of the mattresses and I lay squeezed between my two big guys watching the stars through the mesh flaps, wide awake listening for sounds of snakes. Not that I know what they would sound like but I still listened.

I woke up with awful cramping in the tummy. Disorientated and landing on all fours on top of children I realised I was a mess. I felt awful and realised it was an emergency. I couldn’t find the torch or my shoes or the zipper. I managed to break out and had to run by moon light on my tip toes as I was very aware of the snake signs in my panic. I couldn’t make it to the loo and knew I couldn’t dig a hole. I remembered a friend saying they’d used a plastic bag when camping once and I knew where they were so that’s what I managed to use. Crouched under the moonlight at 2 in the morning, between waves of agony, I saw a shooting star.

It was two hours before I went back to bed. I snuggled into Phil and he said where have you been, I was so worried. I told him not to touch the garbage but he was already snoring lol.

Tuesday Feb 12

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We woke up to an amazing sunrise beside Hume Lake and had a quick breakie. Left Huon reserve with zero snake sightings, thanks God. Pack up time still over 2 hours!!! The weather was hot. We drove to Glenrowan. The children received a quick history lesson on the Kelly gang whilst on the road there. Milly needed to wee. A lot! The children thoroughly enjoyed finding the infamous spot where the siege took place. Fletch and Milly couldn’t believe we found it when we were only just talking about it in the car 😉 Clearly identified with markers, the kids ran around and had photos beside the fallen tree stump where Ned Kelly was wounded and captured. Fletch kept finding feathers whilst in Glenrowan so we decided they would be a good item to collect whilst on the road.

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We couldn’t miss the opportunity to check out where some of our friends grew up so we drove through Seymour. It was hot and very dry and I hoped that nobody I knew saw me as I was wearing joggers and jeans. I risked the chance and had my pic taken in front of the welcome to Seymour sign. I was surprised not to meet someone from Belinda’s family as the town was so little. I almost approached someone and asked them if they knew her just to check out my theory. I should have thought to try the bakery as that would have been fool proof.  I do remember a convo many years ago with Belinda when she corrected me on my belief that she was from a little country town stating it wasn’t that small and it is not far from the city. Spoken like a true country chick. I can now maintain that I was right from the beginning.

We decided we wanted to make it to the start of the great ocean road so we drove to Torquay. It was getting late so we had to find somewhere quickly. We were going to stay in the caravan park on the beach but after doing a drive through we felt like sumos as there were only tiny sites left as the park was packed with school kids and heaps of hip young foreign travellers. We snuck Milly into the toilet because she was screaming she had to wee again. I would have believed she was only doing it to compare loos on the trip if I didn’t hear the torrent of water I could still hear over the running commentary of what each toilet had and didn’t have. I’ve never known my kid to be as pedantic with hygiene as she was now. She was soooo slow!!!

We bailed and went to the discovery park across the road. We managed to get a site that was up the back of the park. Trying to manoeuvre the trailer into the tight stop was horrendous. We had to try and push the camper trailer into position. It felt like it was filled with lead!! Set up… 4 hours and a decision was made to ditch the camper trailer rhino racks and cage and buy ourselves a roof rack for the forbie.

Wednesday Feb 13

We drove to a place on the Northern side of Melbourne and purchased our roof rack. We decided to put it on there and then. We had to park on the side of the road in front of the business as we weren’t allowed on their property for insurance risk lol. Milly also managed to score a free loo visit. There was a washing machine in this toilet. That was funny she thought. Why would they have a washing machine in the toilets? I tried explaining that these were not public and that she was really in someone’s private loos and that we didn’t have time to check out the cupboards under the basin. Obviously no comprehension on her behalf because as we left she loudly managed to finish her commentary by exclaiming to the lady how dirty these toilets were!!! FFS kid shhhhhhh!!!

It took us two hours to screw the damn roof racks on in the heat. Every time we touched the forbie our skin felt like it would burn off as the sun was beyond hot. Thank God the kids had their drink bottles in the car. They really were amazingly patient waiting for us to finish in that heat. At one stage I was sitting on the roof trying not to burn myself and I had to shake my head and not think about what we were actually doing and how ridiculous we must have looked. I must say I am very proud of the fact that Phil and I managed to put our roof rack on together like that. We may have even bonded 😉

That afternoon we finally got to relax after 24 hours in Torquay and enjoy the swimming pool. I felt like I could have been in a beer commercial. I believed that I had earned that swim. I was proud and had weird sunburn marks but I couldn’t stop laughing with the kids. This was what it was all about.

After our swim we split up for shower time. Girls verse boys in a race to get back to camp the cleanest and fastest from the shower block. There’s no chance for me to win with little Miss Germaphob/chatterbox. Somehow, girls listen more to their Mum’s about the importance of thongs and germs. Somehow Milly also forgets who informed her of these facts and utilises the opportunity of being locked in a tiny cubicle together to reiterate every fact she knows on tinea and squeeze in a review of all the toilets she saw in her day.

After falling over in slippery thongs and trying to calm a hysterical child that I have wiped all the tinea bugs off her bum, we head back to camp where it is obvious the boys have been back for a while. Milly found a pretty feather to add to the collection on the way, telling me it was the best one yet. Running off to show the family the latest find for the collection, she was met with the boys gloating in the fact they had beaten her back. Phil cheekily asked Milly “What took you and Mummy so long hey?” This is the moment we realised Milly still has a little speech impediment and that feathers would never be so innocent. Milly proudly held up her feather and loudly exclaimed to her father, “Daddy, I found Mummy another fella!” Phil calmly asked her where and she replied “In the toilets!”  I’m so in love xxx

Thursday Feb 14

We decided to stay another night at Torquay to get our monies worth of the park facilities as we had barely had time so far to let the kids play on anything other than the play equipment. We knew we would be doing a lot of free camping from here on so we thought it was important for the kids. We decided to tackle everything on offer lol. The kids had enchanted the managers of the park so the hire of the tennis racquets we on the house. Being a competitive family, it was not unlike Wimbledon. Even Milly had a solid crack! I had to bow out early due to my broken bum. Otherwise I obviously would have won. The pain!!!!!!!

With exchange of the tennis racquets for putters, it was time to battle it out on the mini putt putt course. Of course Fletch and Chris had to ride their bikes the short distance to the event, Milly whinged because one of her training wheels had broken and that she had to use Chris’ scooter. It seemed to add to the excitement of the tournament that was unfolding. Surprisingly we kept accurate scores. There was lots of cheering on and high fives. Despite Phil, Chris, Fletch and I managing to score a hole in one, we couldn’t beat Milly. She won the game with a runaway high score 😉

We finished up our day with swimming races. It was so much fun seeing the kids relaxed and playing nicely with each other. We even had Fletch swimming under the tunnels we made with our legs and practicing forward rolls. Things I hadn’t done since I was a kid. We had a surprisingly relaxing spa with 3 kids. Somehow everything was just easy. I think it was the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had!!!

Friday Feb 15

We packed up in under three hours. Yay for us!!! We ditched many things that we found unnecessary during this pack up. The rhino racks and heavy cage for the camper trailer included. We also managed to convince Milly that she wasn’t playing with her doll’s pram so that stayed in Torquay too. Such a big girl to be able to leave it behind even though she thought we were going to buy her a newer better one. The kid’s fan club in the office waved goodbye after giving them a bag of candy canes for the trip. We squeezed in a play on the massive wooden wonderland that Kimmy had told us about via text when she heard we were in Torquay.

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We found more feathers. So great to watch the kids pretending to be pirates and so comforting to know that Kim had been here with Lachlan at one time. It made me feel like we really weren’t that far from our friends at that moment. Plus I found a pair of rainbow coloured thongs that fit me. Winning!!!

We drove to Bell’s beach and couldn’t believe that we saw a seal in the water among the surfers! We walked along Bell’s and saw a person paragliding. Even being scared of heights, I think I could appreciate the view they must have had. It is a beautiful beach. It was strange to walk on black sand and it felt very different to the sand back home, I can only think to describe it as grainy. OMG when did I start to sound so old!!

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We began our drive on the Great Ocean Road! I thought I was going to die 2 minutes in when crosswinds threw the forbie across the road. The kids took the piss out of me by mimicking my reaction while I made Phil get out and check that nothing was broken and that we truly were safe to keep going. I took a bit to convince. We drove along the cliffs in rain and with wild waves smashing up against the rocks. It was exciting and I thank God Phil was driving it or I’d still be going. The kids loved the drive. I’m not sure if it was the sights or the copious snacks they munched their way through. Either way they were happy and so were we.

We had chosen to stop at Joannah beach a free camp spot mid-way along the Great Ocean Road. The sun came out when we arrived so that was perfect timing for setting up. We set up in under two hours!!! We thought we were pretty damn clever. Fletch found some kids to play with so he visited their camp. We had a good view from our annexe to make sure he was safe as this was his first time stepping outside of our little family group on the trip. Funny when he returned as he was telling us how they had a pretty cool camp set up. Also he kept saying to Chris “Hey Brudda”. We couldn’t help but giggle.

I took the kids down to the beach and we played in the sand and on the rocks for a couple of hours. It was a spectacular sunset and I managed to capture heaps of beautiful pictures of the kiddies playing. We found more feathers here and we made a fairly decent sand castle that we decorated with shells.

We met our neighbours Helen and Tony who were travelling in their caravan. We couldn’t believe when they told us they lived in Tanilba bay for many years! Such a small world. They were a wealth of info. They even made us realise that the day was in fact a Friday and not Thursday as we had thought! Somehow we’d already lost track. We had them marking camps they liked on our maps as they were travelling from the west. They couldn’t emphasise enough the value of carrying enough water. They advised us to try servos to stock up on water as they regularly did.

Saturday Feb 16

We decided to visit Apollo Bay. We needed to print some school work, grab some shopping, some bait and find some more water. Being a Saturday it was very busy in the town. We visited the information centre and grabbed a couple of souvenirs. We took the kids to the play equipment and they climbed all over the big spider web. They found more feathers too lol. We went to the servo here and decided to fill up the 20 litre jerry can with water. Thank God Phil was the one doing it because he was addressed over the PA system. The cranky lady asked him “Are you quite comfortable there?” He said everyone was looking at him. We decided maybe not to do that again lol.

We returned to the camp at Joannah beach and decided to go beach fishing. We were using cockle shells. I love saying that! I had no idea pippies were known as anything else. I caught a few fish and Fletch caught one too. Milly loved building the sandcastles. We stayed down there for a long while in the sun.

Our fridge went flat. That should not have happened. We had charged the power pack and we should have at least 3 days with only the fridge running on it. Devastated! We managed to keep smiling though. The kids made sure of this. Milly made up a song called “Bushy Bushy Bushman”. It was hilarious. Until we realised that Fletch was howling as he took offence and thought she was teasing him. It took a lot of convincing and many hugs and lots of prompting to get Milly to tell him it wasn’t about him. Cheeky devil kept slyly saying it was.

Milly was next to loose the plot. Playing eye spy colours with the kids, Milly could not get the point she was wrong even though she was finding things that were blue. She was having screaming arguments every time she guessed, arguing that it was that colour because she knows colours really good. There were tears and we had to abort the game. She just couldn’t understand the concept. Poor chicken!!

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