It is hard to believe we are over 5 weeks into our road trip now. We have been surprised with how quickly the deadline-driven routine and hustle and bustle of Sydney life has been left behind. The days are still busy, but are now a combination of protecting a kamikaze 2.5-yr old from self-harm, kindergarten by distance, planning the next few legs of the trip, and evening sessions of Austockphoto. A big change, but a fantastic opportunity to have the family together (and I mean together!) every step of the way; one we are very grateful for.
This first stretch of east-coast NSW has been very family-laden, and as a result, fairly slow going. It has been great to have the rare luxury of time to spend with family and friends as we pass through various towns, but in terms of driving miles we have not come very far. We had this grave realisation just the other night when we investigated the distance between Townsville and Darwin. Type this into Google maps and you will see why a sudden lump of fear wedged itself deep into the back of our throats. Our last few drives have been somewhere in the vicinity of 60-90mins, and our kids have now generally started asking “are we there yet” after about 7.5mins in the car. I think they have a shock or two, plus the odd game of eye-spy, coming their way.
From Port Macquarie, we diverted inland to very familiar surroundings, albeit with a different twist. We both grew up in Armidale, a small country town on the New England tablelands, and both our Mums (Granny Annie and Nanny-Boo) still reside there. But with our new home in tow, we ended up setting up camp on the grounds of Saumarez Homestead; a grand old heritage building on the outskirts of town. An old school friend now lives on-site as the groundskeeper and has breathed new life into an amazing old workers cottage surrounded by old stables and vintage farm machinery, through which chickens and sheep roam free. While our city kids had a lot to learn, they both took to farm life amazingly well and were soon feeding animals and collecting eggs just like the born ’n’ bred country kids do!
It was hard to leave what had been our best stop to date, but our stay in Byron Bay definitely helped to soften the blow. We did have some initial difficulty finding our caravan park, including taking a wrong turn which sent us up the narrow winding path to the world famous Cape Byron Lighthouse … a fantastic view but not something I’d recommend whilst towing a three tonne caravan. But we were eventually greeted with a sea-side camping spot and five days of glorious sunshine. We swam, walked, bought woven friendship bracelets, met a lovely Dutch family and watched the sun set over the hinterland in our swimmers with beer in hand every evening.
Yesterday we high-fived as we crossed over the border into Queensland. This was for all those doubters who said “you’ll never last more than a month” or “you’ll never make it past Byron”. We know we have a damn long way to go, and we need to get a move on, but bring on the challenge. Check in again soon to see how we get on shifting into real 4WD mode on Fraser Island.