“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”—Cesare Pavese
BANGKOK……it’s everything you’ve ever heard about it and then some!!
In the last four days we have ridden on the BTS Sky Train, the Underground, tuk tuks (see photos), countless ups and downs in our hotel elevator, a Mercedes luxury van, escalators, travelators, rattling 4D cinema chairs, a glass bottom boat, paddle boats, long-tailed speed boats, public river ferries, up and down the steepest steps I’ve ever seen, and we’ve walked endless kilometers on our own two feet (or should that be eight?). And why did we do this?
All so we could get from the airport to our fabulous hotel, Siam Square for shopping, Siam Ocean World, movies, the Indonesian Embassy, a giant IT mall with every electronic gadget you could ever imagine (and some that you wouldn’t!), the movies, the Queen’s snake farm, Lumphini Park (Bangkok’s largest), the playground, Sukhumvit night markets, a candlelit restaurant, up a couple of levels at Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, for a bird’s eye view of Bangkok, The Grand Palace, numerous temples, up and down the Chao Phraya river, and back again to our hotel for a nap.
And why a nap, you ask? Well….in a very short time we’ve seen colourful taxis, flowers, dozens of Christmas trees, rude t-shirts, every fish imaginable, a king cobra, Burmese python, green tree viper, tarantulas, lizards, an axolotl (google it), sunrises, sunsets, hundreds of reclining, sitting, laughing, and standing Buddhas, a 5 1/2 tonne, solid gold Buddha, a jade Buddha in 18 karat gold robes from the 12th century, a 15m high by 46m long reclining Buddha with mother of pearl inlaid foot soles, the King’s throne hall and reception, soldiers and palace guards, mobs of bread-loving catfish, and lots, lots more. Total sensory overload…..PHEW!!!
Following our snooze today, we’re ready to head out again for a Saturday night adventure. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for a good little reflexology foot spa for these sore tootsies…after all, we still have three more days to explore this wild and wonderful place.
“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”— ~ Mark Twain
Well….it’s 6 pm in Darwin. We’ve checked in our campervan after packing all our bags (six of them!), used all 80kg of luggage allowance and even have some time to kill while we wait for our flight home to Bali.
It was a long morning of packing up & cleaning, sorting out all the linens and dumping the port-a-potty. Once business was taken care of, we wandered into town and had a walk around the old stomping grounds. I was explaining to Joe and Oliver that they had spent quite a lot of time in Darwin when they were young. They were both born here (in the same room even) and spent quite a lot of time getting around these parts with me in their baby pram. It’s a lovely place to hang out this time of year, before the heat and humidity set in. We had fish & chips for lunch then wandered out to the shops to buy another bag for our laundry. Things expanded in the heat :)
It’s been an amazing holiday. Now home to recover, download all our pictures then get them online so we can share those precious Kodak moments with you all. This has been the most fabulous holiday ever but I’m looking forward to getting home, having a cuppa tea with friends, a good laugh & some time for adult conversation…I hope I remember how :)
Now that all my Aussie coins have run out to keep the vending machine games going, the natives will be getting restless and before they start to make a ruckus we’ll get moving upstairs to customs and immigration. The last hurdle to jump…Duty Free Shopping coming up before we get on the plane.
I’m realising that I’m totally delirious & will stop writing before it gets even more ridiculous….heading up to the gate.
12 December - I always wondered what happened to this post and when I didn’t find it on our blog I wrote it off as forever lost in cyberspace. By the time we made it home, all was lost and I didn’t have the energy to write it again (or write anything, for that matter, for a long, long while). Easing back into cyberworld again and figured we might as well include this post to finish up in our Great Aussie adventure travelog….it was the final post.
More next week from Bangkok! Kids fun capital….another adventure!! Time to pack….
We all woke this morning before sunrise and decided to go out for breakfast. Really out. Before the sun peeked over the horison, we were well into a 2.6km hike to the top of the waterfall. All rugged up (it was quite cool when we set out), we scampered along the path, across the river and headed up and up to the top of the escarpment, shedding layers of clothing as we went. We found the perfect spot at a lookout to stop and have our bircher meusli with an amazing view. It’a going to be tough to beat this Monday morning start.
We were rewarded with views of several more waterfalls and the perfect swimming hole at the top, all to ourselves. This is the same river we were boating on yesterday, still in the Nitmiluk National Park, just 60 or so kilometres to the north. It has been the perfect way to end our camping journey at these last couple of spots.
With a long drive through Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage Site, between us and Darwin, a three hour hike was the perfect way to start the day. A cuppa tea for me and blankets for them and we were on our way by 10 am after breaking down camp.
We arrived in Howard Springs, just 40 km south of Darwin around 6 pm after a mostly unremarkable drive through Kakadu. I think its real beauty comes during the wet season and with this being the middle of the dry season, it was quite an ordinary day of driving (and to be fair, we didn’t stop to do any trekking or looking around). But it sure beat another 300km of Stuart Highway which doesn’t change much between Tennant Creek (yeah, way back when?) and Darwin.
Settling into our site, I started sorting out & cleaning up while the kids hit the playground. I quietly celebrated almost being to Darwin with a glass of red wine. Over 3,200 km covered in these last 12 days, amazing adventures, incredible sights and hanging out with the coolest kids around….a charmed life.
We all wandered down to the bbq area where there was a good ‘ole Aussie sausage sizzle going on…$2.50 got you a sausage on a slice of bread, your choice of sauce, a seat on the grass under the stars and a pretty groovy guy playing 70s rock. Surreal…what a way to celebrate the (almost) end our epic trip :)
Okay, okay…with 36 hours to go, we know you want to hear the real juice.
We were on the move everyday and with a lack of time and energy so many details have been left out. Many small, precious moments, smells, sounds & feelings didn’t make it onto the page.
But I’m sure you’re dying to know…were all the days really so rosey? Was everything so perfect? Well…..no.
Some of those days of long drive time and little play time were hellish, the arguments were many, the whingeing and whining flowed regularly. A couple of major, 3-way sibling blowouts didn’t even get a mention. Other than my temper tantrum, I conveniently forgot to include the daily lectures on the evils of bullying, cursing, spitting, hurting others, etc., etc., etc. The usual stuff. I left out their fights (seriously? are gummy snakes THAT valuable?!?) and the foul language (both mine & theirs) to keep it clean, but I can’t say that it was not all part of the bigger picture.
Occasionally, I questioned my own sanity for actually planning to put us all through something like this. I’ve missed having someone to chat with and a relief driver would’ve been very welcome some days. But strangely, after 24 days of total family immersion, I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night not wanting it to end. It feels like we are just getting warmed up. The Tribe is showing signs of teamwork…all for one, one for all.
Our last night of bush camping and as I’m laying here, a near-full moon shines through the open window onto my pillow and the sound of crickets chirping meanders through the camper. A dingo just wandered through our campsite and I can hear the faint sound of Edith Falls cascading into the swimming hole that we walked down to after dinner to watch the moon rising over the escarpment. This is truly heaven on earth, pure bliss…and it’s ALL been worth it.
Would I do it again?? You betcha! :) I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
After waking to the smell of gum trees in the air and the birds again heralding the rising sun, I put the kettle on & wandered outside into the cool morning air. So fresh. It was a rough night as Krisna’s cough flared up a couple times so I went back inside and set to work juicing a lemon & mixing it with some honey for later.
Another beautiful day…we have been completely spoiled for weather on this trip. Back outside, sipping my cuppa tea and watching the birds flit from tree to tree, it occurred to me that it was Sunday…ahh, what a lovely way to start a Sunday. Taking a quick dip into reality, I also realised this meant that we would be flying home to Bali in two days time. Hard to believe it’s almost over…it has been the most amazing trip.
As the boys slowly surfaced, we began getting breakfast sorted out: crumpet with peanut butter, crumpet with honey, eggs and toast, please…oh those crumpets look good..I’ll have one of those, too. Busy morning in the kitchen :) Everyone a bit edgy…time to get ‘em out of the cabin before the fever sets in again and they start scratching each others eyes out.
We set off to the boat and canoe booking counter up at the info centre to see what there was to do for the day and after some checking discovered there were some seats on the 3 Gorges tour boat leaving in a half hour. Perfect! Two kids free and a special price for Joe & I - looked like we here going on a boat trip. We didn’t realise it was actually a few boats - it included hiking a bit between gorges to change boats as there’s an unpassable rock bar at the top end of each gorge. Spectacular day as we learned a bit of the cultural significance from Rocky, our captain and guide for the tour. We spotted a few freshwater crocodiles, saw plenty of fish, a swim & snack before heading back through down through the gorges to unload, four hours later. What a day! In Joe’s words “Just two words, Mum…Plain Wicked!”
Loading up after scoffing nice cold ice cream bars at the info centre on our way back, we headed once again north, towards Darwin. It was already 3:30 pm so we decided to stop at Edith Falls about an hour’s drive up the road. We arrived with enough daylight left to set up camp (& very lucky we were to get the last spot in the park), bbq lamb sausages for dinner and have a moonlight walk down to the swimming hole while the dishes dried. It was beautiful to see the almost full moon rising over the ridge above, the four of us sitting there as the night cooled off around us. This is what we came here for…nothing. No lights, no internet, no shopping malls, no electronics…nothing. And it was blissful :)
Day 10: Caves, Bats and The Gorge on the Full Moon
After being woken rather pleasantly at sunrise by the sounds of birds outside in the trees,
I put the kettle on to make a cup of tea, had a stretch and a little walk before the boys woke. What a beautiful morning it was. The park is full of tall gum trees, filled with so many varieties of birds it felt like we were at a bird park. Each morning, each place has had its own special morning greeting committee. Whether it be cockatoos squawking, peacocks honking, dogs barking, an emu lurking, cattle braying or wallabies scavenging around the campsite, everyday is a new surprise. The weather has been clear, sunny and dry for the entire trip with downright cold nights down south and pleasant, cool nights up here in the tropical north. We have been blessed with perfect conditions :)
After taking care of getting the water tank and our own tummies filled and the toilet tank emptied, we were on the road heading back down south just a bit to have a look at the Cutta Cutta Cave. We had stopped in to have a look yesterday but just missed the last tour by 5 minutes. It was worth the drive back. A good walk through the bush took us to the entrance to the cave and Ethan, our guide, showed us the wonders underground. There were stalactites, stalagmites, bats & snakes (though we didn’t see any), plenty of history and in the end, he shut the lights off so we could see what it was like not to see your hand in front of your face. Pitch black! It got the ranking of ‘very cool’ by the boys and was a nice bush walk, as well.
We drove back into Katherine, fueled up and headed east of town to check out Nitmiluk National Park or Katherine Gorge. An early check in to the caravan park and the boys went off for a swim in the pool while Krisna napped. Poor little guy has had a cold these last few days (he’s been cranky) so I was happy to see him getting in a good nap. He’s been keeping up with us despite his snotty nose and has now developed a cough but it hasn’t seemed to slow him down much.
Mid-afternoon, we packed our backpacks up with water bottles, put on our hats & walking shoes & went down to check out the river. We stopped in to the visitor info centre before deciding to head up the gorge to a lookout point. It was a challenging hike for the boys with quite a bit of climbing but we were all rewarded with an incredible view of the river, surrounding valley and Gorge #1. The sunset walk back along the river bank was quite fun with lots of big, smooth rocks to play on, sandy paths leading to wide lawns and lots of wallabies out feeding. We saw thousands of fruit bats hanging in the trees along the river banks….getting to ready to head out for the night’s foraging. After returning to the camper van, it was our feeding time too so we grabbed our goodies and headed over to the bbq to make giant Aussie burgers for dinner, complete with grilled pineapple. I savoured a glass of Aussie Shiraz while Joe cooked the burgers (again delicious! He’s quite the grill master) and Oliver and Kris ran around under the trees to warm up after their swim. Back at the campervan, the big boys got out the torches and played tic-tac-toe in the dirt while I read a couple stories to Krisna. Its been a perfect day…what’s next?!
Wycliffe Well turned out to be one of our favourite spots to camp. The boys loved exploring around the lake and much to their delight, they found a shopping bag full of spent shotgun cartridges. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with them but to 12 and 8 year old boys, it is precious treasure.
We packed up, fueled up & got on the road north again. It wasn’t too long before we came across the Devil’s Marbles & got out for a good explore of the rocks. It was wild to see all those giant boulders piled on top of each other. Also amazing to watch the boys as they all fearlessly shimmied up anything & everything without a second thought. It was a good way to use up some of their energy before the long drive ahead of us. We had already covered 370 km from Alice and had another 750 km to go over the next couple days & it was long, boring roads w/ no interesting stops between here and Mataranka.
We stopped in for the night in Elliot, where there was a whole gaggle (?) of peacocks and a couple of very friendly dogs in an otherwise unremarkable stopover. Even though we were no longer in Wycliffe Well, the boys were sure they spotted a UFO after going to bed, floating in the sky outside their window. Getting away early to more long boring driving, a rest stop for breakfast and after a little more driving, we arrived at the thermal pools for a swim just outside of Mataranka. Beautiful, crystal clear water pouring up out of the ground made for the best swimming hole ever. Water was 34C (about 95F) and so perfect for a swim. We tested out the waterproof-ness of our camera & took a few goofy underwater pictures for fun. It was a nice relief from the driving as we took a short trek around the area & had some lunch while parked in our shady spot in the carpark. It’s been great to have our home on wheels…everything we need is wherever we are.
Another hour’s drive and we had finally arrived in Katherine. Our first stop was Woolworth’s to reprovision then a look around for a night’s stopping place. We found a lovely caravan park just west of town by the river with lots of space to run around, a laundry, a good bbq and an amazing host of birds in the trees. We’ve finally reached the tropical north and the nights are cool and pleasant so we can enjoy our dinners outside without shivering and sleep with our windows open. This also makes for a very beautiful space to wake up in with full stereo surround sound of many different bird songs as the sun comes up…wonderful!
After packing up camp in Alice Springs and fueling up once more, we at last began heading north out of town. Alice has been a great base to work out of these last few days with everything we could possibly need for our adventures. Even though we spent 6 days here, it feels like we barely touched the tip of the iceberg….there’s so much to do both in town and in the surrounding area. My wishlist of things to do now includes coming back here to spend at least a couple weeks trekking and exploring just around these parts. For now, we’re moving on…
By 10:30am, we were on the road after a quick stop at the Britz office for a bit of maintenance. Heading out of town there was a real sense of excitement as we were now finally going in the direction of Darwin, 1,480kms away. A long and desolate stretch of road, the Stuart Highway cuts the country in half from north to south, with a few road trains (a semi truck with three trailers…53.5 meters long) and the occasional road house where you can quench your thirst and break the monotony in these parts. Today’s entertainment was bush fires, many of them right along the road’s edge, raging and sending smoke hundreds of meters up into the air.
A toilet stop in Barrow Creek was a real treat as the boys got their first taste of a good, old-fashioned Aussie hotel pub. Established in 1932, the walls are covered with memorabilia left by visitors from all over the world. The boys bellied up to the bar and ordered three Kirk’s Creaming Sodas from Karen, the friendly barmaid, and had a good laugh at some of the pictures and quotations on the walls (some of them wildly inappropriate :) even better). We made friends with Edward & Sophie, the station dogs and had a chat with a few of the locals. Oliver found a cardboard box in the carpark which Joe took great pleasure in stealing from him & throwing it up on top of the campervan to great protest. It was all good fun in the end when it went flying off the back as we headed back out to the highway and they got one last laugh at Barrow Creek.
By 4:30pm, we were snugly parked under the trees at Wycliffe Well Tourist Park, camp set up, and the boys were off playing in the sprinklers, exploring the grounds and nearby lake after an afternoon strapped in their seats. Post pasta on the picnic table at sunset, we had a couple hours in the cafe on the internet (finally!) to upload some of our photos and then wandered back to our van to get some sleep. This place is world famous for UFO sightings…will keep our eyes open (if we can) for any flying saucers tonight.
6 days to go….brilliant fun!
It has been a bit of a flat day…everyone a bit tired today after the last few days’ adventures. It was a cold morning and we were all up a bit late, had nice hot porridge with fresh strawberries for breakfast then headed out in the direction of the West MacDonnell National Park to play for the rest of the day.
A few kilometers out of town we saw a turn off for Alice Springs Desert Park which the girl who helped us at the Britz campervan hire office highly recommended. We pulled in & ended up walking for 3 hours around the different areas of desert ecology and learning about the animals, plants & aboriginals who have evolved and survived in this unforgiving land for tens of thousands of years. We realised that what looks like a land devoid of life is actually crawling with creatures…it gave us a whole new perspective on things.
Once we’d done with Desert Park, we drove out to Hermannsburg to check it out. It has some historical significance as an overland telegraph station but is today a dry and dusty settlement in which we saw nothing interesting other than the gigantic solar panels spotted outside of town. After dropping in to the Trading Post to buy some Bundaberg ginger beers, we headed back towards Alice Springs.
At around 5pm, we pulled in at Simpson’s Gap to have a little trek up the gorge to the waterhole. We all needed a little something to get that sitting-in-the-van-all-afternoon energy burnt up before heading back to camp. It was a beautiful spot & we were able to see some black footed rock wallabies come out to feed at sunset. It was a bit tough to keep the troops quiet enough to lure them out but we did manage to see three of them which was quite exciting.
Exhausted, we pulled into our camp site just as it got dark, plugged in, boys went off to toilet blocks for a shower while I cooked up some dinner. Didn’t take us long to pass out after that long walk at Desert Park & hours in the car….blissful sleep :)
Maybe it’s all the driving I’ve been doing but I swear my eyes have degenerated at warp speed these last few days. Perhaps it’s the straining to see kangaroos near the road? Or looking at too much beautiful scenery? Maybe it’s that hot desert sun? Whatever it is, I can’t seem to read anything anymore….which means keeping these pesky reading glasses close most of the time. For the first time ever, I had to ask Joe to read something for me at the supermarket today….something that until just recently others were asking me to do for them. Time marches on ;)
Enough of that…today was taking care of business day. We were back in Alice Springs by mid-day and managed to find a parking space for Maui and headed into town centre on foot for a look around, the post office to send off some postcards and the supermarket to restock the fridge.
It’s a nice, tidy town with pretty much everything available. I think they announced on the train when we arrived that there’s a permanent population of 28,000 people. There’s an awful lot of tourists around at the moment and town seems crowded but when you get out on the road, it feels desolate. Driving around here reminds me of driving around Texas when I was growing up..scrubby bush, long, straight roads & rocky mesas on the horison.
I love it that the boys get to have this experience at their ages. At 4 years, Krisna may be a bit young to remember but Joe & Oliver will not forget this adventure. Something about that sand dune yesterday has made a huge impression on them…they keep asking if we can find another & go play again. It was an incredible feeling being out there in the middle of nowhere, no one for miles & miles.
Tonight, Joe took care of the sausages on the BBQ again with Oliver as wing man to keep him company. Tonight wasn’t so cold & we enjoyed our dinner out on the camp table next to the van then Oliver did the washing up while I headed over to the laundry to take care of the smelly socks and jocks. Now, with the cupboards all full again, we are ready for the next adventure. Heading out tomorrow for West MacDonnell National Park for some more trekking & communing with nature.
Day 4: Kata Tjuta and Back to Our Favourite Campground
Sunday, 7 Aug
It’s 7pm and we’ve just settled in at our table at the Curtain Springs Cattle Station camp kitchen for fresh steak dinner. It’s one of the world’s largest ranches at 1,028,960 acres, halfway between Darwin & Adelaide. They operate a nice little road house 100km from Uluru and it’s our favourite camp spot so far because we are allowed to build a campfire :)
Another great day of trekking….this time in Kata Tjuta and The Olgas. We took a nice little 2.5 km hike up through the Walpa Gorge between two of the larger rock mountains along a creek in the gully. It got 4 thumbs up :) we all loved it.
On the road out of Uluru National Park we stopped at one of the roadside sand dunes & climbed up for the view. We were 40kms from Uluru & could still see it rising up out of the desert scrub, majestic! It was late afternoon, quite warm, clear blue skies & the contrast between that & the red sand of the dune was very striking. We played around there for a while exploring animal tracks til it was time to get on the road again so we could make camp before dark.
Back in Curtain Springs, we checked in for the last powered camping spot they had available. Probably would’ve done the free campsite again had our camera & phone not needed a charge. With no signal, the phone hasn’t gotten much use as a phone these days but has come in handy as a word processor to record our adventures & a handy second camera.
It has been the best day yet…easy, lazy breakfast, trekking and picnic at The Olgas, sand dune fun, fresh steak dinner on the cattle station and, to top it all off, a campfire better than our first one and….marshmallows!! Couldn’t ask for more. As they say here in Oz, ‘You wouldn’t be dead for quids’
We’re heading to Alice Springs in the morning for a little maintenance & reprovisioning. We haven’t done laundry for days & are getting a bit feral. Also hoping to find wi-fi somewhere so we can upload our pics…
We woke before dawn in near freezing temperatures…holy moley it was cold!! Since we pulled into a free campsite in Curtin Springs we had no power for the heater so we all shimmied into our clothes, jumpers, jackets, scarves…anything we could find & fired up the engine to get on the road to make it from there to Uluru by sunrise. Fortunately, we’d packed everything up the night before so all we needed to do was start it up & go.
What an amazing & beautiful morning…we saw two kangaroos on the way & stopped before sunrise to step out into the cold desert air & look at the stars before they disappeared into the blue sky of the day. So far out here in the middle of nowhere, no phones, no traffic…nothing. Silence. & COLD! We were happy to step back into the warm campervan & get back on the road.
No matter how many times you’ve seen it in photos or videos, nothing prepares you for the first time you lay your eyes on ‘the rock’. It is so immense…beyond what you can imagine. Our first sighting of Uluru was as a dim silhouette in the distance when it was 30kms away. We arrived at the base of Uluru just as the sun popped over the horison. Timing was perfect & we spent the next few hours exploring the area, doing a 1 1/2 hour trek to a gorge past a couple sacred sites followed by driving the entire circumference of its base. Many years ago I saw an IMAX movie with my mom in Texas that featured Uluru videoed at sunset as the colours changed. I’ve wanted to see it ever since that moment which was at least 25 years ago but I don’t recall exactly. Finally here!
Hungry & ready for a good cold drink, we went back into Yulara, a tourist village set up 15 kms from Uluru to cater to the folks who come out here to see the rock. We checked into the caravan park & headed to the shopping centre for some lunch & a look around. There are several hotels & resorts, campgrounds, supermarket & petrol station in the ‘town’…and phone service! There’s been none at all between here & Alice Springs, 441 kms up the road. It adds to that middle of nowhere feeling. It makes me realise how much we have come to depend on these little communication devices. Fortunately, this one can be used to access the internet & post this on our blog or you wouldn’t be reading this now. We haven’t seen internet since we left Brisbane Wednesday morning. The miracles of modern technology never cease to amaze me :)
After setting up camp, the boys took off for a run around at the playground, played a bit of volleyball with German tourists & hiked to the top of Naninga Lookout for a first class view of Uluru @ sunset.
Joe was in charge of cooking lamb sausages on the bbq across the road while I cooked veggies & mashed potatoes in the camper. It was YUM! Sausages were perfect & we all devoured them before an early night to bed after our pre-dawn start. What a day! We all enjoyed Uluru and learning a bit of the local culture and are now looking forward to another big adventure tomorrow when we head over to The Olgas and Kata Tjuta for a good look around.
Our arrival into Alice Springs yesterday afternoon was quite exciting…we’ve been looking forward to camping for weeks and the weather was clear & warm…perfect! After picking up Maui, our groovy camper van (again, upgraded FOC, like the hire car), we headed for the supermarket to stock up the fridge & cupboards for our journey out to Uluru. Since it was already after 4pm, we decided to find a spot in Alice to stay for the night before heading down the road. It gave us a good opportunity to give everything a test run before heading out of town. Fridge? Check. Stove? Check. Shower and toilet? Check. Gas bottle? Full. Fuel & water tanks? Full. Hot water? Yeah! Clothes all put away & bags stashed out of the way. Have put these city boys to work to toughen ‘em up a bit…table & chairs, awning out, plug in to power supply then do it all again in reverse plus fill up the water tank before heading out. They’re even doing the washing up after dinner :)
We set off this morning after packing up and hitting Kmart for some thongs for Joe & Oliver (shoes, that is :) easy off & on to keep the muck out of the camper…another lesson learned by last night’s test run). We hit the trail heading south out of town with Joe as co-pilot and as ready for adventure as we were going to get. Another glorious day, sunny and clear, cool and comfortable…perfect cruising weather.
Everything has been amazing so far but not all has been smooth sailing. Three boys in confined spaces (ie. train, camper) can be quite a challenge at times. Despite my deep breaths and attempts to remain patient after repeating for the umpteenth time “insert kid’s name here, please stop annoying your brother”, I’ve had a couple of bad parenting moments, including my own full-on temper tantrum. Now, I could blame lack of sleep, driving stress or any number of things but after watching them beating up on each other again in the rear vision mirror, I pulled over and brought the camper van grinding to a halt from 110km/hr then proceeded to get up and walk to the back and completely lose my cool, throw my teddy in the corner & scream and yell louder than any of them could do. There……that should teach ‘em. What? I’m not sure, but I’ll bet they learned something from it…not pretty.
Half an hour later we arrived at Curtin Springs Station, 100kms from Uluru, and backed Maui into one of the free camping spots for the night. Blessed be, get those seatbelts off and run, boys, run like the wind! Keep your eyes open for firewood while you’re out there…yes! we can build a fire here. The hunt for wood kept them fully occupied for a good 20 minutes and the silence greatly assisted in the recovery of my composure.
Oliver put a great lot of effort into building us a bonney campfire w/ stones he’d found around the place and they’d collected some sticks and kindling enough to get a fire going (note to self…get marshmallows :) at next opportunity).
Before lighting it up we took a few moments to commune with a rather curious emu who atopped in to check things out…you don’t get that experience everyday.
With the glow on the horison to the west fading, the skies above began to reveal millions of stars (our favourite constellation, the Southern Cross, clearly visible) as we ate our lentil soup, drank warm Milo and chatted about making the fire (“it actually worked!”) and our day. Yes, my tantrum came up. It will inevitably be one of those moments that will always be remembered…and brought up at future family gatherings. We’re making memories here, folks!
Early start tomorrow to see Uluru at sunrise…that was my excuse anyway to get lights out & kids in bed so I could spend some time writing and really, just to have some peace and quiet. The silence is golden…broken occasionally by the bellowing of the cattle in the paddock next to us…music to my ears.
We woke this morning to our first sunrise over the outback of Australia. A spectacular, deeply glowing red disc hovering over the horison of a landscape covered in bush & scrub rising out of the red soil. We have been 21 hours on The Ghan…seats comfy, meals ok, decent sleep, weather clear & fellow passengers patient & tolerant of the boys. Krisna likely to be a star on facebook China if the number of photographs & videos taken by a few of our fellow travellers is any indication.
The real blessings: a hot shower & the Nullarbor Lounge. Just after sunrise, the boys still sleeping, I grabbed a towel & headed for the showers. Ahhhh! After sitting on the train for hours that hot shower was blissful…like rain in the desert (no pun intended). Why the Nullarbor Lounge? Power points. Yes, the electronics recharge station. There was panic amongst the troops yesterday afternoon as the i-pad then the i-pod died. ‘So boring.’ ‘There’s nothing to do.’ How about some sleep? Or getting out your book? How did people travel long hauls w/ kids before portable games? Silence…?!
We’ve halted momentarily to wait for a southbound freight train. Here it comes….there it goes. We counted 73 cars, several of them double deckers. With no bridges or tunnels there are no height restrictions on this line. Love train travel :)
The driver is now informing us we are coming up to The Iron Man, an icon erected by the railway workers to commemorate the one-millionth sleeper laid on the tracks to Alice Springs. The sun is getting high now…it looks hot out there despite it being winter. It’s 11:30am & probably at least 33-34C degree (or rough guesstimate 93F). Happy for the air-con comfort of our carriage. Only a couple more hours to go…then in Alice Springs to collect our luggage & the campervan.
After cutting it a bit close for comfort for our early Jetstar departure from Brisbane (left the camera at Grandma’s house-ugghh!), the team pulled it together & slid on through check-in & security checks to relax into rows 7 & 8 to Adelaide.
Now we are hanging out at Adelaide Parklands Terminal waiting for the conductor to call “All Aboard!” So exciting :) first time for all of us to do a sleepover on a train riding through Australia’s outback. Coolest holiday ever!
While Grandma watched the two little ones, Joe & I stepped out on the town to watch a new musical, ‘Dr. Zhivago’. Spectacular performances, interesting sets, action, drama, romance…..it had it all. Bravo to the cast & crew! Two thumbs up….
So much has happened over this last week…we could write several times a day….finding the time is the real challenge. Unless I stay up after the kids have gone to bed & miss out on precious beauty sleep (like now), rarely do I have a moment to sit down & spend time on the computer. Morning til night is filled with activity…and that’s nothing to complain about.
I thought we’d be using the Blackberry for a lot more posting on the blog than we’ve done. Whether driving, cooking, cleaning or refereeing those sibling rivals, it seems that the phone is always within reach but getting something on it to post is not happening (which is frustrating after going through 20 minutes of those annoying Telstra electronic voice prompts to get to the real person who could sign us up for data services so we could do this on the go). The connection is done at the phone company….that’s not the problem. It has more to do with the fact that the technology hasn’t yet connected in my brain & I forget we have the means to post things from the Smartphone (it’s only as smart as the person operating it). We’re not so slack with facebook….it sees a few more photo uploads than here (click on facebook icon on the left to go to our page)….So many electronics, so little time.
Since Grandpa’s birthday celebrations last weekend, we’ve revisited a few of our old haunts - Southbank, the Museum & the Sciencentre. Took a ride on the Brisbane Wheel - the totally touristy fun ferris wheel overlooking the whole city. It was a gorgeous winter day & the city was sparkling.
We’ve also enjoyed movies at a real movie theatre with cushy, purple seats (a treat for us after living in Bali for so long). Kris & I saw MR POPPER’S PENGUINS and Joe & Oliver caught the latest TRANSFORMERS in 3D which they loved! (See joespost, reblogged on our page for his thoughts on it).
Had a beautiful drive up north yesterday. Set out with no destination, no schedule, a full picnic basket & a good radio in the car. It was a beautiful winter’s day….clear & sunny, not too cool - perfect picnic weather. Found a fabulous spot up on a ridge in Maleny overlooking the Glass House Mountains for our lunch feast & a good photo op.
Looking forward to more city adventures these next few days before we head out to the outback for some dusty fun…..
THE MOST EPIC MOVIE IV’E EVER SEEN. It was AMAZING in fact it was better than the first and second ones, and i saw it in 3D although there was more military in number 1, in this one there is secret agents instead kinda boring. ll else was perfect.
Day 2 and things are settling quickly. Travelling is like giving birth….hours of pain, all forgotten when the destination is reached.
The layover in Darwin was three hours of painful waiting for our flight w/ three overtired & very wound up boys. We survived & all slept the 3 1/2 hours to Brisbane. It was a fabulous day of catching up with the cousins and Grandma, stocking up the fridge & finally hitting the sack! Glorious, just glorious! The bed was delicious…we all slept for more than 12 hours, awoke refreshed & ready to eat.
A slow casual day at Indooroopilly Shopping Town to stock up on winter clothes…what a deal at nothing over $10! Geez….we miss Kmart. Everybody is warm, well fed & ready for a big sleep before the big 94th birthday celebrations for Grandpa Edgar tomorrow….photos sure to come :)
Writing while on plane #1 to Darwin…it’s well after midnite, home time & kids are all still amped up with excitement. Wish I was…amped up, that is. Excited? Very. Exhausted? Very. Amped up? Definitely not. But they are.
They have been great. All real troopers, helping to carry the bags, waiting in lines for check in & immigration. So much excitement these last few days….and now we are finally doin it. Looking forward to a bed. It will be a few more hours but getting closer every moment. We still have clearing into Australia to do, checking in for our connecting flight to Brisbane & maybe some breakfast…there’s three hours in Darwin to get all that done.
I predict a lot more sleeping happening on our next flight, (maybe even in the airport?)…for all of us. It seems they are finally winding down a bit. Of course they would be, we are half an hour from landing :) The joys of travel…. Til next time,