It is now Tuesday April 13th and we are very much in to camper life. Having no idea really of the date or what day it is, is always a sign of a great time. We are now not wearing watches and thanks to a no signal zone at our last campsite have become brave enough now to turn off phones and email and just live in the moment. I know it sounds like an obvious thing to do but you just don't realise how these things become such an entrenched part of your life and we have had so many things on the go, it is now time to let go and switch off. Since our last blog we have had an awesome time at Pambula. Each day included a morning of homeschool for the kids, surfing for Dad while Bec and Gussy walked on the beach. The girls then proceeded to campsite activities through the holiday program and then each day ended with either a campfire (marshmallows included) or a movie at the outdoor cinema. Our campfire arrived a few days after we did, as they were originally all booked. This was great. It is one of Bec's favourite things to sit by the campfire playing 20 questions with the kids and just watching the stars. You can just imagine it, Bec sitting there with her now famous quote "I feel at one with nature" this ofcourse as she was sitting sipping her Frank Potts glass of red and sampling her pollo al funghi risotto! Well we were as close to nature as we had been for a long time. The kangaroos at Pambula were amazing, they were everywhere. Every morning Gus would wake up and out he would march to see how many roos were camped outside the camper awaiting his arrival. One morning we were greeted with the surprise of a kangaroo equipped with a baby joey in her pouch, who was continually poking its head out to see what all the fuss was about, only to slip back in to the comfort of its mother's pouch. Each day was pretty much the same which was great. The girls loved their evening movie, we would walk them over to the outdoor cinema with quilts and popcorn and set them up for their movie. They loved it! Each day they had a craft activity and they made finger puppets, sand bottles, card making, woodwork and pencil pots. They entered a mini-golf competition and also hired a little bike buggy and rode around the campsite with Gussy sitting on the front of the bike with Mags and Indy peddling. Little man in his hand me down pink Lady bug helmet ofcourse. As the week ended the park was slowly evacuated until on our final couple of days there were only a handful of people left. I should have known better but as you get more relaxed you don't think too much about the security of your stuff. A nasty surprise on our final morning as I was packing the camper to leave I noticed my surfboard had been stolen. Not a nice feeling to know that someone had been that close and had stolen the board from under our camper. I thought I actually had heard them in the early hours of the morning but didn't think that much of it at the time. Whilst my board was on its last legs it was a favourite and was an integral part of our trip. Hard to be on a surfing safari without a surfboard. Ofcourse this threw the morning into chaos as I hunted around the local surf shops looking for a reasonable second hand replacement, which fortunately I found with out too much bother. The ironic thing was that my board had a crack in it which it had had for a long time and I had just repaired it the night before! Not a great way to end what was a great week all up.
We left Pambula and headed for Depot Beach in the Marramarang National Park in southern NSW. This was a recommendation from one of our neighbours along the way and we were looking forward to it, not that we knew too much about it. On the way Bec and I started to wonder about what the park may or may not have given it was in a National park. We knew we had power but it was only a fleeting thought as to whether or not we had water, as it turned out we didn't. For all the things we didn't have, there were certainly many more things we did have. We were in a small camping ground nestled in the scrub just a few hundred metres from the waters edge. Our site was tucked in between several large trees backing on to the natural scrub of the park. It was quite beautiful and Bec's favourite stop so far. The beach was spectacular with some incredible snorkling opportunities which we made good use of and the evenings were spent sitting by the fire looking up to the stars. The initial response from the girls to the campsite was that we were at the worlds worst boot camp! Cold showers, no facilities, no running water and worst of all no TV! Like any good movie as the days went on the girls fell in love with their surroundings and eventually wanted to stay on when it was time to go. Maggie made a friend in Madeline, our neighbour, we were delivered fresh fish cooked beautifully by our neighbours, and we spent each day walking and swimming in the incredible depot beach. I snorkelled a lot with the kids and we had a great time. I then asked Indy to watch Gus and I took Bec out for a snorkel. I didn't realise it at the time but Bec was terrified at the prospect of going out where she couldn't touch and was swimming over rocks and other things. At the end of her first snorkling experience Bec remarked that she was incredibly liberated as she fell in love with the world of underwater life. The sea was rich with sealife and Bec just loved swimming with the pull of the ocean as the seaweeds would sway with the currents, it was spectacular. Ofcourse on Day 2 when we went out Bec and I ventured out far deeper and explored far more than Bec ever thought she could possibly do. In the end Bec lost herself in the experience and it wasn't until we were back on shore and I told Bec where we actually went did she realise just how far we had ventured, she has just found a new passion! Indy and I had a couple more attempts at fishing and apart from snagging a poor little fish that seemed to have got the hook caught in its fin as we were reeling in we had absolutely no luck. This ofcourse made all the worse on the final day of fishing as we were about to pack up a young kid came over and on his first cast caught a beautiful squid, just not our time! Stay tuned for more fishing updates as we progress. In the morning as the girls wandered back from the toilet and Indy was just waking up I was standing outside our camper and a beautiful rosella came up and landed on the chair in front of me. I grabbed a piece of bread and before I knew it I had at least 20 of the most colourful birds you could ever see on my head, arms and all over the chair in front of me. This was the start of another morning ritual one which the kids absolutely loved. We have some great footage of the kids feeding the birds. A couple of videos of Gus with birds in his hair and flapping around his face, priceless images! Indy enjoyed putting bread on her hood on her head and walking around with the birds feeding on her head. Maggie especially loved her time with the birds, it was quite special, you just can't believe how many of these birds were scattered around our camper! Ofcourse we also had our now expected visits from the local kangaroos, Gussies favourite pets! We also had a vist from a giant iguana at least 3 feet long, several kookaburras and beautiful king parrots. By the end of our time at Depot beach the girls forgot about TV, made some new friends, enjoyed being very close to nature and even got into the spirit of fetching the water. It was an absolutely spectacular spot to spend a few days and we were sorry to leave, even though I didn't surf once. We are also starting to feel more comfortable about staying out of the usual caravan parks and spending more time in the national parks which are just incredible, although Maggie just mentioned not so speak too soon as she is sitting again watching her TV!
We left Depot beach without a specific destination in mind, again a very liberating experience. We knew we were heading to or near to Ulladulla, a surfing Mecca on the coast of Australia, just not sure where. Ulladulla was a bit too built up for our liking so we continued through and headed for Bendalong, a spot off the princes highway, ofcourse on the coast and once again in a national park although this time the amenities are in good supply. The drive was just over 40 minutes all up and we are now in a campsite overlooking the beach from a spot high up on the hill. Again the beach is quite spectacular and we have spent our first day exploring the local beach and rockpools. Bec was spending some time with Gus as Indy, Mags and I went exploring. Bec was recounting to us that she handed Gus a couple of little periwinkle shells and he put them down on the rock together, looked up at Bec and said "Boobaggers" that is gus talk for boobies! I am not sure where he gets that from, couldn't be from me…. The highlight of our walk though was a visit from several very large stingrays only a couple of metres off shore, they were so beautiful and graceful and the kids loved seeing them, Bec got a great photo. Which incidentally is fast becoming another great hobby of Bec's taking great photos, she is becoming quite the photographer! We have a huge site and are set on beautiful green grass, backing on to the lush scrubland that litters the hill above the beach. Ofcourse there was the usual accompaniment of the local kangaroo population a few feet from our camper as we were setting up. It seems we are travelling from one unforgettable location to the next. We ended our day cooking a delicious chickpea stew, cooking outside overlooking the ocean on a clear evening. The weather here has been beautiful, each day seems more perfect than the last, except ofcourse for the lack of swell. Which I am sure we will make up for in due course. We have been inspired by the lack of technology at our site in depot beach and have decided to put the phones away and only check messages and emails from time to time, it actually made quite an impact and allowed us to really relax into the trip, another step in our learning and our unwinding on this journey of ours. With each day that goes by we are reminded of just how special and just how important this trip is for us as a family. We are planning to stay here for a few days and then head on to another national park at Jervis Bay, one of Bec's picks, let's see how we go. Love to all our family and friends, Nick, Bec, Indy Mags and Gus.