We have made it all the way through to Yeppoon a town just out of Rockhampton after two fairly long drives, the first from Cairns to Airlie Beach (9 hours or 600km) and then to Yeppoon (6 hours or 500km). On our last day in Cairns we visited Karunda and boarded the sky rail trip which took us over and through the rainforests to Cavonika lakes. It was an incredible experience and the kids had a great time. Bec had a few wobbles on a couple of the high points, particularly when the carriage would grind to a halt and we were floating what seemed like a mile above the rainforest floor. The waterfalls were incredible and considering it was the dry season I can only imagine what it must look like in the wet. Popsy took the car and met us at the bottom which ended up saving us quite a bit of money as the round trip ticket was quite expensive. We decided to head into Palm Cove for a bite of lunch which was only 20k's from our location and a nice drive. Palm Cove is one of those idyllic esplanades with all the up market hotels and day spas and very nice restaurants. We decided to head to Nunu's for lunch, one of mum's favourites and had a lovely meal. For a change Gus was quite well behaved at the lunch and we all had the opportunity to enjoy our meal and the food was very nice. After lunch and the inevitable icecream stroll along the esplanade we headed back to Sue and Erics for an evening of homemade Pizzas and a few hands of tropical scoppa. The next morning Indy and I got up at 5.30am to take Jen and Nick to the airport before returning to say our goodbyes to Sue and Eric, pack up and head for Townsville. Sue and Eric had a lovely home and they were very generous hosts who went to a great deal of trouble to ensure we all had a lovely stay. At their home we saw these amazing green tree frogs that had made their home in the eaves of their home, there was also a beautiful little bird that made this incredible nest hanging from the clothesline. It looked more like something that had washed up on the beach than a nest bit there was at least one little baby in the nest and the mother constantly coming back to feed it. Gussy also enjoyed the baby lizards running around the ceilings and all of the kids loving having the two beautiful golden retrievers Harry and Topie to play with. It was interesting reflecting on life back in a house and both Bec and I thought we would love getting out of the camper and into a real bed in a real house but strangely we missed Cammie and were excited about getting back on the road and back into our camper. That isn't to say we didn't enjoy being at Sue and Erics because we had a lovely time with them and ofcourse with Nanna and Poppa but this trip was about being on the road and having some freedom and we were all very excited about getting that sense of freedom and adventure back again. What we weren't excited about was the 1700km drive back to the sunny coast.
We decided just to head to Townsville, about 5 hours away and stay for at least one night. On the drive Bec is doing reno's on the road. Whilst we are away we are having our dilapidated kitchen replaced and our bathroom that we are unable to use because of dodgy tiling replaced. Fortunately we have an awesome housesitter and a very friendly and capable builder working together to get all of this done while we are away. Having slaved through two renovations in the past few years we certainly understand the value of getting this all done whilst we are away and being able to walk back into a renovated home when we get back. We also had the bank change over our credit cards while we are away and the first we found out about this was when our card was declined at the store. Fortunately Maree our housesitter sent the cards up to Cairns and we were right to go again. We had to however redo all of our direct debits that Bec had painstakingly set up before we left as all of this had also declined for the month. Anyway it all gave Bec something to do on the drive. The kids for the most part have been so good on the drives, it is not all that much for them but they have been excellent and aside from a couple of meltdowns towards the end of our long drives they have been great. The other activity Bec usually does whilst we are on the drive is to find us a place to stay. We decided on Rowes Bay caravan park which looked like a very nice spot in the brochure. As we pulled up we noticed the pool was being repaired and not available, the sites were dirt, not grass and the whole place had a very average feel about it. One drive through the park and we were back asking for a refund and off to Bowen. So after 6 hours we decided to push on another 90 minutes to Bowen, a beautiful seaside town south of Townsville. On the way there Bec rang ahead to check availability and to our surprise for the first time on this trip the park was booked out. The grey nomads from down south had arrived on mass and we had no other option than to push on yet further and head back to Airlie Beach to one of the kids favourite spots. We arrived just on dusk and arranged to have the same site we had last time which was nicely tucked away with an ensuite attached, very nice. It was out first night set up and after 9 hours driving we were mainly operating on auto pilot. Whilst it was a long drive we knew we had covered a lot of ground today and were well on our way to getting back down south. We decided to stay for three nights after our long drive and let the kids relax a little before our next drive. We spent a day heading in to the airlie beach lagoon, this massive lagoon style pool on the esplanade which was great fun for the kids. The rest of the time we spent around the pool, playing mini golf, on the jumping pillow and basically taking it very easy. It was also great to be back in cammie and we had the opportunity to watch our final two episodes of our series Sea Change. Having sat through 3 series and about 3o episodes this was quite an event and the crew were all disappointed to see the end of our much loved series. It was quite special to be watching this series as we were in the midst of our own mini sea change!
We really are quite excited about moving on from North Qld, whilst it was great to do and to show the kids it is not really our sort of place. Between the midgys, the crocodiles and stingers, the beaches you can't swim in, the lack of a couple of seasons in their calendar (only dry and wet), and the huge distances involved in travelling up here we were reminded of how lucky we are to live in a beautiful town like Mt Martha. When we left on this trip we were really not sure what the result would be. Would we want to live and work overseas, live in one of the towns we encountered on our travels, return to Middleton or head home to Mt Martha. Over the past couple of weeks things have slowly started to become clear for us and we are enjoying every minute of what life is providing for us currently as well as feeling like we have a plan for the future. As always with us it is a work in progress but it is very satisfying to see the plan start to come together. We are reminded constantly of just how fortunate we are to have found a place like Mt Martha to live and we are becoming more excited about heading home at the end of our trip. It has been an incredibly exciting 18 months for us but also a time when we have been very unsettled. Leaving Middleton was an incredibly difficult experience for us for lots of reasons and it is only now that we are starting to really start to look forward. For the first time in a long time I have curbed the need to constantly be travelling and spend most nights of the week at home. I am building new plans for my business and Bec and I are building plans for a business we want to develop together and we are excited about building our charity and continuing to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged kids. We are committed to ensuring Indy and Mags get very settled in their schooling and are likely to enrol Maggie at Toorak from 2011 or 2012, a couple of years earlier than what we were planning, and we believe this will be a great opportunity for Mags. Bec is so excited about being able to nest, build what she calls an authentic home for all of us and make it our own. Our place in Mt Martha is certainly doesn't have the grandure of Middleton, or the beach views but is has a heap of character, is a really funky little place and makes an impact on anyone who visits. We also back on to a beautiful nature reserve, surrounded by amazing trees and greenery and only a short walk to one of the most beautiful little beaches in the bay. After all of the travel we have been lucky enough to do in the last few years we are now looking forward to getting home and putting down our roots and just settling, focussing on the kids schooling and activities and building our life in Mt Martha. It feels good to be arriving at a stage in our lives when we are now ready to look forward and plan for the future. Middleton was probably my favourite place on earth, I loved the beach, I loved our house, I loved the early days there when we lived in our little 2 bedroom place, it was also where I grew up as a kid with heaps of special memories and I enjoyed our life of being what was basically semi-retired. Middleton for a time allowed us to catch our breath and create some space and meet some wonderful people. Bec and I have never had so many friends as we had in Middleton. We needed that space in our lives for a period but we always worried about our work options and also what opportunities were available for our kids and knew that inevitably they would need to move away from home at sometime for either school, university of work. That is one of the considerations of where we are now, plenty of schooling options, unis and opportunities for work for both us and the kids. We miss our family and friends from Middleton but we are also not that far away from our friends and family in Adelaide and this allows us still to keep in close contact which will be even easier when we get home and settle into a bit more of a normal routine. Bec and I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and for lots of reasons our life has taken a series of turns that has provided us with the motivation and opportunity to travel overseas, to have the courage to go on this amazing journey and to move and establish a base in Mt Martha. This trip was about refocussing, reenergising and finding a path forward to the future for all of us. We believe that we are finding that path now and that life has some wonderful opportunities in store for us when we return home. We are also excited about spending some time with our friends and family in Melbourne when we get home.
On our final morning in Airlie Beach we awoke and pondered about whether to stay on another evening or not. What was really on our mind is the stretch we aptly named the 'suicide stretch'. Basically from Airlie beach to Noosa, nothing but sugar cane and bitumen for about 1200kms. The thought of packing up was a little difficult to process, but after some breakfast and a coffee we were up and away. The beauty of the ensuite is the kids can have a shower together while we are packing up and also Bec and I get a quick shower in after packing up and heading off on the road clean and fresh. So off we go again, this time hoping to make it all the way to Yeppoon. On the way we stopped at a park in Mackay for lunch and a play at the park and pushed on to Yeppoon. For the second time on this trip we were playing with our petrol supplies and watching the distance to location and the kilometres of fuel left. There was only a few kilometres in it and we were down to our final 20kms of fuel when the service station appeared just short or Yeppoon on the horizon and we were able to stock up again and finally make it to our destination. Having just arrived last night the town looks very nice and after our homeschool this morning we plan to head in and have a look around. The park we are in is very nice and set on about 130 acres of fairly lush grassland and tropical trees. We went for a nice walk this morning, Indy is doing her project on Buddhism and Maggie is doing some spelling with Bec. Gus is driving his cars around the camp kitchen. Every day we say a little thankyou for how lucky we are to be on this trip and have this very special time together. Well time to get the kids out and head into town, that's all for now…..Nick, Bec and the crew.