Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Equator Bound…….

We are currently in Coffs Harbour, Emerald Beach to be exact. We had a great time at our last spot at One Mile Beach. The weather was beautiful everyday and our morning walks on the beach were the highlight of each day and set the scene for the hours ahead. Maggie's friendship with Kirra drew stronger each day and they were inseparable through their remaining days. Cam and Amanda were a great couple and we spent time each day with them either on the beach or at the park or ofcourse by the pool. On our second to last night Indy was preparing the schnitzels for dinner, Bec, Mags and Gus were just heading down for evening nibbles and drinks with our friends and everything was very relaxing, or at least so I thought. Just as I was sitting taking in the ambience with Indy I heard Bec yelling to me to grab a cloth, Mags was screaming that Gus had hurt himself. As I walked around the camper I saw Bec running to the camper with blood dripping down her shirt with Gus in her arms screaming. As it turned out Gus had been playing on one of his bumps around a corner when all the kids went flying around it on their bikes. Just as Bec yelled out to them to watch out for Gus one of the kids ran straight into him and he went flying through the air. The handle bar hit Gus in the head and split his head open and he was in a state of shock by the time he got to me. Long story short, he was and is fine aside from the small but nasty gash on his head. It was just on sunset and Bec and I had the difficult decision of do we or don't we go to the hospital to get him checked out. We decided not to on the basis that it was going to traumatise the little man more and between the three families on our street we put together all of the first aid materials we needed and with our triage nurse on hand we dealt with the injury in house. We put on some steri strips which seemed to be doing the job and tried to calm Gussie down, he was quite traumatised and just needed to get himself together. Ofcourse every one in the street, including all of the kids needed to come and check in on Gus which whilst very caring did upset him more. After some cuddle time Gus composed himself and was ready to face the world again. Off he went down the street and back into his playtime like nothing had happened. After a little playtime we went back to cammie for dinner and an early night. Unfortunately Gus is a very sweaty little man, on his head, so each time he sweated his steri strips would come off. The mixing of blood and sweat was not helpful and it took some creative first aid from Bec to get it all under control. The next morning Gus woke up giving us a rendition of the event yelling out "Watch out for Gus" "Watch out for Gus" and then followed up with a "bang!" This ofcourse went on and on for some time as he relived the experience to us. When we went out that morning he went up to the bike and went through the whole thing again. No need to worry though as he has bounced back very quickly and aside from what will end up probably to be a fairly decent scar he goes on relatively unscathed.

Whilst at One Mile Beach we had a great morning in the surf with Indy and Maggie taking turns on the Mal to show off their surfing skills. Even Big Mama returned to the surf to show off her old moves, just like riding a bike, she was up and away on her first wave and proceeded to ride the waves like a pro. We had a rotation policy with Gus as I took Nicko's surf school with each of my students. The wave at the point of One Mile Beach provided a perfect little one foot breaking wave for the crew. After surfing we were off to the pool and the small water slide provided endless entertainment for the kids followed by a quick dip in the spa (or bath as Gus called it) to warm up before heading back to the camper. One Mile Beach provided experiences with kookaburras, lorikeets and large goannas or iguanas (I am never sure which is which). It was a great stop and we all had a fantastic time. As always though the time to pack up and move on comes around and we were heading to Crescent Head. We packed the cammie, said goodbye to our new friends and off we went. As we were driving we reviewed the map and decided that we would push on to Coffs Harbour and bypass the stop at crescent Head for a little more time with our friends at Coffs. We decided to stay at Emerald Beach, very near to our old friends Joe and Kellie Woods and their three boys Tom, Noah and Levi. We were also not far from Mick and Trish, another of our old Adelaide friends that have moved up to warmer pastures. Upon arriving Joe walked up from the beach with the boys and we made some plans for the days ahead. Next morning Joe and I headed off for a surf around the corner and then we all caught up for dinner at the Woods house. Whilst we were there we skyped Kerry Gask an old friend of Bec and Kells and it was a full reunion for the old girls who not only had a great friendship in Goolwa but also relived their girls trip together to Coffs several years earlier. The next morning Joe and I decided to get up for the dawn service (with Indy) which we attended at the Woolgoolga RSL, not quite the Auburn service we are used to in SA but glad we made the effort to go and show our respect. As it turned out the surf had dropped away so after the service Joe prepared his boat and he and I went out looking for lunch. Kellie organised my fishing license online that morning and we launched at Emerald Beach and headed out off shore being careful not to drift into the protected sanctuary zone, which proved problematic without a GPS on board. Joe used his best nautical skills to keep us in the right spot, or so we thought!

Anyway the fish were biting and we proceeded to catch a mix of red rock cod (throw backs) and beautiful snapper. All in all we caught about 40 rock cod, all thrown back and 9 snapper. We also each caught a wobigong shark. For me this was the highlight of the session. It took quite a while to pull the shark up and for the most part ofcourse I had no idea what I had on the line but it kept pulling down and put up a huge fight. As it turns out as I was pulling the shark up to the surface to let it go it just opened its mouth and took off. It had actually tried to eat the rock cod that I had caught and actually wasn't hooked, it was just trying to get a feed. As Joe said he will think twice before taking on another rock cod! We had just about finished when we saw a large police boat approaching our position. This boat would have been at home on Sea Patrol, it was massive and pulled up alongside Joe and I in our tinny. They cautioned us about the sanctuary zone and said we were right on the edge, which was fortunate as we had been fishing further out just minutes before. They checked our licenses which again was lucky as I had organised mine that morning. They checked our catch and cautioned Joe on changing his rego over from SA to NSW. All in all it was a major brush up against the law and Joe and I came out unscathed. We packed up shortly after and headed in with our catch much to the surprise of Bec who was used to me coming home empty handed. We headed over to Joe's parents house and had our freshly caught snapper on the bbq with some butter and lemon cooked whole in foil. It was beautiful. Joe very generously gave us the remaining fish which we ended up filleting the next night and cooked in the pan with butter and lemon which again was just beautiful eating. We had a great long weekend with the Woodsys surfing, fishing, playing at the park amongst other things. The kids all got along really well and Bec loved her time catching up with Kellie. We enjoyed seeing the new home of the Woodsys which is a beautiful 2 acres just behind Emerald Beach with an incredible vista and a property which they have put a lot of effort into and is showing some real potential. They have bought well and have a great home for many years to come.

This morning I had a surf out the front at Emerald Beach with my old mate Mick and the kids had a good morning of home school. After our morning coffee we decided to go for a walk around the headlands here which was just beautiful. It was quite a stroll and at the end of the headland we just sat for quite a while and watched a pod of dolphins frolic in the water. There was about 20 of them and they are such graceful creatures. Gussy ofcourse loved to watch the Dolphs! We have made our way home for a swim, Gus is in bed with Indy having his arvo nap, Maggie and Bec are doing some reading and activities and I am finishing my blog. Emerald Beach is a great park and we are right behind the dunes only a short stroll to the beach, constantly visited by the native birds, kangaroos, and large lizards. The 6 nights here have gone very quickly as we prepare to set sail again tomorrow and head up to Ballina in Northern NSW. In Ballina we are spending a few nights with our friends the Westys before heading out to Stradbroke Island which we hear is going to be absolutely beautiful. Life on the road is going fantastically well as we make our way north toward the equator.

Monday, April 19, 2010

In the Swing of it…..

I was just reading my last blog and couldn't believe it was from a week ago. The days at the moment are just blending together and we are pretty much oblivious to what day of the week or month it is, a very nice feeling to endure. Last time I wrote we were in Bendelong and since then we had a couple of nights at Huskisson and then one night in Wollongong before landing now for a 5 night stretch at one mile beach. So we left Bendelong, the surf was dropping out and the girls were ready to move on, so we drove into a town called Huskisson in or near Jervis Bay. We stayed in the local caravan park which in the main was a bit disappointing given our last couple of stops but the town itself and surrounding areas were absolutely beautiful. A short drive from where we were staying was the Jervis Bay national park and we had a day trip out there. Initially we just drove around and weren't really all that inspired until we decided to stop at one of several beach spots in the park. We decided to visit Green Patch. We pulled off the main road and into the car park, jumped out and went for a walk to the beach. You kind of walk down this path with the beach view protected by the large native trees. As we walked through the trees on to the beach we walked onto this beautiful white sand stretched out to amazing beach, clear water and small rocky outcrop. After a short walk along the beach it was decided to grab our bathers, dig in for a while for some scuba diving and beach time. The day before we had noticed a very fishy smell coming from the car and had noticed we had left a bag of shells in the car that we probably shouldn't have. Having removed the shells I was worried to find that the smell had not disappeared and I couldn't work out why. I was worried that the car might have taken on the smell and we would be stuck with it for the rest of the trip. As I ran back to the car to get our bathers I opened the bather box in the car and found the cause of the stink. A couple of the shells we grabbed at depot beach must have had something inside that was now coming out and making its presence felt. The box stank, but fortunately after removing the culprits the smell was gone from the car. Anyway I took all the bathers I could find down to the beach and the snorkel gear. Indy was first to meet me on the beach so she and I went out for a snorkel. Then Bec decided she was up for another round except for the fact that she didn't have much in the way of bathers apart from her rashy top. This ofcourse wasn't going to stop Big Mama and she proceeded to head around the rocks strip down to her undies and her rashy top and in she dove off the rocks. It was ofcourse worth it with hundreds of fish swimming all around us and the water was beautiful. You know though you never quite think these things right through and when we exited the water Bec realised she now no longer had underwear and her bra was wet from swimming. So Big Mama was putting on a bit of a show with Maggie taking photos the whole time, none of these are likely to find their way to the blog though!

At Green Patch we noticed there was camping available in the park which in hindsight probably would have been a preferred choice with the caravan park in the town full of school holiday revellers. Anyway a note for next time that this would be an option for us. We headed back to town for Maggie and Bec to meet up with our friends that we made in depot beach, Lisa and Maddie. Maggie and Maddie are like two peas in a pod and enjoyed playing together. Bec also connected straight away with Lisa and they were like two old friends getting reacquainted. Lisa and her husband Matt run the dolphin and whale watching business in Huskissons and are a lovely family. Lisa and Maddie came over for a Friday night drink and we had some very nice Haloumi with our cold drinks. The kids just ran wild together for ages and all slept well again that night. The next day we pushed on again and headed for a surf leisure resort at Wollongong chasing the promise of a few waves. On the way we drove through 7 mile beach and Gerroa amongst other very nice small towns and in hindsight should have stopped and explored these towns further. We are likely to stop in here on the way home! We drove into Kiama and had a quick look around before pushing on for what I was hoping was going to be a great stop. We arrived in Wollongong after about a 2 hour drive and found our park again a little disappointing. It was on the beach but protected by what Bec called the prison wire all around and there were a few interesting characters walking around the park. We went for a swim and hired some bikes and went for a nice beach ride. Pizza for dinner from crust, very nice and decided one night would do us. Next morning I had a quick surf out the front of the park before we packed up and pushed on for our longest leg yet.

On the way Bec had the laptop on her lap and we were looking to find a good stop to settle in for a few days. We had considered Umina Beach and Norah Heads but pushed on to find a little spot near Nelson Bay called One Mile Beach. It was a real find, Bec did very well. In the end we drove for about 5 hours all up non-stop, the kids did incredibly well. The drove took us right through Sydney inner suburbs which was an experience in itself. The car did a fantastic job and for a driver who had never towed anything more than a trailer up until last year I think I did pretty well navigating the Sydney streets, camper in tow without incident. The whole driving and towing process has so far been without any trouble, touch wood! I think back to when we first picked up the camper and drove for our first stop at Point Leo, just a short drive from home. The park was basically empty and we could have any site we wanted. Bec and I spent at least 45 minutes trying to back in to the site, we couldn't get the camper off the towbar, couldn't set up the annexe, broke the door, couldn't set up the fly bed ends and basically just survived our first night. The Jayco induction undertaken by our young female salesperson went for about 30 minutes and consisted of her very quickly setting everything up and saying okay a lot of times and us just nodding and hoping that we would recall the instructions we had just received. Slowly but surely we picked things up from others in campsites and practice certainly helps. Now driving is very comfortable, the wider mirrors are a great help, backing works very well and we have got ourselves into some very tight sites several times now without a problem. The secret really is as always just take your time, a few deep breaths and don't rush. I have to say I still get nervous towing through heavy city traffic and my heart always jumps a few beats each time we get to a new camp site but we are now much more confident and all works well. Bec and I work like a great team and we pretty much have our routine together now for set up and pack up with now very little stress or bother. Each pack up and set up each takes about 90 minutes so it is a bit of work but we just steadily do what needs to be done and it all works very well. A far cry from our first trip to Point Leo!

It was great to leave Sydney and to keep moving. Now at One Mile Beach we have found a quiet little campground, surf only metres away, a great pool for the kids and a lovely young family a few sites down. The kids have made more friends, both the girls and also Gus has found a little buddy too, another 2 year old boy who loves trucks and bikes and the two of them are pretty much like twins. Bec and I have enjoyed meeting the kids Parents Cam and Amanda and we are really enjoying their company. Always nice when your kids meet up with nice kids with nice parents and we have been so lucky on the trip with the wonderful people we have been meeting along the way. The mornings here are brilliant and Bec and I start each day taking Gus to the beach with our cuppas while the girls slowly gather themselves out of bed. Gus runs free on the beach, dude out running through the waves blonde locks waving in the light morning breeze while Bec and I walk along enjoying yet another beautiful sunrise and share our gratitude for how lucky we feel to be doing this together. Nice to be so in love and being able to share these experiences together. Sorry for the little bit of sentiment but we really are just loving our time together so much and Bec and I are just in such a great space to be doing this trip. She really is a beautiful woman, my wife and I am reminded of this every day when I see her interact with others and see how easily they warm to Bec's personality. I am very lucky to be able to share my life with Bec and we are loving every minute of our time together. We are now really in the swing of the trip and each day life just gets better and better! We are all getting a bit of time doing what we enjoy, the kids are doing well with their homeschool and everyone is sleeping well and loving life in the camper.

I went out for a surf this morning and had a nice 1-2 foot clean wave on the point here with my Mal board. I had it to myself for over an hour before being joined by a few locals. One of them was a nice old guy who has a surf museum in his house here with over 150 boards and memorabilia, he was a very nice guy. Whilst I was enjoying a wave Bec decided to do some washing while the kids were busy homeschooling. Actually Maggie was joined by her friend Kirra and it is the best Maggie has worked the whole trip. I think we have signed Kirra up as study pal for Maggie for the rest of the week. Anyway as Bec was putting the washing in the machine she noticed something moving in the bag. She emptied out the contents of the bag on the lawn and there was nothing in the bag, next thing a pair of my boxer shorts started hopping away along the grass. Sure enough Bec grabbed the shorts and a mouse darted away in to the bushes. Not sure what attracted the mouse to my shorts! After the mouse saga we all headed down to the pool for a long swim. All the kids hanging out together, enjoying the pool slide they have here and running around madly. Gus and his new buddy trying to outdo each other with their dives and slides. Gus at one point was walking over the bridge, under which Indy was swimming. It was an arch bridge so was a few metres above the pool. I instantly could tell what was on his mind and as I ran to grab him he leapt off the bridge and into the pool, fortunately Indy was there to catch him as he popped up out of the water, our little daredevil! Ofcourse this became his favourite trick and was repeated several times before his lips started to turn blue and he had to spend some time in the spa defrosting.

Having heard from friends and family in Adelaide and the early start to Winter we feel doubly blessed by the very mild Autumn days we are enjoying here. Each day is a replica of the last with weather around the mid 20's, up to 27 in the next couple of days. Clear starry nights, calm mornings and cool afternoon breezes, very spoilt. We have decided to take up the offer of pay for 3 stay for 5 here and just rest up for a few days after a few short stops in recent days. The kids are having a great time with their new friends and we are too. This certainly is a beautiful country we live in and we are experiencing some very special places together. As I write, Jack Johnson is playing on the CD, the kids have gone for a swim with their friends, Bec is chatting with Amanda and Gus is running around with his new friend, life is good. From here we will head to Crescent Head or nearby to this before heading up to Coffs Harbour. Love to all our friends and family out there, Nick, Bec, Indy, Mags and Gus.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

See Photos Below

Hi all, Just to let you know we have learnt how to add photos and if you scroll to the bottom of the page you will see a selection of our experiences which we will refresh with each blog, enjoy!

At one with nature…..

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.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Can You Feel the Serenity?

This is one of many great lines out of one of our favourite movies 'The Castle'. As the Dad stood on the deck of his shack at Bonnie Doon, with the mozzie zapper going off in the background he leans over to his wife and says "Can you feel the serenity?" We are certainly feeling the serenity. After several very relaxing days at Inverloch, where we basically did very little but wound down, we were very ready to get on the move. At Inverloch we spent our days swimming, heading to the beach and going for walks with the famous pink 'sally fay' stroller that Gus loves to push over the bumps. One of the highlights for me was when Indy and I took on a couple of boys on the half court basketball court in a game of 2 on 2. It was great fun, Indy played so well! Another highlight for me was being able to get back in the surf and I enjoyed a few waves at Inverloch main beach. Inverloch was a great start. We then packed up and headed off for Lakes Entrance and it was so nice to be packing the camper and not be heading home but know that we have such an adventure ahead of us. On the way we had to stop for some quick camper repairs as one of the bed frame rivets had broken and we needed this replaced otherwise the beds wouldn't work. Luckily it was a 2 minute job and we were able to take a very quick pit stop in Bairnsdale and Johno the camper repairman had us on our way again. We pulled up along the way at the Bairnsdale park with a massive slide and a cool flying fox for the kids. Arriving at Lakes a couple of days before Easter it was like the calm before the storm. Our park was relatively empty. We booked an ensuite site which meant we had a toilet and shower as part of our site, which was a little touch of luxury that we certainly enjoyed. Over the 3 days we were at Lakes we saw a steady influx of Easter revellers preparing for their big weekend away. When our neighbours pulled out their litre bottles of Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Johnie Walker we knew they were in for a big one! Our quiet little park soon became full to overflowing with families seeking to make the most of their few days. Ofcourse this creates a very different atmosphere in the park and for us far less enjoyable. Anyway at the end of the day you can zip up your camper and really feel like you are anywhere. At Lakes we had an average meal out at the pub, very disappointing, we enjoyed a wave at Red Bluff, and wet a line in a couple of places with unfortunately no luck at this stage. That allusive fish is still escaping our bait, but stay tuned for further updates. We fished just under the bridge at the entrance to lakes entrance and where we were fishing there was a very shallow stretch off the shore. As we sat there and fished there was an influx of asian tourists who had hired their boats for the day and one after one they beached themselves on the sand bar in front of us. A few of them we warned on their way in and they replied with a nod of the head and continued on to beach themselves. It provided a little light entertainment for us while we were waiting for a bite on the line. On our final morning at Lakes we were due to leave we had a good start to our pack up until the clouds started coming over and when we were about 30 minutes from finishing our pack up the heavens opened up and we had torrential downpours to contend with. When you are on a 10am deadline there is unfortunately no stopping and with the kids in the car, Gus screaming, Bec and I continued our pack up in less than ideal conditions. There was water everywhere and everything was wet but we continued in our mission. As we were rolling up the bed flys, they are the extra canvas covers over the bed ends, there was a pool of water just waiting for us. Unfortunately for Bec her end came down first and with it came a flood of water and soon enough Bec was the leading entrant in the Lakes Entrance wet t-shirt competition! We packed up the camper, everything drenched including us and off to maccas it was for breakfast on the go. As we were waiting for breakfast to arrive one of our wiper blades got caught in the other, not sure how, but we found ourselves down to only one wiper working, fortunately it was on the drivers side of the car. Not exactly the best conditions for the wipers to have a meltdown and just another item requiring maintenance on the trip.

The drive to Pambula was relatively uneventful although little man had some poo problems given that he was out of routine with the morning pack up and didn't get a chance for his morning bowel movement. He proceeded to get more and more wound up and Bec continued to feed him treats to keep him going until the next stop. We were riding a thin line and fortunately we managed just to find our way to our mid way stop at Cann River and to our surprise we found a dinosaur park which Gussy just loved. He rode them, played around them, talked to them, he was in his element. Needless to say we had a slightly extended stop and we had a result in the pants area so all was well again with the little man. As we travelled to Pambula the weather steadily improved and when we arrived it was a very nice Autumn day. On the way down I was expressing to Bec how I was keen to find a park right on a surf beach where I could simply stroll from the camper to the beach each morning, we were yet to find this on our trip. The park at Pambula is huge with a capacity of 2000 people with a current population of between 1300-1600 staying here. Our campsite is about 20 metres from the beach and to my excitement a very good surf beach. I think it was my quickest set up on record as I was very keen to get down and sample the surf. Sure enough 4 feet and glassy waves were waiting for me and I had finally found my spot. Each morning so far I have ventured into the water at around 8am with glassy conditions and light offshore winds and the water is so clear you can see the bottom. The park here has a heap of the things for the kids to do including a pool, mini golf, daily activities, outside cinema, fire pits for outside your camper, it is a great park. One of the other highlights here is the family of kangaroos that live in the park. As we were setting up a big grey kangaroo came hopping by our campsite and as we walked around the camp we realised that they are literally everywhere. Gus couldn't believe his eyes. They are such beautiful creatures to watch up close and now each morning aside from checking the surf we go and have a look for the kangaroos. Easter morning was fun with the kids doing an egg hunt in the annexe, not quite as much fun as our usual Auburn egg hunt but did the job just the same. So far we have had 2 nights here and it feels like we have been here a week. We had a lovely piece of eye fillet last night with a glass of skillogalee red and started to plan our days ahead. At this stage we are heading from here to Durras Beach with another beautiful campsite on the beach and in a National Park. From there we are thinking Jervis Bay and then on to Kiama and then to Norah Heads, we think but we will see how we go.

Our plans are pretty simple at this stage. Homeschool in the morning, followed by campsite activities (today is a mini-golf competition then arts and craft for the kids) movie night in the outside cinema, marshmallows by the fire, plenty of surfing and lovely bushwalks and perhaps a spot of fishing. Life is good and we can certainly feel the serenity. With each day that goes by we feel understand more and more why this trip is so needed and so special to us. We are enjoying every minute. We have been thinking of our family and friends often and hope you have all had a lovely Easter break. Talk with you all soon.