We left home for a three week pre surgery trip. We went to New South Wales.
Along the way Covid happened and our state got locked down and my husband’s surgery got cancelled and so the nurse called and asked “Are you in a new caravan park?!” We we’re in Batemans Bay by then on our way home. We told her “Yes it’s quite nice” she said “Well stay there your surgery has been cancelled” my husband quickly said “No thanks we’ll go north to the warm”
Our initial goal was Gladstone to meet my penpal and her family it’s been 10 years between visits, but the higher we got the more we enjoyed the warm weather and so by the time we got to Cairns my husband made the call.. “We’re going to the Tip!”
Cape York Peninsula or “The Tip” as it is commonly called is the most northern Point in mainland Australia and we are 459 kilometres from there. We’re slowly wending our way North to have that iconic photo.
Yesterday we made it to Weipa 3,600 plus kilometres from home and it was lush and tropical and hot! 32c while back at home they’re struggling for 11c and it really occurred to me as we ate an enormous hamburger washed down with icy cold beers and watched the most awesome sunset, that this right here! Is where my life has been leading.
We’ve done the jobs and the scrimping and saving and brought houses and cars and campers and STUFF, we’ve raised five children into well functioning adults who have beautiful children of their own, except the youngest one so far! And now I’m a modern day gypsy, an end goal but each day comes as it will. We get up we think about what we might do we have no hard or fast plans. For three days we sat by the Coen river and fed the little fish cheese because they liked it and we didn’t need to be anywhere or do anything!
We watch the sun set and very occasionally we might see it rise, but if sleep has us in her grips we stay there. One thing is certain in this life… there WILL be another sunrise and sunset!
Right now we are in Weipa by the Gulf of Carpentaria in Far North Queensland. Our first sunset here was amazing it went on forever and frankly l can’t wait for tonight’s!
And so as l look forward to the next half of my life (I’m not middle aged yet!) l’ve decided that this right here… this gypsy life of not knowing and no plans works just well for me and l will NEVER DO WINTER AGAIN!!
So for as long as l can remember l’ve loved goats. I don’t even know how that started but my husband hears it every time we drive past a paddock with a flock of goats l’ll squeal “Ohhh l love goats!!” usually he will say “Hey Sheila there are some goats for you!” If l happen to miss them. I do the same thing with cows! I love cows too, once we were camping by a paddock full of youngish bulls, maybe they were growing up to become steak or hamburgers but right then l could gaze lovingly at them to the point l would go to the fence every so often and call them over for a photo or a chat, yeah that’s me the crazy lady who talks to animals. I took so many photos of the “Bully boys” as l called them l was sad to go home and leave them!
So today we are in Dubbo in New South Wales, it’s day three here and the Bloke had booked us tickets for the “Taronga Plains Zoo” if you haven’t been go now! Last night it was cold minus 2.4c so when we were ready to leave at 9.00 am it was only 7c l might not have been feeling too great about it l don’t like the cold! But we wanted to go in the morning because we wanted to start packing up this afternoon.
We got to the Zoo in time to hear the keepers talk on Rhinos and how they are poached for their horn l knew this of course read any Wilbur Smith book and you’ll learn about it but knowing that, that useless horn to anyone but the Rhino is not so useless and very VERY expensive like more than the price of gold or heroin (not that I’d personally know but the keeper told us!)
I won’t waste your reading time telling you about every animal but it was a great day!
So we wandered our way through the zoo and got to the African Lion Village. And you go through double gates into what is, l supposed, a replica of an African village with huts and GOATS!! I didn’t get much further. I just wanted to stop and watch them so l approached one whom we named “Ginger Dreadlocks” maybe she was an angora breed she had lovely red locks! And she let us pat her and while we were interacting with her along came a second goat nudging “Scratch my head, yeah right there between the horns” so l did because yes you guessed it… l love goats! So lm telling these gals “Oh you are so pretty look at your lovely eyes” are you aware goats pupils are horizontal in their eyes?! They’re nudging themselves closer so l wondered “Do you want a selfie with me?!” And yes they did!!
My whole day has been made from a five minute interaction with a couple of goats! I swear she was watching herself in the camera and pushed Ginger Dreadlocks outta the way to take front spot!
Of course the Zoo should be about the exotic animals and yes l saw them but interacting with these goats was definitely my highlight of the day!
Today we spent three and a half hours walking around this vast Zoo. This is what we do in each state or Country, Bali Zoo l hand fed an elephant OH MY GOSH l love ELEPHANTS!! We go to the Zoo we interact if we can and we always learn something new. Today we walked 11.26 kilometres around this zoo yeah lm pretty tired tonight l think l’ll sleep well!
Tomorrow we are off to Fingal Bay heading North slowly, we’re meeting friends who are heading South! I’ll be back!!
Not part of the #AtoZchallenge no postings for that required on Sunday but l’m in a kind of routine so l’m posting anyways.
Let’s do a pseudo #AtoZchallenge post and go for letter “C” again.
C is for my favourite lifestyle choice Camping.
Now when you see our set up you might think GLAMPing and that’s okay each to their own right? We did 3/4’s of Australia towing a box trailer full of camping gear including two canvas tents and a luxurious kitchen and all we needed!
I came late to camping Star Son was ten years old by the time The Bloke (AKA- husband- you’ll meet him at letter “R”) convinced me to give it a go!
I bet he didn’t realise he’d create such a camping monster! If it’s sunny l say “let’s go camping!” If it’s a public holiday l say “let’s go camping!” And most times he’s up for it.
In November of 2014 the Bloke had an episode where his hip gave way and we were sleeping on self inflating mats, he couldn’t get off the floor. We got him to the Dr who put him on anti inflammatory meds and we had to stay a few extra days to let those kick in before we could even think about packing up to go home.
Then another time in September 2012 when one camp site we went to in Kings Canyon in Northern Territory and the ground was just full of rock and The Bloke was down there swearing and cursing 🤬 trying to hammer in tent pegs, it was about then he said the dreaded words “I’m getting too old for this shit!”
Unbeknownst to me he had started looking at other options and so began the trips to various camping and caravan shows ohhh the endless hours of walking into and out of display caravans and campers and set ups it all becomes a bit of a blur until..
One day in 2012- we stepped foot into a weird looking setup. I told him “l don’t like it!” He persuaded me “just let’s look at it!” So l pouted and followed him in. And l was awestruck 😍 “The Ultimate Camper” the name really says it all. “It’ll go anywhere your car will go” the salesman pitched at us and he wandered off l guess he sensed l wasn’t interested. But as l sat on the sofa with under seat storage and opened the cupboards and looked at the stove! Indoor cooking!! No more waiting between rain showers to cook dinner??! I started to imagine what a king sized bed up off the ground might feel like! And then we made the mistake or was it fate.. of walking into the next model up and “Oh MyGosh.. does that kitchen bench have glitter?!” It did and l was hooked, even though this one was more, she also had more features and although way out of our price range l wanted THAT camper!
We ended up circling back to the Ultimate Setup three or four times that day and each time that same salesman Steve would say “Oh you’re back!” Finally l gave in and as we walked out that final time l said to Steve “You know the rules right?” He was confused and waited for me to go on.. “if you name it you keep it!” He smiled and nodded” So what have you named her?” I replied “She will be Ursula Ultimate”
Fast forward to 2016. We had scrimped and saved and the Bloke sold some property and so we ordered our Ultimate Camper and waited for her to be built. Her build date was September 2016 and we eagerly drove up to NSW to collect her. We had purchased a new 4wheel drive to drag her along and so became our camping duo Priscilla Prado and Ursula Ultimate. She even has her own Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/ursulasultimateadventures/
It’s now 2021 and Ursula is still amazing, she’s been to New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia so far, there are a few more for her to see and in February 2020 the Bloke retired from work so we could finally live our dream of touring Australia.. guess what happened? Coronavirus hit and we were grounded.
So on those public holidays and long weekends like Easter when we should have been away camping we were locked to a five kilometers radius of our house, so we camped in the front yard! The neighbours laughed and waved as they passed and that’s OK at least we were camping.
Easter 2021 sees us camping at Abbotsford Bend Forest on the banks of the Murray river on the border of our state Victoria and New South Wales. We chose to stay local because we’re on “baby watch” as Grandchild number 7 is due this month!
Whether it’s camping in a tent or swag or Glamping in a camper trailer the point is we are not sitting at home regretting not seeing more of our amazing country. This option is right for us as The Bloke awaits his hip replacement in June, less tent pegs for him to be hammering in. We have a nice easy 15 minutes set up and by 16 minutes we’re clinking beer bottles and relaxing by a river.
So we love camping no new revelations there but what surprised me recently was how angry l found myself getting when we went to a remote spot with very sketchy internet. I was able to put my phone down and walk away until….
I look over and there’s the Bloke playing his Clash of Clans game!!
So l quickly grab my phone to see if l can post photos yet and no! I don’t have any access.. he had some but l didn’t.
So l grew angry. And then l grew sad because how angry l got at not having internet, l shouldn’t be so reliant on it.
We were in a lovely deserted part of wild Tasmania we had a camp greeter we named her Ethel and we saw a wombat and it was peaceful and quiet and l was getting annoyed at having no internet.
It dwelt on my mind “Oh l must text this person” or “I’ll go and write a blog post” or “l wonder if my carrots have grown in Township!” Silly trivial things. So in the end l refused to turn on my phone.
The weather turned bad and got windy so we decided to leave l could have KISSED those weather Gods!! We moved in land and had internet and all is again right with the world… for now!
We don’t normally bother, so no gifts exchanged but this year we’re camping wild in Tasmania so The Bloke used that as an excuse to book us a table at the Bayside Bistro pub in St Helens for lunch.
Before lunch we did some exploring on the other side of the bay where we were able to get out and walk along the breakwater wall.
We realised today that this is our 21st Valentine’s Day together but our first with no children involved. Just us, it was nice.
Pub for lunch l chose Roast Lamb because when we’ve been camping a while l miss the vegetables
When The Bloke and l first met online, we were both single parents and it turned out he worked not far from my house so one random day he called and said “I’m going past your street on my way to another company for a meeting can l stop in?” I nervously said “Yes” my cousin was over anyways so it was all good. He pulled up in his business shirt and tie with a box of mint slice chocolates and a chocolate mud muffin he had made. That first meeting was maybe 10 minutes and he was going away soon on Christmas holidays with his son. So l thought, that is that!
New Year’s Eve the phone rings and it’s him telling me he’s camping on a hill in Queensland and just wanted to say Happy New Year and maybe when he gets back to work we can go out for coffee. So l agreed.
Mid January 2001- comes and he calls saying “I’m working Saturday morning, how about l pick you up for coffee and home made mud muffins?” I agreed.
And that my friends is that… at first we were friends only and so different, like chalk and cheese! He’s a business man with a shirt and tie and a company car and he lives in the country. I mean l didn’t even know where Sunbury was!! And l was just me a single parent of three young children who’d want me?! I remember l told my cousin “Oh we’re just friends it won’t last six months”
But The Bloke- because underneath the business clothes and company car, he was “just a Bloke who likes rock n roll music and the Phantom and beer” he had a son and a black Labrador called Blue and he showed me new sides to life. I didn’t know there was this whole Rock n Roll/ Rockabilly life style going on in Melbourne not even far from where l lived. When he said “Rock n Roll” l said “Oh Elvis?!” But oh my girl there’s so much more..
Suddenly l was listening to HIS music, he grudgingly listened to my country and we met in the middle with Rockabilly. Soon he had taught me some dance moves and before long we were going to Rock n Roll dances and seeing bands and where had l been all my life?!
Then in April of 2001 l got really sick and ended up over the Easter weekend in hospital with gall stones and needing surgery, he rang me, he visited, and he went to that dance withOUT me! But as a consolation prize he brought me a signed poster into my hospital room!
It was soon after, that we realised “oops we were expecting” so not planned and not part of the “It’ll only last six months” deal.
We welcomed our “Rockabilly baby” on January 23 2002 born into the world to the Janis Martin song “Billy Boy” l sent Janis Martin an email just before she passed away and told her about our Star Son William John named “Billy” and her Grand daughter replied and said “My Grandmother was over the moon to hear from you” so l sent her back a photo of our Rockabilly Boy. The Grand daughter printed out the photo and took it into the hospital to give to Janis Martin.
When Star Son was Six months old, the Bloke decided that having five children wasn’t enough and that l needed something else to do, so he put MY hand up as Secretary and Treasurer of the local Rock n Roll Appreciation, but fair enough because he was named President. So our lives got busier!
Writing a monthly column each, mailing off magazines all over the world and generally having a blast, bands would send us CD’s in the mail and we’d do reviews and write articles. My favourite one l wrote was on Chuck Hughes and the Hillbilly Hellcats! This also meant that we went to a LOT of dances almost every week, we’d be there with the five children and dance the night away. Star Son almost got kidnapped by Texan Rockabilly singer Marti Brom who fell in love with him and wanted him as a souvenir!!
I remember one show we went to l was doing a review on this concert and so l was in this pack of “Grandmothers” all going crazy for this guy l’d never heard of, The Bloke had played me a few of his songs before hand but l’d still never heard of him, so lm innocently snapping away photos and this lady asks me “What are you doing?” I replied l was writing an article on Merv Benton and so l was taking photos she continued to watch me and every so often she would say “Oooh that’s a goodie!”
Finally she says “ Come with me!!” And she drags me to the front of the stage so now l’ve got a super clear view of not only Merv but also the screaming wild crowd of Grandmas! It turned out to be a great night and we got back stage passes and went back to meet Merv, he asked me “Did you get any good pics?” I nodded dumbly. I got the idea to do a “Then and Now” article we had an article of his last tour and so l contacted his agent and asked if l could speak to Merv in regards to the article. I must confess by now l too was smitten with Merv Benton! He was big in the 60’s in Australia and then he moved to America where he lives now in Arizona. Anyways long story short, he called me a week or so later and we talked for two hours and he came up to our radio program and did an on air interview. He still calls me occasionally!
Radio programs was another thing the Bloke convinced me we needed to do so once a month we went into the city to do a show called “Shake, Rattle and Roll” for the Rock n Roll club and then we decided to approach our local radio show and host one there, we called that one “Shake, Rattle and Roll” too but when we eventually gave up being involved with the rock n roll club and magazine we changed our radio show to “Rock Therapy”
When The Bloke turned 50 l made him have a party, that was one of the things l brought into this partnership Parties!! And convinced him it was time for him to start enjoying himself some more and so he brought himself a 1969 Triumph Trophy and l had to learn to love it or miss out! One particularly hairy ride we met one of his friends a huge bear of a man who took me aside and said in his deep booming voice “ Now listen here! It doesn’t matter how much he loves you he loves that bike more! So he’s not going to do anything to hurt the bike, if he leans, you lean, just hold on and relax” I nodded that made sense and then he added “Besides love! He doesn’t want to be stuck with five kids!” 🤪
And he we are twenty one St Valentine’s days later, it’s been a wild ride, ups, downs and a very bumpy ride, l’ve brought the “Business man” down a level and l’ve certainly climbed up about three levels to meet him in a comfy place.
At the end of this month we celebrate our 17th Wedding Anniversary, we have a 19 year old son over 6 foot tall. It’s The Blokes 65 birthday AND his first Anniversary of Retired life.
Yes Bloke it’s been a wild ride, but l wouldn’t do it with anyone else!
Ok we are camping in Tasmania now. We made it on our long awaited trip and as we boarded the ship we got a text saying due to a Covid out break our check in pass had been canceled and we had to reapply while on the ship before we could get off 😬 So we reapplied of course!
The latest out break is actually in our neighbourhood but thankfully we have a large family and had spent time with them all prior to boarding the ship- so Thursday we spent all day with our Star Son at hospital appointments. All safe there!
Friday we had spent half a day with our eldest son and Grandson in the country at Castlemaine, so all good there.
Saturday our daughter in law and grandson came down to visit so my eldest daughter and her three children came over and we all walked to the end of the court and went to the park to play, so all good there and then finally Sunday we spent all day at home and we walked the dog, prepping for our trip, so all good there!
I thanked my D-I-L for visiting us because otherwise it’s probable that we WOULD have gone to that shopping centre and possibly have been exposed to the virus hence ruining our trip! Instead here we are in Tasmania enjoying everything it has to offer!
Monday we were on the ship at 7.00am and we opted for the day sailing with no cabin so that we could save money, we prefer to spend it here. We had breakfast and then walked around the ship- masks were required until you were out on deck, it was chilly and grey we didn’t stay out there long. We read our books in the lounge on level 9 and at 12:30pm we went to see a movie “Rams” an Australian comedy. Then we had a casual lunch, wrote in my journal and read our books. Ship docked in Tasmania at 6:00pm but we were in the exit line for an hour and forty minutes, each person had to be temperature checked and processed, and my Bloke has NOT got a patient bone in his body! Finally we drove six minutes down the road, where we had pre-booked an overnight cabin to stay in. So we went out and found a KFC and got dinner, shower and bed, exhausted 😴
Tuesday dawned fine and sunny so we quickly popped down to the supermarket to buy our fruit and vegetables and bread, you cannot take any of that stuff interstate with you, they check before you get on board! We knew that so we don’t bring any. By 10am we were on the road to start our six week trip.
We got to our first spot called South Croppies Point about lunchtime. I was nervous because a review l read said “4Wheel Drives only” yes we have a 4WD BUT that doesn’t mean l want to use it lol when we got to a particularly sandy churned up piece of track l suggested the Bloke let me out for this bit and l walked.. l mean Fitbit says l should do 250 steps an hour anyways so lm just getting my steps! The Bloke found us the spot and l very nervously watched him back in the camper, l really should give him more credit he’s never failed us yet!!
So we stayed there two nights we would have stayed longer but bad weather was coming and you know that churned up sandy track?! Yeah well l didn’t fancy being bogged in that.
Thursday we moved to a little seaside town about an hour and a half away called St Helens. We’ve been here before to the same caravan park simply because we are allergic to bad weather! So we booked a cabin, brought pizza, did some laundry, had a shower and a reasonably good night sleep.
Today we awoke to bright sunshine and blue sky, there was a lot of rain and heavy winds overnight so we made the right call there. Today we moved to Doras Point it’s a free camp, no direct water views or water access but we can hear it and we have a lovely serenade of frogs! Today the weather has been stunning and we’ve been out and about exploring. We’ll stay here until Monday and then move on.
Yesterday l set the intention to get back into regular blogging and l put the question out there “Is there anything you’d like to read from me?” My blogging/Facebook friend Corina mentioned that she had ever been camping and was interested to know why l liked it so much. An easy topic to start me off!
Camping.. let me count the ways! Why do l love camping? I love the wild l love the freedom of being out there and exploring l think also l love the fact that we are limited with what we take, practicing minimalism.
When l was a little girl my parents would load the panel van- they slept on a mattress in the back l had the front seat, and we would drive to a river and meet friends with other children and just camp, cooking over fires, the men would fish, the women would bitch, the children would run free. I have many memories of falling asleep to fireside shadows and voices telling stories, and waking up in a different place and starting again!
So then l was a teenager and camping was a cheap cheerful way to get out and have fun, like that one time two cars full of us took off on a whim six of us in a three man tent with a wet dog that adopted us and decided to spend the night. It rained the whole time the boys went surfing, us girls sat on the beach miserably, we ate junk food by torchlight and spent the night very snuggly top and tail in this tiny tent with this wet sandy dog spread out along all of us, no blankets needed! It was a great weekend despite the weather and that one girl who went camping with a hair dryer and five pairs of shoes.. clearly she had never been camping before.
We asked her “What’s with the hair dryer?” she replied “if we go out for dinner l’ll need a shower and to do my hair” the rest of us laughed so hard tears streamed down our faces and our stomach ached “Where do you plan to plug it in?” We asked in between fits of giggles “a gumtree?!” We, the rest of us knew there was no power and certainly no “going out for dinner” going out for dinner consisted of walking to the kiosk and ordering steamed Dim Sims and Chocolate Big M’s! And if that wasn’t enough to shock her, breakfast the next morning was a meat pie with tomato sauce! Needless to say SHE never went camping again and she tried to change the guy she was dating so he’d stop hanging out with us- she didn’t succeed and she also didn’t last long.
My next camping experience was as a young adult, we decided to go camping to a popular beach side town about four hours drive away. I was with my fiancé and we took my friend/Neighbour and his partner. Loaded up the car and off we went. We had a huge tent, mattresses and doonas and not much else we planned to cook on the caravan parks bbq’s. We set up easily enough, everything was going smoothly, the next day we decided to go exploring so we cleaned camp opened the windows to let some air in and off we went. While we were out we watched huge black clouds gathering and joked about needing an ark it was going to rain that much! But the joke was on us!! The storm had already been through our camp site and our bedding was floating on a puddle of water… the feather filled doonas were soaked and soggy, our bags with clothes drenched, the pillows and anything else inside the tent were water logged and we spent the next two hours trying to rid our tent of water. We had to put all our bedding in the laundromat driers. We were very wet unhappy campers and l swore “Never again will l go camping!”
Of course l did! When my two daughters were babies, we packed up and went camping with my Bestie and her husband, our husbands were Besties too and were on a “hunters” jag complete with loud guns! We didn’t get rained out as spent a fun weekend.
Then there was a long break about maybe 15-20 years of no camping, instead there were mortgages, babies, commitments, divorces and tears and then there were houses needing to be sold and moving children to new neighbourhoods and life was crazy.
My next husband loved camping and when we first met he was going away interstate camping he rang me on New Years Eve 2000 from the top of a mountain which was the only place he could get reception to tell me about his camp and the critters he saw and he said “One day l’ll bring you here” in my heart of hearts l thought “not with these kids you won’t!”
Eventually we were a family of five blended children which comes with its own set of difficulties, five VERY different personalities and The Bloke and l wondering how to survive this mine field.
Fast forward ten years, the eldest four have grown and got lives and if not moved on at least able to fend for themselves and so the camping subject got raised again. The Bloke is persistent not in a mean pushy way but like a gentle stream of water that wears down your defences and soon enough l agreed “Ok let’s try it!” He had the gear and so we squished it all into our car with 10 year old Star Son and headed for Swan Hill about five hours drive from home on the border of Victoria and New South Wales.
The skies were grey and broody the whole time l was on edge remembering that one time when we spent a soggy wet night not excited for a repeat of that! We stopped for lunch and then the rain began uh oh!
The further we drove, the closer we got to our destination the HEAVIER the rain fell. To the point the wipers couldn’t keep the windscreen clear. Unlike some wives l don’t yell or argue l get silent even my tears are silent and l was NOT HAPPY!
As we drove into the town the rain started lessening and l voiced my fears about camping in a puddle, The Bloke said “if it doesn’t stop l’ll book us a cabin” Me “What if there are no cabins?!” Him: “I’ll find us a motel” Me: “Can we JUST go home!!” Him “No!!” So l stayed in the car when we got to the Caravan Park, the rain had lessened, he got out to check in and suddenly the sun came out.. no word of a lie! The sun came out, steam rose from the roads and out came Star Son and the Bloke like they’d planned it all.
Our first camping trip was perfect, warm days, cool enough nights to sleep, loads of adventures, tent was named Tamara and she was a dream and suddenly l realised l was enjoying myself! I liked camping! I’d forgotten the fun of living like a gypsy!
We have camped 3/4’s of Australia in Tamara, we quickly figured out what worked and what didn’t, what made us comfortable but didn’t add bulk! That first trip Star Son and l started a journal about “The Adventures of Tamara the tent” we all three of us wrote in it we added leaves, feathers, stickers, ticket stubs, we wrote about adventures and things we’d done like the day Star Son taught Mum how to do a front flip on the jumping pillow!! I don’t know who was more shocked me that l tried it or him that l did it!! Camping brings out a different carefree me!
Eventually The Bloke decided it was time to upgrade from the tents, Star Son soon got his own tent he called it “Trent” and we added a trailer to the list of camping supplies “Matilda” we went waltzing around Australia with Matilda keeping our camping gear safe! One trip The Bloke’s hip started playing up and he struggled to get up off the floor where our inflatable mattress was, we had to find a Dr and stay in camp a few extra days until the pain pills kicked in. He decided we needed to get off the ground and so he began researching caravans and campers!
There’s the link to see Ursula and all our adventures! Next Monday we are putting Ursula and her tow vehicle Priscilla Prado on the ship and we’re off to Tasmania for six weeks! I’ll share that trip here.
This post is turning into a book but we are passionate about camping we love it. When The Bloke retired last February our goal was to spend all our time camping but Covid stopped that. This year we are aiming for 100 nights (at least) camping.. watch this space to see how we go!