It’s good to be home. When we left way back in June I thought about how it would feel when we actually came home again. Would I be glad to be back or wishing the trip could go on for longer. I never imagined it would feel this good to be back! I think we were away for such an extended amount of time that I had time to forget how lovely our home is and what a great place we live in. Everything was so familiar, the views, the house, our friends and yet so unfamiliar, a large bed, our own bathroom, and of course lots of space!
The moment we got home the kids were into all the toys they hadn’t played with for three months and they just played quietly and happily, enjoying their things and their space. Kieran and I began to unpack, a task which has taken weeks. Although it didn’t feel like we had much with us in the caravan, when we took it all out and tried to find homes for it in our house there was a lot of it! Even now there is still one box of art and papers I haven’t yet sorted through.
Despite my fears and concerns about the second half of our trip we had a really great time. Leaving Mission Beach and getting to the highway and for the first time going south instead of north was emotional. I even took photos. It was raining, as if the weather was saying it was sad for us too. But there was no time to dwell on turning south as we had to negotiate our way through another day in the car, getting a flat tyre fixed, finding a supermarket, finding somewhere nice to have lunch and heading for our next camp site. Since we had already travelled north we seemed to know which places to avoid and which we wanted to see so we seemed to move more quickly through some sections and more slowly through others, staying in most places longer than we had on the way north. Highlights of our trip south include, camping at the beach in the Town of 1770, going whale watching at Hervey Bay, getting a massive playground fix along the Strand at Townsville, hand feeding dolphins at Tin Can Bay, watching the sun set over the water at Iluka, visiting the Gold Coast and being blown away by all the skyscrapers and the beauty of the hinterland, spending two days in Sydney, visiting Darling Harbour and the Rocks and last but by no means least, seeing some of the wonderful sites of Northern Tasmania.
After we returned to Tasmania from Sydney on the ferry we had a week seeing some of Northern Tasmania. I hadn’t been too sure about doing this as the last thing on our trip. I mean, compared to Queensland, Tassie is colder and wetter and I didn’t want to spend the last week wet and cold and wishing the trip to be over. It turned out to be a really wonderful week. The sun shone, it was warm, and the scenery was absolutely spectacular, as good as and at times better than anything else we had seen. Cradle Mountain was just awesome and Stanley has the oddest geological features I have ever seen, and a really beautiful town. People joke about seeing what’s in your own back yard and they are absolutely right. We will definitely be seeing more of Tasmania in the future and not spending so much time in the car!
The great things we saw and did, and the wonderful places we visited aside, the last weeks of travelling were really tough on all of us. We had all settled into various patterns of behaviour that began to get on each others nerves, the kids were ready to stop moving and Kieran and I were ready not to have to get in the car again. Right up to the end of the trip the kids couldn’t wait to get in their car seats in the morning. They would often be in them and asking when we would be going before we had finished packing up and hitched up the caravan. All I can think is that however I perceived our time in the car the kids must have thought it was great fun, and we must have been doing something right! Kieran and I began to drag our heals a bit, we knew, as adults do, that the novelty and excitement of actually getting in the car would soon morph into ‘I’m hungry’ ‘my tummy hurts’ etc. We did survive 9000km in the car though and now I can believe I can do anything and maybe it is part of why being home is so good.
Kieran had one more week off work when we got home which gave us plenty of time to settle back in, catch up with friends and do a few fun things too.
We had a great trip. Travelling that far with three small children was always going to be challenging but we did it, we made it, we travelled north, then south, we are home! Although we are now totally immersed back to our home life of school, work, friends and activities and our trip feels 1000’s of km’s away, the memories are still there. It is evident in things the children say and in the games they play (the cassowary still plays a significant part in our lives). I have also learnt a lot about me and about our family, and importantly for me I have made changes and feel that the trip has given our family something special. Yes it was fun, yes it was stressful at times and yes we will do it again. We are already thinking about where and when we will go next.
So, I encourage you all to just do it! Take the plunge, go off and see what’s out there! Australia is a big place but start with your back yards (you won’t need to be in the car as long), and if you like it, go further!