Every school holiday, the boys and I grab our wire baskets of camping gear, chuck them on the back of the car with our clothes, hitch up the trailer and head off somewhere. Often, we have no idea where we are going as we seldom research properly – but it’s always an adventure.
Easter saw us in Valla Beach, outside Coffs Harbour between the Gold Coast and Sydney. Valla Beach Tourist Park sits majestically alongside the Deep Creek river-mouth, with a wonderful bridge between the campsite and the beach. We wandered across daily, soaked in the lagoon, swam in the river, played tennis and pottered. We took long walks on the beach towards Nambucca Heads. The weather was perfect – hot without too much humidity and gentle sea breezes.
We also spent a few days with Mothers Club at the Hosanna Farm stay, a 100-acre family and dog friendly place just behind the busy coastal strip of Northern NSW. Days were spent swimming in the dam, jumping off a mega-high diving board, kayaking, feeding the animals and milking the cows. At night, I took my boys off for a magical adventure to see glow worms. We used very dim torches to make our way 5km along a disused railway line under a dazzling galaxy overhead, to a 500m tunnel. Turning off our torches, we stepped into Fairyland, where millions of glow worms clung to the walls, turning the tunnel into a shimmering cavern of shining stars. I also took Soren up Mt Warning again – a five hour walk! Mount Warning is situated in the centre of the largest caldera (crater) in the southern hemisphere. You can walk to the top of the mountain, passing through subtropical rainforest, temperate rainforest, and heath shrub-land. The final kilometre is so steep you have to pull yourself up on a chain ladder and every single time I do the walk to the top, I vow never again. But the view from up top is magnificent. On a clear day you can see the coast from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast. Yannik opted to stay at the camp site and learn to twirl with firesticks!
Come July, we went to the Clarence River Wilderness Lodge, just 3 hours from Brisbane, on the headwaters of the Clarence River in the rugged Great Dividing Range. A forgotten pocket of Australia, where nature reigns supreme. Four thousand hectares of river crafted country has been preserved in a wildlife refuge that is noted for the diverse abundance of its native animals and the wild splendour of its scenery. Nothing prepared us for the incredibly rocky driveway – kilometres of hectic gravel road reminiscent of Africa. The kids took turns and drove. Slowly. The nights were freezing but we bundled up, then spent our days lolling next to the river, reading and sleeping in the warm sun.
I was longing to head out and adventure, so once again, the boys and I made a last minute decision to visit Canarvon Gorge – in central Queensland. Just our luck we headed out during floods, so we drove over 800kms to find we couldn’t get in because the river crossings were several metres under water. The first night, we waited it out in the country town of Injune, a quiet farming village untouched by the bustle of modern life. The next day, with rivers still way too high, we travelled up to Rolleston, the closest place to the gorge, with a population of only a hundred people. However, it had a pool and tennis court next to a dusty caravan park, so we spend the day between these two entertainment highlights. Plus, I walked around the town a few times – not a long walk as it consisted of a small block containing only a couple of buildings. The best part of the trip was the drive to and from the Gold Coast in the car with the kids, listening to audio tapes and looking at the scenery out of the car window. The trip took us through spectacular sunsets and sunrises, the open road with miles and miles of flat bushland, lakes of water along the road from the heavy rain the previous days, highway mirages, massive road trains which rocked the car, and the anticipation of our destinations both there and back.
In between, the year has been hectic with Yannik starting High School, both boys doing very well in their swimming carnivals, the boys starting to play Volleyball, Yan went off to a state Volleyball tournament, Soren continued to play the Baby Tuba and starred in his school band, I met wonderful students from all around the world, went to Sydney for a wonderful weekend with former school colleagues and then to New Zealand for five days with my Mothers’ Club. And Yannik, Soren and I spent many weekends hiking, snorkelling, swimming at the beach, trying out lawn bowls and rock climbing.
School is over for the year. Yannik and Soren got good reports with lots of A’s and this weekend, swam in the same relay team at States and I was so damn proud.
Now we are preparing for a major 3 week trip to New Zealand – then up to Lake Macquarie for a few days – before getting into the new year in February.
Go Team Z, go!! #love my life