AND WE THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE SMOOTH SAILING We didn’t get very far, our next stop was only Brisbane. It would be the last time we would get to see family for quite a while, so we stayed for a week, parking up on the front lawn of suburbia. It is amazing where you can fit an 11 metre long bus.
After our week in Brisbane, we headed off to Ipswich to see Michelle’s brother. It was time to repay the labour swap for the welding lessons. It was a big week of tiling, but with that done, we are off to our first official location. We picked a small caravan park at Broken Head, right on the beach, about 15 minutes south of Byron Bay. A chance to catch up on some washing, catch our breath, and settle into our new lifestyle.
We plug the co-ordinates into the GPS and it spits out directions and an estimated time of two and a half hours driving. Not too bad except for two small children and smelly poo.
What is that smell?
Let me explain. Firstly, there is a small problem with the toilet, but only when we are driving. We have a composting toilet, which is great, because you don’t have to empty it often, the idea is there is a tube that leads up through the roof of the bus and extracts all the odours. The guy I bought it off gave me a verbal guarantee, quote “
I guarantee you, your shit won’t stink.”
DO NOT SIT YOUR KIDS RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER.
Yes, we put a lot of thought into the design of the motor home, but the one thing we overlooked was where the kids would be sitting. Unfortunately the seat we chose meant they are virtually sitting right on top of each other. Not like in a car, where there is one seating space between them. No, here they are right next to each other.
It started out OK, we resorted to a video on an ipad. But that only lasted 60 mins. Then it started. Henry called out ‘Jadie Wadie’, Jade called out ‘Henry Wenry,’ this was repeated over and over again for the next 15 km. No distractions worked, Henry was intent on annoying his big sister as much as he could.
She then resorted to violence and it was on. Screams from both parties, me driving an 11 ton bus down the highway, and Michelle ignoring the kids, with her head buried in a pillow due to the smell, wishing she had a gas mask. This was fun, and it was to get better. After the screaming game, we played the ‘Henry Touched Me’ game. This went on for the next 30km, how good was it going to be traveling around Australia like this.
Finally, about three hours later, we get to the caravan park. We found the place OK, but the lady at the office was horrified when she saw the size of our rig. The bus is 11 meters, then the Suzuki (Suzi) with the tow bar makes us 17 meters all together. I assured her the car would detach, and she eventually agreed to place us across two sites.
Setting up for the first time.
We detached the car and parked, by this stage it was about 4pm, due to NSW daylight savings time. The kids still have not had lunch, and Henry still has not had a sleep. Michelle decides to get lunch ready while I decide we should set up the Annex, for the first time since we got it. Problem is, Annex does not come with instructions, and it has been two weeks since we got it, and I forgot how to put it together.
Jade decides she is going to help Daddy. Yeah right. Off we go, Annex is half up, Henry is tired and falls out of the bus steps on his head. Usually OK, but not when you are tired. He of course is screaming for his mum, Jade decides she will imitate him, he does not like that, neither do we, so Jade gets in trouble. Jade then decides she does not like this family so she starts to put all her clothes into her camp chair cover and tells us she is leaving home. Meanwhile the Annex is half up, lunch is half burning and we are trying to be discrete. (A bit hard when you have the largest bloody motorhome in the whole park and everyone is watching) So, finally we settle Henry down, Jade comes back to the fold, we finish the Annex, and have lunch all together.
(Thank God for Tanya’s Pecan Rolls, they were delicious and it would have been another hour without food, without them.) We take a deep breath, wonder what the hell we are doing, realise this is just the start of it all and then just laughed. Thankfully, the beach is only about 20 meters away. There is an instant change in the kids. They are both happy and free. It is great to see them running on the sand hand in hand.
Being on the beach fixes everything
They are both laughing and playing, and all of a sudden, all is forgotten, maybe we have done the right thing. We get back to our motorhome just in time for a very windy storm to hit. We actually felt sorry for everyone else in the park, as we just shut the doors and were warm and cosy, whilst outside tents were flapping in the breeze and the rain was pelting down. All in all a very memorable day.
Feed the kids, re-arrange seating and make sure Henry gets a daytime sleep. By day two there was no fighting and Jade even apologised to Henry for making fun of him. Pretty impressive for a six year old off her own bat. It was now time to start schooling. We turned the beach into our classroom. We found a small cave and had lessons in there, the sand became our blackboard. We became parents and teachers. Within two days, Jade was reading her first words. They were, “My dad is amazing”
The girls in the school cave
Ok they were really “The cat sat on the fat hat.” … but I am sure she will be able to read the other soon.
Later that day we met a couple of Grey nomads, who had their granddaughter with them. She quickly befriended Jade and they appeared to hit it off, until Jade came up and whispered in my ear, “I don’t think I should have made friends with her.” Apparently the little girl was mean to Henry and Jade was not going to stand for this. That is her job. But that was all forgotten and the two of them forged an instant friendship, Jades first friend on the road.
]We expected to see amazing things on this trip, but didn’t expect them so soon. Straight off the beach right where we were camping, there was a whale playing in the water. It was flapping around for ages, and Henry thought it was waving at him, so waved back.
We explored most of the region including Byron Bay and took the kids to the most easterly point in Australia at the light house, and saw an amazing pod of dolphins off the main headland swimming around in a feeding frenzy. Henry has been attracting his fair share of attention. Mostly he gets the comment, “ He looks like little Robert Irwin.” All in all it has been a great start to our trip, we realised we were as green as they come, but we were having fun and looking forward to life on the road.