Friday, July 15, 2016

Winter Roadtrip 2016 - Part 2.

Sunshine Coast and Heading Home.

The boys spent the first hour after we checked in to the resort with eyes as big as saucers, exclaiming "This is the best place EVER". Note: I didn't realise when I booked our room online that it was in fact a resort. How do you miss a small detail like that, honestly! So the waterpark, mini golf, jumping pillow and pool were quite the bonus upon arrival. It turns out that my uncle was the project manager for the waterpark...crazy small world we live in!

We had five days on the coast and a lot of that time was spent catching up with my family at my brother Chris's place. My other brother Tim came up for the week with his girls and Mum popped over for a visit before she had to head back on the long drive home out west. It was the first time all of our kids were together, including gorgeous baby Eva, so we just had to get a happy snap! 

Soph and Tash are at the perfect babysitting/snuggling age and Eva was rarely out of their arms.

I did manage to sneak a few cuddles in. She's such a little koala and I'm smitten.

Day 2 on the coast was the one day it rained but it didn't stop Jack playing in the waterpark for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Harry and I huddled in the marquee watching him squeal with sheer delight every time he went down the slide. What's a bit of water from the sky to a four year old whose splashing about and soaking wet anyway right? Besides, he's a Canberra kid, 16 degrees ain't cold!

Day 3 we met up with the my brothers and nieces at Currimundi Lake for a paddle and play in the sand dunes. It was great fun seeing the kids racing up the dunes and sliding down on a boogie board into the water. Jack enjoyed playing the pirate captain on the kayake, brandishing his imaginary cutlass at whatever scurvy dog dared challenge him. Unfortunately for us, the wind was incredibly wild that morning, with sand whipping our legs and faces. The kids stuck it out for a while but in the end it became a bit ridiculous so we waved the white flag and scarpered.

In the afternoon I took the boys to one of their favourite touristy haunts on the coast...the Ginger Factory. There is no possible way that we could stay on the coast and not take a ride on the Ginger Train. It was a pretty cruisey afternoon with lunch, a train ride, an ice cream (macadamia and ginger mmmmmm!) and a play in the playground. 

Day 4 we popped up to the Bellingham Maze for an hour's entertainment. In the main maze at one point we did start to wonder if we'd find our way out again. But find our way out we did and in good time too. I think its a one off kind of attraction, a little expensive for what it was but the boys enjoyed it. We got back to the resort in time for a game of mini golf and a jump on the giant kangaroo pillow before dinner. 

Friday was our last full day on the coast.
We'd all been hit with a headcold the day before and were feeling pretty average but decided to get up and out into the sunshine anyway...and I'm glad we did.

We caught up with my friend Amanda and her kids for morning tea and a play on Chambers Island. It was a gorgeous day. The brilliant winter sun was reflecting off the Maroochy River, fishing boats bobbed about tied to their moorings, people cast their fishing lines from the river bank and pelicans were gliding past, eyeing the bait. I adore coming back to the places of my youth and always love catching up with old friends. Poor Harry began feeling feverish & miserable mid morning so we said goodbye to AJ and found a chemist to stock up on medicine. Even though we were feeling flat we persisted with our plans and headed up the range to Maleny to have a picnic lunch in Mary Cairncross Park. I don't think I'll ever get enough of those stunning views across to the Glasshouse Mountains. The sun was drowsily warm so we stretched out on our picnic blanket, snacked on some fruit and crackers and the boys occasionally strolled over to the playground for a play. None of us felt like doing the rainforest walk after lunch so we headed back to the resort for a very quiet afternoon in our room and an early dinner and bedtime for everyone.

Saturday morning we checked out of the resort and along with the rest of the fam, 
hit the highway for a family reunion just north of Brisbane. It was really fabulous catching up with my cousins. We keep in touch online but nothing beats seeing each other in person. I was too busy chatting to take many photos, so my nieces Soph & Tash snapped some for me. 
Abby's cheeky face and Lucy's sweet smile are the greatest!

When the boys were all worn out and lunch was done and dusted we gave everyone a big squeeze goodbye and headed further down the highway to Brisbane to stay at Queen Kathleen's place for the night. Mum also stayed the night so that she could visit my Nana the next day and it turned out to be an extra lovely evening. The boys played with lego on Kathleen's back deck, we had fish and chips for dinner, the most divine sour cherry cake for dessert and pored over Kathleen's photos from her recent holiday to New York.

Sunday morning we were back in the car and homeward bound. 
The trip back was, as it usually seems to be, a great deal more tedious than on the way up.
Feeling snotty and tired probably didn't help things either. We were missing Husband terribly and thoroughly fed up with motels, unhealthy take out and being cooped up in the car for hours on end. We went further inland on our way home which was mostly dead straight and horribly dull, staying the first night in Goondiwindi, the second night in Dubbo and arrived home mid afternoon on the third day. By golly it was good to be home after such a long drive. 

It was a fabulous trip with lots of great moments made all the better by cuddling up to Shannon that night in our cosy little house while the winter weather raged all around us. Yesterday we woke up to a light snow flurry and the hills surrrounding us were capped in white.
What a lovely way to be welcomed home.

xx Em

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Winter Roadtrip 2016 - Part 1


3000kms, 12 Towns, 2 States, 1 farm, 16 playgrounds, 4 motels, 1 resort, 14 days, 1 concussion, endless takeout, several family catchups, hours of waterplay and days and days of sunshine.


Make yourself a cuppa and settle in for a while, the next two posts are pretty long and photo heavy. There aren't quite as many pics as last year though. I made the decision prior to our trip that I'd spend more time in the moment and less time behind the lens trying to capture the moment and it was absolutely worth it!

Part 1 - On the road and Jondaryan Woolshed.

On the morning of our departure Canberra was enveloped in a heavy winter fog which stretched for the best part of 170kms. Bit of a grey and spooky start, but we managed to avoid hitting any kangaroos or wombats on the quiet back roads and the sun finally broke through to reveal the gorgeous green hills around the town of Young. The photographer within me was desperate to stop every 5 minutes and snap the scenery...all those emerald paddocks dotted with black faced sheep, but I didn't. I feared I'd use up the boys' goodwill too early by doubling the time of our journey with a gazillion paparazzi pit stops. So I soaked in the view and kept on truckin'. In saying that, there were a couple of moments that were too good to pass when the traffic got a bit heavy. Those lambs....cute!

In Young we sought out a cafe whose Instagram pics I've been drooling over for a while now. It was worth the detective work to find Kettle and Grain, which is tucked away in one of the buildings of an historical school. We enjoyed a hearty lunch (corn fritters are to die for) and some much needed coffee on the verandah while Harry read part of his partially penned book to us, (eight chapters down, only seventy to go apparently! Ambitious but it wouldn't surprise me if he did it.)

We made it to Dubbo just on dark. It was a case of eat and early bed because we were up and on the road again first thing the next morning. The drive was easy with very little traffic all the way up to Tamworth where we stopped for lunch. To our delight we discovered that the council had been busy over the last 12 months...creating a kid paradise in the form of a mammoth adventure playground with a fantastic restaurant/cafe in Bicentennial Park. 

The boys burnt off A LOT of energy on the towering skywalk with its slides and spider web, then re-fueled with some tasty eats at the cafe. I was more than happy to curl my chilled fingers around a coffee while the boys busied themselves in the sandpit for a while. Eventually I managed to pry them away from the playground and convince them to get out of the icy wind and back in the car so that we could drive another 200kms to our second overnight stop and one of my favourite country towns...Glen Innes. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly that draws me to this sleepy celtic town. Perhaps its the wide streets, the architecture of the old houses, the large tree lined parks or maybe the character of the main street with its eclectic array of funky homewares stores, cafes, traditional pubs and historic buildings. 

Whatever it is, we love to visit even if only for a night, because we were back on the road the next morning heading 400kms nth west to meet up with my Mum for 3 nights at Jondaryan Woolshed.

Our first night was far from dull. The Jackman and Harry were playing near the shearers quarters after dinner when Jack fell and hit his head on the corner of the step. The sound of his little skull meeting hard wood was sickening but it was soon drowned out by Jack's screams. He quietened down shortly after, curled up on my lap with an ice pack on his head. Then he became very quiet. Too quiet for Jack, who never sits still or silent for long. I took him to our quarters and as I was dressing him in his pjs he threw up. Not good. Hello concussion! We were out in the countryside, it was night time and my littlest guy had a head injury, though I suspected only minor, and I didn't even have children's panadol to ease his pain. We called the e-Health hotline and got a nurse to do an over the phone assessment to try and work out at what point we should take him to hospital. As far as I knew, the nearest one was at Toowoomba and the thought of driving 50kms down the highway at night was not thrilling me but the nurse recommended he see a doctor within the first 4 hours of the injury.

 Thankfully, Mum discovered that there was a teeny tiny hospital in the town of Oakey, just 15kms down the highway so I bundled Jack into the car, left Harry in Mum's care and headed into the pitch black hoping not to meet Skippy on the way. The nurse who assessed Jack was lovely and the Dr was happy send him home as long as I got up every two hours to check on him (just what I wanted to do after a full day's driving, yay!). True to form, a little head injury didn't hold Jack back. He slept well through the night and was bouncing about like an overgrown puppy the next morning with only a marginally sore head. I, on the other hand, was sorely in need of strong coffee.

The boys spent the weekend re-discovering the farm.

We went for walks by the creek with Mum's new dog Rosie; made sun dials in the dirt; inspected the Woolshed and miniature railway; had morning tea in the Woolshed cafe; cuddled chooks and chatted to sheep, goats, horses and pigs; cooked over the campfire and relaxed in the sunshine while the boys played with other kids in the camping ground. It was really nice to switch off and unwind with Mum.

On our last morning we discovered a tiny mouse hanging out on the step of the shearers quarters. It didn't scamper away and I didn't have the heart to tell the boys that it was probably sick and not long for this world, so I gave them some crumbs to feed it and they crouched down and had a long chat to their newfound mousie friend.

In convoy with Mum we waved goodbye to Jondaryan and headed north east to the Sunshine Coast for a five day stay at a resort in Caloundra.

But that's for another post.

xx Em