We left Bonny Hill this morning to continue our drive northwards, towards the sun and some warmth (Bonny Hill, 18 degrees and rain; Cairns 30 degrees and sunny). During the night we were woken by two terrific thunderstorms, which managed to find ways to penetrate the campervan and drip onto ‘my’ side of the duvet. So in many ways living in a campervan is like camping.
We called into the Koala Hospital at Port Macquirie, which Sarah and the girls looked around for an hour while I went to update the website and check email (so that answers a question some have asked – it takes about half an hour every 3 or 4 days to update it, plus a little bit of time every other evening to write it and select the photo’s). Back at the Koala Hospital, the girls saw Koalas rescued from forest fires and road accidents, and also, because its Koala mating season, some wild Koalas in the forest that were drawn to the sanctuary by the presence of females (a bit like young students were drawn to Nottingham University in the 80’s by the 3 girls to 1 boy ratio). Together we also looked round Roto House, a rebuilt Australian house from the days of Yore. The girls were bored by it, apart from the bedpan under the main bed, which took some explaining. Charlotte decided we should have one in the campervan, rather than having to walk to the toilet in the night!
Then it was back in the van for some more driving – this time we managed a two hour stretch while the girls slept in the back, before we turned off the road to picnic at Emerald Bay, chosen at random by the waking time of the girls. It was twenty minutes beyond Coffs Harbour, an ugly town of motels and fast-food joints, plus ‘The Big Banana’, a banana shop beside the road (Guess what giant fruit it had on the roof?). We parked with the play park on one side (treat number one for the girls) and the beach on the other (treat number 2), and made our picnic in the van. This is a tricky situation to explain – every time I’ve seen German tourists making their sandwiches in the campervans in a car park of a tourist attraction in England, I’ve thought “Why don’t they go and sit on the beach/grass/etc?”. But now we’re repeating the same behaviour – except that we at least ate our butties on the beach.
In the States and Canada, the girls got used to sitting in the car while we drove long distances, so they’re chuffed to find that in the campervan they can site at the table with their seatbelts on, and draw, colour and read. And then when they get tired they can lie down and sleep, without having to be in that twisted position that children seem to sleep in despite the massive discomfort it causes adults to even watch! And as long as we always stop for lunch by a beach or a play park, and they get to run around and hunt for crabs, or dodge the waves, then they are very happy.
I thought I’d share these two lunchtime photo’s with you, because I remember people telling us that “the girls won’t enjoy so much travel” and “they’ll be miserable all of the time”, as though somehow we were going to do what we wanted whether or not the girls wanted to. We took these two photo’s at lunchtime today, while the girls were playing around the van. Although they don’t smile all day, every day, there’s certainly much more smiling than anything else!
During the last drive of the day, beyond Grafton, it was getting late, and the light was starting to fade a little. At 5 o’clock we started to see kangaroos in the fields alongside the road, and so we knew that it was time to find a campsite and settle down for the evening. We finished the day just before sunset, at Yamba, in a campsite sitting between an estuary and the beach, and bought some fresh giant prawns from the riverside for dinner, as a reward for 4½ hours in the van. Gosh, life’s tough some days!