As you might know, we moved recently and our delightful little family had the fun of moving across Australia. Well, 3000 km across it, anyway.
Because we moved around the time of Anzac Day, the movers packed up our things on the Wednesday and loaded them on the Thursday. We were leaving on the Monday following. I can hear you thinking that one through. Did we camp with three youngens? Are we experienced in the way of the air mattress? That had been our intention, but a wonderful family from the church offered us their place in town (often farmers have a small apartment in town because the drive is long!), and so we moved in to that place on the Wednesday.
Tall says "new home, yay!". No, Tall. There is more driving yet to be done. That whole last week was bizarre. Adrian was still working, but we were also trying to do all the visiting we could. 3000 km is a long way and there are many people we knew we would (and currently do) miss that we wanted to catch. We didn't manage to see them all.
Oh, how I miss that land. I can see it in my mind's eye.
The boys were happy with the new place. New things to explore, different toys to play with and Mommy driving them to the beach all the time...
The last days came. We had decided not to start early on the Monday, but to leave after lunch, eating at our favourite restaurant in town. It was a glorious, sunny, warm day and the boys and I went for a play date (wear the kids out before the long drive, no?) while Adrian ran a few last minute errands (one of those was to pick up a couple greeting cards which I finally filled out and sent two weeks ago. Because I'm nothing if not prompt. Waiting for a thank you card? Trust me, it's on the list). I also got him to get me a little notebook so I could write things like fuel prices. My mother does it. His mother does it. I was suddenly consumed with a need to do it. Perhaps I will knit soon, too.
We went about 400 km the first day. The way across the bottom of Australia is long and fairly straight. If you look at the map, it looks like there are a decent amount of towns spread across, but when you actually get to these places, they are a roadhouse and servo. Often with a motel component. That's it. I was nervous about driving into the middle of nowhere with three small boys and we thought easy days was the way of it. Also, we'd heard okay things about that roadhouse (I'd heard much about most of them having mice and cockroaches). We pulled up for the day before the sun set, had dinner and settled into the room. The boys went to sleep well and Adrian and I tried to plan for the next day. We crouched on the floor of the room, peering at the map by the light of the bathroom. The trip had gone okay and the short days weren't seeming as necessary. That, and I wanted to see a whale. Four and half years beside the ocean and I hadn't seen a whale. There was a place at the head of the bight where at certain times of the year they guarantee you to see whales. We were a few days off that time of the year, but we thought we'd try.
This, however, gave us a problem. If we stopped where we'd been planning, we'd have to wait until 8:30 in the morning to get moving. That seemed like a lot of wasted time. I started looking up reviews online about the roadhouses near there. Not good. We looked at the map. We looked at each other. We decided to get up at 4, put the kids in the car, hope they stayed asleep so we knock off some of the journey.
We hopped into bed very early (for us, so probably super early for you) and lay in the dark listening to the boys sleep, while we whispered and giggled like ninnies at sleep-away camp. Who can sleep that early?
The morning came, as mornings do, and though I had listened VERY carefully, I heard no mice and saw no cockroaches. We loaded the car in record time, put the boys and as Adrian said, should we check the room, I said no. We'd be fine. Had only brought in minimal luggage.
The boys woke up in the cold morning air. We blasted the heat and drove away while Tall said from the backseat "Going to X-----, new home?"
200 km later when we sat down to breakfast (please, let me never not see a bacon and egg sandwich for a long while, the trip was full of them), I realized something that we had left behind. Two safety rails for beds. 400 km trip to get them? Not so much.
The day went well. We sang, read books, played with toys, explored a bit. We caught glimpses of the ocean (this rested my soul), looked at cliffs, looked at signs, counted eagles (we saw: a lot. What? My blue book is somewhere over there.) We paid for gas at $2/L. We opened presents (special for the boys) and ate bickies (gifts from our old congregation). Baby pooped explosively in his seat early in the day. I cleaned it up as much as I could and then had to sacrifice a blanket to it. There was nothing else to be done until I could get to a washing machine. We ate sangas and drank terrible coffee (seriously terrible coffee. Were I to do the trip again, I would make sure to pack the french press. Adrian said we should, I thought it would be a bother. He is a brilliant, brilliant man.) We got to the whale place within half an hour of it closing.
It was a lovely, beautiful walk outside the car. The ocean was spectacular, even if the sand was the wrong colour. There was only one thing it lacked.
Anyway, we drove on and by the end of the day we had three boys who wanted out of the car now and two parents who wanted to eat something and not be sitting anymore. This is why we ended up sleeping at a pub. Because at 980 km and a 14 hour day, we were done. But still, no mice or cockroaches. And cheap as.
The next day was a good time. We were back to not pushing it as we neared civilization. We had about a two hour break at Wudinna, which is a great place for a stop. Good coffee, good egg and bacon sandwiches, and AWESOME playpark. The jumping pillow! The random stranger who grew up Lutheran, but converted to Catholicism as her husband was Catholic, but who still knew lots of people Adrian did.
Seriously, the man knows everyone in Australia.
We stopped early that night so the boys could play before dinner. They were okay with that. You would think after the third day in the car, they'd be busting to be out of the car, right? Okay, so when we went to have a break at one point in the afternoon, the two big boys threw a collective huge tantrum as they didn't want out of the car. It was one of the funniest situations of all time. "No play with ball, stay car!" But we all got happy again.
The drive to the Barossa was lovely, the winding hills and roads that curved a nice change from the flat outback. The outback is very cool, but it was nice for a change. We spent a couple of night with good friends in the Barossa, played in Adelaide, went to the zoo on a cold and wet and windy day, saw planes and basically ran around like crazy people.
Then we went to Adrian's folks's place for a visit, where, for the first time on the trip, we had no cell phone reception.
We came to the new town a few days later and waited for our furniture to arrive. As we waited, we got to know the town. We played a bit. We experienced frost. It was great.
And here we are. Settled (mostly) into the new home. We pushed really hard at unpacking for awhile and then the last couple of boxes took a long time. There are still a few things waiting for homes, but soon, soon, soon, I'm sure it will all go away.
The frosts in the morning are great. Going from a land that was in drought to a land where the grass did not dry for a month (no exaggeration) was unusual. I miss the ocean, though we have managed to visit it a bit.
So that's how we made it home. Though for the first month, Tall kept asking when we'd get there.