Our first full day we just hung by the van. Enjoying the rhythm we have created, school, chores, lunch and the afternoon to play and explore. With Ken away working in the library, this meant we had to do it tough with a few hours on the beach.
The sun was warm, the wind was mild but the water was freezing. Strangely thought I just found myself wanting to go back in again and again and again. That little zing of numbness all over your body was kind of addictive. I suppose it was a little rush of adrenaline as your body went into shock with the cold and sudden emersion. Invigorating is probably the best description.
The sand is white, water crystal clear but the setting has the added theatre and contrast of the bright orange (fire) colour lichen growing on the nearby rock and the pockets of dark thick leathery kelp swaying in the swell. These details of our surrounds seem to go unnoticed by the girls as they just delight in the sand, surf and play of a beach afternoon.
The week seemed to pass by in this way, but van life is busy. Aside from the daily routine when free camping you are constantly assessing the status of you batteries and water tanks. We are loving this spot but being quiet shaded by trees I’m continuously chasing the sun with the roaming solar panel trying to max our solar charge and now having bought a couple of 25L water containers a daily run to town for fresh water enables us to stay here for the entire week.
The weather never really struck those notes of perfection during the rest of the week. It was a little too cool to brave the sea again but we enjoy an afternoon exploring St Helens and the visitors centre and museum. It provided a fabulous insight into the local history and the role and experience of the Chinese immigrants who come to make money in the tin mines. A very clever film / automated theater production beautifully told the story helping connect us to the ‘Tin Dragon Trail’ we had been following but not understanding along our travels of north east Tassie.
Our daily trips into town gives us the excuse to regularly visit the local providore. More fabulous local Tassie produce, we even have an oyster farm we have to drive past. Now not being a fan of oysters I didn’t stop in but our Neighbour’s did and on our final night together we sat out and I was coerced into trying them again. In a true ‘green eggs and ham’ moment, I found my taste buds to be delighted, my eyebrows raised, a smile come across my face and I discovered what all the fuss is about. Wow! Fresh east coast Tassie oysters, not to be missed.
It was also on this evening that Georgie took a nasty fall off the tree swing on to the rocks below and badly winded and concussed herself. A scary feeling for her and not having witnessed the crash and but seeing her level of distress was awful. Her breath returned but I still didn’t like the distance she had fallen and was concerned for her back and head. She soon had a headache and vomited and now I was very uncomfortable about her status. We set up a bed in the living room so I could observe her through the night and began to make plans for a hospital. With no further vomiting we just kept a close eye on her through the night.
She was ok but sore and sorry the next day. I tried to get a Dr’s appointment but nothing was available but learned of a good GP down the coast at Swansea so that would be our next stop in a few days when I was able to get an appointment. We had a few more quiet days while she recovered, her back and walking being the main issue.
Feeling a little cabin fever we broke out for a drive to visit the beautiful St Columba Falls. With a little light walk and picnic I thought some movement might be good but she was very sore again and short of breath on occasions. We had planned to also visit Halls Falls but having done enough for the day we just got the picture and returned to camp.
Such a beautiful spot is Cosy Corner North, it was the location of a wedding that afternoon. Campers moved so these people could come in for a few hour with their guests and have the stunning back drop for their nuptials.
One final days play on the beach and it was time to farewell this lovely and memorable camp spot. New friends, turquoise waters, tingling refreshing swims, delicious oysters and unfortunately one casualty it will be remembered with a full array of emotions.
But just when you think all has been revealed. A little bit of last minuet night photography revealed something remarkable to us. What the …….. did you see that ……… is the water glowing? It wasn’t until we downloaded the photos that we were sure. Not that we knew it at the time, but it is bio-luminescent algae in the water and there is a lots of it in the water down here. Too cool for school! Thank you Bay of Fires, Cosy Corner North. ❤️ 💜
A final stop in St Helens to shop and restock. Lulu was pretty happy with the trolleys at the IGA.
We just love Derby and quickly settled into a nice daily rhythm. Get school work done, followed by a morning ride before swinging by Crank It Cafe for a play, lunch and maybe a little more school. Then back to camp for rafting, platypus spotting, dinner and camp fire.
The girls are enjoying the pace of the routine and without travel days there is plenty of time to play, create and perform. We were treated to a concert of ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ with the newest member (Llewella) of the ‘Sister Stars’ group.
The girls have been loving the riding and getting out on to the tracks. Vertigo Mt Biking were great for Kens skills lesson and keen to not miss an opportunity to outsource some teaching, we enrolled the girls in a skills class too. An hour lesson together, and it was money well spent. Doing it early in the week meant they were able to put their new skills into practice. During the week Charlotte signed up for another lesson to take on some more difficult tracks.
The Crank It cafe doubles as a museum to the history of tin mining which is the reason Derby existed in the first place. It provided a great opportunity to delve into how the discovery of tin changed our world and explore what a mineral rich country we live in. Schooling was a bit of a focus for the week as the time had arrived for us to complete the homeschooling evaluation with our Moderator (liaison from the education department).
I had been compiling and collating the girls work from over the year, reporting on progress, while aligning all our experiences with the national curriculum. It was a daunting process but also a rewarding one to see just how far we had come on our homeschooling journey.
It’s not been without its ups and downs, tears and tantrums (from both me and the kids), and I have been tempted to throw in the towel on numerous occasion. Still we have found a rhythm (of sorts) and made it through. However, I was still nervous to see how we had faired. A few emails, many photographs and a FaceTime session with Robyn our Moderator and we were given the thumbs up. Oh what a relief! I had been stressing about this and what a load off my shoulders. High fives all round, a big long breath out and the warm glow of pride in my heart.
Ken’s birthday week came to a conclusion with a Keto birthday cake. Looked amazing but tasted down right nasty. A bunch of lovely elements, sponge, rhubarb coconut cream filling, topped with chocolate ganache and berries. Should have been delicious but without gluten, dairy, sugar and experience baking this way, it turned out to be an epic fail! Still the effort and thought was appreciated, the berries were nice and the candle and singing always part of the birthday magic.
We were just loving it here, no one really wanted to move on. The riding, rafting, and location were just totally delightful. Being camped on the banks of a lovely running river we got the chance to use our creek in / creek out system for drawing up water from a water source to fill the water tanks. After a little fiddling around the tanks were full and we were sitting pretty.
Right there in that moment we were living the dream. The planning, hopes and wishes for the lifestyle we maybe able to live on the road had all come together here in Derby. Tassie had been ear marked as a highlight and it wasn’t disappointing.
But there’s more…… I’d got chatting to this couple, and it turns out they are from Parabadoo, W.A. All week I’d been watching them return to camp each afternoon and hang up their waders from a day of fishing, or so I’d thought. Turns out they weren’t fishing but fossicking and the area was good for sapphires.
I’d been to keen to try this fossicking for sometime and when they offered to take the kids and I out the next day, I couldn’t refuse. We didn’t have any luck with the sapphires but it was a lovely morning and after picking up my own sieve in town I was keen to continue fossicking as we travel around Tassie and back on the mainland.
It had been such a lovely free camp and the people we met there were all really lovely. The kids even struck it lucky, with a gorgeous family moving in next to us later in our stay. Alas it was time to move on and after squeezing in one final ride we packed up and made a late departure for the Bay of Fires. On paper it was going to be a short travel day but what we hadn’t realized yet about Tassie is they are very few straight roads.
After a long, yet scenic drive we arrived at the beautiful Bay of Fires and jagged the lucky last spot with views at the north end of Cosy Corner. But that’s not all, we are parked next to another Zone RV caravan and it’s got three bunk windows. OOOhhhhh super exciting, more children to play with and a chance to meet some other Zoners.
We arrived on dusk and did a quick set but before racing down to the beach for a wee explore. A stunning place with white singing sandS, clear turquoise blue water and dramatic flame colored rocks for added theatre. Total WOW of a camp and we looking forward to a week as beach bums. Finger crossed for some fine east coast Tassie weather.
Not for all of us though. Ken has got a full week of work to get done and a deadline to meet. He is going to hunker down at the library in nearby St Helens and power through it hopefully. So, the girls and I will explore the area solo.
Our Tassie adventure starts with the crossing on the Spirit of Tasmania. We have chosen to do the night crossing. We board by driving the van into the hull of the boat then take a few belongings and head up to our allocated room and deck 7 for a feed and some entertainment in the onboard cinema.
The food was fabulous, with almost the entire buffet being gluten free. I had bought dinner and snacks on board for Georgia but they weren’t needed. The weather was looking ok and we were hoping for a smooth crossing and it was all smooth sailing as we pulled out of Melbourne and spent the next few hours crossing Port Philip Bay, one of Australia largest bays.
Just as the movie was finishing it seemed we were crossing out the heads, a very narrow opening also knows as “The Rip” before entering the Bass Strait. That was the end of the smooth sailing! With the girls now feeling very unwell we retired, medicated and eventually got some sleep. By 3.30am we had stopped rolling and crashing away on the seas but it was all too exciting to sleep and the floor was no longer comfortable.
Disembarking in Devonport we drove to Bridport where we set up camp for four nights. The first day we were just shattered, (well I was from only a few hours sleep), and did nothing but hang around Bridport. The weather was a little wet, windy and cold so aside from a little walk and play in the playground, I did the food shopping to restock, (as we had to dump all our fresh food before leaving the mainland) and hunkered down for the day.
The following day we drove to Beauty Point to do tours at Seahorse World and Platypus House. Both were fastinating and an a great education. Out of the 47 species of seahorse 26 our found in Australian waters. Seahorse World is an educational centre as well as a seahorse farm shipping these totally fastinating creature all over the world. Pretty cool. And then Platypus House was awesome getting up close and learning about both the Tassie varieties of Platypus and Echidna. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed both these experiences.
Grabbing a quick lunch over looking the Tamar River, we had hoped to visit the Beaconsfield mine also but ran out of time. With Kenny’s Birthday the next day we drove home to get ourselves organized for an early start.
Rightly so the girls get super excited about birthdays. We started with the usual on bed present opening fun, followed by delicious Keto pancakes, (ok, only Ken and I think they are delicious), before driving through to Derby for Kenny do his birthday experience from the family in the west – a private mountain biking skills session! Epic fun and it gave us a chance to scope out Derby as we are hoping to be camping here in a couple of days.
In the evening we went to Launceston for a beautiful meal at Black Cow bistro. OMG, I’m salivating as I type this. A high quality steak house and it didn’t disappoint. They did their best to accommodate the gluten / dairy requirement and everything was delicious. Tassie has such fine produce and the Cape Grim Beef is mouth watering. The girls really do enjoy these fine dining experiences and it makes it all the more enjoyable for Ken and I. We are very proud of them and grateful we get to share this together.
On our last day in Bridport we enjoyed the stunning coast line and a bit of 4WD’ing on the beach at Double Sandy Point Conservation Area. Ken loves the driving and rolling through the dunes, the girls love sliding down the dunes on the boogie boards and we even had an encounter with some wild life – a Tassie Tiger Snake!
One of Australia’s best golf courses was just down the road and we’d seen some amazing photos but wanted to see for ourselves. Neither of us are keen golfers but it’s a stunning links course that ranks the 11th best golf course in the world. Something about it reminded me so much of Scotland, so I was instantly in love with the swaying tall coastal grasses making there gentle rustling song and the quaint tunnel entrance to the gorgeous coast line.
That’s a wrap for our first camp and taste of Tassie and we are on a high. Next camp spot is a fabulous free camp in Derby for a few days mountain biking. With not too much distance to travel and a hope to get a riverside spot we got up early had breakfast in the car and got ourselves to Derby quick smart. Bingo! The plan worked a treat. Being a Friday I was worried about the weekend crowd arriving and I’m glad we did. We jagged a super riverside spot and were well settled by the time the entire camp swelled to capacity.
What a bueat spot. Just on the outskirts of this grown town. This is a beautiful free camp right on the banks of the River and with the best camp amenities we have ever come across. Derby was an old tin mining town but following a devastating disaster that flooded the valley taking the lives of 14 people the mine was closed and the the town has been dying ever since. THat is until, someone started creating mountain biking tracks everywhere and now it’s a growing and bustle hub for thrill seekers of all ages and stages with visitors and competions from all over the world.
Just last year they put in a new suspension bridge across the river and established some easy tracks for families and beginners. Completing our first track and loving it we were looking forward to knocking a few more off over the next few days. After a few circuits around the pump track it was time for lunch and Lulu to have a sleep. That afternoon Ken took the girls out for another ride which finished them off for the day before trying another different pizza base in the search for the best gluten free pizza and movie night.
The next day was more cycling in the morning and in the afternoon we got the pack raft out to try and spot some Platypus. Our neighbour, Geoff, had plenty of experience doing rapids and encouraged us to give it a go. What a buzz. With Geoff on hand to haul us out if needed and the water not being very deep at all it was all good fun.
On Sunday the local market in the Town Hall supplied us with plenty of locally grown produce and we were set for the week to come. More cycling and canoeing in cool but sunny weather and relaxing to the sounds of the babbling river was just bliss. This place is going to be a highlight for us and we only just arrived.
Having not been successful in seeing any health professional during our last visit to Melbourne, we’d lined it up this time. GP, Pathology, Dietician, Peadiatric Gastroenterologist. Georgia took it all in her placid, easy going stride and doesn’t fuss much, but she was well and truely over being poked, prodded and the source of much talk and attention.
But the good news was we we‘re doing all the right things and the advice from all the health professionals was to continue our travels, continue our management, plus a few added supports and lets review all the test results when we return from Tassie. I felt much better about things and we had a better understanding of Coeliac Disease now.
At this point Georgia was doing much better and we were really coming to grips with the fact we just cant really eat out anymore. There are very few places that we can really be sure the food and preparation of the food is safe for her. That said old habits die hard and we keep finding ourselves looking for places to eat and don’t always get it right. I have to keep reminding myself not to be complacent, we are finally making progress and she seems to be healing.
It wasn’t all appointments, we visited Chadstone the fashion capital and caught up with Uncle Geoff for lunch. Ken, Geoff and the older girls went on to LEGO land while Lulu and I went for a cuppa with Aunty Corry. We had a lovely evening with Carol and Sean Michael and a catch up with Stef and Nic. Dinner in town at Georgias favorite Ceoliac safe restaurant and a impromptu Alpha Alignment and catch up with Robert. (I had done Roberts course and training in 2015/2016 and still hope to become a Alpha Alignment practitioner when I get home). And of course, school, blogging and trip planning / research is a constant of each week.
As with each week it just flew by and it was time to pack the van and ready ourselves for getting on the Spirit of Tasmania. A little nervous about the crossing but super excited. Tassie is one place I have been really looking forward to visiting and everyone says is a highlight of a lap of OZ. Pumped!
Ken and I have fond memories of Port Fairy, visiting here with Mum and Dad Hall in 2005. Life these days always feels hectic but with all the happenings with the Tour Down Under, visitors and family catch ups it is nice for a bit of a change of pace. We need to get schooling back on track, get ourselves ready for appointments in Melbourne and planning Tassie and beyond.
The caravan park is verily empty and the kind owners popped us right next to the playground. Which for us is a total bonus. The kids can play and we can still get a few chores and jobs done around the van.
On our first full day, following breakfast, school and chores, we got the bikes down to go and explore the town. Perfect for riding bikes, the streets are quiet and wide. Port Fairy is full of character with beautifully restored historic buildings and homes.
Being coastal and the harsh southern coast line of Australia the building are solid and very much remind me of Scottish Croft’s, might be why I love them so much. Port Fairy has had a couple of name changes, Port Fairy to Belfast and back to Port Fairy. The Fairy was the first ship/boat to sail into the port and establish it as a whaling and sealing hub.
We found out delicious cafe with safe eating option, pottered and paroosed in some shops and found the library. The girls love a library and here we spent the remainder of the afternoon only leaving with the promise to return the next morning. Being a Friday it was pizza and movie night. We are still trying to find a pizza base option that works for everyone and people enjoy but the real killer is no dairy. No cheese on a pizza! It just isn’t the same, so it looks like the Friday pizza tradition is going to be no more.
Saturday morning saw to the local markets on. Us girls love a market so we left Ken at home for a bit of peace and quiet and rode the bikes into town. Small, quaint and cute. We enjoyed the markets and as promised made our way to the library. In the afternoon Ken took the kids across to Griffiths Island on the bikes and they rode around the island visiting the lighthouse along the way.
Always on the hunt for Coeliac safe eating out option I’d discovered a fish n’ chips shop in Warrnambool the next town over. As we would be driving through Warrnambool on our way back to Melbourne we couldn’t pass up the chance for Georgia to get to eat fish n’ chips and for the rest of us to have it without feeling guilty about eating it in front of her.
Thanks Port Fairy for a lovely and thanks to North Point Fish n’ Chips, Warrnambool for making on Coeliac family very happy! Melbourne here we come …….. again.
The next cat I saw was in Paris. We we’re having a morning stroll when I saw a cat coming along. It was hanging around a restaurant, I bent down and stroked it and it came and brushed up against me and we called it Paris cat.
It was ages before we saw another cat and this time it was a kitten. It was Stef’s kitten she got it for Christmas. We went to her house for dinner I played with her the whole time, by the way she is called Mini. Dinner was delicious and we had dessert and Stef has a big toy tiger!
It had been an emotional day saying goodbye to Heidi and Ruby. After the farewells it was a long driving day, pulling up just in time to see the sunset over The Coorong. Argh, just what the doctor ordered after the sadness and emotion of the day. Some clean, fresh air and a good dose of awe and wonder.
We camped in the National Park, booking and paying for the site on the way. We never really know how far we may travel in a day, so being able to book and pay online is fantastic. It’s just a quick overnighted and after a good feed and a good nights sleep and we were back on the road the next morning.
The Coorong, a lagoon, runs some 140km from the mouth of the Murray River to Paranki Lagoon. It was made famous in the classic Australian Book, Storm Boy by Colin Thiele and two movies, the first starring David Gulpilil in 1976 and more recently in 2019 with Geoffrey Rush.
We didn’t have a lot of time to stop here and explore but listening to the audio book as we drove gave us a better understanding and connection to the dunes and landscape we were looking at. With an added bonus of providing a great literary study opportunity for homeschooling.
By lunch we had finished the book and arrived back in Mt Gambier. We stopped in with Ann to collect some post and ended up staying for lunch. It was a lovely break and as always Anns warm and generous hospitality filled our tummies and nourished our souls. After lunch we had a further 150km to travel to Port Fairy were we would pull up for a few days.
What a stinker! The forecast is for the records to fall with a max of 48 degrees celsius. It certainly is the hottest we’ve ever experienced, burning not just your skin but your nostrils as you breathed in the hot air. Regardless of the scorching weather we were excited! Nothing was going to put a dampener on seeing Heidi and Ruby today.
Our ferry to Kangaroo Island wasn’t until 6pm. So with time to kill and the McClaren Vale, (another of S.A.’s top wine regions), just 15 minuets away, it would have been rude not stop and taste the flavours. There is no better place than d’Arenberg. So we booked lunch and arranged to rendezvous with Heidi and Ruby here.
We have loved their wines for many years, stopping here in 2007 on our way home, after living in Melbourne. Since then however things have expanded and they have built ‘The Cube’. Wine tasting, restaurants, events space, and wine museum. All sounds pretty normal but there is nothing normal about the extraordinary experience of The Cube. Multi sensory, quirky, crazy from the moment you arrive. Suspend all expectation and enjoy the journey down the rabbit hole is the best advice.
But by far the best bit was meeting up with Heidi and Ruby. A reunion at the top of the cube was just amazing, as was the food we enjoyed in the restaurant. It was so surreal sitting across the table chatting sharing a beautiful meal and seeing the girls just picking right up where they’d left off some 9 months earlier. They are just so cute together.
After hiding out in the air-conditioning for as long as we could it was time to hit the road and make our way to the ferry. The journey wasn’t without incident as the extreme heat was all too much for Audrey, the car. On a long and reasonably steep hill, the engine temp just got too hot kicking into a safety mode, which left us limping up the hill. Intermittently we’d lose power and be reduced to a crawl before it kicked back in for 30 seconds and then die again. Slow and steady we made it, hoping there weren’t any other hills to come.
The ferry was pretty straight forward, accept for the bit that was in reverse. Loading the van and car on required Ken to back it on to the ferry, which he nailed. Heidi also did a great job, in a new vehicle, in the stinking heat, but she was making it all look easy, like the boss lady she is.
Getting off the ferry at about 7pm we opted to spend the first couple of nights in nearby Kingscote. It wasn’t too far to drive that evening and gave us the chance to explore to eastern side of the island before having our last four nights at the western end of the island. We pulled in and set up, but it was just so damn hot and not much fun! A real baptism of fire for Heidi and Ruby. The heat, with not even a breath of wind was just a killer and it only compounded the adjustment to the dusty / dirty / lack of privacy lifestyle, that can be the traveling camping life. It’s fair to say at this point Heidi was wondering what she had gotten herself into.
We got through dinner and somehow Heidi got Ruby to sleep in the hot little minivan. The floor of which was still roasting from radiant heat off the road surface. A new record was set for the hottest day, officially reaching 46.5 and then finally at 11.30 p.m. the cool change arrived. It was still a sleepless night for our visitor but at least the heat was gone and it could only get better from here.
The following day was almost cold. What a contrast from the day before. After breakfast, Heidi and I were inducted into the LOL (latest kids craze for our girls) club before we hopped into the car / van and made our way Stokes Bay Beach. Turning up the the bay itself didn’t look that impressive or maybe it was the inclement weather. Other travelers had told us to find our way through the rocks and then you come out on a beautiful beach, they weren’t wrong.
It was an adventure itself getting through the rocks, twisting, turning, crouching through low passes and then a lovely little lagoon and the beach beyond is revealed.
Too cold for us big kids to swim but the kids weren’t going to let a drop of nearly 20 degree put them off. Although it wasn’t long before they too were feeling cool. After a bit of sand play we made our way back to the cars before finding somewhere for lunch. Unfortunately as is often the case, we were assured on the phone that gluten free eating is all good. However then when we try and order it turns out there is only one thing Gigi can eat, usually a salad. The lady was very kind and tried to be as accommodating as possible but not much fun for Gigi. The views at least were stunning.
We returned back to camp for a rest and later enjoyed a beautiful walk along the beach and a couple of beautiful wines. The kids were exhausted and were no trouble getting to sleep. Enjoying just a few more glasses of wine and chat we also retired earlish. Heidi was still trying to catch up on a few missed winks from the night before.
Australia Day today and it’s a travel day. Moving to the other end of the island with a stop off at Seal Bay along the way. We did a fabulous tour and had the chance to get down on the beach with the endangered Australian Sea Lion. Totally gorgeous they are and it was a delight watching them on the beach. The youngest being playful in the surf and the older one keeping the order of things just right.
Heavily hunted for there fur and oil their populations are still recovering however there are concerns for their survival as the colonies are struggling to grow. More research is required. It was something special to be on the beach with them even if it was from a distance. They can be very playful and relaxed in the water if they approach you however on land they are slow moving, making them more vulnerable, defensive and aggressive.
A short drive down the road we pulled into Vivonne Bay for a beachside van lunch. The colour of the water was absolutely amazing but the wind, wild and most unwelcoming. After lunch I braved it out of the van down to the beach and received a complimentary exfoliation. Nature at its extremes, beautiful and brutal all in the one moment.
Finally we pulled into the camp. Looking into the towering eucalyptus we spotted three koala’s before even checking in. The park was pretty empty so we scouted about and found a site that was going to suit us best. We weren’t even set up before Wallace the wallaby decided to adopt us and the Cape Barren Geese wondered on by. Wallace made himself right at home and appreciated the bowl of water Georgia put out for him. Finally before the day was out an echidna caught our attention in the bush behind our site.
It wasn’t the most spectacular location and didn’t have stunning views but it certain takes the cake for the most amazing wildlife experiences. I don’t know how the wildlife park down the road makes any money when all you have to do is stay here at Western KI Caravan Park.
The girls have a lot of play to catch up on and I always have a lot of washing to catch up on so we opted to just chill out van side today. Kenny treated us to some Keto Lammingtons, which were delicious! And Heidi and I were still enjoying the fruits of purchases made from D’arnberg. Wallace the ever faithful (to his stomach) wallaby was never far away and it seems all the noise in the night was the koala’s swapping trees.
Having had a lazy day yesterday it was time to get out and see some sights. First stop the Flinders Chase NP Visitor Centre. An other great Visitors Centre with a fabulous display of how the region was formed, the history of the animals and peoples who have lived here. We spent a good amount of time here before getting out in the park and visiting Admiral Arch and Remarkable rocks.
Both were remarkable and it was an absolutely beautiful day. We had taken a picnic of rice paper rolls but with a howling wind and no shelter from the midday sun we opted for a mini van picnic by the lighthouse. Heidi’s mini van was very basic and didn’t much enjoy the unsealed roads but all the girls loved having a bed to lie on, be it for watching a movie or having lunch on while out and about.
The evening produced two shows one an LOL performance, put on my the three girls and the other by a Koala who was on the hunt for some more juicy young leaves. I was surprised to look out the van window to see a large Koala walking past. He then walked around the back of the van, had a good look at us and then jumped up the tree nearest the van. The usual encounter with Koala’s is just staring at a tiny, sleeping bear way up in a tree. But these guys stay pretty low down and aren’t too shy, which is amazing.
Our penultimate day on the island was a beach day at beautiful Hanson Bay. White sands and crystal waters just beautiful! The girls are still getting the hang of the boogie boards and it was a first for Ruby. Seeing them play, get dumped, help each other recover, get back out there and make memories in the surf together was just magic. We love our beach days and it was lol the more special for getting to share it with Heidi and Ruby. Can’t wait to do more when we get home.
Our final day is really a travel day and we are all trying to not think about the the farewell. We pack up, hitch up and drive the nearly two hours to the other end of the island to Penneshaw, where the ferry arrives and departs. A picnic lunch and play before we board and soak up our last 45 minuet together. Once we disembark we know it’s going to be a bit chaotic with other vehicles and passengers everywhere so we are ready for a quick but tearful goodbye.
It was heartbreaking watching Georgie and Ruby farewell each other. They are a match made in heaven and I hate separating them, but they both do a super job squeezing all the love they can into each other with one last embrace. We then jump in the car with wet, blurry eyes that don’t dry up for nearly another hour. Dear sweet girls.
Heidi and Ruby head back towards Adelaide for a night in a comfy bed, the privacy of walls, doors and your own bathroom! Such simple luxuries we take for granted everyday. For us we are legging it back to Melbourne to get ready for the next adventure, Tasmania.
So today we are making our way to Aldinga Beach. Ken is leaving us to do a three day cycling event/tour – getting out on the routes and some of the climbs that the pros are doing and then watching the finishes. So I thought Aldinga would be a great location as the race comes past here on two days and Ken will actually ride past us too.
But before we get there we found ourselves a choice location road side to watch the TDU (Tour Down Under) some more. It was still hot but had dropped out of the 40’s, so having the van with us and the awning for shade, air-con for comfort, TV for the coverage and fridge for cool refreshment meant for a pleasant afternoon. Not only that, we were being treated to 7 laps so would get to see plenty of cycling and even get ourselves on the TV!
I had some red plastic plates left over from christmas so we decorated the van to look like the KOM jersey (although in the TDU its navey dots), hung the bunting and chalked up the road with a big TDU ❤️. It was fun getting in the spirit of the event. There was loads of folks riding the course ahead of the pros and we cheered them all along. It always brought a smile to their faces, getting a clang of the cow bells and shouts of encouragement.
Then the race starts coming through. About a dozen police motorbikes, then the pre-race motorcade, more police, race director, race referee, neutral service car, more police, TV and photographer motorbikes and then the leaders of the race followed by the peloton, service cars, more police, ambulance, and finally the green light vehicle meaning the road is open to public again. Quite the procession.
A photographer from the Adelaide Advertiser even stopped to try and get a photograph of Lulu whom was sitting in her bath roadside keeping cool and watching the race.
It was super cute but in the end Lulu wouldn’t co-operate and we never made the front page. The photographer did get this shot though of Charlotte and Georgia. The girls loved it and we are talking about making it an annual pilgrimage, hopefully with the whole family next time.
We arrived at Aldinga late in the day, with a quick trip to the shops, dinner then we made sure the van and Ken were all setup to be away for a couple of nights. The next morning we dropped Ken off in the city at his accommodation before picking up a few for bits from the health food shop. We tried to catch up with Ken on the road to cheer him along before the pro’s but just missed him. He got up the famous ‘corkscrew’ which was to feature as the final climb on Stage 4. With all the cyclists on the road I wasn’t going to bother clogging the road up anymore and Georgia doesn’t do well on the winding roads anyway.
We weren’t far from the finish line of that days stage so we made our way there and watched the sprinters do their high octane finish beneath a couple of Koala’s snoozing away in the trees above. Seemingly totally oblivious to all the noise and goings on below. With an hour and a half drive back to Aldinga we got home very late. It felt like a big day driving, which I don’t do a lot of these days, but it was nice to be behind the wheel even though the google maps and I haven’t made friends, yet!
I was shattered today and keen for a day at home but it was really our only day to see Ken on the road. We rose early prepared a quick batch of pancakes and bacon and jumped in the car heading and hour away to Strathalbyn. A beautiful picturesque town, even though it was covered in race barriers, gazebo and branding. We jagged a totally fantastic spot and we set up for a picnic breakfast before watching Ken come into the final corner of his 100km ride. Not concerned about his time, he stopped for a chat before heading for the finish of this stage, the People’s Choice Classic.
Ken was loving his own tour, it was well run and catered for all the participants needs putting on, breakfast, lunch, transport, bike hire and set up, riding gear and more. His legs were feeling great, even after minimal training so he was really pleased.
The girls and I wandered down to the finish line to join in the festivities and meet up with Ken. There was a local market on which we enjoyed and the crowds and buzz of the TDU were mega. We decided to not stay for the professional cyclists to come through, we still had the drive home, and food to prepare for dinner and picnic lunch tomorrow with Uncle Peter, Aunty Merle, Meg and Jack.
We were always going to meet up with Uncle Peter and Aunty Merle but it was to total bonus to get to see Meg and Jack again. Just by chance we ended up being here at the same time. It was lovely for the kids because they had all got on so well when we stayed with Meg last August. Ken was missed but still we had a lovely evening in the warm, and relaxed hospitality of family.
During the evening Meg scoped out a good spot to watch the tour roll past tomorrow and plans were made to meet again and enjoy the TDU together. It was going to be a circuit again, with just four laps this time but beach front, so we were going to have lovely views.
Even though we were staying only minutes around the corner Meg and co had beaten us to the spot and nabbed the two best car parks for us to set up in. Location was perfect and weather sublime! I set up the batwing awning on the car and now we had shade too. It really was a wonderful few hours together. I love sharing these moment and making these family memories, with both Kens and my family, they are so few and far between which I guess is why it’s so special.
From here the race and the TDU finished with a mountain/hill top finish on the famous ‘Old Wilunga Hill’. Only about 30 mins away and this is where Ken was. After climbing Wilunga himself his group set up to watch the finish. Instead of heading back to Adelaide with the rest of the folks we collected Ken here.
He was totally pumped after a great couple of days but pretty exhausted, as was I. In my mind we’d have a couple of totally chilled days, hanging by the beach and pool but in reality it was hectic but totally enjoyable and to say I enjoyed having the bed to myself was an understatement.
We had a do nothing day around the van day the following day and our final day in Aldinga was spent on the glorious beach. You can take the car down so we set up on the beach and had a wonderful day. The water was lovely and the wind down. Perfect for paddle boarding and the kids finally got to crack our the Christmas boogie boards. We just love these family beach days.
The only downer was Georgie getting a bad sunburn! Every time I turned around she had her hat off and when I told them to reapply it never happened. Poor poppet was so sore and by the next morning her lip and cheeks had blistered. As a parent you feel so responsible but on the other side I know she will never ignore my instructions to wear her hat and put on and reapply sunscreen again. She’s never had a burn or seen bad sunburn before so never known what us pesky parents keep banging on about but she’ll not forget this in a hurry.
A top time here in Aldinga but we are all just a tad excited about what’s to come next. Visitors! And not just anyone but besties, Heidi and Ruby. It has all just come together with great ease and we can hardly believe we are going to be seeing them tomorrow.
HOT, HOT, HOT! Luckily I had booked this park well in advance, (top tip thanks Jacobsens). The tour was literally riding right past us and it had a huge pool and water park. Ironically it was too hot to venture outside, even too the pool. We did eventually go but not until it had started to cool down a little in the late afternoon.
So we mostly found ourselves flaked out in a puddle of sweat in the van. Even with the air conditioner on, lying still I was sweating. Ken was totally over cooked one of the days and didn’t even bother getting out of bed (Ken – I was probably tapering down for my own mini-tour in a couple of days!)
On our last day the tour was riding through, so we were going to have to leave the van and my FOMO was well and truly amped up or maybe it was the cabin fever setting in. I finally mustered everyone into the car so we could attempt to see a bit of this beautiful part of Australia. I had snuck out for an early morning walk through the town which was full of history old building and beautiful Lutheran Churches and I wanted to see more. We couldn’t leave without taking in some of the scenery and finding some delicious food and or wine from this magnificent region.
Maggie Beers Farm shop and Restaurant was not far away and seemed a good little outing before finding a shady spot to watch the race come past. The shop was delicious but mostly off limits for the dairy, gluten and sugar free diet. We did however manage to have a quick but yummy lunch and they were great at accommodating our needs.
From here we just headed straight back to the van and walked out the back gate of the park to watch the race come by. A beautiful elevated, shady spot on a slight hill. The usual fanfare come through first and Ken has rigged up the live feed on the iPad so we can watch the race as it approaches. The excitement is building, the cow bells ringing, and ………….. gone. Even on a hill the pace was up and in a moment it was all over.
Oh well, more fun and excitement tomorrow. We are leaving Tanunda but have discovered that we will be traveling some of the route the TDU is on and there is a section on which they do 7 laps. That sounds like a much better viewing day. We’ll have the van hitched on, providing all the comforts of home to set up for the day road side and get to see the riders pass 7 times. Perfecto!