Friday, 31 December 2010

Settling in

Dinner is done and the kids have disappeared. Colin and I are in front of our computers, deleting junk emails, catching up on the news etc... Dusk has given way to darkness. I will be glad to fall into bed tonight, my calves are letting me know that they are not happy with all the walking up hill from the beach to the caravan park and my arms are not happy either with all the lifting and carting of surf boards not to mention attempts at paddling.

Colin, Johanna and I suited up and headed out early to catch some waves at our local beach. (the one at the bottom of the hill) Johanna and I have decided we don't like this beach - not great for beginners, pretty frustrating really, a lot of effort with nothing to show for it. We fared better this afternoon at Pambula Beach. That is one good thing about Merimbula, there are a number of beaches all facing different directions, so one of them is usually OK.

One of the things we have decided to do this time away is to instigate 'happy hour'. For Christmas we received cocktail shakers, recipe books and plastic cocktail glasses. Last night we made non alcoholic drinks for the kids (and ourselves) and tonight we took our gear around to Phil and Carol's holiday house (Colin's brother) and progressed to Pina Colada's. The next two weeks are looking very interesting in the cocktail department.

Johanna has been returned, Rachel, Jess and Tyla are off again. This is the evening ritual. The oldest and youngest will now head off to bed and the teenagers will 'hang out' for a while before falling into bed also. Fresh/clean air, exercise, fun, good food and drink - all make for happy, contented and tired bodies. Can't ask for much more than that on holidays.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

so far ...

Christmas Day – family, fun, food, relaxed

Boxing Day – Packing, sorting, hitching up the van, happy anticipation

Travel Day – 6am start, 8 hours of driving, crappy breakfast at McDonalds, better lunch in a café watching the rain solidly fall, ‘teenage’ music (not bad really), ‘old people’ music (all the non ‘old people’ promptly fell asleep), arrive, set up, shop, fall into bed (old people that is, plus Johanna, teenagers off to do their thing, curfew 10.30pm)

First Day – breakfast, sunscreen, beach in the morning, attempts to surf (no go), lunch, sunscreen, different beach in the afternoon, boogey boards and body surfing, extended family, shower, shop, drinks, dinner, fall into bed (oldest and youngest again, teenagers off doing their thing)

Second Day – Time to slow it down, short walk on the beach, breakfast, sunscreen, girls head into town to shop, Old man stays behind to surf, Old man picks up weary shoppers, fixes broken fin on surfboard, girls to the pool, lunch, sunscreen, beach (on shore breeze, choppy, messy, strong waves, no good for surfing but fun to play in), lazing in the sun, wind blown, Colin and Johanna dragging me into the sea to experience how refreshing and exhilarating the cold water is – two minutes is all the refreshing and exhilarating I need! More laying in the sun, shop for dinner, Colin and I sitting in the late afternoon sun enjoying the view, showers, mocktails, dinner….

And that's it so far......

Merimbula Beach caravan park sits atop a cliff overlooking the sea. A short walk and this is what we can see....

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

sniffing the place out

The first day in a new place has a familiar pattern. Shop for supplies, check out the beaches, and generally get our bearings. And so it was today.

After rain for much of the trek through the mountains, we were relieved to find Meriumbula dry, if unusually windy. But this morning bought the comfort of clear skies and sunshine so all was well for the thousands of holiday makers who park themselves in this little corner of heaven (Eden is just down the road) for some summer fun.

The best of the swell (perfect rolling waves off the point at the end of our park - spotted on my pre-breakfast walk) were pretty much gone by the time we got onto the beach mid morning.  However, we had a good and tiring day with much of it spent with (my brother) Phil and and Carol along with their family. They have been regulars at a place a few minutes walk from here with a view to die for. We went back there for happy hour before we fed our weary bodies: haloumi, tomato and basil salad with some fancy bangers.

Rachel and her friends Tyla and Jess have disappeared for their evening talk fest and Johanna, Maria and I are fighting to get to the end of the day ... some serious shut-eye is not far away.

More reflections to come when the routines afford us some reflective space ... its amazing how the day feels busy when you don't do anything except eat and go to the beach.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

eastward bound

Its Boxing Day. Zac will spend it at the MCG, Heidi will continue her preparation for an adventure in Thailand. Maria, Rachel, Johanna and I will be throwing our gear in the yurt. Our urban duties done for the year, its time to switch off, pack the leather shoes and collared shirts into the wardrobe and close the door. The coast beckons, this time Merimbula on the far south coast of New South Wales, a lazy 9-10 hours drive for our rig.

Two of Rachel's friends; Jess (who was with us for a bit last summer) and Tyler will make the trip with us. After New Years in Melbourne Zac and Heidi will train and bus across and we'll have a week all together before Heidi leaves on her first OS trip.

Under the Christmas tree for me, was a new live album from the Waifs. Our old favourite and iconic yurting song 'Take it in' played in my head-phoned ears this morning while I finished off some ironing (those shirts to be stored) before everyone else rose. The normal meaning I've associated with the song has been in relation to good times. I thought of it differently this morning.

This Christmas had a different feel. The day was deeply enjoyable on many levels. It also had an under current of sadness. Heidi's pain in Glenn's absence was always there. She laughed and celebrated with us on the deck, and lay still and sober in her room in between.

As the lyrics go:

"Take it in, now is the time that will not come again."

Everyday, whatever the circumstances and emotion, "will not come again". Everyday, we are invited to live deeply, to enter into the opportunities to love and experience fullness of life. Not every day is one of unbridled joy and 'blessedness', the feelings I have previously associated with the Waifs tune.

It is timely to remind myself of our yurting mantra as we leave:

"Don't rush.

Don't complain.

What happens happens."

There is so much to 'take in'.

Monday, 29 November 2010

To go or not to go?

That is the question we have asked ourselves a few times over the last couple of days. The first time, as we were driving down and the heavens opened with a deluge that reduced visibility on the freeway to almost nil. Do we turn around and go home or continue on? We pulled off the freeway into a Macca’s car park and consulted online weather maps. What the heck, we continued on. Later that afternoon I christened my new board in the surf in the rain – lots of fun really.

We asked ourselves the same question the next morning after a wild and woolly night. The wind was still blowing a gale and the surf was crap – was there any point in staying. Colin and I leaned towards heading home, Johanna wisely said ‘it’s still nice to be here anyway’. We decided to stay and went for a walk on the beach, the three of us hand in hand, as the wind whipped our hair, billowed our raincoats and battered our bodies. We drove to Anglesea and had lunch with Colin’s brother and sister in law as they passed through on their way back to Melbourne.

We asked ourselves the same question later that afternoon, do we pack up and go home now or stay until tomorrow afternoon – still windy and still crappy surf, most likely the same tomorrow. Colin and I leaned towards heading home, Johanna reiterated that it was still nice being here. We decided to stay.

Tomorrow we really will head home, no more decisions to make. Tomorrow we leave for the last time, packing up and towing the van home. Hopefully we can muck around in the surf first – even if it is crappy and then we’ll have our traditional Monday café lunch in Barwon Heads, returning to our favourite lunch spot one last time.

Oh Sun, sunny weather, Let your rays shine down happy days

Oh sun, sunny weather, light up people’s ways

Oh windy weather, let your breeze flow from the trees

Oh windy weather blow away people’s hard days

Oh rainy weather, let your ways cleanse peoples days

Oh rain, rainy weather come down and wash away our hard ways

(juzzie Smith from East of Everything)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

you can't change the weather

We left Brunswick expecting a routine trip down the freeway for a few days in the yurt, the last session we'll have down here in this series of excursions. The electronic signs on the freeway say, "severe thunderstorms ahead, beware flash flooding." We keep driving.

Not for long. The torrential rain forces us off the freeway into Werribee where we crank up the Mac and have a look at the BOM rain radar. With some deliberation we decide to keep going with the rain easing.

On the way to the park we drive past the beach and are surprised to see that the forecasted wind change has yet to hit, so the wind is peeling the spray off smooth wave faces ... very inviting.

So we quickly unload, it only takes us 5 minutes before we are donning wetsuits and trekking over the dunes to try to get some rides. Maria gets her new board wet for the first time.

We're now back inside, showered and warm. Johanna and I scofffed some two minute noodles, the ABC comforts me with news of Australia's growing lead and we turn our attention to food for tonight.

When we left four days ago, two couples had set up some tents behind us, planning on being here for 10 days. Given the weather I was surprised to see them still here. I haven't seen them yet, but as I walked passed the tent I heard one of the blokes swearing colourfully in his lament that the rain is not allowing them to get out of the tent.

Our yurting mantra helps us:

Don't complain.

Don't rush.

What happens happens.

We can't change the weather, so we try to make the most of it. Sitting out in the sun would be nice, but sitting inside in the warm, listening to the wind and rain, reading, doodling, playing games on phones (Johanna) is all good.

But gee it would be nice to see some rays tomorrow. :)

Monday, 22 November 2010

'Less good' is still good

We did not arrive this weekend until Saturday night, Johanna had a birthday party after dancing. Saturday afternoon seemed to take forever as Colin and I tried not to think about what we were missing out on down here. For once the weather outlook was for fine and sunny.

Sunday went as follows – ate, surfed, lay in the sun, ate, shopped, surfed, lay in the sun, showered, ate and watched the sunset. Those were the good bits. The less good bits were crappy waves, cold sea water trickling down the inside of wet suits, peeling off tight rubber from cold bodies, carrying our surf boards in strong wind and trying to help Johanna carry hers as well and smoke filling the caravan from cooking sausages. We’ll take these ‘less good bits’ any day!

Johanna and I taking photographs of the setting sun.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Monday with no 'itis'

Today we surfed – messy waves but good exercise and still lots of fun

Today we shopped – a foam board for me (so Johanna and I can surf together and at the same time) and a wetsuit - also for me (so Rachel can have hers back) + some bits and pieces for Christmas presents

Today we ate – continued our Monday lunch safari of cafes in Barwon Heads and Colin got creative for dinner with some fish, sweet potatoes and asparagus

Today felt like a good day and to finish it off we are about to have strawberries dipped in chocolate for supper.

Monday, 15 November 2010


After a couple of good night's sleep that must have wrung the tiredness out of me, last night I lie wide awake for almost four hours. Unlike some nights when this would have been a restless frustration, I savoured the time to think. I found myself reflecting back on the years as our family has grown. I recalled a time when the kids were young, before Johanna even was born, where I wandered through the house while everyone slept, stood in the rooms of my sleeping loved ones and oozed thankfulness.

Last night I did the same, figuratively. I thought of each of their lives, the joys and struggles, the successes and the pains.

Sunday breakfast is a bit of a ritual. The Italian bakery out our back gate on Lygon St opens early and I love the procession of regulars who file in and out. The bloke in front of me this morning lugged out two large bags of goodies, 'see you next week,' he said as he left. I got my usual bag of fresh croissants and wandered slowly home. Johanna did her usual things and toasted hers in the grill with cheese and tomato. I love mine with expresso coffee and marmalade.

Maria and I headed out to Highpoint Shopping Centre to make some progress on our Christmas shopping and were delighted to run into old friends Owen and Michelle and their two gorgeous kids Lachlan and Jessica. Home again and left over A1 (Lebanese) bread and dip for lunch. Good, but not as good as yesterday when it was fresh. We have popeye (spinach) and sun-dried tomato dip ... wonderful stuff.

Then we threw stuff into the boot and sat on the increasingly familiar Westgate Freeway for the hour and a half between our two current homes. We stopped at Leopold to shop for the now favourite beef and blackbean - a whole bunch of coriander, loads of ginger, lime juice. As Johanna says, its a hot meal but its soooo refreshing.

Before dinner we did the ritual walk to 'have a look' - there were dozens of people out catching waves despite the onshore winds, but the swell was up and I guess it's the last chance before the work week kicks off again. And after dinner we went for bike ride; there is a little jetty up the river a bit, and on the way back we meandered into little residential streets to have a sticky.

Now, Maria has cleaned up from my messy cooking, she and Johanna have savoured a special treat (microwave puddings) which are better than they sound. Mine awaits. Can't keep the dessert waiting now can we?


Behind bars or surfing in the sun?

Lets pretend - Home and school is Jail, Schoolwork is punishment. Ocean Grove and Caravanning is being Free.

My life at the moment is unusual, I’m in Jail for a couple of days, and then at the end of the week I get the choice to be set free, but only for a few days.

The longer I’m free, the harder they punish me back in Jail.

If I decide to have three days of freedom, I have three days worth of punishment to catch up on.

The question is, “Is the day of freedom worth the punishment?”

The realistic version:

We have our caravan down at Ocean Grove, we go there every weekend and I miss Mondays and Tuesdays of school.

I love the freedom and relaxation of being away, but then when I get back to school, I have so much to catch up on. It’s hard.

I have the choice on whether I want to go away or not but,

The question is, “Is the day of freedom worth the hard catch up on schoolwork?”

I’m not really sure what my answer is, some days I feel one way and some days I feel another, sometimes mum and dad have to make the choice for me because I can’t decide.

to and fro

Colin and I often speak of choices and consequences. We are choosing to organise our working and living so that we can make space for ‘yurting’ (we appreciate how fortunate we are to have this choice) It does however require some courage to make such a choice and to live with the consequences. A week into our current half/half arrangement I began to question the wisdom of it. Is it a form of escapism? What about Rachel and Heidi left at home? How do I fit all the things I usually do (in Melbourne) into three days? What about when Johanna comes home saying she doesn’t like the feeling of missing stuff at school and not knowing what is going on? What about the continual adjustment between one place and the other – Johanna says it is like being free (yurting) and then in jail (school), the more freedom you have the harder jail is.

We don’t have the answers, we choose one way for particular reasons and do our best to live with the consequences. We question, we reflect, we talk to our kids and we look inside ourselves as we seek to LIVE life.

photo by Johanna

Saturday, 13 November 2010


If you've read the last post you'll know that Maria has caught the bug ... I so loved watching her enjoying herself, getting a taste of the thrill of catching a wave.

Today was a gem. In one of Ricardo Semler's books (7 day weekend) he makes a comment something like, "Its OK to do emails on Sunday as long as you go to the beach on Monday". Well, with the forecast for rain on the weekend, we decided to go surfing on Friday.

One of the things we like about yurting is intentionally simplifying life. For example, one of my daily rituals is grinding the coffee by hand. Then, we get to take our breakfast and sit by the river looking over to Barwon Heads.

The off shore breeze and medium swell made for perfect conditions today ... we certainly weren't the only ones not in the office today!!! Zac, Maria and I sat outside in the sun while Johanna made pancakes for lunch ... then back to the beach.

The plan was pizza for dinner once we got home, but the minute we pulled up the torrential rain came; our little pizza shop is a few minutes walk out our back gate, rain made even that walk impossible, so Maria spun her usual magic with pasta and we then collapsed here on the couch.

Weary and satisfied, a great way to feel.

Another one bites the dust

Our original idea was to head down the coast on Saturday after Johanna’s dance lesson and return on Tuesday late afternoon in time for her ballet lesson. In keeping with tradition of late the weekend forecast was for rain and possible thunderstorms (flooding in some areas) and the weekdays fine. So we did a bit of re-arranging and headed down Thursday night to make the most of the warm weather and good surf conditions on Friday, aiming to return Friday night to wait out the bad weather at home before heading back down.

Zac and Johanna came with us. Unfortunately Rachel is in the middle of exams and will have to wait to christen her new board. I did however christen her new wet suit.  I finally gave in and decided to give surfing a go – a wet suit to keep me warm was the deciding factor. So with Rachel’s wetsuit, Johanna’s foam board and Colin pushing me onto the waves I gave it a go AND really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun, I even managed to stand up a few times. Tonight though, I’m feeling some muscles I didn’t know I had…

The surfing conditions were great and Colin and Zac had a ball, Johanna still managed to catch some good waves despite having to share her board with me! Everyone had a most enjoyable day. We managed to pack up the van and prepare it for some wet weather, leaving it there and arriving home just as the sky opened up and the rain came drenching down.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Time Out

Today was a cruisy, pottering kind of day, (think Johanna is writing about it) helped along by not 10, but 11 hours of sleep last night! It was the kind of ‘slow’ day that aids rest and renewal.

As we were driving yesterday I was listening to some music by Juzzie Smith (last time we were in Byron Bay we bought his CD after hearing him play at the local market). I listened closely to the words of one of his songs as I peered out the car window, marvelling at the great grey expanse that was the sky. There was so much of it, 360 degrees of low lying grey rain clouds, soon spattering drops on the windscreen. The song I was listening intently to is called Time Out. The words felt so apt for where we are at the moment, bruised and weary from a tough year, and yurting is our way of taking time out – finding that rest and renewal that our bodies and soul are telling us we need.

I’m Taking time out to let go, body is down, let it go, I can feel, feel the light rise…

I’m taking time out to let go, body is down, telling the soul, I can feel, feel the light rise…

Feel your feelings, honour all your feelings…..Taking some time out to let go, let your emotions go, let them go, feel your light rise…

I’m taking time out to let go of all the beliefs that I’ve been told and now I’m free to breathe my breath, my own breath…

(Some words from Time Out by Juzzie Smith)

Having some ‘time out’ each week is helping us let go, fill up and feel the ‘light rise’.

Tomorrow we will head back to Melbourne at lunch time, Colin has a late afternoon meeting. With some luck there will be waves to surf in the morning, Johanna is keen now she can keep warm (new wetsuit). Unfortunately Colin is still not feeling well, he may have to continue to give the surfing a miss. One consolation – there is always next weekend…..

In the water

An early night, a late wake-up. After a near 12 hour sleep we were ready to get up and take on the day.

In the morning Mum and I did some shopping while Dad did some work.

After realising that they’re weren’t many shops in Ocean Grove and we had already looked in all of them after about an hour and headed back to the caravan again.

We decided to go out for lunch, as there are so many nice little café’s in Barwon Heads we had a plan to visit a different one each weekend. We went to a little one called “the bean pod.” Me and mum shared a chicken casalinga and then shared some pancakes with stewed cinnamon apple and ice-cream. Dad had a breakfast burrito.

After that we returned to the caravan to quickly go to the toilet and so Dad could take his medication for his cold and then we went to buy stuff for tea, we decided to have fish and home made chips. (Dad is cooking now)

While we were out I decided that I wanted to have a full length wet-suite because the water is too cold to wear my short wet-suite here. We looked in a couple of surf shops along the main road. When we went into Strapper we found a good deal, a really good quality wet-suite for about half price on the bargain rack. This would keep me nice and warm.

So of course when we were back at the caravan at about three I was straight to the beach for a surf in my new wet-suite. It worked like a charm, didn’t feel a single bit cold the whole time. I was the only one in the water on the whole beach, I guess since the waves were still small.

It was one of my first times surfing by myself (without dad pushing me onto the waves and stuff) and I hadn’t surfed since Byron Bay in the middle of the year. I caught a couple of good ones so I thought I went pretty well.

After that I was so exhausted that I lied in the shallows and mucked around there for the next twenty minutes or so.

I had a wonderful time. When we got back to the caravan, the sun was out so we decided to not have showers straight away and just sit in the sun and relax for a while, we did this and then went off to have showers.

The showers here have a thing where you have to push a button before you turn the taps on or else the water won’t start and then the water turns itself off after five minutes (and won’t turn back on again for another five or so minutes)

After being in the cold ocean I was ready for a nice hot shower, and when I turned the taps on and the water was only luke warm, I turned the hot on a little more, no hotter, turned the cold down a little more, no hotter. I decided to carry on my shower or else the taps would go off. I finished washing my hair and then fiddled with the taps more, turned the hot way way up until it couldn’t go further, a little warmer. Turned the cold way down, ahhhh hot water finally. And then the taps turned off.

Mum and Dad are serving up tea now, it has been a great day.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Why oh why

In hindsight, I’m not sure what insanity possessed Colin and I when we agreed with Zac and Rachel. They preferred to travel to Ocean Grove after the wedding on Saturday night, not wait until Sunday morning. So it was that we found ourselves heading south at 12.30am. I guess 2.30am is a usual bedtime for them on a Saturday night, not so for us! The situation wasn’t helped with Colin suffering a bad head cold, having to detour through part of the city rather than skirt the edges because the domain tunnel was closed for maintenance and once we finally fell into bed at 3am being kept awake by the tarp flapping loudly in the wind. (Colin did the manly thing and got up and took it down)

It was only the promise of some surf that got us all up at 9am. We walked to the beach to assess the situation and oh that fickle sea was flat as the proverbial pancake – despite might I add a positive surf forecast the previous day. We had a quick breakfast, loaded up the boards and went in search of some waves. It was amusing to see others doing the same – vehicles with boards strapped on top cruising the coast searching for those elusive waves; surfers standing wistfully at lookout points watching nothing but a ripple on the sea, disappointment in their steps as they head dejectedly back to the car.

Zac and Rachel were philosophical about the situation despite the fact that they only had today to surf.  Zac took the opportunity to study for exams while the rest of us headed into Torquay to look at boards for Rachel. A couple of hours later the decision was made, the sale complete and Rachel the proud owner of her very own surf board. She lovingly waxed it when we returned to the caravan park. Unfortunately it won’t be christened until next weekend, she and Zac headed back to Melbourne after dinner – they both have exams this week.

Colin, Johanna and I are waiting longingly for bed. 8pm seems a bit early though, so we are trying to keep ourselves awake a bit longer. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, we have no plans, we’ll see what unfolds; right now ten hours of sleep seems like heaven. Hopefully tomorrow will see both Colin and Johanna feeling better.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


There is a simple joy in discovering keyboard shortcuts. As a relatively new user of Macs, I'm picking up little time savers gradually.

"Annie's Provedore - around the corner in Barwon Heads"

Our current yurting experiment feels a bit like toggling between modes of life. This morning I contented myself with working at my laptop with the Barwon River just a short cast away (made the bate purchase today ready for my attempt at the fanciful fresh flathead for breakfast caper) while Maria and Johanna walked and rode. The onshore breeze made a mess of the swell so I left my freshly waxed longboard in the bag today. After a quick walk to suck in the sea air I did a phone meeting for an hour before Maria and Johanna showed off one of their morning discoveries for lunch ... Annie's Provedore. Now I'm a sucker for a good cafe deli and Annie's just around the corner from our site in Barwon Heads is an absolute cracker. The floor to ceiling shelves are packed with sauces, relishes, oils, teas, coffee etc and the baine marie is full of cheeses and fresh produce.

"Beach at Ocean Grove"

Then we hop in Pat (trusty Patrol) and home by 4:30, in time to do a bit more work before dinner, with everyone at home for a change. (toggle)

"back in Melbourne"

Two full day workshops, then Anna and Michael's wedding on Saturday before we toggle back.

"Beach at Ocean Grove"

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Layers of grey clouds pushed by the wind sweep across the skies. They deposit a sprinkle and then a drizzle of rain, sometimes the sun peeps through to. The wind is cold and winter jackets and beanies shut it out.  White capped waves form line upon ragged line giving form to the sea.

Johanna and I don beanies and rain coats and watch our boys surf. We walk; we ride. We get wet and windblown. Colin and Zac brave the cold, choppy sea, drizzle falling as they begin to surf and sun shining as they finish.

Windy gusts sending a seeping cold through layers of clothes, drizzly rain caressing faces and slowly dripping from hanging hair, rays of welcome warmth from a suddenly appearing sun. The smell of wax, wet suits, wet roads and seaweed…. Wet sand clumped to shoes, black gravel on the soles of bare feet, fingers stiff and numb with cold, damp jeans stuck to legs…..

Warm jackets, woolly beanies, hot showers…..

And Colin says to me with pleasure, ‘I feel alive”

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The first day.

Something new, something different. Using the caravan like a holiday house. It could work out, or it could not go so well, whatever happens, it doesn't matter because we'll have a fantastic time and it'll be great to be able to take a few days off our usual lives every week.

We arrived today at about 2:00 in the afternoon. It was a pretty short drive (one and a half hours)
I was in a great mood when we arrived, ready to set up and try out our new idea. As we were setting up, we realised that we had a great spot in the park, half a minutes walk from the toilet block and right next to the Barwon River. We had a couple of trees to shade parts of the site and a nice grassy area that had a fare bit of sun on it.
After we had set up we headed down to the grocery store to do a basic shop and the hardware store (because our hose to connect the water to the caravan was about a metre to short) to get an extension to the hose.
We decided on a beef with black bean dish for tea and brought all the ingredients needed, so we thought.
When we arrived home dad connected up the hose extension, but only to find it leaked, and then burst off, a couple of adjustments and then it was good.
Then we decided on a walk along the river (on a nice path that lead right along it.) and while we were walking dad remembered a few ingredients in which we had forgotten to get which were important for the dish he would cook for tea so me and dad made another trip to the grocery shop while mum stayed back and did sudoku's/ had a snooze.
Back at the caravan dad made the lovely tea which was SOOO delicious, and then we took another walk along the path along the river before it got dark, and then back to the caravan to wash the dishes, write a blog, eat TV snacks and await Zac's arrival.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Something New

Sometimes it just isn’t a ‘good’ year. One thing follows another and then another and by the end you just want it to finish. 2010 is a year we will be happy to put behind us. Our times away ‘yurting’ have been the only light in a grey and black kaleidoscope of stress, ill-health and death.

And here we are at the end of October and we are weary, so very weary. And the yurting life calls to us with promises of rest and renewal. We can’t just pack up and leave, much as we might desire to do so. Escaping feels so tempting. However, there are the usual work and family responsibilities. So we try to think creatively, considering the needs of the six members of our family. And we come up with an idea – what about if we take the caravan down to Ocean Grove (an hour and a half away) and leave it there for a month or so and spend half the week there and half the week here. Johanna will need to come with us, she will miss some school and we will work around her dancing lessons, concert practice, grade seven transition, grade six graduation etc… The other three can come and go as it suits them and their studies for exams and work commitments. Colin can do some work while we are away and organise the rest for the three working days we will be in Melbourne. Maybe it could work, maybe it could get us through to the end of the year, maybe…..

There’s only way to find out. So here we are about to embark on something new.....

And I feel better already.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

transition back to urbanity

We are in Holbrook. The sky is clear and starry. The air is crisp and cold. We are 800 kms down the road from Taree where we slept last night. For most of the trip we have travelled in silence ... thinking about everything and nothing. As we creep beyond Sydney and venture closer to life in Brunswick we start talking about life; work, money, yurting, dreams ...

We stopped at Gundagai for dinner. I stood and waited for our order to be filled and looked out the window. Pat and the caravan stood there waiting for us to return ... they represent so much more than being a car and a caravan. My overwhelming sense is of thankfulness and pride. We are immensely privileged. We appreciate the unique opportunities we have, and are also conscious of the decisions we have made that have allowed these opportunities. We dream of much more, but at the same time are satisfied with today.

We are sitting in the warm. Maria and Johanna are playing cards and talking about Harry Potter. (Johanna has been listening to the ebook on the way south.) I have been checking emails, a very long list since I've only dealt with urgent ones the last two weeks ... and as I do so the other realities of life come rushing back in.

Home tomorrow. Time to embrace other challenges and opportunities. I return with greater clarity and clearer goals for the next 6 months than I have had for some time ... the work and discipline starts Monday.

Friday, 9 July 2010

people like us ...

Maria finished her last post with a reference to 'people like us', a reference to a previous post about the kinds of people who typically inhabit caravan parks. It truly has been a different park experience.

We met some wonderful people, Johanna commented it was strange driving out this morning and having people come out of the tents to wave as we passed, as we had done to others who had left earlier.

T & K across from us and their 4 kids from Alexandra have had their camper trailer tent on the same site for about 5 years. Their outgoing son O, was either surfing, standing on the deck looking at the surf, or hanging out with our teenagers. Beside them, were their good friends B & R, who they meet at Byron Bay a few years back and really hit it off. B & R and their 2 young daughters are keen cyclists, and B's bongo drums could often be heard ... a soothing background soundtrack. Beside us were J & L, surfing enthusiasts from Torquay who's power we plugged into. They were always gone at the crack of dawn and we rarely saw them until evening, they surfed all day every day at the best breaks they could find. I loved their exhausted and happy banter when they were around. Beside them was an older bloke and his wife from Sydney. I stood on the deck with him a couple of days back and we talked about his regular surf spot at Manly and the wonder of the Byron Bay Pass wave machine that just pumps out the most amazing waves hour after hour.

J & L are friends with N, also from Torquay, who has also been coming to Byron Bay this time of year for ever. His son is a sponsored surfer who competes in pro events. Over the years N has got to know G & J, our friends from Coffs who invited us back to BB. The old caravan beside G & J's belongs to G and his wife from Croydon, who have been on that spot since Noah was a boy.

And then we spent most of our time with S & J and M & J and their kids. I guess, as with most good experiences, sharing it with good people makes it special beyond the event itself. Such was our return to Byron Bay 2010.

Sand in my Shoes

Today was spent unpacking and getting back into normal life. Although it was nice being back home in familiarity, I couldn't help but miss being on holiday at the beach. Today I had a shower with the water pressure and surroundings I am used to, but it just didn't have the same satisfied, post-surf feeling as the last 15 I've had; no physical exhaustion, no thongs, and no struggling to get a wet suit off. This trip was slightly different to previous ones, our sociable family had made friends with some "regulars" at the caravan park last year after I had left so this time instead of being with just the family we spent alot of time with other people. I wasn't sure whether it would be better or worse or just different but luckily the people there were very friendly and fun to be with. It was also great to know other people in the water while surfing, almost all of whom were better than I am. I can't really complain too much; tomorrow I head down to Phillip Island with some friends for a few days although I somehow feel it won't be quite as beach based with 12 degree water and no wet suits (except mine). The surf is actually meant to be pretty good though, so I might take the short board out one morning and see what happens.

Trekking South

We have begun the long trek back South. We began packing up yesterday afternoon to keep the tarp and tent dry from the rain forecast later in the day. We also said goodbye to Zac and Rachel at Coolangatta where they caught their flight home. We returned to Byron Bay in time to have dinner and watch the state of origin match at the local Services Club with our Queensland friends. Needless to say we barracked for the maroons.

This morning we finished packing up in drizzle and drove through some wet and wintry patches as we headed South. Johanna listened to the third Harry Potter book on her mp3 player – we didn’t hear a peep out of her. We called it a day at Taree and since the caravan park is not near any shops Colin worked some magic with the odds and ends in the cupboard and fridge.

As we said goodbye this morning to some old friends and some new we consoled ourselves with plans to return next year (powered site a must) There are quite a number of families that make the pilgrimage at the same time each year – looks like we have joined the throng. Not surprisingly quite a few are Victorians.

Despite the ordinary weather, there was some great surfing and we all enjoyed being part of a community of likeminded enthusiasts. Finally we have found ‘the people like us’. Byron Bay in the middle of the year will be a fixture in the diary for a while I think!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Surfs Up

We have found a certain rhythm and ritual to our days here. In keeping with our yurting tradition ‘what happens happens’, we take each day as it comes. The state of the surf is a dominant factor – all else fitting around when and where. After a few flat days the last couple have seen some great surfing conditions. The kid’s have all made the most of it. They join a steady stream of wetsuit clad bodies hefting boards headed for the sea from the first light to the last rays. All day the surfers come and go, excitement and anticipation at the beginning replaced by a contented weary at the end. The lure of one more fantastic ride keeping them going – some for as long as 5 hours!

Another ritual is to watch the sun set each afternoon. Here at the caravan park there is a deck right on the foreshore overlooking the sea and distant mountains. Many people gather to sit, sip, photograph and contemplate as the sun sinks to the horizon often casting a spectacular light and colour show.

Heidi is gone, Zac and Rachel leave on Wednesday and then Colin, Johanna and I begin the long trek back south on Thursday. The last few days are precious and the kid’s are hoping that the surf stays good….

Monday, 5 July 2010

to market

Today we went to the Byron Bay Market. It was full of life and an exciting place to be. I wished to be in no other place, looking around the stalls with the three other kids from one of the other families we’re camping with, Teagan, Chris and Ben was great fun. I bought two t-shirts, one for my friend, who’s birthday is coming up and one for myself, three little wrist and bracelet things and two packets of little jelly crystal things, which Teagan, Chris, Ben and I had fun playing with this afternoon.  We bought organic doughnuts, which were extremely nice and listened to some music a man called Juzzie Smith was playing. His music was catchy and very “Yurty”.

When we got back from the market we went down to the beach with the family with three kids. Rachel and Zac surfed for three and a half hours and I went in the water for half an hour with Ben, the oldest of the three, the same age as me, we played in the waves. Then it started to rain and it was fun to watch everyone on the beach grab their belongings and head for the showers. The beach was practically empty but we stayed in the water for a bit. Then we got cold and went to have a shower like lots of other people in the park were doing.

We had leftovers for tea and now we’re sitting down writing our blogs.


There are no waves. The sea stretches out in front of us, smooth and glassy with miniature movie-like waves peeling off the surface. Mum and Dad are taking Heidi to the airport, so Johanna, Zac and I head down to the beach to wait and see if the surf picks up. Predictably, it doesn’t, but the water looks too perfect to simply observe. Zac and Johanna, not yet brave enough (or stupid enough) to feel the bite of the near freezing water, sit on the sand and watch me stumble into the ocean. I sit on my board, just deep enough that my feet can't touch the bottom, and the water is so crystal clear that I can literally see the grains of sand beneath me. The sun sinks lower in the sky and Zac and Johanna come splashing into the water, interrupting the silence, but bringing with them a sense of familiarity, so different to the unknown of the sea. While Zac attempts to catch the barely formed waves, I sit on the board and watch Johanna dancing in the shallows. When the cold gets too much for her, she stands on the shore line and watches us drifting with the waves, before heading home with numb toes. Zac, still admiring the grommies who manage to surf the tiny waves, outlasts me, so I sit on the beach until the sand turns purple, and the last light of the day is swallowed by the sky.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

No surf

It has been a cold and dreary day devoid of surf. After a slow morning and a hot breakfast we set out in hope with the boards on top of the Patrol. Everywhere around here is flat; the sea is lake like – the same as yesterday. Zac was keen to surf today so we headed to Ballina where supposedly there might be some surfable waves. They were small but he had fun anyway. Once again we were graced by the presence of dolphins and whales.

It is after six now, cold, dark and drizzly. Colin and I have returned from sitting on the deck watching a non existent sunset chatting with some neighbours. Our caravan is full of teenagers (ours and some others) playing 500, music blaring. The kid’s have enjoyed the company of other campers. They went to a midnight premier screening of the latest twilight movie the other night with some friends and a group of us went to the local services club last night to watch Carlton play. I think Group Pictionary is on the cards tonight. Although the weather and surf has been disappointing the last couple of days we have all enjoyed the community aspect of being here.

Colin has just finished peeling the prawns, the caravan has emptied of non Duthies for the moment and dinner is on the way – stir fried prawns and vegies in a peanut and lime sauce. And best of all – we have plugged into our neighbours power outlet (with their permission) and we have lights, all power points working and the heater on! (the lack of sun meant that we were struggling to keep the battery charged)

Thursday, 1 July 2010

taking in Bryon Bay in June

One of our favourite yurting soundtracks is the Waifs ‘Take it in’, a tune about savouring the moments. It is one of the disciplines we have developed in the times when we are enjoying the good things in life.

When we began thinking about yurting and how it would add a dimension of life we desired, it was days like today that we imagined. We are truly privileged. We try not to take for granted the joys we experience, which is one of the reasons why savouring each moment and expecting no more is part of the yurting discipline …

It was a chilly morning. There was little movement in the park until about 8 o’clock. I made a coffee and Maria, Johanna and I wandered down to ‘the deck’ a platform overlooking the beach. The clear pure water and clean lines of the waves pealing off the point were a wonderful sight. Our friends Gavin and Julie had been out early and were on their way back for breakfast, they confirmed that the conditions were near perfect for beginners.

The normally sluggish teenage Duthies (Zac and Rachel at least) were quick to forego the comforts of bed for the wetsuits and the prospect of some rides. Two and half hours later they returned to our site for brunch pleased with their sessions which includes some of the best waves they had ever caught. Maria, Johanna and I had sat on the beach in the warm morning sun watching them … I couldn’t have imagined wanting to be anywhere else.

After pancakes I took Johanna out and pushed her onto some great little waves as well. She caught some good rides until getting bonked on the head for the second time with her board.

Maria and I went shopping for food for dinner and then we sat outdoors at a café and with a few other couples in the late afternoon until the sun started to disappear. That was Maria’s trigger to head back home, grab the camera and head back down to the deck where we again sat with friends, enjoyed an afternoon drink while the photographers (there are a few among our group) tried to capture the beauty of the setting sun.

Back in the yurt, I then filled the space with Mexican smells as I prepared some tortillas for dinner. The kids are now clearing up and washing the dishes as we contemplate the evening ahead. The older kids are planning to go to the movies for a midnight session, not sure what will happen between now and then, but I am looking forward to letting it unfold.

“Take it in, take it all in. Now is the time that will not come again, take it in, take it all in. This is the day and its here for the living.” The Waifs

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Spilling over

Yesterday I had a day on my own. Colin left at 4am to drive to Coolangatta to catch his early morning flight back to Melbourne. I slept on and woke up not long before he arrived in Melbourne!

Morning jobs taken care of I wandered along the foreshore footpath admiring and photographing a series of wonderful sculptures. Artscape is an exhibition by local, national and international artists focussing on human interaction with nature.

In the afternoon I followed the headland walking track from Byron Bay past Watego and Little Watego Bays, to the most Easterly tip of Australia and up to the Lighthouse. I was fortunate enough to see a pod of dolphins at play and also some whales. The good work from my walking was undone by the icecream I ate, but it was worth it.

It would have been a perfect day if the others had been here.  It was so strange to be on holiday, so to speak, on my own. Such experiences are much more enjoyable when they are shared.

Well there’s been lots of sharing today. Colin and the kids arrived last night. Today we have shared hot chocolate sitting on the deck overlooking the sea (Johanna showing us her dance moves); have marvelled at the sculptures and the meaning and symbolism the artists are expressing (bought the handbook to help make sense of them); sat in the sun eating our lunch (no sun on our site so took our chairs to an empty neighbouring site); and joined our friends in the search for some ‘surfable’ waves (not a wave to be seen on the beach which borders the caravan park)

And the van and our site are spilling over with phones, phone chargers, mp3 players, cords, shoes, discarded clothes, towels, wetsuits, surfboards……

Monday, 28 June 2010

Beans and honey

Yesterday we did all the hard work of setting up, working out the optimum use of space on our site and putting the large tarp over the areas we want to keep dry. We took a lot longer than our neighbours – they were more of the bung it up and go catch the surf kind of people. We were still adjusting tarp poles when they returned an hour or two later!

Today we did the shopping, set up the solar panel and then set off for Bangalow for a lazy Sunday afternoon. The forecast rain turned out to be light drizzle on and off all day, although the sun won out for a while in the afternoon.

Bangalow was awash with people and later we realised why when we stumbled upon the monthly market. Colin found the same coffee beans he enjoyed last time we were here and we found the same bloke selling honey. We made purchases from both of them. (unfortunately the resident peacock-like birds spilled half of the coffee beans on the ground when we left the package sitting on our outside table for a few moments to say hello to friends who had arrived)

We have re-connected with the friends we made over summer and been introduced to some new families. We watched the tail end of a sunset from the deck area of the caravan park. Colin is now cooking a new recipe he saw on tv last week – some kind of Brazilian dish with fish – smells good.

Tomorrow morning Colin flies back to Melbourne for the day (a previous work commitment) and the kid’s will fly back with him in the evening. Then our van and our site will be spilling over – but it will be a good kind of spilling, we are both looking forward to ‘adventuring’ all together again.

Sunday, 27 June 2010


Our sojourn in Byron Bay this year could be rather interesting.

Three weeks ago Colin injured his knee playing tennis. It is slowly getting better. Bottom line – he can’t surf. Actually he can’t do many of the activities that he would normally do when we are yurting. I’m not sure how he will manage this.

A couple of months ago I rang to make a change to our booking here at Byron Bay only to find out that a computer error had occurred and there was no record of our booking. To cut a long story short there were no powered sites left – our options were, not to come, pay an astronomical amount to stay in a cabin (and tell them there were only three children instead of four) or book an unpowered site. The first two were not really an option so unpowered site it was.

In the van we had gas for cooking and to run the fridge. That left lights and power points as an issue. We decided to have a battery installed so we could have lights, then we had to install an inverter so that we could use the power point to charge computers, phones etc… Then we had to solve the problem of charging the battery so we bought a portable solar panel….. Many dollars later we are set up and able to camp wherever. We had always planned to set ourselves up not to be dependent on power, it just happened a little sooner than we had anticipated.

There is still a slight problem though and that is that we can’t run anything off our battery that draws too much power and that definitely and unfortunately includes the heater. Winter in Byron Bay is still cold and dark at night! So we purchased a small heater that runs off gas canisters – we’ll see how it goes. We’ll also see how it goes heating water in a saucepan on the stove instead of a jug and toasting bread under the griller and not in the toaster. We’ll rotate the charging of computers and iphones dependent on how much power is left in the battery. We’ll hope there is enough sun each day to recharge the battery. And we’ll look at all our tenting neighbours and tell ourselves that if they can do it so can we. And we’ll remind ourselves of our yurting mantra not to complain - our set up is still a lot more comfortable than many others. This is an adventure after all. And as I have often told my kid’s in the past, not all parts of an adventure are fun at the time.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

too far to turn back now ...

We pulled off the road and sat there wondering which way to go. We’d spent the morning climbing through the mountains between Tamworth and Armidale. There was another 100kms of Great Dividing Range to conquer before Coffs Harbour.

But there was a left turn that would take us directly to Grafton. Same distance, about 100kms but it would save us at least an hour tomorrow. Ah, what the heck, let’s do it.

The first 7 or 8 kms were OK, narrow and a bit windy, but I figured if this was the go, we’d be OK. Then the road narrowed more, started squiggling rather than waving and yep, climbing. Now Pat, our 1990 Patrol is in reasonable shape, but with the 20 foot van loaded with ‘stuff’, it doesn’t exactly laugh at the slopes. Within 10 kms I was down to second, and not for a short time … for a decent stretch. Tight corners and hairpin bends. Gulp. Nowhere to turn around now.

When we cruised into Grafton about two and half hours later it was one of those moments where I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased we’d done it (as in, we can take this thing through any mountain pass now) or slap myself across the face and pronounce me a fool.

Actually I exaggerate, I wouldn’t have kept going if I thought we were being foolish, but it was challenging driving and I was pleased we didn’t meet any truck coming the other way. We’ve wandered up to the pub (a 4 or 5 km walk), had a good feed, talked to the kids, and caught up on the news.

Tomorrow … well I have been looking forward to being in Byron Bay for a long time, It will be sweet.

Friday, 25 June 2010

getting chased in a dream ...

You know what its like. You are dreaming, and someone is chasing you. You are trying to get away but you are frustratingly unable to speed up. Imagine the opposite. You are trying to slow down, but there is this mysterious force that speeds you up.

That’s what the first day back in the yurt felt like. All we had was each other’s company, our music when we felt like it, and the smorgasbord of country scenery as we crawled north through Victoria and NSW. My brain kept racing, even as I slowed my breathing and tried to soak in the surrounds.

Today was better. Much better. We’ve got as far as Gunnedah, about 80ks shy of Tamworth. We’ve been through Wagga Wagga, Parkes, Dubbo. We normally take the double lanes via Sydney to Newcastle and hug the coast. This time, for a change, at the last minute we hung a left, setting aside the slow snaking Hume for the Western Plains. Tonight we ventured to the local RSL where the fare is predicable but sound … satisfying after a couple of days at 90ks … on the flat.

So removed from the rest of life have we been that we have only just discovered; the Socceroos bitter sweet finale and …. And that Julia Gillard made the move and ousted Kevin Rudd.

The soundtrack for some of our travel today was a playlist I put together of ‘Australiana’ music. Those familiar with the iconic drawl of John Schumann (RedGum) will recognise:

“We went looking for Australia, between the TV lines,

‘cause the ABC just never made it real.”

Or the opening line of midnight Oil’s Truganina, “There’s a road train going nowhere …”

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary … my ‘Maria’ playlist will get a run for sure.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Death and Life

When I was a kid I had a favourite cousin. His name was Darryn. At family gatherings we had a lot of fun together - I was a bit of a tomboy and was more than happy to do ‘boy’ stuff like kicking the soccer ball and setting traps to try and catch birds. 18 months or so ago Darryn was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. I was shocked, we are the same age, that could easily be me! What if it was and my time on this Earth was limited, what would I want to do with the time that was left? What have I not done that I really would like to do? Travelling, including a sojourn around Australia in a caravan was what immediately came to mind.

Darryn’s diagnosis was the catalyst for an important conversation. Why wait? Why leave ‘living’ until its end is near? Why not make dreams a reality? And so one conversation led to another and ‘Yurting’ was born.

Unfortunately Darryn had a very aggressive form of the disease and quickly it robbed him of all motor functioning. His courage and dignity in the face of such a cruel disease was incredible. We flew to Tassie yesterday to attend his Memorial Service.

In a few days we are taking the Yurt North to Byron Bay. My cousins disease and ultimate death has created in us a desire for life, to live it fully and now. We are indebted to him.

Friday, 9 April 2010

never go to work again

click here to see why I'm never going to turn up for work again ...


why do we do it? A question I ask myself sometimes, especially when it is time to return to Melbourne. What began as kind of an experiment borne out of some deep desires has turned into something more. We yearned to experience something of freedom and mobility, of slow and stress free, of a more intimate connection with nature. Yurting was the only possible option, so we took it. One year later, we are not the same as when we began.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard Colin say before “I don’t want to work anymore” For something of a workaholic that is major. Perhaps he has just replaced one obsession/passion with another. I think it is deeper than that though.

It is not that we dislike our urban lives, it is that we want something different/more. In yurting we have experienced another way of living and being. The deep desires that we initially struggled to identify and express when we began dreaming of yurting have been fully awakened. The fulfilling of these desires is elusive, the desire continues to grow the more that it is experienced.

That leaves us in a frustrating place. Like eating one piece of chocolate and looking longingly at the rest, knowing that you have to wait to have another piece. The desire grows, the eating is sweet, we savor the taste, appreciate the piece we had, look longingly at the rest, anticipate eating more and wait and wait.......desiring and dreaming.

It feels like we are in the waiting time. We’ve had some chocolate, we look forward to some more, but what we really want is the whole lot all of the time. But now is not ‘the’ time. We have family and business commitments and responsibilities, not to mention financial restraints, we are not free to indulge. But oh how much we want to!

So, one year in, our yurting adventures have awakened us, enlivened us, surprised and delighted us, and they have left us yearning, dissatisfied, disorientated and impatient. We can’t have what we really want (yurting more of the time) and we are not prepared to give it up, so where does that leave us?

So once again we head back to urban life, take a deep breath, and plunge into a different rhythm. We’ll be swept away in rush and hurry, busy and tired, stress and worry and with it excitement and opportunity, purpose and contribution.

And dreaming will sustain us through all......Byron Bay in July calls.......

Shades of Grey

I think we must look a bit odd. The three of us are sitting in a cafe, busy with the lunch hour rush. Everyone is talking or eating; it is busy, noisy and somewhat chaotic. Groups are coming and going, chairs are being moved, it is someones birthday. And the three of us are all sitting in front of lap top computers, each in their own world for a while; Colin working, me writing and Johanna surfing the net. We came here specifically to do this, together yet alone. The large glass windows overlook the sea, you get a view up the coast and the coffee is good.

As I stare out I see shades of grey. The sky is grey/blue mostly covered with low lying clouds, the sea is grey/green with white caps of surf all the way to the horizon and the sand is grey/brown. Grey and muted. Every now and then the sun blazes through transforming the landscape with light and warmth. Today has felt a bit like that, muted grey with a periodic burst of sun.

We packed up this morning, set for the day. The beach, of course, was our first destination. Colin went for a surf, Johanna and I for a walk. Then Johanna donned the 3/4 wet suit we bought late yesterday at 30% off and had her first surf for a while. She loved it. We should have got the wetsuit earlier in the week. Of course this just may mean she will be happy to stay for a bit longer!

Surfing done, we took the bikes off the back of Pat and followed the coastal path, first west , then east. Johanna had had enough 15 minutes in. I love riding; the feel of the wind in your face, watching the world go past, thinking your own thoughts, some solitude for a while......the very reasons Johanna dislikes it. She’s bored after 10 minutes, with no one to talk to and no interaction. She continued reluctantly, pedaling off in a huff. I ignored her, Colin, ever the peace maker, played the fool. She complained, “Dad stop making me laugh I’m trying to be angry” His reply, “Well you’re not doing a very good job of it” Her giggles lightened her mood and she roared off leaving us behind.

On our return she said “well I’m ashamed to say I enjoyed that, riding fast is fun. If you want me to ride fast you just have to make me angry”

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Big Name

Today was my last day of company from the kids. Zac left at about twelve.

Nanny and Pa and Dad's Aunty Claire came up today at about eleven and we had morning tea then went out for lunch and had a drive around.
They left about half an hour ago and now we're all sitting, using our laptops. Me, on dad's old laptop and mum and dad on their macs.

Mums uploading some photos that she took today, dad's working and im writing this. One of the photos that mum is uploading onto her computer is of my name that i wrote in massive letters on the beach this morning. It lasted from about ten untill three o'clock which i thought was pretty good.
It took me about half an hour to do it because first, i wrote it which wasn't very hard, (i wrote the letters about two times as tall as me) then i made them all block letters. And then i went and coloured them all in, which took a long time.

When we stopped by the beach with Nanny and Pa and Aunty Claire we got there just in time too see a wave creep over it, Now it's gone forever.

I'm still Trying to convince mum and dad to let us leave on Thursday or Friday, because i want to get back and catch up with all my friends, (and see a movie that came out while we were away, that i really want too see) but they have their minds set on leaving on Saturday, it's alright though i'll keep pushing them untill they let us go on Thursday (or Friday at the most)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Chasing the Setting Sun

Yesterday we headed West, hugging the coast, to Torquay. The surf beaches along the way are truly beautiful - wide, open, long stretches of sand and surf dotted with clusters of black bobbing surfers astride their boards. The Rip Curl Pro Surf tournament is on at Bell's Beach, we had thought to stop and watch for a bit, but the cost was a bit steep for a family of 6 and we were due to meet friends for lunch anyway. We caught up with the Inders (long time family friends) who traditionally spend the Easter Weekend camping at Cumberland River with friends. As always, it was good to catch up. On our return to the car, Colin and Zac did a double take as Kelly Slater walked past. While name dropping, they also spotted Jarrod Waite at the beach the other morning!

As the sun began to set that evening Rachel had us all searching for the perfect shot for her media project. She had cajoled Zac into posing - her aim - surboard in hand, on a lookout point with the sea and setting sun behind him. Finally 13th beach provided just the right spot. Mind you, she had already rejected a few possibilities and we were racing against the setting sun. Things were getting a bit testy, she knew in her mind what she wanted and was not satisfied with anything less. But her perseverance paid off. I managed to get some pretty good shots myself (the setting sun that is, not Zac) Her comment after the successful shoot - "sorry guys for being a bit of a bridezilla back there"

We celebrated success and our last evening together eating out in a cafe overlooking the Ocean Grove Surf beach.

This morning started early with a surfing session for Colin and Zac. I accompanied them to try and get some surfing shots.

Later, with an eye on the clock we drove into Geelong to drop Heidi and Rachel at the train station. Heidi had to be back in Melbourne for work and Rachel was keen to get back to catch up with friends and pick up urban life after a couple of weeks away. True to form, Rachel realised as she stood in the queue to buy a ticket that she did not know where her wallet was!

Monday, 5 April 2010


The light illuminates the time, 2am. Colin waits out the front of the caravan park. Zac, Heidi and Rachel have just arrived. A delayed flight and a long wait for baggage (thanks Tiger Airways) have meant a 2am rather than the anticipated 11.30pm arrival time. The caravan is dimly lit, the heater on and milk warming on the stove for hot chocolate. The table supports a massive 1 kilogram easter egg. The welcoming embraces are as warm as the caravan, genuine pleasure at all being together. We sip hot chocolate and Rachel tells us some of her Central Australia stories and a couple of bad jokes. We smash the massive chocolate egg and savour the taste as Zac tells us of heavy traffic on the way down, speeding drivers and of having to swerve to avoid an errant driver. Colin and I are thankful and grateful that we are all together and safe......

It is late morning - some of us having been surfing, some cycling and some sleeping. We have all eaten a cooked breakfast and are lounging like lizards in the warm sun. Zac lies half in sun and half in shade, snoozing. Rachel approaches, snuggling up to him the way a cat or dog moves in and demands affection, moving his arm to embrace her. He is accommodating. Next Johanna sits at his head stroking his hair. He is patient. Oh to be a big brother so loved!

Early evening approaches. We have all been to the shower block (very ordinary!) and are clean and sand free. Soon the caravan will fill with the good smells of fine food cooking. Colin will be creating some wonderful dish to surprise and delight us all. (smoked salmon and snap pea pasta tonight) The kids are sitting around the table playing a game of cards. Later we will all play a game together, probably 500. It all feels familiar. We have settled into our Yurting rituals, our other home........