We left the Barossa and made our way through the Riverina region and along the Murray River. Our journey entailed camping on the banks of the iconic Murray River and driving through vast acres of vineyards and orchards.
Our first camp was near the town of Berri in South Australia. This was also our first camp right on the Murray River and our last stop before before moving into VIC/NSW. So close to home.
Our second camp spot along the Murray was near Echuca. The boys loved swimming in the Murray everyday and we “enjoyed” our first thunderstorm in the camper. Loud, exciting and a little scary.
We finally made our way to Albury to catch up with friends. My first teaching position was in Albury at Xavier High School and I enjoyed a tour of the school and all the renovations/expansion – so different to when I was there. Albury still holds a special place in my heart. It was also great to catch up with old friends…and new.
Lunch was at a cafe/nursery and post lunch activities had Nichola, Dylan, Sophie and Sam racing trolleys down the aisles and choosing plants for their next garden.
Luckily for us, Tim also had a friend living just outside of Albury in Bethanga on some acres. This meant we could set up camp near his house without the need for finding a campground. The house was perched on a hill overlooking the Hume Weir (Dam) with a backdrop of rolling hills and mountains. Just magic. We especially enjoyed sitting and watching the thunderstorms roll in over the water.
Perfect spot for cricket.
You may have noticed that we are pretty close to home. We did too. We have decided to head home a few weeks early, in time for Christmas with family. Well, when I say home I mean spending time with family and friends in Sydney and the Central Coast. IN. A. HOUSE! We did call into Canberra very briefly on our way north to drop off a few things and pick up our dog Bella, who we missed very much. The most emotional state/territory crossing of our trip was definitely the one heading into Canberra.
We have seen some extraordinary places but more importantly, we all experienced a fundamental change in the way we view the world, our world. Some of the most memorable moments we experienced as a family were moments that were not location specific. It involved playing cricket or tennis, or simply throwing a ball around a park. Huddling in the camper trailer on a cold wet night playing UNO or the boys setting up their own “Man vs Wild” game in the bush. Most importantly, catching up with family and friends, either in person or by phone and Skype as we travelled around, were very treasured moments.
We have had the thrill of watching our boys grow in confidence and become young men. It cannot be underestimated the growth that both Sam and Dylan have experienced by being out of their comfort zone. Through this too, we have delighted in discovering each of their own individual gifts and talents which don’t always align with the academic school model. They have both developed their skills of communication, conversation, resilience, compassion, courage and so much more. All the things that you can’t gauge and assess in a NAPLAN test!
We’ve realized that our own version of paradise can be created in your own backyard. It’s not so much where you live, but the people in your life that makes your own life richer and more rewarding. We’re excited by the next chapter in our lives and when we finally move back into our house, we’re looking forward to the simplicity of routine, seeing our family and friends, and having a toilet in the next room!
We will always cherish our memories of this amazing trip – like Ningaloo, Uluru, Adelaide, Darwin…oh so many places.
We encourage anyone who is thinking about travelling for an extended period of time, to go for it. For us, it was not so much the amazing places we visited but much more valuable was what we learnt about each other and ourselves.
Merry Christmas and warm wishes to all for a safe and merry holiday season. See you soon.