We’ve done it! We have finally caught our first yabbies! Hardly a feast with five of the little things (and one having to be thrown back because it was a bit too wee!), but we now know that it’s possible. The momentous event occurred in the Campaspe River around 30kms south of Echuca, which is where we are at the moment. This is despite a spanner in the works at the Grampians when some dirty rotten scoundrel stole a yabbie net that we had left out overnight… hope they NEVER catch any, it will serve them right!
We have been loving the return to Victoria, from Melbourne we found a great campsite in the Mt Buangor NP where we chilled out for a couple of days and caught up on a little school work. Then we headed North-West to the Grampians and stayed there for four nights, but could easily have stayed longer. Much of the Grampians National Park is still cut off due to the flood damage in January, so we were not able to see some of the highlights of that area such as McKenzie Falls and the Venus Baths. The road damage in the area is incredible, the photos on display at the Visitor Information Centre are truly amazing. They predict that some of the roads and bridges will take 12 months or more to repair. The road going into McKenzie Falls had two bridges wiped out, but the flood was so damaging that it’s altered the course of the river in such a way that FOUR new bridges have to be built. Maybe we’ll get another chance to see some of these spots at the end of our journey as we travel through Victoria again on our way home.
The part of the Grampians that we did get to see was in the Northern region. We climbed Mt Zero and Hollow Mountain… and I mean climbed! Both walks were a little over 1km to the top but with a fair amount of rock scrambling and cliff edge walking, especially on Hollow Mountain, but the views were amazing; both of the rock formations and the views out over the plains of the Grampian region. The kids all did an incredible job on these walks, all three of them walking all the way and I think I could count the number of complaints on one hand. Needless to say there were a lot of tired bodies that night… both little and big tired bodies!
We’ve also tasted a bit of bush tucker (crocodile, kangaroo and duck) after a bush-tucker walk, been to the local sheep dog trials and Jake has been like a pig in mud making things from the SAS handbook of Survival (thank-you to the Piggotts, it’s a gem). Unfortunately his snare trap didn’t yield goodies – actually fortunately I think, Ben and I listened to the night-time rustling in the bushes around the snare after Jake went to bed and wondered how we were a) going to get a screeching, scratching possum out of a snare trap and b) how we were going to explain to the Ranger why we had a protected animal on the spit over the fire… this is not NZ after all! And Jake’s lean-to skills need a little more honing, a strong wind on the night he decided to sleep out wrought havoc with the tarp and he had to retire to the tent at 2am!
We’ve been on the road for seven weeks now so I thought it time for everyone to have a little think about whether it’s been worth it! We asked the kids today what was the best thing about travelling and what they missed the most. Their answers were not all that surprising I guess:
Tobey: The best part about travelling is that we only have to do two hours of school work and then we get to do fun stuff in the middle of the day, rather than having to wait until 3.15 to do fun stuff! The things I miss the most from home is that I can’t play on the internet much or buy anything from the apps store because internet reception isn’t great. Oh and I miss my friends.
Jake: The best part about travelling is the short schooling, getting to know other people and finding other friends. I am definitely missing my friends the most. (Mum’s note: Jake is certainly missing his friends more than Tobey or Indianna, he talks on the phone to his good mates, but I sometimes think that makes him miss them even more. He’s a really social guy though and is the first to get out and have a good old chin-wag and find out the goss of the campground when we pull in).
Ben: I like the travel and seeing new places, I like being on the road and seeing something new around every corner. I like being together as a family all the time. There’s not much I don’t like about being on the road. I do miss my morning coffee with Hedde, I don’t miss getting up at 6.30, shaving, putting my suit on and going to work. (Maria’s note: shaving happens very irregularly these days!).
Me: I love finding new places too and when you come across a gem I just want to let everyone know how fabulous it is. I like spending more “down” time with Ben and I like being more heavily involved in the kids schooling and really getting an idea about how each of them learn, although I have to say schooling IS the hardest part of travelling, it’s a battle at times. Of course I miss my friends, but with the hectic lives we all lead we rarely get to see each other anyway! I don’t miss the daily grind with the constant thought that I have something that needs doing. But the best thing of all is that I get to wear my Kathmandu clothes EVERY day!!! (that’s just for you Soz and The Cullens! By the way I’ve figured out why I like Kathmandu so much, I just noticed their catchphrase is “Live the Dream”… and we are!).
We have considered many times whether our planned anti-clockwise journey needs to be revised in light of all the flood damage through Victoria, northern NSW and Queensland, but we’ve decided to stick to the plan and head north through inland NSW and head out to the coast once we get to Queensland. Our experience in Victoria has been hampered very little by the flood damage. There are some roads closed and areas we’d have liked to go which we can’t, but on the whole it has not been a major concern. The damage may be a little worse as we head further north, but we’d prefer to do what we can to support those economies who are in need of tourists – at the risk of perhaps missing out on seeing a few things which are not accessible at the moment. So onward and upward (well Northwards at any rate). Tomorrow we hit NSW again, just in time to vote in Saturday’s election… who knows what box to tick though, we have been immune to all the pre-election banter which must have been going on.