I have been putting off writing this post, with our journey coming to an end and having so many “last” things over the past few weeks I suppose I’m delaying the inevitable. We made our way from Adelaide along the Barrier Highway in two big driving days hoping to head to Yamba via Bourke, but with flood waters still blocking the roads around Bourke we took the more southerly route through Tamworth. Our journey really started to feel it was coming to an end as we drove the 95kms from Gilgandra to Coonabarabran – this was the official ‘closing of the loop’ as we had driven this road earlier in the year.
Our stay in Tamworth coincided with their Carols by Candlelight evening so we enjoyed some quality singing by the town choir, unlike the not-so-quality singing of the Quorn carol singers. Of course we made the obligatory stop outside the Big Golden Guitar, but other than that we did a fair amount of relaxing and a bit of swimming – just like everyone else having their holidays now.
We made it to our Christmas destination of Yamba on the 20th December after driving past Chaelundi National Park – some of you may recall our drama here two years ago – and the weather conditions were very similar, with recent rain and likely a very slippery road, needless to say we weren’t game to give it another go in those conditions.
So to Yamba… well really Palmers Island, a little out of Yamba on the Clarence River. It’s a brilliant spot here, away from the more crowded township of Yamba, but still close enough for a bit of retail therapy if you like. We canoed on the river, Ben fished, we swam, the kids bounced on the jumping pillow, gave the water slides a good workout, stalked the wildlife, watched movies and made some more friends.
It wouldn’t be a Malpass post recently without a birthday and we had two over the week of Christmas. Ben clicked over another year on the 21st and I entered a new decade on the 27th. They were both pretty low-key events (disgracefully both without birthday cakes!) and I was so fortunate to have my birthday fall on pack-up day from Yamba – now that’s a way to spend your 40th birthday – packing up camp and driving 400-odd-kms!
While in Yamba Indianna decided she’d go ahead with getting her ears pierced after talking about it for so long. What a fiasco! I none-too-wisely did not heed the advice of a neighbour who recommended we find somewhere who pierces both ears at the same time. She said we may come home with only one ear pierced… and we did! After preparing Indi to expect a little pain the ear-piercing lady pierced ONE ear without the help of any numbing agent and the whole shopping centre heard all about it. Our poor little girl got one heck of a fright and immediately clamped her hands over the un-pierced ear and used the full force of her lungs to let us know that there was no way we were going to get to that ear anytime soon. After about 15 minutes of trying to calm her down and get the second ear done I gave in and left with the offer from mad-ear-piercing-lady to come back tomorrow if we could. We did the best we could to persuade Indi to go back the following day (read: begged, bribed and pleaded!) and to her immense credit she returned to the scene of the crime, this time we’d plastered her ear with every type of numbing cream we had in the first-aid kit and she made it through with hardly a peep – the worst part was the waiting in the chair. Ahh, the things women will do for fashion… an early life lesson!
I have loved not being involved in the lead-up to Christmas this year, we managed to mostly avoided the over-commercialisation of December which was fantastic. I did have one mad afternoon in Grafton doing ALL of the Christmas shopping in a few hours, but we have vowed to do everything we can to miss the mayhem as much as possible in years to come. That said, and although we have spent several Christmas’s by ourselves in the past, this one did feel a tiny bit of a non-event. Once the present unwrapping was done and aside from the lavish lunch, Christmas day was much like any of the days of the past 11 months – maybe we’re really missing our family and friends or maybe that’s just saying something about how special our last 11 months have been.
From Yamba we made our way to Woodford (north west of Brisbane) to stay on a property which belongs to the parents of some friends we have met travelling. Marion and Chris happened to be home for Christmas as well, so it was good to catch up with them again. We were able to get a sense of what living on a little farm felt like too and we all agreed that this is what we want to do! Crunch time had come for us, we had thought this was the general area that we want to settle in, but had not really had a good look around when we passed through here in April. To help us make a decision we spent three days driving around trying to get a better feel for the area and deciding on exactly where we’d like to live. Our timing was not great with real estate agents being closed during Xmas and there being very little availability of rental properties in the area, but after an anxious four day wait we have a house to live in.
Four days to fill in on the Sunshine Coast… now there’s a dilemma! There is so much to do around here and we have some friends and family close by too. My cousin Lisa and her family are half an hour away and the boys have already had a sleepover there. You’ll never guess who we bumped into in the aisle at Woolies… Wendy Cullen, so our reunion with our Tassie mates came sooner than expected – on New Years Eve – everyone was SO excited, the kids picked up their friendships of 10 months ago and I am sure there will be a whole lot of Cullen/Malpass fun in the future. There are still a few other people we are yet to catch up with, but all in good time.
Wednesday the 4th of January officially marked the end of our journey as we moved into solid-roofed accommodation, albeit with only our camping gear at this stage. As I struggle to finish the last post of our fabulous year we are preparing to make a mad dash to Sydney to collect some belongings (including Millie the cat!) and to catch up with as many of our friends there as possible.
I want to thank you all for being part of our journey, the idea for this blog started as a way of recording the trip for ourselves, but knowing there are others out there reading my blog made me more conscious of ensuring I carried on with the job when there were times I’d rather not. On the whole I have really enjoyed getting our story down in words and pictures and it makes it all the more satisfying with your comments coming through whenever I post. I hope our journey has inspired some of you to get out and see a little more of this (or your own) magnificent country, or maybe to set about doing something out of your normal life – we know that you will truly love it. We still have a lot of changes ahead this year, first things first though with starting new schools and jobs, but with our eye firmly on buying a small farm before too long. Hopefully we will have lots of visitors, there is loads of room here and I know of a great camper trailer that we can set up for extra beds!
So for us, now – perhaps this is not The End, but just a new beginning.