Why ?????

Why are moving to Stradbroke Island ?
 There have been a lot of questions asked since we returned from our Christmas break announcing we were moving to Strandbroke Island (I would be lying if I said the shock factor wasn’t just a bit fun!) Why would you move, why to an island, why away from family…. The flippant answer is because we can – of course there is so much more to it than that, but also it sort of sums it up nicely.  Also I’m not particularly superstitious but sometimes the universe does seem to put these opportunities smack bang in your path that are impossible to ignore.

We have visited Brisbane and caught up with our family and friends often since leaving to do our around Australia trip in 2013 (that turned into an oops we aren’t coming back now situation).  Christmas last year shouldn’t have been any different, fly in, feel surrounded by people we love, get really sad about leaving and then come home and get on with life while marvelling at how beautiful the Mornington Peninsula is and how lucky we are to live here.

Except this time my beloved best friend had moved herself and her family….to an island….. a decision which baffled and bemused us.  Although beautiful, it was isolated, difficult to get to, had limited services and what on earth do you do there? Don’t get me wrong, we have camped on Straddie in days gone by and it is truly one of the most spectacular spots in Australia, but that’s a completely different kettle of fish to living in a camping destination full time.

So we all squeezed into her tiny little house and hung out with people we loved. We piled the kids into the car and went to amazing beaches with rolling waves, rock pools and sand slides, walked around the Point trying to spot dolphins and turtles, had the most amazing Gelati (that could have been the deciding factor come to think of it), bought coffee at the groovy whole food cafe right across the street and watched the kids play on the access road under the Poinciana trees.  It recaptured some pretty warm and fuzzy feelings of how much we loved this place before and how far away the ‘real world’ felt when we were there. Admittedly we were on holiday and life always has that warm haze about it that causes you to start fantasising about giving it all away to live on a desert island (or even a dessert island – don’t forget the Gelati!)  

Then we left – waved goodbye and hopped on a plane to Vanuatu (yes I know, we were having a horrible time of it). Maybe it would have been a different outcome if we went straight home to reality – it might have just been another holiday pipe dream.  Instead the idea took root and grew while we had time on our hands to contemplate it. An opportunity for our kids to spend some of their most formative years in a beautiful natural environment that would encourage them to be outdoors and active.  To learn about aboriginal culture in a way most kids would never experience – by going to school with them, living next door, participating in their customs and traditions. To separate from our spiralling involvement in all things materialistic and online – no shopping centres or even much of anything retail, a smaller house, cheaper car, less possessions, more focus on the environment, friendship, connecting with people around us.  Kids able to walk to school from home, play in the street and be three doors down from their oldest and dearest friends in the world, everything you could see or do no more than a fifteen minute drive away. Less stress, less hurry, less spending, less busyness.

The question slowly became why wouldn’t we do it. You’re not always in a position to take this kind of leap but right at this point in time, we could. We both work from home, our kids were delighted at the thought of being near their mates and living on an island and we could make it work – so why not? It still might have slipped away from us – but we came home and without even really having that final discussion of ‘are we doing this’ we just made it happen. That’s seems to be a source of fascination for everyone as well – I’ve been told we are the most portable family ever and how on earth do we do make this work, packing up the family and moving all over the place.  I’m not even really sure, we just seem to do it – but I will try and explain that too.. but in another post as it’s late now and I seem to be keeping our ginger moggie awake – the only member of the family who doesn’t care where we live as long as there is food (although possibly that applies to our kids as well…..)

Night

Michelle

 

Innses are doing (a bit of) Australia again

Well I’ve been incredibly lazy about this blog since we returned from the big trip around Australia – and I’ve had several complaints about people missing my updates seeing as we are STILL on the move around this beautiful country and I haven’t said a word about it! I still have so many posts to catch up on about our travels and what we have been up to since it all ended. We have been living in one of Australia’s best kept secrets, the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Maybe not so best kept since it made it onto the National Geographic’s list of top 15 places in the world to visit in 2015 – but still mostly a Victorian secret. 

our local spot

 

Unbelievably we have chosen to leave this slice of gorgeousness and move ..again… we have been accused of being on the run from the police and/or having gypsy blood but regardless change seems to be the one thing we Innses aren’t afraid of (mostly not afraid, I’ve had a few anxious moments!) There is something to be said for stability, security, living in a place with people you’ve known forever and family close by. It’s warm, cosy, reassuring and safe, which is a wonderful place to be – but it can also stop you doing new things because losing that is scary. So we weighed it up – the opportunity to live on one of the most beautiful islands in Australia and expose our children to a different culture and environment while they are still forming their own views on the world for better or worse, versus staying where we are loved, happy and already living in a spectacular bit of paradise. Needless to say we are yet again garage sale-ing and giving away our possessions so the island has won.

That doesn’t mean I’m  happy about leaving, that it hasn’t been a decision fraught with fear, doubt and anxiety as we prepare to leave our far from standard but oh so wonderful extended family where we have experienced a much needed cocoon of love and inclusion. I did see an interesting experiment recently though where a blackboard was put up in a public space and people were asked to write their greatest regrets on it. Without fail the were things people didn’t do (not mistakes they had made)… lesson learned, we are going to take the chance rather than live with the regret of not trying. There is so much more to write about that particular decision, that’s to come… 

new beaches

 

  

I have a lot of writing about the places we have seen and lived since we started that epic journey around Australia so much so I barely know where to start, but this is my lead in post, I’ll get back in the swing….

Travel Fatigue

I’ve found lately the blog has been a bit of a chore – instead of chronicling our trip I’ve let it slide in to a brief travel guide to each place we’ve been as it’s weeks afterwards I get to write it! It’s a shame as if I had written as I went it would be fresh in my mind – however in my defence the lateness of my blog posts is directly correlated to how much I have enjoyed the latter part of our journey and not wanting to waste a moment chained to my laptop. I know so many people would give anything to be on this journey we are on and it seems like a sacrilege to complain about a single minute of it however something that a lot of people might not know is that the excitement of travelling does actually ebb away after a while – we humans adapt to any situation quickly!

I think by the time we reached Perth, about half way through, we were all suffering a little from a lack of a permanent home and travel fatigue. Although Bali was hotly debated I am forever grateful that we took those two weeks out and got to live in a permanent room, with a real bed and nothing pressing to do but hang around the pool all day. Some people might question if we always have nothing pressing to do considering we are on holidays – but it didn’t feel that way. I was constantly reminding myself that we might never get to these places again so we felt compelled to see all there was to see in every place we went. We also still have the ever day to deal with, dishes, washing, cleaning, bed time routine for kids etc etc and doing all of this while living in a very small space and constantly packing up and travelling between destinations can become exhausting (not to mention actually being with ones loved ones 24 hours a day seven days a week…no stress there!) I can here the sound of tiny violins being played by everyone who is working while we gallivant around but remember it’s all a matter of perspective!

Bali was a turning point for me at least, I returned to Australia feeling ready to really enjoy every moment remaining to us and feeling grateful again for this opportunity. It was a close call though – Craig didn’t feel quite so zen and was keen to just head home to Brisbane to find a job and return to normality so cue marital disharmony. Luckily I used all my charms and persuasive ability (read haranguing!) to convince him we had come too far to just abandon Western Australia and we did continue. For that I am now eternally grateful – in part it’s why my blogging has been so erratic, I don’t want to miss a minute of the last part of our great adventure, even the evenings when I would normally blog, I would rather be outside star gazing, hearing the stories of other adventurers on the road like us or just relaxing and getting an early night so we can get out and about the next day. Maybe it’s the end of it all starting to loom a little closer but all of a sudden the appreciation for what we are doing has returned and it feels like we could keep doing this forever ( well me, maybe not everyone else, Craig wants a job and the girls actually want to go back to school, what is wrong with people???!)

I will do my absolute best to write the remainder of our stories with as much wonder and awe that I felt at the time, Western Australia and the Kimberley’s was nothing short of soul inspiring (hearing about it and seeing photos does not do this country justice, it makes you understand how the aboriginal people feel about their emotional connection to the land). Currently we are lolling around in the Darwin heat catching up with very old and dear friends and contemplating how soon we will be done and dusted with this unforgettable chapter of our lives. I should be able to get through Tom Price, Broome, Gibb River Road/Kimberleys and Kakadu – although I feel cramps in my fingers even talking about it!!!!

See you all soon

xx

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My Beautiful Gang

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Us – Still Travelling!

Queenstown Family

Queenstown not only turned out to be a refuge from the rain but unexpectedly turned into a family get together that made me remember the joy of being surrounded by extended family. Growing up in South Australia I have this distant but fond memory of converging on my grandparents house for christmas – Uncles, Aunties, Cousins of all ages playing with the dogs, picking almonds and all forms of stone fruit straight off the trees, climbing the big old mulberry tree and chasing puppies, kittens, chickens and other random animals around. It’s been a very long time since the making of those memories but spending a few days with my mum’s favourite brother and his wife, three of my cousins, their partners, dogs and one very cute baby brought it flooding back in a wonderful way.

The girls were completely taken with this family they hadn’t met, particularly their Great Uncle and Aunt and their two placid fat black dogs. They spent their time trailing around after them on beautiful acreage in the mountains of Queenstown, picking blackberries, harvesting zucchini’s and generally helping out – I use the term ‘helping’ very loosely here! We thought having two short people bursting in on them every morning to say good morning and talk their ears off may have worn out our welcome quickly but the relatives seemed bemused (although I dare say they are now enjoying the peace and quiet of their acreage retreat again!)

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Queenstown is certainly not the ‘moonscape’ it has been labelled, it was a pleasant surprise to be presented with wooded mountains, lush rainforests and incredibly beautiful hiking areas. One of my cousins not only turned out to be a gifted artist but a very decent tour guide and it was greatly appreciated him taking a day off house renovations to show us the local attractions. Highlights were the site of the first copper mine “Iron Blow”, a short hike through beautiful rainforest at Bird River and a very interesting stroll through an old mine site.

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Placing an immense amount of trust in my cousin we followed him into a pitch black tunnel hand-hewn out of solid rock and equipped with a couple of torches – I suppressed my safety professional instincts enough not to ask for his risk assessment but was still relieved to hear that there was an air shaft half way along providing fresh air! No-one suffered an attack of claustrophobia or fear of the dark however I was less than impressed when told afterwards there are often spiders on the roof of such tunnels, no more copper mine tours for me thanks.

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All and all the west coast was a great experience with all the descriptors you always hear – wild, untamed, rugged and beautiful but for us it will also be associated with a new generation of wonderful family memories.

Bon Voyage

Melbourne really turned on the weather the day we left, Port of Melbourne glowing in the late afternoon sun and the bay full of sail boats lazily traversing the water.

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Such a tranquil spot but dominated by the massive Spirit of Tasmania! I think my daughters comment that “it’s bigger than my head” was the understatement of the decade!! I know the husband type would happily regale me with the theory of fluid dynamics (or something) and how this beast actually floats but it still seems to defy the laws of nature.><br /20130321-110608.jpg
There was much excitement about boarding the behemoth of a boat, from the multitude of cars in the parking deck to our pint sized cabin the girls loved it all (adults may have too truth be told!)

We received one very good piece of advice about the crossing – do it at night. Sleeping away eleven hours across Bass Strait was definitely the best option after watching the lights over the Bay slip away.

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Our concern over sea sickness turned out to be unfounded – although I discovered that taking two Kwells (sea sickness tablets) with a glass of wine produces dizziness, loss of balance and a feeling of inebriation – who knew??!! So staying up wasn’t really an option anyway – count myself lucky not to have rolled out of the top bunk though, woke up at 2am to put a short person back in their bunk and there was a definite rock and roll motion going on!