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….

Bali (State of Australia?!)

Ok, so Bali doesn’t technically qualify as part of our around Australia trip – however – since we were reliably informed by our Western Australian counterparts that Perth-ites often travel there three times a year I’ve decided that it can be an honorary State of Australia for the purposes of my blog. Why Bali?  Well until now we had resisted the Australian Bali craze however flights are so cheap out of Perth and it  was roughly half way through our mammoth tour of Australia –  there is only so much living in a campervan one can do before going slightly (or a lot) batty.  So we left our campervan parked in our friends drive way (love you KL and Cam), repacked our bags with summer clothes and hopped a plane to Bali. It nearly didn’t happen, Craig and I are both a little risk averse when it comes to travelling with the short people and there were many discussions about the fact that Sophia can’t resist experiencing her surrounding through her mouth (not advised for South East Asia) and how Bali Belly could ruin the whole two weeks. However, we hopped a plane and went and joined the ranks of thousands of Australian’s who flock to this Indonesian tourist hot spot every year.

Having spent time in Asian destinations before Bali was pretty much as expected – hot, humid, crowded, slightly unsanitary by Western Standards but also fascinating, charming and exotic. As usual seeing things through children’s eyes is a whole new perspective, they couldn’t have cared less that people looked different, that there were broken sidewalks or that nothing seemed like home – there was just endless fascination with the shops selling so many bright and unusual items, a love of travelling everywhere by taxi and spending half of each day in the pool.

As we were told by so many others who had travelled here, the girls were a source of endless fascination for the locals – not so much in the tourist hot spots of Kuta and Seminyak but when we travelled out into the regional areas of the temples where local tourists from Java frequented. After a dozen requests to take photographs with the girls (and one couple who tried to actually pick Layla up) our Nanny informed us that  many of the Javanese hadn’t seen white people before let alone twin girls so they were as fascinated by us as we were by the local Indonesian culture.  Layla seemed to take it in her stride (born exhibitionist) however Sophia took to hiding behind my legs as soon as anyone with a camera came near her!  We were also constantly amused by the local taxi drivers who questioned Craig every trip about why we weren’t having a third child – didn’t he want a boy??!

I loved the local culture, the colour, the food and being able to dine out every night in another beautiful restaurant and having a local nanny smoothed the way in regard to obtaining great local food, especially fruit (although I was a little bemused by the road side vendor in the mountains who attempted to sell me a rifle when we hopped out to buy strawberries!) Another highlight was the local man who was merrily bathing in the local drainage system completely naked (as you do when you bathe) right next to the main highway!  The amount of pollution and rubbish accumulating in local waterways was a little sad for me, it feels that we are contributing to their economy with our tourist trade but the down side is also generating a ton of plastic water bottles amongst other detritus that often makes its way into the environment or gets burnt resulting in a constant atmospheric smog.

We made some amazing family memories –  riding elephants at the Safari Park, stroking a sleeping tiger cub, being harassed mercilessly by the local cheeky monkeys,  watching the sunset over the water at Jimbaran Bay while eating seafood and visiting some stunningly beautiful temple locations – as well as spend a lot of time just idling around our hotel pool and reflecting on life in general.  Somehow in amongst the crowded busyness this became a time of being able to rebalance and refocus on what life is really about.   Although we were all more than ready to return to Australia after two weeks (the girls weren’t that chuffed about Indonesian food I have to say!) it was with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for how lucky we are to be on this trip and looking forward to the remaining two months.

Image

Sunset at Jimbaran bay

IMG_1008

Beautiful Temple Area at Tanah Lot

IMG_1138

Fire Dancers at our Restaurant One Night

IMG_1452

Elephant Safari – Complete with Silly Hats!

IMG_1006

Botanical Gardens – Welcome Cool Respite

IMG_1208

Star Attraction!

 

Great Southern Forests of WA

20130603-202812.jpg

I’m finally catching up on blog posts after a very lazy month (that included two weeks in Bali so that one is yet to come as well!) In the interest of catching up I’m lumping all of our time in the forest areas into one, as it was really just a case of wandering from one patch of really tall, old and beautiful trees to the other in this lush and ancient area 300 kms South of Perth. We started camping in the Shannon National Park and despite being a long weekend (maybe because it was a particularly freezing long weekend!) there was only a scattering of campers here. We loved it – there were fabulous hot showers, clean toilets and pre-cut fire wood (the ranger here needs a medal).  Nights were pitch black other than the one of those amazingly thick star fields above (which fascinated our city living kids) and so peaceful and quiet we all slept like the dead.

IMG_0377

From here we explored all the old growth Marri, Karri and Jarrah tree forests of Walpole, Pemberton and surrounds, finding what felt like secret circles of giant trees (the Karri grows up to 90 metres high!), buying local honey harvested from the aforementioned trees – which tasted like nothing you’ve ever bought in a store and generally  just wandering around feeling awe-struck. It’s not like I haven’t been in forests before, but to be surrounded by these absolute behemoths of trees in the complete silence of the wilderness was almost (almost!) a spiritual experience…until the five year olds emerged from the Prado and completely shattered the peace of course and then it became much more of a guided nature walk again.  As a quick aside, I think silence is the thing I miss the most since becoming a parent!

IMG_0373

Goodness

IMG_0282

Big Tree Grove

IMG_0272

Big Tree Grove

IMG_0265

Snake Gully Look-Out

IMG_0252

Snake Gully Look-Out

IMG_0271

There were a couple of highlights from our forest sojourn… in particular the massive “fire tower” trees of the area that have previously been used as look out points to check for forest fires – complete with cabins built at the top of these 60+ metre high trees! Even more astounding is the fact tourists can climb three of these trees just for fun – using metal stakes driven into the trunks…yikes.  Despite being employed in safety I often think that public safety regulation has become a little ridiculous but it does seem brave of the WA government to encourage thousands of tourists to precariously climb a massive tree using nothing but footholds and with the odd bit of fencing wire for protection!  We watched with fascination as groups of tourists went up – and down – the same rungs and negotiated their way past each other  A sign advised there were a maximum number of climbers allowed at any one time but there didn’t appear to be any actual control on that.  Funnily enough one of our shorter family members was keen to get  climbing herself, despite the fact I had to ‘rescue’ her from the 2 metre high playground equipment the day before….that bright idea was quickly vetoed by the taller members of the family. We did let them climb a short distance for a photo opportunity – and of course to make all our friends on Facebook think we are totally irresponsible parents for letting our children climb ridiculously tall trees. I also had to exercise all of my social restraint after witnessing the groups of tourists blatantly feeding the wild birds (from a bag of bird seed – who carries bird seed around?) right in front of the “DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS” sign.  I’m sure the birdies were happy about it…but still….

IMG_0400

Intrepid Tree Climbers – For Now!

IMG_0399

Local Visitors

IMG_0396

Forest Walk – Tree so huge you could play hide and seek around it

IMG_0393

Putting it in Perspective

IMG_0390

Forest Moment!

IMG_0389

Still couldn’t get the whole tree in shot

IMG_0407

Although not the hubby’s cup of tea, one of my favourite activities here was the “Understory” walk in Northcliffe, a winding walk through bushy forest populated by large outdoor artworks including sculptures, music and writing.  It was also one of the most peaceful – husband remained behind so there was no grumbling about the ridiculousness of art, the girls were given an iPod each so they could listen to children’s stories about the forest and its animals and plants and I was able to wander through reading the brochure about the artworks as I went and soaking up the atmosphere.  All three of us returned relaxed – although there was much giggling from the short ones about the little ‘people’ statues they discovered in the undergrowth!

IMG_0335

Understory Trail

IMG_0332

My Favourite

IMG_0323

Forest People!

IMG_0320

Girls Loudly Exclaimed – Its a Boy!

IMG_0349

Listening to the bush stories

 

As peaceful and beautiful as this area is pretty soon we had all had enough of tree watching and driving through forests – particularly as the next port of call was Margaret River and the red wine was already calling to us!