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….

Grampians Horse Riding Centre

This was our last stop on the way out of this beautiful Victorian spot and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  The owner of this great establishment and I have mutual friends and had met at their wedding previously so we dropped in to say hi and let the girls have a pony ride.  This was a very exciting day as not only did Cam teach them all about how to approach the horses, catch them (that had varying success) and lead them back in but by the end they were able to ride around by themselves (in a very small enclosed corral I should add!) That amounted to a few steps actually, once their very savvy horses realised that the little legs couldn’t actually reach past the saddle to give them a ‘giddy up’ in the ribs they soon stopped moving.  Never the less it was unaided riding and these were two happy girls – Sophia has now decided she would like to be a horse vet (well, plus cats) – even after Cam demonstrated how you take a horses temperature – which resulted in gails of giggles and genuine concern for the horses, um, comfort??!!

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Layla on Trigger

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Solo Riders

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Sophia on the Lovely Ted

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Leading In

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Not sure who is leading who here…

 

 

 

 

Deloraine, Mole Creek and Cradle Mountain

I think we left our run to Cradle Mountain a little late – by the time we arrived in this region it was freezing, rain was coming in sideways and any thoughts of hiking through this beautiful area had turned into camp fires and hot chocolate longings!  However – our first stop after Launceston was delightful, the little town of Deloraine – beautiful, quaint, featuring a meandering river with modern art on the banks and a supply of hippy types camping out on the sidewalks! I loved this spot, nestled in between mountain ranges with a melting pot of tourists, locals, hippies, overseas back-packers and picturesque scenery.

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Funky Art Work

Beautiful Deloraine

Beautiful Deloraine

Walking Path

Walking Path

Deloraine River Bank

Deloraine River Bank

Our camp site was about half an hour on from here at Mole Creek – an unfortunate name for a beautiful spot at the foot of Cradle Mountain. We had tried to book a powered site at Cradle Mountain itself however none were available – after freezing our butts off all over Tasmania we decided that no heater was a deal breaker so we booked at Mole Creek – this turned out to be a stroke of luck. The van site was right next to one of those crystal clear streams that should be in an english fairy tale but was reportedly inhabited by platypus – which weren’t sighted despite the girls searching high and low. The husband was delighted as camp fires weren’t only allowed but fire wood supplied AND we had power for a heater – funny what becomes nirvana after weeks of camping. Only draw back was the possibility we (as in Craig!) offended the lovely group of young french back-packers next door by putting on a terrible fake french accent. This was partly because I’m walking around repeating french phrases constantly as I learn and partly because he just can’t help himself – seems to think that putting “la” in front of everything and putting on a bad accent is the equivalent of knowing French!  Level of french affectation seemed to be proportional to the amount of red wine consumed around our camp fire so hopefully they were oblivious as well by that time of night.

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Best of all was this area had relatively clear weather compared to up the mountain so while we did venture up to the peak and wander around some of the child friendly tracks the constant rain and wind (avoiding the wombat poo at every step and turn) made us very happy not to be camping up the top! W

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What’s with the Weather?!

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Wonderland Walk at Cradle

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Cold!!!!

This was also the site of the girls fifth birthday celebrations so will always hold a special place in our memories of Tasmania.  The day was marked by lamington cake, balloons, small toys (emphasis on small) and exploring the local caves – the glow worms were a huge hit as was the point at which the guide turned out all the lights in the deepest darkest spot possible.

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Happy Birthday Littlest Campers

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Camper Party (it was raining)

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Making a Wish – hopefully not to go home!

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Celebrating in the Caves!

I do wish we had made Cradle a priority when we arrived, it’s a disappointment not to have completed some of the walks around this incredible area, however the husband has pledged to bring the girls back to do the overland track when they are old enough – there was no mention of taking me though, maybe he thinks I will be too old by then???!!!

The Retreat – Coles Bay & Freycinet National Park

This is hands down so far my favourite place in Tasmania.  Everyone raves about the East Coast and with good reason – this is truly a wonderful spot.  We invaded the Big 4 caravan park at Coles Bay with our multiple birth tour group and terrorised the current residents with five children under 6 (tee hee).  Luckily we had the perfect position – right next to the playground, toilets, barbecue area with a view of the bay in the background…heaven for traveling parents.  Nothing comes close to the joy of being able to setup and pack-up while your kids play!  Also there was a Tavern practically on site and a really short walk down to the beautiful Muirs Beach so truly heaven.

Camp Inns at the Big 4 Coles Bay

Camp Inns at the Big 4 Coles Bay

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Sunset from Camp Inns

If you ever needed a place to hide for a while, to recover from life or just ‘find yourself’ as the saying goes this would be it.  I walked every morning and evening along the beautiful curved bay of Muirs Beach, complete with rock pools where the kids could play David Attenborough and discover crabs, shells and prawns while the adults watched the sky scape.  I took so many photos of the same horizon as every time the light, clouds and time changed it dramatically – from the opposite end of the beach you could look back at where our camp site nestled in the green finger of land right in front of the ‘Hazards’ as the series of Mountains in Freycinet National Park are known as.

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View Back to the Hazards from Muirs Beach

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Another Face of Muirs Beach

Rock Pooling

Rock Pooling

Evening Fisherman at Muirs Beach

Evening Fisherman at Muirs Beach

Fun at Dusk on the Beach

Fun at Dusk on the Beach

We all decided to challenge our children and take them on the Wineglass Bay hike (which involved a mountain so it was dicey!)  Have to say I was impressed with all of them, a 2.5 hour hike took us threehours and that was pretty much constant motion for little legs up and down some very steep rock steps.  It was well worth the effort, you couldn’t stay in Freycinet and not experience this stunning Tasmanian icon of a beach.  Mind you, coming from Queensland we had no intention of swimming but apparently children have no nerve endings and our crazy Victorian friend joined them in braving the chilly water – but not for long.

The Beautiful Wine Glass Bay

The Beautiful Wine Glass Bay

Who's in First?

Who’s in First?

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Kid Collection Taking a Well Earned Break

Cape Tourville Lighthouse Board Walk

Cape Tourville Lighthouse Board Walk

The only down side of this stay was saying good bye to our new friends as they headed off after two nights and we settled in for five.  It’s not often you meet people on the road that are completely camping compatible (apparently it took them one and half years to find us!) and the kids especially were very sad to separate from their new friends.  On the plus side they were travelling ahead of us so we’ve had regular updates on the best places to stay and where to go.

I found it very hard to leave this little haven, it will always be high on my list of perfect places to retreat to.

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Lessons Learned

Camping in wet weather really tests your commitment to the cause, once everything you own is damp, your camper floor resembles the ground outside and the inside of your camping abode looks like a domestic explosion that holiday house starts looking really attractive. Having said that, good wine, good company and great food can make all the difference and there is never a shortage of those key ingredients when we camp – even during a deluge. So what did we find out on the wet dry run:

* The wife needs to become ‘more useful’ during setup
* The husband needs to learn more about women and how to motivate them
* If we ever get divorced it will be because of setting up our camper – maybe I do need to become more useful
* We need smaller wine glasses, those buckets we have currently just set me up for trouble
* When there are a bunch of small kids with you going to the amenities is a team sport
* Our camper is actually water proof – provided you zip up the windows and close the air vent!
* Small children and wet weather make for a lot of noise – remember to pack ear plugs
* Don’t sit in your camp chair if it’s been left under the awning on a rainy night, nothing like walking around in soggy shorts
* Kids love muddy puddles more than iPads, thank goodness.

So nothing terribly useful about our actual camp setup, other than we are water proof and may need marriage counselling after setting up a billion times in six months – next dry run is occurring in our drive way, with the sun shining!

Bull Ants & Bottoms

We haven’t left yet, however this weekend is our last ‘dry run’ before departure and so is technically part of our preparation. I did promise to faithfully chronicle all misadventures on this trip (and preparation for it), I just can’t believe I have one to report on already – or that it involves me!

Looking forward to a last weekend away at Mooloolaba with some of our best camping buddies, strike one, pouring with rain. Never mind, last time we were supposed to go away there was a cyclone, so a bit of rain is no biggie.

So in pouring rain, in peak motorway traffic nowhere near an exit or any form of amenities we get the statement that all parents dread – “mummy I need a poo”. Every parent has been there but to date we’ve only had to deal with the road side wee so this is a little more challenging.

After 10 minutes of pleading with her to “just hang on a bit longer” and getting constant status reports it became evident from her seat gymnastics that our time was up. I will spare all readers the details that followed (particular the childless among us who may not have the same level of casual discussion around bodily functions!!)

Attempting to protect my four year olds modesty on the side of the Sunshine Motorway was tricky but with two doors open and me in front of her in a long summer dress that acted a bit like a tent I think we spared her and passing motorists too much embarrassment.

Once we had all recovered from the indignity of the whole experience we rejoined the motorway car park for the final stretch to Mooloolaba – ordeal over or so I thought. Two minutes after hitting the road something bit my foot and I flicked a massive black ant off my foot with a bit of controlled child friendly expletives- but it didn’t stop there. Next there was a bite on my leg which hurt quite a bit, then my back and final insult inner thigh.

By now I’m lifting my entire dress up to my ears attempting to find the offending insects (apologies to passing truck drivers!) using less child friendly expletives and performing my own version of seat gymnastic

It dawned on me as I got out of the car at the caravan park and shook three more aggressive little black creatures from my dress that as I protected my child’s cute little bottom from passing traffic that the ants must have climbed up the hem of my dress (aka modesty screen) and been carried back into the car where they made their displeasure with their new accommodations clearly known!!

Finally with the camper setup (that’s a whole other blog post!!!!) and a very large wine in my hand I can laugh at the indignity of the whole experience but sincerely hope the next few blog posts are a lot less eventful – and a lot less painful !!!!!!!