Sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day parenting stuff that I forget just how momentous this trip is. Packing up our lives, reducing our belongings to next to nothing and hitting the road is really big. Not just big in a physical sense, but big in an emotional, personal growth sense. When (and if) we return to the NSW South Coast in a year’s time, we will be different. We will grow and change through the joys and challenges. This trip isn’t just something we’re doing, it’s also doing stuff to us. With big changes comes big emotions.
I’m a crier. I’ve always been a crier. I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m angry. I cry when I’m frustrated. I cry when I’m happy. I tend to cry whenever I feel something deeply. Even though I’ve always been a crier, the tears can still take me by surprise and I often get embarrassed by them and pretend I’m not crying. So far I’ve been surprised by my own tears three times since we left home.
- Sunrise at Kingscliff beach
When we were in northern NSW we camped at Kingscliff Beach North for a couple of nights so I could have a stall at Kingscliff markets. On the morning of the markets I set my alarm for 5am. I gave myself far too much time to get ready, so once I’d had a cuppa and gotten dressed, I took my breakfast down to the beach to watch the sunrise.
I’ve watched plenty of sunrises on the beach over the years with Dave during camping trips, but since having kids I don’t think I’ve even witnessed one sunrise over the ocean. When you have little kids, and you’re sleep deprived, you don’t get up that early unless you absolutely have to. That means I’d gone almost four years without a beach sunrise. I’d seen plenty of sunrises in the previous four years, but none alone and none over the ocean.
As I sat on the beach utterly alone, watching the sun rising over the ocean, something inside me clicked. It was like all the stress and worry and business that had built up inside me from the first couple of weeks of our trip and the planning beforehand, it was like it all just dissipated and blew into the ocean. I stood on the beach and looked out to sea in the semi-darkness and it literally felt like I was standing on the edge of the earth. It was that moment that the enormity of what are doing sunk in. We are free. I cried.
- Wildlife Warriors Show at Australia Zoo
When we were on the Sunshine Coast we went to Australia Zoo. Before we left home, when we were busy getting rid of most of Jarrah’s toys, we told him that we would take him to as many zoos as we could on our trip around Australia. When we sold half his toys at our garage sale we told him that the money would go towards zoo tickets. So, our trip to Australia Zoo was primarily for Jarrah.
There was quite a lot to see at Australia Zoo and everything takes longer with little kids. Because of this, we decided that we only had time to see one show. I decided that we should see the ‘Wildlife Warriors’ show in the Crocoseum at lunchtime as it was highlighted on the information booklet and it looked to have a bit of everything.
The show started with a bird show. There was loud music and commentary and all different amazing and beautiful birds flew all around us as we sat in the audience. I’m unsure whether I was just tired or truly in awe of these majestic animals, or a bit of both, but I cried. It was only a few tears and I managed to hide them, but something inside me shifted and I felt happy and energised for the rest of the day.
- Breastfeeding at Capricorn Caves
We stayed in Yeppoon for 5 nights and explored the area, including a day trip to Capricorn Caves. Having a one year old and a three year old we could only do the one hour cave tour through the Cathedral cave. We started the tour with Dave wearing Dianella in the Ergo carrier whilst I led Jarrah helping him up and down stairs and through the semi darkness. Our guide narrated the walk the whole way giving us the usual information about the different formations in the rock as well as the history of the discovery and development of the caves. They weren’t the most spectacular caves I’ve ever seen, but they gave me a pretty amazing experience.
About halfway into the tour Dianella started howling. She’d had her lunch beforehand so her howls could only mean one thing, that it was naptime. She usually has a breastfeed before her nap, so there was no way she was going to fall asleep on Dave. Her cries were echoing throughout the caves, so as soon as we got a chance, Dave gave me the ergo and I strapped Nella to me to see if I could calm her.
It was at this point that we were led into the Cathedral Cave. This cave can be hired out for weddings and is also used twice a year to host ‘Opera in the Caves’. Pews lined the space and we were told to take a seat. At this point Dianella was still crying so I pulled down my top and started to breastfeed her.
The guide turned off the lights and music filled the cave. As we all sat in silence listening to the song played through the cave, with the best acoustics I’ve ever experienced, the guide used a remote to light up different sections of the cave in time with the music. The effect was awe inspiring. I sat there next to my husband and son, whilst nourishing my daughter in the most natural and fulfilling way possible and cried.
Every time I breastfeed I enjoy the moment. I feel thankful for the opportunity to connect with my child and nourish her from my own body. I breastfeed anywhere and everywhere without shame or thought but I’m pretty sure that cave was the most amazing place I’ve ever breastfed and that long after Dianella is grown up, I’ll never forget that particular feed.
So there we have it, that’s three times so far in the past five and a half weeks that I’ve cried from raw positive emotion and I feel that each moment has marked some sort of shift of consciousness. Every time I am stressed or frustrated or tired, I’m going to try to remind myself of how truly amazing this trip is on every level and how each and every one of us is growing at an exponential rate.
We’re having an awesome time. We’ve been camping at interesting places on the coast of Queensland. We’ve visited places we’ve never been before. We’ve been walking, swimming and exploring. I’ve had stalls at different markets and we’ve met lots of locals as well as other families travelling. We’ve had amazing days, and then we’ve had days like today.
We’ve spent this week camped at Yeppoon Showground. We intended on staying two nights which has quickly turned into five. Today began with Dave and I debating whether we should go to Rockhampton Botanic Gardens and Zoo, or whether we should spend the day exploring Byfield National Park. We eventually decided on the national park, but we’d spent so long debating where to go that by the time we were in the car it was almost lunchtime.
Byfield national park has two separate sections. Being that the kids were hungry, we decided to explore the Sandy Creek section which was the smallest but was the closest to us. On the map it looked as though we could drive out to one point via a 2WD accessible road, and then we could drive back on the beach. We figured we could have a picnic on the beach somewhere and driving on the sand would be fun.
I enlisted the help of Google maps and we headed out of town. The road turned to dirt and started to get potholed. The kids started to whinge that they were hungry. I offered them some fruit. We spotted our first crocodile warning sign. The road started to get bumpy and then it got even more bumpy. Suddenly we reached the end and in front of us was a few metres of sand and a choppy, menacing ocean. Dave stopped the car and suddenly Nella started crying. We both turned around to see her vomit banana all over herself and the car seat. Today we discovered that our one year old gets car sick on bumpy roads. Perhaps we won’t do as many four-wheel-driving adventures as we thought.
Dave jumped out of the car and looked at the beach before coming back to report that whilst there was one car down on the beach, it didn’t look like we could safely drive around the point and back along the beach. Neither of us thought to look at the tides before we headed off. With those plans thwarted, we cleaned Nella up with some baby wipes and turned around. Five minutes later and we realise that Nella had fallen asleep.
We drove until we found what looked like a beach access we could use to walk onto the beach. Once again Dave jumped out of the car and had a look. He returned to report that he could see cars on the beach that must’ve entered from the other end, but that there was no shade and it was very windy. I Googled how long it would take to drive to Byfield and the other end of the national park and since Nella was asleep, we decided to drive the 50 minutes there for a picnic and bushwalk. After about twenty minutes of driving, Dave pulled over because I was still feeling car sick. Of course, since the car had stopped, Nella woke up.
I sat in the passenger seat and breastfed her. Jarrah jumped out of the car to ‘look for treasure’, which on the side of the road usually means rubbish. Dave asked him to put his shoes on. It was then we realised that in our rush to leave camp we both had forgotten to put shoes on Jarrah. Whoops.
We certainly weren’t going to take a three year old bushwalking barefoot. So we all got back in the car, turned around and headed back to Yeppoon to have our picnic at a park beside the beach. We found somewhere to sit, got out the esky and Dave realised he had forgotten to pack plates. He made us sandwiches on the top of the esky and we ate our lunch. Jarrah had a play in the park then we showered Nella using the outdoor shower and put some clean clothes on her as by this stage she was covered in both vomit and lunch.
We then walked down onto the beach to look for some more interesting treasures. We explored the rock pools and found lots of cool shells. Jarrah found a crab claw and nothing major went wrong. We then stopped by the information centre and Shell museum before heading back to camp to chill out for a while.
I think tomorrow we’ll go to the zoo.