Ashley, Lish and the kids visit Koramba.

Ashley phoned up last Friday morning to see if we were going to be home as they’d decided to take the drive out to the farm to visit for the weekend.

After the dinner was cooked, served and cleared away we drove into Goondiwindi to meet them at the motel were they staying.
This was easier for them than trying to set up for the kids and themselves in a room on the farm.

It was great to see them and after a brief stay giving them directions to the farm we left them to settle down after the long drive and we drove the 110km back home.

Driving these distances, 220km after dinner, doesn’t bother us any more and we often remind ourselves how, in Brisbane, we thought travelling from the North side to the South side was a long way.

Now we drive 220km return trip for a good cup of coffee.

I think the distance was a bit of a shock for Ashley but luckily the kids travelled really well and slept most of the time.

They arrived at the farm Saturday morning and after a coffee Chris took Ashley, Lish and Riley around the farm while I looked after Charlotte.

Little Riley was fascinated with everything, T Bone the steer, the workshop with all the tractors and sitting in the big John Deere. Shannon was working over at the workshop and even he commented on how Riley didn’t want to leave and kept squatting down to look at things more closely.

Chris Took Riley and Ashley for a drive in one of the John Deeres and as the engine roared into life Riley was overwhelmed by the rumble and roar and for the fist and last time was unsure if he liked farm life.

Riley loved being in the Tractor but wasn't to happy when it was started up.

Riley loved being in the Tractor but wasn’t to happy when it was started up.

Somehow I don't think this little boy will be happy in a desk job when he grows up. Something with wheels might be good.

Somehow I don’t think this little boy will be happy in a desk job when he grows up. Something with wheels might be good.

Charlotte was such a good little girl and happily played, had a bottle and then went to sleep.

This little darling smiles all the time.

This little darling smiles all the time.

All too quickly the day was over and we had to go and prepare dinner. Ash and Lish went back to Goondiwindi where they would get an early start Sunday for the long drive home. Hopefully, with Riley being so busy all day he slept really well at night. I think Ashley would have too.

How wonderful it was to see them!

A taste of the road again.

Life in a caravan is not everyone’s idea of living the dream.

If you’d asked us about our ultimate goal in life 3 years ago, we’d probably have painted a picture of a plot of land, a nicely furnished box to sit on it and plenty of familiar people and places within easy access – that’s what we thought our lives would eventually look like.

Now we’re not so sure!

The first night we slept in our brand new AussieWide caravan two and a half years ago in Melbourne we fell in love with it and since then there’s never been a night we didn’t look forward to our mini palace on wheels, our Rolling Home.

We’ve fallen in love with life again since being on the road and the long stay at Koramba Cotton Farm has only added to the sweetness of the experience.

Kerrie and I seem to laugh more together, we almost never argue and we seem to have a bond that has been moulded by a shared and mutually satisfying experience that few others can understand.

The sheer simplicity of day to day living is perhaps the most surprising aspect of our current lifestyle. The lack of “things” to maintain and the contentment of knowing that not only do you have everything thing you need but everything you WANT.

So, it was easy for us to decide to “take the long way” back to the farm after our last visit to Brisbane and the catching up with family and friends.

After navigating through the city and heading south on the Pacific Highway it wasn’t long before all the familiar pleasures of being on the road again kicked in.  The Nissan’s effortless humming as it smoothly towed the AussieWide over hill and dale, the view of the Rolling Home in the rear view mirror, the easy conversation with Kerrie, and the ever changing landscape made one feel as if life couldn’t get any better.

After pulling off the highway and stopping for lunch in a peaceful bushy surround somewhere in the Bundjalung National park, we headed on to Yamba where we opted to stay in a caravan park for a night.

We parked up at a Van Park, right beside the bay and took the opportunity to walk around the cliffs and beaches of Yamba.

Yamba is a very popular beach spot.

Yamba is a very popular beach spot.

Yamba is beautiful and we will be back.

Yamba is beautiful and we will be back.

What a wonderful spot to stay! Neither of us had been here before but it’s a place we’d definitely come back to.

These seaside towns and their history always fascinate us.

After an early morning walk down to the end of the long sea wall stretching out into the Pacific and another stroll along the beach we hooked up again and headed for Grafton.

We were going to stay a night in Grafton before turning inland and heading west to the farm but we decided instead to head to another place neither of us had been to, Emerald Beach.

Here was another seaside treasure we found tucked into the coastline surrounded by a sparkling, crystal clear ocean.

After again opting for a van park we set up in the Big 4 and found it to be easily the best Caravan Park we’d been in in three years on the road. Right beside the sea its facilities and friendliness easily take our caravan park first prize.

 

As it was still early we decided to head down to Coffs harbour for lunch and leave exploring the beaches till later.

Kerrie wanted to “go back a few years” and experience again the frozen chocolate bananas that the Big Banana at Coffs is famous for and where numerous stops had been made over many years on past holidays.

Guess where we are?

Guess where we are?

We had lunch at the Coffs Harbour Yacht club and then walked all over the harbour including over Muttonbird Island where hundreds of thousands of Shearwater nests were inhabited by young mutton birds awaiting the evening return of their parents with food from the ocean.

What a lovely way to have lunch Seafood and Steak over looking the ocean.

What a lovely way to have lunch, Seafood and Steak over looking the ocean.

Heading over to Mutton Island.

Heading over to Mutton Island.

A walkway over the Island keeps the nests protected.

A walkway over the Island keeps the nests protected.

Looking back to Coffs Harbour

Looking back to Coffs Harbour

 

We could see the flocks of millions of Shearwaters fishing out to see, like great clouds moving across the water as they followed the pelagic bait fish schools.

The white line near the rock is the Shear waters feeding.

The white line near the rock is the Shear waters feeding.

This island was once separated from the mainland and there are photos around showing the construction of the wall that now connects the island with the mainland. One can’t help but marvel at the challenges that were overcome in building this structure.

My focus and fascination was drawn to the group of islands standing in isolation out to sea off the coast, The Solitary Islands, especially South Solitary Island with its lighthouse.

Solitary Island.

Solitary Island.

I have an unsatisfiable interest in wild, lonely places swept by wind and sea and uninhabited, especially when there’s a lighthouse involved.

What is it that draws me to these lonely lighthouses?

Maybe it’s the imaginings of how life was when these places were manned by keepers and their families and the challenges they had to overcome to exist. Perhaps it’s the wonderment of living in splendid isolation with the perpetual mood changes of the ocean.

Much of this stems back from when my father lived alone for years at the old Keepers cottage at the Godley Head lighthouse at the tip of Lyttleton harbour in New Zealand. I used to envy him as he struggled to grow his vege gardens in the fierce winds and as he slept with the sounds of gales howling and the ocean pounding on the rocks far below.

If I was born a generation earlier I could easily have chosen lighthouse keeping as my ideal vocation.

The South Solitary lighthouse is particularly fascinating as it was one of the few true island lighthouses in Australia, most were placed on isolated headlands or coastlines.

It’s a place I just MUST visit one day.

The island is forbidden ground to the public and it’s only possible to get out there by helicopter one weekend per year. Kerrie is trying to organise this for a gift for me.

After a wonderful few days beside the sea it was time to head back inland again and head for the farm. It was back to Grafton and then turn left on the Gwydir Highway towards Inverell.

We found a host of superb free camping spots along the way all of which we marked in our book for future reference. One spot particularly took our eye when we stopped at the bridge over the Mann River at the Jackadgery rest stop.

A nice spot to stop over night.

A few van's already were enjoying this quite spot.

A few van’s already were enjoying this quite spot.

 

This little chunk of paradise would be perfect for a couple of days stay.

Next it was lunch at Glenn Innes and on to Inverell before pulling off the highway down a 2 or 3 kilometre dirt road in to the Cranky Rock reserve about 8 kilometres before Warialda.

Picnic areas and camping area.

Picnic areas and camping area.

There is a superb bush camping area here with hot showers and even power for dirt cheap.

What a superb spot this is. This is easily a week or more stay for us when we’re on the move again.

Peacocks happily visit around the van.

Peacocks happily visit around the van.

Set beside the peaceful Warialda Creek this place is teaming with birds and other wildlife and is set amongst beautiful natural bush and huge granite boulders. The bushwalking is enjoyable, especially down beside the quintessential babbling brook with the huge boulders towering overhead.

A short walk from the camp area to the river.

A short walk from the camp area to the river.

The viewing platforrm shows off the river.

The viewing platform shows off the river.

The story of how the place got its name is also fascinating. We really were sorry to leave this beautiful spot so soon but after a gloriously peaceful sleep and a bit of breakfast it was on to Warialda for coffee and then the course was set for “home”.

 

We arrived back at the farm just after lunch which left us plenty of time to get the caravan set up under the shelter and this time we’ve jacked the wheels off the ground to protect the tyres since we won’t be taking the AussieWide on the road again till after the next cotton harvest.

It was wonderful to experience this amazing little trip but we had no regrets about coming back to the farm either. Ingrid and Merlin, our two Estonian girls who took over the kitchen duties while we were away did a first class job and we returned to the place clean and organised.

How could we be more content?

Hugs, new places and way too much food.

That’s the best way to describe our holiday. With the camp in the capable hands of Merlin and Ingrid, Chris and I took off for 11 days. It was our last chance to have a long break as pre-irrigation starts next week then it’s on to planting.

We took the van this time as it needed a few things done on it.

1. A new awning. The old one was damaged with a hail storm that went through Boomi a couple of months ago.

2. A service. We had a noise in the air conditioner that sounded like a stick caught in there. And when the weather gets into the high 30’s + we need it running at 100%. It also pays to have everything checked and greased for when we do get back on the road.

Now add doctors appointments, podiatrists, specialists, accountants, pysio’s, tyres for the Nissan and to get around to see everyone, everything had to be booked in on a tight schedule.

So Wednesday came and it was a real thrill to see the van behind us. We were in no rush as our first point of call was to park the van outside Aussie traveller for the awning to be repaired the next day. We pulled into Pelican park at Redcliffe to watch the sun set over the water first.

The moon coming up, a glass of wine what else do you need.

The moon coming up, a glass of wine what else do you need.

We love the country but both Chris and myself are drawn to the water and every time we come home we try and get enough of it to satisfy our hunger.  After the sun had gone down we parked outside Aussie traveller, it’s in an industrial site and very quite through the night. We forgot how easy it is with the van, dinner was cooked, we had water for a shower and watched TV…simple.

So after the first wake up call at 4.30am from cars driving into a business (not sure which was as we didn’t get up) we slept in until 7.30am. Then it was off to the first of our appointments, we arrived back at 4.00pm to race the van over to Sandgate where it was going in for a service the next day. We then went and stayed with Barry and Christine for the night. We were glad to stop and rest as the next day was just as hectic. 300km in two days driving around Brisbane. Traffic lights, stop and start traffic and idiots who think they need to be in front no matter how much distance is between you and the car in front, man we don’t miss that.

We found out what the noise in the air conditioner was…4 dead frogs. When they get hard they bounce around which sounded like a stick. Have since found out this is a common problem out here for air conditioners in the houses.

We stayed at the Big4 at Aspley  Friday and Saturday night, we find this easier as I went out with the girls Friday night and we had little Chris’s surprise belated birthday gathering at Scarbough on Saturday. This was a great afternoon catching up with June and Nikki and their kids, Natalie and her family, Ben and Alecia, Lacey and Elliana. This was our first cuddle with Elliana for 3 months, my has she grown, and I believe gotten even cuter. 

 

Natalie with Shianne, Tegan, Chloe and Cayden.

Natalie with Shianne, Tegan, Chloe and Cayden.

Chris in deep discussing with Noel.

Chris in deep discussing with Noel.

Wayne, June, Alecia and Chris

Wayne, June, Alecia and Chris

Elliana with Uncle Chris

Elliana with Uncle Chris.

It was great catching up with everyone.

It was great catching up with everyone.

 Saturday night it was over to Ashley and Lish’s place where we got to see Riley and Charlotte. We had bought Riley a John Deere peddle tractor and trailer. It has a motor button that sounds just like a tractor.  Riley loves wheels and we watched as he found a screw driver and proceeded to “fix the tyres”.

It has two buttons, a horn and the sound of a motor.

It has two buttons, a horn and the sound of a motor.

Maybe he can give Charlotte a ride in the trailer when she is older.

Maybe he can give Charlotte a ride in the trailer when she is older.

Charlotte of course, is beautiful and already sleeps through the night at 8 weeks.  Ashley and Lish took us out for Chinese to celebrate Father’s Day. 

Chris and Charlotte.

Chris and Charlotte.

Eat, eat, eat we ate way too much. From yum cha to Tapas, nibbles to take away. Why do we do it is always the question.

Sunday to Tuesday was spent up the coast staying with Lacey. We ended up staying Tuesday so we could catch up with David. It was lovely to see more of Elliana and to be able to take her for a walk to the park.

 

Elliana likes to have a swing in the park.

Elliana likes the swing in the park.

Elliana showing Grandpa how to play his Ukulele

Elliana showing Grandpa how to play his Ukulele.

The rest of the holiday Chris will write about. We enjoyed our time off even though the first couple of days were very rushed.