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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?