Revisiting old favourites

I can’t believe it has been eighteen months since the end of our trip. Seems like such a long time ago, but we talk about it all the time with the kids. I am surprised at how much they still remember, people, places and certain attractions. Some memories are fading, but the experience has helped shape them as little people.

Carnarvon has been our home now for just shy of a year. During our trip, this part of the WA coastline was a highlight for us, so now we spend long weekends and school holidays revisiting some of the places we liked best. We have also had the opportunity to see some attractions we missed last time round.

Coral Bay was always one of our favourites. We have visited twice so far, where the kids have mastered snorkelling and just love having a go with mum or dad off the beach. At Easter, I booked a whale shark trip, and I finally got to see one. Not just one, but three, including a massive 8 meter male. That is one big fish. In the end, I had seven drops with three different whale sharks, and that was all before lunch. I felt like I had had a workout to rival Ian Thorpe, but the experience was worth it. After lunch, we had a swim with some manta rays too, and then a lazy afternoon just snorkelling on the inner reef.

Gnaraloo Coast

Gnaraloo Coast

Snorkelling was another highlight of our trip to Gnaraloo station between Christmas and New Year. We discovered a spectacular bay with loads of coral, fish and marine life, and we had the place to ourselves.

One big event for 2013 is that Coby finally had her heart surgery. After two cancellations, she had her repair in February. I am very happy to report that it all went well, with no complications. As a treat, once Coby was able to swim again, we spent a weekend at Monkey Mia, and visiting the sights around Shark Bay. Both the kids got an opportunity to feed a dolphin, as did mum. We also went on a wildlife spotting cruise and saw a tiger shark and a dugong. Best of all, we got to spend some quality time together as a family after a very stressful month.

As for new favourites, we have visited the Kennedy Ranges, and Mount Augustus. The family dusted off the old walking boots and spent most of the weekend hiking and enjoying the scenery. It had been very hot and dry, so we would like to see it all again after some heavy rain, so the water pools actually had some water in them.

Mt Augustus

Mt Augustus

The last school holidays we went back to Cape Range National Park for 5 nights. There is so much to do here we actually had a really full holiday. The four of us squished into our two-man kayak and paddled up Yardi Creek, spotting black-tailed rock wallabies. This was a real treat as they are an endangered species, and only live in a few areas. The kids also continued to perfect their snorkelling skills, and both of them got to see massive rays and reef sharks for the first time. We met some lovely families at our campsite, which really brought back memories of our trip and all the wonderful people we met along the way.

Rhys snorkelling

Rhys snorkelling

Turtle at Lakeside. Cape Range NP

Turtle at Lakeside. Cape Range NP

Yardi Creek Gorge

Yardi Creek Gorge

As a family, camping is just such a wonderful way to spend time together. Our new favourite family activity is fishing and crabbing. Mike just bought us a big tinny, and we are planning on using it. So now camping will involve tents in the boat, and off we go. I now can’t wait until the kids are confident enough swimmers to snorkel in the open ocean. Maybe next year…

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Six months later…

We have been back in the land of reality for over six months now, what was the outcome of our trip…

It took us more than two months of waiting before we finally gave up on finding a suitable, affordable rental in Port Fairy. We took a lease on a house in Warrnambool and moved in. After months of hunting and numerous applications, Mike finally found a job as a Technical Officer at TAFE. It was by no means what he wanted to do, but it was a job.

Mike and I spent the better part of the Easter long weekend, and many days following, cleaning and making minor repairs on the caravan. We sold it relatively quickly. As its proud new owners drove it out of our driveway, I almost shed a tear. It signified the end of a remarkable chapter of our life, and it was more upsetting than I thought.

On a more positive note, we have had several catch up sessions with our wonderful travelling friends, the O’Callaghans, who only live two hours drive away. It was so much fun getting together and reminiscing about our adventures and the friends we had met.

Despite life getting back to normal, Mike and I still felt a bit unsettled. The cold weather was really getting to us, and it wasn’t great for Coby. Mike wanted a job with a future, which was nearly impossible at the moment in SW Victoria. So we went searching for other opportunities.

From our travels, we had several ideas in mind of places we liked, and where we thought we might be able to call home for a while. All of them had warmer climates and career opportunities. Trying to get a foot-in-the-door job within mining or the oil/gas industry is not an easy feat, especially if you have no specifically relevant experience, or a skill that is not so much in demand in that industry.Coby Hanging out at the River Gum CafeRhys hanging out at the River Gum Cafe

But the Gods were kind to us, and I landed a job with Rio Tinto in a little town called Carnarvon in WA. It’s a Monday- Friday, day job, which suits me fine. I have to get up before 5 am to catch the employee bus to work, but I am home around 4pm, and get to spend more time with the kids after school than I did before. Mike also has a casual position with one of the local Electrical companies. A good start for now.

Best of all, winter temperatures regularly hit the mid twenties, though summers are supposed to be similar to Perth. The area has a big fruit and veggie growing industry, and we have been taking advantage of the bountiful fresh produce. Fishing and crabbing is also meant to be awesome, but we have yet to find out for ourselves.

We are now in the market for a camper trailer, to use on what we intend to be regular trips up to Coral Bay and Cape Range National Park. We also have some places yet to explore inland, and Monkey Mia and Kalbarri to the south.Dolly in Carnarvon

The kids have had a visit to their new school, and are really excited about starting after the school holidays.

So now we can really say, the trip has changed our lives in more ways than one.

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