Synthesisers and saxophones 

Well we decided to head to Birdsville for the Big Red Bash again this year and this morning we set off at ridiculous o’clock on our journey to the Simpson Desert.

Since our last camping trip to the Goulburn River at Easter I’ve bought myself a new rig with some real 4WD capacity and a 50mm lift kit. It turns out the hitch was a little high for the camper with the lift and neither Master15 nor I could shift the bolt to lower it. We made our first stop in the lovely town of Finley NSW that had been kind to us on our last trip to Birdsville (we’d lost a box off the camper and it was handed in to the local police who arranged a local transport company to truck it back to Melbourne for me!).

We’ve added Nanna to team kickarse for this trip so I sent her off to the bakery with the kids for a mid-morning cuppa while I searched for a mechanic to help us with our hitch. Big shout out to Boomerang Motors for coming to our rescue and taking the time and tools to get us on our way quickly and safely.

Back on the road for a few more hours of driving and singing along to the ‘I miss the 80’s’ play list on Apple Music. I’m glad my kids have an appreciation for my eclectic music styles and can sing along at full voice to such classics as ‘What about me’ or rock out with some air guitar to songs like ‘Money for nothing’. I was quickly reminded by about track four (of 99!) just how long songs from the 80’s went for and the length of intros filled with synthesisers and saxophones! We had far more patience for a long intro 20 years ago – they’d be breaking for an ad before the lyrics started if songs were like that now.

We continued our very own carpool karaoke for a few more hours before stopping in Griffith for lunch and some fun on the most amazing outdoor adventure playground – for little AND big kids! We even managed to get Nanna to have a turn on the zip line and got it on film for future bribery or bragging rights. The kids had a great time and the sun was shining even though the temperature hadn’t got above 15 degrees all day so we were well and truly warmed up when we got back in the car to hit the road again.

About two hours south of Cobar the road kill and wild goats by the road started. It was about this time when I started to rethink the original plan of driving to Bourke where it would be dark by the time we arrived. Better to stop in Cobar before the sun sets.

We drove through Mount Hope and I was reminded of our last trip when we stopped in for a cuppa. I ordered a mocha at the pub (the only place in town on the main road) and the lady behind the counter said she’d not made one in the four years she’d been there yet mine was the second one she’d made in just two days. Plenty of Melbourne coffee (or not so in my case) lovers on their way to the bash. While waiting by the toasty open fire an old timer who works in the Cobar mine popped in, took out his guitar and started singing some Johhny Cash. Memorable pit stop but not one we had time to relive today.

The closer we got to Cobar, the quicker the sun started to fade and the more the foliage by the side of the road, with its silver and black shades, began to look like the silhouette of a kangaroo. We passed emus, herds of wild goats, sheep, cattle and kangaroos and I’m happy to say I remained alert and our new electric brakes work a treat.

We rolled into Cobar just after 5pm, impressed Nanna with the speed at which we set up the camper and unhitched the car and headed out to the Fort Bourke Hill lookout for the last of the sunset at 5.30.

Hot dinner, some reshuffling of pantry and additional items that ended up being packed at the last minute then it was time to settle down with blankets and hot water bottles to watch Ghostbusters II – another 80’s classic to round out the day and warm us up for bed.

We’re staying at the caravan park which is lovely but quite noisy with nearby truck traffic. I’m hoping with my ‘snore blocker’ ear plugs I get a better night sleep than the five hours I got last night right before my nine hour drive!

A journey…of sorts

So this blog post has been sitting in my drafts for some time. I’ve had a few more moments of fear and anxiety since I wrote this reflective piece but things are definitely looking up! I think I finally feel brave enough to actually post this… 

This week will mark six months since we returned home from our four months on the road. Master 14 is now Master 15 and Miss 6 is now Miss 7 and me? Well I’ve had a birthday and started my 39th year with a steely determination not to let others take me for granted and to keep investing in solid time and adventure with my two munchkins (albeit the biggest munchkin now stands taller than me!).

While we’ve taken the camper out for a couple of short trips, most of our journeys of late have been of the figurative type. I’ve started a new job and moved the kids and I into our own home complete with furkid and a new paintjob throughout.

This should be a time of great joy and excitement for all of us. I’m lucky my new job is great and I get to work (again) with a great group of like-minded yet diverse people and so far, it’s keeping me challenged and content.

After two years living with my very generous dad (minus the four months we spent on the road in our trusty camper) with the furkid taken in by mum – we’re finally all together in our own home where the kids can paint their rooms any colour they like and I can hang as many pictures on the wall as I like. Needless to say, Master 15 went with a lovely shade of blue (convenient as it was already that shade when we moved in) and Miss 7 selected ‘leopard print’. She compromised and went with some leopard print decals to stick to the wall.

We’ve been in the house one week now and for the past few months as we packed and planned, the excitement has been building and we were all rapt when we finally moved in (especially mum and dad I think!). After the first five nights the kids went to their dad’s for their time with him and I was left alone in the house, just me, my thoughts and my furkid.

The excitement seemed to wear off when nightfall came and I’d realise I was alone and slightly afraid – not very kick-arse at all. My closest friends and family know that on NYE of 2015/16 I was assaulted and though I recovered from my physical injuries after about a month, the emotional scars have taken far longer to heal.

Travelling around Australia with my two favourite people (and meeting some new friends along the way) was arguably the best therapy anyone could ask for. If I wasn’t immersing myself in the rugged and remote beauty of our wonderful country or laughing, playing and singing with the kids, I was driving. Driving sometimes five hours with the stunning scenery surroundng us and the view in the rearview mirror reminding me just how far I’d come.

Coming back to Melbourne was hard (life on the road is AWESOME) but I seemed to settle in ok and get on with life determined also, to leave that earlier chapter of my life far behind me. The kids had been going to stay with their dad every fortnight since we got back but I always had dad home with me when I lay my head on the pillow and that was reassuring. More reassuring than I’d realised it seems.

My first few kid-free nights in our new home soon turned from excitement to a sense of overwhelming emotion and tears. At first I thought I was just super tired but I soon realised that having my dad there each night had made me feel safer than I cared to admit and that being alone now was hard. Just over a year  after my ordeal and I thought I’d largely gotten over it but it seems there’s still a long way to go on my personal journey. A journey I’m still determined to make, surrounded only by people who love, support and most importantly respect me.

While I still feel let down by the person who hurt me I feel perhaps just as disappointingly, let down by a system that is supposed to keep people safe. It’s definitely been a journey and one that I’m still on but as long as I keep looking forward and only glance in that rearview occasionally to see how far I’ve come, it will be an adventure.

Writing this blog was not only a great way to document our adventures around Oz but a cathartic exercise for me in my own personal journey. I’m not ready to close the chapter on the kickarse mum and with a few small trips with the two kids and camper on the horizen I reckon I’ll start this baby back up again. Safe travels everyone and we hope to see you on the road soon!