Tuesday, November 1, 2011

7 Days of Bianca - Day 5

Yesterday was another hectic day.

It began with a trip to a Skin Clinic to have a mole removed (or so I thought). I have had a mole on my back for a few months and it has been itching and driving me crazy. I decided to google 'itchy mole' the other day and found out, to my horror, that it can be one of the first signs of melanoma. Given that my Gran has had melanomas and countless skin cancers (actually you can count them - I just can't be bothered), I decided to ring the skin clinic to make an appt to have the mole removed.

The Skin Clinic in question, which I won't name, is in an upmarket suburb and has a good reputation. I have been going there for years. You have to pay a small fortune to go, but I don't mind because I feel like I am receiving proper treatment.

Yesterday my opinion of the Skin Clinic took a humongous nose dive. I walked into the new Dr's office and was surprised to see pictures of him on the wall with numerous celebrities and politicians, including the former russian president Mikhail Gorbachev. I immediately disliked him, assuming him to be a celebrity slut. My dislike for him was further aggravated when he paid almost zero attention to my itchy mole and instead focused most of his attention on my 'extremely sun damaged' face. He decided I needed to go next door, to his cosmetic surgery, to have a special picture taken of my face so I could see for myself how badly I needed him to do some cosmetic procedures.

Having your skin checked must have to be the most degrading thing a woman can experience. The highlight of my appointment was when he had to lift up each boob to search for skin cancers. He found something of interest under one breast because he instructed me to hold it up myself so he could peer closely with his magnifying glass. Luckily I don't embarrass easily and was quite happy to stand there in all my glory (although I did almost say 'these boobs may need lifting up to see under but they have nourished FOUR children!!!')

After declaring me skin cancer free I was sent next door for my 'free' photo.

I decided to go, for interests sake, not because I have any inclination to have any cosmetic procedures. Also, I was quite flattered that he thought I was concerned in anyway whatsoever about my appearance. Although as I was leaving the office, I asked him 'is this photo for medical or cosmetic purposes???'. He hesitated then said 'both' in a very undecided manner.

Next door a nurse greeted me and led me into a special room. She was blabbering on about how Dr So&So is so famous and that he treats movie stars and they come here just to see him. She pointed to a personally autographed picture of Cher on the wall. "Is he a real Dr of medicine?" I asked her as I was dubious that anyone in the medical profession would behave in the way he had. She took great offense to that question and then spent the next 10 minutes telling me about how renowned he is, which made me wish that I hadn't asked.

The photo she took of my face was horrendous. It was just a regular picture, but then she added some kind of special effect to it - which I'm sure any picture editor could do - that made my face look extremely blotchy. It seemed to make every freckle seem about 50% bigger and darker than it actually appears. She then zoomed in on my skin so I was viewing it extremely close up. Every pore looked like an enormous black lake on a barren land.

After she considered that I was suitably frightened, she launched into a description of the various products I could buy (apparently Dr So&So has developed his own creams) and what cosmetic procedures I could have to reduce my 'premature aging'. "Have these creams been clinically tested?" I demanded to know. She answered "of course". "May I please view the results??" "oh, I don't know, the Dr has them somewhere......". She gave me a sample of some cream that would make the skin on my face as smooth and blemish free as a baby's bottom and would eradicate any marks that may turn into cancer in the future.

I think she was extremely shocked when I left the clinic, having not bought a thing. I think her skill level at convincing people that they needed to do something urgently was impeccable. Unfortunately, I am the patient from hell. I am so sceptical of any products that haven't been independently clinically tested in double blind trials. Don't even bother talking to me about something unless it has been published in scientific journals and reviewed by other scientists. The cream actually had part of the word 'medical' in its name - which for me is like ADVERTISING that it is NOT a medical product.

From there I took my itchy mole back home to get ready to take the caravan down the Gold Coast. I was so annoyed that it was still on my back!!!

Ben and I dropped the caravan down to Kristy's house and headed home so I could get ready to take Diddy into hospital.

Hospital was a non event. They hooked Diddy up to 6 million machines to monitor how her stats were overnight. I had sushi for dinner, followed by some chocolate and an early night. She was fine. Her stats were good enough for us to leave this morning so that was a relief. I am now getting ready to drive to Syd. Wahoo!!!

Will try to write some stuff tonight.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

7 Days of Bianca - Day 4

So it is now 11:19pm and after a quick break I am straight back into blogging.

I had a bit of a lucky morning. My brother in law took the girls to Nippers so I was spared the pain of traipsing around the beach with Diddy and Rohan in tow. I did have to be up super early to get them ready though - bummer... no sleep ins for me!!!

I spent the day getting ready for my trip to Sydney. I am driving down on Tuesday with my sister Kristy and her two children plus Rowie and Diddy. Yes, Kristy and I are mad. Travelling to Sydney in a car with 4 children who are 3 and under. Getting ready to go to Sydney involved tackling Mt Washmore. I spent a good 3 hours putting clothes away and packing clothes into the caravan.

Luckily for me my mother in law came around to help with the little ones. I am very fortunate to have a mother in law that I get along with. It made my day so much easier, not having to worry about the younger two.

After a hectic day packing and cleaning I invited my neighbours around for a mexican feast. I managed to cook up a heap of veges for Diddy and vac sealed them in little pouches (just like the ones in the shop!!). After dinner I made a butterscotch pudding and had a twi-night with my neighbour and friend Rach. Twi-nights involve us watching one of the Twilight movies while fiddling on our smart phones and eating rubbish.

It is now 11:26pm and Ben is home from work after spending the weekend in Cairns. I have just finished listening to his riveting opinion on the qantas issues. My main concern with all this hullaballoo is whether or not Ben's job is in jeopardy - which apparently it isn't. So I'm not overly interested. There are much more important things happening at the moment. I can't waste precious energy and brain space thinking about Alan Joyce.

I leave for Syd on Tuesday and before them I have an impossible number of things to do.

Tomorrow I am driving down the Gold Coast to have a mole removed, then driving back home to pick up the caravan, then driving back down the Gold Coast to drop the caravan to Kristy's house, then driving back home to get my stuff, then driving all the way into the Mater Children's in Brisbane to stay the night for one of Diddy's follow up sleep studies. And I have to do school work with Kylah and Jazzy and Mt Washmore is only 50% conquered.

So much to do and all I want to do is zzzzzzzzz.........

Will write Day 5 from hospital tomorrow night!! Hopefully I don't fall behind again.


7 Days of Bianca - Day 3

Craaaaap!!! I am two day's behind already!

It is now 11:02pm Sunday night and I have decided to quickly write this blog because I realised that this is the last opportunity I will have to type my blog out on a computer. From here until the last blog post on day 7 I will be typing from my phone.

Instead of going into why I won't be able to type on a computer I will tell you a bit about our day 3 and leave the rest for tomorrow.

So day 3 of my daily blogging was tremendously busy.

Ben and I managed to stay in bed till 8am that morning. Diddybell slept in till 9:30 like the little angel that she is. Ben and I *layed in bed talking and sending children out of our room periodically when they would come into inquire about breakfast or tv or whatever it is they wanted. What a lovely way to start a Saturday!!!

The relaxing start was not a prelude of what was to come however. We always have extremely busy Saturdays and somehow Ben always manages to be working or unavailable to help out on them (I think he asks qantas to be rostered to work on the kids busiest days - I know I would if I was him!!!). We set off at 9:35 (yes 5 mins after waking Diddy) to go to a 1st birthday party in a nearby park. The kids had a lovely morning running around, eating lollies and playing with the other kids.

We left the party early to head off to dancing. The girls do 3 hours of dance classes on a Saturday. Jazz, Musical Theatre and Ballet. While the girls are at dancing I usually take Rohan and Diddy to my sister Kristy's house.

After dancing I went to visit a friend who is expecting her first baby. It was so lovely to catch up with her and her husband and see her beautiful bump. She is one of those women who looks absolutely SENSATIONAL pregnant (usually I hate those kind of women but I make an exception for Carol because she is so lovely!!!).

After afternoon tea with Carol I took the children to Grandmas for dinner. Spag bol followed by an icecream in the bath (for the kids not me). I then watched Doc Martin with my Gran (a show I have never seen before but which Grandma loves) and helped her use the internet to do some family history research.

I arrived home with the kids at about 10pm and had to lug all 4 of them upstairs, along with the numerous bags of dance outfits, cpap machines, handbags, drink bottles. It took me a good half an hour to get everything in from the car and by that stage I had my second wind and so did Diddybell, who decided that she had had her sleep for the night and was now going to be wide eyed and cute.

So Diddy and I stayed up till 12 watching a show on the human mind. It was actually quite interesting and was all about attention (an area which I am quite impaired in).

Anyway it is now 11:15pm Sunday night and I have finished Saturday's post. Only took me.... 13 minutes!!! AND I still have time to quickly write Sunday's one so I am not behind anymore.

Gotta dash!!!


Friday, October 28, 2011

7 Days of Bianca - Day 2

I am sooo tired. I am not going to type much. I am only doing this so I don't fall behind on my 7 day challenge. The last thing I need is to fall behind on something else!!
So this morning I was up at 6 ready to go to the gym. Unfortunately Ben decided to sleep in till 9 so I couldn't go till then. I did some school work with the kids and then left Ben to supervise while I went for my hour and a half break. After the gym, I came home to a house full of screaming kids. Ben had been trying to get them to clean up and was in the process of putting their smurfs in a garbage bag to throw them out. "You can't throw out their smurfs!!!" I exclaimed!!! Ben was adamant that he was throwing them out because he doesn't make empty threats and told them that if they didn't work faster the smurfs would be tossed.
Anyone who knows my children at all will know how much they love their smurfs. It's all I hear about all day long. They have a few smurf toys, which they got from McDonalds, and they play with them CONSTANTLY. I was not letting Ben throw them out. For starters, he was due to leave for work at 11. Conveniently just 15 minutes after tossing the smurfs. I would then have to spend the day and night with 3 sobbing, inconsolable children. So we spent 15 minutes debating (this is probably a very polite way of saying what we were doing) about what to do with the smurfs. In the end I won!!! Of course. The smurfs did not get chucked.
After Smurfgate I spent a good 30 mins sifting through Mount Washmore looking for undies for Rohan. I could not find any so resigned myself to the fact that he would have to spend the day free balling. Rohan ended up completely stripping and spent almost the entire day starkers.
I then set to work on my next task for the day. Making a Rainbow birthday cake for my friends son. I think the cake turned out rather well. It was three tiered and had a rainbow on top made of smarties. I will upload a pic tomorrow. I also made zucchini soup for lunch - and totally stuffed it up!! I don't know what ingredient I forgot... but it wasn't as yummy as it usually is.
In the afternoon I started to pack the caravan in preparation for my upcoming trip to Sydney and spent an hour folding washing.
I have managed to sew SIX badges on Rohan's sleeping bag today. They aren't sewed on very well but they are done.
Anyway I have to go to bed. I am soooo tired and I have a busy day planned for tomorrow.
Sorry if this post is a disappointment to anyone. It isn't interesting or funny or anything really... just me blabbering on about crap.
Oh well - at least I did it!!!!
B xx

Thursday, October 27, 2011

7 days of Bianca - Day 1

I have decided to try to do a daily blog for 7 days, starting from today. I have wanted to do this ever since my friend Sig did a similar thing (hers was 10 days - but that is a bit ambitious for me!!). I have been waiting for a week when things are 'quiet' or 'normal', but that doesn't seem to be happening so I'm just going to write about my crazy weeks, as they seem to be the norm.

My main reason for starting this blog today is that I have had such a productive day, I feel the need to record it for use in future arguments with Ben about who does the most.

My day was due to start at 7am. I had my alarm set for that time so I could get up and go to the gym. Ben had to leave at 8:30 for work so 7am is pretty much the latest I could get away with. I went to bed the night before at 12a.m and was worried about how I was going to cope with only 7 hours sleep. Unfortunately for me my other alarm, that can't be programmed, woke up for her morning feed at 5am!!! It takes half an hour to feed and settle her and by that stage I was fully awake. So I decided to go to the gym early and then come back and try to catch the 2 - 3 hours sleep I was owed.

So off to the gym I went. I was amazed at the number of people who are there at that ungodly hour. I was sure I would have the gym to myself. Apparently there are TONS of women who like to work out before their day starts. By the time my alarm went off at 7am (which it did because I had forgotten to switch it off) my session at they gym had finished and I was on my way home.

Thursdays are a day when my children do yoga in a park with other home schooled children so there is always a humongous race against time to get the school work done early, everyone dressed and in the car in time for yoga. Usually I end up arriving 10 minutes late and extremely disheveled after running out of time to dress myself properly or run a brush through my hair. Our food is always something I have grabbed out of the cupboard and the kids have to fight over the one drink bottle, which is all I can find in such limited time.

Having woken up at 5 however, I was presented with a couple of hours extra for my day. I must have released some endorphins or something at the gym because I rejected the idea of going back to bed and instead started to tackle my day early.

I had so much time on my hands that I managed to get the school work done, picnic made (INCLUDING chopped up fruit!!!), I had a shower AND washed my hair AND straightened it AND made it look nice. I found 3 drink bottles and had everything packed and ready to go with plenty of time to spare. I was so overwhelmingly proud of myself. I couldn't wait to get to the park and casually unload my picnic and presentable looking children (actually, I forgot to brush Jazzy's hair so they were only semi-presentable) and hear the chorus of 'I don't know how you do it' from the other h/s mummies while smiling smugly.

So you can imagine how shocked and horrified I was to find out, whilst walking out to my car to leave, that yoga had been CANCELED!!!! A large number of children were sick, so there wasn't going to be very many there today and the weather looked dicey so they decided to call it off. I was floored.

I decided that I was not going to waste a morning of organisational genius so I decided to go out anyway and arranged with one of my friends, who has two boys that she home schools, to come over for a play date. So off we went. Tracy is the one friend who would probably be the least impressed with my organisational skills as she is one of the most organised and efficient people I know (on par with my Nicoles). But it was lovely to have a nice long chat with her while our children played.

After the picnic had been consumed we left Tracy's to go do a spot of shopping. Usually I try to avoid shopping with all 4 kiddies but I was feeling quite brave so I decided to go to Aldi and Coles. Shopping was fairly uneventful. It is such an effort to drag all 4 kids into the shops and then even more of an effort to load them and the groceries back into the car but I managed. There was no bribery involved although there were a lot of empty threats being made. "Rohan if you don't put that down I am going to ban you from watching Wiggles for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!!!", "Jazzy if you don't stop whinging I am going to put all of your My Little Pony toys in a box in front of our house labeled 'free to good home'".

When that long and arduous task was finally over and we were all loaded in to the car we headed off for an afternoon play date with another home schooling mummy. By this stage I was back to looking extremely disheveled and unorganised so we arrived at Sara's house in a flurry of messiness. You couldn't open a car door without groceries spilling out everywhere and the kids, who had spied the treats I had bought for doorknockers on Halloween, were begging for this and that. The three water bottles I had so carefully packed that morning were now AWOL and it took me 10 minutes of digging to locate Diddy's dooey (dooey is what we call a dummy).

I had a lovely afternoon talking with Sara while the kids played. In fact we had so much fun talking that I didn't realise that time had gotten away from me and before I knew it I was loading the kids back into the car and it was 7pm!!!! Usually my kids are almost ready for bed at that time and I still had a car full of groceries to unpack, kids to bath and dinner to cook.

Needless to say my kids went to bed with no bath after having had toast for dinner. I can honestly say, that last night (I think I may have started my blog off saying 'today', but I only got half of it written last night so it is now Friday) was the FIRST night in my whole 8 years of being a mother that I have ever fed my kids toast for dinner. I almost felt bad about it but I was too exhausted to give two hoots. I was so exhausted that I didn't even bother to hide the evidence (toast crumbs and a jam jar on the bench) so Ben wouldn't know. I ate a Lean Cuisine for dinner and that too was left stranded on the same lounge it had been consumed on.

I had planned to tackle a bit of Mt Washmore (thank you for the name Nicole) last night but I was barely able to make it up the stairs let alone traipsing from one room to the next putting away washing. I don't cope well with less than 8 hours of sleep so I am amazed that I made it to the time I did on 5 hours.

Ben arrived home at 9pm to a wife who was passed out and 4 sleeping children. Usually I am at the door to greet him and he has a delicious dinner waiting for him, but last night he came home to a jam jar and some bread on the bench and groceries strewn everywhere (I had tried to put some away).

So it is now Friday. I was up at 6 ready to go to the gym but Ben was still sleeping. I am now biding time before I can wake him to watch the baby so I can go to the gym. I have a fairly busy day planned. I have school work to do with the kids, then they have some of their home schooled friends coming over (I dare anyone to say home schooled children aren't socialised!!!), I have to tackle some of Mt Washmore, decorate a cake for a friends' baby's birthday, and pack for my trip to Sydney next week.

So far I am off to a flying start. It is almost 8a.m and all I have done is start off the school work (Kylah is now working fairly independently) and then plop down in front of the computer to read the news/facebook and write my blog.

Ooooh!!! I also need to sew some badges on to Rohan's sleeping bag today. Did anyone read my holiday blog about how I had been buying cloth badges for my mum to sew onto the kids sleeping bags??? Well turns out that was the WORST idea ever!!! My mum has arthritis in one of her fingers (or so she says) so I have to do it. It takes FOR EVER and I feel like I need to do it or I will never hear the end of it from Ben, who watched in horror as I spent on average $5 on cloth badges per child everywhere we went. Hundreds of dollars will be wasted if I don't stitch these bloody things on so I had better get on to that.

Also, I just remembered something funny Rohan said yesterday. He came to me and said that he needed to do a vomit, which was followed by 'hic'. It was his first time having the hiccups since he has been able to adequately describe what he thinks is going on. It reminded me of Kylah's first time describing the hiccups. She came racing into the kitchen screeching "mummy!!! I need some water!!! My mouth won't stop moving!!!!" She had an urgent and panicked look on her face. "What?!?" I asked her. Her response was "Hic"!!! Hilarious!!!

Hopefully 'Day 2' will be written tonight.

B xx

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back home..... Final Big trip blog - For now!!!

You've probably all guessed, from the absence of blogs, that I am HOME!!!
If you're thinking that the reason I haven't been blogging is because I have been busying myself with cleaning the caravan and putting everything away then you are dreadfully mistaken.
No, I only wish it were so. Since being back I have busied myself doing anything and everything BUT cleaning the caravan and putting all the washing away. It has gotten so bad that my mum is coming over tomorrow for a 'cleaning intervention'. Rather than have an early night tonight, as my mum suggested, so I can be ready and raring to go at the crack of dawn, I have wisely decided to stay up late and write some of my blog.
I have been so busy lately that I don't know what day it is or what I am supposed to be doing. Can you believe that THREE QUARTERS of my children have birthdays between now and Christmas??? Those of you who know how OTT I go with my kids birthday parties will understand my panic. I have been frantically ordering costumes for Diddy's first birthday (nursery rhyme themed and fancy dress), Figuring out how on earth I am going to make a cake that incorporates Smurfs and Surfboards for Kylah's birthday (I am thinking of a surfboard cake with Smurfs on top and 'Smurfs Up Dudes' written on it) and organising a pony party for Jazzy. This is on top of all the present buying and organising that I have to do for Christmas. I am also heading off on a road trip to Sydney in Nov to be Godmother for my BFF's baby girl. So you can see how unpacking from our travels has managed to take a back seat.
I have written my final blog from the trip in my head about 6 times (it went nothing like this) but have never managed to find 5 minutes to sit down at a computer so the words can spew out of my fingers. There were a few things I wanted to write about. The first was a list of things I found useful on my trip and a list of things I found completely useless. So here goes:
Useful List:
1. The most useful thing I took on my trip was my 20Ltr bucket that has a toilet seat for a lid. You put a garbage bag in it and do your business. There are a number of disposal methods for getting rid of the 'business'... which I won't discuss here. None of them are particularly offensive but I am trying not to talk so much about toilets on my blog so I will refrain. It was a life saver, especially when you need to go to the loo in the middle of the desert and there are no tree's to hide behind. Much nicer than a portable toilet because you can get rid of your waste immediately and a lot nicer than traipsing through prickly things and ants to find somewhere to dig a hole.
2. Coming in a close second was my toweling dressing gown and microfiber towels. It is so easy to go to the showers with just some soap in the pocket of your dressing gown, rather than carting all your nice clean clothes over there and having to try to delicately dress yourself, making sure none of your clothes touch anything in the dirty bathroom.
3. Vacuum sealed meals. These were sooooooo handy. It was wonderful not to have to cook most nights and made things so much easier.

Useless things:
1. Topping my list of useless things would have to be the 6 books I took with me. They really didn't have a home and I only got time to read two pages of 1 of the books. I prefer to snooze in the car over reading and when we weren't driving there was no time for reading and relaxation.
2. Yoga Mat and Boxing gloves. Yes, Kristy was right. The boxing gloves were used on the first night and then spent the rest of the trip being shoved from one cupboard to another (I think maybe I did use them briefly one other night). The yoga mat was used only once - and not for it's intended purpose. It was used it as a play mat for Kobber and Diddy at Buley Rockhole - Litchfield National Park.
3. All of the tinned food I took. What a complete waste of space. What on Earth was I thinking? I took enough rubbish tinned food to keep us alive for a year... had a meteorite plunged into the Earth and caused a dust cloud that completely blocked the Sun and caused mass famine - then my family would have been safe from starvation for a long time!!! However, you CAN buy food in the outback!!! Surprise, surprise they have shops!!!! There was NEVER one meal where I thought to myself - "oh I had better go and open one of those tins of baked beans". We had fresh salad on our crackers for lunch EVERY day and not once did we have to resort to tinned carrots to accompany our dinner (although we did try instant mash one night just for the hell of it - it was ok, kind of similar to eating that paste we used in kindergarten). There were only two nights were my kids ate 2 minute noodles for dinner (and then it was only because they saw other kids doing it and wanted them for a treat). So I now have a cupboard full of tinned goods that will probably never get eaten. Actually, I take that back. I sent a lot of it to Fraser Island with Ben and I have the rest earmarked for him and the kids to eat on nights when I am going to one of my 'committee meetings'. (committee meetings are nights when a bunch of my friends and I get together to organise homeschooling activities and spend most of the night eating cake and talking).
4. My hair straightener. I have no idea what I was thinking taking this with me. It did not get used once. I briefly considered using it one night but then realised I had not packed a hair dryer and you can not do it on wet hair. So there went that idea. This probably should rank as the #1 most useless thing I took!!!
Gosh I could keep going on all night writing about the useless things I took!!! In reality you don't need much. I took waaaay too many clothes for the kids and myself. We could have survived with a lot less.

For those of you who were worried about my iq box (or was it just me???), you will be pleased to know that it did it's job and I came home to 99 hours of prime tv viewing. When I haven't been party planning, catching up with friends, visiting relatives etc... my butt has been firmly placed on my favourite reclining lounge catching up on what has been happening on Jersey Shore and Australia's Next Top Model.

My efforts at the gym have been extremely poor since I came home. I have been too busy and it is really sad to go there and see how far my fitness levels have regressed after spending 6 weeks primarily sitting on my arse. I have been so distraught about how much my fitness levels have declined that I have been forced to comfort eat to perk myself up!!!

Oh yeah... another thing that hindered my unpacking was the extremely sensible decision to rearrange the furniture upstairs ON THE NIGHT WE ARRIVED HOME!!!! I made the upstairs of my house so unbearable to be in that I..... can not bear to be there. Every time I go up there to survey the damage and try to work out a plan to fix it, I end up so overwhelmed by the shear enormity of the mess that I race back downstairs to the comfort of my recliner (and a jar of nutella + diet coke).

But it is my mission that by this time tomorrow night, everything will be cleaned, sorted and straightened. I will let you all know how I go!!!!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beyond NT - part one

When we left Uluru we said goodbye to our travelling friends with the plan to do our last two weeks solo. After some teary and melodramatic goodbyes we only spent one night apart before ending up back together at Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy was one of the parts of the trip that I was really looking forward to. I have fond memories of visiting there when I was a little girl. I have a vague recollection of walking down the street holding my mums hand and then bending over and picking up a rock that had a vein of opal in it. Coober Pedy hasnt changed much. My children were delighted to find rocks with opal in them. They spent a good two hours going through rocks finding opals and fossils. They had a brilliant time!

We explored an old mine and visited one of the underground houses. Simply amazing!! The house we visited had been dug out by hand by a single lady who had also dug herself a swimming pool in her living room. Of course all my kids decided that they wanted to move to Coober Pedy to live in a cave, including Ben who said he would quit his job and move there in a heartbeat. But no, I put my foot down and said I wasnt moving.

As we had met up with the others again in Coober Pedy we had to have another farewell dinner followed by a million goodbyes the next morning. We were off to do the Oodnadatta track (dirt road) while the others had chosen a more civilised route home via bitumen roads.

Off we set, along a dirt track into the Tirari Desert. The desert in SA is way more harsh than the desert in the NT. There is just 100's of kilometres of absolutely nothing. Actually, that's a lie... there are lots of flies!! If it wasn't for my new found appreciation for desert eco systems and interest in fossils and rocks I would have been bored shitless on our extremely long and bumpy drive. I have included a few photos of the nothingness that we saw out our windows.

We arrived in William Creek, a town who boasts a population of 7, and I headed into the local pub to enquire about permits (my real intention was to enquire about whether they sold ice creams). Who should I meet in the pub in the middle of no where???? My very own mother!!! The same mother I had said a tearful goodbye to a few hours, and couple of hundred kilometres ago. Mum was doing a scenic flight over Lake Eyre and the pilot had landed here to take his passengers to the pub. Thankfully there were no more teary goodbyes because my mum bought me an ice cream, which was enough to distract me while we headed off.

We decided to stay in a place called Coward Springs. Arriving there later in the afternoon I was very surprised to see this little patch of vibrant greenery in the middle of the desert. The water coming up in the spring brought to life hundreds of trees in an area about the size of a football field. It was a lovely place to camp. Probably my favourite place so far. (I wil add a pic of it below)

There was a spa in the campground, which was really just a hole where the water was bubbling up from the ground. Some thoughtful person had put railway sleepers around the edges and you really did feel like you were in a spa. The water was flowing in at such a rapid rate that it massaged you. All 6 of us soaked in there for ages - it wad perfect!!

After a yummy dinner we all sat around the campfire talking and toasting marshmallows. I think I saw about 5 shooting stars. A wonderful end to a lovely day!!

Oops, I almost forgot to mention. we had a picnic lunch in the middle of a claypan. It was delicious chicken and salad followed by an hour of hunting for fossils and rocks.

Will write more soon. I have just been to see Lake Eyre and have lots to tell you but typing on my phone while driving on a bumpy road is making me feel ill.


Beyond NT - Lake Eyre

One of the benefits of doing the Oodnadatta track is that we would get to see Lake Eyre with water in it. Considering I had not seen it without water I was not desperate to see it with water. But Ben was ovely excited about it so I feigned enthusiasm for his sake.

When we got there you could vaguely make out some blue water on the horizon in front of about a kilometre of mud. Thankfully I was able to use Didabell as an excuse not to tramp through the mud with the others to put my feet in the water. I happily stayed at the car while the other 4 set off.

Diddy and I quickly retreated to the caravan because the flies were completely insane. I think I saw more flies yesterday than I have seen in my entire life. I can only guess there are so many of them in the desert because they have no natural predators here... although... what on earth do they eat???? Unsuspecting tourists?

I happily played with Diddy in the caravan and watched the others splashing around in the Lake Eyre water. For a brief moment I worried that I had made the wrong decision. Leaving the van Didabell and I got about 1 metre into the mud before making a hasty retreat back to the van.

As Ben and the kids were heading back, I began to hear the kids all whinging and they were absolutely covered in mud and flies. My elation at being inside and clean was marred by the knowledge that some of my offspring were outside and uncomfortable. Lake Eyre its extremely salty and the salty mud was stinging the kids legs. Being in the desert, where water is precious, we didn't really have anything to clean them up with.

It took Ben about 15 minutes to clean Rohan up to my standards, so he would be permitted to enter my haven. As ben passed him through the door about 20 flies came with him - they seemed to have taken up permanent residence on him, especially just under his nose, which was all snotty from crying.

I then spent a good 10 minutes frantically squashing flies. The exercise was repeated when Jazzy was passed in, followed by Kylah.

Having to leave the van to enter the car was torturous. I don't think I can adequately explain how many flies there were. It was awful!!!

And there weren't just flies either - as I found when I hopped in the car and got bitten by a wasp on my lower back (about 2 inches above my bum). He bit me three times!!!! The yelling I did was way worse than anything the kids had been doing. Infact, my screams were enough to stun the older 3 into complete silence - their own discomfort temporarily forgotten.

After putting an ice pack on my stings we headed off to look for a free campsite.

It its kind of fun travelling on our own. I love travelling with a group, but being able to do whatever you want and go where ever you want is kind of cool. Ben and I had no idea where we were going to stay last night until we got there. It ended up being this remote rest area with no toilets, showers or even water.

The stars were amazing... again!!!

This morning we got up at our leisure and slowly got ready to leave. It wasnt until we were well on our way that we decided it would be nice to go to Port Augusta and stay somewhere nice (we are all in desperate need of a long shower).

We are slowly making our way to mildura to visit a friend of Bens. Then we will head home from there.

The friend of Bens we are visiting is named Rohan. Yes, Ben named our son after one of his old mates!! Actually, what really happened is that Ben and I were having trouble picking a name for our baby boy and we were fastly approaching the cut off date for having our baby named (for me that is 7 months pregnant). We had reduced our list of names to 5 mutually agreeable names and I had devised an elaborate voting system to determine the name. After both Ben and I had cast our vote the result came out that our baby boy would be named Josh. But then Ben said 'I'm not sure....'. Feeling frustrated I threw the baby book at him and screeched 'PICK A BLOODY NAME THEN!!!!.' Ben opened the book and looked at the first page the book fell open to. He said to me "what about Rohan? I used to have a mate named Rohan and he was a good bloke". "Fine" I responded grumpily (because I hated the name but just wanted one picked) "we'll call him Rohan James".

And that is how Rohan got his name!!!!

(Ben has just informed me that it was the dried salt flakes making the kids skin sting. He said it was awesome and I sound have come and that the salt was a natural exfoliant. My response was "Ben, do I look like someone who exfoliates??? And I can assure you if I ever had the urge to exfoliate it would be in a day spa - not in Lake Eyre!!!')

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My achievement - not climbing Uluru

The decision not to climb Uluru was not an easy one to make. Everyone else in our group was going to do it and my husband and kids were all geared up to do it - me being the sheep that I am had also planed to do it. I had posted my intentions on FB and no one had objected. I was ready, at the base with my phone in my pocket (so I could boast about my achievement on Fb from the top of the rock) to climb. Unfortunately, or in my case fortunately, the rock was temporarily closed due to high winds. So off I set on a base walk instead.

Having the time to walk around the base and read the information placed there by the local indigenous tribe gave me time to reflect on my decision. The indigenous Australians have the worlds oldest continuing culture. I have seen for myself that it is an endangered culture with so many in the NT on a dangerous path to self destruction. Uluru is a sacred place that is a part of their creation stories. They do not climb Uluru and they do not want people to climb it (the Aust tourism industry won't let them forbid it because they think it will affect tourism). People climbing the rock is causing erosion on the path and the constant urination of the climbers is polluting the surrounding environment. I felt like climbing the rock would contribute to the destruction of the indigenous peoples beliefs.

I thought to myself - how can I be proud of doing something that is causing hurt to people. If I climbed it I felt like I would be saying to the traditional owners 'stuff your beliefs... I'm doing it anyway'. I would not do that to any sacred site that belonged to any culture or religion. I would follow their wishes - out of respect.

Since the rock was closed we all traipsed over to the olgas to do the climbs there that you have the blessing of the local tribe to do. They were difficult and breathtaking. A truly spiritual place to be.

I thoroughly enjoyed my hike and even did it with Didabell strapped to my back. I have noticed a serious decline in my fitness levels this trip. Too much sitting on my bum has led me to pork up quite a bit. I'm not really worried too much about that though, I am more worried about how unfit I will be when I finally get back to the gym. Luckily my flash dance pants have a bit of give in them!!!

Apart from Uluru and the Olgas (i think their traditional name is Kata Tjuka.... although I really can't be bothered getting off my porky arse to look it up) there is absolutely nothing else to do there. They are pretty much in the middle of sweet nowhere. There are a ton of over priced tours and dinners... but nothing really for the budget conscious.

Ben and I had a triple date with Kris and James + Con and Karen at one of the over priced restaurants in Ayres Rock Resort. It was nice to have a night out and a yummy meal.

Our second day at Uluru bought with it perfect weather conditions for climbing so everyone shot off. I remained back at camp with the babies and little kids.

I don't begrudge anyone elses decision to climb. I could just see no personal gain from doing it. I would not feel triumphant but ashamed. Also, I have already tramped all over it when I was 8 years old. I made it to the top of the chain back then so I have already had the opportunity to clamber all over the rock.

There really is something about Uluru that gets to you. Ben constantly pointed out to me that it is just a rock... but I feel it was more than that.

Oh dear... I am getting a bit sentimental. I think that's my que to sign off!


Alice Springs

Alice wasn't too bad. I definitely wouldn't rate it as one of the top towns we visited. There are lots of things to do around Alice though.

The town itself, while boasting quite a few shops, wasnt much to look at. We stayed a fair way out of town away from all the problems... or so we thought! We had an issue on our final night that resulted in me frantically dialling 000 while trying not to wet my pants with worry.

Some idiot had been mucking around with explosives in the Todd river (which is presently just a river bed) and there was a massive explosion, which I felt though my entire body, followed by a decent sized fire. This all happened about 75m from our caravan!!! The police seemed none too surprised, or worried, when I rang them... apparently this isn't an isolated or unusual event.

I started off my time in Alice Springs hanging out in the hospital emergency room. It was absolutely packed. Little Diddy is being quite pesty and removing her mask in her sleep. We have been given strict instructions that she can not sleep without it and if there are any issues then we are to take her straight to hospital. I tried wrapping her up in a muslin wrap but little houdini wriggled out of that within seconds.

The nurse at the hospital was not helpful at all. Even though I had a letter from Diddy's respiratory specialist she did not seem interested. She reluctantly gave me some splints before sending me on my way. The splints are supposed to go on Diddy's arms while she sleeps so she can't get to her face but the nurse hadn't measured Diddy's arms so they were the wrong size. Rather than go back into that germ infested hospital room I decided to embark on a mission to find some kind of wrapping device in Alice Springs that would stop Didabell from tearing her mask off. Two hours and a million shops later, I stumbled across a second hand shop that had just the right thing - thank goodness!!

While in Alice we visited the most amazing place. It is called Palm Valley and it is this strip in between a gorge with the most beautiful, vibrant yellow and green palms. The gorge itself is bright red and the contrast makes for a simply magical place. You can only access it via 4wd and even then you need a proper 4wd. Toy ones don't cut it. There were a few prados in our group that scraped underneath. I will include some pics of it below. (although they really don't do it justice!!!)

We also took the kids to the Desert Park and on a sunset camel ride through the Mcdonnell ranges. They are such lucky kiddies!!! The desert park was amazing. It really gave me a new understanding and appreciation for the desert ecosystem. I had no idea it was so complex and full of life. I always imagined deserts to be hot, lifeless places with nothing much of interest in them.

The sunset camel ride was also another brilliant experience I would recommend (although I didn't get to experience it myself - somehow I always end up minding the younger two while Ben does these things with the older ones). If you do it in Alice Springs then you pay about half the price of what it costs at Uluru (and the MacDonnel ranges are equally as impressive).

My fossil collection has continued to grow with new purchases being made in Alice. I am also collecting cloth badges for the kids from everywhere we go so that I (and when I say 'I' I mean 'mum') can sew them on a blanket for the kids. These badges cost approx $5 each so it had worked out to be quite an expensive collection. I have bought them one from almost every town we have stayed in!

Anyway that is just about all I have to say about Alice. Must move on now because I still have Uluru to do!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

a bit behind!!!

we are heading to uluru today. so much to write about alice springs and the devils marbles. will hopefully get on to that in the next few days.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tennant Creek

As I mentioned in yesterdays post, Ben used to live in Tennant Creek and has been very excited about the prospect of showing me around his much loved town. He had talked it up so much that I was expecting a quaint, little friendly town with a real community feel.

As we drove in to TC the absolute shock and horror set in. It was dirty and dusty and there was graffiti EVERYWHERE. People were loitering all over the place, occupying most gutters and footpaths asking tourists for smokes or money. We drove to the local caravan park and I went in to pay. I walked in to the office and was hit by the worst BO smell I have ever encountered. I could hardly breathe. Walking back outside I decided that this was not the place for us to stay.

Luckily, I found a place to stay 8kms out of town. It was called Juno's horse centre. Just like the rest of TC, it was dusty but it had a nice atmosphere. There were horses roaming freely around the camp grounds and the owner seemed very nice. He only charged $6 per adult per night and kids are free.  After unhooking our van, Ben and I decided to go for a drive and I sent a message to the rest of our group explaining where we were.

The problem with being the one who makes the decisions is that you are also the one who has to cop the brunt of the bitching and moaning when the rest of the group don't approve of the facilities. The bitching and moaning was put fourth in a good humoured manner but you can't help but feel guilty. How was I supposed to know that there was a dead rat in the mens rooms? (to be fair to the owner of Juno, we have since found out that they were the 'retired' toilets and that there was a newer block... not that I think you can expect too much for $6 a night).

On our trip around town Ben showed me the dodgy old donger that he used to live in - which he claimed had been done up since he lived there, the airport, the pub... all the important places!!

I had no idea why Ben loved the town so much. To me it seemed like an awful place to live. But then I started to talk to different locals and realised how friendly everyone was. The bloke who owned the horse farm couldn't do enough for you. Ben and I paid him $12 and for that we got to camp there and use the amenities, he gave all the kids horse rides and he GAVE Ben a whole heap of stuff so Ben could make a mud guard for the back of our car.

The lady in the newsagentgave me a discount and a free bag when she found out that Ben had previously lived there! Such lovely people!! I don't think you will find a friendlier town anywhere.

Con and Kristy will tell a different story though. Kristy said Tennant Creeks only redeeming feature was that it had mobile reception and Con said that it wasn't too bad if you compare it to a prison in thailand. Apparently they witnessed a big fight in the main street which shocked them a bit.

After spending a morning lounging around the TC dam we headed off to the devils marbles. They were spectacular!! We camped there over night and watched the sunset over them lady night and then the sunrise over them this morning.

We are now en route to Alice Springs and I want to share with you something I just heard Ben talking about with a truckie. Sometimes Ben has a chat with the truckies on our uhf radio and asked this particular one about whether he hits many animals (we had already established that he drives back and fourth between Darwin and Alice). He said to Ben (just for the record I am completely HORRIFIED by this) "yea a few. I hit a black fella once. He was asleep on the road... thought he was a kangaroo". Ben pressed him for details and he said he went to the police and made a report but never heard anything more about it. He then added "oh it happens all the time" before launching into a description of some accidents he had witnessed.

I am so upsett. The indigenous Australians have such a rich and ancient culture and to hear them being compared by truckies to road kill is horrific. It is so sad. There are so many indigenous australians in the NT who are living such a sad existence. Something needs to be done to help them. I wish I had a solution.

On that sad note I am going to sign off. We are almost at Alice and I have to take Diddy into the hospital to get splints on her arms. I will have to write about it next time.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Race around Australia

That is what it feels like we are doing at the moment. Such huge distances to cover in as short a period as possible. There is nothing for 100's of kilometres, and we really don't want to hang around in the middle of nowhere. So hence we have spent yesterday and today driving humongous distances and spending hours in the car. This morning we left at 7:30am, after arriving at camp last night at 7:30pm. At 7:46am Rohan asked 'are we there yet?' quickly followed by 'I'm hungry'. If I hear 'are we there yet?' or 'how much longer?' one more time I may just go insane. I shouldn't complain too much, they have been so good considering.

Litchfield was wonderful!!! In fact I would go as far as to say it's better than Kakadu. If you are ever in the situation where you have the opportunity to visit either Kakadu or Litchfield then I would definitely say Kakadon't. Hehehe! I wish I could claim that joke as my own but I can't. I heard it from Kristy, who heard it from her friend Kelly, who heard it from her husband....

Anyway, Litchfield is so welcoming. The swimming opportunities are magnificent. So many plunge pools, water holes, water falls to swim in. All full of refreshing clear water that is safe from crocs and nasties. So far Litchfield has been the highlight of my trip, and I can't see that changing. There are so many fascinating places to visit and 4wd tracks to follow.

We spent one day 4wding and Kristy lost one of her personalised number plates in a croc infested river (there are crocs in the rivers but rangers work hard to make sure there are none in the water holes - unlike kakadu where they don't like you to swim anywhere. I had been so traumatised from all the croc warning signs that I didn't even feel safe in the caravan park pool at kakadu).

Back to my story... apparently, although I did not have the good fortune of witnessing it, James decided to wade into the river to retrieve the number plate. We had been told, by a local, not to put even so much as a toe in this river so James going in was complete stupidity. Nevertheless, with Kris and Con on croc watch James delicately went across the river, picked up the number plate and started back. On his way back his foot brushed something that gave him such a fright that he fell over in the water. According to Con, who rates this as the funniest thing he has ever seen, James was so scared that he lost control over his arms and legs, both flailing everywhere while he tried to both swim and run through the water screaming and yelling. I am so disappointed that Ben and I didn't hang back to witness it!!!

At the moment we are some where between Katherine and Tennant Creek. I have no idea where. Kylah just asked Ben how much longer till we get to Tennant Creek and he said 'one and a half hours'. Kylah replied 'oh good, that's not too long'.

I have nothing too interesting to report. Everyone in the group has been getting along well. So far there has been no sub divisions or mutinies. Most of the power rests firmly on my shoulders as I seem to be the one organising our days and everyone else just seems happy to follow. I spend most of my nights going from one campsite to the next trying to sort out what everyone wants to do, which invariably ends up being what Ben and I had planned to do.

You would think that by 3 weeks in to the trip we would have the set up/pack up routine down pat but alas, it is still completely chaotic. It isn't so much sorting out the caravan, it is more the issue of sorting out the large amount of children Ben and I have. Someone will need a toilet, or food, or a bandaid, or won't be able to find their drink bottle/hat/shoes, or need a breastfeed (only Diddy requires the breastfeeding just for the record). Just getting everyone into the car and buckled up takes a good fifteen minutes. Putting Diddy in and fitting the mask + turning on the machine takes about 10 of those 15 mins. She hates it and has worked out that she can self remove quite easily. So I have to hold her little arms down till she goes to sleep or have whoever is sitting next to her pin her arms down.

Tonight Ben is taking me out to dinner in Tennant Creek. He has promised to buy me some oysters at the local pub. Considering the distance the oysters would have to travel to reach the Tennant Creek Pub, I am highly surprised that they are a speciality there and am questioning their freshness. Tennant Creek is one of the furthest places from the coast in Australia.

Ben used to live in Tennant Creek and is keen to show me around. Anyway I had better go, Ben is insisting that I look at the view out the window (personally I think it looks the same as the view from 100kms ago... and I suspect I am about to have a lesson on the subtle differences!!!)


Friday, September 2, 2011


Yay!!! Yay!!! Yay!!! I finally have a computer to type on. I can write soooo much more crap when I am typing 60 words a minute than I can when I am trying to type on my phone, averaging about 3 words a minute.

At the moment we are in Darwin, and there really isn't a lot to do here, but I am having a FABULOUS time. I think because we are camped on - GRASS!!!! Also, the caravan park has a lovely pool and very clean bathrooms. Happy faces all round!!! Kristy and I also wasted no time bee lining the local shops and stocking up on yogo's for when we have our 'Big Bang Theory' nights in the caravan. Ben and James can't understand why we bother going on holidays when all we want to do is go shopping, swim in a pool and sit in the air conditioned caravan watching Big Bang Theory and eating yogo's. All things we can do at home!!!!! I have now decided to make it my mission to travel around and slob everywhere I go!!

We went to Fannie Bay Gaol yesterday and something very funny / hugely embarrassing happened. Fannie Bay Gaol is old and has been closed since 1979 and is used as a tourist attraction. I remember going there when I was 8 years old. Not much has changed in the last 24 years as it is still exactly how I remember it. The only thing different is that they have changed one of the rooms into an art gallery and use it to display art work that the inmates in Darwin prison have done. Kylah is quite taken with aboriginal art at the moment and has been looking with interest at the various dot paintings and rock art that we have come across. She thinks it is beautiful and I have been trying to teach her about aboriginal culture. At the gaol, Kylah spent a great deal of time studying the paintings of the inmates, which were mostly aboriginal art, and talking about which ones she liked. As we were leaving a group of indigenous students were coming into the gaol on an excursion. Kylah said in a very loud voice "Look!! There are some aboriginals. They must be coming to visit their paintings!!". There were a few snickers from the students and a few death glares too.... uh oh....

I think when I last left off we were still in Cooinda and about to go to Ubirr to watch the sunset. Maybe I should have written about that first but my blog is all mixed up so it doesn't really matter. Ubirr was lovely. There are these massive rocks, which are covered in thousands of years old aboriginal art. It is amazing and beautiful and they have guides walking around explaining the pictures. You can climb to the top of one of the rocks to watch the sunset. It was spectacular!!! The only downfall was that as soon as the sun is down you have to run down off the rock so you aren't trying to climb down in the dark. It was full on rock climbing too. By the time we were at the top we were at least 6 stories high. The awful thing about Ubirr was that it was insanely hot. There is no where safe to swim and there were mozzies and flies everywhere. I was soooo uncomfortable.

We also checked out the local river at Ubirr, which is full of crocs. My husband decided to fish there and stood with his feet in the water fishing. We had just seen a big salt water croc just meters from where he was standing. Crazy man!!!!

Today we went to Crocodylius (not sure of spelling of that word but I'm not sure they are either). It is a crocodile farm. The kids got to feed a huge 4.6m salt water croc. They had a broom handle with a bit of meat hanging of some string on the end and they had to dangle it in his enclosure and tease him with it. Apparently that is the only way he gets exercise is when he has to work for his food. It was a bit surreal watching Kylah giggling and teasing the croc with the food. There was only a wire fence between them. We were on a platform overlooking the small enclosure. Jazzy and Rohan didn't want to feed the Crocs. I can understand why!!! They stood back with Jago singing "Ner, ner, ni, ner, ner - you can't eat me!!!".

The kids all got to hold a baby crocodile and also hold a python. It was a really nice place to go. Very informative and educational. I did feel slightly sorry for the 682 baby salt water crocs all squished in the one enclosure but it is hard to feel too sorry for crocodiles. They are the ultimate psychopath.

Tonight we went to Mindil Beach Markets. We had such a fun night. The kids got to try their very first Dagwood Dog (I still haven't tried one - too scared of food poisoning) and we bought a few souvenirs. The kids all wanted hand painted boomerangs so we let them pick some nice ones out. Then we sat on the grass and ate ice creams while watching an indigenous band, followed by an african band. My eldest 3 got up in front of the crowds of people and danced. Very enthusiastically danced I might add. It was wonderful to watch them dancing so freely, not a care in the world about what everyone else thought. I bought myself, ummmm... I mean the family, some new fossils for our collection. I now have a total of 4 fossils in my, I mean our, collection ranging in age from 600 million years old to the fairly recent 2 million years old. I would tell you all about them but I can't be bothered. Anyone interested can arrange a private viewing of them when we return!!!

Tomorrow we are off to Litchfield national park. I'm sure there won't be any phone coverage there so I will be off the radar for a few days. Litchfield is supposed to be even more spectacular than Darwin. You can actually swim there because there is no Croc's so we are all looking forward to that.

It is really amazing the way that some families are traveling around Australia. I have seen everything from a family of 6 traveling with a tent tied to the top of their car, to a family of 4 traveling in a million dollar motor home. It is so interesting to see the way people get around. Some are completely over the top and others are so basic. The family of 6 who had the tent all wore the same green outfit day after day. I'm sure they must have had 2 of each outfit because they didn't smell offensive.

Oh gosh I am soooo tired. I had better publish this and go to bed. I need to be up early in the morning to get the kids ready to go fish feeding.

I will try to blog again soon!!!


Oh - I almost forgot to tell you the two most exciting things that happened in Darwin. Ben bought me another pair of Flash Dance Pants on the proviso that I not talk about them again!!! And I finally worked out how to commuicate with my iq lowering box so it can tape Jersey Shore for me while I'm away. Happy days!!!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Post mixups

-I accidently published 'Mataranka Downdgraded' after 'Catch up Katherine - Kakadu' when really it should have been before. Can't work out how to fix it on my phone.

Mataranka downgraded - Edith Falls is the best place in Earth!!

Looking around at the dry, barren, arid scrub that is all over the Northern Territory it is hard to imagine that you will find ANYTHING of interest in this place. Then out of nowhere you will find something so spectacularly beautiful you are completely astounded and gobsmacked.

This happened the other day. We had arrived in Katherine and apart from the gorge, I didn't think there would be much else to see. We had a spare day so we decided to go for a drive to Edith Falls for a picnic and maybe a swim. When we got there I was a bit disappointed by the dismal little waterfall and sign saying that salt water crocs can enter the swimming area but that they lay traps to try to catch them (just for your info the traps are these giant cages with a bit of chicken dangling at the end. Crocodiles are one of the worlds oldest animals... they survived whatever it was that wiped out the dinosaurs. I hardly think they would have survived this long if they were immensley stupid so I don't understand how they think the crocs will fall for their little trap). After reading the sign I was a tad pissed off. There was no way I was entering the water and there was no way my children were either.

Well unfortunately Ben and the kids had other ideas. Wild horses (or me standing well back from the edge frantically trying to persuade them that they will probably lose a limb - or worse) couldn't stop them from jumping in the water.

I consoled myself by siting with Diddy on a picnic mat eating lunch... annoyed that Ben had let them swim.

When they finally got out of the water someone suggested we go for a hike. I was happy to do anything that didn't involve my children swimming in water that MAY contain crocodiles. So off we set - climbing up a mountain over rocks in scorching heat with flies buzzing everywhere.

I did not believe for a second that this little track would take us anywhere even remotely exciting.... let alone the most beautiful place I have ever seen. But it was!!! I could not believe it as I turned the final corner on the rim of the mountain I saw paradise.

HERE was Edith Falls. The trickle at the bottom picnic area was nothing compared to the powerful waterfall and swimming hole we had discovered. It was so picturesque... I can't describe adequately how beautiful it was. There was a huge waterfall and swimming pools filled with sparkling water.

After our long, hot walk we couldn't get in the pools fast enough. I missed out on having a swim because I had left Diddy with mum and promised to be back within an hour and a half. Diddy would be due for a sleep then and mum doesn't know how to work her machine or put the mask on.

I was so pleased that I made the effort to go. Even though I didn't get to stay very long or swim I still got to take some amazing pics. And I got to enjoy the silence on my hike back to the picnic area instead of being surrounded by a chorus of 'I'm hungry... I'm thirsty...I need to do a wee... my feet hurt...'

Anyway... I am now about 5 days behind on my blog so I'm going to cut this one short so I can do a quick catch up one. There is a rumour that we may get some coverage tomorrow. I am so excited!!!!!!

Catch up post... Katherine - Kakadu

I promise to never call anywhere the best place on earth again. Every time I do I find somewhere even better. I am also running out of adjectives to describe things. I apologise if this is sounding repetitive.

It has been about 5 mins since I completed my last post, but I have sooo much to write about. Hopefully I will be able to catch you all up quickly.

Our last day in Katherine was spent cruising up the Gorge. It is sooo beautiful. We saw aboriginal rock paintings that are at least ten thousand years old.

We then moved on to Kakadu. Our first stop was Gunlom falls. My lonely planet guide to the NT said they were the only falls in kakadu accessible by conventional vehicle. We interpreted this as meaning that we could all take our caravans, which aren't off road ones, along the dirt track. Boy were we mistaken!!!

It took us 2 hours to drive the 43km because we were all going so slow. Our caravans bounced up and down on the dusty corrugated road like kids on a trampoline. We all were petrified to look in our rear view mirrors incase we found the caravan had bounced apart into pieces.

When we finally arrived at Gunlom, there were disappointed looks being exchanged all round.. and a few bad words. I felt responsible for everyones bad moods and damaged caravans because I was the one who had suggested Gunlom. So to cheer everyone up I decided to throw an impromptu birthday party for Jago's imaginary friend 'Melon'.

Not only was Gunlom incredibly hot and dusty (& I'm talking about the kind of heat that makes you wish you were a nudist), but swimming in the rock pools was prohibited as there may be salt water crocs. What a tease!!!!

The sign prohibiting swimming didn't seem to be stopping anyone from walking over in their togs so we did the same. The pool at the bottom of the fall looked nice, and there were people swimming there, but I was too scared to go in. Then Kris had the brilliant idea to climb the mountain and swim at the top pool. Her idea was that crocs couldn't climb the mountain so we would be fine to swim up there.

So off we went. Rock climbing in thongs!!! It was a real struggle to get to the top in the insane heat. James collapsed and a few others felt like they were going to faint. I have put a pic below of the mountain we climbed. You will see it is a waterfall with a pool below. Well I climbed that!!!! (anyone who is getting the impression that with all this hiking I am going to come back fit and healthy is mistaken. I do more snoozing in my car while we are driving or scoffing down ice creams than I do mountain climbing).

The top was well worth the climb, and the corrugated road. It was magical. I don't have any pics of it because I didn't take my camera up. I got to have a swim and it was the most refreshing swim ever.

Kakadu is such a tease. It is a tropical paradise and is sooo hot - but you can't swim anywhere or enjoy its beauty because you are constantly worried about being eaten by a crocodile.

At the moment we are staying st Cooinda resort. Despite there being a crocodile warning sign mere meters from our campsite, I feel safe enough to enjoy a dip in the pool. Cooinda is on the yellow water billabong, a famously beautiful part of Kakadu. Ben and I did a sunrise cruise with mum and kristy yesterday along the river. It was magical.

I am slowly adjusting to using public bathrooms. Kris (who is slightly less phobic than I am about them) and I have worked out an embarrassing routine to minimise the stress. Firstly, we don't take any clothes over to the showers. We wear a blue toweling dressing gown over with nothing underneath and then wear it back. This reduces the chance of your clean clothes touching anything in the bathrooms and also reduces the time you need to spend in them. We also carry over a city beach water proof bag with our soap and shampoo and a blue micro fibre towel to dry our hair. The first night we went to the showers together we were slightly embarrassed as we stepped out and realised that we were matching, right down to our black haviana thongs. So from then on we tried to shower late at night when no one would see us doing the walk of shame, dressed like twins, back to our caravans (we like to go over together for moral support).

Yesterday we went during day light hours but at slightly different times. I went first and Kristy about 5 mins later. On Kristys walk back to the van a hot back packer yelled out to her "did you forget something?". Kris then had the embarrassing task of explaining that no, she was a different person, and that we are just sisters who like to dress the same!!!

Anyway, gonna sign off now. I am on my way to Ubirr via Jabiru. We are going to climb an escarpment to watch the sunset.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

The best place on Earth - Mataranka Springs

After spending a few days in a windy dust hole, I was ready for a change... and a nice long soak in something.

Matatanka Springs was like a desert oasis. The trees around the river and the spring reminded me of a rain forest - although Ben assures me that it is NOT a rain forest. He did launch in to a description of what kind of bush it was but I switched off due to lack of interest.

The water in the spring was 34 degrees. Not too hot and not too cold. We all stayed in there for ages floating around in the crystal clear waters. It was the most amazing place...

After we had soaked all the red dust out of our pores, Kris and I headed back to the caravan to feed the kids and do schoolwork while Ben and James headed to the pub.

Once we had the kids all sorted, Kris and I joined our two extremely intoxicated husbands at the pub for the trivia night. My kids were sooo excited. It seems their favourite thing to do of a night now is go to the pub. There is always entertainment and dancing and usually Daddy will buy them a lemonade.

Even though the boys had had enough alcohol to render them useless in the child care dept... they were obviously not too wasted as they went on to place 2nd in the trivia contest. I maintain that the reason why kris and I did not win is because we had 6 children clammering all over us begging for pink lemonade and hot chips.

Kylah entertained the crowds after the quiz had finished. She got up on stage with the microphone and sang and told jokes. She had the whole 100 or so patrons upstanding while she sang Advance Australia Fair and then launched in to 'oh I just can't wait to be king' from the lion king movie. She performs with such passion and gusto... I really need to get her in to more performance activities.

Unfortunately we only had one night in Matatanka. It was such an amazing place though. I wish we had had two nights there!!!

The next morning, after a quick hike and swim, we headed off to check out Cutta Cutta Caves. We arrived at the destination and all looked around a bit bewildered. We were in the middle of flat, dry, barren scrub. Where were we supposed to see these marvellous caves??? The bloke took our money and then sent us on a walk out the back of his small office. I was a bit dubious about what we were about to see. As far as I could see, there was nothing of interest for kms around us.
Then, all of a sudden we came to an opening in the ground with some steps going down. Down we all went and to my complete surprise we discovered the most enormous and beautiful limestone caves. We only got to go in about 500m but they go back a lot further.
Jago spent the whole time singing 'uh oh... we're in trouble' which ruined the serenity slightly.
They were so beautiful... and huge too!!! I could not believe these giant caves were hiding beneath our feet.

I have so much more to write but I have to go. we are about to lose coverage as we head into kakadu. I will try to catch up in the next few days and do a whole lot of posts next tues or wed. whenever it is that we arrive into darwin.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One week in

Mount Isa was wonderful!! There isn't really much to do there but we had a nice grassy caravan spot and there were plenty of shops to wander around.

Its amazing how much you can come to miss civilisation after such a short time. I have no idea how I managed to survive two years in the Torres Straits! Actually I think you get used to it pretty quickly and you begin to think 'how on earth did I manage living in the big smoke???' In any case the squeals of delight that rang from our car as we drove in to Isa and saw Woolies signs and Mcdonalds signs were probably a tad too enthusiastic for people who had only spent a few days in the bush.

My mum did a tour of an underground hospital and also went with james on a mine tour. We did a tour of the Riversleigh Fossil centre, a spot of shopping and loads of bumming around the caravan reading, catching up on FB goss, washing and schoolwork. It was sooo nice to have a few days off with not much on after the crazily busy first few days.

After we had investigated all that Mount Isa had to offer (which wasn't a lot), we drove 560 kms to a camp spot just 71kms short of 3 ways.

Crossing in to the NT was amazing. The landscape changed almost immediately!! I could see the entire horizon... it was like looking at a sea of land. There were no hills, or trees or buildings ... just flat red dirt with tiny tufts of spinifex grass here and there. (spinifex grass is just one of the many grasses I learned about on our 7 hour car trip.... Ben seems to know an awful lot about grass species).

*Ben would like me to insert here that I am incorrect and that it wasn't spinifex grass just across the border... it was a mixture of mitchell and flinders grass. He would also like me to add in that while everyone was busy relaxing in Isa he was busy fixing stuff.*

The place where we camped was spectacular. It was in the middle of no where and there were no toilets or showers. The only thing it had to offer was a little bit of water. I will attach a pic of all our vans parked there at the bottom.

The nights sky was unbelievable. I have never, in my life, seen anything like it. Looking up you could see millions of stars from horizon to horizon. I felt like I was in a dome. We had a camp fire and all sat around talking. It was a perfect night.

The next day was another full day of driving. For the last hour of the 8 hours of driving I managed to convince Ben to let the kids watch a dvd on the portable dvd player. 15 hours over 2 days of sitting in the back of a car listening to mummy and daddy play 20 questions must be extremely boring for little kids. Ben and I play that game during the very brief periods when I am actually awake.

Our destination was Daly Waters Pub. It is a lovely little outback pub. Inside the pub is quite amazing. Every surface, every wall, every place imaginable is covered, completely covered, with crap. There is a bra collection, an undies collection, a thong collection, a mural of peoples drivers licence pics.... I could go on but I won't. Let's just say there was a TON of stuff.

We had the most delicious dinner of reef and beef followed by a hilarious show. The only issue I had with Daly waters was its caravan park was like a humongous dust bowl. Not that Daly Waters pub is at fault for that. As far as I can tell so far, most of the NT is a dust bowl. I am starting to get sick of it already and the worst is yet to come!!!

I am learning a lot about Ben this trip (and different types of grasses). He used to live and work in the NT, which I knew, but he has never told me much about the specifics of his jobs here or the people he knew. I am hearing all kinds of stories about a chapter of his life I knew little about.

Anyway, I have to go... I want to do a post about Matatanka thermal springs and I have decided it is so amazing that it deserves is very own blog post.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The day it all went pear shaped... stuck in the middle of GAFA

I had only just finished writing my previous blog entry when disaster struck. One of the wheels on our caravan somehow fell off and our 4wd ended up towing a lopsided van about 1 km down the road until we stopped... right in the middle of no where, or GAFA, as Ben likes to call it.

Funny thing is that Ben has been talking about seeing 'GAFA' or excitedly pointing it out for the last 500 or so kms. Thinking he was probably referring to some kind of weed or species of grass I would nod my head knowingly and make interested noises not really caring too much about finding out what he meant.

Well I found out today... GAFA stands for Great Australian F*¤¥ All. Charming isn't it??? Yes as far as the eye could see there was nothing. Thankfully my mum drives slower than Ben so she was able to pull up behind us and take two of the kids with her while she went to get help. The rest of our group were way ahead.

We had already had to stop once because something or other had happened to our anderson plug (not sure what that is but I am quite pleased that it is broken because it means that for the next few nights we will require a powered site and therefore will get to stay somewhere semi decent).

It takes a lot to rattle Ben and I (actually I take that back, it only takes a shower with a curly whirly in it to rattle me) so the two of us calmly went about business. Ben jacked up the caravan ready for when help arrived and I busied myself doing schoolwork with Kylah on a picnic mat.

Eventually help arrived and we have managed to get our caravan to the walkabout hotel in Makinlay. Yes it is THE walkabout hotel, as featured in the movie crocodile dundee. It is quite nice here. Although after our disastrous stay in Winton anything seems nice. There is one small problem and that is that there seems to be a bit of a rat plague here and they were running around everywhere. Kristy saw one outside her van tonight and I'm quite sure her screams could be heard all over the GAFA.

After we had all the kids in bed mum offered to mind them so Kris, James, Ben and I could go to the pub (we were camped out the back). I think we all needed a few drinks after or rough day.

Sitting in the pub drinking vodkas Kris and I looked at each other and shook our heads. What were we thinking??? A 6 week trip!!! It hasn't even been one week and we are all sick of dust, red dirt, driving, whinging kids and fixing things. 4 days into our journey and we have had tyre problems, battery problems, fridge problems, toilet problems and the entire group has coughs and sore throats.

Tomorrow Ben and I have to spend the day in Cloncurry getting new tyres and wheels for the van then we are heading to mt isa in the afternoon. I have heard that there is a lorna jane in mt isa so I might buy myself some new flash dance pants. I don't have them in the camouflage pattern yet....


Dinosaur Days @ Winton

I have very mixed reviews from our time at Winton. The town itself is lovely. Set in the middle of no where the people here seem to like nothing better than welcoming tourists. They have made plenty if touristy attractions and work very hard to make sure you have a pleasant, hospitable and information packed stay in their town.

Winton itself was the part of this trip that my kids were most excited about because it was the gateway to all of our dinosaur activities.

You can just imagine the excitement in our group as we arrive at the information desk in Winton and find out that not only are all of the towns garbage bins shaped like dinosaur feet but also that the pub here offers free camping behind its beer garden. Ben, ever the tight arse was excited about not having to pay for accom, even though I pointed out that this would mean he would probably spend a lot more on beer. Seeing as everyone who we had met in Winton so far had been friendly we had no reason to doubt the intentions of the pub owner.

The pub itself was quite nice and the camping area, directly behind the beet garden, also looked ok so we decided to stay. We parked our vans and off we set to visit the Waltzing Matilda Centre and the Age of the Dinosaurs Museum. The waltzing matilda centre was quite boring for the kids but I'm sure all of the grey nomads wandering around found it fascinating. I would have enjoyed it more had I not had a sore throat and been surrounded by a flurry of bored kids.

We then headed off to the Dinosaur museum to watch palaeontologists working on actual dinosaur bones. Kylah was fascinated and has organised with us to come back in 5 years time, when she is 12, so she can be a volunteer on a dig. We snuck Diddy up on a shelf to take a pic of her with a dinosaur femur. I have included the pic below.

After a very busy day of driving, sightseeing and setting up (this was the first time we had unhooked the caravan) we headed back to our van at the pub, excited about the bbq in the beer garden and relaxing having a few drinks. I had to venture to the loo so I took the opportunity to check out the amenities, or should I say amenity - as there was only one toilet and shower for the men and women to share - and they were in the same tiny room.

I don't think I have an extensive enough vocabulary to describe this bathroom adequately.... but I wil try. Do you know the theme song from jaws?? well that was playing in my head as I entered the bathroom and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness that high pitched screech that is in the chorus of the jaws song began to ring in my ears. Do you remember the toilet scene from train spotting?? well the bathroom resembled that. It was dark and mouldy and looked like it hadn't been cleaned since 1942. I backed out slowly thinking to myself 'i should take a photo of this for my blog' but not wanting to expose my phone, which is often held quite close to my head, to the contamination and germs in that room.

I was equally repulsed and surprised that most of our group (including my husband and children) wanted to shower in there. I much would have preferred Ben come to bed covered in red dust and sweat than to come to bed having just stepped out of what I consider to be hell on earth.

It all went down hill from the moment everyone had finished with their showers. There seemed to be 3 people running the pub. one was an elderly man who seemed quite lovely, and who explained to us that he had parkinsons disease. The others were two foreign ladies who were difficult to understand (perhaps one was married to the old guy who owned it???). Even though I could not understand their words there was absolutely no mistaking their tone. One of them screamed at Kylah and Rohan because they had dared to sing and the other one looked at you like she wanted to poke you in the eye with a stick.

The bbq in the beer garden was a disaster. It was supposed to have included steak, salad, bread and mushroom soup. I was less than impressed with the lousy salad, frozen bread and mushroom soup sitting on a table with flies buzzing around it but after an hour if waiting for some meat I succumbed and dished Ben up a styrofoam cup two thirds full of mushroom soup and gave the kids and myself a few pieces of bread. Considering we had spent $60 on dinner I hoped it would get better. At about 8pm the lady marched over and told me that she had no more meat left. she wasn't apologetic in the slightest. I asked her if I could have a refund and she screamed at me 'no!! you ate soup and bread!!!' In the end she decided to only charge me $10 for the tiny bit of soup and 3 slices of frozen bread. She was so aggressive I was not game to say anything to her. I went back to our group and told them that I did not care what they wanted to do, there was no way I was staying one more night in that hell hole.

Even though it was free to stay there, there were so many rules and regulations you felt anything BUT free. you were not made to feel welcome in the slightest. Considering there are plenty of free bush camps around I would rather be there, where my kids can sing and play, than in the awful Gregory Hotel in Winton.

This morning we woke early and headed out on a 4 hour round trip to Lark Quarry to see the footprints left from a dinosaur stampede. It was amazing. I was so engrossed in what our tour guide was saying and astounded by the clarity of each and every footprint. It looks like they were made yesterday, not 65 million years ago!! We got to hold dinosaur bones and touch fragments of the imprinted rocks. The museum is amazing!! it had been built around the footprints to preserve them from the weather.

Anyway, I have to go... we are on or way to Macinlay and Ben is complaining that while I an writing this I am not talking to him... better go and play 20 questions. Gotta keep the driver happy!!!