In Rockhampton we pulled up stumps at Bec and Jeff’s beautiful big home for 3 nights. Giant yard overlooking fields (that will one day be subdivisions I’m sure) and room for all of us despite having 3 kids of their own. Bec treated us to dinners we couldn’t cook in the van without an oven – pizza and a roast dinner! Woohoo! Legend status in our books. She also treated us to a walk along the coast at Yeppoon, up to Turtle Lookout, then traversing the headland down to beachcombing heaven. Bec and I headed off with 5 kids on a speccy day while Jez got some work time in.
Every now and then I feel bad for either Jez or I missing out on some of the adventures we have with others because we have to work. Then reality sets in and I remind myself that we are taking our lives on the road this year. We’re not having a big fat Australian holiday. We’re not taking 10 months of ‘leave’. Nor are we planning to spend every waking moment with each other. We’re doing what we’d be doing at home, but on the road. So yep, we miss things at home, and we have work commitments that must be honoured. Living in a van 24/7 with each other is actually pretty nice – there’s the closeness and the familiarity of each other; the ease of getting from one side of the house to the other; the smashing each other in the face while opening cupboard doors….. J But there’s time for a break from it, and Jez and I have both had opportunities to take time, me with The Planting festival and late July with a conference in Melbourne. Jez with a conference in New Zealand and work in Melbourne in July, and Melbourne again in August and September.
Our strategy is working for us, and we still get the rewards of work and family time while getting away for solitude and parenting breaks. A family wedding in September will add an epic level to the travel for all of us, heading off from Darwin before tackling WA with no breaks at all. I think the only thing I could safely say that we’d like to change is our home schooling arrangement, which we’ll do for Term 4.
Schooling Mia through distance education has been an interesting experience, for all of us! Ups and downs, and certainly no ‘routine’. In fact, the idea of ‘settling in’ to travel just boggles me, other than simply acknowledging that we’re traveling together for the year! We try and keep routines like Saturday night movie night, Friday afternoon beer and chips, a games night and an early night. But every single day throws challenges that means any school routine just gets thrown out the window.
Considering we’re a motivated and active family engaged in all aspects of our travel, there just seems to be WAY too much work sent to us for us to get through in the time period allocated, and I am not loving having to sit in the van or outside and complete tasks that simply have to be ticked off. Mia loves the books sent, and quite frankly, spends as much time as humanly possible reading (she’s finished the Harry Potter series twice and is onto Book #4 for the third time!). She also likes some of the challenges for big projects. She’s just written the first book in a series based on a constellation that she made up herself. The constellation is called Ovalia, and the first book now published is called Princess Ovalia and the Black Hole. She’s also doing the Premier’s Reading Challenge and is working on fractions, algebra and division. However, sometimes the every week work and HSIE units seem just too much to have to complete. Enjoyable, and Mia loved the unit on gymnastics simply because she had to make up a beam routine (straight jumps were sooo last year for Mia!), but a unit on healthy eating just feels weird. I totally understand that in a school environment these units are useful, fun even. But for us, not so much. I don’t feel on top of school stuff much of the time, which adds to the often overwhelming nature of travel. We are walking through 190,000 year old lava tunnels, learning Australian bush poetry around the campfire, understanding the periodic table by fossicking for its elements. So we’ll apply for exemption for Term 4.
So we left Rockhampton with a mission for new friends at Blackwater, stopping for lunch and cake, then finding a pit stop of Ludwig Leichardt’s on the Nogo Rover just outside Comet. Then onto Emerald for a night, then Longreach for the next School of Ants adventure.
Little did we know how we’d grow to love Longreach – it’s linear botanic garden, museums and essential outback experiences, including stargazing, Akubra hats and ginger ants.