Kurrimine Beach to Granite Gorge
Its probably worth recounting something of our daily routine on the road. Remembering that we left Adelaide later in the year than we had planned and that one of our objectives was to get to the northerly most point of Australia and back again before the wet set in, time was at a premium.
One thing about travelling by car in Australia is you soon realise what a vast country this is. Vastness, and the spectre of being marooned on Cape York meant we had to travel considerable distances, often camping at a place for only one or two days before moving on.
Two Adults and three little children did not speed up the journey.
More often than not, after having breakfast, changing nappies, dressing children and packing up we would break camp just before lunch. Packing up was an endurance test best carried out methodically and calmly. It invariably took several hours. I got fit and lean with having to hoik a twenty kilogram tent, a fair sized esky, a stove, swags etc. onto the roof rack at camp break, and lift them off again for camp setup.
In anticipation of the ‘hungers’ we tried to have plenty of snacks on hand to keep the ‘restless troops’ in the back relatively quiet and content. We played games of ‘I Spy’, who can spot a green car first etc. and lots of incy-wincy-spider, grand-old-duke-of-york type nursery rhymes! There was barely any space in truck, the drivers seat was the only spacious spot on board. Often we would drive for several hours without a break…the children soon learned that they could force a stop with ‘I need the toilet’ later to be suffixed with ‘URGENTLY’! Sometimes it was a real emergency but often it was a case of the child who cried wolf.
Many times we pulled into a playground somewhere just to let them run off a bit of steam, give them a snack and then all piled back in. Miriam, Hannah and Esther were remarkable and able travellers, slow to complain, in the main cheerful, quick to adapt and resourceful given we could pack so few toys or books.
Since we had left Adelaide a couple of months earlier we had forged ourselves into quite a tight family unit.
Many times we fell into the trap of pushing the edge of the envelope too far at the end of the day. In an attempt to make distance and sometimes in search of the ‘ultimate’ campsite we would drive until the sun was well down, or, on the odd occasion, until it was dark. When this happened, the ‘joie de vivre’ would plummet to marital disharmony, offspring rebellion and a general sense of pissed-off-ness by everyone.
Once landed at a campsite (we rarely stayed at commercial campsites, usually national parks or council owned sites or we just drove off the road for a kilometre or so if we were remote enough) I had the job of unloading and setting up the camp. Liadhan got straight into cooking and feeding the children. At this point in the journey we were still minimalist campers, no chairs or table, plain old esky with ice in it, one rechargeable light a cast iron camp oven and fry pan and a two burner stove. Nonetheless they were happy times around the campfire, well fed and warm. Liadhan was always able to make the shortest stop feel like home, engage the children in some interesting activity or have them huddled around her on the swag reading them a favourite story by lamplight.
Even if we had stayed only a day or two we were always sad to move on.