The answer was . . . .

Wayne of course.. Does no-one know me at all ? 

Yes, I’m scared of bugs.. But I was more worried about my man.. 

The bug just made me cry LOUDER … 

Week 26 TASMANIA (week 1)

I know right ? I can’t believe that I’m semi up to date either !

Spirit of Tasmania We were pleasantly suprised with how well our night across the sea’s went. We were a little concerned about sea sickness as we had heard a horror story from my cousin just a little while earlier before we boarded. You can imagine, it involved a lot of throwing up in their cabin. We quickly got some KWELL and dosed ourselves up on those and we were set. The Spirit is actually quite large, larger than both Wayne and I believed it to be. The fact that it can hold trucks and caravans and cars should have given us some indication… It took a while to board as we were in a long line of caravans and cars waiting, but once we were on the boat we were in our cabin within a matter of minutes. Nothing fancy, but 2 sets of bunk beds and just enough room for a very small narrow cot for Frank. A toilet and shower and that was that. We unpacked and then headed up a deck or 2 for dinner. Loads of options to eat although I wouldn’t say you would rave about the food, but the fact that they had a bar was exciting, for about a minute until we realised that Frankie wouldn’t sit still and just wanted to play in the kids play room. Safe to say we were in bed by about 9.30pm. We all slept ok, woke up a few times and the boat was steady for most of it, no rough sea’s! We got a wake up call at 5am and were off the boat by about 6.30am I think. Felt like no time at all. A little while later, as we were driving out of the dock we were met by my Aunty Lil and Uncle Bob (they have both recently moved to Tassie about 12 months ago) we were going to my cousins house (Aunty Lil’s daughter) for breakfast and the kids were very excited to meet Mel’s 3 kids.. and Maddie and Tj, who aren’t kids anymore ! Had a big hot breakfast, caught up for a bit and then went to Aunty Lil’s house to set up the van. We weren’t sleeping in the van however, we had our own rooms, heaven.

After we got settled, we decided to hit a few local town first. First stop the chocolate factor which is called Anver Chocolate Factory. We had a taste test (fudge) and grabbed a quick cuppa. The kids played in the grounds and were making friends with their newly met cousins. We then headed to a place called Latrobe where we visited a store called Reliquaire. It was just a shop, but what a shop it was. I’ve never seen anything like it. They sell everything and I mean everything, from life sized clown mannequins, to magic hats, old wares, lovely homewares, books, children’s books and toys, halloween inspired gadgets. I’m not explaining it in enough detail. There were 10 rooms and they were all packed to the rafters with ‘stuff’. I could have spent hours and hours in there, but with 5 kids (Wayne & Frankie stayed outside) it was hard to keep an eye on them all. Interesting place to say the least. I came out of there a little gobsmacked and I can’t really say why? Next stop lunch. Pub meal, a total of $16.. (wish all of Tasmania was that cheap) ! Aunty Lil, Mel and kids left us at this point and we went on to explore a little bit of Devonport and it’s surrounds.

We drove through a town called ‘Sheffield’ which is a town of Murals. Driving through there we saw most of the buildings (Shops and cafes etc) all had murals on the side of their buildings, not just small ones either. You could see the effort put into them and they were very colourful. Next little town we drove through was called ‘Railton’ which is the town of Topiary. My Aunty Lil did mention that if we blink we’d miss this town and she’s right. At first we didn’t see any Topiary and then eventually they were popping up. Animals mostly, although at the end of the town there were 3 figures of people saluting which was besides the towns war memorial. We then stumbled on this enormous lake called Lake Barrington. It was really pretty and there were teams of rowers thrashing it out on the water. Great place to have a picnic. We made our way back to Devonport but not before we had a quick stop at the cheese factory and Wayne purchased some hot pepper cheese and we all tried some ice-cream. Back at Aunty Lil’s we had a bbq, the kids played together once again with their cousins and it was early to bed.

The following day was Cradle Mountain day. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great and by the time we drove up and down the windy mountain the weather had become worse and it was raining. I felt bad for the kids as it was quite a drive getting there. We all jumped out quickly to check out Dove Lake (beautiful) but as we had no rain jackets we jumped back into the car with the photographer amongst us braved the elements and did the quick 20 min walk so he could take some photo’s. He came back exhilarated ! Very beautiful was the consensus. After this, we drove back down the mountain and took the kids to place called Tasmazia. Famous for it’s mazes and it’s pancakes, which we sampled both! Stuffed our faces with giant servings of pancakes, and then let the kids go wild in the mazes. We only got lost a few times. Tasmazia & the village of Lower Crackpot saved the day. Kids went to sleep happy.

Our 3rd day in Tassie was spent with just Wayne and I. My Aunty wanted to have Frankie for the day and my cousin Mel had Lulu and Sarah so they could play with her kids. This meant that it was just Wayne and I on our own to exlplore Stanley & The Nut. This whole trip of ours we haven’t spent more than a couple of hours alone, and we haven’t gone off for a whole day of sightseeing without the kids either. It was weird (& wonderful too). We were really quiet in the car to start with, and then we cranked some tunes, kept sneaking little smiles at each other, too chicken to say ‘this is aweSOME’, until one of us broke and just said it. Funny how being in a car alone is such a novelty these days. We had told the kids that they could come with us if they didn’t want to hang out with their cousins, after a nano-second Sarah quickly said NO, she wanted to play, but Olivia slept on it. Ever the diplomatic child. She never wants to offend or upset anyone. Eventually after much discussion with myself, Wayne and Aunty Lil, she too decided that she should stay behind.

Stanley is such a beautiful town (population 2000 – during summertime anyway) and is situated close to the North Western point of Tasmania. Famous for it’s crayfish and of course The Nut. The town of Stanley is nestled at the base of The Nut – (a sheer-sided bluff -all that remains of an ancient volcanic plug). Wayne and I took the chair lift up, which took about 5 mins and then we walked the 2km circuit once we were at the top. Various beautiful lookouts and the views were amazing. We took the chair lift back down again and then we were off for lunch. We ended up at The Stanley Hotel (it’s been on Masterchef for those that care about these things). We sat outside, had a glass of Tassie white and some food and relished the opportunity to eat without requesting a high chair! After lunch we walked around town for about an hour, looking through the gift shops & the galleries.

I started to think about the kids again, and thought we should start heading back as it was a bit of a drive home. Frankie was the most excited to see us. She was smiling and making these crazy sounds, I got a hug that lasted at least 30 seconds (which is pretty special, seeing how she is the least affectionate of all our 3 beautiful girls). Wayne cooked Spag Bol for everyone that night. Had a GREAT day !

Last day in Devonport and we decided to take the kids to Mole Creek to see the Marakoopa Caves (the cave of Glow worms) Again, it was a bit of a drive but something that Wayne wanted to show the girls. On the way we stopped off at Elizabeth Town Bakery (which is a must see according to all the guide books) we had a quick cuppa and then continued on. The caves were beautiful, or so Wayne told me. I didn’t get very far. Frankie had been playing up in the car, something she usually doesn’t do so we should have guessed that she wasn’t going to behave. I paid for us all, then we waited for the tour to start. Frankie still screaming. I still wanted to go in with her although Wayne did say he would ‘sit this one out’. I knew it was something he wanted to do though so I thought we’d give it a try. No, I was wrong. There were about 30 people on the tour and even though I stayed at the back of everyone with just Frankie, she was still screaming and in a cave you can imagine the sound amplifying. I had to ask the tour guide to guide me back out – which he did – and Frankie and I sat in the car listening to music instead. Wayne and the girls really enjoyed it, the glow worms (which I saw a couple of hundred on my way out) were amazing and the cave was full of spectacular formations. That’s ok – I got to see the photo’s.

We made it back to my cousins house for the afternoon and we hung out there and had pizza for tea. Time to move on from Devonport the following day and make our way to the Western side. We packed up early(ish) the Morrells don’t seem to rush anymore, after Aunty Lil’s pancakes we waved goodbye and were off again. We had wanted to go to Queenstown and Strahan but we had met people along the way who said Queenstown is a mining town and not much to really see there so we were better off just staying at Strahan. We made it to Strahan in the afternoon. The distance wasn’t too far but the road conditions meant that we couldn’t go very fast. The mountain was ever winding, up and down, slow and fast. It was the first time in this whole trip that we felt like we were never getting off a mountain. Eventually we made it. I’m not sure what I thought Strahan was going to be like, but it wasn’t like I thought. I’l leave it at that. The main tourism is the river cruises and fishing tours. We enquired about some of the tours but they only had full day ones. We just knew that Frankie (being at her age – 19months and full of energy and attitude) would not sit still on a boat all day. We decided to only stay 2 nights instead of the 3 planned.

The highlight was the play we took the kids to see, called ‘The ship that never was’. It’s Australia’s longest running play (true story) and it has a lot of audience participation. Sarah was called up at one point and Frankie made regular appearances which one cast member named Frankie the ‘catfish’. It was so well done, we laughed a lot, they kept it very entertaining and we all loved it. The other highlight was that the girls, Lulu and Sarah, won their very first FAIR race. They came 1st in their age-group in the 3 legged race at the Australia Day fair ! Well done girls. They attempted all the races actually. Running races, egg and spoon race, the sack race. They had their hair sprayed and ate hot dogs. They came away smiling.

That afternoon we drove through Queenstown (another winding road) to find a waterfall called ‘Nelson Falls’. It took about 15 mins to walk there and see the falls. They were beautiful. Tasmania has ’60 short walks’ and we had just done our first one. Very pram friendly too, which is great as there has been more and more things lately that we’ve not been able to do due to having small kids. Big day in the end, so we drove home, got some fish and chips and had an early night. In the morning we after we packed up, we drove to a place in Strahan called ‘The Peoples Park’. There was a 40 minute round trip walk to see Hogarth Falls. It was a beautiful walk and the day was gorgeous. The girls were singing sound of music songs along the way and at one point Wayne even corrected them, saying ‘it’s Doe a Deer’. I loved hearing that. So, we had done our short walk #2, only 58 more to do. Next stop for us … Mt Field National Park.

I’ll just come right out and say it. I’m not a wilderness, national park kind of girl. If we went somewhere remote like this with family or friends, then I’d love it, but with just us ? No, I wouldn’t choose to go there. However, I’m married to a man who loves the wilderness, the rough earth and the ultimate bush settings. This campground DID have power and water let me say, so it wasn’t total ‘dead man walking’. Once we arrived, we chose our camp spot quickly as there was only 1 left and then we set up. There were huge Bumble Bee’s (twice the size of normal bees) and massive horse flies. That’s the first thing I noticed. Second thing I noticed was that the toilets were a bit of a walk away. That’s the only 2 negative things really so not too bad.

After we had dinner and Frankie was bathed and asleep, Wayne decided to go and take some photo’s of the Moon. I was reading my book and didn’t think anything of it. Until it was 2 hours later and he hadn’t returned. Usually I don’t worry, but usually he isn’t gone this long and also it was really really dark. No suburbian lights to guide him home. I was picturing him climbing down rocks to take ‘THE’ photo of the waterfall and him falling. So I started to panic, just slightly. Then the worst thing that could happen to a girl like me happened. A bug.. A big black hairy flying bug came at me from inside the caravan. I had no idea where it had come from. I screamed. woke Olivia and then sat on Sarah’s bed and cried. Cried some more and then got mad. Mad at Wayne for taking off, mad because there was no phone reception, mad because ‘That man left me here on my own in the wild’. You name it, i said it. I was beyond pathetic. Just when I was contemplating going over to the van next door and explaining that my husband might be at the bottom of a cliff, but which cliff I didn’t know because he didn’t tell me.. in walks Wayne. He’s taken one look at me, I was sitting on the bed, crying silently with a fly squatter in hand. Olivia and Sarah both started crying (it was after 11pm) & then he understood what was happening. Can’t say he completely understood my reactions, but he was trying. After we hugged and he said he was ‘sorry’ that he had worried me, I explained about the bug. Let’s just say that after about an hour of hard searching, he gave up looking.

I eventually had the courage to get into bed knowing that this bug was somewhere hiding from me. Can’t say I slept much though. Next morning (today actually, see I’m really up to date) we woke up, packed the van and then did another walk (short walk #3) 30 mins in total – to see the Russell Falls. We saw lots of baby wallabies along the way and a heap of large trees, some fallen but most still standing. Again, another waterfall in Tasmania. Beautiful & I don’t think we will ever get sick of seeing them. At one point Wayne asked me ‘Jo, was the crying over me being possibly dead, or the fact there was a bug in the caravan’ ? ……. For those of you that know me really well, you already know the answer.

Stanley Beach

Stanley Beach

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Stanley Nut

Mole Creek Redneck!

Mole Creek Redneck!

Marakoopa Cave - Mole Creek

Marakoopa Cave – Mole Creek

Marakoopa Cave - Mole Creek

Marakoopa Cave – Mole Creek

Devonport Bluff

Devonport Bluff

Devonport Bluff

Devonport Bluff

Strahan Harbour

Strahan Harbour

"The Ship That Never Was" - Strahan

“The Ship That Never Was” – Strahan

Sack Of Liv - Aussie Day - Strahan

Sack Of Liv – Aussie Day – Strahan

Three Legged Race Winners - Aussie Day - Strahan

Three Legged Race Winners – Aussie Day – Strahan

Aussie Day - Strahan

Aussie Day – Strahan

Nelson Falls

Nelson Falls

Peoples Park - Strahan

Peoples Park – Strahan

Playground Fun - Mount Field National Park

Playground Fun – Mount Field National Park

Russell Falls - Mount Field National Park

Russell Falls – Mount Field National Park

Russell Falls - Mount Field National Park

Russell Falls – Mount Field National Park

Anvers Chocolate Tribe

Anvers Chocolate Tribe

Sheffield

Sheffield

Week 25 – Melbourne

Currently we are in Tasmania, so I’m only about 4 days behind in keeping up with this travel blog. I’m not even sure why it’s getting harder and harder to keep up, I think I’m becoming a little lazy.

We have no Internet at the moment, so usually I go through my previous blogs and see where I’ve left off but I can’t do that at the moment so I’m using ‘Word’ (hardly ever use that anymore) and I’ll save this document and upload it to WordPress when I can get some reception.

Melbourne (Week ??)

Loved every minute of Melbourne. For a few reasons really. Firstly, my lovely cousin Sam and her husband Chris, sons Maxim and Noah live there. It was great being able to spend time with them and see where they live. Smack bang in the middle of Fitzroy, my new favourite place and not because it’s where the TV show ‘Offspring’ is filmed either. Secondly, it’s pretty easy to get around, even when you get lost. Driving in Melbourne so far has been the state where Wayne has NOT lost his cool driving through the city. If we took a wrong turn, it was very easy to do a quick u-turn, and we were back on track. Thirdly, the food, and the shops and Brunetti’s. Did I mention Brunetti’s ? Special mention to my friend Paul Probin who facebooked me late one night and told me I must go there. My hips say ‘thankyou’!

We arrived, set up the Van (a nice park this time) and figured out what it was we wanted to see and do in Melbourne. First stop Federation Square. We basically just walked around, went to the ACMI and saw ‘The Character’ by Candice Beitz (Google it, hard to explain but we loved it). We ate lunch at a nice café overlooking the city and then we went and met up with Sam and Chris for dinner. The girls were happy to play with Max and Noah (swimming and spa fun) and we met some friends of Sam’s and Chris and caught up. Good times.

The following day we went to Old Melbourne Gaol, and the watch house/courthouse. Sarah was very scared pretty much immediately as we entered the Gaol. I think because the first door she opened she was faced with a (pretend of course) sleeping male full sized prisoner. She was not happy and continued to tell me for about 30 mins. In the end, I had to forgo learning everything I could about Ned (there’s something about a bad wild colonial boy) and take her outside. Frankie, Liv and Wayne loved it though and we eventually met up and did the tour of the Watch house. This was great. The Watch house itself only closed its doors in the late 90’s. I’ve never been to a lock-up before (obviously) and they put on a little bit of a show. They pretend to arrest you, lock you up etc. Frankie was the star of this little show though, men on one side, women on the other and she kept looking for her daddy, running up and down through the middle, then coming back to me, doing high fives to everyone. She got a lot of laughs.

After this we went to the courthouse where they do a re-enactment of Ned Kelly’s court hearing. It was really well done and interesting.

Poor Ned!

Big day in the city, Frankie was cranky so time to head home and chill for a bit.

Following day my cousin Sam treated myself, Lulu and Sarah to a beautiful High Tea at the Langham Hotel. The girls got to dress up and put on lippy, they were pretty excited. We pulled up at the hotel and Olivia said ‘mummy, this is fancy’. It was really yummy, and so nice to be somewhere where we didn’t have to get the baby wipes out to clean the table and chair before we sat down! Wayne was on Frankie duty for the morning, so he took her to Richmond and had some lunch, she slept the whole time though, lucky for him.

That night Sam and Chris were minding all 3 girls so Wayne and I could have our DATE NIGHT. So exciting! Got a little dressed up, went to a great place called Rice Queen in Brunswick St for dinner, then onto Polly’s for a cocktail, a walk up Brunswick St, purchased 2 books in an old 2nd hand store, held hands, kissed in the street. You know, the things we USED to do years ago. We had such a lovely night and the girls all behaved themselves.

We were planning on going to Sovereign Hill the following day but the weather was so hot, so we had a pretty relaxed day. We went into Carlton and had the customary pizza in Lygon Street. Did a little shopping (nothing for me this time) and of course checked out Brunetti’s and had too much sugar, but gee it was good. Went back to the caravan park and swam in the afternoon.

We did make it to Sovereign hill and it was awesome. Of course we’d heard about it before, but I didn’t really know what to expect. Pretty much the first hour was spent ‘panning for gold’ and it got to the point where I did have to say ‘Wayne, we didn’t come here JUST to pan for gold’ to which he responded ‘Griffo, this shit is addictive’

They all found gold, a speck of dust sized shard of gold, which is being kept safe in tiny jars of water hidden in our van. I dare you to come looking for them! We spent all day in Sovereign hill. Saw a play of Romeo and Juliet, very child friendly and humorous for the kids. We had lunch, the girls learnt how to write with ink and also how to make candles. Sarah kept asking me ‘do these people live here’ each time she saw an ‘olden day lady or man’ walking around the make-shift town. I had to keep explaining that they work here and are playing a part. I think she understood by the end of the day. Before we left, Wayne took his girls back to the GOLD PANNING VILLAGE and they, once again, were panning for more gold. It reminded me when I was younger actually, because my dad took us ‘gold fossicking’ one weekend when I was in primary school. He told me that if we went, we would make enough gold and I would have money to buy the game DONKEY KONG and I told everyone EVERYONE at school about it. Of course, we found no gold and I went to school on Monday with no Donkey Kong. It’s funny how life can go on and something’s remain the same. Wayne could have been my Dad, he was so eager about the panning for gold process. He was very serious, had the right amount of water in the pan, shaking it slowly, searching through the rocks and mud with as much concentration as he does when looking through fingerprints. No wonder he’s such a star at his job! Although he has more success at catching crooks than finding gold.

We also managed to get to Geelong, or as my friend calls it G-Town. We picked a fantastic day too, the sun was shining and there were loads of people about. We got there about lunchtime and we found a place to have some fish and chips, then we made our way to the Eastern Beach. It was packed with every man and his dog. School holidays of course and because it was a hot day, everyone came out to play. There is a huge pool beside the beach, and also a massive playground so the kids had plenty to do. I also caught up with a boy (He’s a man now) that I went to school with years (and years) ago. We hadn’t seen each other since yr 7 but thanks to facebook we have been in contact for a few years. It was great to catch up and for Wayne to meet the boy who is called ‘Happy’.

After Geelong we drove out to Bells Beach. Lots of waves, lots of surfers and Wayne of course took a heap of pictures. It was late by the time we got back to Melbourne, so the kids had an early night. Great day!

There were loads of other things we did too. We found ‘THE BLOCK’ houses (like groupies). Wayne and I watch the Block with the kids (they love it so much) and they got a kick out of seeing the houses. The streets are so small, I can’t believe how anyone else lived there while all that construction was going on. We went to St Kilda, Brighton Beach and Port Melbourne, looking for the Spirit of Tasmania coming into port. We also caught up with a friend from Wayne’s work who lives in Melbourne on almost 10 acres. He has a fantastic property with a full sized tennis court and the biggest shed (sorry Tony, I should say ‘Hanger’) I’ve ever seen! Wayne was in awe of all the space. We played Laser Tag with our cousins where I got my Lara Croft on (for about 10 secs) and I even managed another night out, this time on my own while Wayne took the girls out to dinner in Fitzroy. I caught up with my cousin and her friends for some drinks and food.

A good time was had by all of us in Melbourne. I could live there (again I know) but only if I was in Fitzroy, Carlton or Richmond. I’m just sayin…

Until next time… The Morrells – xo

Ps. my cousin Sam and her family have just moved to Perth this past week. To say I’m excited is an understatement !! xx

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Week 24 The Lakes Entrance (only one night, but worth sharing).

I’m pretty sure I ended the blog with Tuross Heads. We drove all day, or it felt like it anyway as I still wasn’t feeling the best, to Lakes Entrance. We were only staying one night, as we wanted to get to Melbourne. First impressions were good, their lake system is pretty impressive and very picturesque too. It was late afternoon when we arrived and we had found a caravan park that had great reviews (Wayne picked this place). As soon as we drove up I was like ‘uh-oh’ it looked crap, dirty and it was very cramped. I was a little over the drive though so didn’t really have the energy to complain. I was annoyed that this park charged us top rate ($56) I know that doesn’t sound like a lot of money and it isn’t really, but after being on the road for over 5 months, you get to know the good parks from the bad. When we stayed at Palm Cove in QLD we only paid $40 a night and we were in a magnificent part of the country. Anyway, you could say I’ve become a tight-arse when it comes to paying for a site that stinks. Who knew that that would ever happen, there’s usually one fickle person in a relationship and let’s just say that it’s usually NOT me !

Anyway, we set up, well Wayne and the girls set up, I really wasn’t feeling well and I set off to have an early night. The one thing that the caravan park owners neglected to tell us was that he (the owner) likes to sing a little, and when I say a little I mean a LOT. In the shed where the mowers and other equipment are kept, there is a drum kit, a karoke machine and a mega microphone with speakers. I thought it was a party next door as we were smack bang in the middle of suburbia. No, it was the owner. He sung everything from Cold Chisel, Bon Jovi, The Angels, the list goes on.

This was fine, Wayne and I had a bit of a laugh and the girls and I even went out on the swings for a bit later in the evening and had a listen. Once 11pm came and went, and the noise level hadn’t decreased, I was getting annoyed. Then came midnight, then came 1am. I’m not kidding, he was getting louder and louder, drunker and drunker along with his fans (an old wooden table and chairs with about a dozen guys and gals all singing loudly – you can imagine). I was now beyond angry and had come full circle and was laughing. Wayne however was not. He even called the cops !!! I’m serious. The cops were situated right next door to the caravan park and their response was ‘ you know what the Lakes District is like’ ?

No we don’t!  When Wayne gets mad, he gets mad (thankfully not very often at me) he jumped out of bed, went to the end of our caravan and yelled out (very very very loudly) “SHUT THE F…. UP”.

It was past 2am by this stage I was more nervous of Wayne than the possible “imminent attack” of an angry chisel-loving mob! Singing mans response? He played another song louder than before and the first 2 lines of that song was ‘ If you’re looking for trouble… you’ve come to the right place’! I couldn’t help but laugh, clever! I had to stop Wayne from going out there, I was saying ‘you’ve got a family, what if you get stabbed?’ I tell you what “hell hath no fury” when Wayne can’t get sleep … Wayne called the cops again, and was very firm. This time, the cops came and just sat out the front with their lights on. This was enough for the party to come to an end.

It was the worst caravan park we had stayed at, not just because of the singing although that should have been advised to us when we checked in, but it was like we were living in someone’s else’s backyard. A lot of permanent vans were there and I felt like we were definitely not wanted. We just wanted to get the hell out of Lakes Entrance.

I thought I’d share that experience, I don’t want to forget it in years to come.

Weeks 23 & 24 Canberra and Tuross Heads

Ok, I’m almost up to date with the blogs.. Currently we are in Melbourne, but I am only about a week behind now.

On the 2nd of Jan we left Sydney, a little teary too. I hate saying goodbye and after spending almost 5 weeks with family and friends, I knew it would be a lot harder to leave this time. Seeing my mum standing in her doorway too sad to come out to the car one last time, my little niece Eliana’s bottom lip start to tremble and then the tears flowing.. seeing my girls crying in the car.. It was hard. However, this is the reality of our life. We live in Perth and are always saying hello and then goodbye !

Driving to Canberra, I was trying to get the girls excited. Wayne didn’t want to go to the ACT. He goes there enough for work as it is, but I wanted to show the kids where they were born, the house we lived in and of course Parliament house and Questacon ! Once we got closer we started to call some caravan parks. Bad news.. Summernats was on ! Completely forgot about the ‘car festival’ shall we say .. that is on in Canberra every New Year. Every single caravan park was booked solid for the week. Luckily Waynes ex work colleague and friend Tony and his lovely wife Rene were more than welcoming and we were able to park in their driveway and set up !

Once we arrived in Canberra Wayne started to get his groove on. He was pointing out places, answering questions that the girls were firing at him. We only 3 days to explore and one of those days was the day we arrived so as soon as we set the van up, we were off. We first took the girls to see my Great Uncle and Great Aunty (Marie and Frank) who we hadn’t seen since we left Canberra almost 6 years previously. They were very happy to see us, as well as meeting little Frankie for the first time. Next stop, our old house. As we drove up the street I almost didn’t recognise the house we lived in. It has completely changed. It’s been rendered and a new roof, an extension.. We couldn’t really park and gawk at it of course, but we had a good peek ! When we lived in Canberra we had the best neighbours in the world.. Celia and Graham, and Felicity and Cliff. . Lucky for us, they both still live there, so we suprised Celia and Graham with a knock on the door and within minutes we were on their back deck with a wine in hand. They were so very friendly to us when we first moved to Canberra, and I spent many hours over at their house, having a cup of tea, getting parenthood advice and then some ! Great people, many happy memories and it was so lovely to see them. We made plans to catch up the night before we left too as Cliff and Felicity were coming home from Melbourne. We said goodbye, and then drove back to our Van, got some chinese for tea and went to bed shattered !

Next day, up bright and early. A quick coffee and chat with Tone and Rene, the kids had a quick swim and then we were off to Old Parliament house. I love this building, more so than the new Parliament house. This is the part of Canberra that I love. I love the view from New Parliament House, down to Old Parliament House and then onto the War Memorial. We had visited these places so many times when we lived here, as everyone who came to visit us we of course took them to see the sights ! The girls got to see the ‘house of senates, and the house of reps’ and also watched some footage of PM Julia Gillard when she was younger. I don’t remember being at all interested in politics when I was their age, but the kids today seem to be taking more of an interest, which I think is truly wonderful.

Unfortunately we didn’t get time to take them to New Parliament House as we were meeting friends for lunch. We decided that due to time restraints we wouldn’t take them to the War Memorial ( we did a drive by)  the girls are still a little young and it’s such a huge place that you spend almost half a day in.. We just didn’t have time to do everything.

Early on in our trip, in fact the first week in Kalgoorlie we met a lovely couple Margaret and Kevin from Canberra. They were also travelling around Australia and we ended up travelling along the Nullabor with them and also spending some time together in Streaky Bay SA. We had said if we go to Canberra then we would catch up for lunch and meet some of their family. I’m so glad we kept in contact, as they are such lovely people. We had a delicious lunch, got to meet 1 of their daughters Georgie, plus 5 of their grandchildren. The girls were happy to see them again too. It felt like a long time had passed, but it had only been just over 4 months.. time is flying by !

That night we spend time with Tony, Rene and the kids. More swimming, bbq for tea and then Frankie and I retired to the van early, while the big girls and Wayne hung out inside the ‘big house’ watching movies and catching up.

Following day we had to get the car serviced. I was pretty annoyed that Wayne had booked it in on the one and only day we had left in Canberra (so much to do, so little time) but we had no choice, it needed to be done. It was supposed to only take 3 hours and by 11am we were going to be on our way to Questacon (a science adventure interactive museum for kids/adults). However, there was a slight hiccup and it was more like 2pm before we were on our way. We still went though, and the kids had fun going through the galleries, sitting in the earthquake house, playing air hockey with a robot and going down a free fall .. we were getting tired though, our time in Canberra was coming to and end and we had packed a lot in. We had dinner that night with our friends Celia, Graham and that was lovely.. It was hot, so the kids ran in and under the sprinkler.. Cliff and Felicity popped over for a drink once they’d come home from Melbourne too, so it was like old times. We said our goodbyes and drove back to the caravan. All 3 kids asleep in the back of the car !

We were now heading to Tuross Heads to meet up with our friends Nat and Nick again. We knew it was a bit of a drive from Canberra, so after another quick early morning swim with their little friends Tara and Luke, we said goodbye to our friends and set off.

Tuross Heads is about an hours drive from Batemans Bay (south of sydney, way south) and we had never been there before. We arrived a day earlier than Natalie and Nick, so we were able to set up, get some groceries and clean the van a bit before they arrived. We were staying 5 nights all up. Olivia and Ava are the same age, Ava is 12 weeks older.. When Nat and I were younger, we used to say how we’d love to have kids the same age, never really thinking that it would happen, so when we were both pregnant together it was very special. Seeing the 2 girls play, laugh, conspire and telling secrets is a really lovely thing and I love that even though we live on the opposite side of the country, the girls are still ‘BFF’s’ and I hope they’ll be friends forever.

Basically, Tuross = HANGING around.. more drinks, more cheese, more laughter and ridiculous conversations about nothing. Swimming, Kayaking, FISHING (nope, not a one) and chasing after Frankie (18 months) and Asher (almost 4yrs old). Sarah, Lu and Ava got along really well too. There were a few hiccups though. Sarah got Gastro and it was quite bad. We were all sitting out the front of our van and the kids were inside the van watching a movie. Sarah had mentioned that she had a sore tummy but that was about the extent of it. Next thing ‘projectile vomit’ everywhere.. all over the floor. It was at this point that Wayne came to realise very quickly that I really don’t “DO” vomit well. I can’t handle it.. I’ve never been great with cleaning it up, and only really do it when he’s not around. So, he had the job of cleaning up ! Not much fun.. I made it up to him though, by sleeping with Sarah.. and yes, she threw up all over the bed too. After that she managed to get it into the bucket the next 8 times. It was at this point that I declared (loud enough for all to hear I might add) that I was WELL  AND  TRULY  OVER  IT … and wanted to go home.. STAT. Wayne wasn’t having a bar of it though. He just gets on with it and nothing seems to phase him. Me ? Everything phases me.. even though I’ve been quite relaxed this trip, being sick in a caravan isn’t much fun ! The whole next day was spent washing sheets, mopping floors and using a can of Glen 20. Sarah came good about lunchtime.

The next day, more swimming and then we hit the country club for dinner. Courtesy bus and all. Was a fun night, until Nick purchased the kids Bingo cards, and the night was all but over !!  The girls (and Nick) were having a great time. Nat ? not so much… and Wayne and I were a little indifferent until I realised that maybe Jack the courtesy bus driver wasn’t going to fit us all in, that I too wanted to bail. The terms ‘ legs eleven, 2 fat ladies and 66 clickety clicks’ will be forever etched in my brain. Thanks Nick 🙂 xx

We also managed to get out for a day to visit a town called MOGO. Full of shops, boutique as well as cheaper places. Galleries, pottery places, lots of coffee shops, ice creams galore etc.. You get the idea. The girls loved it. Wayne and Nick played the dutiful husbands and followed us around all day.

Unfortunately, that evening.. after a lovely sunset, drinks and dinner and a game of Bingo that the girls created, it became my turn to get sick. Same as Sarah, although I know the signs and can make it to the toilet !.. It was quite terrible though and I wasn’t able to travel the next day either. We had to stay 1 more day and thankfully Natalie and Nick also stayed and helped Wayne out with the kids. It was also the first time that the Morrell kids had ‘headlice’ .. I’ve been rather cocky about this at school, whilst other mums complain about their kids coming home with it, I’ve managed to stay clear of the dreaded unwanted creepy crawly.. not this time though. All 3 of them !!! Olivia was the worst and I’m forever grateful for Natalie who had to ‘de-nit’ my kids while Wayne had to wash every single towel, tea towel, sheet and doona cover in our van. What a mess ! And I was to sick to be part of any of it !

We eventually headed off and left Tuross behind. What a beautiful place though & if we lived closer, we would holiday there again. We really have only scratched the surface once again in NSW.. So many places to see..

Off to VICTORIA now… see you in a week xo

The travelling Morrells

Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House

Visit Kevin & Margaret

Visit Kevin & Margaret

Questacon

Questacon

Questacon

Questacon

Love That Sprinkler

Love That Sprinkler

Wittenoom Street

Wittenoom Gang

Car Service - Not Fun

Car Service – Not Fun

Questacon

Questacon

Hawker Gang

Hawker Gang

Turos Lakes

Turos Lake Drinks

Turos Lake Drinks

Turos Lake

Turos Lake

Turos Heads

Turos Heads

Turos Heads - Plantation Point

Turos Heads – Plantation Point

Turos Lake - Nick & Ava

Turos Lake – Nick & Ava

Turos Lake Gang

Turos Lake Gang

Gogo

Blinging Up Gogo

Blinging Up Gogo

Weeks 22 & 23 Xmas Eve, Xmas Day and NYE

Let’s see how good the old memory is !

After we got home from Towoon Bay, we hotfooted it to Chifley where we spent 2 nights with our beautiful friends Nat & Nick (and their 2 gorgeous kids Ava and Asher) it was great and the kids loved having space to play and spending time with their friends. The adults just hung around, had a few drinks and laughs. We went out for tea one night and generally just had fun. We left Nat and Nick’s early on Christmas Eve to head back to St Marys. Santa had done most of the present wrapping, although there were still a few to be done. The girls were reunited with Eli and they just played together as little girls do. That night we went out to dinner at the Lone Pine Tavern with about 60% of the family and then we went home so the kids could get ready for Santa and his reindeers. Excitement plus ! (Olivia learnt though during this week that Santa wasn’t real, she had known for a while and basically asked me out-right, followed by ‘please don’t lie mummy’ lucky for me she’s a good kid and didn’t make me feel guilty, that will be Sarah’s job.. but I think she’ll believe for many years to come still). We had asked Santa if he could please drop the presents off to my mum and dads house this year, so we could open them up with them and thankfully that’s exactly what he did ! … It was a very early start, well for me anyway. I was awake at 5.45am and was waiting patiently for the kids to wake up.. They didn’t !!! In the end, I jumped out of bed, woke everyone up and we were around at mum and dads just after 6am.. tired ? yes.. hence the baggy eyes in the pictures .. Santa did well !

We spent XMAS lunch at my Aunty Erins and Uncle Joes place in St Clair. The whole family was there and it was AWESOME. It’s been about 4 years since we spent Christmas in Sydney and having such a large family, with cousins and now 2nd cousins, to share the day with really meant a lot. Our girls LOVED it. . They were spoilt by everyone, and they just loved the chaos and noise and laughs. We ate alot and slept well that night !

Boxing Day tradition in my family is to go and see a chick flick. I was glad I was able to be a part of it this time. We went to see Pitch Perfect and I loved it ! Laughed so much.. go see it if you haven’t already.

The next few days were spent catching up with beautiful friends. We went to Rene’es house and spent the day with her and her mum, boys and Matt. More delicious food, laughs and my girls discovered the wonderful world of SKYLANDERS.. thankfully we don’t have our Wii in the van.. Thanks froggy !

I also got to catch up with Melissa, Tone and their 5 kids (#5 being the latest addition at only 10 weeks when we saw her). A very hot day, kids spent most of the day in the pool and I got lots of snuggles from sweet Milly.

Waynes younger brother Brad and his family (Lauren, Layla, Asha and Jai) were coming to Sydney for a holiday so we were able to catch up with them before we left to Canberra. It was so nice to see them all. We live really close to each other back home in Perth and see each all the time. We’ve all been missing them, especially our nieces and brand new nephew (not so little anymore) so it was perfect timing. We met them in Darling Harbour for the day and this time when we said goodbye wasn’t so hard as it’s only a short time before we see them again 🙂

NYE

My Sister Belinda lives in Drummoyne and has views of the harbour from her balcony. Wayne had wanted to go into the city to watch the fireworks, but I wasn’t that keen. I’d ‘been there done that’ years ago, and I’m all about ‘the easy option with the kids’ and trying to take 3 girls (Frankie being the most difficult at her age) I wasn’t giving in. Knowing that Belinda lives so close anyway, and that we could see the fireworks from her balcony and stay at her place the night, why wouldn’t we take advantage of that ? We did and it was great. There is a reserve across the road from her unit, so we took our chairs, drinks and food supplies and wandered down about 6pm. There were a few people there, but more as the night went on. Pretty soon Wayne was relaxed as he realised he had a prime view with minimum effort. After about an hour Frankie went OFF .. as in, she wouldn’t sit still, running running and more running.. there is a cliff drop off into the harbour so we couldn’t really sit back .. One of us were on Frankie duty until 9.20pm which is when the family fireworks ended. Wayne was getting a little agitated as he was wanting to take pictures and Sarah was upset because she wanted the pink glow necklace (something like that ) so our relaxed evening became a little bit chaotic and I was glad that we hadn’t attempted going into town. The fireworks were beautiful though and even Frankie sat still long enough to watch them.

We got back to Belinda’s by 9.30pm and we all managed to stay up (apart from Frankie, she was sound asleep) and watch the midnight fireworks from her balcony ! Wayne was happy, he was able to see a snippet of the opera house ! His brother Brad and Lauren went into town though, and had an even better view.. I told Wayne he should have met his brother but his response was ‘nah, couldn’t be stuffed’. SEE.. I knew I was right !

Happy NY everyone xx

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Weeks 20 & 21

I know i’m weeks late, but here goes..

About a week or so before Christmas, a few of us from the large never ending Sharpe family went on a camping trip to Towoon Bay (The Entrance, which is North of Sydney). We had been talking about this with our girls for months as we booked it before we even left on our own trip. Super excited because my niece and the girls cousin Eliana was going, along with my cousins, Aunties, 2nd cousins, our Nan and my beautiful Mum. We’d left St Marys and got to Towoon Bay just after lunch, we still had the caravan attached to the car when Olivia starting screaming/crying. She was running around an ensuite toilet block and tripped. I did my usual ‘are you ok ? You’ll be right’ followed shortly by ‘WHY do you do such silly things’ ?? rant rant rant. It soon became evident however that she wasn’t moving from the ground and once my brother in-law was paying more attention to her than I was, I knew something was up. So my sister Laura and I, took Olivia to Gosford Hospital where we waited all up around 3 hours.

After some pain medication and x-rays we were seen by a couple of specialists who couldn’t see any breaks. Olivia was unable to put any pressure on her foot at all though, so because she’s a child and breaks can show up later (up to a week or more) they had to treat her injury as if it were a break. I tried to talk Olivia around, to see if she could stand on it but she refused. Once she had heard the words ‘crutches and half cast’ she was pretty excited. So, after she was fitted with both cast and crutches and instructions about not getting her leg/foot wet, we set off. She was in pain, I’m not denying that but the Dr’s just needed to sign off on her and move to the next patient. She was of course the ‘star’ of the family back at the caravan park, and was fussed over for the rest of the night. The following day was a hot one, so off to the pool we went.. wasn’t long after this that the excitement wore off for poor little Lulu. Seeing everyone else having fun in the pool left her feeling angry and sad ;-( .. My cousin Brenden and his lovely girlfriend Cassie kept her entertained though, making bracelets and in general just being very kind to her. My sister Belinda also drove up for the day and painted her nails and played ‘slave’ for the day 🙂

Towoon Bay itself was a nice break. My cousin Sam and her husband Chris and the boys Max and Noah came up from Melbourne so was great to spend some time with them too. We had a night of Cosmo’s and laughs with my Aunty Eileen, swims at the beach, feeding the pelicans (of course) and basically just enjoying everyones company. After 4 days on the crutches (we were supposed to go back to the hospital on day 7) Wayne and I made the decision to take the cast off ourselves. There was no swelling, Lulu wasn’t complaining about the pain and basically everyone had seen her at one point or another standing on it when she thought no one was watching her ! Low and behold after about 1 hour she was riding her bike. Enough said !

We also took the opportunity to take the kids to see the Christmas Lights at the Hunter Valley. It was so pretty, so many lights and so many people. The kids loved it, was worth the drive.. It was a nice week and we got to spend some quality time with my family, as usually whenever we are in Sydney it becomes chaotic and there’s never enough time.. Apart from my bike being stolen (from the back of the caravan, cheeky drunks) we had a really nice time. Here are some pictures xo

Toowoon Bay Sunrise

Toowoon Bay Sunrise

Riding Free

Riding Free

Like This

Like This

Griffo and Dodgy Leg Lulu

Griffo and Dodgy Leg Lulu

Watch Me

Watch Me

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Dodgy Leg Lulu

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Sam & Jo

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Toowoon Bay Sunset

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Hunter Valley Gardens

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Hunter Valley Gardens

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Hunter Valley Gardens