A Travellerspoint blog

The Last Hurrah – We Can Hear the Fat Lady Singing

(Caravan Parks are Terrible for this Kind of Thing) - Mt Gambier to Home

We’ve been a bit slack with our blog, so grab a cuppa before you start reading our final tome.

Mt Gambier was a big hit. We saw many things that we have never seen, including climbing Mt Schank, a probably extinct volcano, and visiting Blue Lake, the water being the most incredible blue colour.

After seeing much of it already in pictures, the Great Ocean Road was better in real life and we all enjoyed visiting the great array of places. There was a good variety of scenery from out-of-the-way places to the tourist-swarmed Twelve Apostles. We spent a long while exploring Loch Ard Gorge, especially playing in the sand at the beach. Port Campbell was interesting – from the boy who screamed maniacally at sea gulls, so much so that people right at the other end of the beach were talking about him, to waking up one morning to watch a digger demolishing a large building from our beds.

When we reached Anglesea we decided to slow down and smell the roses a bit before Christmas hit. There was plenty to do just in the caravan park itself – from the pool, to mini golf, to the beach / river, a gym, a few games of bocce to go-kart bikes. We explored the surrounding areas, including the famous Bells Beach and the beautiful Lorne. The kids have become skate park fans and we are spending quite a bit of time hanging out with the local teenage boys, who don’t seem to put our kids off from performing their tricks. Both the teenagers and our kids watch each other with sideways glances to see if they have impressed. They are learning that concrete is hard and can remove and bruise skin very well, but they have also learnt that risk-taking is a buzz when you can pull off a new stunt.

We stayed in a posh caravan park (sounds like an oxymoron) in Queenscliff, on the Bellarine Peninsula. The park had an indoor heated pool, kids club and a movie room, which was a big plus for our TV-starved kids. Standing at Point Lonsdale, one of the heads to Port Phillip Bay, watching the big cargo ships sail past the narrow gap was great fun. One beautiful day was spent exploring Queenscliff on hired bikes. We found some really interesting international markets – shipping containers full of crazy antique furniture and stuff (like an old ship’s door and an old bike with an Asian-style trailer, old-fashioned ride-on shopping centre toys, weird Japanese poker machines, etc.).

From here on in it was all about catching up with family. We spent an enjoyable weekend with Jo’s brother Kev and Janette and their daughter Kate, camping in their front yard in Melbourne. They showed us a few local sites but we pretty much just hung around and chewed the fat, which was a nice break from caravan park small talk.

In Ballarat we caught up with Jo’s Mum and Dad, her brother Paul and Ros, with their kids Eloise, Alex and Olivia, and Kev, Janette and Kate joined us too. The place we stayed was amazing – it was an historic site, formerly a wealthy family’s home, turned into an orphanage, then a school. It is now a very fancy resort with tastefully restored self-contained apartments (and a welcome step-up from what we’ve stayed in for the last 6 months). We felt very spoiled to stay in such a fancy place – thanks Mum and Dad! This was living it up and we tried everything on offer: paddle boats, pool, giant outdoor snakes & ladders and chess, beautiful gardens and lake, gym, table tennis, etc. Ballarat is a beautiful old town and we enjoyed exploring the area, but more so catching up with family. It’s great being away from the hustle and bustle of commercialised Christmas and spending it with people you love.

Heading back to Melbourne, it was time to catch up with Andy’s family. We stayed with Andy’s brother Geoff, Katrina, and their kids Josh and Aaron who pampered us all. Andy’s mum was there too so it was great to spend Christmas and New Year together. There was enough time to hang out lots and to explore places we hadn’t been to before. Day trips to Phillip Island, Mornington Peninsula and a ride on the Puffing Billy in the Dandenongs were all lots of fun.

We are now back in the camper in Corowa, on the Murray River and are feeling close to home – a neighbouring Victorian asked about local NSW rules, a strange feeling after so long away. It’s so stinking hot here that we had to go to the RSL for dinner tonight, just so we could sit in the air conditioning. We have been in the pool about 5 times today. Despite this, we are enjoying our last time together as a family before home. Every time we cross the Murray River the kids are confused about what state we are in. We have visited local towns like Rutherglen and Glenrowan, and have tasted local wines. Today the kids made giant chocolate freckles (organic, so it must be healthy), we went to Yarrawonga, where we thought we would linger longer (Slim Dusty fans will know what we’re talking about – we listened to the song as we drove into town) and we watched the kids on a waterslide.

This is our final stop before returning home and back to reality, and we have mixed feelings – getting back to the comforts and friends will be nice, but to be honest, we could keep going for a good while yet. This lifestyle seems to suit us well and we’re not looking forward to the business of daily life again. You’ll have to all be nice to us so we don’t get the blues. We have met many interesting people, caught up with good friends and family, seen lots of beautiful things, learned a great deal about our wonderful country and ourselves, covered over 25 000 kms (please don’t count the carbon footprint), read well over 20 books each, put the camper trailer up and down exactly 60 times, not worked for 6 months (although as someone wisely said, ‘It’s not a holiday, it’s an adventure’ – there’s plenty of work to do, just a different type), grown immeasurably closer as a family and experienced amazing things together – all with big thanks to God. Thanks for tuning in, we hope you enjoyed sharing our adventure with us. If you want to sit through a slide show of about 4 000 photos, let us know. This is our final blog, so with a tear in our eye and plenty of memories in the bank, we sign off.

Posted by cyclonecarroll 03:15 Comments (3)

Christmas Wishes on the way Home

Melbourne to Home

We next stayed at Kev and Janette’s place in Melbourne. It was really hot when we arrived, and we loved having air-conditioning! We cooked lemon meringue pie for dessert, which I loved heaps.

While Mum and Janette went to the shops, we drove to the river and rode our scooters along the pathway. When we got back the others were there and we played with Kate, our baby cousin, on the slide. We had a great time at their place!

At Ballarat, where we stayed after that, we stayed in an awesome place. It used to be a boarding school, and before that some people used to live in it! It was enormous.

We were staying with my Nanna and Pa, our cousins, Eloise, Alex and Olivia, and their parents. We went swimming in the pool and I thought it was cold, but Olivia, Alex and Macy said it was nice.

Kev and Janette came and stayed overnight in Nanna and Pa’s apartment a few days later. We hung out in our place that afternoon and had my favourite food, salmon and avocado dip, with BBQ rice crackers! That night all the people under 14 played Dares. The most popular one was the blindfold dare, where you lie down and get blindfolded, then people are allowed to tickle you etc. etc. I had it done to me at Denham, in the sand.

The next day we went to an AWESOME mini golf course. There were two 18 hole courses, one inside and one outside. We did the inside one first. The courses were glow-in-the-dark and we had glow-in-the-dark golf balls. I started doing really badly but ended up going OK. Towards the end there was a door you could open and the wall would start coming towards you and a face would come out of the wall. When Macy did it I blocked the door and she thought she was going to get squashed.

We spent Christmas and New Year in Melbourne. The kids were sleeping in the caravan set up in the garage so we woke up at 6:00. I got 2 books I’ve been wanting before they came out and an IPod docking station, which was great! There were lots of people there for lunch and it felt very Christmassy! We played heaps of bowling on the Wii and in 8 days Macy and I became pros. On New Year’s Eve, we stayed up and watched some fireworks. They were way better than professional ones. At midnight I got up and watched a huge amount of colourful fireworks coming from across the road. They were really loud and Macy, Will and Jack slept through them all! The next day I was really tired. We were all really sad when we had to go but we’d already booked our next place.

We’re now in our last place, Corowa. Our caravan park is right on the NSW-Victoria border, on the Murray River. It’s been really hot but now it’s raining. We’re going to a chocolate factory to make chocolate freckles soon. We’re really looking forward to getting home, having a house, having a nice bed, seeing all our friends, going to… anyway, we’re going to miss life on the road.

Posted by jemmacarroll 15:44 Comments (0)

The Last Stops on the Holiday

Melbourne to Home

At Kev and Janette’s I liked playing with my baby cousin Kate. She is really cute. We rode scooters on the bike track.

Next we went to Ballarat. We saw our cousins, Eloise, Alex and Olivia with their mum and dad, Paul and Ros; Nanna and Pa came too; and even Kev, Janette and baby Kate came. Our apartment was really cool. There was a lake and when we hired paddle boats we went through a really thick bush. We played mini golf at a gold rush place and giant snakes and ladders, as well as lots of board games.

Then we went back to Melbourne to see Geoff, Katrina, Josh, Aaron and Nanny. We spent most of the time in the pool. Lysterfield Lake was cool. On the Puffing Billy we got to hang our legs out of the train and I got to see where the driver sits. We stayed for 10 nights in Melbourne and we were there for Christmas and New Year. For New Year’s Eve somebody put out 300 fireworks that cost $1 000 – crazy! We went to see Chipmunks 3 the movie and it was cool.

We are now in Corowa where it has been around 40 degrees. Today we are going to make chocolate freckles. We are camped on the Murray River which is where the NSW border is.

This is my last blog on this holiday. It was the best holiday ever.

Posted by willcarroll 15:03 Comments (0)

Here Comes Home!

Queenscliff to Home

After Queenscliff we went to Kev and Janette’s house in Melbourne (they are our aunty and uncle). We mainly hung out but we did go to a park and they had a baby called Kate (she was cute!). I loved playing with her and it was fun getting to know my Aunty Janette better.

Ballarat was so awesome! We stayed in a really old house thing and we had our own little unit but it was like a big house with lots of rooms. Next door was our nanna and pa and up above was our cousins Eloise, Alex and Olivia with Uncle Paul and Aunty Ros. Even Kev and Janette came and joined us. Outside there was a huge snakes and ladders game and a massive chess set. We all played snakes and ladders where somebody called out numbers and you had to move that many spaces. We went on paddle boats and went everywhere around the lake. There were men building a rope park and when they were finished we were the first ones to use it. Ballarat was one of my favourites!

Next we went to Geoff and Katrina’s house (our dad’s brother’s house) and they have a dog called Buddy. They have a pool and every time we went in the pool Buddy would run around the pool going GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. We went to the movies and we watched Alvin and the Chipmunks 3. I had a good time playing with my cousin’s Aaron and Josh and Aaron’s girlfriend Paris.

Now we are in Corowa in NSW. This is our last place in our caravan and our last stop before home. On this holiday I have learnt lots and seen lots of amazing things. I am excited to get home but a bit sad that our holiday is over. I had an amazing time!

Posted by macycarroll 16:19 Comments (0)

The Great Ocean Shopping Trip

We explored Adelaide and did lots of Christmas shopping and birthday shopping, for Will. All of everyone’s favourite shops were there and they had 2 Divas (though they were very expensive!) At one stage it got so busy we had to walk away from the crowd and go in the rain. Over all it was probably one of our favourite places.

That afternoon we went to some old friends, the Jolliffe’s house. They had 3 girls, and Sally, the youngest, was my age. We went for a walk up the hill before dinner and there was an awesome view! When we got back we cooked a birthday cake for Will. He was thrilled! We played games outside while the cake was cooking. After dinner we played a giant game of hide-and-seek and the parents played as well! Sally’s hiding spot was by far the best; she was hiding in a cupboard and even if you reached right to the back, which I did, you couldn’t feel or see her. Their dog, Annie, kept giving us away.

The next day we went to Dad’s stepbrother Rodney, and his wife’s house. We had lunch there and there was some really nice food. Macy and Jack loved watching ‘Tom and Jerry’ on their TV. After lunch we played pool and Kelly pool, and Will turned out to be an expert!

We wound our way up through the Adelaide hills on the way to our next destination, at Mum’s cousin Jenny’s farm, but on the way stopped to go to church with some more old friends, the Munros. It was fun having lunch at their place and we made a lizard house from a bucket. The house included a swimming pool with a water slide, 6 umbrellas, a flower seat and a sunbaking lounge.

After we left the Munros, we travelled for about another hour, and stopped at Mums other cousin, Katrina’s farm. We stayed there for dinner but left soon after because we still had to get to Jenny’s house. When we arrived at Jenny’s house, we unpacked and went to bed. In the morning we had breakfast looking at the view of the many hills. They had cows, chooks and sheep. We rode bikes after breaky and fed the chooks. That afternoon we explored some beaches but we saved one of the best until Will’s birthday.

The next day we had a home day apart from doing a walk up the hill. From the top of the hill it felt like you could see the whole world.

On Will’s birthday we went to Victor Harbour, where you can get on a horse drawn train over to an island, but when we were there, there was work getting done, so we just walked across. On the way across we thought we saw some penguins, but they were just weird birds. We climbed over to a big rock and I nearly got stuck because the tide was coming in fast.

When we got back to the mainland Will had a choice of getting a Mc Flurry, or a Wendy’s ice cream. He chose Wendy’s.

That afternoon we went to Katrina’s farm again and rode one of their horses, called Skittle. Will and Jack rode the motorbikes as well.

Robe was FREEZING! It was one of the coldest places we’ve had. Luckily, it had an inside heated pool at 300C! We explored and played on the jumping pillow.

We next stayed at Mt Gambier where we went to few sinkholes and some volcanoes. From the top of the volcano, we had a MAGNIFICENT view. One of the sinkholes was decorated with really nice gardens. There were big caves with flowery vines hanging over them and mini waterfalls that led into small ponds. There was also a blue lake that was actually amazingly bright blue, unlike other boring clear lakes. It was awesome!!!!

After that we started the driving on the Great Ocean Road. There were some beautiful places. We stayed at Port Campbell and from there we went to the 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and The Arch. Loch Ard Gorge was all of our favourite places. It was a small, thin beach with high rocks on both sides. We made a sand kitchen and did some ‘cooking’. London Bridge was a big rock not connected to the mainland, and had a huge hole in it so it looked like a bridge. On one of the signs it said it used to be connected to the mainland and when it broke, two people were on the other side. The Arch was very similar to London Bridge, but much prettier. It was like a very skinny bridge over a little cove, which had waves coming into it. The 12 apostles was one that I’ve been waiting to see for years. There was only about 6-8 left but it was exactly as I imagined it. They were giant sandstone rocks sticking out of the water. It was the busiest tourist place on the Great Ocean Road. I wished we could go swimming.

Anglesea was one of our last stops. We hired pedal bikes and rode around the caravan park, past the beach. We were about to go down a steep hill so I slammed the brakes…
And got my knee caught between a pole and the seat☹, (I still have the bruise). Later, we played games on the jumping pillow; it was really high so it was so fun when you fell off.

We had a swim in the pool the next day, and it was the perfect temperature. While we were in there, it started POURING down rain. While we were warm in the pool, Mum and Dad were freezing out in the cold.

You could hire equipment for mini golf, so on our last day we played mini golf on the caravan park’s course. I was winning up until the 2nd last hole, when Mum overtook.

We’re now in Queenscliff, and there’s a skate park right across the road, which we’ve been to twice, once when we had our scooters, and another time this morning when we hired bikes. I tried to go down 1 of the ramps, but stacked and slid down on my hip while my bike fell on top of me. I have another big bruise☹.

Posted by jemmacarroll 01:25 Comments (0)

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