Australia Day 11 – Going Nowhere Fast

Distance Driven: 0 – nada, zip, zilch, zero and it was fantastic!

Steps taken: 10,031

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Today we simply spent the day in one spot, well as much as a toddler will let you stay in one spot.

We booked a few days in a Discovery Holiday Park and it is definitely geared for children with a little bit for adults too.

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There are pools, splash pads, playground, bouncing pillow, movies, kids club, arcade, mini golf, and rentals for everything from bikes to paddle boats.

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Roland had gone for a walk with Dan last night and spotted the splash pad and desperately wanted to go swimming.  So first thing after eating breakfast, that is what we did.

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Roland had a blast at the playground.  He was a little hesitant with the bouncing pillow but happily sat on it and would drum or let you make it “bumpy”, climbing up and down was also acceptable.

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It was hard to get him out of the splash pad once he got into it.  The water was freezing but he didn’t mind in the slightest.

I convinced him to get going and see what Daddy and Scarlet were up to so we could get ready for lunch.

Of course, before leaving we played at the arcade too.

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We took a 1Km walk to the Lighthouse Beach and the cafe that is there.  We were treated to wonderful food and the view was spectacular.  The waves were just crashing out there.  While eating lunch we got to watch some filming being done.  It looks like this drone can be deployed to drop a flotation device while the lifeguard is on the way to rescue someone.

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After a long nap by everyone (and we are so happy to have some air conditioning today) Roland was recharged and ready to go.  SWIMMING, yup he wanted more swimming.

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As we left I got him to head to the waters while it was low tide.  You could see all sorts of tracks from hermit crabs, snails, and birds.  We chatted with some children who said in the evening you can find large blue crabs.  They also found a dead eel, popped out its eye and put it in the freezer to scare their poor mother.  Oh, children.

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Splashing in the pool was great fun in the hot weather but as per usual the sand fleas found me and we headed for home.

I discovered last night that this place has a full-size bathtub so Roland had a bath and I finally got a chance to give him a good proper wash.

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As we settle in for the night the rain has returned.  All in all, I am happy to be in this caravan and not a tent or a hotel.

Australia – Day 10 Butterflies, Beets and Ballina

Distance Driven: 230 KM

Steps Taken: 7305

 

The place we stayed at last night was spectacular.  Bellinger River Tourist Park has beautiful views, new amenities and most importantly, is full of friendly people.

Day 10 - _0003.jpgOur morning view was spectacular.

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Roland had the chance to play at their little park.

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We met a few dogs but Molly was by far his favourite.  Her owners, Kevin and Ann, were just as wonderful.

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Roland helped Ann with her washing and Kevin shared all sorts of interesting information about himself (he is a Vietnam Vet) and the local area.  We have a few places to add to our must-see list!

Roland even scored a kinder egg and toy truck from Ann, much to his delight!

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Our first, and really only, stop today was a Butterfly House just south of Coffs Harbour.

 

They have a maze that Roland was so eager to get into that we had to quickly run after him as we though he had just ducked behind a bush!  He found that entrance and was off, quick as a flash and giggling like crazy. (we are in for so much more trouble with this one!)

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The maze inside the maze

They have a wonderful butterfly house with several species.

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As this is a school holiday locally there were several groups of children.

They also have a “Bug House” with several impressive looking local bugs.  Some were very hard to find as the really do camouflage very well into their surroundings.

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We decided to grab lunch at the café before leaving and Dan was rather distressed at the face they put beets on his burger!   I thought it was great!! (I love beets)

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Our drive has given us much more beautiful scenery with the addition of interesting signs like Kangaroo or Koala crossings.  This one, however, was the most surprising!!!

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Roland can get a bit silly in the car when he is stuck sitting for a while.  He does strange things like sucking his big toe, boys are gross.

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One big long drive later (most of which the kids were sleeping for) and we arrived in Ballina.

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Just for the record.  I don’t like prawns.  They make me gag a bit.  I worked in a seafood department at a local grocery store and on occasion we sold prawns.  Their eyes would always fall off and stick to the ice.  Barf.

 

Tomorrow we will actually have time to discover the place we have chosen.

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So, as I’m writing this, Dan has gone out for a walk into town.  It’s a few kilometers away.  I just heard the first few drops of rain and thought “oh no!” and now it sounds like a torrential downpour. You can image the words Dan is saying right now.

 

Day 9 – Heading up the East Coast, Australia

Distance Driven: 350 km

Steps Taken: 7652

Day 9 -  024Today was a big day of driving.  We did 350km.

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That might not sound like all that much but it took us from about 10 am till almost 5 pm.  Why so long? It wasn’t traffic, well there was a bit of traffic where they are building some major new highway.  It is more the fact that every time we stop it takes about 2 hours.  Everyone taking turns going to the bathroom, food and most importantly – play time for Roland.

 

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We drove through some pretty diverse countryside. Let me tell you, they do not take drivers safety lightly.  We frequently see these “stay awake” signs and have even seen signs for free coffee!

 

We have seen large rivers, mountains, fields, and forest.

There are some pretty interesting names of places around here too (and I expect to see even more of these peculiar names when we hit New Zealand too)

Some of the roads get pretty narrow too.

One of our stops was simply to get diesel and Roland NEEDED to get out and move around.

We arrived at out next destination at 4 pm and it was simply beautiful.

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Bellinger River Tourist Park is situated right along a river with a train bridge going across. The park is small, the staff friendly and the amenities brand new and very clean.

Roland saw the pool as soon as we arrived and began asking if he could swim.  Seeing other children in the pool gave me hope.

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It was cold.  Even by Canadian standards, it was COLD.

After “swimming” we continued with the usual evening routine of dinner and bed for the kids.

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Scarlet has such a great time rolling around on the bed.  She is getting so much movement now!

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Roland has become one of those rebellious kids that let their pants hang down low, lol

As I finish writing this I am going through my pictures for the day.  This is how you know your toddler stole your camera and knows how to use it!! (he took 139 pictures!!!!)

Day 8 – Driving North and Making Friends

Distance Traveled: 248 km

Steps Taken: 10,942

 

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The Beast

 

I got to drive today!  Talk about stressful but it truly does get more comfortable as the day goes on.

I think we have hit a turning point, finally.  Everyone had a good long nights sleep, no super early mornings and both kids were dressed super warm.  It was only 7C when we woke up.

Dan doesn’t deal with the cold in the mornings as well so a warm breakfast was on order.  I, however, threw on my running gear and headed out (leaving Dan to deal with “Hangry” Roland) Oh and we ran out of coffee this morning.

My morning run was just what I needed.  There was little trail to follow so I made a few loops of it trying to discover if there was more.

 

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Insert Creepy Music Here!!

I’m not gonna lie.  When I ran down this little side trail and saw this car I expected either someone to jump out or to find a skeleton inside.  Super creepy.

 

 

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So off we headed and quickly stopped for coffee at the first McDonalds we saw! 

BTW, fastest time yet again!

 

The main part of our journey today was driving on the M1

These rock cuts are just something else.  Just think of the blasting that went into this and there are so many of these and often the highway is divided by one of these cuts.

We took a break at a rest area near Mooney Mooney in the Central Coast and had the pleasure of meeting two Rural Fire Fighters, Robert and Boyd.  We learned a little about rural fires and how they are “put out” and they had a laugh at the size of the grass fires we get at home (Their last grass fire was 1000’s of archers).

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A little further down the road, we stopped for lunch and Roland got to pet another dog (an occurrence that happens as often as Roland can manage!).  Here we met “Darcy” and her people parents, who were on their way home to Nelson Bay.

Everyone we meet is so friendly and happy to have a conversation.  They are warm and welcoming and happy to offer polite suggestions about the are and places we might find interesting.  Even grocery shopping at Woolworth’s provides entertaining conversations with the kids involved.  We learned this with Roland in Belize, children make excellent ice breakers.

I try to keep flexibility in mind as we drive around.  After all, Life is about the Journey.  We happen to see a directional sign for Toronto and just had to check it out.

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Tonight we are setting up in the dark at a caravan park in Heatherbrae, NSW and from here I think we will put a good couple more days of driving in.  Our next major destination is Gold Coast, almost 700km away.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7 – Blue Mountains

Distance Driven: 47km

Steps Taken: 7,573

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Good Morning!

The Blue Mountains are a unique range of mountains that are like no others in the world.  They are known for not only their stunning sites but the blue haze caused by light, dust particles and the oils given off by the Eucalyptus Tree.

Today was our quickest day yet for getting going in the morning.  We ate breakfast and even had time to play at the park before leaving by the 10:00 check out time (yesterday took us until 12:00).  I am also happy to say that we have finally finished unpacking.  I have no clue where I put everything but our suitcase is empty and put into storage under the camper.

We first headed off to Govetts Leap Lookout in Blackheath

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Our second stop was Echo Point where we had specular views of the Three Sisters and the surrounding area.  This was clearly the most popular lookout as there were several tour buses and NO parking available.  We managed to find a side street with parking and as both kids were sleeping, I headed off to see the sights and bring back lunch.

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As time marched on, so quickly as it does every day, we chose one last lookout for the day, Wentworth Falls.

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We were given the opportunity to have coffee and a small snack, sold by a local company who sets up a van and make excellent coffee.  By they way, we are still not sure how to get a cup of coffee like home, it’s just not the same.  Today we tried a Flat White instead of a Long black.  I like it.

Getting settled into a motorhome that feels massive when driving and like a tin can when moving about, has been an adjustment.  We are slowly getting the hang of things and I’m sure by the end of this 10-week adventure we will with love it or hate it but we will be experts either way.

Tonight we needed to bathe both kids.  It was a fun experiment.

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Here is a video of what our home looks like today.

Tonight we have chosen a free campground.  There is a small loop of dirt road at a rest stop there you can park for the night.  There were washrooms and even showers.

I have had a massive headache all day.  I tried to drive but it was just too much.  As the thunder of an impending storm started to roll in I figured out the source of that pain.  Now, with the storm past, I feel much better.

Day 6 – Fire Museum

Day 6 – Fire Museum

Kilometers Driven: 95

Steps walked: 7754

Poor Scarlet woke up so cold this morning.  It was boiling hot when we went to bed and now we are all cold.  I’ve clearly forgotten that I am subject to the elements, just like in a tent.  The camper offers little protection from changing temperatures.

Our first breakfast in the camper was a simple one of yogurt with Rice Pops, PB&J on toast with scrambled eggs.  As we continue to unpack things are starting to settle in and I hope to bring you a tour of our new “home” in a few days.

 

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Roland got super excited to see this one!

 

Yesterday we passed through a town called Penrith and spotted a Fire Museum.  So, on our way back towards the Blue Mountains we decided it would be fun to stop in and take a look.

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Added bonus to traveling in your “house”

When we arrived at the museum both kids were sound asleep and I don’t like to wake sleeping babies. I simply got up and started to make lunch while they slept.  Once awake we were able to eat right away and head on inside.

Roland had such a great time looking at the different Fire Trucks and then there was a play area at the end that was the source of great excitement.

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Being a Saturday there were a few other families there. I met Paul, the grandfather of one of the children running around.

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He asked me about the lenses on my phone.  I have this clip on wide angle lenses with a polarizing filter added on top. This little thing is fantastic.  It lets me fit soo much more into my pictures.

I truly had such a nice conversation with Paul.  He told me all about his father who was the first causality in the construction of the Sydney Opera House and about the tiles on the sails being porcelain.  He was also kind enough to surprise Roland with a Fire Hat from the museum’s gift shop.

 

 

After the Fire Museum, we headed west to drive through the main passage through the blue mountains.

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Tonight, we are staying in Blackheath and we are 1060 ft above the sea.    When we started to climb, it was 24C and now only an hour later and still day, we are at just 15C.

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Every night we find a better way to get ready for bed and start to settle into new routines.  Roland was VERY excited to see his new Penguin Pajamas tonight! Scarlet is also sporting new “Little Sister” jammies.

Day 5- The Beast

 

Today was a rather simple day.  Picking up our camper AKA “The Beast”.  Again we were up rather early and had a head start getting packed up and off to breakfast.  I had french toast with a poached pear, mascarpone cheese, Canadian maple syrup and toasted pecans.  I was too hungry to think about taking a picture so here is my beautiful cappuccino.

They were also setting up a market nearby.


So off we went to get this great big mobile home. Caravan is the most common word we hear being used but Roland prefers Camper.

As we left the city we got to see what (in my mind) can only be described as the Paw Patrol Lookout

 


We also got to experience the tunnels Sydney has built.

 


We spent the remainder of our day driving towards the Blue Mountains and calling around to find a place to sleep for the night. We also did our first grocery shop.

I find I am rather set in my way about the brands and foods I buy. It can be a little frustrating at first but I just keep reading myself self that there is an opportunity to try new things.

Day 4 – Sydney Opera House and Zoo

Day 4 started very early. Like 3:30 am kind of early.

 


Yeah, no one can give us a straight answer about what happened.

Since I was up so early it only made sense to take a time-lapse video of the sunrise.

 


Once we got going we took a long walk around the harbor to find breakfast and headed out to the Sydney Opera House.

 

 

I gave Roland his own camera today. It’s an old digital and I don’t expect anything will come of it but he is just so excited to run around and take pictures!!!


The whole harbor is just beautiful.

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Alright, I’m going to say it. I thought it was going to be white. All the pictures I have seen make it look white.

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Did you know all the tiles are made of porcelain?
It’s beige at best.

Much to Roland’s delight, we even spotted a sleeping seal.


Back to the hotel room for a quick recharge and refresh AKA restocking the diaper bag and cooling down.

 


We headed back to the harbor to take the ferry straight over to the Taronga Zoo. Talk about affordable travel!! We loved it and let’s be honest. Roland thought it was pretty cool too.


This Zoo was amazing. The vegetation was lush making the trails shaded. We never felt overwhelmed by the size and we got to see some pretty cool animals!

 

We took the Sky Train for a loop to get a great overview of the whole Zoo.

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We had the opportunity to see the platypus.  It is a nocturnal and very shy animal so the video is obviously dark.  They are quite smaller than I would have expected and VERY fast under the water.

We rented a stroller for Roland and Scarlet even got the chance to be cut loose from the carrier.  We stopped in at the gift shop to return it and I contemplated getting Roland a new stuffy to commemorate his visit.  I would have thought he would choose a Giraffe or perhaps and Elephant as they seem to be his favorite.  What did he like the most?

 

A sheep.  Yeah,  I’m not buying a stuffed sheep at the Zoo.

As we headed back “home” we scored a free ferry ride (the ticket machine was broken) and I took the opportunity to pick up a few items we were running low on.  I also wanted to get Roland some dinner that was not from a restaurant.  The “Easy Mart” was crazy expensive but I found some interesting, kinda like home, items.

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I also stopped at the pharmacy for diapers and was given this fantastic little gift.

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Inside were diapers, wipes, banana holder, CPR guide, samples of soap, powder, and creams along with several reading items.  What a nice way to end our day.

 

Day 1 – Best decision I ever made!

It’s 6:00 am my time, that is according to my body anyway. I’ve managed a few hours of awkward sleep laying across a few empty seats. It’s Dan’s turn now. As I sit trying to get a good position upright, I’m not even sure I will sleep again.

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A flight attendant rushes by and suddenly I’m eating a full-size KitKat. For breakfast. So is that day one completed? Or is it still going?

I was a little nervous earlier today.

We are headed to Australia.  There are 2 flights and one of them is 17 hours LONG!

We flew from Toronto to Dallas/Fortworth this morning and had chosen a 12-hour layover.

Yes, 12 hours.  I know most people HATE layovers and want them as short as humanly possible, short of running like a mad man through the airport!

Our plan was to get a room at a nearby hotel and spend the day there.   I have only had the opportunity to do anything like this once, coming home from Haiti.  As a group of adults, we spent the afternoon in Florida and I was more of the “tag along ” than the leader.

 

Fortunately, for us, our luggage was directed from one plane to the next. So, with our carry-on items, we grabbed the shuttle and were whisked off to a hotel for the day!

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Turns out this was the Best idea ever. We had a room with a king bed and a sitting area. We quickly sprawled out and breathed. Relaxed. Ate lunch. And then we ALL napped. It was amazing to have all four napping at the same time in the same room.

AUS 12It gives me hope for my anxieties about sleeping in the camper.

Apparently our layover needed a bit of a side trip. We busted the main zipper on one backpack, Roland became a poop machine and we needed more diapers.

I had already taken a walk down the road to Whataburger and the gas station store with no luck (other than lunch of course).

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So we all piled into a cab and off to Walmart we went. It was an expensive ride but a fun little side trip and Roland had a blast (as he does everywhere he goes)

 

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When we returned from our “Walmart Tour” we reflected on the day and both agreed how rested and relaxed we felt. Just having this break made it feel like two separate trips rather than one incredibly long 30-hour long ordeal!

 

 

Back at the airport, Roland found more and more fun. He made friends with all the TSA security and helped brighten their day (trust me they were looking a little crabby before dealing with happy little Roland).

 

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We grabbed some supper and Roland started to hit overdrive.

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Scarlet in the Ergo has been amazing. She hangs out and naps when she’s tired. My shoulders are sore but I am soooo happy to have it.

Once we boarded flight number two we quickly realized just how wonderful airlines OUTSIDE Noth America are.  Friendly, accommodating, caring, happy people work here!

Late dinner and got the kids sleeping, Scarlet in a bassinet on the wall and Roland sprawled across two seats.

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Packing Light – 1 suitcase for the whole family!

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Roland Sees his first airplane at age 1.5

We are in the final countdown – One Week until takeoff and as I finish packing I find that I have lost my notes,

EVERYTHING I HAVE PLANNED TO SEE AND WHERE TO GO!!!!!

It’s ok…it took me a whole week but I found them!

With that crisis averted I finished packing and filmed the whole ordeal for you to see.

Want to know what I packed?

Here goes…

Packing List - One Suitcase and Backpacks

Some of the great travel clothing I found came from Eddi Bower and these fast drying underwear from ExOfficio.

It was pretty easy to find things that don’t take up a lot of room. Look for light fabric that will dry quickly and pack layers. You don’t need a winter coat if you put on a long sleeve, short sleeve, sweater and raincoat.

World Traveling Toddlers Packing List

This is an easily customizable packing list I have created just for all my wonderful readers.

Remember, when packing light:

Gather what you thing you need and cut our at least half.

Wash One, Wear One, Dry One.

Buy what you can there, don’t pack full-size bottles.

Use storage bags to decrease space and keep organized.

Happy Travels!