We did it! We finally hit the road. It seems like we spent forever planning this trip and a little unreal it has finally occurred. We have our route – and a spreadsheet – 3 kids and us in a Jayco Swan Outback. We have not spent nearly enough time in it, so although I began carefully planning where to put things in the last few hours I just shoved items anywhere and everywhere. I figure I have 6 months to get it perfect.
On Sunday afternoon we were just packing the last bits into the camper and I stepped out and my foot rolled underneath me. While I lay on the grass, waiting for the pain to recede, the first thought in my head was, ‘Jamie is going to kill me!’ He didn’t, but I could have killed me instead.
After a late night hospital visit, followed by an x-ray and a couple of physio visits, apparently I am just melodramatic – it wasn’t broken! On Thursday afternoon we said goodbye to our lovely housesitters, Lorraine and Ian, gave Meg a big kiss and hit the road for the Barossa.
Unfortunately as we left way later than we planned – ha ha! We ended up in a middle of nowhere truck stop in a small place called Sherlock. It poured with rain the whole night, and we woke up with the inside of the Jayco covered with drops of water. I only realised this when I rolled over with a bounce and showered Jamie in rain. But it was free, so who are we to complain. We packed up in the rain (again) and rolled on.
In true tourist fashion I have made a list of all the big things we are passing, and I might have slightly altered bits of our route to visit them. Shhhh! Don’t tell Jamie. He is currently begrudgingly allowing my obsession. Our first big thing is the World’s largest Rocking Horse. Abi, Jack and Jamie climbed to the top, Zachary made it half way before giving up – entirely too scary. But he got a certificate anyway. After that we headed to the Whispering Wall, a dam in Williamstown which is built in an arch. So if you stand at one end and whisper the person on the other end of the dam can hear you as if you were standing right beside them. The kids ran up and down the dam in excitement but then once we got in position, couldn’t actually think of anything to say apart from hello!
We finished up at Tanunda Discovery Park, what was meant to be our first stop. Jack found a friend within 2 minutes of being there, and all the children ended up fully clothed in the waterpark. It gave Jamie and I half an hour to get settled. Although it was less easier to drag them out and into dry clothes for a trip to a few vineyards. Since we were only staying the night we had to be picky. The local knowledge sent us to Whistler Wines, reasonably priced and apparently good wine according to Jamie. I stuck with coke. The kids played outside in the playground and then made friends with a couple of kangaroos that had been hand raised on the property. After that we ended up in Seppeltsfield. Slightly more upmarket and as such more likely to give me heart failure – apparently they are unprepared for kids. I spent most of the time trying to stop Zachary crashing into bottles of wine worth hundreds of dollars they seem happy to just leave lying around. I gave up in the end and took them all outside to play with the fountain.
We finished the day at Maggie Beers Farm, if you visit the Barossa you have to go. It sits around an almost crystal clear lake with birds and turtles. Inside you get wine tasting, but also lots of food produce to taste. We left a little lighter in the wallet but happier in the belly. Later than night we celebrated the lack of rain with some crackers and brand new pâté – very posh! You would have been proud Dad, probably less so of Jack who dry-retched when I persuaded him to try a bit!
After the Barossa we headed towards Flinders Ranges – once again completely miscalculating and almost running out of petrol. An hour or so out we gave up for the night at Cradock Hotel. The hotel has free camping out the back, access to toilets and delicious meals. Which turns out to be a good thing as we were without food that night. That morning we had carefully taken out Spaghetti Bolognese, pre made at home and ready to go, laid it in the car to defrost, and then Jamie stopped to check the lights on the van. To get to his little tool box in the car he had to move the spag bol onto the top of the tool box in front of the van. You can already see how this ends can’t you?! It wasn’t until we had set up and started to look for dinner that he realised dinner had been splattered somewhere in the Barossa. Or ideally carefully landed on the side of the road for some lucky dog to munch on. So that night we had yummy pub meals beside a roaring fire, not a bad ending really.
We hit the road again, after a little bit of drone practice. And winded our way down long empty roads surrounded by long flat plains and rolling ridges along the horizon. It was hypnotic and occasionally awe inspiring when we passed ruins. Someone once choose to try and make a life out here, I am not sure I would have had the courage. We drove into Hawkes to grab some maps and then Jamie got to test out his 4 wheel drive capabilities to get us to Brachina East Campsite. The children promptly got covered in dirt, climbed hills and poke sticks into ‘snake’ holes. We also discovered our next door neighbours are from down our way and apparently related to one of my besties over here – Charlotte and Adam we met Katie from Edenhope!
Now the kids are in bed, Jamie and I are munching our Maggie Beer Ice cream around a roaring fire and the stars are bright above. This is living.
Best moment: Finishing our Barossa Day at Maggie Beer
Tip for the week: Australian Road and 4WD Atlas is the bomb! (Also make sure you put everything back in the car and don’t leave it on tool boxes!)
Week 1 Spend
Cost of petrol: $286
Kms done: 996kms