Out of the blue one night in Batemans Bay, I received a message from a family we’d met in Edith Falls. They were over from the UK for six months visiting parents, and were about to head back. We got in touch, told them we were close to Sydney and asked if they fancied a wee camping trip before leaving, and they said yes! Brilliant!
We’d only met briefly, but had got along really well, as did the kids – which always makes it easier.
Our intention was to stay in Kiama, a picturesque little seaside town we’ve been to lots of times, but we couldn’t find a place to set up camp. Everywhere was booked out. So I widened the search a little, and found Killalea State Park near Shellharbour, about an hour from Sydney.
We arrived and it was perfect. A green oasis at the edge of the suburban sprawl. With two seclude beaches, toilets and showers, and a fantastic camp kitchen. We had a day and a night on our own, and then our pals joined us. We played cricket on the beach, flew kites and drank a shit load of wine. All at the same time at one point! It was a great re-connection, and although we’ve only hung out for a couple of days, I know we’ll keep in touch and see each other again.
Before they arrived however, Katie and I had our last school session, and it was a wee bit sad. I was glad to be finished with our classes, but upset we were reaching the end of a very special, unique time in our lives. Katie can read and write now, and we taught her how to do that.
At the beginning we didn’t know how the home schooling was going to work out. And it was a struggle, initially. But we’d gotten better organised, and Katie had learned how to knuckle down. Once we got into the swing of it, I really enjoyed our sessions. It was only recently that it had been a pain in the ass, and that’s because we were short on time.
Spending so much one-on-one time with Katie has been a gift. She’s clever, funny, and a delight to be with. Overall it’s been a privilege to have had the opportunity to teach our own daughter, and a real achievement for us all. I’m going to miss it very much.
Our last few days in the tent were bitter sweet. The trailer that’s been our home for almost a year, was about to become a piece of equipment. One that I hadn’t figured out where to put in Sydney either, but hey, we’ll sort something out. On the other hand, I was looking forward to catching up with old friends, and seeing Sydney again. The trip wasn’t over quite yet though.
Our final stop before home was in the Southern Highlands, staying with friends we’d visited right at the outset. They had a brand new baby back then. Now he was a happy, crawling, smiley little fello with a big wide grin. Big change for everyone.
Leaving the coast we had to serpentine up through Macquarie pass, which was a spectacular drive. It reminded me of the road up into our first rainforest, at Bellingen, further up the NSW coast.
It had also dawned on me, that since we’d visited the Southern Highlands right at the start, this was going to be where we actually completed the big lap. Big moment. I felt nervous. Not sure why. Then Skye spilled a tub of yoghurt all over the back seat and I went bananas. Wasn’t her fault really. But I was tense. I think I was expecting something to happen. A flat tyre or a breakdown. I don’t know, anything that would stop us from completing the full circle.
Nothing like that happened of course. If the Gibb River road didn’t give us a puncture, the roads around Sydney weren’t going to either. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel the tension release until we’d parked outside our friends’ house. Then, as I opened the door I felt an energy flowing through me, and swiftly after that, utter exhaustion.
Oh my god, we’ve only gone and bloody done it Rodders! Phwoooo…