Saturday 22nd July 2017,
Batty Tales

This is what I miss

This is what I miss
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Our little family of three

A year ago now, our little family of three set off on a trip we never thought we’d do. Packed into the 4WD, we had no plan but head north, less money in our bank than we owed on credit cards, and only a hope that we would get more, somehow. We’ve been back almost four months and friends still ask if we miss it.

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Home

A year ago, Australia beckoned. There was nothing we couldn’t do. All our worldly possessions were either in a box in a shed, or with us in the car. We had no television, no rent, no responsibility and no worries. We finally owned our own house; if it was only 9 feet by 11 feet and made of canvas, we didn’t care. We had things packed on the roof and under seats, hanging from backrests or stuffed into crevices. We had no idea what we were doing, because when do you ever do anything like it?

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A smiling Hungarian

For nine months and one day, we enjoyed the best Australia had to offer. We covered 25,000km of highway, back-roads, corrugations, service tracks and sandy beaches. We camped in the rain, the sun, the wind, the calm. We slept near kangaroos, goannas, grey nomads, dingoes and crocodiles. We walked over sand dunes, through creeks, under rainforests and got lost in car-parks. We saw the sun rise and set over a giant rock, a lonely gulf, breaking waves, skyscrapers and our homely tent. We watched our daughter, River take her first steps, her first fall. We met a family of hippies, a baby who had only ever lived in a caravan, an apocalyptic prophet, a smiling Hungarian, and an Israeli family who weren’t sure if the Promised Land was in the Middle East or the Northern Territory, so packed up everything to find out.

Do I miss it?

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I miss finding places like this

I miss sleeping on the ground and hearing the walls move around us. I miss peanut butter and honey sandwiches, even eating the crusts because I was that hungry. I miss cooking breakfast, or lunch, or even dinner for my family and I miss sitting down together to eat it, without the company of a TV. I miss the mornings we planned to move camp, but didn’t because the weather was too good, or too bad, or just because we couldn’t be bothered.  I miss the mornings we did move camp, folding the tent just right so it slid right into its bag. I miss hating how heavy it was putting it on the roof-racks. I miss surfing twice a day or fishing for so long Angela worried I had been eaten by a crocodile. I miss eating crocodile. I miss the plasticy taste to all our water and being bitten by mosquitoes. I miss four-wheel driving and chopping firewood with an axe. I miss the stale campfire stink on all my clothes and in my hair and through our tent. I miss Darwin and Seisa, Eungella, Crescent Head, Lakefield National Park, Christies Beach, the Dalhunty and the Towns rivers, Fraser Island, the Gold Coast. I miss the nights so hot we couldn’t

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My favourite photo from the whole trip

sleep and those so cold, that’s all we wanted to do. I miss how hard it is to go to the toilet at night when your doors have zippers rather than knobs. I miss the friends we met and stories we heard. I miss the excitement of visits home.  I miss not worrying about money, despite rarely having much. I miss having the energy, or even the desire, to play with River of an evening, seeing her learn something new as it happens, rather than on a 3.5 inch screen later on. I miss River’s bed time, when all three of us would play in the tent, or the nights when River would end up between us, even if she thinks parallel and perpendicular are the same. I miss being able talk about nothing with Angela or even wanting to. I miss the excitement on her face when she catches a fish or masters damper in the camp oven. I miss the best nine months of our marriage.

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There is so much more to see

Through the grace of the God we serve, we find ourselves with more money in our bank than we owe on our credit cards. More than we had when we left the first time. The Patrol, our old friend, is for sale, but no one’s calling and most of the damage we did has been repaired. It’s early in the travelling season still; what’s stopping us from heading north, or even west? We never got that far last time, it’s waiting for us. Even my voice of reason thinks it’s a good idea.

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River and her first brother, Asher

But no. There are four of us now and we’re about to sign a lease on a townhouse that’s only just bigger than our little home of canvas. We bought a TV and I’m eying off a PlayStation. The money that could see us maybe three months around Australia will pay for a washing machine, some couches and lamps. And a new bike if I can play my cards right. We’ll sell the Patrol, buy a family wagon and the dream will have ended, at least for a little while.

And I’ll never stop missing it.

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6 Comments

  1. Sarah 28 May 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing this fantastically inspiring write up about your travels. Oh how family life can change us all… a bitter sweet pill *smile*

  2. Danyelle 28 May 2012 at 5:23 pm

    This made me miss these adventure blogs! Just remember one day soon again the kids will be older and old enough to enjoy another trip around Oz! I’ll never forget all the times Dad took us down to Victoria, gold mining in Sovereign Hill or camping in the countryside or even exploring in Wombeyan Caves!! The time will come soon again but enjoy the comforts you have even though I know you’d swap them for uncomfortables in a heart beat haha I think you must all have some kind of squatter tent dweller in your blood I don’t know how you did it for so long but I sure loved reading about it and following you on your adventures!! To the next chapter, all the best!

  3. Rachel Ware 29 May 2012 at 12:23 am

    We’ll miss your stories too, but love having you back all the same. :)

  4. Anne Roberts 29 May 2012 at 6:23 am

    How lovely to be able to look back at the last chapter and know you are in the midst of a new one. Continue to enjoy life and don’t loose your dreams. They are tomorrows adventures!

  5. Aunt Victoria 29 May 2012 at 12:31 pm

    That was beautiful Brendan……..it really makes me wonder what we are all going on about in our crazed world and our desire to acquire, own and possess ….. ( did you really have to categorize the grey nomads with all of those creatures though?) we are heading off in our caravan soon if you don’t mind, and though we don’t think of ourselves as grey nomads, others might.

    It reminded me of something I wrote to a school friend tonight who had asked me how we came to move to NSW from Melbourne. This is part of it:

    “we were living in Tasmania just after we got married. we lived in surry hills, then moved to east Burwood, then to north balwyn, then glen iris, then bought a house in Tecoma. we sold it 2 years later in 1980 and moved to northern NSW with Carli as a 6 week old newborn. we had the boys, Kye 4 , James 2 and all headed off together with nothing but an old EH Holden and a trailer full of our worldly possessions. And had no idea of where we were heading.
    I mean, what could my parents have possibly been worried about??? lol”

  6. Kelly 14 July 2012 at 11:00 am

    I can’t imagine you guys in a townhouse, in the city, doing the 9-5 thing! There’s always tomorrow, as you know it’s never a good time, but you’ll find a ‘good enough’ time again. We’re heading off to Tasmania in a few weeks then up the east coast, but the goal is to find somewhere to settle, finally. I’ll make sure I complain about being in a tent in the freezing cold and gale force winds for you!

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