So after 9 months of planning and an intense 36 hours of preparation the day had finally arrived – Saturday 5th November 2016. I awoke at 430am and couldn’t get back to sleep running through all of my checklists in my head making sure I had packed everything – which of course I had. The house was fully awake by 6am and the sheets were all in the wash. Seeing as Friday morning all we had to do was 1) clean the house, 2) food shopping, 3) put our clothes into the van, and 4) pack the car – all of which doesn’t sound a lot but it took forever and if it hadn’t been for our Au Pair Rebekah we would not have got it all done. (She did have an invested interested in the clean house, seeing as she would be moving in with her host family whilst we are away). We then still seemed to have loads to do on Saturday morning. I don’t think I appreciated how much prep work had to be done, as it felt like over the past few weeks we have been packing stuff in the van constantly – although we still had plenty of space. Anyway, I guess a 3month holiday doesn’t come without the associated prep work and now there is ZERO work as it’s all been done – now we just go slow and go with the flow.
After the girls got over the excitement of “We are going on holiday today” we had a breakfast date with Nanna and Grandpa at our local café ‘Long Shot’ and whilst we were munching on what we considered to be our last civilised meal, we bumped into many friends and strangers all of whom Ava was being very vocal about us “Going on holiday today in a caravan for 3 months, and Mummy and Daddy don’t need to do jobs”. She also kept saying that we were going to ‘Smudgee’ and ‘Dumbo’ – to which we needed to translate as Mudgee and Dubbo. She still says these so now we have stopped correcting her as it’s just too cute.
We walked back home for the final packing which involved packing the food for the fridge and freezer which still needed to be packed as we couldn’t get the fridge to temperature yesterday on the gas and after many hours of wondering why it wasn’t cold – Dr Google answered the question – the van has to be level for gas to work – so we just prayed that as soon as we started driving the fridge would start cooling down and we wouldn’t waste all of our meat which the butcher had cryo-vac’ed for us. Whilst Lach and I were doing the final ‘idiot checks’ and making sure the van was all hooked up properly, Nanna and Grandpa read a couple of books to the girls – all of whom were cuddling and saying “I’m going to miss you SO MUCH”. Then we locked up and said bye to Jack on the driveway – big cuddles and smooches all around before we let him into the garage for his new ‘tenants’ to arrive within the hour. I must admit I did have a tear giving him a hug. Nanna and Grandpa saw us into the car after many cuddles, squeezes and a few tears from us all.
Then I made sure the wing mirrors were aligned and off we drove at 10am – down the hill and right onto Copeland Road – I hope none of the locals saw us as I was definitely driving at less than the speed limit making sure all the overhanging trees weren’t going to bash the van using Lach as the spotter. By the time we were on the M2 heading to the blue mountains (about 10mins into the journey) I had the rhythm back and it felt fantastic to be starting this adventure of a lifetime.
We received lots of beautiful messages from family and friends on Saturday morning wishing us all the best and safe travels – thank to you all of you who sent them – it meant a lot to us to know that you were thinking of us.
We set the sat nav which told us 3.5 hours to Mudgee, which was correct if it hadn’t been for a proactive pee stop for the girls – I saw a McDonalds and knew they would have parking for us. The roads were empty – hardly any cars at all and if there were I pulled over a couple of times for the ‘boy racers’ to overtake. The scenery was much greener than I expected – seeing as the southern highlands were so brown only a few weeks ago. It was luscious countryside and rolling hills but not many games to play with the girls – not many cows, or sheep or horses to count, or coloured cars to spot. Lach kept me within the white lines and to the speed limit by being my second spotter and the girls both were exceptional with no “are we there yet” or “how much longer” (or at least that I can remember”.
We were about 20mins outside Mudgee and I was looking forward to stopping driving and setting up camp, but we then came across Logan Wines on the left hand side and with 200m to decide I made the executive decision to turn in. I knew it was a winery which I wanted to visit and worked out that we were unlikely to visit it tomorrow as it would be in the wrong direction – luckily the carpark was empty and we could do a full circle with the van and park and do some of our first Mudgee wine tasting (what better excuse to have to taste so that we can stock up the van for our evening drinking over the coming weeks before we get to SA?). The cellar door was beautiful and the girls had a good run around the balcony to let off some steam whilst Lach tasted and I sipped about 6 of their wines. The girls were allowed a finger dip of a wine of choice seeing as it was their first every vineyard they had visited and they chose ‘white’. So they had a finger dip each and both said in unison “um yum”.
We ended up buying 2 of their wines to start our collection (we intend on creating a page of what wine we buy and drink – I love numbers and statistics – a scary thought how much wine we may get through during this adventure).
- 2015 Logan Sauvignon Blanc – Orange
- 2014 Ridge of Tears Shiraz – Orange
We piled back in the car and headed off for our short hop to the caravan site (Riverside Caravan Park, Mudgee) – once we got here the owner directed us to our spot and once again we swapped drivers and Lach parked beautifully with only a couple of ‘shuffles’ in order to align ourselves perfectly with the concrete slab. We didn’t take long to unhitch and realised we still had plenty of the day ahead (it was only 230pm) and so we decided to not set up completely and walk into town – the girls were on their scooters and we walked along side teaching them the boomerang game. A girl from work informed me that a great way to keep children from not going too far on their scooters is to play ‘boomerang’ – whenever the adult says boomerang the children need to turnaround and come back to the adult as quick as they can, and if they can’t hear you say boomerang they have gone too far – worked perfectly Sue – thank you.
We went to a wine bar as the girls wanted an ice cream and we wanted a wine – however neither of us ended up with wine, I had a beer and Lach had a cider. It was too hot in the sun and cold in the shade and I think we wanted something refreshing after our first leg and all the emotions which had gone with leaving Sydney.
We walked back to the van – picking up some bread en route as we forgot to buy bread on Saturday morning with all of the excitement – and finished setting up. The girls were exhausted and excited at the same time – as I think I can say the same for Lach and myself. I felt like I had been hit over the head by a tonne of bricks, exhausted from driving combined with now being on holiday. So we were set up and our holiday had officially begun. Ava was given a disposable camera by her favourite teacher from daycare and so we said that she should take a photo a day and when we finish the trip we can take them into the shop for ‘developing’ – took a while to describe was developing was and that she couldn’t see the photo on the back of the camera 🙂
The first of many nights in the van and we were off to a good start, Ava and Audrey went down quite well allowing us to enjoy a bottle of verve matched perfectly with a feast of sausage sandwiches, after consuming said bottle, it was time to retire to bed it seems most caravan folk retire at the ripe hour of 8pm – time to crack out the kindle.