A warm evening drinking, eating nibbles and dinner with amazing friends. What better way to finish our 3monthsinacaravan? After dinner we sat around the campfire talking about camping and what kind of gear you need to make it easy and enjoyable. Bec and KJ are the experienced campers between us, and this time they bought Bec’s folks AVan with them, which gave them a different perspective to their normal set up (thanks Mick and Lindi). So between us we all agreed you need something simple and easy to just ‘get up and go’ – which could vary from the very basic with a swag or the advanced with a caravan. When we give back this caravan in a few days time (which will be sad :(), we want to be able to continue our adventures and weekends away – but now we need to decide how…
When Lach woke this morning, around 6am, he took Ava up to the kitchen to do the washing up from last night whilst Audrey and I continued to sleep. He had a very detailed discussion with Ava that if she and Audrey wanted too, we could do a really long drive today and get home tonight to sleep in our own beds, or we could do a smaller drive and get home tomorrow instead. Ava of course chose to do a really big drive as all she could think about was seeing ‘Jackie Boy’. Jack has definitely been missed this holiday and spoken about by the girls every single day. Ava rushed back to the caravan, slumped herself over me (whilst I was still sleeping) and informed me of the decision and that we would be seeing Jack today. I was unaware of this option, as yesterday the plan was to do a hike this morning with the others and then we would leave after lunch to get some of the way home, and then arrive tomorrow. So i was a little shocked, and then became emotional as I don’t want this holiday of a lifetime to end and I hadn’t prepared myself to be home today. Probably sounds odd seeing as we will just be getting home 1 day earlier than planned, but I know that when you get home from any holiday the holiday is a distant memory within days, but hopefully as this has been so long it will take longer to fade. Audrey woke up and Ava ran over and asked her whether she wanted to see Jack today or tomorrow, Audrey then burst into tears and said she wants to see Jack today as she has missed him so much and she is ok with sitting in the car for 12 hours. We got up and sorted the van out, Lach had done most of it before I was even dressed, the quicker we get on the road the quicker we get home. A few people that have done big road trips said to us that when you know your going home, you just want to get home – this is the feeling which Lach had this morning when he woke. I on the other hand haven’t had this feeling, but appreciate that both Lach and the girls do. We told the others our revised plan (think they were a bit shocked but understood), so we all had breakfast together cooked by KJ and then we finished our final checks before getting in the car and getting on the road just before 10am.
An amazing location with fantastic friends for our final stop on the first of many trips around Australia. Thanks Lewis’ and Simmons’ for coming to join us.
We got in the car and looked at the sat nav – which was telling us to head into Melbourne to come back out again (the quickest route), so we changed the settings to be shortest route and off we set. After 30mins of driving I saw a sign to Dunkeld, which is south of the Grampians, so I took the next turn, as I knew that was incorrect, so that we could turn around. We ended up driving for an hour before we passed the caravan park again (this time heading north) – never mind. The second time our sat nav has sent us on a wild goose chase on our holiday. It would have been really funny if we had passed the others on their hike. After lots of wiggling in and out of small towns (maybe we should have done quickest route not shortest route) we eventually came to Bendigo and stopped to make some lunch and fill up with fuel and swap drivers. The girls had been exceptional. Joining the Hume Highway was a relief to the twisty and bumpy roads, but also our first highway in a while and felt odd that this road will take us all the way to Sydney. Within 100m we saw our first sign to Sydney.
We stopped for dinner at 6pm at Gundagai and to change over drivers – Lach suggested that we have Macca’s (the first and last of the holiday) but then I saw an Olivers (which is healthy fast food) so we opted for that instead. They have a big Koala outside, so we took our last photo of the holiday.
We put the girls into their pj’s and brushed their teeth ready to be transferred into their beds when we get home. They have just been looking out the window all day and hardly even played with toys. I am so proud that have got through the entire holiday without any TV or iPad and they have just enjoyed all of the car trips the old fashioned way – windows, games and music. The girls decided that sleep wasn’t something they wanted to do, they were relaxed and awake – can’t really blame them as its not as if we have had a busy day full of activities – they have been sitting on their bums all day. Audrey slept for an hour this morning and Ava 45mins after lunch – that’s it all day. Ava asked whether this is the longest drive they have ever done – answer was yes. She then started to be really blocked up – snot and tissues galore after dinner – the first snot of the holiday (typical just as we arrive home), hopefully its just enhanced by having been in air con all day, and after a good night sleep in her own bed she will be clear again tomorrow.
We swapped over drivers again 140km out of Beecroft and it was dark. When I finished my stint I commented to Lach that driving in the dark is very different towing as well as the fact that neither of us have driven in the dark for 3months. The Hume Highway is full of trucks and its very undulating, however they all flash you to let you back in again, which is great in daylight and fantastic when its dark. The girls didn’t sleep until they were in their own beds. Ava kept asking whether it was past her bedtime and even past Mummy and Daddy’s bedtime, they then were asking about the ‘silly satnav’ and whether it would tell us the right way home. Less than an hour out Ava says that she is starting to get really bored in the car, luckily we then drove past the ‘Welcome to Sydney’ sign, which encouraged them that we were close. They then couldn’t stop talking about stars – chatterboxes at 10pm at night.
This afternoon, via text, we were coordinating Jack being dropped off so that he was waiting for us when we get home (I don’t think any of us could wait until tomorrow), the dropping off of house keys, and the parking of cars and placement of rubbish bins out the front of our house so that when we got home we were able to park the caravan. Thanks to Claire, Donna and Rosie.
It’s been a mammoth day and final leg of our amazing trip – 1,125km in 12 hours (equivalent of John O’Groats to Lands End) – we have driven safely and bought our family back home a couple of days earlier than planned – but we are happy to be home and can’t wait to see all of our friends and family in the coming weeks.