Our Family Ramblings – Take two posts before bed and call me in the morning

It’s a Wrap

Yolla > Home

The McGraths are back in town. It is a surreal feeling.  Have we really been away for 9.5 months?  It is difficult to describe in words the feeling of reversing into our driveway. I know there is a deep sense of happiness, it just has risen to the surface yet.

We have travelled 43,000 klms over the past 9.5 months and the Prado has guzzled around 7,000 litres of diesel.  Pressing the “Go Home” button on the GPS was done with mixed feelings.  Only 898 klms to home.  We did a lot of reminiscing of our travels, recalling all the spots we have camped along the way (some memories were better than others). We counted down our last kilometres listening to our top travelling tunes. Lachie calling out Paradise by Coldplay, Hamish Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller Band, Courtney Stay the Night by James Blunt. . Turning into Military Rd caused a lot of excitement from the back seat.  Cries of I remember this place, I used to do ballet there etc, etc.  Stew and I looked at each other with a sense of despair.  It’s busy, the roads feel narrow and there are lots of neatly groomed people everywhere.  Feel like doing another lap kids??

Walking into our house felt very strange.  I thought I would have been a little more excited about seeing it but it just didn’t feel like home.  Living under canvas has definitely been cosy.  Our garden looks like it has been on steroids over the past 9 months.  Oh, there is a lot of work ahead of us.  Where do we start?  Honolulu Grill for pancakes and coffee.

It is hard to believe that this is our last blog.  How do we sum up our last 9.5 months?  In a few words, remarkable, outstanding, unforgettable, awesome, surreal, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!!

A major highlight for me has been hanging out with my family.  Not just as an authority figure, aka mum, but as a friend.  I didn’t realise how crazy, stressful and hectic our lives were until we started travelling.  Are all those extra-curricular activities really necessary?  We soon discovered that the answer is no.  It’s amazing how little you learn to live with and enjoy. It’s definitely a back to basics lifestyle.  We have all lived under canvas and in one room.  We have had no TV, have had one small box each for our clothing, a few board games and a soccer ball.  We have rediscovered the art of communicating as a family again.  Everyone is willing to chat and offer different stories. There is constant laughter.  Everyone is at ease.  It is MAGIC!!!  I am going to find it hard sharing my family again.  A very selfish thought I know but when you have something good you don’t want it to end.

It is difficult to choose a favourite place.  It is a question that we have spent a long time pondering over. It is a tough one to answer as it depends on many factors: the experience, the weather, the place itself.  How can we possibly narrow it down to one particular place.  Our country offers some spectacular landscapes both natural and manmade. The remoteness of the outback is hard to beat.  Standing on the northern most point of Australia is a proud moment. The stunning red rocks and crystal clear waters of the WA coastline.  The Kimberleys with its stunning gorges & falls.  Camping on pristine beaches waking to turtles bobbing their head up to say hello.  The quiet sleepy towns and rolling hills of Tasmania.  Our list could go on. It is too hard to pick a favourite spot so we have come up with the following:

  • Best camping spot – Kooljaman resort, Cape Leveque WA.  We had our own private hut extension with shower overlooking the crystal clear waters.  Added bonus were the whales spouting in the distance.
  • Worst camping spot – Mareeba, Qld. Nothing more to be said here.
  • Best swimming spot – Surprise Falls Litchfield NP.  Nothing like the feeling of jumping off a 4m cliff. It was exhilarating.
  • Smallest swimming spot- Coward Springs along the Oodnadatta Track.
  • Most needed swimming spot – Moolarina Station near Lake Eyre. Who cares what was lurking under the waters, it was 46 degrees. A definite teaspoon of cement moment.
  • Most extraordinary experiences – Enjoying a birds eye view of the Bungle Bungles in a helicopter.  Walking through the dark freshwater crocodile infested waters of Tunnel Creek with head torches on.  Witnessing the first of the dramatic storms in the Kimberleys.  Hang on, Lachie has just called out “dropping a shark in the back of the kayak has to be up there Mum”.
  • Funniest moment – It has to be watching our wheel roll past us on the Pacific Highway on day 1 of our big adventure.  Nothing has come close to beating that moment although the kids do reckon me having a complete freak out with holding a bag of cane toads comes close.  I am never going to live that one down.
  • Best river crossing – Pentecost River along the Gibb River Rd (it’s an avid 4WD’ers dream crossing) and the Reynolds River crossing in Litchfield NP (a sandy bottom and we managed to pop a tyre on exit). Also worth a mention is the Yardie Creek crossing in Cape Range NP, WA.  Both Stew and Adrian had Sue and I worried. They had us believing that it was a going to be a very technical, deep crossing in extremely tough conditions. They were even talking through recovery scenarios.  It was so tough I could have cycled across on a unicycle with a cup of tea and not spilled a drop.
  • Best wildlife experiences – A wild koala running up the road in broad daylight on Kangaroo Island; following our emu (jiggly buts) guard of honour down a dirt track and swimming with sea lions.  Not every day do you get to swim up close with these inquisitive creatures.
  • Best Burger – Archer River Roadhouse, Cape York Peninsula. It was huge, juicy and oh so delicious.  We still talk about it.
  • Best pie – now this has caused a ruckus amongst the troops – Lachie reckons it’s the Undarra lava tubes open pie; Courtney says it’s definitely the chunky beef pie at Salamanca Markets Hobart but Hamish says the sausage roll trumps the pies on every occasion.
  • Best chicken parmi – Lachie’s appetite has definitely grown on tour! It’s all about the size (of course it is he’s a male after all). I reckon Lachie has eaten one or two parmis in every state and territory.  He is a connoisseur. And the winner is?  The Stanley Hotel in Stanley, Tasmania.
  • Best beer – Stew reckons Little Creatures (couldn’t quite make it to the brewery on his birthday though).  I reckon it’s the Moo Brew in Tassie, great taste, great bottle and great label. It’s hard to beat.
  • Place not to be visited again – Coober Pedy.  It wins hands down. Now this is a town that has nothing to offer except an underground pub to escape from the heat.  And the Pub doesn’t even do beer on tap.
  • Most useful tool on tour – the long handled shovel.  This has proved to be an essential item with multi-purpose functions.  It has been used to get us out of many sticky situations – de-bogging and bush poos and for general recreation activities – making huge sand holes and digging for earthworms to help us catch all those fish (okay maybe not so useful here!)
  • Least useful tool on tour: the yabbie pump (the deluxe model thanks to Ben).  This was only used at Blackies after carting it around for 7 months.  It broke after 2 uses.  I also have a confession.  The measuring cups.  These were posted home early in the tour. What was I thinking?  As if I was ever going to bake.
  • Most used sayings:  How good is life?  Keep your hands to yourself.  Where to next?  Been there done that, tick.  Time to move on, it’s a wrap.  Can I play iPod.  There’s nothing to do.  Mmmuuuuuum I’m hungry.  Is it beer and chips time?  Surprisingly there were not too many Are we there yets?

I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to travel around our incredible country. It has been an extraordinary experience and I thoroughly recommend it to those who get the chance.  I can see myself completing another lap one day…maybe when I can be classified as a grey nomad and own a velour dressing gown.

To our friends and family, a big thank you for following our journey.  I hope we have given you some insight to the natural wonders of Australia whilst keeping you entertained along the way.  We have enjoyed reading your comments and now look forward to catching up with you all in person. Yay!!!!

Now to the unpacking…Aaarghh!!!


6 responses

  1. meg

    A huge WELCOME HOME kids!!! What a totally awesome trip and lifetime experience you have shared together… and allowed us to have a sneak peak too. Brilliant summary of your travels Deb – I would have to agree, I still laugh myself silly rethinking of that video of the wheel rolling past your car!!!

    It might take a little time to settle back into Sydney lifestyle – life in general has plenty of good things to enjoy no matter where we find ourselves…. and you can always set up the tent in the backyard for a sleepover if you feel a little ‘home sick’.

    Can’t wait to catch up sometime soon to chat face to face – you guys should be all incredibly proud of your achievements….. we certainly are !!

    ps Stew & Deb – within that amazing Blog, there is a fantastic book in the making…. I’m just saying…. xx

    April 9, 2012 at 8:14 am

  2. Kate Powell

    Welcome home McGraths! I read out this post to Sean and the kids on a drive down from the Gold Coast to Kingscliff today. We all felt so sad for you, to be home after such a great adventure. What an amazing trip you had. You should be all so proud of what you have achieved in the last 10 months. Look forward to seeing you all soon xx

    April 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm

  3. Richard.

    Dear McGrath Family,

    Thankyou for sharing your experiences.

    We have found your blog a terrific read.

    Back home!!!!!!!!!! It’s a real job to settle back into the routine.


    The Lloyds.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm

  4. Nicole Blunck

    What a beautiful end to an amazing story! I”ve loved every minute of your blogs and will miss them, I’m with Meg, there must be a book project on the agenda? Welcome home McGraths!, look forward to seeing you all again, very glad to have you home 🙂 xx

    April 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm

  5. Chris & Janine

    Wow, well done guys. We’re a family of four with two boys (3 and 5) looking to do the big loop. Would love to pick your brains about every single detail ! At the moment we’re just trying to decide upon the rig and interested to see you went with the soft floor trailer tent – Why ? How did it go ? Pros & Cons ?

    August 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    • sm2000

      Hi there,

      Sorry It has taken so long to come back to you. The trip seems a lifetime ago as the days have taken on that familiar urban speed again.

      We went with the soft floor as we decided the extra room would be good. the normal stated downside to a soft floor is set up time but to be honest we did not have a problem there. We got a set up down to 6 minutes from pulling up to sitting in a chair with beer in hand. On the upside when weather was not great, the kids still had space to stretch out and set up for school work etc. If I had the time again, and three kids of the same age, I would go with the same trailer. So I suppose that says it all. We did lots of checking out of other rigs before we went. It took us about 2 yrs to decide on the one we got. We also checked out heaps while we were away and apart from the families who were in caravans (and no really going offroad) there were not too many (any) options we saw which were equivalent in terms of space and conveniences.

      Hope this helps!


      December 21, 2012 at 11:57 am

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