During the week that we were in Sydney, guests at the Ingenia Big 4 Emu Plains Holiday Park, Kirstine and the kids spent a lot of time chauffeuring (hop-a-long) Paul to/from his course. Thankfully negotiating the busy M4 & M7 was made infinitely easier by the amazing Clearview Mirrors on the Legend. More people should have these on their vehicle – it really does help to take the stress out of driving!
Kirstine ventured out with the children into Sydney one day, to see some of the iconic sights. We figured out the Opal Card system, and hopped a train from Emu Plains to Central. The kids squealed with delight to be on a “double decker train”, and were amazed that the seat backs are reversible, so that they could face the direction of travel. From trains, to the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, street performers, a trip to Manly on the ferry, the kids were agog at all the people and structures. So much so that on the way back to Emu Plains, the littlies dropped off to sleep.
The staff at Ingenia Big 4 Emu Plains were very accommodating of Paul’s injury, and even gave us the key to the disabled shower facility for the week that we were there. It’s amazing how much you take a simple thing like showering for granted, until you have only one foot available for balance!
Leaving Sydney on a rainy Saturday morning, towing the Cub, was an interesting experience! Whilst Kirstine handled it well, it was very obvious that local drivers are very self-focussed on the road. We’ll definitely be teaching our kids to drive in a different way!
We’re really fond of the township of Bungendore, and staying at the showgrounds again was lovely. The caretakers are delightful, remembered us and the kids, and we made the time to enjoy the fresh scones they brought over as we were setting up. Ann even brought a dog biscuit for Luna, and chocolates for the kids. No-one missed out!
It poured rain on one day, which we were prepared for, and with Kirstine miserable with a head cold, it was a close-quarters movie day for the family in the Cub. Five people in one camper trailer could have been a recipe for disaster, but everyone seemed to understand that we were “all in this together”, and by the next morning, the braided river system that had been the road to the amenities block, had subsided and freedom of movement was enabled.
Upon leaving Bungendore, we were welcomed at Gundagai Tourist Park by Gavin & Allison, for a week’s stay. We can’t head to the outback until Paul’s ankle is more healed, and of course by this stage, other family members had succumbed to the head cold. We maintain that our youngest son was Patient Zero. He usually is!! It was a quiet week of catching up on video editing, school work, and itinerary planning. We’re waiting on one small jigsaw puzzle piece before we can confirm our itinerary for NT/WA. We know it’s going to hot. We know it’s going to be humid. It’s just the way our travel cookie has crumbled!
While in Gundagai we had a discussion like none we’ve had so far. Mr S came to see us on our first evening, and shared the story of the loss of his son only earlier this year. Completely unexpected, by his parents and friends, Mr S’s son was a gifted musician, and one to take care of his friends, and who’d had a best friend in a German Shepherd growing up. In his early twenties, Mstr D was always willing to listen, and always asking if his friends were okay. Whilst Mr S shared with us more personal details of his son’s life and death, we respect that this is not our story to tell. We are very much hoping to see Mr S again next year when we are back in NSW, and maybe film an interview. Why are we keen to do this? Mr S has started a Facebook page, and despite his own loss and grieving, regularly travels and visits the pub in Tasmania where his son’s friends hang out. He has done this regularly, and now has Mstr D’s friends see him and come and talk, arm wrestle, and share their feelings about life in general. The statistics for this part of Tasmania in relation to youth suicide are horrifying. In the Apple Isle, a pristine state that so many people seek to escape to from the rat race of metropolitan life, why are so many young people despondent about their future? Mr S is so concerned about this, and doing his part to disrupt the mind set of these young people. “If you feel like it’s all too much, phone me before you do anything”, he has told them. Despite his grief, his own pathway to healing involves trying to protect the vulnerable youth in his son’s home town. We were moved to tears, and emotionally exhausted afterwards. As we say to our children, you never know what battle someone is fighting on the inside, so always be kind. Mr S, thank you for sharing your story, your pain, and your passion for the wellbeing of the youth your son cared about so much. We are in awe of your determination!