The Explorer’s Way – it begins

As we write this blog, we are in Leigh Creek at the Outback Resort. We’ve treated ourselves to a motel stay and pub meal before going bush. It’s been a huge week, so we’d better catch you up!

Finishing up the Strzelecki Track at Lyndhurst, we were all still on a high from our time at Montecollina Bore. There are no rubbish bins on The Strz, so we dropped our rubbish off at the bins in town. The public amenities are lovely. We truly appreciate flushing toilets over drop loos or none at all! Small things huh? We stopped at the Lyndhurst Roadhouse to get some fuel, only to find that their diesel pumps were offline – waiting on a technician to come up from Adelaide. This roadhouse is a major stopping point, and it must be frustrating for them to have to turn customers away. We weren’t so easy to turn away though, and ordered some burgers for lunch. Boy was it worthwhile! Please, if you travel through or past Lyndhurst, do yourself a favour and grab a burger with the lot! YUMMO!

We topped up our fuel at Leigh Creek on the way south, having no choice but to go that way to find a BP service station, get our window fixed and fridge replaced. A vicious side wind took its toll on our fuel consumption, and we rejoiced as we arrived in Hawker and found a BP servo with diesel!

The Big 4 Discovery Park Port Augusta welcomed us, and graciously extended our stay at a discounted rate so that we could attend to repairs. They allocated us a great site directly opposite the amenities block and near the camp kitchen. It was great to scrub clean in the showers and catch up on some washing.

We caught up on our blogs and social media, the kids dived back into school work, and we made the necessary arrangements to repair equipment. We had some heavy rain one evening, and it whilst we were prepared, it was so awesome to have a member of the holiday park staff come to our campsite and others neighbouring, to make sure that we were ok and not flooding!

Our kids are “open books” as we travel, and always share what we’re doing, where we’ve been, and even what we’re having for tea! Our daughters brought a visitor to camp, having told said guest that “mum speaks German! You have to come and talk to her!”. Birgit, her husband and son, are travelling Australia in a motorhome. From Lichtenstein, Birgit is a teacher of Psychology and Pedagogy. We discussed our journey, theirs, and Luna’s role in our lives. The idea of a Mental Health Assistance dog was new to Birgit, and she shared that many schools in her area take their students, from a young age, to visit aged care facilities and mental health care centres. Meeting the residents and hearing their stories, is designed to make the concepts less confronting, break down the stigma, and build acceptance into future generations. It was truly inspiring to listen to this! Australia has a lot to learn from Europe in this respect. Whilst we also discussed that mental health diagnoses are on the rise, that can also be attributed to the current generation being more willing to speak and seek help. We know that it will take another two generations at least, to have the topic of mental health “normalised”, but it is so encouraging to hear of other countries already making huge leaps forward!

We also met with a lady in town who also suffers from PTSD. Hers was caused by the necessity of having to undergo a medical procedure while wide awake. Sounds horrifying doesn’t it? Paul knew of the procedure the lady spoke of, and wasn’t surprised to hear that she had been told while preparing to undergo surgery, that 100% of patients develop PTSD as a result. Her surgeon even took the amazing step of undergoing the procedure himself, so that he could better understand what his patients go through during and after.

Just when we thought we were ready to leave Port Augusta, Paul developed severe dental issue and yet again, we had to extend our stay. Dentists cause Paul severe anxiety, from negative childhood experiences, so when the pain caused him to speak up, Kirstine knew it was serious. Neni’s Port Augusta Dental Care fit us in for an appointment, and were really understanding of our situation. After a thorough examination and an invasive procedure to extract an infected tooth, we took Paul home to rest. Luna wasn’t able to be in with Paul while all this took place. One of the few times where she could be legally excluded because of the surgical nature of Paul’s treatment. The dental nurse was fabulous. Her own husband has anxiety and depression, so she was very focussed on making sure that Paul was as comfortable as possible. She loved that we are travelling through smaller communities to be seen. Her own husband’s experience has been that people will often share their innermost thoughts and feelings with complete strangers. Doesn’t this highlight how important organisations like Lifeline are? When you are struggling, there is always someone who will listen, even if you don’t know who they are.

Today we were finally able to get back on the road, after thanking Sharlene for her support during our stay in Port Augusta. It was lunchtime by the time we got away, refuelling everything at the BP Roadhouse on the way out.

We retraced our steps back through to Leigh Creek, marvelling at the crumbling sandstone ruins of pioneer houses, numbers of emus along the way, and the huge willy willys/dust devils along the plains. With new music on the USB, we’ve entered a new stage of family carpool karaoke.

Maybe it’s a good thing that we’re going to be off grid for a couple of days on the Oodnadatta Track, and also that you can’t hear us all singing from where you are!

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