A McAussie Road Trip

Dear Finn, Holly and Tas

A couple of weeks ago now, we went to Katoomba, in The Blue Mountains, NSW as your Dad had been invited to talk at a conference there. To make things a little more interesting we thought we would drive there, or rather your father thought it would be interesting and I thought he was nuts. But there we were. On a family road trip. It's pretty much a given that while living in Australia at some point one will have to drive crazy long distances to get somewhere....or to get absolutely nowhere, depending on which way you point your car. Coming from somewhere as tiny as New Zealand, you quickly realise that Australia is a VERY big country.

So a road trip. It's 1000 kms or so, from Brisbane to Katoomba. We were two adults capable and licensed to drive. You three, aged 4, 2 and 8 months. Two Gameboys, two laptops, numerous DVDs, audio books, colouring pencils, stickers, and snacks. One father arriving back in the country from Berlin on the same day we had originally intended to leave, hence one rather stressed mother surrounded by lists wondering what she's forgotten. We had two days to get there.

We set off at 4am or so which turned out to be a wonderful idea. Although awake, you were in such a dopey state that you were happy to sit and stare out the window and wonder what was going on. Sunrise was exciting. Huge crop irrigators were exciting. Road kill kangaroo was exciting! We made it 350 km down the road to Goondiwindi with no trouble at all, where we stopped in a playground for some running around and fresh air. I parked on the side of the road as one does, like the person in front of me did. By the time we left, our parallel parked car was surrounded by reverse to kerb parked cars. We at best looked like TOURISTS, at worst like morons. This was our introduction to the parking norm of rural towns....get that 60 ° angle right or look like a dick.

We had stopped off briefly in the Warwick McDonalds to get you dressed and get some breakfast and coffee. Thus became the start of our McRoadtrip. No better way to get McHappy then with two kids quite satisfied with the food options and playgrounds at Old McDonalds (as you call it). And McHappy kids = McRelieved parents. McDs quickly became the favoured food option for the rest of the driving days. EIEIO.

Katoomba is a lovely place, full of picturesque views and bus loads of tourists looking at said views. The place we stayed in was enormous and just across the road from Echo Point and the Three Sisters, hence perfect for us to explore the environs. Your Dad was busy the first three days, but luckily Grandma had decided to come over for the week and that made things a lot more fun. We spent the week doing some bush walks, we went on the cable car, down the railway, up the gondola, on the double decker bus, and to the Jenolan caves. We had two memorable nights while we were there...one where your Dad and I were able to dine sans you lot at Silk's Brasserie in Leura and another where your Dad was brave enough to take all of us to a chocolate information and tasting put on by the conference. This was great fun, until you, Holly, seemed to become slightly disenchanted with the amount of talking and the lack of tasting and took it upon yourself to entertain everyone with your rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Complete with hand gestures. It was such a pity that Dad removed you before the anticipated standing ovation. The week came and went and soon it was time to get back in the car and drive home again.

We decided to drive home the same way up the Newell Highway, but this time spent a couple of nights in Moree, where we soaked our road dust away in the artesian hot springs, ate pecan pie at the RSL and parked our car ass to kerb.

On the way home we also took a bit of a detour and went to Bathurst, only to drive around the Mt Panorama track a couple of times at a sedate 60km/h (resulting in a slightly slower lap time than the track best of 2 minutes and 6 seconds), and then continue on our merry way. Considering your Dad and I are complete non race fans it was wicked good fun. The road is amazing and it's pretty cool to drive your Holden around the same route the V8 supercars had taken a couple of weekends before.

In hindsight, the long days of travelling were surprisingly fine. Over 4 days of driving we covered 2300 km. You were pretty good with coping with lots of sitting in a car, given lots of DVDs to watch and stickers to stick. The driving from a driver's point of view was also really good. We developed a meaningful relationship with the cruise control and learned to appreciate the generally very good condition of Aussie roads. We only had one hairy moment the entire trip when we came round the corner to be faced with an oncoming car towing a boat on the wrong side of the road. But quick thinking and brakes applied by your Dad and all other road users and the tosser managed to get back on the right side without killing himself or anyone else.

You, Holly were elected trip optimist. At the start of the drive home, we set off at 6am, drove all of 10km down the road, before stopping to refuel. Your "We're here!!" was greeted by gales of laughter, though I'm sure you had no idea why.

So all in all it was a really good trip. You guys did great.
Your Dad has already started talking about our next road trip....to Uluru! Maybe we could make it a competition....he can drive and the rest of us can fly and we'll see who gets there first. Whadyareckon?

love Mum