My body knew it had to get up and do ‘stuff’ the next day obviously. I went to bed at 10pm and woke up thinking it must be 4.30am and time to get up. A quick check of the phone allowed me more sleep; it being only 11.30pm. Again the body woke at various times through the night until at last 4am dialed itself around and I could get on with the job of packing the car with the last of the bags - fridge food, clothes bags, mattresses. At 6.15am we set off to pick up Toby from his dad’s, only 100m round the corner from where we were staying in our cute little airbnb place in South Freo. Bike on the rack, backpack loaded, hugs from Pete and off we went to the next destination: the Perth Hills for breakfast with my sister. I was feeling very ‘zen’. That’s the only way I can describe it really. After the stress of the past 10 days, just leaving I felt so calm. Not excited, not emotional. Just zen about it all.
Seeing Laura, my sister, was a welcome relief. We’ve had our ups and downs like all siblings and have a fair age gap between us, so I don’t know if that has come into it. But seeing her on this morning was lovely, as well as cuddles with my gorgeous niece. I can’t believe when I get back Laura will be ready to pop with her third bubba, another girl. We are starting to balance out the family a bit after the first three between us were lads. Charlie and Toby and Maisie visited the chooks out the back of the property before we took the obligatory ‘starting off’ photo. I hope my sister and I are old biddies one day on our rocking chairs laughing about how we used to bicker, and then go ahead and bicker some more. Let's face it, we'll have our cranky-pants on by then.
Quite frankly, it was a bitch getting out of the city. No plain sailing until after Cunderdin really. I knew this route well, Eaglestone Rock out of Merredin being a favourite climbing spot and Lake Brown a gorgeous camping spot where the kids had walked out on the salt lake and I had memories of running around it this time last year in preparation for the Perth Marathon. Past Merredin it was new territory for all of us. Having had not much sleep the previous night, I was starting to get tired and we stopped at Boorabbin for a pitstop and for my eyes to have a break. I seem to be able to handle about 3 hours driving before needing a rest as I would soon find out, and about a max of 7 hours actual driving in a day. After viewing the Boorabbin Memorial to the three truck drivers who lost their lives in 2007 trapped in a bushfire, we set off again and I made the decision to camp in Coolgardie rather than push onto Norseman, another hour and a half away at least.
Pulling into Coolgardie, we stopped at the Tourist Park and met the eccentric owner who, in his gentlemanly but slow way, told me where to put the tents and pointed in the general direction of toilets/camp kitchen. It wasn’t the prettiest of caravan parks (fine if you were in a van, not so much in a tent!), we managed to snag a tiny bit of grass, in between the sea of gravel, to put the two domes. Straight away the kids got on the bikes and threw the frisbee around. Charlie managed to get hit in the lip and took to wearing his helmet for the frisbee game as protection. He is still learning to ride his bike properly and I thought it would take a while to build up his confidence. Didn’t help the ground was such sharp gravel; he would have come a cropper if he’d taken a decent spill. My culinary skills seemed to improve dramatically (possibly due to not having to work much, and actually having some time to relax and enjoy the process!) and we had gorgeous mum-made burgers. Carrying everything for dinner, I managed, on the very first bloody day, to drop my beautiful phone. It slipped out of it’s magnetic case (never again!!) and face first on the unforgiving surface I mentioned earlier. Smashed to bits. Still working. Will it hold out till Darwin?? Is it wrong I love it so much? It's not because I'm materialistic, but it is my link to the outside world, to my friends and family, and being the only adult on this trip, I feel like I need the 'company' that Facebook and text messaging allows. Happiness is not real unless shared right? (In the words of Chris McCandless)
That night, with the sound of trucks coming and going along Great Eastern Highway, generators going and a general cacophony of countrified industry, we slept like logs. Eleven hours baby. Bring on the camping life, going to bed with the sun and rising when it does.