A Retrospective.. 12 months on the road

not-lost

28th December 2016. It’s exactly 12 months today since the day we loaded everything onto the ute and a trailer, just like the Beverley Hillbillies, and with much excitement and many more nerves set off for adventure.

setting-off

I’ve said before the last 12 months have been some of the best times of my life, and some of the most challenging.

While we haven’t got anywhere near the distance we planned on travelling in kilometres, I I feel like distance we’ve come emotionally, and the experiences we’ve had have had unbelievable benefits for our family. I don’t believe my and Dave’s relationship was ever in danger before we left home, but now we have moved to a very different place as a couple. We are far more of a team than ever before. I never really believed before we travelled that we could successfully live and work together without conflict, but here we are managing a caravan park together and making plans on a  future that will see us working together long term.

As far as the girls are concerned while they are still very young, the obvious changes in them are huge. Apart from confidence, they have developed a sense of themselves that I don’t think would have been quite as developed if we had stayed in one place. They now understand that the world is more than their place in it and they appreciate difference in places and people. They are more resilient and are able to cope with way more than we would ever have expected them to previously. We’ve really thrown them in the deep end on more than one occasion and they’ve surprised me with their ability and independence.

Another family about to embark on a similiar trip recently said to me they weren’t sure if they were doing the right thing by their family, or their kids. I remember saying these exact same words 12 months ago. I can honestly say doing this trip has been the best thing we could have done as a family. Before we left we were feeling like we weren’t achieving anything and while we weren’t unhappy, we weren’t happy.

12 months in, we are now back in South Australia for 3 months for work. We are managing a gorgeous little caravan park right on the beach at Port Vincent, on the Yorke Peninsula. Once we finish working here we are heading off on the road again and will be travelling to Tasmania for a few weeks where we will incorporate going to the wedding of a very dear friend. I also have a number of other people to catch up with there from when I lived and worked in Launceston a few years ago.

Before then we will be making some big long term decisions about where to next and putting in place strategies to achieve what we want, but regardless of what that decision will be I am now confident that as a family we are in a much better place than we were this time 12 months ago and can achieve whatever we want to achieve.

So to those other families, singles, couples, older people or whoever, who are thinking about embarking on an adventure that scares them.. close your eyes, take a deep breath and take the step forward. Don’t talk yourself out of it – “wanderlust isn’t about running away from it all, its about experiencing the outside to discover what’s inside”.

The GudLanges xxexploring

 

A quick skip through the NT and then back to SA…

now she’s thinking of the red soil and those mango trees

well in her mind she’s still splashing round down on cable beach
and her eyes are as rich and as far away as the sunset there

but she’s not taking in a word i say

so i might as well be talking to my self

take it in, take it all in

now is the time that will not come again

take it in take it all in

this is the day and its here for the living” The Waifs

Wow what an incredibly amazing landscape sits in the centre of Australia. I have seen the desert and the outback before but never have I felt such emotion when I’ve arrived somewhere as I have in the Northern Territory.

Our first day was the realisation of just how vast the land is. We have been travelling for a while and obviously know how large the distance can be between towns in Australia, but NT is a whole lot bigger again. 

Once you cross the border there is nothing for several hundred kilometres but the beauty of the land, until you reach the Barkly Homestead. After that it’s a few hundred more kilometres to the turnoff onto the Stuart Hwy, which runs the whole way down the centre of the country. 

Tennant Creek is just after the turn off where we stopped for a few supplies then drove an extra 100km before setting up camp for the night at the Devils Marbles. 

I was expecting 5 or 6 big boulders. What I saw as we drove into the park was jaw dropping. 


Devils Marbles was a place the local Aboriginal people used as  ceremonial meeting place.  There are some fantastic markers that tell some of the stories of the area and the ceremonies that took place. 

What an amazing privilege to be able to camp right amongst the Marbles and experience the beautiful sunrise and sunset, and be able to explore the park. 

While we are travelling during the heat of an approaching summer, it does mean there are no crowds in these amazing locations.

We did meet one legend here though. An Italian ultra runner, Michele Evangelisti who was running from Darwin to Adelaide on his Run for Those who Can’t, which is raising money for Spina Bifida and paraplegia. You can see his incredible journey at his website http://www.micheleevangelisti.com 


From Devils Marbles we stopped for fuel at the quirkiest roadhouse I’ve ever seen, with the cheapest fuel we’ve seen in weeks!

The Wycliffe Well roadhouse prides itself on being the alien centre of Australia. 


Wycliffe Well’s association with UFOs started during the World War II when servicemen living in Wycliffe Well started keeping records of nightly-seen unidentified objects. Somebody got hold of this book and a legend was born. 

Reportedly, the original journal was kept on the front counter of the local restaurant for everyone to see, but was stolen in 1990. Since then a new book is kept which includes possible sightings from the early 1990s. The truth is out there.

Our next stop was Ti Tree which is a tiny town on the highway with a population of only just over 150 people. We had a quick lunch stop at the park and then continued on. 

Another brief stop at Aileron where we took photos of the ‘Anmatjere Man’, which was erected in December 2005 and stands 17 metres tall, giving him a birds eye view of the surrounding area. 

in 2008, sculptor Mark Egan created a family for ‘Anmatjere Man’ who now has an equally impressive wife and child. 

As well as discussing these amazing sculptures, there may have also been a discussion here about getting some fuel. Discussion ended with, “no babe we’ll be right to make it to Alice”.

We made it to Alice, but only just! Running out of fuel 50metres from the bowser while waiting for someone to jumpstart their car. That’s the type of adrenaline rush I don’t need. 


I want to also just pause here to remember the French couple who were attacked at a roadside camp outside of Aileron only 24 hours after we passed through this same area. My heart breaks for this woman who now has to travel home without her husband. This is tragic and makes us remember while 99 percent of people are good there are still dangers we need to be alert for, especially in some areas where help is not just around the corner.
Our first night in Alice Springs we stayed in a campground at the back of a hotel. I’m not going to name this site because it’s been the worst campsite we’ve seen on our trip thus far. 

Our next few nights were spent in almost luxury though as we stayed in the granny flat at Dave’s uncles house. It was lovely to see some familiar faces and have a great base to explore Alice from. 


What a fantastic town. The impact the indigenous people have on the town is beautiful. There is such amazing art and cultural experiences all through town.

While in Alice we went to Simpsons Gap which is an amazing place only 15km out of town.

Simpsons Gap is in the West MacDonnell Ranges and is home to a colony of the rare black-footed rock wallaby. It’s also an important site for dreamtime stories, has some amazing hiking trails and is part of the bigger Larapinta Trail.

We walked to the gap itself and then did another smaller walking tail which gave a beautiful view of the national park.


I was so proud of Avalon and Marla for walking so far on the tracks here. Especially in the desert heat.

That afternoon we visited the Australian Overland Telegraph Line. This was a 3200 km telegraph line that connected Darwin with Port Augusta. It was completed in 1872, allowing fast communication between Australia and the rest of the world, mainly to allow communication with England.

The Telegraph Station was the hub of activity in the emerging Alice Springs until its closure for upgraded facilities in the 1930s.

Managed from South Australia a team of 500 men laid the wires and  built the poles to stretch from Darwin to Port Augusta in 3 teams. One team from Port Augusta working up. One from Darwin working down and one starting from Alice to go in each direction to meet the other teams. It took 2 years to build the infrastructure and then another 10 to upgrade it all.

After its closure the telegraph station was also used as an education centre for aboriginal children; a wartime army base during World War 2; and an aboriginal reserve where many children from the stolen generation were housed until 1963. 

On Thursday we visited Desert Park which was fantastic. We got to see some amazing big birds of prey up close, some weird and wonderful reptiles and other nocturnal desert animals in the nocturnal house. Desert Park is a great place to learn about the different seasons of the desert and the way it changes from the wet to the dry.


Friday we packed up again though and drove another 500+ km to Uluru. 

I have never had the opportunity to visit here before and it’s been somewhere I’ve wanted to desperately see.

As we drove down the Lassiter Highway past Mt Connor and closer to Uluru I felt myself getting overwhelmed with emotion. I was driving, everyone else was asleep and I was lost in the music shuffle on my MP3. Music has such an emotional impact and as it does the perfect song came on as the landscape started to show itself. The Waifs, Take It In, began to play when I realised this was an incredibly important moment in my life. 

Then everyone woke up

We camped at the campground at the Ayers Rock Resort which is a bit of a mini city set up just for tourists to visit the rock. It has anything you need.

We set up camp, went for a quick swim to cool off then went to watch the sunset over Uluru.

When we drove into the Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park and we finally got a full view of the most famous and iconic image of Australia we were pretty excited. 


Although I don’t think the 4 and 2 year old got the memo about the magnitude of the rock we were gesticulating at them to look at. 

“Girls can you see the big rock” “yeah mum it’s a big rock, I’m hungry what can I eat”.

Sunset was amazing and eventually it was time to go home and feed the children.

The next morning though I got up on my own before sunrise and headed back out to watch the sun come up and to tick a major item off my personal bucket list. To run around the base of Uluru at sunrise.

At 10km it’s not a long run, or particularly difficult, as it’s flat with a good track but it was a run I’ve wanted to do for some time and I was lucky enough to be the only person on the base Walk track for the first few km which gave me lots of time to reflect on where we were as well as everything that we’ve experienced over the last year.

This last year has been the best year of my life. I’ve lived a life of experiences in a short time and shared them with the 3 people I love the most. 

The next chapter of this adventure will be back in South Australia for a short time. I have very  mixed emotions about being back in South Australia. I love it in SA but it doesn’t feel like home anymore. 

We have 3 months at Port Vincent on the Yorke Peninsula managing the caravan park and then we will be making our next dreams come true.


The GudLanges xx