Captain Hook and the Navigator from Hell

Not the actual statue, but the same bloke

Not the actual statue, but the same bloke

It’s no secret that I am not the world’s greatest navigator.

Let me rephrase that.

I can navigate myself perfectly well, because I, you know, actually look at the directions and stuff and get some idea of where I’m going before I leave. Unlike my dear husband, who has had to be forcibly restrained from throwing a GPS out the car window on more than one occasion.

The way it goes around here is that if Matt drives, I navigate, and if I drive, I navigate.

And somehow, despite the fact that I don’t get myself lost and so perhaps the problem is in fact not with me, he has dubbed me the Navigator from Hell.

We had a NfH moment after refuelling in Cairns where I did misdirect him headed back to the highway. And as usual when mum stuffs up, there was much hilarity in the car. Until Matt handed me one of those rare and beautiful gifts that you simply have to bring up every time you do something wrong ever for the rest of your life.

“Look, kids! There’s a statue of Captain Hook!”

Yes, that well known figure in Australia, Captain Hook.

And with that, the Navigator from Hell won yet another round of “who’s the least wrong?” which is an awesome game I highly recommend (mostly because I usually win).

Week 2 recap
Monday Funny Dunny to Lucinda. Free camping courtesy of a tinny mate. 263.2km
Thursday Lucinda to Bingil Bay. Have to get there about 9 or 10 and even then it’s hard to get a spot! Small vehicles only, caravans under 17 feet. Showers, toilets, water, no power. $20 per night or $120 per week. 134.2 km.
Saturday Bingil Bay to Julatten. Cold on the tablelands after being on the beach! $14 camping. 227.2km.
Sunday Julatten to Cooktown. Camped at Endeavour River Escape – beautiful campground. Showers, toilets, water and a crocodile in the billabong! $37 per night. 231.9 km.

Total kilometres this week 856.5
Camping fees $91.

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Mulgildie and Week 1 Recap

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Ok, so the old blog has been a bit neglected of late in favour of the quick fix that is our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GR8ozroadtrip if you’re not already following us there). But we are now officially on the road. In all honesty, it was pretty stressful for a few weeks there trying to get everything organised to rent the house out before we left. I’d strongly recommend against trying to renovate a house at the same time as packing up to take off on a round Australia trip.
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We somehow staved off a divorce, and got on the road on Monday 7 July, which was our son’s 9th birthday.
Our first official must stop was Mulgidie, just south of Monto in Queensland’s Central East, to visit our good mates the Low family. We first met the Low’s when we all lived in Hervey Bay a few years ago now. Work had taken us to Ipswich, and later them to Mulgildie, and we hadn’t seen each other for quite a few years so we were looking forward to a catch up.

Of course, we also had to pay up on a bet. For as long as I can remember, we’ve had a bet with Lowy on State of Origin games. Being proud New South Welshmen, the last 8 years has not been kind to us, and we’ve never watched a game with the Low’s and gone home happy. So Matt and Lowy have been betting a carton of beer a game for the last 5 or so years, which means we owed Lowy about a thousand cartons of Powers Gold.

He kindly said one would be fine. We were still tempted to spray paint them all blue before handing them over.
We stopped in at the Mulgidie Hotel Bottleshop to pick up Lowy’s bounty. (Free camping at the pub, by the way. Pay for showers. Great pub.) Matt asked at the counter if they sold Powers Gold. Angie behind the bar looked at him quizzically.

“Are you going to the Low’s?” she asked.

Yep, it’s that kind of town. And we really liked it. It was below zero both nights we were there but we rugged up well. There’s also a statue of a bunyip that I still don’t know the origin of, although we did trek down to the Bunyip Hole which was a pretty beautiful place.

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And speaking of origin, we continued the streak of losing when watching with the Low’s. Lowy asked if we wanted to make a bet, but we’re not falling for that again.

Week 1 Recap

Monday: Gailes to Toogoolawah. Stayed at the Showgrounds. $16.50 a night, power and water available, free firewood. 95.2km
Tuesday: Toogoolawah to Mulgildie. Stayed at the Low’s but free camping at pub. 384.5km
Thursday: Mulgildie to Dululu. Free camp, no drinking water, power and showers for a fee. 179.1km
Friday: Dululu to Carmila Beach. Free camp, water available opposite the caravan park. Soft sand further down the track – don’t get bogged! 306.1km
Saturday: Carmila Beach to Funny Dunny Park. $5 per family per night for water (not drinking water) and maintenance. 362.9km.
Kilometres travelled: 1327.8 Camping fees cost: $26.50
Stuff we’ve scored: 5 Toohey’s Extra Drys, 1 pork belly, 1 jar melon and lemon jam – all delicious.

Flanagan Reserve

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We headed out to Flanagan Reserve for the weekend. We’d been out there before for New Year’s Eve, but a quick peruse of the BOM website showed us that we were not going to be in for any 46 degree days this time around.

Actually, we did consider pulling the pin after reports of potential storms and hailstones filled up our Facebook feeds. But in the end, we decided to wing it and hope for the best.

As we jumped on the Ipswich Motorway, we saw this.

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And then the Cunningham Highway greeted us with this.

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Visibility was pretty much non-existent and it was slow going. Not helped by one of the airbags on the Hilux dying a death just before we left either. We did wonder whether we’d made the right call. But once we got past Peak Crossing the weather had passed, and we arrived at Flanagan Reserve to a beautiful clear sky.

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Glacial. But clear.

Yep, it was cold. The baby at one point had on a singlet, onesie, tracksuit, socks and a parka. She was so rugged up she could barely move. It was a pretty rude shock on my super short haired head, and I’m not ashamed to admit I slept in my beanie.

But it was 100% worth it for this.

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And this.

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And this.

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But mostly, it was worth it for this.

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Flanagan Reserve is at 135 Flanagan Reserve Rd, Barney View QLD 4287. You can visit the website here : http://www.flanaganreserve.com.au

Homeschooling Part 1

One of the first questions people ask when we first tell them about our planned adventure is, “but what about school?” There’s a few different ways you can go about educating your kids on the road, so I thought I’d give you a bit of insight into what we’re doing.

We are Queensland based, so there may be differences for those of you in other states and territories. For us there were two main alternatives – Brisbane School of Distance Education or the Home Education Unit. I’ll put all the links in together at the end of this post.

When I looked at it, the major differences were that BSDE was a lot more structured, providing learning materials and scheduled lessons where appropriate which is a great system for parents who want that level of support. Those structures also came with some guidelines such as having to provide a detailed itinerary and also a cost of $1261.90 per child for learning materials.

We decided to register through the Home Education Unit (HEU) as it was more suitable to our needs. We don’t want to have to press on to another place because we’ve said that’s where we’ll be in our itinerary; our travel plans are pretty loosey goosey at the moment. We also want to use our travel to facilitate learning – we want the kids to learn about Indigenous art by seeing it in person rather than on the internet or on a worksheet. The application process is different with the HEU however, as you need to provide a detailed program of what and how you are going to teach your children over the course of the coming year.

Even though I have half a teaching degree, I was still a little intimidated in putting that together.  I suppose I was frightened that they would say “nope, not good enough, back to school”. There are some samples on the website for you to get an idea of what they’re after, and they will help you address any areas you may have missed in your application as part of the registration process. It doesn’t need to be full scale lesson planning either, I basically wrote an essay on each of my kids outlining their strengths, weaknesses and learning styles, and how I saw the year unfolding.

Our approach is that the kids will follow the Australian Curriculum, but we will use their particular interests to drive their learning. As a quick example, Year 2 History explores the impact of technology on people’s lives. The C2C provides a lesson plan on technological changes on toys, but for my fashion loving little poppet we’ve chosen to use clothing as our focus instead.

There are some conditions that need to be met once we travel out of Queensland; we’re anticipating that we will be here until the end of the school year more or less, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

You are assigned a contact person at the HEU when your registration is approved, and they also send out regular newsletters with links, what’s on etc. We’ve also joined a homeschool co-op in our local area until we take off which is good for a bit of extra socialisation and doing a few different things.

This is turning into quite the epic post, so I think the best way to handle it is to break it up into a few different posts rather than overwhelm you with all the info in one hit. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions in particular or you can email us aussieroadtrip@outlook.com if you’d prefer to ask a question privately.

Here’s a few links for some more information and resources:

BSDE http://brisbanesde.eq.edu.au/wcms/
HEU http://education.qld.gov.au/parents/home-education/home-ed-unit.html
Some examples of our homeschool co-op days http://www.racheous.com/homeschool-co-op-classes/
Sparklebox – a UK site but great FREE resources http://www.sparklebox.co.uk/
Australian Curriculum http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/
Scootle – HEU now provides access to this online library of digital resources https://www.scootle.edu.au

 

On goes the canopy

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A couple of weeks ago, we went down to see Rob at Pro Fit Canopies. We’d had a bit of discussion about Matt making up the canopy himself, but once we found Rob we knew we were on to a much more cost effective, weight effective and definitely argument effective option.

Originally, we had a square headboard on the ute, Rob advised us to go to Triple M and get angled headboard uprights to make the canopy more aerodynamic. This was an awesome service, came in under $80 with all the holes drilled and was an absolute dream to install ourselves.

We cut the header but you can buy the header for under $20.

So once we got that sorted, we dropped in on Rob to get measured up. On the way in, the kids chased a bearded dragon down the driveway and we were definitely on the look out for a snake or two.

Rob is an absolute legend who really knows his stuff, and we were very impressed with his system. Because it’s lightweight and easily assembled and disassembled, it really met our needs for this particular trip. We opted for a few extras, like the roof racks on the top so we can mount our solar panel, and a mesh window in the back for the dog.

As it usually does with us, it probably stretched out into a longer job fitting it that it would normally be. We talked about breeding crickets, motorbikes, and imperial vs metric systems while Rob was getting the canopy on. Honestly, one of the nicest blokes we’ve ever come across.

We are absolutely thrilled with the end product. Taking it out on the highway, we’ve experienced minimal wind drag. It looks bloody awesome. We had pretty high expectations, but they’ve been exceeded.

All up, we came in under $2000. Pretty happy with that.

If you’re after a canvas canopy, check out Rob at Pro Fit Canopies. We have not been paid for or subsidised for this post in any way. We just reckon Rob’s a legend.

http://www.profitcanopies.com.au

 

Some sunset tent photos

Jumped over to wet down the tent some more tonight – and take a few happy snaps while we were there. It’s coming up nicely now, still a few drips through one of the zippers on the back door but we’ve got a few things up our sleeves to try to fix that. We’ll try some wax on it, but we’re also considering having an additional canvas panel made up to cover the zip in question. Just one of those little teething issues, not a big deal but glad to have found it now and not in a torrential downpour in the middle of nowhere.

Home Sweet Home

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We finally got the WHOLE camper trailer set up today. We’d previously set up just the main bit as our house is on a slight (45 degree) hill, and the swear words that were uttered that day meant there was no way that we were going to attempt the annexe too. Pretty sure there would have been bloodshed and/or divorce.

Very thankful to our good mates The Howies for letting us use their backyard and also their expertise. Having recently acquired a camper trailer themselves, Jase was a bloody gem and has given us some great tips to make the whole thing a lot easier.

So we’re in the wetting it down process. The good thing about it being at The Howies’ place is that “wetting down the tent” becomes code for “having a quiet lager”.

That’s us, minus the dog, out the front of our new home. We went with the Sandpiper model from Swag Camper Trailers, and upgraded to the 12 foot tent. We had considered the extra room as well, but now that it’s up this is plenty.

There’s a few things to do, put some saddles on some water pipes and a bit more mucking around, and she’ll be right.

 

 

Once Upon A Time….

…there was a family of 5 (and a dog) who decided to travel as much of this amazing country we call home as they could in search of adventure.

All of the stories and research are our own; we’ve spent many hours studying and scouring the internet and have come up with what we believe to be the best system for us. We don’t claim to be experts, and we certainly don’t have all the flashest gear – we’ve bargained and bartered to get the best deals and have done everything with cash – no credit, no finance. We’ve scraped through the last few months on the bones of our arses, and no doubt will scrape through the next couple of years that way too. But we’re pretty sure the stories we’ll have to tell in years to come will make it all worth it.

Clare, Matt, Cai, Mackenzie and Harper

(and Jess the dog)