Who needs Sovereign Hill when you can go to Clunes?

On Thursday the 25th we packed up and said goodbye to Halls Gap, driving to Ballarat. Our first stop was Sovereign Hill as I had never been and thought it sounded like something fun to do.

We had a good time but were disappointed with how expensive the day was. We paid $55 each to get in, and then had to pay for any activities inside. For example the girls wanted to go for a ride on the horse and carriage which cost $6.50 each (totally worth it after seeing the smiles on their faces), and to do the underground mine tour was a further $7.50 each so we skipped that. Food prices were also next level, we both got a laugh out of dixie cups being $4.70!

The set up is obviously catering to the asian market and there were bus loads of tours, but its a shame that it is so expensive. Overall we had a good day looking at the old buildings but probably won’t be going back.

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Poor Frankie had a horrible day and fell over about 6 times on the gravel road! Her legs are still healing.

Paying the entry into Sovereign Hill gave us free entry into the Gold Museum across the road. Walking in to the air-conditioned room was like heaven and the girls and I sat watching a short movie on repeat just to enjoy being cool! I loved the museum and could have stayed a lot longer if not for two four year olds. The stories about who discovered gold first in Ballarat and the different laws bought in to police areas and mining were really interesting.

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After finishing at the Museum we headed for our caravan park. Accommodation over the Australia Day long weekend was crazy, we managed to get a night at the Shady Acres caravan park for $34. We were planning to head to the coast on Friday (Australia Day) but from Geelong to Inverloch there was just nothing. Not a site, motel or even Air BnB! So we decided to stay Friday night aswell at Shady Acres and spent Friday exploring Ballarat.

Koel found a little town online called Clunes so we decided to go there for a drive, only about 40km’s from Ballarat. What an absolute hidden gem. I am devastated we went on a public holiday because the book shops were closed! All the old buildings were incredible, it was just the most beautiful little town. Because we had saved money by staying at Shady Acres we treated ourselves to lunch in a little cafe. Koel had the best salt and pepper squid of his life and we left Clunes totally in love. If you are ever in Ballarat or passing I highly recommend going to Clunes, I would love to go back. Apparently they have a massive book festival in May that over 18000 people attend, I’ve put it on my bucket list!

Of course we had to have an ice-cream stop aswell. Who needs Sovereign Hill when you can go the Clunes?

After leaving Clunes I googled “Ballarat Australia Day Activities” and found a market in Creswick so we called in there for a look. The I got the girls to do a drawing as part of the colouring in competition, but they decided their pictures were so good they couldn’t leave them in the allocated basket, instead bringing them back to the caravan. They still think the won though and are waiting for their prize to arrive!

The market was at the Alpaca wool shed, Koel has taken this as a sign that we need to start an Alpaca farm because we seem to find them everywhere!

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We got back to the caravan just before the thunderstorm arrived. Koel went to sleep and the girls hid under the donnah with their torches. I pulled my hair out trying to entertain them, Lila-Rae finally fell asleep and Frankie just played on her bunk for an hour. By 7pm cabin fever had defiantly set in so we went for a drive to the lake where they were having fireworks. We didn’t stay because the girls absolutely HATE fireworks but Koel and I enjoyed driving around looking at all the mansions. One of your favourite activities!

We left Ballarat on Saturday and headed to Phillip Island, one of our favourite places so far! Because we fit so many activities into three days I will do a seperate blog on our Phillip Island adventures later.

Sorry that I am bit behind on blog posts but we have just been enjoying the sun and sand at Phillip Island to much to worry about being online! This week is forecast to be around 19 degrees everyday so I’ll have a lot of time to write haha!

I’ll sign off with one of my favourite pictures I took on Phillip Island.

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BUDGET

Well it’s obvious I have no chance of a career in journalism because me and deadlines just aren’t working this trip!

In saying that we have had a pretty big two days, but I suppose thats no excuse.

Sorry for the delay!

Right, down to the nitty gritty stuff. In my last blog post I mentioned we were wanting to only spend about $1000 per week. With the trip to Port Lincoln and also the troubles with the car unfortunately that has blown out abit!

After 3 weeks on the road, here is a breakdown of our spendings:

Accommodation Total: $614.60 – Weekly Average: $204.86

I am pretty happy with what we have spent on accomodation considering it is the peak season. With school going back next week I expect this number to drop next update.

We haven’t free camped at all, due mostly to the heat and wanting a pool!

Groceries: $542.15 – Weekly Average: $180.71

I was initially happy with what we have spent on groceries but when I averaged the weekly amount I realised it wasn’t much less then what we used to spend at Massey St. We have had to buy everything from scratch though eg. cereals, oil, sugar and are still working on our meal plans so hopefully next update this amount will have also dropped.

Fuel: $480.64 – Weekly Average: $160.21

Fuel is one expense that has averaged at about what we estimated. The most expensive place we bought diesel was in Adelaide at $1.49.9 and the cheapest was in Terang where we paid $1.32.

Experiences/Other: $1200.78  – Weekly Average: $400.26

This section was bumped up after our aircon episode but after seeing the figure I was horrified!

Included in this section is a one off purchase of a grinder (115.93), parking at the airport while we went to Port Lincoln ($73), the cricket ($121.75), the movies ($85.10), another power box ($98.90) and the car debacle ($379.50). We bought the girls pool toys and a few extra pairs of shorts at Kmart which added up to $83. I also bought them a little teddy  each they had wanted since we left because of how good they were on the Port Lincoln drive.

I dont even want to add up how much we have spent on afternoon Ice-cream trips, but they are totally worth it!

We are hoping next update this part of the budget will be considerably lower, fingers crossed no more car issues!

Bills: $426.80 – Weekly Average: $142.26

Wouldn’t it be awesome to come away and all the bills just stop? This figure includes our home insurance, Koel’s health and life insurance and a one off payment to AAMI for roadside assist. We are yet to pay a phone bill and have just paid the water bill for our house so I expect next update this section will be considerably more.

Food: $784.30 – Weekly Average: $261.43

What an absolute disgrace. We can’t really make any excuses for the amount we have spent on takeaway and restaurant food BUT I’m going to try! In Port Lincoln we bought breakfast, lunch and tea which added $497.05 to this total. Is that a good enough excuse? Hopefully! Again I expect this section to drop, it better or we will be beelining to Brisbane begging for jobs!

So, our total spendings for 3 weeks is (drumroll!) : $4049.27

Although it’s a lot higher then our estimate, I am not disheartened at all. We knew the first few weeks would be expensive due to the school holiday prices and Port Lincoln trip.

The total amount we spent in Port Lincoln was $833.80, including accommodation, food and fuel.

The car episode cost us $637.71 after treating ourselves a night in a cabin and other expenses we made that we wouldn’t of had to if we had aircon!

So for argument sake, if we misused those figures off the total we come in at: $2577.76. 

That figure makes me feel a lot better. I know its not the real figure but it also shows it’s possible to live on the $1000 a week.

After staying in Hall’s Gap for 5 days it also proved to us the longer we stay somewhere, the less we spend.

Although we are over budget, I am feeling positive and am pretty sure we can stay under budget in the next few weeks.

Sorry this post is lacking bit of colour! We are currently driving through Melbourne on our way to Phillip Island. We cant wait to get back to the coast but have also uncovered some hidden gems inland, which I will post about soon 🙂

In the end, it doesn’t really matter how much we have spent because spending the last 3 and a half weeks all together has been better then we could have ever imagined, and we are so lucky to have the opportunity to do this with our little girls xx

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Time for tourist mode!

On Tuesday we were up and about early (by early I’m talking 8:30) because the Hall’s Gap zoo were coming to the caravan park. The girls trotted off at 9am with Koel, I stayed back and did some jobs because of course they were showing snakes.

They had a great time meeting “Bobby” the dingo and “Anna” the carpet python. They both wanted to hold Anna but Koel convinced them to just have a pat.

Because we were up at a reasonable time we skipped the morning swim and hit the road heading to Stawell. I had my head in the laptop working on our budget (more on that to come) and about 10 minutes out of Stawell Koel saw a sign for an Alpaca farm. Because the girls had fallen in love with Allen at the Brownhill caravan park in Adelaide, we called in.

The owner greeted us and was such a lovely guy, he was just a wealth of information. He told us he bought his property in the 90’s, originally spending time establishing his organic garden. He was a chef and recently retired, now selling his produce to markets and the local cafes. I mentioned to him about how surprised I had been with the amount of accomodation in Hall’s Gap and he said there isn’t enough! That some weekends they have over 10,000 people visit!

Him and his wife came across Alpacas at the local show, they bought a heavily pregnant female and have bred from there. Because of how dry it is and has been for the last couple of years they have stopped breeding, he said its not possible having to buy in hay 10 months of the year!

Local sheep farmers lease some Alpacas off him during the lambing season to stop the foxes from killing the lambs. It was obvious the alpacas are just like his children, he knows everyone by name and said he had been their for the birth of majority of them!

After having so much fun and learning so much new information we continued on to Stawell. Unfortunately the Stawell Gift Hall of Fame was closed but the ground was open so we went for a walk around the track.

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We drove around Stawell and both admired the beautiful old buildings, then headed to The Pickers Market. There was soooo much to look at it here and the girls had a ball spotting all the toys they are apparently getting when they turn 5!

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After a quick lunch we cruised back to Hall’s Gap and spent some time in the pool, before heading to the grocery store for some essentials. We stopped at the local cricket (could be football aswell) ground on the way back to look at the kangaroos, its no wonder the local team trains in the nets!

I spent two hours last night brushing the girls hair. Eventually all the knots were out and the tears we dry, but Lila-Rae and I both skipped tea mostly due to stress! I cant believe how much their hair has grown in the couple of weeks being on the road, I told them that because they are watering it, it is growing haha.

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The nights have cooled off and this morning I wore a jumper to the showers! I put makeup on for the first time in about a week and the girls were put to work back at the van.

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It soon warmed up and we headed out to see some more destinations on what is our last full day in Halls Gap.

Our first stop was the Venus Baths, I was a nervous wreck walking the 900m in on a track that would just be a haven for snakes, Koel was just powering forward while I was envisioning one of us getting eaten. In the end it was well worth the walk and the girls had a great time running in and out of the baths. The rocks were so slippery, Frankie ended up soaked and had to take her dress off to dry.

We went from the Venus Baths to Silverband Falls, which was bit of an anti-climax after visiting Mackenzie falls.

After another 1.6km round trip on foot the girls were exhausted so we stopped in town for a Timboon ice-cream (yes we found Timboon Ice-cream in Hall’s Gap!!). We then set off to the “Balconies” and Reeds lookout. The sign said it was a 1km walk into the Balconies so the girls and I decided to wait at the lookout while Koel ventured off on another walk. The scenery was beautiful and there were lots of tourists and even a bus tour while we were there.

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We are now back relaxing at the caravan in beautiful 25 degree heat, if it stayed like this for the rest of the trip I would be happy!

Its our last night in Hall’s Gap and I cant even put into words how nice it has been to relax for a few days, however I’m also glad we stayed this long to be able to see alot of the sights!

As I mentioned above I have been reviewing our spendings, and my next blog post will detail how much we have spent, eek!

Before leaving on the trip we were hoping to spend around $1000 a week, including everything, accomodation, food, fuel etc. How do you think we have gone? Under or over?

We have been on the road exactly 3 weeks today, keep your eyes out for the budget blog tomorrow!

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and just like that, the air con drama is forgotten

Friday night was just what the doctor ordered, relaxing in an air conditioned cabin. I got to watch the whole Kyrgios V Tsonga match (whilst writing the last blog post) and the girls slept over 12 hours. Koel also slept well, I however was still awake at 6am with an itchy back from sunburn, is that even a thing? After two showers, trying to sleep on a wet towel, laying on an iced water bottle and self medicating its safe to say I have been very sun smart the last few days!

I didn’t mention it in my last post but I need to say how amazing the Wimmera Lakes Caravan Resort were to us. They let us keep the caravan on site all of Friday thinking we were leaving that night, asked me regularly through the day how the air conditioning was coming along and then made sure they had us a cabin that had had the air con going all day Friday. Saturday, due to our sleep ins, we didn’t check out until around 11:30am (checkout was at 10am) and I apologised to one of the cleaners when she walked past that we were taking so long. She just laughed and told me not to worry, and asked how we had gone with the bus! Just all round beautiful people and we are so thankful for their help!

We were all excited Saturday to only be travelling 80km’s to Hall’s Gap. We figured out there are two ways in- through Stawell or actually driving through the Grampians National Park. Because it was the first turn, we took the National park route. With about 25km’s to go we came across this sign.

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In true Nicholl’s style, Koel just looked at me and said “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Well, about 100m up the narrow, winding, steep drop off with no rail cliff we got stuck behind two cyclists! I cant imagine how hard it was for them riding up this hill but there were so many places they could have pulled over for two seconds to let us past. Koel was letting out a few choice words and the girls were giggling in the back asking “can Mummy’s say those words?”

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We arrived in Halls Gap to the temp of about 38 degrees, a little bit cooler then the past few days but still spent majority of the day in the pool. Poor Koel was left to pretty much set up on his own again, however I did help put the annex up! Its the first time we have used the annex and its been so nice for a bit extra privacy and shade! We also bought the girls a $14 tent from big W and they are loving having all their toys and colouring pencils in there.

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The caravan park here is amazing and runs lots of activities through the week. Everynight they have a movie in the hall and Saturday night was the Minions. The girls were pumped and I went with them, however after three hours sleep I kept nodding off and woke up once to Lila-Rae putting her finger up my nose.

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We all slept like babies Saturday night and didn’t wake up until 10am on Sunday. After an egg and bacon breakfast we headed to the pool.

After me nearly having a heart attack multiple times on Saturday, we finally got the girls to wear their floating vests. Turns out they didn’t want to wear them because they weren’t pretty enough. I was under the understanding in their world anything that was pink is pretty, but anyway I stand corrected and after some positive reassurance, they put them on and had the best time ever in the pool #mumisalwaysrightgirls. Frankie somehow punched herself in the nose when she was jumping in which resulted in her first blood nose, it didn’t really worry her she was more stressed about how many jumps Lila-Rae got in while I was cleaning her up!

We finally got organised and left the caravan park about 1:30pm. Our first stop on Sunday was at the Boroka lookout. As we pulled up there were a few families gathered near a log taking photos. I didn’t really take much notice because it was about 10 meters away from the path to the lookout. Turns out they were taking photos of a snake. I tried to turn back, Koel told me not to be stupid so I seethed the whole time. Took a few photos and ran back to the car. Of course I got the “there are snakes everywhere you go” talk, even the girls ganged up on me and told me they are brave of snakes. If I knew how to insert emojis, about four eye rolls would go here.

We went from Boroka lookout to Mackenzie falls, what a disaster. Lila-Rae was “puffed out” before we even got out of the car park and whinged cried and sulked the whole 100m to the first lookout. She then decided she needed to wee, we gave up and decided we would walk down late in the afternoon one day (preferably after the girls had a day sleep). We missed a turn coming back from Mackenzie Falls and ended up at Lake Wartook.

We then headed in search of the Brambuk National Park and Cultural centre. What an amazing building and story this place tells. From the structure itself, to all the artwork, sculptures and stories inside, this place was just incredible. I could have spent all day reading the history but of course with two four year olds speed reading was necessary. I won’t go into detail about all the meanings because I would hate to offend anyone if I got it wrong but I know the building was shaped like a cockatoo because Bambuk stands for cockatoo.

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After all our exploring we had well and truly earned an ice-cream, stopping at the local ice creamery called Coola’s. We made it back to the caravan all needing a break, Mum probably more than anyone.

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The girls entertained themselves in the tent and underfoot. I realised quite early into the trip that I packed way to many toys, and after watching them play with a bucket of pegs for an hour I just wanted to bang my head against the wall haha!

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Parkgate resort, where we are staying, is probably the busiest caravan park we have been to family wise. Thankfully we have worked out a pretty good pool schedule, going just before lunch when everyone is out adventuring and again about 6:15pm when all normal people are eating tea!

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We ate tea at 8:30pm last night, it was to hot to eat in the annex at the table so the back of the bus was the next best option!

It has been nice to settle into a little routine and both night the girls have been for a bike ride after tea, then go straight to bed without complaint. Last night as Koel and I sat outside and listened to a little boy cry for hours, the poor parents. I just cant imagine this trip with kids that wouldn’t go to bed!

This morning (Monday) we had another sleep in, cooked breakfast and a few hours in the pool. We set out at 2:30pm and about 10 minutes later both the girls were asleep.

We drove for awhile just doing some random exploring, and found a hidden gem in Barneys, unfortunately it wasn’t open today but we are heading back Wednesday for look inside.

By the time we got back into Hall’s Gap the girls had woken up so we visited another lake, then stopped at the supermarket for an ice-cream. The afternoon ended in disaster after Frankie’s melted all over her. I was the worst person in the world for not having a change of clothes for her to go to the park.

All was good in the world by the time we got back to the caravan, we again did our 6 o’clock pool trick, had tea and headed to Mackenzie Falls. It was such a beautiful night, 21 degrees with a nice breeze which is just heaven after the last few days. The girls surprised us and walked the whole way down and back the only complaint being about 100m from the top when Frankie mentioned her leg was about to break! The view was just incredible. We were the only people there as it was so late, so had the whole place to ourselves. Caravanning tip #1: Do everything when everyone else is busy! haha

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Halls Gap is amazing, I feel like I’ve used that word 100 times in this blog but we have just loved the last couple of days! I swear 2 out of every 3 building is accommodation, Koel and I cant believe how many motels, B&B’s and backpacker places there are here!

I will leave you with a story we found at Mackenzie Falls, I’m not sure how clear the picture is so will type what it says. Thanks for reading and Happy Monday! 🙂

Hello, my name is Pearl Cranage and I used to run the kiosk here. I’d stand where you are now and shout right across the gorge “How many today Jack?” The bus driver would yell back how many visitors he had on board and I’d put enough tea on for that number. No mobile phones in those days. My family lived here from the 1920’s- we built a corrugated iron house next to the kiosk. Before the, we used to run a sawmill nearby. Before you go, close your eyes and listen to the power of the water, its a mighty sound.”

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Where Pearl would have been standing.

Its hot, ITS BLOODY HOT

It has been awhile! Sorry for the delay of this post but we have had a massive few days.

After posting Tuesdays blog I took over the role of driving, which wasn’t that bad of a deal because I no longer had to occupy the girls. We were due to return the car at 5 o’clock, and somehow I ended up being the one driving through the city. Anyone who knows me will agree I’m probably the worst driver ever, and with Siri leading us in the complete wrong direction we ended up 23 minutes away from the rental place at 4:45pm. Christopher and Koel were on map duty, somehow Joseph was allowed the front seat and I nearly evicted him from the car multiple times. Stress levels were high but we thankfully made it at 5:04pm without a scratch on the car and still allowed to return it!

We parted ways with Christopher and Joseph here, they went off in a taxi to the city and we caught a taxi back to the airport to pick up the bus and van. We drove straight to our next caravan park- Brownhill Creek Tourist Park.

We stayed two nights on an ensuite site for $34 a night! The park had a onsite alpaca named Allen, wild koala’s in the tree’s and a pool that we pretty much lived in. The picture of the Koala was taken on Wednesday night after he nearly climbed up Koel’s leg while he was sitting in his camp chair!

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Wednesday topped 35 degrees so apart from a quick Woolworths trip we stuck around the pool and got the washing done. I also managed to get the girls into a “bath” and brush their hair, the neighbours are probably still wondering what kind of torture I was inflicting!

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Poor Lila-Rea eats just like her mum, getting stuff everywhere. Frankie manages to sit sideways and not spill a drop but it doesn’t matter how or where Lila-Rae sits, it ends up all over her!

Wednesday night we headed to the cricket at Adelaide Oval. To avoid the kid zone and jumping castles I walked the wrong way which ended in us entering the opposite side of the ground we needed to be. Mix that with 35 degree heat and climbing 5 levels, by the time we got to our seats I was done haha! Here is a picture of where we were sitting and circled is the gate we entered through:

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The girls were so good, Lila-Rae loved cheering and clapping her hands. She started taking photos from her pretend camera, but told me she couldn’t take to many incase her battery went flat!

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With it being so hot and after walking so far our water bottle was actually hot and although we had a few snacks, Koel decided to head to the kiosk for a cold drink and ice creams. 3 drinks, 4 ice creams and $38.50 later the nights budget was well and truly blown and he was contemplating standing on the side of the street with a “need work” sign!

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Frankie started to get into it by the end. For two kids that generally hate noise, both times we have taken them to a stadium they have been intrigued. Unfortunately the hurricanes didn’t really come to play so we left with 5 overs to go to beat the crowd.

We headed back to the caravan and cranked our fan, all managing to have a good nights sleep on what was our hottest night so far.

Thursday we woke and packed to leave Brownhill Creek, by 11am it was already 40 degrees. We stopped at Murray Bridge Aquatic centre and spent three hours paddling, going down water slides and relaxing in the shade.

Being at the Murray Bridge pool really made me sad about how much the girls and kids their age have missed out on with not having a pool in Circular Head. I know there are kids lessons but they were sometimes hard to get to with work, and when I stopped working through the day the girls were to big and to nervous for me to take on my own.

We have been on the road just over two weeks. When we left Tassie they both hated putting their heads under and could not be let go in the water. Everyday we are amazed at how confident (maybe to confident!) they are becoming.

A highlight for us, especially Lila-Rae was the waterslides. She went down them all multiple times and absolutely loved it. Frankie showed no interest, instead running around the water spouts playing an imaginary game.

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We left the pool in very high spirits, and after three hours of swimming the girls were asleep about 10 minutes into our trip. We didn’t really have any plans on where we were going. Which ended up being a blessing.

I asked Koel to stop at a servo for a $1 frozen coke and with Krispy Kreme’s also sold there, Thursday was shaping up to be the best day of our trip. How quickly things can change.

About 5 minutes down the road after leaving the servo, I turned the air conditioning back as I was abit cold (on a 45 degree day, good one Belle) and straight away it started blowing hot air. It was as if I had changed it to the heaters and after about 20 minutes of mucking around with it we had to pull over. I can’t ever remember being that hot in my life, and the girls in the back were just dripping.

We couldn’t work out if it was better or worse with the windows down, as it felt like an actual hair dryer being blown in all windows. We hooked up a fan which was just blowing around hot air but at least there was airflow.

We made the decision to drive the 50kms to Keith and stop there for a breather. The trip was absolute hell, it was 45 degrees outside but I have no idea and don’t even want to know how hot it was inside the bus. We made it though, and I got my hopes up when we found a mechanic. Unfortunately at 4:50pm no-one really wanted to know us so we instead went to the IGA to buy some icy poles and a cold drink/use their aircon.

I did get a little laugh when Lila-Rae insisted on buying a packet of biscuits I had never seen before, which was strange because the girls NEVER try new food! She was adamant she needed to have them so I asked her why, she simply told me they were shortbread. That won’t make sense to a lot of people, but my Nanna has always made the girls shortbread, and they are Lila-Rae’s favourite biscuit. Of course I let her buy them after she explained.

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Sitting on the street in Keith was definitely the lowest point of the trip for me. I don’t cope with the heat at all and pretty much sat with my head in my hands! Thank goodness for Koel. He took charge and we went to the Keith hotel for tea, polishing off three bottles of iced water and staying as long as possible in their aircon.

We made the decision to drive the 185kms to Horsham, so that Koel could be on the doorstep of the Aircon shop at 8:30am.

What a trip, we arrived at the caravan park at 10:30pm last night and it was still 38 degrees. We didn’t even unhook the caravan, the girls went straight to bed and we both had a cold shower. The bugs were insane and I lay awake thinking they were crawling on my face. At 2:30am the wind finally changed and we started to feel a breeze in the van, resulting in a few hours sleep.

After arriving at the shop, Koel was told a part could be couriered from Ballarat, in hope it would arrive by 2:30 this afternoon. Thank goodness we drove last night because otherwise the part probably wouldn’t have arrived until Monday! By the time Koel got back to the caravan park, with a plan to head back when the part arrived, the girls and I were already in the pool.

By 12:30 it was 44 degrees and we were all a mess, so went to the cinemas to try and escape it. The girls thought it was a great treat and loved watching “Nut Job 2”. Koel left at 2:00 to head back to the aircon shop, and the girls and I finished watching the movie then walked 400m to the Horsham plaza.

How easy is it to kill time with kids? We walked down the toy isles at Kmart for an hour, then headed to Wendy’s for a well deserved ice-cream killing another hour. They also told me we had to go to Grandma’s (Karalea) favourite shop, Spotlight.

I got the call from Koel at 4:30 to say the bus was fixed, SWEET RELIEF.

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Our Heroes

We had planned to drive to Hall’s Gap tonight but after such a massive two days, we treated ourselves to an air-conditioned cabin to recharge our batteries. We will head to Hall’s Gap tomorrow for five nights and I honestly can’t wait to just sit in one place.

I could honestly not be any prouder of our little girls. They have taken the last two days worth of drama in their stride and not complained once. Both of them are more worried about what toys they have in their bed then overheating in the car. We are just so lucky to have been blessed with such funny, loving, beautiful little girls.

I will leave you with some pictures of Lila-Rae and Frankie today. They make me laugh everyday and I’m sure you will get a smile out of these.

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Happy Birthday Koel!

Sunday Morning I waited outside reception to inform them we would be checking out. Here are some photos of the beds Joseph and Christopher were expected to sleep on.

 

We can look back and laugh now, especially after we arrived at our new accommodation at the Marina Hotel. A double story, three bedroom apartment looking straight over the Marina was just what we needed.

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Above is the view from our balcony! We went for a walk around the boats and the girls and I got talking to a local retired fisherman and his granddaughter. He told me the history of the Marina and pointed out some of the boats his friends own!

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This is Rita, named after the owners wife. Apparently it doesn’t get much use, but it sure looks good parked next to the hotel!

Apparently Port Lincoln has the most millionaires by population in Australia mostly due to the tuna fishing boom. Some of the houses were incredible with jetty’s leading straight down to the water and their boats parked up.

While waiting to check in to the hotel we came across a car show.

Lila-Rae and Frankie loved looking at all the old cars and spent time trying to find all the characters off their favourite movie; Cars 3

I kept telling them not to touch any of the cars so they kept their hands behind their backs to avoid temptation. Lila-Rae did whisper to me twice that she saw Joseph touching them, I had to hide my laugh!

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I loved watching the dancers and the music was awesome!

After the car show we were all hungry so headed to the restaurant at the hotel.

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the three kids having a milkshake after promising they would eat all their lunch!

Monday was Koel’s 31st birthday! And shark diving day.

He was wide awake at 3am ready to board the boat at 6:30am. The boat provided breakfast and lunch and all the boys were pretty impressed. They had lots of stories when they got back at about 6:15pm. They were very impressed with the $4 beers on board!

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As the boat docked the girls were so excited to hold up their sign and we could hear “Happy Birthday” being sung (mostly by Joseph).

We went out for tea for our last night in Port Lincoln, with Koel barely able to keep his eyes open.

We are currently three hours from Adelaide, and are booked in to a caravan park for the next two nights and are heading to the Hurricanes vs Strikers 20/20 tomorrow night.

The girls have already had a power nap each and watched a movie so now I need to come up with some new entertainment.

They are currently fighting over how to take deep breaths.

Wish me luck!

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1082 kilometers in two days- done

Wow. What a massive two days.

Thursday (thank goodness) we spent the day at the Mt Gambier caravan park, only heading for a quick woolies mish, having a sneaky milkshake and an unnecessary purchase of two blow up pool toys. Koel spent a hour blowing them up, by the time he was finished the pool was packed and we could barely use them!

We did our first load of washing for the trip, one week in haha. Koel’s navigation skills are unbelievable, I get confused hopping from street to street and actually have no idea what direction we are going. He genuinely puts these skills down to countless hours spent on Grand Theft Auto and learning to memorise your surroundings (insert eyeroll here).

The girls made a friend at the caravan park, after the initial melt down from Lila-Rae they all got along like they had known each other forever. She was 5 and absolutely loved the girls, even after Lila-Rae told her she couldn’t touch any of her toys. Eventually Lila-Rae relented and said “okay you’re allowed to have a little touch of my toys!”

Our meals are getting better and better, even on a plastic plate I still think they look gourmet.  I have taught the girls how to play snap and just love cuddling up on the couch with them.

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Twin life ❤

Friday was not funday Friday. We packed up camp and were on the road at 7:45am. The girls were surprisingly perky and the early morning helped with a few naps throughout the day. We drove from Mt Gambier to Adelaide with only a few stops, and waited at the Airport for Joseph and Christopher.

The boys have flown over to tick an item of Koel’s bucket list, Port Lincoln shark diving. I talked to them a few months ago asking if they would be keen to fly over and surprise Koel and take him (because there is noway I’m going on that boat). The surprise bit fizzled out but I still think I am in the running for best fiancé.

Originally planning to fly from Adelaide to Port Lincoln, we realised on Wednesday the flights had actually been booked for December instead of January, so we planned a road trip. We hired a Hyundai Imax, left the hilux and caravan in long term parking, and drove as far as Port Pirie Friday night, arriving at around 11pm.

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We had a few hiccups along the way. We originally stopped at a little road side pub for tea until I saw multiple tanks with snakes in them. I refused to eat there and we left, stopping at a pub in “Dublin” and having a great meal. It was soooo nice to have some veggies!

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Frankie deciding what sights she would like to see next!

After a sleep in and Maccas breakfast we hit the road again and drove to Port Lincoln. We had a few stops with Koel and I sharing the driving. The girls have been absolute angels sitting in the very back of the Imax, they did have the iPad and my phone for most of the travelling Saturday but man they have done a good job.

By Port Neill, a town of 90 people, we were running low on fuel. We pulled up at the only bowser in town and spent 5 minutes trying to undo the fuel latch. 88 kilometres from Port Lincoln, nearly on empty, tensions were running high when it wouldn’t pop open.

Koel was inside asking for a screw driver to pry it open, I was on the phone to the rental company fuming they would lend us a car that is faulty, but thankfully Christopher was reading the manual. Turns out the sliding door has to be fully shut for the latch to pop open. Safety feature. Crisis avoided.

We arrived at our accomodation, booked for 6 people at the caravan park. Looked pretty good online, turns out the double bed is in the kitchen and a little makeshift wall hides two sets of bunk beds that didn’t look at all safe. We were given two towels and we realised there was only half a roll of toilet paper after reception was already closed. After a massive day travelling I wasn’t happy and planned on complaining and moving somewhere else. We decided to give it a night and if one of the bunks falls we would check out.

Turns out last night was horrible, the girls went to sleep about 2am so we are booking a hotel around the road. I’m not usually fussy with accomodation, maybe I just expect high class after living in the caravan haha!

Seems funny that we have done the most kilometres and this is my shortest blog post, but there isn’t much you can talk about when all you’re doing is driving.

My next post will be an update on the shark diving experience 🙂

I’ll leave you with the Top 5 lies I have told to the girls this trip:

1. Yes, we are nearly there!

2. The man said you had to be five – this was in Geelong when they want to go on a Ferris wheel, $32 just wasn’t in our budget!

3. The green things in your sausage is chocolate

4. We can’t fit anymore toys in the van (although this is half true)

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5. Youtube isn’t working because of all the tree’s on the side of the road

 

 

We’ve arrived in South Australia!

On Tuesday we packed up and said goodbye to Savannah, my sister who had just arrived and Noorat.

Koel had spent the three days at Sav’s lowering the tow ball and the van is now towing like a dream!

We drove from Noorat to Portland with a stop in Port Fairy, officially my favourite town we have visited. As we drove in a sign welcomed us that said “Welcome to Port Fairy, the worlds most liveable community”.

I looked at Koel and said “can they actually say that?” but as we drove down to the wharf I had no doubt that yep, they can actually say that.

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Everything about Port Fairy was beautiful, the homes, scenery and people. It was the first place where locals have smiled or made quick conversation (we obviously look like tourists).

Lila-Rae and Frankie loved running along the bridge but spent the first ten minutes debating the gender of a dog that had walked past. Koel kept saying “what a sh*t place to live” and I was just like the paparazzi taking thousands of photos!

We arrived in Portland and stayed at the Henty Bay Beachfront Holiday Park. Our campsite was on top of a sand dune and it was about a three metre walk to the beach. It was the first park (of many) to have a jumping pillow so the girls spent the first hour running from one end to the other.

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After we were set up we drove into the town to do a quick woolies and butcher mish. I was piggybacking Frankie and Koel had Lila-Rae on his shoulders as he walked into woolies, next minute I hear a bang! Of course she had cracked her head on the roof! I put Frankie down and turned to help Koel but had Frankie’s hair caught in my jacket button. What a disaster we had people looking at us like we were actually insane. We quickly did our shop and got out of there!

When we got back to camp Koel took the girls to the beach while I cooked tea/read a book. After about half an hour Lila-rae came sulking back looking at me and saying “I’m just not good at making sandcastles” with the biggest puppy dog eyes. I sat her down and told her everything she is good at, pumping her confidence back up. I asked her why she thought she wasn’t good at making sandcastles and she said “Well I buried my spade near the rocks and now I can’t find it.” Koel eventually dug it back up after calling me to see if I had any hints!

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After tea we went back to the beach which resulted in the girls having a swim at 7:45pm, bed wasn’t much later.

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Today (Wednesday) we drove to Mt Gambier, thankfully not far from Portland because the girls were over it before we even started. After a quick stop at the border to throw out all out fruit and veg (something we totally forgot about last night when we shopped at Woolies) we drove straight to the Blue Lake Holiday Park.

As soon as we pulled up the girls spotted the jumping pillow and pool. Here, we could pick any site in the unpowered section, so of course I chose one closest to the toilet block #mumlife.

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After setting up (which Koel pretty much did on his own AGAIN while we were at the jumping pillow) we went for a quick dip in the pool. The weather here is just perfect, it reached 27 degrees this afternoon but there was still a nice breeze and by 5pm we pull out the jumpers. I love that its not hot of a night (YET) and we have all been sleeping easy at night.

After our swim we went exploring through the city. We pulled over on the street to climb up to one of the look outs at Blue Lake. I found my selfie stick so my paparazzi shots today have been on point!

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After blue lake we went to library where the girls drew pictures of our dog Georgie, and Karalea and Haydn’s dogs Eddie and Krueger. Well Koel drew and they coloured them in. Outside the library is a beautiful garden and path leading down to a sinkhole so after a quick rest, we decided to explore.

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We went from here to the Umpherston Sinkhole. Down inside was breathtaking but the girls got sick of it pretty quick so we climbed back up the stairs and had an ice-cream in the park.

The girls could barely keep their eyes open as we left and fell asleep pretty soon after. We drove around to kill some time and are now back at camp. The girls have gone to the jumping pillow with Koel and I’m sitting at the caravan contemplating track pants, it has cooled off so quick!

We have found that everyday gets easier on the road. Koel said today that every time he sets the van up it gets quicker. We are yet to use the awning or annex but are going to set the annex up tonight as we are staying here for two nights.

Lila-Rae is still struggling, I have figured out that she assumed living in the caravan meant driving it somewhere, parking it forever and just staying put. She is such a homebody that it makes sense she feels upset without any stability. Not once when I talked about living in the caravan did I think to explain we would be moving around a lot, maybe if I had of prepared her it would be easier but you live and learn.

Frankie is in her element. Today at the park she gave a nine year old a dressing down about standing to close to Lila-Raes toys. I quickly apologised to his mother who laughed and said he needed pulling into line- crisis averted. She has her moments when she is tired, and the first two nights in the van she fell out of bed but she is adjusting really well.

Koel and I have only had one small disagreement in navigating, and I don’t know about him but I am loving sending everyday together.

Tomorrow we will have a full day exploring Mt Gambier and with the temperature forecast at 35 degrees, we will most likely be found at the pool.

Friday we will head to Adelaide where a surprise turned non surprise is happening for Koel’s birthday which is on Monday, but I’ll write more about that next week.

Tonight I don’t really have a top 5, so I’ll leave you with the quote of the day:

“I am tired of sitting mum, I need to lie down and have a rest in the caravan”

* hey mum? hey mum? hey mum? *

Trust me, the name of this post is fitting.

On Saturday we packed up, left Geelong and headed toward Noorat. I woke up at 6:30 so decided to beat the heat and go for a short morning walk. I learned a valuable lesson about crossing bridges and not really knowing the area, ending in me having to walk an extra 2 kilometres to the highway to be able to get back across the river and back to the caravan park.

The forecast was spot on and by 9am it was 30 degrees. The girls and I sat in the bus and left Koel to pack the caravan up before we headed out. I have never experienced heat like Saturday, at one stage we pulled over for a quick toilet stop and it was like walking out into a hair dryer. The wind was just blowing hot air straight into our faces, needless to say we were back in the car pretty quick.

We met Savva at the Camperdown Woolworths and followed her to her house just out of Noorat. Here the temperature was 42 degrees and we had no problem sitting inside infront of the aircon while she went to work. There was no way we could have done anything exciting in that heat!

By 5pm it seemed like a completely different day. The temperature dropped to about 20 degrees, the wind had also completely dropped and there was some cloud cover which we were so thankful for and took advantage of the pool next door. Miss Independent Lila-Rae now refuses to be held in the water, while Frankie is like a koala and can’t be let go.

Yesterday (Sunday) we explored some more of the Great Ocean Road. We started the day the right way with an ice-cream sundae at the Timboon Ice Creamery then headed to the Bay of Martyrs.

We went from there to the London Bridge. The girls were intrigued with the story of how the ledge connecting the bridge to the land collapsed. For the rest of the day they asked me questions about how it happened (always starting with “hey mum?” hence the title).

They decided that there were to many seagulls sitting on the ledge and they must have all flapped their wings at the same time resulting in the collapse. The ring leaders name was Kayla and apparently she is a very naughty seagull.

From London Bridge we went to my favourite place so far, Lord Ard Gorge. All the spots we had visited so far had been really quiet and easy to park and walk around. Here, it was heaps busier and they even had parking instructors!

The girls were starting to get bit over it but we managed to get them down onto the sand where they played for awhile and watched for helicopters. We didn’t get the chance to walk around the top but have planned to do that when we caravan again in retirement with no kids haha!

The next stop was the Twelve Apostles, but as we saw the crowd and after the girls temperament at the last stop, I looked at Koel and said we are not doing that. We drove straight past and Koel ran to the top of a hill and snapped a quick photo, so the Twelve Apostles have also been added to our retirement list aswell.

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I have no regrets about that decision because about 10 minutes later the girls were sound asleep, and woke up just before Apollo Bay. We stopped for a quick snack, run around and then tracked back to Noorat.

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We facetimed Nanny (Margo) and Grandma and Pop (Karalea and Haydn) which has made the girls abit homesick. They have both still been asking to go home which is hard but hopefully they will get used to life on the road.

Today we are heading into Warrnambool to hopefully get some answers on our fridge and have a look around. We are staying one more night with Savva in Noorat, then heading to Portland for one night and onto Mt Gambier for two nights.

We have already learned so much in the short amount of time we have been on the road. Although the girls have been struggling nothing effects their imagination and we are so lucky they have each other to play with.

They have been really good in the car, with constant “hey mum, hey mum, hey mum” questions. I snapped yesterday and told them to ask dad, which lasted for about three questions. I suppose its only fair because Koel has been doing all the driving.

For now that about covers our adventures over the last couple of days.

I will sign off with our top 5 most requested songs so far:

1. Pink- Beautiful Trauma (requested as Pink’s new song)

2. Pink- What about us (requested as Pinks old one)

3. ACDC- Thunderstruck (requested as ABCDC)

4.  Walk the Moon- Shut Up and Dance (requested as Zootopia song)

5. Macklemore + Kesha- Good Old Days

 

 

~two days in~

What a massive few days. On wednesday we said goodbye to our family, friends and life as we knew it.

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We boarded the spirit with two squealing girls in the back, and I have honestly never seen them so excited.

By midnight Lila-Rae still hadn’t decided if she wanted to sleep with her light on or off, after bed hopping since 9 o’clock. The 5:15am wakeup call came way to soon for all of us but we were the third off the boat and on the highway by 6:10. To say I would be happy to never go on the boat again with two kids is an understatement.

We had planned to go straight to the Werribee zoo (thanks again Morgan and Chris for the gift voucher!) but arrived in Werribee way to early so decided to stop for breakfast. We soon found out towing a caravan can be a hindrance as the whole main st was angular parking. After driving another 20 minutes we settled on a servo. After buying breakfast, a $5.70 pump bottle of water and the girls screaming the place down because they couldn’t order chips at 7:15 in the morning we back tracked to the zoo.

After cursing the caravan down the Werribee Main st, we soon changed our tune after arriving at the zoo an hour before opening. We were the first ones in the car park so pulled up in a prime park and laid down for an hour rest.

It did the trick and the girls had the best time looking at all the animals, arriving early helped us beat majority of the crowd and we were out of there by 11:30 when the lines were massive and the car park nearly full.

We drove straight from the Zoo to Geelong and checked in to Discovery Park. A mixup left us with a tent site and the receptionist freaking out because every other site was booked. Luckily our caravan is the same size as a big tent so we easily fit! We parked the van and went straight to the Geelong beach, which is absolutely beautiful. Its abit of a shock for two tasmanian’s driving around behind 20 cars all looking for one park. I was sitting in the passenger seat thinking yeah, we are definitely not in Marrawah now.

Of course after seeing all the kids jumping off platforms and dive boards Koel had to have a go. The girls and I sat and watched and in the space of 3 minutes Lila-Rae had lost her toy and then had hat fly over into the ocean. I made Koel jump the fence and get it, then a lady asked him if he realised there were jelly fish. Whoops.

We walked right along the esplanade and bought some lunch and after $40 for two lots of fish and chips, we decided it would probably be our last bought lunch. After countless “I’m tired” “My legs aren’t working” “My walking is broken” we finally made it back to the bus and zoomed back to the caravan park for a quick swim (at 5:10, mum wasn’t silly enough to get in) before tea with some friends from Tassie (thanks Ryan and Monique).

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Our first night sleeping in the van was fairly uneventful. The girls refused to go to sleep until it was dark and Frankie rolled out of bed at 6 o’clock but luckily it was a nice mild night and the park is really quiet.

It did take us awhile to get moving this morning, Frankie woke Lila-Rae to early which always ends in about 2 hours of melt down. She laid on the couch and sobbed about wanting to go back to grandmas, but soon perked up once we got on the road.

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Once we hit the road there was no stopping us. We drove through Torquay and stopped at one of the beaches for a quick paddle. We went from there to Bells beach, climbed all the way down the stairs and the girls decided they needed to wee! 128 stairs (yes I counted) back to the top with so many distractions and fights about who was in the lead, we finally made it back to the bottom and it was so worth it.

We drove from Bells Beach through Anglesea and stopped at Aireys inlet to look at the round the twist lighthouse. Here, like everywhere else we have been was absolute bedlam so we took some quick photos and kept moving.

We drove straight to Lorne planning to pull up on the beach and have lunch. The beach, like everywhere we have been, was just flat out so we just kept driving and we found a little park with picnic tables to pull up at, and a pier to walk out on.

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After eating we decided to head back to Anglesea as this was the quietest town we had been through, but we somehow snagged a park on the Main st of Lorne and went for a paddle down the beach.

Lila-Rae loves the waves but Frankie is happier sitting on her towel picking up handfuls of sand.

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We arrived back at camp at 6 o’clock and by the time we cooked tea, showered the girls and semi organised ourselves for tomorrow the day was gone.

We are having trouble with our Waeco fridge which is a pain because we are trying not to use the fridge in the caravan for short stays.

Tomorrow is meant to be 42 degrees, forecast is saying it will be 30 by 9am so we are planning to be packed and gone before then! We are heading to Savannah who is in Noorat, but may take a few detours just to utilise the aircon.

We are still pinching ourselves that this is our life, visiting multiple beaches a day and spending so much time with our girls is just the dream.

I hope this post didn’t drone on to much and it all made sense. I’m sure i’ll have lots more to tell you soon!

For now i’ll leave you with a 5 things I have learned already 🙂

1. Travelling on school holidays is hectic.

2. I should have been way more ruthless when packing the girls toys

3. Dressing the girls in different clothes means you never get stopped by people with the 100 twin questions

4. Fake tan does not also work as sunscreen

5.  If you sit outside writing your blog after the sun has gone down, you will get nailed by mozzies and you will regret it