So, now we are in Brisbane, trying to acclimatise, unpack and get some normality back into our lives.
The drive up was actually a lot better than I had expected. We drove from Mt Gambier in South Australia to Brisbane, a distance of just over 2200km. We were towing a trailer with all our essentials, and in the car we had the three kids and I, plus Fergus the dog, Ashy the cat, a little Burkes parrot called Fudge and Lulu the rat. A lot of our pets, including our lovely pig Ollie, were given away, so these are the lucky few who are joining us on the adventure. The set up in the car actually worked really well. We have three rows of seats in our car, so the cat, rat and bird cages went along the very back seats, just fitted perfectly, and Fergus had the luggage space in the back. The car quickly took on a bit of a pet shop smell, but no one seemed to be too stressed out. Fudge sang a lot as we drove along, perhaps it was because he was upset, but it sure did sound happy.
Of course we had lots of stops along the way where Fergus got to have a run and a drink. Whenever we stopped for lunch, we would unload all the animals from the car for some fresh air, and let Ashy out of his cage for a bit of a run on the cat lead.
There are basically two ways to travel from Mt Gambier to Brisbane. One is more direct, up the centre of NSW through Dubbo, the other goes closer to the coast passing through Albury and Sydney. After much deliberation, I decided to follow the coastal route, even though it is slightly longer, I thought that I would enjoy the scenery and towns more, and this also meant that we could stop in Sydney and visit my eldest son Jayden on the way. It did turn out to be a beautiful drive with very good roads, so I was pleased with my choice.
Of course, we were a bit later getting away from Mt Gambier than I had planned. A few tears, but not nearly as bad as I had expected. I think I had done my share of crying a few days earlier. Both of my brothers came to say goodbye before we left which really meant a lot to me. We didn’t get too far, before Axel needed a toilet stop, and I decided that we should stop in at the Glenelg chocolate factory in Coleraine for some travelling supplies. Lunch in Aararat, stopped to visit a friend near Bendigo where the boys got to cool off in the pool, then on to Wangaratta for the first night. For accomodation along the way, I looked for places that allowed dogs, mostly caravan parks, and we smuggled the other animals in. I didn’t think anywhere would take too kindly to having a rat, and most places didn’t want pets in the cabins, but the only way we could give our cat a decent break from being in the cage was to let him loose in the cabins. Anyway, no damage was done and we didn’t get caught, so that was all ok.
My plan was for us to get up early every day, travel for about 4 hours, have a long stop for lunch, then another 3 hours travelling before stopping for the night. Things didn’t quite turn out that way. We were always later to get away than I had planned, we always had more stops than I had counted on, and so the driving took a lot longer. Because of this, we always ended up arriving at our accommodation after dark and were sitting around eating dinner at about 9o’clock every night. By the time I got all the children and animals fed and watered, I was usually falling into bed at about 11pm.
We did stop for a little sight seeing along the way, after all it will be a long time before we drive some of these roads again.
We went to a great little submarine museum in a town called Holbrook. Holbrook is miles from the ocean, but the town that was originally called Germanton had it’s name changed to Holbrook in 1915 in honour of Lieutenant Norman Holbrook who had lead a successful submarine mission to bomb a Turkish war ship. The kids enjoyed a quick play on the submarine and there was a ‘dogs off leads’ area next door, so that was handy.
Another tourist icon that I insisted we stop at was the Dog on the Tuckerbox on the road to Gundagai. My kids really couldn’t understand why I was getting so excited about this little statue lol.
For our second night we had a bit of trouble finding dog friendly accomodation as we wanted to stay in Sydney. We ended up in a Bed and Breakfast at Burwood. It was really interesting, an old hospital that had been turned into 36 guest rooms, with shared bathrooms, dining room and lounge. They were happy to have Fergus there as well and had a little enclosed yard. The rooms were very basic, but it was clean and friendly, breakfast was included and it was a reasonable price for Sydney. The only downfall was no air conditioning and Zac especially found this very hard to cope with.
For our last night on the road we headed to Coffs Harbour. We were all getting very excited when Brisbane started to appear on the road signs and we watched the distances coming down from the 900s, to the 800s, 700s etc. By Coffs Harbour it was in the 400s and it was very tempting to just keep going, but it was dark and late, so we stopped for the night. Very beautiful caravan park in a lovely spot, it was such a pity that we didn’t have time to explore.
I was aiming for us to leave at 6am the next day to try and make it to Brisbane before our furniture, but we couldn’t resist a quick walk in the beach first.
Last day on the road and we were all pretty excited. That last 100km seemed to take forever, but finally we pulled into our street. Or road was full of furniture trucks, one delivering our furniture, and another one at the same time removing the rental furniture that my husband Greg had been using for the last 3 months. It was all a bit chaotic, but it didn’t matter, we had done it, finally we had arrived and our family was back together again. Now the adventure really begins.