Just before Christmas we received the terribly exciting news that Raff would have holidays from Christmas Eve until the 4th of January. The added bonus, after the previous 5 years spent running his own businees, was paid annual leave! How exciting to not have to weigh up the need for rest time for him versus the ability to pay bills etc for the family.
Right from the moment we found out we ummed and aahed about what to do with the time off. An offer from his aunt (the awesome, the great, the Meg!) to spend some time with her down at Port Noarlunga could not be overlooked, so we spent two hot summery days and one fairly sleepless night with Meg. It was lovely to hang out and feel very relaxed while spending pleasant adult time with one of my favourite people. The kids really enjoyed their time at her house and at the beach. We drove home from there on New Years Eve (everybody slept the whole drive home, except me :)) We refreshed ourselves and then headed out to a NYE/30th birthday do. We stayed for a while and had the kids home and in bed at 10pm, so we had a couple of drinks and saw in the New Year together.
The next morning we were off to Barmera. Best laid plans went a touch awry and we didn't hit the road until 10:40am, as everyone was quite irritable (including me!) and there were still bags to be packed. Our original plan was to leave early and travel most of the way through in one hit, but that wasn't to be. I think we stopped about a dozen times on the 200 or so km trip. There were side of the road toilet stops for stubborn children that wouldn't go when everyone else went 10kms ago, there was a stop near the fruit fly exclusion zone where we could all sit and eat two days worth of fruit rather than throw it all out, there were a couple of 'I-am-stopping-this-car-right-now-young-lady' pauses. And coffee stops and lunch stops and 'Where's my Bear?' stops. Lucky we are all just such patient people, right?
We drove in to Barmera at 2pm exactly, which was check in time
The caravan park was great, right on Lake Bonney, with plenty to do. It was very very hot when we arrived, so it was straight to the cabin to get bathers and sunscreen on so we could head down to the lake. Unfortunately, the previous three days of sunscreen use had seen me break out in a nasty rash. I was
The caravan park did kayak hire and we vowed to come back the next day for that, but the next day was a lot cooler, so we never did get a chance to do that.
We headed over to the swimming pool and spent a couple of hours just floating about in the shade. It was just divine. The pool was packed, but the kids were having fun and it was low stress. After a while my grumbly tummy let me know it was heading on to dinner time, so I headed back to the cabin to create a gourmet dinner of baked beans and tinned spaghetti with grilled cheese rolls. Even though the kids had had such little sleep the two preceding nights and had done little more than occassionally doze on the drive, I knew no one was going to sleep early in the bright hot cabin. So we settled in to play Uno with our cups of cold milo and chocolate biscuits. Very soon we could hear the distant rumble of thunder, so we all sat outside in our PJs and watched the great electrical storm. The kids have never really seen lightning before, so it was met with much excitement.
Watching the lightning - that's Lake Bonney ahead through the trees.
Very cheeky monkey, opening the sliding door for the 785th time.
The next morning dawned very cold. The air conditioner had been on all night and everyone woke up freeeeeeeeezing. A breakfast spent deflecting the many scowls at the chief clothes packer, who failed to pack warm enough clothes, and constant glares at the chief packer who didn't pack honey. Or pancakes. Or Any Nice Food!
First stop - the IGA for honey. And pancake mix.
Second stop - bakery for coffee and The Best Fresh Wagon Wheels in the Universe.
The fourth? Monash Playground! Now we're talking! It was pleasantly cool and there was only a couple of other families there. It is a long way from how I remember it, but the kids had a lot of fun.
Lots of running and climbing and giggling until the Time for Torture aka Sunscreen Application (And no, it wasn't me that threw the tantrum!) so a quick and noisy exit was made. Lucy fell asleep on our way to get lunch, so we detoured for a bit around Loxton to wait for her to wake. I was intrigued by signs leading us to the Tree of Knowledge, and was interested by what we saw. The tree had all the years of the rising flood levels on it, with 1956 being the one right up the top. The river is just behind that bank of trees, so it meant there was a LOT of water. I'm glad we ventured off the track, as a kangaroo hopped past our car which cheered up Miss Middle Child immensely.
We also visited the Loxton Historical Village This killed a few hours and was quite informative. Though Ella was 'scared' of the stuffed birds, the live sheep in cages, the automated voice-overs, the sheds with machinery in, I think she learned quite a lot, too. A lot of the stuff around the place reminded me of either Grandpa's house or our old homestead at Stebonheath, so I had lots of stories to tell the kids.
On the way back to the caravan park another sign for Thiele's Sandbar caught my eye. I followed it along a corrugated dirt road, with all my chickens in the back squawking 'go back, mum! this is scary!' I ended up listening to them when the sand started getting a bit squishy under the tyres. :( Though, we slowed down to look at some cactus on the side of the road and as I started to speed up again a snake slithered across our path - that was exciting :)
I dropped the kids and Raff at the pool and went back to the cabin to read my book aka starting dinner prep. Ah, the joys of holiday cooking - bacon fried in a burnt warped pan, eggs 'scrambled' in a tiny saucepan. Another relaxed bedtime with no clock to look at.
The next morning was pack up time. It brought back so many memories - the kids all checking the cupboards, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors and one last stop by the park playground as Raff handed in the keys.
Ella stepping out of her comfort zone and breaking the rules,
sitting in the middle of the seesaw
This caravan park also had a jumping pillow which looked like so much fun! I really wanted to go on it, but it was covered in kids each time we went by.
One last photo of the Lake and we were on our way! It was 9:30am, and we didn't get home until 4:30pm! We had choclolate fondue in Waikerie, caught the ferry across the river and drove to Morgan for lunch. We then stopped at Eudunda to see the Colin Thiele statue and play in the beautiful grounds there. After another toilet stop we headed home, to the sounds of two happy children playing with paper dolls in the back row and the melodic sounds of a two year olds rendition of Taylor Swift's Love Story ad nauseum. Only pausing mid song to demand 'green ice cream. PLEASE'
One last stop at the Willaston deli for green icecream :) and all asleep by 6:45pm. A lovely weekend.