Journal 52 – week 1 Pathways

It’s a long road, this post is about going home. Full circle journeys are so weird. I’m avoiding the temptation to think why did we leave in the first place. I know why, to breath and process. Kiall and I were together at 19 and 20 years old, we had a child when I was 21 and the rest is a roller coaster of jobs, no jobs, two more kids, school and going against the norm with no school, moving, wedding and life. It was full. No time to take a breath, well at least it felt that way. Leaving was a breather. A space to process the last ten years of our lives and work towards better things, finding the place we really wanted to be as parents and as adults. We are not there yet but we have started and that’s always half the battle. Most people figure all this out in their 20’s. We were young parents then. This coming decade, with the kids getting older is now for us just as much as it is for them. We have goals and aspirations some big and long term like Kiall getting his pilots licence, others small like growing more of our own food. I have every ounce of stubbornness imaginable so we will get there eventually.

We now have some dates in mind so it’s feeling more real. Latest leave date is early July after the tax is done. We will have 5 fortnights on the road arriving in WA by September. (My birthday is the only one on the road hehe, I like that lotsa) This gives us enough time to sort out pets properly (including the right gear for traveling with a dog,) recover the money we lost with the repairs to the car, save up for emergency money, get the right insurance, leave this house on good standing and set the car up well enough to make it a comfortable and easy journey. Roughly 6 months of serious planning, spending, saving, clearing out etc.

It was ironic that the prompt this week for journal 52 was pathways. This is what I came up with. A river heading west and this poem. Hope you like it.

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Journal 52 – week 52 circles

I gave myself the creative constraint of circles when I started this project, you see them everywhere, in nature, in man made structures, circles are the base of almost everything so I figured this would be the easiest prompt ever… nope… being down one constraint was harder. I had this amazing idea of painting (yeah, me and paint are not friends) an aborigional style dot painting with the back of a pencil and the back of a paintbrush. It was all in my head and looked kinda neat. I had envisioned sharing (with the mostly not aussie group online) and recording the dreamtime story of the Glasshouse Mountains, (an old but striking volcanic range near my home on the sunshine coast in Queensland, Australia) in my own journal before we headed back west using the inspiration from local walking trails and the topographic maps of the area (enter circles). My first attempt at putting paint to paper looked kinda like umm… a bumpy bit of mud… would have made great camo paper.

Having my own art not look like how it looks in my head is a new concept to me… I’m not a fan. It kinda put me in a bad mood. I fixed said bad mood by ripping out that page, throwing it across the room, dumping my journal in my craft box and madly crocheting till my hands got a cramp a whole skein of yarn later… I’m a sore loser.

Second attempt was only slightly less infuriating. I dumped the style I was going for and tried to focus on the content without all the detailed me + paint thing. Discovered pens actually run out if you use them for a whole background of tiny water-like circles, who knew? Managed to find something similar to finish it with only to have the same problem happen on the other half of the page. I was kinda going for the juxtaposed ideas of dreamtime story vs the touristy, classy thing going on with the places that have views of this mountain range but even with all that very meta kinda fancyness to my idea. It just didn’t make sense. Here is my half finished second attempt.

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So here I was at attempt three four days later and quite frustrated with the whole thing. Not something that normally happens. However, I’m stubborn and I like art journaling so gotta try again. This time I ditched my expectations of super complicatedness and just hung out with my middle kiddo and her art stash for the morning. She always makes art look so free, just playing and having fun with colours on the page. She likes the end pictures but it is so much about the process for her, eight year olds are very clever like that. 🙂

Just after Christmas with a new art journal and some brand new watercolour pencils in front of her, she plays at the kitchen table with art, humming or whistling random movie tunes and parading around in dress ups, I’m watching with my own journal in front of me open to a blank page. Wee miss K is darting around in dress-ups also chatting to herself and randomly combining toys like mathomats and peg boards. It’s very girly here, daddy is only occasionally in the room and the lad is away on a sleepover. Just me and my girls. I had another circle thought whilst chatting earlier in the morning to daddy, it was dancers from the top or a ferris wheel with the idea being more about the circular motion than actual circles but I wasn’t sure how to create it, the picture in my head was hazy at best. Then the universe punched me in the face. Middle miss started humming that excessively repeated song in our house…. I’ll let you guess which one it was…

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She was right you know, kids are way smarter than grown ups. So I just stared sketching, had no bloody idea what it would look like at the end which is super scary as I basically copy whatever image pops into my head normally but without that mind pic what was I even doing. As I watched middle miss create with this new medium it was clear she was still learning how to manipulate it. We’ve never had watercolour pencils before. She’s not brilliant at it yet but you can see she’s trying to figure it out and that it totally didn’t matter how things looked along the way. She was experimenting, exploring and playing on the page. I wanna be able to do that!

Morning went on and wee miss K wanted to play with my hair putting in tiny pony tails as I worked on this unknown page. I let her do her thing when normally that would bother me (I generally journal while she’s already asleep or is engrossed in something else).

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Middle miss went on to other things and eventually I came up with this

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It’s the closest you will get me to painting. It’s not perfect, it’s not some preconceived vision, it’s just playing on a page. I think adults learn a lot from playing too so that’s going to be my inspiration for journal 52 2015.

Play.

I hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas and a happy new year, thanks for reading
From Becca.

Accommodation in State Forest Australia (Nationwide)

Here is some useful information and websites if you are planing to travel and camp in state forests around Australia with fur kids and human ones.
Dogs in national parks are banned country-wide (including in a vehicle passing through).
Some states have fees and bookings on unpowered sites, (generally these are appropriate for tents, a few for off grid caravans). Others are on a first come first serve basis, most camp areas have eco toilets, it is advisable to bring your own drinking water and adhere to the take in take out policy as most state forests do not provide bins to campsites. Check with each state forest authority with regards to campfire regulations and conditions.

QLD
Dogs are permitted in some state forests on a leash.
Camping in Qld has a fee of $161/week or $23/night for a family group (2 adults and up to 8 children).
Sites are prebooked and paid for online here.
http://parks.nprsr.qld.gov.au/permits/

NSW
All state forests in NSW are dog friendly and free to camp, there are no prebookings available.
http://www.forestrycorporation.com.au/visiting/forests?camping=Yes

VIC
Camping is generally free in state forest.
Dogs allowed in some, must be kept on leash at all times.
http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/forestry-and-land-use/visiting-parks-and-forests/visiting-state-forests

SA
Dogs are permitted in state forest reserves in SA provided they are under control at all times.
Camping permits are $10/5ppl/night or $20/family/week.
A vehicle access permit for $20 may also be required.
More information can be found here.
https://www.forestry.sa.gov.au/
“For permits in the Green Triangle, contact ForestrySA during office hours on (08) 87 242 888.
For permits in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Mid North, please use the self-issue and payment facilities
located outside ForestrySA’s Mount Crawford, Kuitpo and Wirrabara offices.”

WA
No access for dogs to state forests and bookings are online.
More info can be found here. http://parkstay.dpaw.wa.gov.au/

Camping Gear Review Series – Oztent RV5, Peaked Side Panels & Tag Along Tent

Why do I pick gear that has lots of words. Someone thought these long names up. Must be good. We’ll this is the creme de la creme of tents. It is top of the line and boy is it worth the $1800 price tag for a portable go anywhere home. This tent goes up with all the attachments and pegs in about 15-20 min with two people, the main tent takes just 30 seconds to erect. It’s what is known as a touring tent. Ripstop canvas construction, light weight aluminum frame and midge proof mesh bits. Canvas tents have come a long way since my childhood. Gone are the days of heavy poles that rust up and requiring Popeye level muscles just to get the tent out of the bag which it never fit back into.

Much like the OZtrail leisure Mat, it is one of our big pieces of gear, measuring in at 2m long for the main tent (the other bits are smaller) it will live either on a roof rack or on top of the tradies trailer we are fixing up for the trip back west. There is even a roof basket by rhinorack for the oztent. I could seriously go overboard with gear if it wasn’t for my teeny budget. Speaking of which there are a few reasons why we chose a tent over our original plan of a camper trailer one of the biggest being cost.  This tent may sound expensive but it’s brand new and cheaper than a second hand camper trailer. Sure it has less room but we don’t take up much space anyway. We decided that the risk of something going wrong with a second hand camper wasn’t worth it and to go new for that was gonna cost us the earth. We also didn’t want to go with the light weight tents that have a habit of turning a your bedroom into a pool when it rains (found that out on the last 11000km, 3 month trip). A touring tent was middle ground, faster to put up and serves all the purposes we need.

The three kiddos here (will be 12,8,4 years old) will be sharing the main tent (can be closed off entirely from the other rooms) on an oztent gecko stretcher and oztrail bunk beds, (more about them later) with enough room for a play space in the middle. The doggie Katara will have the center section at night surrounded by the PSP and two tents with no floor, unlike most other three room setups she has grass and her travel box to hang out on/in, (better than trying to scrub a tent floor for doggie mess lol). Then we have our bed (wanderer zip together stretchers and the leisure mat) in the tag along. It just fits length ways but we have a space at one end to get dressed or set up the laptop for a movie of an evening (alone if we like as this tent closes off from the doggy room also.)

One thing that needs to be considered when camping under canvas is ventilation. It’s a heavy fabric and while one side is waterproof ie. condensation just beads off, the other side is not and if not properly ventilated (opening vents and pegging out the window awning) you are going to get moisture inside. We have resolved to the fact that because of the grass in the middle, there will be water on the inside of the center room in the morning, not a huge issue as all of our gear fits in the car or inside the bedroom tents under the stretchers, but something worth mentioning.

Another super amazing thing (that most would consider minor until injury) we found about the tent is the groovy guy ropes. Not only do they have cute little pockets to live in on the tent to make pegging them tangle free but our kids and our overzealous Staffy don’t clothesline on them because they are fluorescent orange. (That’s slang for running at the ropes neck first and… well… the rest is up to your imagination) we had a fair few problems with guy rope injuries on the last trip, grown ups included. If any part of the tent breaks you can get replacement joints or patches for a low reasonable cost from oztent directly. This means the tent has a long life expectancy and will be used well after this big trip.

There are other attachments and sizes that you can purchase in this design range, it’s entirely modular for everything from a two person set up (rv1) to a group of 12-20 (with the inclusion of the foxwing awning and additional RV5 Oztents.)  In short it will suit us for a very long time to come because it is easy to use, flexible in layout and reliable to keep the rain off.

I hope you have got something out of this review, if you have any questions about this set up please feel free to ask in the comments. 🙂

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Camping Gear Reviews Series – Queen Size OZtrail Self Inflating Leisure Mat

I’m going to tell you a story about camping beds. It’s a long story so get a cuppa and get comfortable. I’ll wait. Go on.

The story starts three years ago when we decided to give away our stuff and travel to the other side of the country. I wont go into why we did all that, it’s an even longer story, what I will tell you though is that we decided to buy an air mattress and two zip together stretchers. Now it was a very clever design with a velcro cover and all the bells and whistles for a queen size bed camping set up. We though it would be great as we could split it up for the kids if we needed to or use it as our bed. Turns out we had lots of other camping gear to bring with us. Not much experience in packing it all and random things like a pram and a port a cot which took up tons of space. No other beds could fit so we ended up sleeping on just the air mattress, on the floor… worst idea ever!

Here is a short list of why an air mattress on the floor is horrible. (Don’t worry its not all bad, we did learn what we didn’t like.)

  • It took forever to pump up with the crappy foot pump that we had. Yes yes, but you have an electric pump right? No, compared to what I will share with you in a bit, it would still take forever.
  • It was cold, I’m not a huge fan of cold, I whinge lots about it too. Drives the husband mad. Even used to have a collection of 12 jackets to prove how much I dislike cold. True story.
  • It went down after a few hours sleep, no holes it just magically lost air through osmosis or quantum tunneling, not sure which, was a mystery, drove us insane. I recovered (though it may just be too traumatizing and I’ve repressed the memories) but hubby hasn’t been the same since.
  • It’s bloody noisy. Yes… noisy for that too… you know, getting up at night to pee and you end up waking kids who then also need to get up to pee but can’t walk to the loo on their own… What? Did you think I ment something else? Haha! Funny, not on that bed! It was low… so low… combined with night cold my joints were not happy campers. They complained upon rising.

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So there, as you can probably guess we ain’t doing that again. Enter the Queen Size OZtrail Self Inflating Leisure Mat. Gawd that’s a mouthful but I’ll tell ya straight up, it can call itself whatever it likes for this level of comfort. I’m laying on it now, it’s more comfortable than our regular mattress, which doesn’t actually say much cause our mattress is pretty crappy but hey, at least it is compareable to an actual mattress. Unlike the plastic floor mat that was our air mattress, this thing is velour, it’s warm and it’s silent… Silent! You know what that means right? I can go to the loo while camping without an audience… I know! It’s super amazing hey. There are other plus thingies too.

  • It inflates itself, like in a squillionth of the time, no joke, it’s like watching a giant square alien chameleon tongue unroll itself automatically as soon as the valves (there’s 4, amaze!) are undone… you get that right?
  • Putting it on the stretchers and you can hardly feel the bars where they zip together. We were worried about that, I like to sleep next to my husband, I dunno I’m a weirdo I think.
  • It stays up, no random quantum mechanics or anything. And even after a few days when it does squish down a little, you open one valve and it puffs back up like a blowi, but without the spikes and fish smell, that would be icky.
  • Warm warm warm… I’m saying that again cause it’s just groovy, so happiez. For some reason it doesn’t get cold. I like. 🙂

There is one down side, it’s the only downside of this totally epic piece of gear, it’s huge. As in the size of an adult. No stress for us though as we are already planing for the 2m long Oztent which I’ll tell you all about soon.

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Hope you didn’t get too engrossed by my story and you enjoyed your cuppa and this review. 😉  Ave a good un and catch u round. More gear reviews to come as we test out our stuff, SO EXCITINGNESS! (How most girls are with shoes and handbags, I’m all squeelee for camping gear)

If you’re interested in getting one o these groovy beds for your next camping trip we got ours from Tentworld. Otherwise you can get it direct from OZtrail here:

http://www.oztrail.com.au/product-range/furniture-bedding/bedding/leisure-mat-queen-self-inflating-mattress-by-oztrail

Ps: Sorry but it’s dark so I stole some internet pictures. It’s Australia, everyone steals from the internet. I’ll put nice ones in their place eventually. Except for the plastic floor mat, I’ll make that look really bad.

What is Home?

Kenilworth, a small country town in rural Queensland, Australia. Our family of five have called it home for the last three years, this is where our journey begins. Well actually it ended here not so long ago. We are currently preparing for our second trip across this vast continent and I doubt it will be our last, I know this because we used to call suburban Perth in Western Australia home.

It’s really interesting, this concept of home. As if it is a place, a building or a city. Wiki defines it as “A home is a dwelling-place used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for an individual, family, household or several families in a tribe.” I think the latter part of that is far more accurate than the reference to dwellings. I truly believe, now more than ever, that home is not a place but the people your heart resides with. The family, the friend who may as well be family and the community where your people are.

We have met some amazing people here in Qld and it is gonna be so hard to say good-bye to a few of them as they belong in my definition of home. I just wish all my people were in one place. How cool would that be? To have all your people in one place. I bet they would get along by sharing embarrassing stories about you… (ok. So I’m totally reconsidering that idea of all my people together).

Whilst on the first trip over I realized something, we are taking part of home with us out there because it’s such a huge connection with those closest to us, to me right now that’s my family, my kids and my husband. Road-tripping is hard and it doesn’t always go according to plan but that’s what makes it an adventure. We really do love the road, the country life and the freedom and comfort of home both of those bring.  I hope you enjoy watching as we embark on this journey with and to our home.

Relationships are a big part of what I would call home. This photo is from our first trip across Australia 3 years ago. We are hoping to re-enact it this trip as I know exactly where it was taken. What do you consider the true meaning of home?