The last week of our trip has possibly been one of my favourites. It seems like we’ve been away for ages, and suddenly the time we have left in Australia (albeit, we still have about 7 weeks) seems to be running out, and fast. We’re looking forward to coming home and seeing family and friends before we head off to Asia, but the diminishing time also means we’re assessing what we want to get out of the rest of this part of our trip.
Obviously a driver for us being away at all, is for us to spend time as a family, but there is a reality that not all of the things that we like doing can be done as a three. In Australia in particular, I’ve felt an absence of spending time in the water, doing the things I love like surfing and paddle boarding, key things that make this country attractive to me. We both love diving, but it’s impossible to go together with the little man in tow. Ben loves his wildlife spotting, but the best time to do that is very early morning (when we’re normally in a routine to get out of the tent early to drive somewhere and catch Otis’s nap), or late evening (when we’re putting him to bed).
But, this is a once in a lifetime trip, so this week we decided to put ourselves first at times. Once a week we’ve said that we can each do something that’s entirely for us (as individuals). I’m going to do a weekly surf lesson. I had my first in Agnes Water, not having surfed for about 5 years. It was so good to get back in the water, and I totally surprised myself at still feeling quite strong post baby and being able to catch waves from the off. I was in an elated mood for the rest of the day.
The afternoon of that day we hired a paddle board out in 1770, a beautiful town the other side of Agnes Water, with little more than a coffee shop and a restaurant, but it’s main draw being a shallow beach with sand spits dotted around. The water is like glass, and you can paddle away between small boats, and drift up to wildlife in the forest on the edge of the water. We hadn’t hired equipment before, because Otis obviously can’t paddle yet, but we took turns paddling, with the other one with Otis in the water splashing around, and sitting him on the edge of the board with one of us supporting him. It was such a brilliant day, and made us realise we can still indulge in some of our passions now that he’s moving around more, and developing a love for the water. A huge driver for me wanting to potentially live overseas is spending more time in the sea, and seeing other families splashing around, and young children learning to surf made that ambition all the more real.
Ben’s weekly activity is getting to do some walks on his own, getting up at the crack of dawn, and observing wildlife at it’s peak, and without the noise of a baby (albeit Otis has learnt magically to be quiet at key moments) or the three of us walking together to scare away all of the birds. His first walk was in Boorum National Park, where he encountered Ospreys, Kingfishers, Bee Eaters, Cane Toads, and even saw five kangaroos on route to the walk itself. He came back super excited, with hundreds of photos to show for his efforts.
We’ve found a company in Cairns that will accept a baby to come on a live aboard diving trip for a few days, which means that we can take turns diving while the other looks after Otis. It’s a pretty luxurious experience vs. what we’d do on our own, so that we have a nice environment for him to be in, but it’s totally worth the money to get to experience the barrier reef in the way that we want to, and not worry about childcare.
Doing things for ourselves is really important it turns out. We’ve both been more relaxed and happy since having some time to follow our passions, and our family time is all the better for it too. Since then we’ve stayed in Yeppoon, visiting Keppel Island off it’s coastline, and enjoying lazy days on the beach and the sea playing as a family. We had a brief week last week (our week of ‘meh’) where we were missing New Zealand, it’s beautiful driving and scenery making every day special. Now we’re back in love with Australia and all it has to offer. Bring on the last 7 weeks!