In case you missed the memo – I was 34-36 weeks pregnant while we were away. Camping. Which some people thought was nuts, but honestly the only issue was perhaps how I slept at night… which I don’t think had much to do with the camper, as I wasn’t sleeping well at home anyway so may have been much of a much-ness!
So, the reluctant heavily pregnant camper, said yes I will go camping for two weeks but I’m not doing much! And I didn’t. Matt can set up the camper solo in 10-15 minutes, I cooked, as always, but I like cooking. We did a fair bit of driving (Matt) and me resting as passenger. So it worked well. The only time I felt extremely pregnant was when we tackled the four wheel drive through the epic sand dunes just outside Port Lincoln…
It was much bigger, more impressive, softer and awesome than we were anticipating! The sheer size of the dunes was amazing, and some soft tricky spots where we came unstuck a few times. But not as unstuck as poor old mate who rolled his Hilux, which Matt spent a few hours assisting while I entertained restless, hungry, bored children in the car.
The coastline scenery was seriously impressive – those wild oceans, full of great white’s we were told too, no surfing for me thanks very much! The track bumps and winds it’s way through the dunes and rocky cliffs eventually making our way back out to the national park main thoroughfare road. We had earlier that day found our pre-booked campsite at September Beach, in the northern peninsula of the park, where we had dropped Tilly. Thankfully! There’s no way we could have pulled her over those dunes. Well, we could have, but it would have been a lot of work and probably a very stop-start not much fun of a day. Or a lot of fun… depending how these crazy four-wheel-driving dudes looked at it.
The next morning we again left Tilly to explore the northern half of the Lincoln National Park, a lot more lovely beaches, alcoves, another lighthouse and camping spots duly noted for next time.
After more fish and chips in Port Lincoln and a nose around the marina with all of the fishing boats, we headed towards Coffin Bay, where we had another campsite booked at Black Springs. Another bumpy, winding 4WD track in, not far though, to find our campsite right on the beach again. This time though unfortunately the native bees (which we had seen several signs about) had descended – they were thick! We retreated to the beach for a makeshift sausages dinner using our little gas stove, as the bees were just swarming around the camper’s kitchen where the water was. The next morning they had thankfully disappeared and we trundled back into town, through rain… and promptly got bogged in some sand, just a misjudgement by Matt with not enough momentum, not even very impressive! Some digging, maxtrax, more digging and digging and tyre pressure lowering, and digging, and we were off again.
We turned north, up the west side of the Eyre Peninsula now, bidding farewell to the glorious Lincoln and Coffin Bay National Parks at it’s southern tip, and vowing to be back! Our destination was roughly around Elliston somewhere, meandering through some more cropping country, dunes and salt pan lakes. The Elliston caravan park was home for the night, on the eve of my 33rd birthday – showers all round, we fancy! Coffee and finger buns care of the cute Elliston bakery the next morning before exploring the historic jetty and further along the coast some caves and blowholes in the craggy cliffs.
My birthday on the road was uneventful to say the least – a day of driving! Across the breadth of the top of the Eyre Peninsula, inland and turning our nose back to where we had come from – Port Augusta and homeward bound. Originally when planning this trip Matt had wanted to get to Ceduna and do Googs Track, further afield and a bit too remote for this heavily pregnant one! Next time, always next time…
We had wanted to camp at Mount Remarkable National Park on our journey across a week earlier but our plans hadn’t married up, we’d heard it was lovely camping though so aimed for there, once again skipping through ‘the big smoke’ of Port Augusta. Mount Remarkable campground didn’t disappoint, gorgeous big old gums on a dry creek bed, the girls got to exploring tree hollows and collecting rounded river pebbles. And there were hot showers! Two hot showers in two days, Matt said that was my birthday present…
We were on a bit of a deadline to get to Adelaide the next morning, as Matt had organised to meet with the company who were doing some new printing of potato bags for us (of course he was still working!) South to Adelaide we went, where I got to meet up with my Insta-bestie Elli and Savannah, who is Eleanor’s age. So great to actually see people in real life rather than through a little screen! The weather in Adelaide, and as we headed further south, wasn’t too agreeable though, we spent a rainy night on the Coorong, back in our old stomping ground where we used to live on the Limestone Coast once upon a time.
Funnily enough though, despite our time living in South Australia during 2013-14 I had never driven from Mount Gambier to Melbourne, via the Great Ocean Road. I know, I know. We wanted to rectify this on this trip, so from ‘The Mount’ we headed due east to Nelson and the Lower Glenelg National Park. We had heard this was a lovely, big wide river, famous for canoe trips. The weather hadn’t improved unfortunately but we found (another pre-booked) campsite right on the river with a little jetty – the rain set in but we attempted a fire anyway. We were the only ones at this campsite, perfect, with possums and wallabies galore which the girls loved, and a rather rambunctious grunting and roaring koala across the river (which the girls, well Eleanor, didn’t love!)
A cooked breakfast in our lovely riverside camp, despite the rain, and we went exploring further east – to Portland (Matt impressed by the timber industry and where the sheep are exported), Warrnambool and then along the Great Ocean Road – wild and windy as it was!
Ludicrous as it sounds, I have lived 98% of my life in Victoria… and never been past Geelong on the coast. I know, I know. I don’t know what rock I’ve been living under, but now I can tick the twelve apostles etc. etc. etc. off the bucket list. We got to most of the coastal attractions at 6pm though – crazy Steendam time as usual, freezing cold and blowing a gale. And yet we couldn’t believe how many people were still there! Very glad we didn’t come at midday on a Saturday…
Given the less than ideal weather conditions, and the heavily pregnant slightly disgruntled wife with the whole camping in the rain situation, we opted for pizza dinner at a little pub and then found the nearest free camp to simply roll out the girls swags and sleep for the night before rolling into Apollo Bay for a belated birthday breakfast. All holiday every day Eleanor asked whether we were a) going to a cafe and b) going to a caravan park. Ha! Maybe Eleanor and I will just cut our losses and go to Noosa next year.
But, honestly, we had a great time away just as the four of us – before there is another little person in Tilly! Crazy to think, but it’s a’coming. The time away served exactly the purpose we intended: a little break away before the goal posts get well and truly shifted on us again, before Eleanor starts school, before another busy spud season descends upon us, before a lot of things. We did what we do best: explored together through some pretty amazing places in Australia, we are so lucky to be able to experience these places, and I hope the girls one day appreciate these trips and time spent together, rainy, windy campsites and everything! Because one thing is for sure, as these girls grow I know these trips will be some of our favourite memories as a family – just us on the road, throwing snacks and toys into the backseat and listening to far too many Wiggles songs and games of Uno around campfires and all tucked into a little camper trailer named Tilly.
Good times, good times.