Byron Bay to Melbourne – The Disastrous Drive Home

That’s all she wrote, or at least it should have been.

We woke to our last morning of our NSW East Coast trip and I dropped off Amanda and the kids at Ballina airport to make their flight home. I on the other hand had the long drive back to Melbourne with the Millennium Flamingo Camper in tow.

The plan was simple, drive to Nelson Bay / Newcastle area and free camp a night before heading back to Melbourne via a stop off in Benalla. I had banked up my favorite podcasts and penciled in a couple of stops along the way to stretch my legs, so it was at 10am I left Ballina for the highway.

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One of the many antiques shops in Ulmarra

First stop was in the town of Ulmarra, where passing through on our way up I noticed half the town comprised of antique shops. Now I am not one for shopping, if ever I need anything I make the exception and get in and get out as quick as possible. Not the case with antique shops though. If I could, I would quite happily spend the whole day treasure hunting.  Alas I could not spend too much time, just enough to pick up a stack of classic records. Seriously though it’s worth a stop in Ulmarra if this is your cup of tea!

Onwards until about 6pm, leaving me about 1.5 hours until sunset to find a campsite. I parked just outside a packed caravan park and opened up an app that showed free camping in your area. Bingo! Karuah National Park apparently has a creek side campsite that is accessible in summer for 2WD and caravans. It was February and we’ve had bugger all rain, so into the national park I went.

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Narrow, but still smooth and dry!

Onto the first dirt road, which was dry, wide and smooth, so wonderful, things are looking up. Onto the next road, hmmm this is quite narrow, but still dry, so onwards! Splash! Interesting, a puddle, oh well it’s not that big. SplASH! Oh, that one was bigger. At this point, I stopped and considered my options. I was almost at the campsite and I could not easily turn around on the narrow road so I decided to go on, but only to turn right back around and get out of there in case it rained overnight making things worse. That was until SPLASH!!

This puddle took up all the road and I tried to skirt the perimeter going half into the bush, but my back wheels with the weight of the camper slipped and settled into the middle of the quagmire. I was stuck and I had about 30 minutes of daylight left. I was furious, with myself, but overcome my embarrassment and quickly rang NRMA to organise someone to come and get me. But, I was in a national park and they don’t cover national parks.

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Bugger! 

So there I was stuck in the bush in the dark. Amanda, now at home in Melbourne, took up the task of finding a tow company that could come out and rescue me from the muck. In the meantime, I took it upon myself to try and dig my way out and at least get the car unstuck.

By the time Amanda called and said she thought she had found someone, over three hours had passed. I had been digging the whole time with the tiniest of garden spades (at best it was a glorified spoon), and was now covered head to toe in sticky clay mud. Oh and did I mention I had no shoes on…these were all in the camper and my thongs lasted 3 seconds in the sticky clay. However, I did manage to clear all the mud from direct contact to the car’s undercarriage and the same for the camper.

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Hmm, nope! The situation looks just as bad from this side. 

Thankfully, Amanda did have success and an outback rescue guy was on his way. It took him an hour to arrive, so I spent my time coming down from a massive adrenaline rush, which culminated into an almost panic attack as my predicament finally dawned on me. Luckily, this passed quickly, so by the time I saw headlights coming closer I was ready for action again.

I knew I was out the moment I saw the rescue beast. A Landcruiser kitted out with every off-road accessory you could dream of, it was like something out of Mad Max. After chatting with the Peter (my hero) and sharing a chuckle we got to it, first pulling my car out of the muck, leaving only the camper to go. Where my car was stuck, his had no such issues. He backed into the mud, hitched up the camper and simply reversed it out, leaving me with some serious car envy.

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Oh so close to the campground!

We managed to reverse the caravan into an opening in the trees about 100 metres back from where I was stuck and he towed it the rest of the way back to the main road. I had a ball driving behind him, slipping and sliding through the puddles that had earlier gave me pause. So he went on his way and the Millennium Flamingo and I were back together again on solid ground. It was now past midnight.

Too jacked up on adrenaline still, I had no need for sleep so I hit the highway again, stopping only at the first Maccas to wash up as best I could in the disabled toilets. After filling the sink with mud I almost walked out until I noticed the remnants of mud that remained looked ominously like something that was not mud, remember I am in a toilet. I quickly washed out the sink and hit the road again. The plan now was to get to Sydney and have a proper shower at the first site we camped at in Lane Cove, I only hoped that the code for the shower block had not been changed.

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Nothing to see here folks, just a bearded man covered in mud, carrying clothes to a disabled toilet very late on a Saturday night.

Again, my plan was thwarted, as a dozen backpackers had the same idea as I and had taken up all the possible parks near the outside of the caravan park. Resigned to my fate I could only chuckle as I wound my way out of Sydney and back onto the freeway heading South. I traveled on until I needed fuel, which I pushed until only fumes were left in the tank. Turns out there are no road stops for about 100kms after Sydney. Luckily, one popped up at the opportune moment at Pheasant Nest and to my now bedazzle and delirious eyes I immediately saw out the back of the road stop a wide area for free camping. I immediately pulled in and setup before hitting the hay, still covered in mud. It was 4:30am.

6:30am the trucks started rolling in, but the two hours’ sleep felt like much longer, such was its depths. Thankfully, the rest of the trip was uneventful, except for my stop at Benalla, where I stopped at the in-laws for a long hot shower. I was finally home to Melbourne where the embarrassment of the ordeal had abated and already I was seeing the lighter side of this memorable return trip home.

 

Be sure to head back and check any of our more recent adventures, but most importantly those associated with this trip starting with Our Maiden Camper Road Trip, followed by Nelson Bay, Port MacquarieCoffs Harbour and Byron Bay.

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

 

 

 

Byron Bay – Our Final Stop

I’m such a fool. I am writing this after the fact, as I’ve just realised I never completed the write up of our NSW East Coast trip from February 2018. This was the penultimate destination of our 2 week long road trip, so be sure to head to the links below to check out the other places we stayed along the way. Or for those just looking to read about Byron Bay then thanks in advance for stopping by and reading up on our few days staying in this brilliant part of the world.

We arrived quite late in the day to the quaint little caravan park that is Byron Bay Holiday Park. We set up quickly then we went for a stroll spying the chook pen and swimming pool before heading into town for fish’n’chips on the main beach foreshore. The kids were the entertainment of everyone there as they chased the seagulls around, so they didn’t steal anyone’s chips. With the sun setting over the mountains across the beach to the west our first impression of Byron was, as expected, quite spectacular. I could not help but notice the multitudes of young backpackers kicking around though, I sound like such an old man saying that, but they were everywhere. This however, only added to the great vibe that is Byron Bay.

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No seagulls were harmed in the eating of the fish and chips

The next morning was the Byron Bay Market and I am never one to miss a market! Of course there was a multitude of fresh food of all kinds and all things organic, as is the Byron Bay way. By happenstance this was a bigger turnout than usual as it was celebrating a milestone birthday (I can’t remember how old), but this meant more stalls than normal and a visit from my the kids favorite ABC TV character Dirt Girl. As someone who loves the outdoors and gardening I admit I was a complete fanboy whilst the kids couldn’t have cared less and just wanted to get out of the heat. We did not buy anything from the market, instead we just enjoyed the festivities with jugglers on stilts, folk musicians, watching the the hundreds of bats flying overhead and hanging with our mates from Melbourne who were also in Byron for the day.

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I’m not gushing, you are! Shuddup!

It was super hot and thankfully we were able to leave our car on the oval where the market was, so we went straight to the main beach in town and for a swim. Amanda and I were not dressed for the water, so after a quick splash the kids spent their energy on the playground just off the main beach. Fletch was determined to master his surfing skills as Immy went after those pesky gulls trying to save everyone’s lunch. Speaking of lunch, we hit up Miss Margarita in town for some quality Mexican, only after buying ourselves matching straw hats to keep the sun out…such tourists!

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Nothing like matching hats and a family selfie to say ‘we’re not from around here!’

That afternoon we trekked from the caravan park across Tallow Creek to Tallow beach for a proper swim. Only this time none of us got into the water, rather we turned back dodging bluebottle jellys that had been washed up on the beach.

What was going to be an uneventful BBQ dinner at the caravan park turned out to be quite interesting with an unexpected visitor. A friendly kookaburra perched itself on a post near the BBQ, obviously looking for a meal to steal, so I went and grabbed the kids to come and see before it nabbed a sausage and buggered off. Still perched on his post he sat calmly as we got close and even let Immy and I pat him like a legend!

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Oh Ho how we all laughed!?

Later that night Amanda and I were lucky to survive the onslaught of mozzies that came out of know-where to ravage any exposed skin! Not to mention the orb spider as big as my hand with its web spanning the road just in front of our camper!

Our final day of the trip we decided the get the touristing done early before it go to hot and so we could relax and enjoy the final afternoon. However, the evening before we got talking to one of the caretakers and he told the kids to find him in the morning, so they could help look for eggs and so before we could go anywhere it was off to the chooks. Alas, no eggs.

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Some chooks and my Little Chicken

Byron Bay Lighthouse was the main adventure for the day making our way to the most easterly point of mainland Australia. After ticking that box, we trudged down the many many many stairs of the Lighthouse Trail. The views were amazing looking back into the town and out to the various inlets and rocky outcrops and the kids did great walking down all the many, many stairs, allowing us to enjoy it even seeing a water dragon just off the path. However, I could not help but think what goes down must come back up. As I may have mentioned there were many stairs and of course, upon the return trip the kid’s legs stopped working. Upon reflection, I’d say fair call, they had walked a lot, but at the time our legs and backs complained all the way back as we juggled the kids.

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A view like this makes carrying kids up stairs worth it!

Nothing a swim at the main beach couldn’t fix, so that’s where we headed. Only to find Amanda did not think to wear or pack bathers [facepalm]. So, whilst she walked to the shops to buy some, the kids and I enjoyed the warm, clear water and building sandcastles. By the time Amanda returned bikini clad I was buried up to my chin in mud and was glad for the reprieve, so I could swim out to the deeper cooler waters to clean off. As I made my way out I noticed all the fish swimming around the shallows, some bigger than a foot in length.

After the beach the kids had not swam enough, so we spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool chatting with some locals and letting the kids play with some newfound friends.

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Even better buddies by the end of our trip.

We spent a quiet evening together enjoying each other’s company and reminiscing on our first big adventure away in the Millennium Flamingo. It was an amazing trip and I can honestly say it brought us closer together as a family. I seriously questioned what we were thinking travelling like this with a 2 and 4 year old in tow, but it brought out the best in them and by association us as parents. We got so many compliments from the grey nomads we camped with saying how great it is to see a young family out seeing Australia in that way.

The adventure was due to stop there, but stay tuned for the next installment as I recount the disastrous drive home!

Also be sure to head back and check any of our more recent adventures, but most importantly those associated with this trip starting with Our Maiden Camper Road Trip, followed by Nelson Bay, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Lakes Entrance & Surrounds

Ahead of our trip to Lakes Entrance we referred to a lot of forums about travelling the Great Alpine Road over Mt Hotham with the Millennium Flamingo (Jayco Flamingo). Most of the posts were absolutely against taking a caravan or even camper trailer, but we decided to give it a go anyway. Turns out is was easy for our Nissan Pathfinder to pull the Millennium Flamingo over the ranges and we got to experience one of the most spectacular drives I have ever undertaken! The road between Harrietville and Mt Hotham was steep and winding in parts, but nothing extreme. Slowing down for the many corners allows you to take in the amazing views all around as you head up the mountain.

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Danny’s Lookout Mt Hotham

After leaving Mt Hotham, we thought we may have passed the best of the scenery, but oh, how we were wrong. The rest of the drive is surprisingly flat and once reaching the point where the road follows the Tambo River the scenery goes to the next level. I had never heard of this drive before and it should be up there with the Great Ocean Road as a must for travelers. We have already decided to make a week long trip of the Great Alpine Road, but this is about Lakes Entrance so moving on.

We arrived at the Big4 Waters Edge and were presented with the smallest caravan site we have come across yet. Thankfully, there was an absolute legend of a bloke camping a couple of sites up who expertly navigated me into the site. Once I had finally set up the camper and was ready to settle down for my first beer, Amanda arrived back from getting dinner and said we were moving tomorrow! She had taken it upon herself to negotiate a new site with management after seeing our tiny site and that it was squashed up against the most foul mouthed family next door. Now I know not to challenge Amanda when she gets her back up and thankfully management was savvy enough not to either and we moved to a bigger site in a better neighbourhood the next morning.

From the gloomy shoebox on the left to sunny wide open site on the right

Therefore, day one was about exploring Lakes Entrance and with the BIG4 located in town, we had the freedom to do this on foot. Before moving sites, we headed across the foot bridge to the main beach, which was great except for the water. On the plus side, the beach was broad and covered in shells and sea treasures, enough to satisfy any nature collector (ie. Fletch and Immy), but the waves were breaking right at the shoreline, so no chance of any wading or splashing in the water for the kids. After the beach, we walked up and down town, with Amanda finding bargains in the Op Shop (as she always does) and me finding a great milkshake shack made from delicious Gippsland Jersey milk!

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Quality Gippsland Jersey Shakes

It was the caravan park though that the kids were more excited about, so they could find their new buddies and luckily across from our new site was a couple of young lads of similar age to befriend. Fletch and Immy along with their new mates were inseparable and thankfully their parents were great to get along with too!

Day two we went to explore Metung, but first was a relaxing morning as the kids and their mates run a muck riding bikes and scooters around the park. Once getting to Metung we found a great playground in the middle of town with a water play area. We had a picnic lunch whilst the kids played in the water and then in the nature inspired play ground. The town itself had little to offer in the way of shops and cafes, but the walks on either side along the waterfronts were worth going there. On one side, we walked along the rocky beach looking for natures treasures and on the other we walked along the wharf’s boardwalk admiring the boats and swarms of jellyfish in the water.

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Metung Monkeys and Wharf Piggybacks

After a quick drink at the Metung Hotel, we ventured back to the caravan park to once again relax and let the kids play with their new friends. By this stage, we had also befriended the campers on the other side of us and I immediately thanked Amanda for being her sensible self and getting management to move us to our much friendlier area.

The next day was all about the caves, Buchan Caves to be exact. Amanda and I were excited to see them and only hoped the kids didn’t need a toilet break half way through. We needn’t have worried as the kids were as mesmerised as we were, to the point where even Immy at 3 years old walked the whole of the Royal Caves and 90% of the Fairy Caves all the while agog at the amazing ancient formations. It was great to see their minds running in overdrive as their eyes were wide with amazement.  I am struggling to find the words to describe the two caves we toured, so instead I will leave it to the following select photos to show.

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Fun Fact: The Stalactites grow 1cm every 100 years

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Royal Cave’s dragon head formation

One thing I can articulate is that the tour guides were fantastic, especially making sure the kids were able to see and experience the caves to their full potential, which makes it even better for mum and dad! The Fairy Cave in particular had the kids spell bound thanks to the guide spinning yarns about fairies, even pointing out Tinkerbell who often helps him find his way out of the caves. I had both kids next to me staring in amazement and whispering with joy at seeing a real Fairy standing amongst the magic sparkling fairy dust rock formations. This all to the amusement to the rest of the tour, who melted at how cute our kids were being!

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Lore has it Tinkerbell cast a spell so no clear photo can be taken!

The drive to Buchan was about 40 minutes from Lakes Entrance so we stopped at the local pub, recently rebuilt and reopened after a fire. The place is beautiful and the food delicious, a great spot to eat if you’re in the area, but there is little else in town to occupy the tourist, so it was back to the caravan park for some socialising.

Our last few days where spent relaxing around Lakes Entrance. Our time was split between a few games of mini golf (there is three to choose from in town), an expensive paddle boat ride on the lake, more milkshakes and of course hanging about the caravan park chatting with our neighbours and letting the kids loose on their bikes. We did venture out once more to Lake Tyers Beach on our last and only true beach worthy day.

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Lakes Entrance Paddle Boats $25 per boat, but lots of fun.

On that day, we parked at the Waterwheel Beach Tavern and it was a five minute walk to the beach through the low tide lake and the sprawling sand dunes. The water again was a bit rough for a proper splash in the sea, but calm enough for the kids to get wet and enjoy it to about knee deep. The beach itself was covered in shells and Immy was extra keen to find shells to make necklaces. The previous day our neighbour’s daughters had started a ‘shell jewellery gang’ and gave a necklace to Immy, so now she wanted to join the gang! We had dinner that evening at the Tavern, the best meal of our trip, looking over the lake and the sand dunes and listening to the waves.

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Lake Tyers Beach was stunning!

Lakes Entrance could do with a couple of nice bars and/or restaurants as we had to go out of town for a decent meal (Buchan and Lake Tyers). Otherwise we found the place a great spot to take the kids and were relieved in the end that we moved sites as we come away with friends as well as wonderful experiences.

P.S. Lakes Entrance and the surrounding areas had the cleanest beaches I have seen for a while. I did not have to pick up one bit of rubbish for the whole trip!!

 

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Park Play, a Pub and Plodding through the Past

A very lazy day planned for today started with Immy climbing out of bed, walking straight out the door insisting that she has to go and visit her new friend that she and Fletch played with yesterday. Thankfully, we convinced her and Fletch to wait until they had eaten and got dressed before heading to the other side of the caravan park to find their little mate. Little did we know at that same early time that this mate (also named Fletcher) woke and said to his mum “ok I need to go find my new friends Fletcher and Immy now.”

The rest of the morning was spent hanging around and enjoying the caravan park. The kids were off with the other Fletcher and his siblings, whilst Amanda and I kicked back and relaxed. There was a bit of rain overnight, so I was not surprised to see them come back with clothes soaked through from splashing in muddy puddles. They demanded we dry them up quickly as they had to get to the indoor play area to meet their friends, and it is here I met their parents and discovered we could have let them all meet at 6:30 this morning and have a sleep in ourselves.

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Already a better putter than me!

We played a spot of mini golf next door to the Big4, which usually costs to play, but the owner let the kids have a casual hit thinking they would get over it quickly. This was the case with Immy, but Fletch was determined to get a hole in one on as many of the holes as he could. After the golf was the jumping pillow again. Immy has impressed us with how brave she has become with being in and around the bigger kids. Previously Amanda or I would have to hold her, as she demanded that we bounced for her, but now she flies up, being bumped and bounced by the bigger kids without even flinching. Just as it got to full capacity with kids, the heavens opened and it began to pour with rain. All the kids scattered off, back to their respective campsites, with the exception of our two who seemed reinvigorated by the rain and having the pillow to themselves. Eventually the rain got so heavy they could not get back up to the top with the water flowing down making it to slippery to do so.

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More like a Slip’n’Slide than a Jumping Pillow!

Thankfully, the weather turned for the best and we went into town and enjoyed a warm and pleasant afternoon. We walked around town admiring the historic buildings all with a plaque stating the year of construction and what it was originally built for. We went back to the record and bookshop and I decided not to buy the record player as I think it had since been glorified in my dreams. From there we walked along the boardwalk at the wharf looking at the sailboats and fishing trawlers. It is quite a nice spot and would benefit from more cafes or bars along the river for people to stop and enjoy the scenery.

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Port Fairy Wharf Boardwalk

The next stop was one I had locked in before we even left home and that was to have a beer at the oldest licensed pub in Victoria, The Calendonian Hotel. It has been kept mostly in its original state from the outside, still a simple single story building with white wash walls with a couple of tables outside, so it was not hard to imagine folks rocking up on horseback for a couple of drinks back in the mid 1800s. It helped that Immy was fast asleep and that Fletch had a new puzzle to complete, so that Amanda and I could relax and ponder not if, but how many times her Poppa Tommy would have drank there as a young bloke growing up in Port Fairy.

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A brew or two at ye olde Caledonian

After that, the adventuring was done, but the holidaying continued. As we drove back into the caravan park we passed the kid’s new friends as they left making me feel a little guilty about having that second beer, so that they were not able to say a proper goodbye. Fletch being a trooper says “don’t worry I’ll just go off again and find a new friend.” Sure enough for the rest of the afternoon we found him talking with other kids and playing with them. In the evening, we kicked the footy around and had another play on the jumping pillow before bed.

So not a lot of adventuring today, but a great day none-the-less as we relaxed and enjoyed seeing the kids mingle and play with other caravan park kids. Obviously, this too enabled Amanda and I to chill out and even have a cuppa and read our books in peace. The Big4 here in Port Fairy is a ripper for kids, small enough to let them loose with confidence and plenty of things to do for all ages. As someone who loves history Port Fairy is a mecca of historic buildings and rich in aboriginal history throughout the surrounding area. However, the history that struck us most was finding Amanda’s Poppa’s home, where he was born and grew up, still standing and one of the heritage listing buildings.

This was the final post covering our adventure to Port Fairy, so be sure to head back and check out Part One: Foul Weather, Family Heritage and Footing it Through a Volcano and Part Two: Lady Island Lookout, Lighthouse and a Lava Flow Beach to get the full story of our getaway.

 

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Getaway with the Grand Parents – The Reef and a Roadtrip

Day four (Tuesday) of our holiday in Port Douglas and Amanda and I went out scuba diving on the Agincourt Reef with Calypso Reef Cruises, leaving the kids behind with Nonna and Grandpa for the day. Amanda and I have dived before, including once already with Calypso, but this time it was only a few of us intro divers, which made it more personable. In the middle of the safety briefing, also mid-way to the outer reef, we stopped for a bit of whale watching as some humpbacks made their way across the front of the boat. Pretty exciting even if they were a distance away, but it was the first time I’ve seen whales and when they flicked up their tails I was even more pumped for a day of swimming and diving.

sdrCalypso Reef Cruises

The first dive, I have to admit, is always a bit stressful until I’m in the water. It took me a few breaths underwater to cool the nerves before I could do the prerequisite tests. On this dive, I couldn’t take my camera, which was a bummer as we came across a sea turtle which we swam with for a while as it went from coral to coral looking for food. There was also a lot of colour in this section of the reef with as fish as far as the eye could see. I’ve always wanted to swim with sea turtles so it didn’t matter what happened after this dive as this alone made the trip worthwhile.

IMG_2176_editedWally the puppy of the reef

On the second stop we snorkeled and this gave us another highlight to add to the turtle, which was getting to pat and swim with Wally. Wally is a wrasse that lives in that part of the reef and is as big as our 5 year old Fletcher. It surprised us when the photographer signalled for him to come over with a wave of her hand and for him to obey. He was so awesome just going from group to group for a pat. On this stop, whilst the fish and sea life were amazing, it was evident that the bleaching of the coral has seriously affected the reef. Our previous trip to the outer reef was only 4 years ago and there was a significant difference with the level of bleaching and lack of colour. The crew of Calypso reassure me that it is now starting to regenerate again, which is a promising sign.

DCIM100GOPROGreat Barrier Reef

On the third and last stop we scuba dived again and unfortunately it was a bit lack lustre. Whilst you don’t get a lot of colour down that far, we had next to none as it was overcast and probably due to the bleaching too. There were very few fish, which was the first time I had been to a section that didn’t have a lot of activity. It was still exhilarating, Amanda and I love diving and we have done multiple diving trips now. Our experience must be starting to show with the feedback we got from the master divers and consequently we were able to stay down for over 30 minutes each time, when most only get about 20 minutes diving time.

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A couple of beers and some travel stories with some of the other people on the cruise and we were back at Port Douglas in no time. As we approached the marina Mum had messaged saying they will meet us at the marina with the kids and we were able to wave to them from the boat. The kids loved seeing us out on the water on the boat and made their way down the pier to where we were coming to dock. We stayed at the marina to enjoy some drinks at Hemingway’s Brewery and recounted our respective day (side note: one of the best porters I’ve ever had and I’ve had a few).

We left Mum and Dad there to dine out by themselves and get a break from the kids, while we went back to enjoy a quiet night at our townhouse.

sdrMount Alexandra Lookout

Wednesday, day five, had rolled around way too quick, so to make the most of it we rose early. However, in reality this was thanks to Fletch again wanting to go straight to No. 6 townhouse to wake Nonna and Grandpa. He loved the independence and freedom to do so and of course the fact that his grandparents are only a couple of doors down.

We did need to rise early though to hit the road up to Cape Tribulation. We had no real plans other than to stop where we liked and to get to Cape Tribulation for lunch. We drove straight through to the ferry, which in itself was a highlight for the kids. They jumped out of their car seats and climbed around the van to get the best view of the ferry and the river crossing.

Marrdja Boardwalk

On the other side our first stop was at the Mount Alexandra Lookout, which was a little busy so we didn’t stay long. We next stopped at Marrdja Boardwalk, a short walk through the mangroves. The kids loved the chance to stretch their legs and run around the boardwalk above the mangrove roots. We got to watch an army of ‘green bum ants,’ as coined by the kids, and them making a webbed nest out of leaves in the tree.

Noah’s Beach all to ourselves

A mate from work gave me a tip to stop at a beach near Noah’s Camping grounds and we may see a crocodile on the beach sunning itself. So we did this and although there were no crocs there were also no other people. We had the whole beach to ourselves and Fletch ran wild up and down the beach from Amanda to me to Nonna and Grandpa. Immy on the other hand was preoccupied drawing in the sand. Noah’s Beach is very beautiful with one end of the beach cut off by a large cliff and at its base is a little estuary leading to a creek into the forest. The water was very clear, but we still didn’t go into the water, it was just great to admire the scene.

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The kids were tired after the beach so we went straight on to Cape Tribulation and stopped at PK’s Jungle Bar/Pub for lunch. Once fed, the kids sparked up and we made our way to Cape Tribulation Beach. The tide was still out and there was a couple of sand banks, which of course Fletch wanted to venture out as far as possible. He and I made our way out to the farthest sand bank, whilst Immy chased the fish in the shallows. There were mud skippers amongst the rock pools, which the kids found hilarious. Immy and I later explored the mangroves, weaving and crawling our way through the roots.

cofFletch, Jack and Immy (post ice creams)

On the way home we made just the one stop at the Daintree Ice Cream Company and enjoyed the seasons fresh flavours, wattleseed, soapsop, daveys plum, coconut and passionfruit. We walked around the fruit trees and the kids were fascinated with the Jack fruit tree that was one of the only ones in fruit. Immy had a little sleep on Amanda, but was very happy to wake up for some ice cream!

IMG_2189_editedFish’n Chips on the Beach

Fish and chips on the beach for dinner from Dave’s Takeaway. The shop was great with them taking a photo of all the Daves that come into the shop from around the world displaying the hundreds of them on the wall. The kids spent a lot of time splashing around the warm lapping water as the sun set behind them.

This is part two of three of posts covering our adventure to Port Douglas, so be sure to head back and check out Part One (Markets and Mossman) and stay tuned for Part Three (A Round, Reptiles and the Rails) to get the full story of our holiday.

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Why do WE Adventure

My wife Amanda and I have always been the adventuring type, through our twenties exploring various parts of the world, trying to cram as much as we could into every year before we decided to start having kids. Not that we thought kids would put a stop to this, but prioritising places we thought we wouldn’t like to take young kids. In our minds’ the perfect trip is to go to new places and see and experience as much as we can, often pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone.

I’ve always categorised getaways into either holidays or travels. A holiday being a relaxing trip that is usually to a single destination where you can recharge the batteries by doing almost nothing (this includes even just staying at home). Then there is travelling where your trip takes you from place to place with the aim to take in as much new sights/sounds/tastes/etc in the time you have away. It is obvious to us that we are definitely the traveling type more than the holidaying type.

Growing up my family went on the quintessential yearly road trips more often than not to the same destination. In addition, my friends from school would often end up at these destinations too, which at the time was great, but in hindsight probably lead me into the travelling mind frame I have now. Don’t get me wrong though I loved those family holidays, we always did awesome stuff and I have great memories associated with those trips, but I have this obsession now with seeing as much of our world as possible rather than visiting the places more than once.

Most important now for us as parents is to expose our two kids to the world, starting with our own backyard taking them to all the cool places around Victoria and Australia. We recently bought a secondhand Jayco Flamingo Camper Trailer that will allow us to escape more regularly and to show the kids a more basic way of living, which is an awesome experience in itself not only for them but for us too!

In short adventuring is about making the most of your time off work, it is about learning new things from the place you go and the people you meet. It’s about educating ourselves and our kids about the real world, not just the one we create in our little bubble and getting back to nature and the basics to get perspective in our day to day life. It’s about bringing us closer as a family as together we experience all the amazing things this world has to offer. It’s about real life problem solving and working together to find a resolution to a unique issue that is completely outside of anything we would have to deal with in normal life. In all though it’s mostly about how happy and free we all feel when we are adventuring together, which is one of the greatest feelings in life!

The Adventures of Duth

My wife and I have lived in Lilydale for around 8 or 9 years now and although we live on the doorstep of the Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs we rarely ventured out to explore either region until recent years. Pre-kids we were catching up with friends mostly and central meeting point was always around the CBD. Now that we have kids our eyes have been opened to the adventure filled backyard we’ve been living in all along.

When our first came along, little Fletch who is now  almost four years old, we decided to keep our outings close to home rather than risk the long harrowing trip to the city with a baby. Somehow the CBD went from being an accessible 45 minutes to an excruciating hours long trip. As new time parents it hardly seemed worth it when we got there, especially as most of our friends at the time had no kids of their own. So it was time to see what the Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs had to offer.

I have always been an obsessed Instagrammer, my social media outlet of choice, so I decided to create the tag #adventuresofduth so we could follow where we had visited and look back at the kid (now kids) over this time. It is now coming up to four years since the first post, our boy Fletch was only a couple of weeks old and we had to leave our safety net of home to travel to Sorrento for a wedding. Since then our adventures have taken us around various areas of Victoria, but mostly around the Yarra Valley where there is still so much to explore.

At this point I’m not sure what this blog is going to be, it’s likely to be a mix of babble about our little adventures and my experiences of fatherhood, but I hope it can be a place where people can check in to find spots for themselves to visit within Victoria and especially the Yarra Valley and maybe have a giggle along the way about my family life.

At the bones of it the driving factor is more than just sharing the places we visit, the plan is to go into more detail on the Instagram pics I have already taken mixed with those we visit in the future. I have a pretty bad memory so I’m hoping to capture these moments in more than just a pic before I forget even where or when they were taken.

I look forward to looking back over the past number of years  and sharing our ongoing Adventures of Duth.

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie