I got back to Alice yesterday after 10 days away. It’s good to be back to the beauty and peacefulness of Alice (Sydney is so full on for me) but I do have that flat feeling one gets when faced with ordinary life after a lovely time away.
The first half of our holiday was spent driving to Sydney. Our first night we camped on a river bed just out of Finke. We had planned to get further, to a place called Dalhousie Springs, but some pretty full on roads and a flat tyre sure slowed us down. It was a lovely spot though and Nina loved setting up the tent and the fire even if it was a bit dark and windy.
The second day we made it to Dalhousie Springs. Dalhousie Springs are some hot springs in the middle of the desert. Apparently, the biggest in Australia. It wasn’t that cold when we got there but the hot water was soothing none the less, especially to Martin who had a pretty bad headache, and the deep blue was impressive. From there we went on to Oodnadatta, “the driest town, in the driest state, on the driest continent”. I wouldn’t say it was an easy place to be in but it had a park which is always helpful for Nina and we found a camp site under some intensely red, undulating sand hills and she also got a lot of joy running up and down them.
After morning coffee at Oodnadatta’s famous bright pink roadhouse we travelled down the Oodnaatta track, along the route of the old ghan, stopping a various ruins of the train line and what used to be towns on the route. The bridges sure were impressive and the history fascinating. The ghan is actually short for Afghan, named after the Afghani cameleers who were in Central Australia in the 1800′s. While, I find the scenery of the orange, brown desert that just goes on and on forever a little unnerving at times it sure clears the head. The absolute lack of stimulation starts to allow the still, small voice spirit to be heard and I think both Martin and I heard some things we found encouraging. We were also blessed with some amazing wildlife. Mostly emus and some huge eagles. We got another flat though which was a bit stressful as we were now travelling with no spares but we made it safely to Maree that night and stayed in a grand, old, outback hotel. Marree also had a park and some ruins of an old mosque used by the Afghani migrants. Sure felt good to get another tyre and have a shower.
Day four it was nice to be off the dirt roads and travelling a bit smoother. We also moved from desert scenery to the mountain scenery of the flinders ranges. I love the flinders and their soft lighting. It always feels like dusk to me. The endless green was also in sharp contrast to the bright orange and brown of central Australia. We found a beautiful picnic spot. I do hope one day I can spend some more time there. We made it to Broken Hill by evening an got ourselves a little spa cabin which we enjoyed soaking in.
Day five was pretty full on day of driving through outback NSW. Martin was reading me readings from his masters all about biodynamic agriculture. It was actually really interesting so I am glad we had that to keep us entertained. We stopped at Wilcannina for morning tea and a play in yet anotehr park and stupidly left a bag on the road. We didn’t know this until we pulled into Cobar, about 2.5 hours away and received a whole lot of messages from the Wilcannina police station. A lovely man had handed in our bag and they managed to find our number on some papers in the bag. It seemed the spirit was still with us and we felt very much like we were being looked after. It did mean Martin had to drive back while Nina and I played in the park in Cobar. We sure were getting to know many Outack parks. The aboriginal liaison officer at the police station generously offered to drive halfway so Martin didn’t have to spend the full five hours driving there and back. People can be really generous. So we made it to Dubbo finally, checked into a motel and feel asleep pretty quickly.
Our final day! We dropped Martin off in Orange at the Charles Sturt University campus where he was doing a permaculture course for two days as part of his masters. It was pretty freezing but the campus is really pretty so we enjoyed lunch there. Then Nina and I went on to Sydney. It really is a beautiful part of the world to drive through. So green and lush and lots of farm animals for Nina to look at. I was a bit shocked to get into Sydney at about 5 and have to deal with all the traffic. I really have very little tolerance for it these days.
We arrived at Jane’s, tired but happy to be there and happy to have had such a special time together as a family. It wasn’t an easy holiday but none the less renewing. I felt especially renewed by the presence of God who I felt really strongly with us. I also felt really proud at how we had dealt with the challenges together and how Nina had coped too. She stayed really positive throughout it all, always asking where to next. She has such a sense of adventure and just lapped up the experience of each new place whatever it was. It’s amazing what an almost three year old can find to do in a car and on the side of a dirt road. Having an iPad helped as well I am sure.
We had a grea time in Sydney too, catchin up with lots of lovelies but I think I will leave the Sydney part of the holiday to another post.