Matt is having a weekend off, the first one in a a long while and we are making the most of it! Lazy days, dinner at Grandma’s, a sleepover for the kids at Grandma’s and a breakfast out this morning for Matt and I! Continue reading
Well, seeing as we finished all of the posts about our trip yesterday, it seems only fitting that this week’s Friday Flashback be dedicated to a small photo montage of our adventure. Using our theme song of course, “Free” by Zac Brown Band as the background music. Man, we had a great trip! Just click play and watch the video! If you are thinking about a trip like this – JUST DO IT!!!
There is no more delaying. It is time to bite the bullet and write the final post covering the last day and night of life on the road for the Fealy Family Adventure of 2013. Aaaargh, so hard. That means our trip really is over, complete, finished, done. It was so long in the thinking and planning and all over in three very short, but amazingly good months. It feels like a dream now.
Ok, on with it. Continue reading
This morning I am linking up with our ever patient, super nice blog mentor, Pip Lincolne from the blog ‘Meet Me At Mikes’ who is hosting a little ‘tea party’ in celebration (insert drum roll here please!) of our graduation from her ‘Blog With Pip‘ e-course!
All of us little ‘Pipsters’ or ‘Pip’s Peeps’ as we have become known, are sharing posts today to tell you a few things about our crazy selves! Most of you who follow my blog already know our family pretty much inside out by now as you are either related to us, have been friends – aka have put up with us before – or joined us to be subjected to our ravings over the last twelve months as we planned and headed off on our trip around Oz!
However, if I am lucky enough to have a new visitor today – WELCOME! I made a little audio recording (woot! I learnt lots of new somethings!) at the start of our blog course to share a bit about myself and I’ve included that below as an introduction for any newbies here. If you already know me, you may get a laugh to start your day out of hearing my nervous little voice live on the internet, so have a listen!
You can also read more about us here if you are still interested!
Anyway, today I thought we’d just have a little chat about a few bits and bobs that I have floating around in my head at the moment, you know, just the way we would if I was sitting down with you across the table. We better get one thing straight first though, I don’t drink coffee or really much tea, so soda water and cordial, or a ‘V’ and a banana chic-chip muffin are more likely to be on offer at my place at the moment!Right, so I’m just going to do a bit of a brain dump – list style and hopefully you will find something of interest in there!
1. I’m feeling very sad that I have just about finished posting about our trip around Oz – reading back on this post and this one, makes me just wish for the open road again! So, Matt is on the hunt for a camper trailer for us now to replace ‘good ole’ Karen. Does anybody have some recommendations for us? We will be buying second hand and our current favourites are the Cameron Campers and the All Terrains. I’d love to hear some thoughts on people’s camper trailer experiences!
2. I really, really love following Kelle Hampton’s blog, Enjoying The Small Things and she wrote a great post recently on having identity issues at 35 – it is a long read, but definitely gets the brain a-ticking! Do we all have a bit of a ‘what am I doing with my life?’ moment when we hit our thirties? I know we sure did – surely we’re not the only ones?
3. Are you on Instagram? You can find us on there having lots of fun this month following along with this #photoaday challenge set up by another awesome blogger Fat Mum Slim. It’s a great way to make the time to take a snapshot everyday and try to improve those photography skills!4. Remember I wrote about how this year is the International Year of Family Farming and I said I’d have to think of some ways for us to get involved? Well so far, this is what we have come up with ……………………….
We’ve signed on to learn how to become Rural Champions with AgForce Queensland so hopefully later this year we may go into the local schools and talk with kids about the careers available in the Agricultural Industry, something we didn’t know much about when we were kids, which seems crazy given that we grew up in a rural community! Have a look at this site for more information about the program http://www.futureag.org.au/resources/rural-champions.html
My sister Beth is showing us up with her awesome shopping efforts at her local produce market, so I have vowed to try to work out where I can buy more direct produce from the farm gate up here!
5. It might just be the pregnancy hormones, but a couple of blog posts I read recently were so lovely they made me cry. Check out this one from Seven Cherubs: Fairy Bread and Garden Salad and this Scatter Love Story from Fat Mum Slim.
6. Since we’re having a cup of tea, I should tell you about another great ‘Cuppa With’ that I have had recently! The National Rural Women’s Coalition (NRWC) are running some great free webinars for rural women all over Australia as a chance to network and learn all sorts of things. A few weeks ago I heard all about how to use Facebook for business better and tomorrow night I am hopefully going to get my head around and make the most out of Twitter!
Well, that’s about it on my end! Have you read anything interesting recently? Are you learning something new? Seen anything that made you cry? I’d love to hear about it, tell me about it in the comments, leave a link to a blog post you have written about it, or send me an email! Let’s chat!
I left these photos out of yesterday’s post because they weren’t really of anything. I changed my mind and decided to share them today because I think they are of everything! These photos sum up just how great our little trip was for our kids and I love them!
It is honestly – hand on heart – the best thing we have done for them as parents to date. They had freedom, time to just play, time to be with us and each other. No pressure. So much fresh air and walking, and looking, and learning. Time to talk with us.
These photos of the kids just ‘being kids’ at the campground in Normanton are a reminder to allow, and to make time for nothing. For more climbing trees, digging in dirt, making games out of sticks, being outside with no set agenda, reading books, talking, drawing. I’m not good at this. I love routine and structure, filling the days with plans. I need to pull back, to remember these photos and the moments they captured that are so important for our kids.
It is physically hurting my heart to write these last few posts about our trip, oh how I miss the days of adventure! But, I realise there are probably several people out there following our blog who are just wanting to read the last few posts about the trip and wishing we would hurry the heck up and get on with it, so they can then ‘unsubscribe’ and no longer have to listen to our ramblings and be subjected to posts about Chocolate Slice! Fair enough I guess, so here goes, today and tomorrow will see the last couple of posts about the trip published.
After surviving the Savannah Way, we popped back out into civilisation at Doomadgee and after a quick fuel top up we decided to head for Normanton and spend a precious few nights there. It was a tough decision to bypass Lawn Hill National Park, but we didn’t think we had enough time left in our trip to ‘do Lawn Hill properly’ and we have decided that will be one of the first destinations that we head to when things finally start to slow down here at Blue Sky Produce.
Normanton is only a small cattle town, just south of the Gulf of Carpentaria and sits on the Norman River. It is most famous for its enormous saltwater crocodile ‘Krys’ who was shot in the Norman River. He is the largest crocodile ever taken, at 8.6metres long, and there is a replica statue in the main street of Normanton to give you an idea of how big he was! We couldn’t believe how massive – we sure wouldn’t ever like to come across one of those out in the wild!
We stayed at the Normanton Tourist Park and loved it. They had a great swimming pool (huge!), hot pool and lovely shady sites (albeit a bit dusty), as well as nice clean amenities. We had our second ‘Are We There Yet’ blog spotting here at the caravan park and got to meet Kevin and his girls who had been following along on our journey – it was so nice to have a chat to another traveller – thanks Kevin!
We had a very relaxing time in Normanton. We walked downtown and checked out the information centre – it was great! Heaps of interesting information in there and plenty for the kids to look at too – I think we spent an hour or two just wandering and reading in here!
As well as spending heaps of time relaxing by the the pool – we were trying to eek out the last of our ‘holiday’ before it was over – we took a just under one hour drive one afternoon and checked out Karumba, a small fishing town which sits on the ocean in the Gulf. It was really lovely there, just such a bummer you can’t swim in the ocean due to crocodiles, but we had plenty of fun walking along the beach collecting shells.
I think Karumba and Normanton will always have a special place in our hearts – definitely stop in there if you ever get the chance!
I’m starting to slow down now, the wheels are starting to fall off a little I think! I’m just getting too big and tired – eight weeks to go until this baby arrives seems like a loooooong time at this point! So, I missed our Flashback Friday post this week and nothing terribly exciting to share today I’m afraid!
My oven has been fixed, yay, and it was just slightly cooler here so Lex and I decided to make our super easy, super yum, favourite chocolate slice. I’ve been inspired to try to get back to some ‘Sunday Baking’ after following one of my ‘Blog With Pip’ classmates, “I Give You the Verbs” yummy Sunday Baking treats, but an easy slice was about all I could summon up the effort for today.
This is the recipe, handed down to me from my mum, if anybody is interested. It is super easy, super quick and requires very few ingredients! I made this quite a bit while we were travelling on our trip in the camper – only a bowl, spatula and slice tin required!
1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of coconut, 1 cup of self raising flour, 2 tablespoons of cocoa.
Melt 125grams of butter, pour over dry ingredients, plus 1 egg well beaten with 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Mix well. Press into Glad Bake lined slice tin and bake at 200degrees for 20mins (soft) or 25mins (crisp).
For a quick and easy icing option spread with Nestle Choc Melts while hot out of the oven and spread with a knife.
And that’s it! Half of our slice is gone already – pretty much guaranteed to always taste delicious! Did you do any baking today? Anybody willing to share an easy slice recipe with me?
Just after lunch last Sunday saw Matt wrapping and wheeling the final pallet of mangoes off the shed floor and into the cold room which signalled the end of our first ever Blue Sky ProduceMango season – wahoooooo!! This also brought our second quarter of farm life to a close (you can read about our first quarter here). It is so hard to believe we have been living in Far North Queensland for over six months now! Only another twenty odd years to go and we might be able to consider ourselves locals!!
These last few months really have been mango madness!! We have to admit that this quarter saw some of the ‘gloss’ and novelty of our change to farm life wear off! It has been hard work and a huge learning curve! The days were very long (Matt turning the lights on in the shed at 5am and often not turning them off before 9pm!), it became stinking hot, it was stressful trying to logistically manage a new packing shed, something we had never done before – remembering to order boxes, stickers, plastic, chemicals, parts – the list is huge! Matt also had to manage a team of twenty – thirty workers of which at least 17 were living here onsite, so it was like running a campground too – making sure toilet paper supplies were up to date, bonds were collected, rents were collected, cooking/washing facilities were all working, check-ins were happening – you get the picture.
Matt was tired and stressed, I was hot, fat, definitely pregnant, tired and grumpy, all of which was not helped by the fact that everybody else in the world was in Christmas holiday mode, ready to relax and get festive, oh, and we did of course have all the kids home too on school holidays and the incident of Jack’s broken arm on Christmas eve!! I think we also got a big dose of back to reality (work, school, bills, responsibility!) and the post-trip comedown/blues at this point too, everything finally sinking in that our adventure so long in the making was all over in three short months. But, we survived, we’re still here, with only a few minor meltdowns and snapping at each other and we didn’t jump back in the camper and take off for the road again (we got pretty close a few times though)!!!!
It wasn’t all bad. The start of the season was actually quite exciting! It’s what I’d imagine a shearing season might be like, perhaps what it might be like here in a few years time – where you look forward to your worker’s arriving for the year and hearing what they have been up to, perhaps seeing some familiar faces back again from the previous season? Our crew all started moving on site in mid-November, the day after our worker’s dorms were actually finished!
Seeing the first few loads of mangos arriving on the trucks, watching them be unloaded with the forklift, hearing the packing shed turn on for the first time (the noise of the shed in action is a low hum – took me straight back to my childhood spent in the dairy!) and seeing the shed in full fledged work mode was quite a site to behold!
There were some other perks of the mango season ……………………………………………
We did also squeeze in a bit of time for a couple of things like ……………………………………
And even a Christmas BBQ and a trip for Matt to follow our fruit to the markets in Brisbane.
And we got a huge kick out of having photos of our fruit emailed to us from all over the place. You might remember Malte who worked here before the season started, well he sent this great photo in when he spotted our mangos on his travels in New South Wales!!
All in all, it was a pretty good first season. We learnt a lot, didn’t blow anything up or kill each other, were still welcome at the Family Christmas table, and we are hopeful that the growers who packed with us this year will be back again next year, hopefully bringing some other farms!! So a big congratulations and thank you to all of the Blue Sky workers this year – we did it – wahoooooooo!!
After dragging ourselves reluctantly away from the Borroloola Rodeo at just after lunch time, we headed off along the Savannah Way towards Burketown and back into Queensland territory again. We aired down (dropped the pressure in our tyres to 28 PSI) just after we left the bitumen out of Borroloola and lucky we did as this stretch of the Savannah Way was the roughest patch of road we encountered on the whole trip! It was quite narrow, very rocky and dusty, quite corrugated in sections and had lots of creek crossings! It made for a really interesting/fun drive but did rattle the car and camper around a lot which meant it was quite slow going for us.
We saw only two other vehicles on the Savannah Way for the several hundred kilometres we travelled. We loved it! It felt like a real adventure! We did, however, blow another tyre on the camper – much to Matt’s disgust!!
As we were late getting on the road we pulled up just before dark after only travelling about 100km’s that day, in a gravel pit on the side of the road. It was the best free camp of the whole trip! We were well back off the road with plenty of room, heaps of firewood to scavenge and not another person for miles, and miles and miles! We had a great campfire dinner that night and even dragged a mattress out to lie by the fire under the stars – it was beautiful and oh so quiet!
The next morning we were up and away pretty early and it didn’t take long before we were crossing the border back in to Queensland – what a bummer!!
Only two blog posts left to finish off our trip, which means it will be all over by the end of this week!! Noooooooooo!
We took part in Clean Up Australia Day today. I’ll be honest and say it was a bit of a struggle to get there this morning. The boys had already been out on a hike with Scouts the day before and then had to be back in town at 8am this morning to join in with our local Lions club in the clean up. None of us felt like going.
But, I’m glad we did. It was only two hours out of our day. We were lucky and had quite a scenic park in town as our designated location for rubbish pick up. The kids enjoyed the walk around the lake and being out with some friends. I think that it was good for them to learn a small lesson in that we all have a responsibility to look after our town, our country. They also got to see that if we all get stuck in and help, it actually doesn’t take very long at all to get the job done. It was a good reminder for me also.
Now, if only I could get the kids to participate in ‘Clean Up Our House’ Day!
Hope you all had a great weekend!