The Tippy Top of Australia

Today we made it to the Northern most point of Mainland Australia. Hoorah!!!!! Even though I’ve made the pilgrimage to the top twice before, I was still excited about doing it this time with my many offspring. 

Memory is such a fickle thing. The last two times I made the voyage I remember a short, easy walk over a few rocks. No biggie. This time I did it it felt like a treacherous trek up a steep Rocky Mountain in 200km strong winds. Maybe it’s because I’m older….. or maybe it’s because having 4 children in tow makes any task seem a lot more arduous. 

For example, Isabelle had conveniently forgotten to put shoes on or bring a hat. So she was trekking to the tip with no hat & no shoes. I know, I know. I should have made sure she had them. But I was flat out trying to organise myself, lunch & everyone else. 

Midway through the hike Isabelle announced that she needed to do a wee. “Tough”, I told her. “You’ll have to hold it.” About 2 minutes later Isabelle started doing what we call her “wee wee” walk. A wee wee walk is the type of walk you do when bladder/pelvic muscles are not sufficient to stop you peeing and you have to engage thigh muscles as well. This walk usually ends in disaster as in order to get your pants down to wee, you have to disengage the thigh muscles & as a result, everything immediately starts flowing. 

I pulled Isabelle to the side of the track & tried to help her get her pants down. In the process her pants & my hands became soaked in pee & I made the discovery that not only had she forgotten her hat & shoes, she had also forgotten underwear. As she was in the process of ever-so-elegantly doing her business, a tour group of elderly people came marching past. 

I felt like mother of the year as the disapproving looks were shot our way.  Isabelle had flea bitten legs, wild unkempt hair (from the wind – I had braided it but she took it out so it could blow in the wind), no undies & no shoes. She flatly refused to put her shorts back on because they were wet with wee and she happily skipped on ahead of me, much to the horror of Rohan. 

I did eventually convince her to put her shorts back on. Just in the nick of time too because Rohan looked like he was about to burst a vein in his neck from the stress of naked Isabelle ruining every aspect of his holiday. 

After returning to the car park I plonked myself down on the beach with my book & declined to participate in Ben’s expedition of Sommerset beach. The kids tried to politely decline as well but unfortunately for them, Ben deemed it a compulsory activity. 

To me beaches are nice. But a beach is a beach no matter where you are. It was a very beautiful beach, and I did snap a few selfies with it in the background, but it’s still just a beach.  A beach where you not only have to worry about sharks, blue bottles & sand in your pants…  but crocodiles as well. 

My idea of a good day out is to get to the destination, take a couple of pics (to add to your blog) then return back to camp to relax. Ben’s idea of a good day is to meander to a destination checking every single side track to “see where it goes”, spend ages memorising the sight of said destination, then explore every single thing in a 1km vicinity of your destination on foot. 

Our way home was broken up by Ben driving up random treks here & there to discover rubbish tip after rubbish tip. Luckily I didn’t have to complain about it as the kids did all the complaining for me. 

We stopped off on the way home at the Croc Tent so the kids could finally spend their souvenir money. We were in there for EVER. It took every ounce of persuasiveness I had to convince the younger kids to buy shirts instead of fluffy toys. I didn’t want to say “No toys!!!”, as I revel in being the fun parent, but I didn’t want them to buy toys either.  The Croc Tent is good, but as is typical up here, horrendously overpriced.  To Ben’s credit he did not flinch a muscle when our total was rang up (I’m pretty sure his left eye was twitching though). 

Back at camp Ben & I with the kids watched the sunset over the water, a joy that is not enjoyed by East Coast dwellers very often. Ben talked about all the exploring that was going to happen tomorrow while I was off visiting Horn Island, and I feigned disappointment at missing out while inwardly crying “Hoorah!!! Hoorah!! Hoorah!!” I swear in a past life Ben was one of those famous Aussie Explorers we are forced to learn about in primary school then promptly forget. 

At the moment I am on the boat heading to Thursday Island and I am tickled with excitement!! Not even Rohan breaking down with grief at our imminent separation as we said our goodbyes on the wharf could marr my delight. He clung to the railing on the wharf refusing to leave me. Ben had to pry him off & carry him away. Poor little fella. But yay me!!!! 😃😃😃

I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about tomorrow after my 24 blissful hours spent back on Horn Island catching up with friends. 

Thanks for reading!!! We are having a brilliant time!! (Especially me today!!!!!)

B xx



A few pics of my traumatic departure this morning. 

Magical Umagico

Today started like every other day on this trip – with Rohan rising before the sun. Rohan’s penchant for waking at dawn, combined with his love of company make for explosive mornings as he not-too-subtly tries to wake everyone in sight. Kylah, Jazzy & Isabelle, like their mother, enjoy sleeping late and scream & screech at Rohan to choof off, in the process waking even more people (I’m sure that was his evil plan all along). 

Mornings when we have to pack up after being somewhere for a while are always a pain in the butt. Everyone was grumpy (from being woken by Rohan) and Rohan, when faced with having to help out, suddenly remembered how sad he was about his dinosaur & sat down in the dirt bawling. 

Jazzy, Kylah & Isabelle were great helpers, albeit very, very grumpy & snappy. So much so that Ben had to sit everyone down & threaten them with “no souveniers” if they didn’t start getting along.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that my mum, bless her soul, ever so kindly gave the kids souvenir money. This has resulted in a constant prattle out of the younger ones mouths… “when can we spend our money?”, “when will there be shops?”, “what’s a souvenier exactly?”, “will we get to spend our souvenier money today???”.  When you are in the middle of nowhere, not a shop in sight, it’s enough to send you bonkers!! 

The threat of losing their opportunity to purchase souveniers made the kids toe the line & stop fighting. 

It was only a short drive to our next destination but it took a while due to river crossings & having to pump Frankie’s tyres up & down (so the pressure suited the road). 

We arrived at magical Umagico at lunch time & the kids fell instantly in love.  There are wild horses & dogs roaming the streets which apparently is my childrens idea of heaven.  

We are staying at Alau camp grounds, right on the beach. It is so stunningly beautiful. Our campsite faces Prince of Wales Island &  staring at it has made me long to visit my former island home, Horn Island. Originally we were going to take the kids to Horn Island on this trip, but then we decided to save going to the Torres Straits for another holiday. 

Staring at the Torres Strait Islands, being so close to the place I used to call home, the place that changed my life & turned my world upside down – I knew I had to go back. 

Not wanting to disrupt Ben’s well thought out itinerary, I kindly offered to visit Horn Island by myself for 1 night while he & the children continued on with the plans. This did not go down very well with the kids (there were tears galore and Isabelle threatened to start a revolt!!) , but Ben was very supportive. 

At Umagico I finally had reception, although only 1 bar of 3G. After wandering around the camp ground, holding my phone up in the air, I finally managed to post my blog. Would you believe that seconds after I posted it a friend messaged me saying that she had seen a post about someone finding a toy dinosaur near Coen!! What are the chances?!? To say Rohan is delighted is an understatement but the ones who are most thrilled are Ben & myself as we don’t have to listen to him whinge anymore. 

Rohan saved up his pocket money to buy that dinosaur (which is a big deal for a kid who can’t save & wants everything yesterday). He was originally saving for an iPad but had a change of heart & instead ordered this toy off ebay at a greatly inflated price as they are no longer sold in toy shops. He plays with it all the time. 

The lady who found it is going to meet up with us in a few days & return it to him. 

All the locals at Umagico are so welcoming and lovely. Local kids asked my kids to play with them after school, which they did till dark fell and everyone we’ve met is so friendly. You really couldn’t ask for a nicer place. Rohan and Isabelle are already making plans to move here when they fly the nest. The lure of stray animals roaming the streets is too intoxicating to them. Never mind that the three dogs who have made themselves at home near our campsite are ridden with fleas. The kids have adopted and named them & will not listen to Ben & I when we tell them to leave the dogs alone. 

All the kids slathered up in Stingoes insect cream tonight as they are all covered in flea bites. I loved smugly telling them “I told you so”, whilst reading my book & refusing to assist with the application of the cream. Don’t think the flea bites will keep them away from the animals though.  

Everyone, bar Ben, has come to the conclusion that I am a secret genius & that the bee keeper get up I wear is an awesome idea. The kids all want me to buy them fly nets, next time we are near a BCF. The long pants & shirt thing isn’t catching on though. 

Tomorrow we are going to the Northern most point of Australia.  Ben has just informed me that I have to go to sleep because he is waking me early. Bloody brilliant. 

Thanks for reading!!

B xx

Falls-ing in love with Cape York

I must admit, I really knew very little about Cape York before this adventure. Having spent 2 years living on Horn Island, I am very familiar with the Torres Straits islands and have visited Bamaga, Weipa & Seisa but apart from that, I had no idea about the surrounding countryside. As I said in a previous post, my expectations were very,very low. I was imagining disgusting heat with no chance of a cool respite in the form of swimming (too many crocs) and muddy, humid, mosquito infested swamps. I imagined Ben dragging us from swamp to swamp forcing me to look at different flora & fauna then getting annoyed when the interest I feigned wasn’t at an appropriate level of enthusiasm. So far there has been non of that. The closest we’ve come is when Ben launched into a description of a carnivorous plant he found, and I actually found it quite interesting (I will include a picture of it).

Instead, we’ve been spending our days going from stunning waterfall to stunning waterfall in areas completely devoid of crocodiles and mostly void of mosquitos.  We left Coen at the crack of sparrows fart on Saturday morning to make the loooong journey to our next campsite. The campsite was a mere 180km away but it took us about 6 hours due to bad roads, road works and stopping for children to pee. On one of these stops we think Rohan’s most favourite toy, Dipliosaurus (not sure if that’s how you spell it) fell out of the car and is now lost in the wilderness.  Rohan has been stricken with grief ever since poor old Diplio left us and is constantly upset. Like the little schemer that he is he has been using our pity to extract lots of extra things out of us. Ben tried to cheer him up by letting him drive Frankie, I slipped him an extra bit of carrot cake, the girls are all being exceptionally nice.  Don’t know how long this is going to have to go on for though.
In order to get to our campsite we had to do our first creek crossing.  The creek we needed to cross was approx 60m wide and full of brown murky water. With absolutely no regard whatsoever to personal safety, Ben got out of the car and stomped all through the creek to determine the best route to take when we drive across. I was torn. Should I stay in the car, safe and dry and out of reach of crocodiles, or should I get out and cross the creek so I could film Frankie driving through? Obviously I chose the latter. Who can resist when there is a chance to get a viral Youtube video? I pulled off my shoes and went barefoot through a clear part of the creek then climbed up embankment which jutted out beside the brown water and did the rest of the crossing in mud and dense grass. After a great deal of deliberation, and stomping, Ben finally got in the car to drive through the creek.  I filmed it, but it is no viral youtube video. Its hardly entertaining at all. Should have stayed in the car. I will post the video but Ben would like me to point out that there is an error in my commentary. When I say “Oooh! Looks like Frankie is struggling a bit!!!” I am wrong. Ben said she did not struggle at all. He was just taking it easy for reasons that I did not care to pay attention to.

Our campsite is called Canal Creek and is a short distance from the crossing and is next to a beautiful fresh water creek. It’s a popular spot for travellers due to it’s proximity to Eliot & Twin falls. It’s not as densely packed as campsites down south, but still, we aren’t alone (as we have been for most of the trip – bar the truckstops and Cairns).  Setting up was an arduous task. Rohan by this stage had discovered his dinosaur toy was missing and was near hysterical. Isabelle needed to poo well before the shovel had been unpacked which threw a spanner in the works and Kylah decided that she had had enough and sprawled flat out, face down in the dirt refusing to budge. Jazzy was quite helpful though. I couldn’t find my fly net which led me to be almost as hysterical as Rohan…. it wasn’t good. Luckily Ben is unfazeable and plodded along doing all the work while Rohan and I frantically searched for our beloved items, Isabelle pooed and Kylah slept in the dirt.
Thankfully my fly net was located and I was able to relax without fear of inhaling a fly. After Ben had set us up and sorted us all out we took off to Eliot Falls. No, that’s not a typo. Eliot Falls is spelt with one L. Generally I’m not a big swimmer. I don’t like pools unless the temperature is hotter than 35 degrees. Even then I’d prefer airconditioning to a pool as I hate the smell of chlorine. I’m not overly fond of the beach either because I’m scared of sharks, blue bottles and getting sand in my pants. The only place I truly love to swim is in fresh water. Eliot Falls is just that. Pure fresh spring water coming down from the mountains. It is without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever been. The 4wd tracks and river crossings make it difficult to get to so it is in large part untouched by hoards of people coming in to destroy it’s beauty. We had Eliot and Twin Falls to ourselves, right in the middle of peak season!!

The falls go on and on for what seems like forever. They are surrounded by wattle trees and native plants and have clear little pools in between each fall. Some of the falls are big with deep pools and others are smaller and have shallow waters. The smell of the fresh water is incredible and overpowering. You can almost smell crispness in the air. We all jumped straight into the falls and swam around. Ben spent so much time under the actual waterfall that his hands and feet became soft and white again. Like a newborn baby’s. They almost could have passed for an accountants hands. I’m not sure how many of you have ever inspected Ben’s hands or feet but his constant building and fixing has led to hands and feet thatcontinually look dirty, even after he has washed them. I took a picture of his hands so I could remember them that way, soft and clean.

Back at camp that night we discussed tomorrows plans around the fire. Ben wanted to do the old telegraph track so that he could do a few more creek crossings (minus Trampy, who was staying at Canal Creek) and watch some people do the crossing at Shot Gun Creek, which is supposed to be the worst crossing on the Cape.
————————— Sunday ———————————
We left early Sunday morning to do the old Telegraph track. I found the soothing, rocking motion of 4wd-ing to be very conducive to napping so I can’t tell you too much about the actual track. I did wake briefly to film a few creek crossings but then was lulled straight back into a deep slumber as soon as we were through.

We arrived at our destination, Gun Shot Creek, at about lunchtime. The kids and Ben went straight down to the Creek to get in amongst the action, while I slowly meandered my way down. It was on my way to the creek when I made the astounding discovery of a whole new subspecies of Bogan!! I’m no taxonomist, so this species may have already been discovered, but incase they haven’t I quickly named them Fogans. For ‘Four Wheel Drive Bogans’ (my other option was Offgans but that doesn’t have the same ring to it).

Fogans are very similar to their cousins Bogans in that they both are really into cars, drink spirits from cans and congregate in big groups of testosterone filled men (with the odd scantily clad woman here and there). Instead of the Ford/Holden arguments that Bogans are prone to, Fogans will argue about Nissans or Landcruisers (no argument really. Landcruisers are waaaay better). Whilst Bogans are concerned with making their cars go faster, look flashier or sound louder, Fogans are all about how tough their car is, how much recovery gear they have and how many war wounds it has.

In the creek, sitting just up from the crossing were a group of Fogans, seemingly blissfully unaware of the ‘Warning Esturine Crocodiles inhabit these waters’ sign mere meters away. They all had their JB in a can & cigarettes hanging from their mouths as they sat in the cloudy, brown water and watched in fascination as 4wd after 4wd did the crossing.

I’m probably going to get told I’m wrong about this as I wasn’t paying too much attention to the crossing (the Fogans had me captivated) but as far as I can tell there are about 5 different ways to cross the creek. One is quite easy and is given the very honourable name of ‘Chicken Track’. This is the one you would take if you had 4 children and were secure enough in your manhood that you did not need to prove anything. The other crossings were INSANE!!! One was a giant slide, I’m guessing at a 75degree angle, down into the water where you have to slide across the water then try to make it up an equally steep muddy slope on the opposite side of the creek.

We watched on as one Fogan did this crossing, he made it half way up the muddy slope on the other side before reversing into a tree (this was met with lots of cheers from his mates) whilst trying to get enough grip to get out.
Thankfully Ben deems Frankie far too precious for suck endeavours so we returned to our car to eat lunch and leave.
The afternoons activities involved visiting a place called ‘Fruit Bat Falls’. After seeing Eliot falls the day prior, I did not think it possible to find anywhere else on Earth quite as beautiful and magical. As is often typical, I was wrong.

Fruit Bat Falls was stunning and huge, filled with fresh spring waterfrom nearby mountains. Again the water was so crystal clear and refreshing – absolutely perfect. We sat underneath the waterfall and let the water beat down on our shoulders, massaging them with the force. Mine were kinked from napping at a weird angle in the car….. Ben’s were kinked from all the work he does. There were no kinked shoulders by the time we’d finished though. I really don’t have the words to describe the falls so I’ll add some photos at the bottom of the blog.
Back at camp we had chocolate muffins (cooked in the Dream Pot) and lasagna (also cooked in the Dream Pot) and an early night.
—————————— Monday ———————————
This morning Ben took the kids on a discovery hike up Canal creek. I had a big sleep in then pottered around making lunch (Minestrone Soup) and a Carrot Cake before plonking down in my cosy camp chair and reading my book.
The kids and Ben arrived back from their hike famished and we ate our lunch before heading off for another swim at Eliot Falls.

Tomorrow we are leaving and heading to the tip. We are staying at a beachside campsite at Umagico. I’m trying to decide whether I ditch Ben and the kids and hop on the Ferry to Horn Island to visit all my old friends, or whether I do the responsible thing and stay with the family.
Tough choice!!
Thank you for reading!!
B xx

P. S. Pics are taking too long to load so I’ll make an album on FB & add them to the blog later. 

Coen

Today has been blissfully uneventful and probably my favourite day so far.  
After leaving Musgrave Station this morning, we travelled to Coen where we intended to get fuel & pies before heading off to our next stop.  
We pulled up at a free camp site called ‘The Bend’ to eat our pies and fell in love. We are still here now. It is a lush, green campsite nestled by a flowing creek filled with spring water that has trickled down from nearby mountains. It is completely secluded so Isabelle had a wonderful time airing her differences in the creek while the rest of us looked on in total envy.  

Coen has mobile reception (wahoo!!!) so Ben and I have been glued to our screens a fair bit this afternoon while the kids swam and played on the banks of the creek. Ben assured me that this particular creek was not Croc territory so I tried hard not to worry about one of the kids being eaten alive by a archaic monster (internet was an awesome distraction!!). Dinner was chicken stew with brown rice & quinoa then we toasted marshmallows and had a family movie night. I promise to start putting the Dream Pot recipes on one of these days – so delicious!!

Pretty boring day to read about but one of the best days of my life (it totally has to make top 40 anyway).  

Because today was so void of adventure of shenanigans I thought I’d share a bit more about Trampy, our camper trailer.  

Trampy is made by Eagle Camper Trailers and I believe they refer to her as ‘Cheyenne’ (Trampy is a much better name – don’t know what they were thinking!!). With a family of 6 we are pretty limited for options and this trailer suited us perfectly. Ben can set her up in about 5 minutes on his own. Please don’t assume that if we pitched in and helped him it would take less than 5 minutes because truth be told we get in the way and make it longer. Trampy is a hard floor trailer so no one needs to sleep out in an annexe. It has a queen bed that pushes back and then the sides fold out to reveal two sets of bunks. There are two large drawers inside and 4 cupboards. The kitchen swings out from the tail and has a 4 burner gas cook top, sink, drawers and fold down bench. On the outside of the trailer there are numerous cupboards, tool boxes and a fridge slide. We have two fridges. One is used as a freezer and is mounted in Frankie and the other is used as a fridge and is in Trampy. If we wanted to set up the awning or annexe at the front it would take an extra 20 minutes, but generally we have just found shady spots and haven’t needed to do so.  

Today’s camping tips are going to involve packing. We were very limited for space so every item was scrutinised to determine it’s usability and need. Generally speaking, everything I “needed” to keep myself comfortable and therefore not-grumpy was declared essential and packed. We then worked out what to put in the space that was left after all my essential items were safely tucked inside Frankie and the Tramp. 

The kids and Ben have camping towels that resemble shammy’s that people use to dry cars. They are small but super absorbent and dry really quickly. They each have two and they are all colour coded so we know which one belongs to who. I have a towelling robe (to wear to the showers) a towel, and one of those hair wrap towel thingys. Plus a spare towel incase my main towel gets contaminated (thank God!! One was contaminated with urine so definitely a good move). It really isn’t fair but as I keep saying to the kids when they complain “It is hard work and really painful being me. I don’t want you to grow up as dependant on towels and pillows as I am.” See. I’m doing them a favour.  

Socks are also an item that is colour coded. Everyone has their own colour socks to make it easy to tell who belongs to which socks. In fact, everything is colour coded. Down to the kids pencil cases and pencils. I wrapped coloured tape around the bottom of each set of pencils and now when I see a pencil lying around on the ground, I know exactly who to yell at (Rohan).  

Anyway I’m not really inspired to keep writing tonight. I’m a bit sleepy as a result of my lazy day but felt compelled to write something as I won’t have internet reception till next Tuesday and didn’t want to disappoint my 7 fans/followers of my blog.  

Tomorrow we are heading off to Eliot Falls and Fruit Bat Falls where we are going to spend 4 days doing the telegraph track. I’ve heard it’s serious 4wding. I hope my tail saver is up for the challenge.  

Thanks for reading!!

B xx

P.s. I’ll try to take some videos of river crossings for you, complete with commentary from Bob!! 

P.p.s I’ve added some pics of today along with some pics of Frankie & Trampy. Can’t be bothered writing captions so please feel free to imagine your own!! 


Here is a pic of the front of Trampy. Ben pissed off the stone guard it came with & added an extra toolbox to house jerry cans, gas bottle & tools (which were previously attached behind stone guard). He then needed to make a vent on the fridge cupboard door as the new toolbox covered the original vent. You can see the new vent sitting just above the Eagle. 

The day it all went to shit

Yesterday morning, our last morning on the Palmer River, was supposed to be a quick breakfast then early pack up so we could move on. 

Unfortunately the best made plans sometimes go to shit. 

For the purposes of this blog entry I’m going to rename one of my offspring Bob, to protect the pride & esteem of a particular child who may or may not be embarrassed by today’s events. 

It started in the early hours of the morning. Poor little Bob was coughing a lung up & not sleeping at all. Eventually, one of Bobs coughs turned into a massive vomit that covered the top bunk, sheets, blankets & all. Bloody brilliant. 

In the commotion that ensued after the vomit, Bobs kindle fell from the top bunk & hit poor old sleeping Kylah on the head, just above her eyebrow, leaving a massive lump. 

Rather than spending the morning packing up, we spent the morning washing everything & waiting for it to dry. 

We set off from camp at about 10am & managed to go about 3 metres before getting completely bogged in the soft sand. “Get out & dig!!!” Ben commanded. The kids delighted in digging in the sand, for about 30 seconds (I didn’t even make it that long!).  The next hour was spent digging the wheels out, placing recovery tracks under the wheels, moving 50cm, digging the recovery tracks out again, digging the wheels out again, moving another 50cm and so forth. Over & over & over. 

We made it out of there and went about 3km up the road before needing to stop for lunch & a quick dip to wash off. We were now half a day behind schedule.

Back in the car we all piled & began the long journey away from Palmer River. We didn’t have a huge distance to cover but you need to go painfully slowly on a lot of the unsealed & corrugated tracks. 

Poor old Bob was knackered. Between the coughing, vomiting, having to wash all the bedding (yes Bob helped) and digging out the car he was a walking zombie. It took him about 3 minutes to fall asleep in the car. 

All was going nicely on the drive. We were finally on our way & everyone was happy. I was just about to drift off into a peaceful slumber when I felt my right leg get really, really warm. Bob pee-ed on me!!

Ben stopped the car & we dragged Bob out, who continued to sleep (& pee) on the side of the road in the long grass. We had to strip car seat covers (thankfully underneath the car seat cover the seat is leather), strip me, strip Bob – wash everything with what little water we had left.

Because of this incident, Ben decided that instead of bush camping tonight, we would have to go somewhere with facilities where we could use a washing machine & refill our water (hooorrah!!!!!!).

After a good 30 minutes of cleaning up we set off again. 

This time we managed to get about 100km before disaster struck again. Frankie wasnt happy. Something was wrong with her. So we stopped again, this time near a crocodile infested creek (just so we could torment the kids with water they could  see but not go near). 

Ben got Frankie going after a while but not without another disaster occurring. Poor old Bob had kicked the end off his toe.  I happily pulled out my first aide kit (which Ben was adamant was overkill & full of stuff we wouldn’t need) and made a big show out of using various “essential” items in the kit whilst fixing Bob’s toe. 

On we went again. This time we made it to our destination, Musgrave River Road House. The grassy sites & clean amenities were a welcome change. Kids all showered, ate their spaghetti Bol & had an early night. 

Ben & I sorted the washing out then meandered over to the pub (yes we left our sleeping offspring in Trampy) where we enjoyed our first taste of alcohol for the trip and discussed our upcoming plans. 

Today we are on our way to Coen for lunch, then Archer River Roadhouse for the night. 

I realise that I haven’t put many useful camping tips in so here are some of my best one so far: Dress like a beekeeper – this will ensure you are not constantly being annoyed by, or ingesting flies. The only part of my skin that is exposed is my hands & if I had known in advance how crazy the flies would be (in certain places) I would have bought cotton gloves with me. The mesh net I bought from BCF & it fits over my hat. It isn’t the most attractive look but hey – I’m not trying to impress. 

Another tip I have (to ensure maximum comfort whilst in the face of uncomfortableness) is my “tail saver”. My tail saver (I coined its name) is a piece of memory foam in the shape of a wedge with a hole where your tailbone sits. I don’t have a lot of fat on my bum & get a really sore tailbone when presented with hundreds of Km’s of corrugated roads. Yesterday when I was stripped of it (due to it being contaminated with urine) I realised just how uncomfortable the journey is without it. Poor Ben & the kids don’t know what they are missing!! (Yes my tail saver is another of my “essential” items that Ben said was a waste of space. 

The kids don’t have iPads or DVDs to occupy them in the car (we are so old school) so they’ve made do with Kindles, Karaoke, family beat boxing and of course oldies like “99 bottles of beer on the wall”. 

Thanks for reading my blog!! With all the shit that went wrong yesterday we still made it through the day with smiles on our faces (actually I momentarily lost my smile when Bob pee-Ed on me). 

B xxx



An example of the amount of flies one can attract here. Ben attracts 10 times as many!!


Kylah’s injured forehead.



Broken down. 


Bee Keeper get up

Maytown and the Palmer River

I’m not sure if you could tell from my last blog posts but I was slightly apprehensive and a tad less than excited about our upcoming trip. Ben had forewarned me that Mareeba would be the last place I would be able to get telephone/internet reception for a few days so I used this opportunity to call my boss to ensure there was no pressing need for me to return home immediately. Unfortunately, all was good and there was no imminent crisis that warranted me to quickly hop on a flight home. Bugger. I tearily switched my mobile off as we drove away from Mareeba. Then the strangest thing happened. I began to relax in a way I hadn’t relaxed in years.  

The wonderful thing about having such low expectations of a place is that you are almost certainly guaranteed to be pleasantly surprised (unless you are staying in a truckstop, no matter how low your expectations – it will be a million times worse!!) so as we drove through the picturesque countryside I stared out of my window marvelling at the beauty – something I never normally do.  
We stopped next to a beautiful billabong and had some lunch, which was ham and salad sanga’s I pre-made the night before.   
Our destination for the day was a campsite on the Palmer River, not too far from Maytown. Maytown isn’t actually a town – anymore. It’s the remnants of a thriving gold town that existed from the 1870’s to the 1940’s.  
I was a bit dubious as we drove up to Dogleg Creek Campsite, where we were planning to stay for 2 nights. It seemed dusty and barren and void of any shade, water or beauty. We drove along the banks as the dry creek merged into the Palmer River. It was certainly beautiful, but didn’t seem to me to be ideal for camping. I finally piped up with “lets try another campsite shall we???” Ben agreed and we began to look around for somewhere to turn around which is no easy feat when Frankie is pulling Trampy. Ben sighted a little place next to the river where we could turn around and drove in. “How about we stay here?” Ben suggested. I looked up from my map and saw that we had pulled in to a nice sandy, flat area next to the flowing river. There were plenty of trees around and it was totally isolated. Paradise.
I was quite excited as we set up. The water was clear, it was peaceful and completely untouched. To reach the area you need serious 4wd equipment and a lot of know how. So it limits the amount of traffic the area receives and those that do come, are generally responsible campers who know how to dig holes as to not contaminate the place with human waste (from what I’ve seen). Yep. 5 paragraphs and I’m discussing bathroom business again. I’ll briefly say that there are no amenities here so you need to use more primitive methods.  
It took the kids about 30 seconds to get in the river apart from Rohan, who was having a melt down. He was concerned that Isabelle was going in the river in the nude and worried that her bum might contaminate the water. This meltdown lasted a good 45 minutes until Ben finally calmed him down by convincing him to make youtube videos of bush skills. He busily set about making a fish trap out of sticks and vines whilst I had to sit very still and record him. His fish trap turned out to be a bit of a dud (couldn’t find the right materials) so after another 10 minutes of inconsolable crying I convinced him it would be okay for him to make a fish trap using a water bottle for his youtube channel. So he set about making the video with Ben while I patiently filmed it. I must admit. It’s bloody funny. It’s a ripper of a video. He was quite pleased with himself as he was watching it back but then Jazzy piped up with “Do your realise that Isabelle is running around naked in the background?” More tears. Naked Isabelle had spoiled his swim and now his video. Ben reckons we can blur her out with the right technology but I’ve got a better idea that I’ll follow up on tomorrow. It involves using Ben’s phone to film the video playing on my phone and using little leaf to hold over Isabelle, as she darts to and fro in the background in all her glory.  
His trap caught a fish. I’ve got an awesome pic of him holding it up with the fish inside. Unfortunately Isabelle is grinning wildly in the background – still naked.  
His next bush skills video is of him trying to start a fire next to the river using steel and flint or as Rohan likes to call it – his primitive fire starter. I have about 10 minutes of footage of him making sparks but failing to get anything going. Mind you, he is certainly able to fill the 10 minutes of footage with not-at-all awkward babble about why his primitive fire starter is not working. Very Steve Irwin-esque. I gave him some matches.  
We ate our dinner (dream pot Beef stew – will try to link recipe) around the campfire then roasted marshmallows. Ben told the kids all about the stars and local geology. Rohan listened, mesmerised by the amount of facts he was learning and would be able to spew out when presented with a person in need of knowing facts. Jazzy and Kylah didn’t even pretend to be interested. They were both engrossed in their kindles. Don’t know what Isabelle was doing but I’m pretty sure by this stage she was clothed.  
After dinner Jazzy and Kylah put the younger two to bed for us. Ben and I spread a picnic rug beside the fire and snuggled together under the dome of stars. It was absolutely magic. The sand around us glistened as brightly as the night sky due to it being peppered with silica, or as Isabelle called it, fairy dust.  
Our second day on the Palmer River was just as good. We woke early. I prepared a cake to cook in the dream pot and we set off exploring Maytown. There isn’t much left of Maytown. The cobbled sidewalk is pretty much the only thing that stood the test of time. At one stage this little town hosted 3 different pubs, a court house, police station, post office and numerous shops. Now, apart from the sidewalk, there are just stumps where the buildings had been and plaques telling you what had been where. Everywhere you look there are pieces of the past just lying on the ground. Bit’s of old bottles, from a time when glass was 3/4 of an inch thick, old fashioned nails, horseshoes and bits of pottery.  
The graveyard was fascinating. We spent a great deal of time walking around the graveyard with the kids reading the headstones. The kids were shocked that most of the graves were occupied by children and babies. It really makes you appreciate the time we live in where having to bury a baby/child is much less of an occurrence than it was during the late 1800’s.  
We also visited some of the old mine sites and the kids climbed all over the old, rusty machinery.  
I probably appreciated this step back into the past a lot more than I would have a week ago as I had just finished reading a book about the Gatton Murders. It’s a true story about 3 family members who were killed in Gatton in the 1890’s. Yes I realise that Gatton is a looooooong way from Maytown but the lifestyle and values of the people were very similar. Whilst reading the book I was transported back in time and my fascination extended to envisioning the same types of workers struggling to survive in this harsh climate.  
Returning back to our campsite in the early afternoon Ben and I hand washed all the clothes, using water we carried up from the creek (did I say we?? I meant Ben). The kids made friends with some children at a campsite a couple of hundred metres away so Ben and I were able to enjoy some quiet time again while the kids used their new friends canoe.  
Dinner was DELICIOUS!! We cooked marinated lamb steaks on the fire (Ben bought a fire plate!!) and had them with a brown rice and quinoa dish. I had a “dump” bag (refer to earlier blog) with veges, onion, stock etc in and I cooked it up with the brown rice and quinoa. The combination of the rice dish with the lamb was sensational!! Who said camping food was boring or bland???  
Tomorrow we are heading off to Coen. Ben says we probably won’t get there and will have to stay somewhere along the way. My expectations are again quite low. Apparently there are a lot of billabongs, but you can’t swim in them because of crocs. There are also a lot more people up that way so there will be no more opportunities Isabelle to air her differences.  

Thank you for reading!!

Bianca xxx (formerly known as Mrs Frankencruiser – I decided that name was dumb) 


Farewell Sweet Mobile Reception!!

We are off!!!!  Currently driving out of my sanctuary, Coconut Resort, and heading into the land where smart phones are useless (except for playing Candy Crush) & Dr Google can’t help you win arguments. 

I’m pretty sure there is a ticker tape parade going on behind us as we exit but I’m not game to look for fear I’ll be overcome with an urge to jump out of our vehicle & join them. 

Rohan’s pre-dawn enthusiasm for life & the females of the Davis clan penchant for sleeping in, results in full blown screaming matches every morning, enough to rouse the whole caravan park. 

I’m super glad Kylah has joined us. She gets in & does all the jobs Ben nags me to do (like ensembling bunk beds – although I maintain my arms aren’t long enough for that task!) & she can also help with marriage saving jobs like directing Ben as he reverses Frankie to hook up to Trampy. Everytime I am forced to do that job (direct Ben as he’s reversing Frankie), I feel us inching closer & closer to the big D – divorce. 

Jazzy had the deepest fear of all bottom bunk dwellers realised last night. Isabelle wet the bed. The top bunk!!! Right above poor Jazzy. Jazzy was so distressed, rightfully so, that I don’t know how I’m going to coax her back into bed tonight.  Just makes things more interesting I suppose….

I’m starting to get car sick from typing this as we are driving so I’ll bid my farewell now & have a ton of updates (hopefully positive) to share next time we get mobile reception. 

Wish me luck!!!!

Mrs Frankencruiser xxx


Kylah directing Ben. Me being very helpful by staying away & playing on my phone. 

Day 5 – Brace yourself for TMI

We are still in beautiful Cairns!!! Our stay here has been extended for a number of reasons which I will explain.  

Firstly – Frankie, Ben’s pride and joy, seems to not be as perfect as he hoped in the steering department. Since anything less than absolute perfection is unacceptable, she is having a new power steering thingy put in today before we head off.
The other reason is a tad bit embarrassing. You will notice in my blog that I will spend a disproportionate amount of time/word count discussing the amenities in places we have stayed. This is because when we are travelling, most of my thought process is concerned with adequate places for me to rid myself of waste.  
You see while some people have a phobia or snakes, spiders or sharks…… my phobia lies within the claustrophobic walls of public restrooms. The very thought of them makes my palms start sweating and all rational thought flees my mind (if it was ever there to begin with – Ben says no). I am so consumed with terror that generally, as an act of survival, my body quickly withdraws what ever need I had felt that had caused me to want to use them in the first place.  
Generally, I am super proud of my body’s ability to hold in the face of unkempt bathrooms. I don’t even have to try or suffer any discomfort. The need just vanishes. It certainly makes life a lot easier. However, on our 2 day journey from Brisbane to Cairns I may have overdone it a bit. The restrooms were so gross that I think I relieved myself only twice in the two days.
Consequently, by the time we arrived in Cairns I was very, very sick. A quick trip to the Cairns 24 hour medical centre confirmed that I was suffering from a severe bladder infection brought on by holding on too long. I am now on antibiotics and recovering nicely. The Coconut Resort we are staying in has sparkling clean amenities so I am quite happy to stay here a few extra nights. Ben even took me shopping to buy a camp toilet to cart around with us so this does not happen again. 
I do have a shewee. What’s a shewee?? I’m so glad you asked. A shewee is a device that should make urinating for women as easy as it is for men. It’s like a little cup that sits over your ‘you know where’ and then the wee is supposed to flow out of the attached tube making it as easy for females to piss anywhere as it is for men. Unfortunately my body elicited the same reaction to the shewee as it did to being confronted with public toilets. Need withdrawal.  
It seems that the only cure to my terror comes in the form of top shelf vodka. Once my blood alcohol level reaches a certain point my fear of public restrooms becomes obsolete and I will happily go anywhere. Whilst I am quite open to the idea of spending the entire trip under the influence (it may make dealing with Rohan and his appetite a little easier), Ben doesn’t think it’s an ideal solution (bloody killjoy).
Anyway, enough toilet talk.  
Cairns at the moment is raining and wet. As Frankie is in having a new power steering thingy fitted we are stuck at the caravan park with kids who are driving me insane. Rohan is arguing with anyone and everyone. He does have brief periods where he stops arguing with people to whine about food. Yesterday, the arguing and whining clashed which resulted in a tantrum of epic proportions. SOMEONE USED THE BUTTER KNIFE IN THE JAM JAR!!!!! This led to a total contamination of the entire contents of the jam jar and had Rohan beside himself with grief/rage/anguish/desolation. This event has led him to question everything. What else has been contaminated with the vile sludge we refer to as butter? Is the vegemite safe? The pecks paste (anchovette spread)? He came to the conclusion that the only safe condiment is the honey as that is in a squeezy bottle. Peanut butter has been ruled out by proxy because it’s name contains the word butter. No amount of explaining that it does not contain butter will placate him as he believes that some elaborate scheme has been concocted between Ben, myself and Kraft to trick him into consuming butter disguised as peanuts.
Jasmine has been further enraging Rohan by detailing in her journal every little thing that Rohan does. She watches him like a hawk then as soon as he loses the plot slowly picks up her pencil and begins “Dear Diary, Today Rohan said/did…..”. I feel so sorry for our neighbours. The noise level emanating from our campsite would rival that of a rock concert.  
Anyway, I’d best be going. Kids want me to watch them in the pool and I’d better get them out of Trampy before they either rip it apart, or our neighbours file noise complaints.  
Tomorrow we are heading off to Maytown (providing I am suitably recovered from my bladder infection)!!  
Thanks for reading. 
Mrs Frankencruiser xx

Day 3 & 4

We made it to Cairns!!! Thank goodness!!!!! I am well and truly over free camping.  

Let me just explain my past experiences with free campsites before I launch into a description of my recent experiences.  
When Ben and I have travelled with the kids in the past, the free campsites we have stayed at have been some of our favourite places to stay. Whether we were in the middle of the desert in the NT staying under what looked like a dome of stars, or camped on the banks of the Murray River in Victoria the free camp sites were always clean, picturesque and relaxing. We used to use a book called Camps 5 that listed all of the free campsites around Australia. As the updated Camps 9 book is $49.95 (too expensive and bulky) I was excited to find a $7.99 app called Wikicamps. It’s easy to use and lists free camps, as well as caravan parks, points of interest, day use areas and so on. What’s better is that people who use Wikicamps can add comments about the site so the information is always being updated.  
Armed with Wikicamps I was sure our overnight stops on the way to Cairns would be as lovely as the ones we’ve had in the past. WRONG!!!  
The free campsites along the Bruce HWY between Cairns and Brisbane are absolutely disgusting (well, the ones we looked at/stayed at anyway). They are minefields of human waste and rubbish and smell like a giant sewer. I don’t get it. Why don’t people dig holes?!? Or use the toilets???? Even some day use areas had piles of human waste everywhere (complete with the brown stained toilet paper sitting next to it). It’s enough to make you vomit. Rubish is everywhere. I’m sure that Qld has lots of picturesque, waste & rubbish free camp sites off the highway but when you have 2000km to travel in 2 days you don’t really fancy driving 20km from the Bruce to find a nice spot (although I wish we had of!!).  
The reason we didn’t just pay to stay in a caravan park is because we didn’t really know where we would end up for the night until late in the evening. Ben would say at about 7pm “I’ve only got a few hours left in me” and then I’d get on my Wikicamp app and list all the places we could stay for free. Generally, we’d pull up between 9pm & 10pm, sleep (or try to sleep) for 8 hours, then get back on the road nice and early. Caravan parks generally want to charge us upwards of $90 a night. It’s usually about $40 or $50 for the site including 2 adults. Then they charge $10 or $15 per extra kid!!! When you are only spending 8 hours somewhere that is a pretty steep charge.
Currently we are staying at the Coconut Resort (Big 4) in Cairns. We are spending two nights here and I wish it was longer. I don’t mind paying $90 a night here because it is so lovely. The kids are entertained, it has the BEST water park and playground I’ve ever seen, the biggest jumping pillow in all of Australia (or so they claim) and so many activities for the kids to do. I think you could spend a week here and the kids wouldn’t get bored.  
The kids have been busy writing in their diaries, watching the outdoor movies, swimming, playing in the playgrounds, annoying the crap out of each other, annoying the crap out of me (and probably Ben), whinging for food (mostly Rohan) and spending their pocket money.  
My mum ever so kindly gave the kids some spending money for the trip with the instructions that it could not be spent till they reached up North. Consequently, as soon as we arrived in Cairns yesterday late afternoon, Rohan began rabbiting on about spending his money. This lasted aaaalllll night and picked back up early this morning. At about 8:30am this morning he finally wore me down and I sent him off to the gift shop here at the Coconut Resort so he could spend his money on a grossly overpriced plastic snake. In a bid to encourage more reading (which has the added benefit them being quiet whilst doing so) I’ve told the kids that they can earn money by reading books on their Kindles. So far Jazzy has read the entire Peter Pan book (original version) and Rohan is half way through the book “Lion” by Saroo Brierly. I’m regretting my decision to give them more money as I’m imagining this trip will be spent with Rohan either frantically reading or relentlessly badgering us to spend his money. Anyway, I’d best be off. Kids want to go for a swim so I’m going to go slob by the pool and read a book. Ben is spending quality time again with Frankie, who still needs a bit of tweaking to stop 6 million alarms she is fitted with from being so sensitive.  
Thanks for reading!!
Mrs Frankencruiser xxx

Catching up with one of my besties who I met while living up in the Torres Straits.


Picture of one of Frankie’s drawers. You can se the freezer in the background (with a drop down fridge slide) and my Dreampot all nicely snuggled in the bracket Ben made for it. 


Keeping up to date with their schoolwork. 


Ben spending the morning under Frankie (I swear he loves her more than me 🙄).


Kids about to go swimming.


Reading my kindle while watching kids in the pool & minding Rohan’s rubber snake. 

Day two – Homesickness Sets In

My day started at 4:30am, when Rohan slithered into my bed and clung onto me like a frozen clip-on Koala toy. When he had suitably defrosted (from stealing all of my body heat) his instinctive drive to ask for food set in and he began squawking about breakfast.  Torture.
I wish the day got better from that point but after 11 hours of driving we are now camped in a petrol station next to a refrigerated truck that is making a LOT of noise. You can all fill in the blanks. My bum is numb from sitting, I am wearing the same clothes I had on yesterday and I miss my creature comforts.  Whinge. Whinge. Whinge.

This part of our journey is mainly about getting from A to B so I don’t expect it to be brilliant. Tomorrow we arrive in Cairns so hopefully I’ll have a lot more to report on than numb bums and snotty kids.
With all that said I thought I’d share with you a few more of my brilliant camping hacks.

Food:

I have made about 2/3 of the meals we will need & they are either vacuum sealed (I can’t spell kryovac) or ready to go meals in “dump bags”.

Despite sounding disgusting dump bags are my ingenious idea to save on food preparation. For the days when I will use the Dreampot, which is a thermal cooker, I have saved time by putting all the ingredients in a little bag which I then froze.


You can see from the picture that everything is chopped up ready to go & the dump bags even contain homemade stock paste and spices.

Any potatoes used in the dump bags had to be parboiled first as raw potatoes should not be frozen.

I also made up dump bags for things like scones, muffins & bread – all of which can be cooked in the dreampot!!


Here is a super yummy lasagne I made in the dreampot.

The dreampot works by holding food at temperature for up to 12 hours. So this morning I put a stew on before we left freezing cold Bauple, and it was nice & slow cooked, ready to eat when we arrived at the petrol station at 9pm tonight.

All our food has been carefully packed & planned to make sure we have a really balanced diet while we are away (and to ensure Rohan doesn’t starve to death – a deep fear he holds).
Clothes:

There isn’t too much to say about clothes. Everyone only has about 4 different outfits & I’ve eliminated pj’s (for everyone bar me. I love pj’s). So the kids are sleeping in fresh clothes each night that they will then pack the next day.


The clothes are all packed in these tiny little  Globlite travel organisers that fit nicely in one of Frankie’s drawers.  Mostly we are all wearing neck to ankle clothes to protect against the sun & bugs.

I’d better get off to bed. I have a huge day ahead of me tomorrow, napping in the car & passing Ben his water bottle frequently, so I’d better be well rested.

Hopefully in the coming days I’ll have more interesting things to write about!!

Take Care,

Mrs Frankencruiser xx