Saturday, December 10, 2011

As far as the East is from the West

Esperance is the kind of place that would be amazing when the sun is shining. We spent a week huddled into the tent, sheltered against the battering wind and rain, and putting fallen tent poles back up at regular intervals. Daniel was working each day, so Karen and the kids managed as best they could, watching movies, reading books, and getting on each others nerves in the enclosed space. They did manage a few walks along the waterfront to see the resident Sealion that displayed himself every day, and performed if anyone looked like they might be fishing. Finally, Saturday rolled around and we enjoyed meeting up with Daniel’s cousin Catherine, Greg, their son Kyle, and friends Matthew and Nathan for breakfast. We had already packed up our tent in anticipation of travelling for the day. And then the sun came out!

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As anticipated, Esperance is beautiful. We took a few photos and left to head for the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The drive is 4,300km and we want to get there in time to spend Christmas with the family. It’s already the 11th of December, so time is running out. Daniel has lined up work on three properties across the Nullabor, so we set off for the first on the list.

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We passed through Norseman and camped the first night at a free site along the 90 mile stretch. 90 Mile is the longest expanse of straight road in the country, so it was nice to break the drive up with an overnight stop. The next morning we introduced ourselves to Peter and Marg from Arubiddy Station, near Cocklebiddy. Whilst on the station Karen and kids mostly relaxed, reading books and playing around the buildings. We managed to get “Tour Guide Karen” to show us through the shearing shed, with all its fascinating machinery. Daniel completed the electrical job was in one and a half days, and we were on the way again. The next two jobs didn’t pan out. One property wasn’t ready for another week, and a roadhouse told us they didn’t need us when we walked in the door. So now it looks like we are going to make it with time to spare.


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Sunset over Arubiddy Station

Moon rise over the shearing shed

We stopped overnight at another roadhouse, and then headed for Arno Bay. Daniel wanted to get some assistance from The Travelling Mechanic in servicing the Troopy. Arno Bay was another place that would be fantastic when the sun is shining (which it did as we were leaving). It was great to meet Robbie and Sharon and we would have liked to stay longer, but we are on a mission! A few days later, many of the caravans and vehicles were severely damaged when a freak hailstorm hit the area.

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PC154504 < Cormornts queueing to get off the jetty as I approach.

Along the GAB.

^ Nullabor means No Trees.

Arno Bay Jetty.

> Waves crashing on the jetty

On the way to Arno Bay, we blew another tyre, the new one that was just replaced in Perth. Aaaarrrggghhh! Fortunately Bridgestone agreed to replace the tyre AND tube under warranty, so after a quick lunch break (with Beth and Jason) in Port Augusta, we headed for Melrose. Here we spent the night camped in the showgrounds beside Mike and Sarah, and their seven children and four performing dogs. It was an excellent evening, and we forgot to take any photos, but the next morning the rush home continued.


Next stop was with Jodie in Merbein, near Mildura. We had met Jodie and her husband Andrew earlier in the year. Sadly, Andrew passed away from bowel cancer in October, and we thought it was time to visit again.  We all had a really enjoyable evening INDSIDE THE HOUSE! No camper set up and pack up. Meals cooked on a HUGE BBQ. Excellent company with Summer, storm and Beau (the kids). Most enjoyable, thanks Jodie.

The longest travelling day we’ve had on this trip was 740km from Nhulunbuy to Mataranka in the Northern Territory, so the next days agenda looked impossible. Dubbo is over 800km from our departure point, but Karen wants to visit the zoo for her birthday. We changed tactics for this part of the trip. Normally Daniel does most of the driving, but this time we alternated approximately two hours each, and made it safely, but tired, into Dubbo at 7:00pm. When Daniel went in to check into the Dubbo City Caravan Park, he contemplated setting up the tent and then getting dinner under way, and booked a six berth room instead. The kids (and Karen) were surprised, and delighted at this turn of events. The trailer was plugged into a power point to keep the fridge cold, and we enjoyed wandering around the Western Plains Zoo for the whole next day. Our last visit to the zoo was in 2006, and some things have changed since then, but others haven’t. We also enjoyed an award winning pie from the Village Dubbo Bakery for lunch that day.

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On Guard, Meerkats


“Kiss me quick”

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Hiding Cheetah

Click on this photo to blow it up, it looks great!

Siamang Apes

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Clean your teeth time!

“Happy” really is!

“Catch me if you can”

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When being chased by a Tiger, DO NOT climb a tree


New born baby

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Otters are SO cute!


Mum and bub

(awake for a change)

To vindicate Daniels cabin accommodation decision, it rained heavily that night, and we were tucked away warm and dry. And so was our tent! It was a week for breaking records, so we left at 6:30am the next morning with Maleny as our destination. At 940km away, there was much distance to travel!

There is not much to report about this part of the journey, we alternated drivers again, and made it into Maleny at 6:00pm that evening. Karen started to get excited when we drove through Toowoomba, and the kids were amazing: Not one call of “Are we there yet?” was heard. They enjoyed some Nintendo DS time (limited to a half hour each), read some books and played happily (mostly).

In 9 days we had crossed five time zones (our bodies are still adjusting to what time it is), and five states. It was an amazing journey, but one that we are not planning to repeat any time soon. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Merry Christmas from the A-D venturers….

Christmas time is our favourite time of year! There is something about the carols playing over loudspeakers, the decorations festooning townships, the spirit and warmth of this time of year. I am reminded of the simplicity as well….the meaning behind all these proceedings. It is a time of reflection on the Goodness of God that He would send His son for me….and you. Our family have taken a moment to reflect on the past year and want to share individually where we have been, what we have seen and experienced as we have continued our nomadic journey around Australia. I asked each of our precious children to share from their perspective, a snapshot of our life. I hope you are encouraged by their words and that you get a sense of the marvellous little people they are….. Please let us know your thoughts, by commenting, it would mean a lot to them and us. I pray you will be blessed and encouraged as you peek into our world!
P9160686Jumping in, Manning Gorge W.A
Driving Quad-Bikes, Hidden Valley Station, N.T
PB112871Lunch spot at Safety Bay, near Steep Point, W.A
P1294445Turtles hatching, Mon Repos, QLD P4034859Feeding Dolphins, Tin Can Bay, QLD PB102722Feeding Dolphins, Monkey Mia, W.A
I really enjoyed riding camels in Broome, bathing in Zebedee Springs, jumping off a REALLY high rock at Manning Gorge, leading baby turtles to the water at Mon Repos, feeding dolphins at Monkey Mia and Tin Can Bay (both on opposite sides of the country), Yellow Waters cruise in Kakadu, driving Quad-Bikes at Hidden Valley (and patting all 24 working Dogs), M.M.M projects in Halls Creek, Billiluna, Yiyili, Lajamanu, and Kalkarindji, exploring Territory Wild-life Park, Rainbow Jungle in Kalbarri, and the Mining tour at Coober Pedy… (please note this list could go on forever!)
My favourite church so far this year would be the A.O.G church in Halls Creek. You could really sense God in the building during the service. It may be an Aboriginal church but it was AWESOME!!! The Worship was LOUD and touching and the sermons were incredible!
This year has been a bit like the Israelites wandering in the desert in search of a land flowing with Milk and Honey, and  as a matter of fact Malanda (where we are going to settle down) is famous for its Milk and its Honey! We have just wandered around following God and His will for us.
Home-Schooling…..hmm….. I can’t say I enjoyed it all…but I did enjoy some of it like Art, English, SOSE and New Spell of Words, I only hated Maths (who wouldn’t!) and Handwriting.
These are some of the people we have met this year that I have just loved getting to know: Brother Ron and Sister Fay, the Macchiusi family, Mr and Mrs Morrison, Trinity, Levente, Israel, Aravis, Dash, Gem, Bronte, Roley, Mrs Jenny James, Mr David James (of Hidden Valley) and the House family (especially the cheeky Mr House). It was great to also travel with Nonna and Poppy again. And I really love seeing Mr and Mrs Hobbs. Oh and Easter with the Mann Family, Aunty Rebecca & Bohdi was really great! Cold, but great! I also loved staying with Mr and Mrs Hipwell in Echuca and Aunty Jodie (Mrs Martin), Mr (Andrew) Martin, Summer, Storm and Beau in Mildura. That was really special.
Next year I will be in Grade 7 and I will be going to a new school in North Queensland. I feel really excited about this. I am looking forward to living in a house again, because I miss having space and friends!
PC183814Mango Ice-cream at The Frosty Mango, North QLD P1224288Connor & I cacking ourselves at Carmilla Beach, QLD P7057624Connor & I riding the Quad Bike at Hidden Valley Stn, N.T
PB062499Snorkelling at Turquoise Bay, Ningaloo Reef, W.A. P9241141Catching some waves at Cable Beach, Broome, W.A. P9211001Riding camels with Mum at sunset along Cable Beach, Broome, W.A
I've really enjoyed traveling, in fact I am a bit sad we are settling down, but it has to happen some day. I really liked Cairns. We had Christmas and my 8th Birthday there. Then we went to Frosty Mango, which is where you can have the yummiest ice cream. When we go there, I have mango flavoured ice cream. Then we hit the road and head for Paronella Park. There was a beautiful waterfall there. Then we went to the Northern Territory. We went to a cattle station named Hidden Valley, they had 24 dogs. We got to ride on quad bikes and help Bronte do some cattle work. There was one dog we really liked there, his name was Bob. He was a kelpie, and we liked him because he felt our feelings. One day we were doing Maths work and he jumped up on the table and caused a big interruption. He put 2 big paw prints onto my workbook. I thought he was beautiful! I loved Hidden Valley and really liked going back there a few times.
I was really surprised at how many times God has helped us with all kinds of problems. God is my best friend! My BFF! He is so cool. I love how he always helps us, and how he always gives us 5c and 10c coins when we are worried about money.
School this year was great. I was Grade 3. I am going into Grade 4 next year in a new school. I think I will miss Home Schooling because we only did school in the mornings. I also liked our Groves Christian College teacher Mr P. He was so nice to us.
I found it fun snorkelling at Ningaloo Reef! There were lots of fish and coral to see. My favourite place to snorkel was at The Oyster Stacks. It was like putting your face into a fish tank! We saw a huge blue starfish and lots of turtles there. We also swam with one. It was so cool!
I had a few frights this year. I fell over on an oyster bed on 80 mile beach and have scars on my hand and my leg. I was scared on some of the 4WD trips but Dad does a good job. I was scared to go snorkelling but Dad held my hand and helped me to do it anyway.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!

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Climbing the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, near Pemberton, W.A. with Dad Mitchell Falls, W.A. Turquoise Bay, Ningaloo Reef, W.A.
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Impromptu violin recital, Billiluna, W.A. (they made me play “she’ll be coming around the mountain” over and over again) Best Friends Forever, Leisl and I at Osprey Bay, Ningaloo, W.A Like mother like daughter, Cairns, QLD
I looked past the metal rod I was standing on, trembling. Dad and I were climbing the spiral stairway up the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree. The gap between each metal spoke was large enough for Dad to fall through, let alone me! So my life depended on my sweaty grip of the rungs. Kindly they had added a chicken wire fence to stop me falling out the right side. But what about the gap between my feet?!! Of course I was nervous. Scared even. But I said, "I will reach the first platform." And I did. The view  was beautiful. I never thought climbing 25m would be so scary. And the tree was three times taller than the first platform. I am glad I did that climb. Sometimes fear gets in the way of doing something incredible. I just had to be determined to do that.
That’s what a lot of this trip is all about. Dad says to expand your comfort zone you have to stretch it. My Dad and I have done some pretty amazing (and scary) things on this trip. My whole family has been in the other’s face 24/7, for two years. OK we’re not perfect. And we get cranky sometimes. But this trip has brought us all closer together, literally.
My Dad and I stood on the very edge of Mitchell Falls, looking at the bottom about 200m away. He said to me,”You’re going to be disappointed the rest of your life, Josie. That’s about as good as it gets.” Thanks a lot Dad! Not. We went snorkelling in the cool waters of Ningaloo Reef. Dad and I went out together and had the pleasure of snorkelling with a green sea turtle. Dad and I often do the freaky things together. Not because we’re braver than the others. They recognise their limits and where they must stop. Connor sometimes comes with us.
Mum and I have become really close. I know I can always talk to her about anything. Mum’s always been there to guide me through these hectic preteen years.  She goes ahead and does the freaky things even when she is afraid. Mum does the household jobs every day without complaint. I can hug her at any time. Dad never gets embarrassed. The only one who has managed to embarrass Dad is Leisl. Go Leisl!! He manages the funds and does a lot of driving. He’s not perfect either, but he’s good for hugs. Dad’s like the family stabiliser in difficult situations.
My siblings and I are VERY used to each other. Sometimes I wonder if we are too used to each other. We have lost the need for lots of toys and always go exploring at the new campsites, after we set up. I admit, we fight, but we don’t want to lock each other into an underground prison. I know my siblings a lot better since this trip started. Leisl and I talk together about anything. Connor and I wrestle (BTW, Connor, I won!). Rosa likes to play Barbies, so I try to play with her. We are all in community. We are all very determined and have an opinion (in other words, we’re stubborn!).
I have developed a close relationship with God. He has helped me through the tough times and has used me all over the country. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I fight with Him even though I know He’s right! He has continued to amaze me this whole trip. He has blessed me and shaped me into who I am right now. He is continuing to change me. Right now things aren’t making sense, but He knows the end from the beginning. I know everything will work out God’s way. Listening to sermons from Pastors like Kris Valotten and Bill Johnson from Bethel Church, Shane Willard and Graham Cooke has been a spiritual thirst quencher on this trip. We have been to many different churches all over the country. It’s like tasting a different flavour of ice-cream every time we step into a new church. It’s God, it’s ice-cream, but some people like a certain flavour rather than the others, some like it with nuts, others like it dairy free. It’s still ice-cream.
It’s been really hard away from family and friends. I really miss my friends and I look expectantly in the mail when it arrives. I want to thank everyone who has sent letters to me. I want to encourage those who haven’t. I have made new friends all over the country. In Broome I met a lovely new friend named Angela! Angela wanted to learn violin, so I offered to teach her a thing or two. We got along really well, and it was very hard to leave her. I felt so sad when we left. Schoolwork has been really hard too. I’ve tried hard not to complain but I wondered how it was possible to work when three others were whingeing and Mum was about to explode. I’m actually looking forward to normal school next year. Playing violin is sometimes hard. It’s not exactly easy to learn without a violin teacher but somehow I manage. I have moved forward two violin grades on this trip! It’s been hard when everything is at breaking point: the tent, the car, the bank, the schoolwork, the family. God has helped us through it all.
We have been in heat (Longreach, 40 degrees), cold (Myrtle Park, Tasmania, –5 degrees), rain (Aunty Ruth’s place, near Townsville), storms (Hobart, Tasmania), flat tyres all over the country, enough repairs on the car to nearly replace it, and many other things. God’s hand has been with us the whole time. So as Christmas comes again I am reminded of how much God has done for us. That’s why we went on this trip in the first place – because God told us to.

P4034862Feeding the Dolphins at Tin Can Bay, QLD P4255320ANZAC Day, War Memorial, Canberra, ACT P4215231Shoalhaven River, NSW
P5055791Kings Canyon, N.T. PB062495Snorkelling at Ningaloo Reef, W.A. P6287407Rock Art, Bungle Bungles, W.A.
This year we have been in so many awesome places I don’t know where to start.
I’ll start with Cairns. When we were in Cairns we explored over to Tinnaroo Dam, where there’s a pontoon we  had to swim to. Next comes Townsville where we had our worst pack up day at our Aunt’s property when it rained and rained and rained. But we had a treat at the Frosty Mango ice cream store. We couldn’t miss Mon Repos (Mon repo) where we watched baby turtles venturing down to the sea from the beach. Then we got to feed dolphins at Tin Can Bay. After venturing across the border we travelled down the NSW coastline, through Sydney. We went to Canberra for ANZAC Day and had an awesome time with The Mann Family over Easter at Shannon’s Flat. We drove over The Snowy Mountains, into Victoria….along The Murray River, to Mildura. Then we travelled with Nonna and Poppy through South Australia and into The Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is one of the most interesting places we have been to. I liked King’s Canyon where Poppy and I ran off and my whole family freaked out when they saw me looking over the cliff edge! I was seeing how high up it was. But they were a long way away. We waited for them to catch up. They were a bit cross. We went up through The Mereenie Loop where we saw lots of Gorges.
We also went to Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk) where we went on a boat ride up the Gorge with Nonna and Poppy and saw a small Fresh water crocodile. After that we went out to a cattle station named Hidden Valley where we got to do lots of great things, like riding Quad Bikes, helping Bronte, holding snakes, playing with dogs, catching red claw.
After that we went to Western Australia, to Halls Creek to help with an M.M.M project. We also went out to Billiluna then back in to Yiyili. I thought Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater was awesomer than awesome! We also went to The Bungle Bungles where we heard Dingoes howling at nightime. My favourite place there would be Echidna Chasm. It had 200m high walls, and a cool track in where we walked in single file. Then we went back to The Northern Territory to help with an M.M.M project out at Lajamanu and Kalkaridji. Then after a quick trip back to Hidden Valley we went to Kakadu National Park with Mr and Mrs Hobbs in their yellow Bedford Motorhome. In Kakadu we saw lots of Aboriginal Rock Art and on the Yellow Waters Cruise we saw heaps of big Salt Water Crocodiles! That was cool! We went up to Darwin, then back down to Douglas Daly Hot Springs.
Then we travelled towards W.A. again, but ended up staying in Timber Creek for a week. Then we finished off Term 3 School work in Kununurra, then went off to Lake Argyle before heading up to Wyndham and then off to El Questro at the beginning of The Gibb River Road. The Gibb River Road was cool, with lots to see. I really liked Zebedee Hot Springs, Bell Gorge, Emma Gorge, El Questro Gorge, Manning Gorge, Mitchell Falls, Little Mertens Falls and Big Mertens Falls, Wyndjana Gorge and the best was Tunnel Creek! Then we went over to Derby, then across to Broome where we were happy to see the sea again. In Broome we started and finished Term 4 Schoolwork, as well as riding camels on Cable Beach, watching lots of sunsets over the sea, seeing Dinosaur Footprints at Gantheaume Point and watching The Staircase To The Moon! Then we went up to Cape Levique where I went snorkelling for the first time in the sea.
Then we went to a cattle station on 80 Mile Beach and collected lots of big shells. We drove down the coastline I remember seeing Port Hedland, and Karijini where we climbed through lots of skinny Gorges, my favourite was Hancock Gorge. Then we went to Exmouth to visit Ningaloo Reef which was very cool. We did lots of snorkelling there and were sad to leave.
Then we went down the coastline further to Shark Bay. My favourite experience this year. I liked going to Monkey Mia, seeing the Dolphins, going to Ocean World, Shell Beach, 4WDriving out to Steep Point (The Western Most Point in Australia), Thunder Bay Blow holes and Hamelin Pool Stromatolytes. then we kept going south, Geraldton, Kalbarri, Cervantes, The Pinnacles, The Gravity Discovery Centre and then Perth. We went down through The Margaret River area, through Augusta, Pemberton, Walpole, Albany and Esperance. I really enjoyed The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree and The Valley Of The Giants Treetop Walk.
This journey has taught us to be patient, to be kind, to be generous and to love God as we love ourselves. God has provided for us many times. I’m glad we went travelling but we have to settle down. I would like some friends and some space.


Working at Hidden Valley Station, that’s Karen driving!
Jim Jim Falls

We have done lots of walking this year
P5076038Simpson’s Gap, The Northern Territory
What??? Me??? Push the kids in…….. No way!

Adjusting tyre pressures for driving on another dirt road
As I reflect back over the past year, it amazes me that we have done so much and come so far. In a world where each years effort is often not much better than last years, we seem to have accomplished far more than ever before. It was my impetus that began the discussion on whether we could consider travelling for another year, and I must admit, I am somewhat disappointed with our need to settle down. I understand it’s what our family needs and with good reason, but this taste of travelling as a family has given me an appetite for more. We have been so many wonderful places and done so many amazing things, that I have been watching how many opportunities we have unknowingly driven past, or not had time for, and it makes me want to slow down and experience everything available. Sometimes we meet people who say “We are going to travel around Oz for three (or six) months.” It just is not enough time. Sometimes two years does not feel like enough time. But as I ruminate on the missed opportunities, I am reminded of the incredible path we have traversed, the incredible people we have met along the way, and the way God has provided for our every need, every step of the way. It is an amazing journey, to step out in faith.
Some of my highlights this year would include (in no particular order):
>Christmas with family in Cairns >Travelling with Mum and Dad
>Easter in Canberra with my sister & dear friends >Climbing the Bicentennial Tree with Josie
>Turtles hatching at Mon Repos >Dolphin feeding – Tin Can Bay & Monkey Mia
>Snorkelling at Ningaloo >The Gibb River Road & Mitchell Falls
>The Bungle Bungles >Three days on Carmilla Beach
>Working on Cattle Stations >Spending time with my peripatetic sister
>Camping on the beach – Qld, NSW, & WA >Helping Andrew & Jodie
>Serving God through MMM >Kakadu National Park
One of the questions we are often asked is “Where is your favourite place in Australia?” This question is impossible to answer, there are so many. This year, we spent a few months in Western Australia for the first time, and it has definitely been a highlight. We really enjoy going to the Northern Territory, and Queensland feels like home. There is still so much to explore through NSW and VIC and we have hardly seen anything in SA. Good friends and family always make the ACT an excellent place to visit. Tasmania remains high on the list of best places in Australia, when it is warm! The travel bug is well and truly implanted…..
One of my new interests this year has been photography. Up until recently, I just used our digital SLR camera as a point and shoot machine, with little though for anything further than that. I have read a few books and started experimenting with settings and filters for the camera. You may have noticed an increase in the quality of the photos we are producing lately. This is a combination of my increased learning in the camera’s capabilities, and asking Karen about composition. Together we are getting good results.
As we look to the future, I am becoming excited about settling in the Malanda area. I wanted to find a small community, where I can work for myself, and provide a secure environment for the children. The small country town atmosphere suits my disposition, and health. I have noticed that in the cooler, more southern destinations my asthma is more difficult to manage and more of a problem. Whereas in the north I have fewer challenges and its easier to manage. The tablelands area does feel the heat of summer, but is considerably cooler than the coastal areas, so should be comfortable enough most of the year. And finally, from Malanda, we can explore the many camping and fishing destinations around the top end.
I sincerely hope you have enjoyed following our ramblings as we have reported in along the way. We started this blog as a way to keep our families informed, and share the experience as best we could. Today it has become a valuable resource for jogging our own memories and reliving parts of the adventure. It has been a pleasure to write, and I am planning to continue, right to the end!

PC313856I started this year with my vivacious sister Kristy, in Cairns QLD P4265352We had a cool Easter at The Mann’s Block! Shannon’s Flat, N.S.W P8048074Hanging out with Lyn Hobbs at the top of Gunlom Falls, Kakadu, N.T.
P9180810Soaking up the light in the darkness at Tunnel Creek, at the end of The Gibb River Rd, W.A. P7307930Most of the M.M.M team with Bill & Pauline Morrison & Jerry Jungela at Lajamanu, N.T. PB112912My best friend: the other half of my Godly counsel, Daniel & I at Safety Bay, near Steep Point, Shark Bay, W.A
Whew what a year! It has been such an adventure to be homeless again! To be out on the open road, going where we feel God is directing us to go. There have been many lonely times, many happy times, many amazing times. God is so good, all the time! We have literally traversed the continent this year. But rather than recount our travel journey, i.e. the places we have been and the sights we have seen I wanted to take a moment to share some of the Blessings along the way. God has blessed me with some great friends! Some friends who regularly send me hair dye, dark chocolate and new books to read! Friends who ring me, sms me, skype me at the very moment that I am not coping. I praise God for the women of my Bookclub and for my (ex-)neighbour! You guys have so encouraged me. I praise God for my friend Melinda, she has mentored me, stretched me and taught me to focus on the goodness of God, his very character!
It was such a joy to travel from Mildura, Vic up through the centre of S.A. and The N.T. with Daniel’s parents (Mum and Sir)! We just loved that. They are so dear to us all and to have them walk through King’s Canyon with us was so wonderful! It will be so nice to live a bit closer to them when we settle (roughly 3 hours drive). Don’t worry, the kids have already started planning sleepovers and weekends away with Nonna and Poppy! Actually Daniel and I are both very blessed to have such a great family. This year we have seen all Daniel’s sisters (Roni, Rebecca, Naomi and Ruth) and their respective families. We have also seen my parents and all of my siblings (Kristy, Ross, Geoff and Jen) and their respective families. I am often surprised how much more time with our respective families we have been able to enjoy as we have been on the road. We had the pleasure of staying with my Mum and Dad in Maleny for an 8 week stint whilst Daniel worked in Brisbane after the floods early in the year. This started as a weekend stopover and grew into many weeks. I like to think that we were a help to them as well, as much as 4 boisterous children can be anyway. It was so hard not having Daniel with us for more than 2 days at a time after living with each other all the time. All of us were so happy to get back on the road again, but really pined for Mum and Dad. There were tears all round!
But I wanted to introduce you to some of the dear people we have come to know and love as we made our way from place to place. I often tell our family that we are like Abraham, constantly packing up our tents and moving from place to place in search for the place the Lord has planned for us. It seems we are often in the desert! And in those places we have discovered some of the most beautiful people….
When we left QLD we made an arrangement to visit the M.M.M Office in Wyee, to meet Peter and Lillian Taylor. It was a very wet old time whilst we were in Wyee, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time there, and were so blessed to meet Lyndon and Kelly Bell as well. We had a wonderful Easter at the base of The Snowy Mountains with Kristelle and Andrew Mann and their 4 children, as well as Daniel’s sister Rebecca and Bohdi! It was so cold ice formed on our tent and in our sink! Brrrrr. We revisited our new friends from last year, Peter and Glynnis Hipwell in Echuca on our way west. These two people are so lovely, and it was so nice to stay with them awhile. Our time with them always seems too short. AFter that we went to help out some friends of Ruth and Paul (Daniel’s sister aka The Old Girl and her wonderful fella) in Mildura. We didn’t know these guys but it took about 2 minutes before they started rubbishing us….we knew they were going to be fast friends. Jodie and Andrew and their children; Beau, Summer and Storm snuck into our hearts over the course of the week we were with them and man it was hard to leave. Andrew had terminal cancer and sadly he passed away in October. He was a dead set legend! What a privilege to step into someone’s life for a while and walk alongside them, no matter how brief.
After reacquainting ourselves with the lovely Sullivan family at Cave Creek in Mataranka, we went on their referral to do some electrical work on Hidden Valley Cattle Station, about 65km down the Buchanan Highway from Dunmarra. What a delight to meet David and Jenny James! On subsequent trips we got to meet Corinna (and her 2 children James and Evelyn who just adored Josie), Bronte and Geoff and Roley. Bronte taught me to drive the I.T. and literally put Daniel’s life in my hands! She is a great teacher! We fell in love with Hidden Valley and the people there, the children especially loved their dogs. Jenny was absolutely amazing with her dogs, getting them to work the cattle. I admire these people, such good hard working people who pour their heart and soul into their family and their land.  Our hearts broke when the live export debacle occurred as we knew so many of our friends were hurt badly by their loss of business. The media and the Government have a lot to answer for! We had many good times there, and the most rambunctious game of Pictionary ever! By the way…the girls won!!! Sorry fellas.
It is always a joy to roll up our sleeves and volunteer our time with M.M.M. and we joined the Kimberley Safari Team this year for what turned out to be nearly 2 months of hard work with some great people. Phil and Gwen Hall did a good job heading up the team, and we met so many people… Alan Donald (from Perth), Geoff & Bronwyn Bauer (friends from QLD who came out to Maningrida with us last year), Kevin & Ira Sproats (from NSW), Bruce & Pam Collard (from NSW), Bill & Heather Heebles (from NSW), Geoff & Carol Limpus (from QLD), Helen May (from QLD) and to reacquaint ourselves with the inimitable Darrel House (M.M.M. N.T. State Manager aka the energizer bunny). It was an immense privilege to work in the Churches in Halls Creek and also to spend time out at Billiluna (180kms down the Tanami Track) and Yiyili (110kms towards Fitzroy Crossing). There were numerous beautiful people we met over the duration of these projects; Pastor Brett & Justine Wiltshire, Brother Ron & Sister Faye Anderson….the amazing AOM Church in Halls Creek…what an incredible church! Pastor Tony & Lyn fro Billiluna, pastor David Street from Yiyili, Donald and Evelyn Cox, the Korean couple:Timothy and Sarah and their dog Gumburrooo (who stole my shoe!) from Halls Creek People’s Church.
We also joined Darrel House again in July, for another M.M.M project out at Lajamanu in the Northern Territory; meeting up again with Bruce & Pam Collard, Geoff & Carol Limpus, Helen May and meeting some new great people Chris & Sue Mallam (from NSW). Honestly this M.M.M project was life changing! The people of that community touched me deeply, to hear the testimony of the Pastor Jerry Jungela as he shared his story of coming to know Jesus, round the glow of a fire will be with us forever. The Global Interaction Missionaries Bill and Pauline Morrison were so beautiful I just wanted to wrap them up and bring them with us. But how could I? The work they are doing for The Lord in the two communities of Lajamanu & Kalkarindji is inspiring. We just loved these guys….and feel that our paths will cross again.
It is always a pleasure to go to Darwin and hang out with the House family! Lovely coffee, beautiful food and great company to boot. I particularly love going to Darwin because that is where my gorgeous friend Monique Manning resides. I was so blessed to spend a whole weekend with Monique, and a new friend, Naomi Thomsen at the QLD/NT MOPS Conference on The Sunshine Coast in August. I loved that Conference, to see so many dear friends (Rosalie Barrett, Kylie Bartholomew, Simone Miller, Tracey Beard, Donna Turner, Melanie Capps, Jillian Ross, Cath Oehlman, Helen Lang and the many other great MOPS Mamas) and share a room with such beautiful women, was like a breath of fresh air to my lonely soul. MOPS is a big part of our lives. God has really grown me as a leader through this ministry and has shown me that I am to continue serving Him through MOPS. I am unsure in what capacity I will serve next year, but He is so faithful to me, and I trust He will make a way. I also enjoyed attending the W.A. MOPS Conference this year. I have to say…they had the best coffee! Spending time with our National Director Margaret Saunders, the Regional Coordinators: Bec Gibbons, Sarah David and Amy Laden made my weekend so special. And Cherie Macchiusi…beautiful Cherie (The W.A. MOPS Area Coordinator), it has been an absolute pleasure to hang out with someone so amazing. Cherie, Carlo & their two children have blessed us so much in recent times with great companionship, incredible food and fellowship. I love our Aussie MOPS family, what an incredible team, making a Kingdom difference! Praise God for these beautiful servant hearted women who are leading, planting and guiding MOPS Groups all around the country to minister to the Mums in their communities, sowing seeds for Jesus!
We have developed our own unique sense of community as we travel. The Families On The Road Travelling Australia Facebook Group have been absolutely amazing as well. it is always nice to connect with other like minded nomadic families and we were delighted to meet a few of these members as we made our way around the country. Also it was great fun to be a part of The Travelling Beanie, and what a great pleasure it was to meet up with Beth, Jason & their 2 girls. I love that there are other crazy homeless, travelling families out there doing what we are doing SmileAlso cool people like Ron from The Wirib Caravan Park in Timber Creek! Or dear friends John and Lyn Hobbs from our Home Church who came and joined us for parts of our journey….what an encouragement they were and such good fun! How very special to share the journey with such great mates.
Finally I wanted to mention the awesome time we had attending Victory Life Church in Broome! This church totally rocked! We thoroughly enjoyed the teaching and the worship there. And what an absolute joy to connect with the Biong family. This family made our stay in Broome so much richer, they embraced us, they fed us the most beautiful food and they made us so sad to leave them all behind. Josie spent quite a bit of time with their daughter Angela teaching her the basics of violin. I thank God for dear ones like this who go out of their way to bless others, to take them into their homes and offer them food and fellowship and the tender hand of friendship.
I pray that you will be richly blessed this Christmas as you ponder the goodness of God in your life. As you take a moment to see how many people He has placed in your life to bless you and encourage you along your journey. I am so grateful that our Lord and Saviour came to die for me…and also for you. Glory in the highest! I pray that this year you will be blessed and that your very life will be a blessing to others.
Merry Christmas!
with love and hugs from all of us