Now, we have 5 children, 3 amazing teenagers and 2 little ones, the oldest of which had just turned 2. Traveling across Australia with one baby would be hard enough let alone trying to do it with two, so it was decided that Master 2 would go with his Dad and I would travel with the 13-year-old and the 10-month-old while the two 15-year-old’s stayed with good friends of ours to finish up year 10 and would fly up at the end of the term.
Saying goodbye to my husband and little boy was difficult to say the least. At this stage we had no idea how long it would be before we would be reunited, as the object of the departing was to find work and save for the big move. The time apart could be as little as 6 weeks (although even that seemed like a decade when it came to separating mother and child) or as long as 5 months. The latter was a horrifying prospect that I was determined to ensure never happened.
It wasn’t long before hubby found a secure job but saving enough to get us there and move what furniture we had whilst paying two rents was a seemingly impossible task. It was looking more and more like I’d have to wait till the end of the year to see my baby again. This just wouldn’t do, and even though I’d fallen in love with my recently purchased King-sized bed, made from reclaimed wood and my shiny new kitchen and laundry appliances, there was not other choice but to sacrifice them in order to see those baby blues and kiss those chubby cheeks all the sooner.
So, I sold pretty much everything we had and packed up our small trailer and car with what was left. I had intended to clean the house myself but time began slipping away rapidly so in-between packing, listing items for sale, conversing with buyers, breast-feeding the baby (etc, etc, etc), I had to organize a cleaner and instruct them as to what needed to be done. It was about half way through the final day (tickets on the boat to the mainland where booked for that night) that I realized I’d forgotten to renew my drivers license and it was expired, very expired, like two weeks expired.
Panic gripped my already stressed, exhausted being when I discovered that it couldn’t be done online and only at a ServiceTas centre. I instructed my older kids to watch the baby as I dashed to the car and sped into town only to come upon the realization that it was Saturday and the centre was closed. What was I going to do? I couldn’t do it online and by the time anything would be open on Monday, I would have driven through one state of Australia into another, all without a valid license.
Images of myself being arrested and taken to some outback jail with my two kids crying from the trauma, flashed before my eyes as I pulled into the McDonalds car park and burst into tears. It was all too much, the panic of trying to get the house organized, the trailer packed, kids looked after and a dozen other things that would take way too long to include in this story, all done before we needed to be on the boat, was enough to deal with without having this seemingly impossible situation crop up. Sure, some of you are thinking ‘it’s no big deal’ but for someone who always tries to do things right, by the book, totally legit and legal and all that, Mrs Responsible, it was a hellish nightmare of Godzilla proportions that pretty much derailed me.
It took a 20 minute conversation with the hubby to calm me down and get me back on track. There was nothing I could do, I had to focus on getting to the boat so that our journey could begin. I had been looking forward to the drive, hoping it would be a fun relaxing road trip after a few strenuous weeks, but now there was a dark cloud that would be following us around, making my heart race every time I saw a police car or any car with lights perched on the roof.
After all the racing and rushing, our boat ended up being delayed by 2 hours and the wait at the terminal went from relaxing to incredibly painful, as exhaustion set in. Luckily, the baby fell asleep on the drive there and remained asleep until we carried him into the tiny cabin at midnight. Thankfully babies can sleep anywhere, I wish I had the same resolve. It was one of the noisiest places I’ve ever tried to lose consciousness in, I swear we must have been right near the propellers or the engines or whatever they were. It would have been around 2.30am before sleep finally claimed me, but to say it was a restless sleep would be an understatement.
The excitement of the journey ahead kept me going the following day as we scoured the decks for somewhere to eat breakfast, finally locating the eatery and getting some long awaited relaxation in before we pulled into Victoria at midday. I was grateful at this time that I had organized our itinerary so that we did no more than 6 hours of driving a day (except for one) for I knew the baby would require many stops along the way.
It was a very long, difficult, exhausting trip. We lost a trailer strap on the first day, the tarp wore out by the 4th day (Bunnings became a regular pit stop), I was pulled over once for a random breath test (thanks be to God that he did not notice the expiry date on my licence), the GPS took us into some unfenced properties on gravel roads through New South Wales (a Mother and baby cow tried to outrun us), I had some near misses with the trailer, we ate way too much junk food, we nearly ran out of petrol in the middle of nowhere, had to stop at some really dodgy places late at night to feed the screaming baby and we’d driven out of the way in order to see more of the Eastern Coastline but didn’t see a thing till we got close to our destination. This was partly because the main roads where still a bit too far from the ocean and partly because when we got to that side of Australia, it started pouring with rain. On top of all that, I picked up a head cold two days out of Townsville and began developing conjunctivitis as we drove in.