After 5 weeks on the road up to the tip of Australia, we have come home ... temporarily. We are back to finish the caravan and tie up the loose ends of our possessions and then the world (known as Australia) is our oyster.
We've been back for 3 days and both Az and I already have itchy feet - which is great, because we've found motivation that was long lost before we left for Cape York. Within a day of being back, Az and Dad had paved an area at the top of the driveway and had moved the caravan up there so Az can easily work on it. So it now sits, no axles, up on blocks and ready for him to work his magic on. I need a small ladder to even get into it now!
I've done 10 loads of washing (no exaggeration!) and did the mountain of dishes that came out of the truck (they weren't dirty don't worry)... I seriously have NO idea how we fit all the clothes and dishes etc that I've washed, into the truck - it's like Mary Poppins' bag!! I wasted no time in getting the computer in for fixing - the hard drive is being replaced - which means that I lose everything on the laptop.. all the photos from the beginning of our trip - bugger, with a capital B!! Oh well, it's not the end of the world :)
To fill you in on the last few days of our trip....
After an amazingly refreshing swim in the Longreach Community Pool (complete with hot shower afterwards) we had bacon and eggs in the park and then took a stroll down the main street. We were both surprised at how the temptation to spend money was so strong after not being near "proper" shops. We have been so good (aka.. tight) when it came to spending money on the first part of our trip and it gave us a great start to new habits that will hopefully stay with us for many years to come - of buying out of necessity and not want (or greed). I managed to stay strong and only bought a magazine and 2 puzzle books (and trust me, this was out of necessity, after the awful stretches of roads of nothing nearly killed us both .. from boredom). We moved on to the Stockman's Hall of Fame, which was pretty interesting. Aaron will tell you that the QANTAS museum was much better, but I would rank them very similarly. We decided that as there wasn't too much else we were really wanting to see in Longreach, we drove to the next town of Barcaldine - which is home to the 'Tree of Knowledge'.... a definite must see. While the town boasts 6 (or possibly even more) pubs in the mere stretch of about 600m, it also boasts a beautiful tree come art installation. It really is spectacular - even Aaron was impressed!! This tree has quite a history behind it and has been beautifully protected by a shroud of individually crafted timber beams suspended by steel rods - with a pattern that emulates the branches and leaves of the original tree.
We stayed in a free camp outside of town and the next day were on our way to the gem mining towns of Rubyvale & Sapphire. After winding our way through a few mountain ranges, we came across a town called Willow Gemfields and decided to drop in and see what the 'town' was all about. The town consisted of 3 streets, 2 caravan parks and a mine called "Bonanza Minefield"... You can get a fossicking permit for $9.50 for the month and just find a bit of dirt and start fossicking. We stopped where a couple of older gentlemen were digging a very deep hole and got a crash course in Sapphire fossicking. We were considering having a go at a spot around there, until old mate told me that he'd just found a Brown Snake - which had shed it's skin twice and was still quite active... we decided to move on. We were asking how big a Sapphire they had found.. one of the guys had been at it for 40 (!!!) years and his mate had only been doing it for a "few years" .. which turned out to be 17 years!!! Old mate who'd been at it the longest said he'd found a 420 carat Sapphire!! I nearly fell over. He quickly told me that it wasn't quite the same as a diamond being that many carats. Still - pretty impressive. I asked what he did with all the Sapphires he found, which (and I had to suppress a bit of a chuckle) he informed me had gone to all his previous 'lady friends'. And the kids & grandkids of course. They told us to be careful, because this fossicking gig can get very addictive - he pointed over his shoulder and told me one of his ex-s and her new husband were over there fossicking.... he'd got her hooked and she's not been able to stop since.
We decided to head over to Sapphire and looked into a more 'touristy' option just to give us a taste and see how we felt about it. Ended up at Rubyvale and did an underground tour of an old mine and bought a bucket of 'wash' - that we could fossick. It was hard work, and we only did a bucket each!!! By the end of it, our backs were sore and we were well and truly over it. In saying that we also decided that it was a bit of a dud set up and were convinced that the crew that run it, just get a bucket of dirt and put in a few tiny gems to get everyone into it. We thought we'd give an open mine a go, but after learning the price of such a daytrip, we decided to get back on the road and ended up in Emerald. Where we stopped at another free camp, under a railway and next to the main road into the town .. slightly noisy.. until we went to sleep and then didn't hear a thing!
By this stage, we were both getting super super keen to get home and start on all the projects that were now swimming around our heads. We had 2 more stops before home - my Sister's house in Dalby and Aaron's parents' house in Toogoolawah. As we arrived at Neika's house, we looked up to see Riley (my nephew) peering out the window waiting for us to arrive. Neika informed us he'd been like this for about 20 minutes - cute!! We had a great time! I introduced Riley to sliding on tiles with your socks... he still needs a little work on that one .. hehe.
The next day we dropped into Aaron's Nan's place, as we hadn't seen her since we got married (1.5 years ago!). Had a great chat with her and left with the promise of a game of Scrabble the next time we saw her. We surprised Aaron's Mum and Dad at Bowls - which seemed fitting as we had originally started our journey there.
And then finally the day we returned home - we were both so sure the trip would take hours and hours (usually 2.5 hours) because we were so excited about getting back. But we made it!!
We had a great trip and are now even more so looking forward to our next chapter. The goal - to leave by early September so we can catch the last of the snow season - oh yeah baby!!
I'm working on photos now, so will be posting photos from our trip soon. .. so stay tuned