I woke up early on the day we were about to leave, worrying about everything we still had to do, so I figured I might as well get up and get started. I checked a few things that were really bothering me (will the fridge fit in the space I’ve left for it in the car – yes!, do I know where Caitlin’s special blanket is – yes! (although that night I discovered that I’d forgotten to bring LiAM’s special blanket which was a disappointing and at first he said he wasn’t using any other blanket so he’d just have to get used to the cold… He did use something else though so he did stay warm). Once I felt better about those 2 things the work load didn’t seem too onerous anymore, I felt quite prepared.
So we spent the morning fitting the last few (well, many) things into the car and trailer, and tidying up everything that we were leaving behind, making the house nice for our house sitter. My Dad called in to drop off something we’d left with him, it was lovely to briefly see someone we cared about before we headed off.
The kids were very excited, even LiAM who had been dubious about going even up to the day before. We gave him his birthday present a bit early as we figured he’d want to use it on the trip – a new Camera (a blue Nikon Coolpix S33) and he was thrilled and then even more excited about the trip.
After lunch and when things seemed to be nearing readiness, the kids got in the car, ready to go. It probably took us another hour from there to get everything on top of the trailer and tied down, and then get the trailer hooked up – with both the car heavy the towball was lower than usual so it took a bit more work to get the trailer on – and then getting all our trailer lights working – the connection is a bit funny so it takes a lot of jiggling to get it just right. The car was also packed so full – there were lots of things that we packed at the last minute that will end up being in tubs or in the trailer, but for the first day ended up in the car. Everyone was very accepting of the squished conditions, I was very impressed. We also managed to do it all with fairly little stress – I had a little panic attack not long before we left but managed to calm down without getting sarcastic and cranky like I often do when packing, and only a few minor tensions came up, it was one of our smoothest packing experiences yet.
Finally we left home at 2.45 – a little later than we’d hoped but still with enough time to get somewhere before dark. We stopped in Yarra Glen to get petrol, check the tyre pressure, and return the last of our library books – I also popped in to a local shop to get some mossie spray that they sell – she didn’t have any (wrong time of year) but had the tester jar of some buzz off cream that they also sell, and she gave it to me for free!
So then we were really off on our trip. Originally we’d hoped to make it to Ararat on our first night, but it would have been dark by the time we arrived so we looked for something a little closer and found a free camping site, Slaty Creek, just out of Creswick, near Ballarat. At first we’d also talked about staying in a caravan park on the first night just so that it felt familiar, but by now we felt comfortable and adventurous so decided to try our first attempt at free camping.
We were a bit uncertain as to where on the road the campsite was but eventually we found some other caravans and found an empty site and a spot we could set up camp. As we started to set up we heard birds calling – they sounded like black cockatoos – and suddenly a flock of at least 50 yellow-tailed black cockies flew overhead. It was incredible! I’ve never seen more than 6 at once before, I couldn’t believe there were so many.
It was almost 6 once we got the trailer in place, and it took us 38 minutes to get the tent up and secured, mainly in the semi-dark. In the meantime the kids were gathering wood and starting a fire in the fire pit – it was pretty cold so a fire was quite welcome. Gathering wood meant they got to explore the area around the campsite, it’s an old goldmining area, we’re on the edge of a (currently dry) creek, with lots of fairly tall gums and hills interspersed with little valleys and lots of rocks. A great place to wander in the bush and they’re looking forward to doing more when it’s light.
We had a basic dinner (mashed potato, sweet potato and pumpkin with fried kabana) and set up the beds while Tony was cooking. Millie ate and went straight to sleep, the rest of us stood around the fire for a while (Caitlin found a cool rock to sit on) and chatted and played with our head torches, and then headed to bed. Everyone had a really lovely night and it was a great way to start our trip. I had moments when my anxiety started to point out that I have to repack a lot of stuff in the morning and it’s going to be a tricky job – then I figured I’m enjoying myself now and I’m not going to let worry about a future job spoil the present. It probably won’t even be that bad when I get started. Hope I can continue that thinking throughout the trip.