Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Half-lap Day 44: Darwin

We all slept better and Millie and I woke up quite refreshed around 5.30am. She played on the iPad and I got up and had a cup of tea and worked on catching up on the blog – I got all the writing up to date and added photos to a lot of the days I’d missed due to lack of time or internet strength. The others gradually emerged from the tent and we had a relaxed morning. The kids went and played with the chickens, rabbit and guinea pig, and the girls were chased by the rooster so they only go in there with a rake now and that keeps him away. LiAM and I both had chats with friends from home, and we got ready to go out for the afternoon.

We left just before midday and stopped at Target in Palmerston to pick up birthday presents for LiAM and Millie, organised by my sister. Then we drove into the city and parked in the multi-story carpark and headed to the Wave Lagoon. We watched the waves for a while then went and paid for our wristbands (only $18 for a family which is pretty good, we could pay that at times to get into a regular swimming pool). We got changed (Millie and I had to use the disabled toilet because the women’s were closed for cleaning – the cleaner opened it for us with his key, the door shut and we started getting ready, then as he tried to take his key out the door swung open again – luckily we hadn’t yet taken off any important pieces of clothing…) and went into the lagoon area. The water was calm at this stage, Caitlin and LiAM grabbed boogie boards and headed up to the back of the water where the waves come from, and rode the waves back towards the shore once the waves started. When I got in the water and found them they both said that it was ‘so much fun!’ Millie and I walked into the waves for a while and jumped over them a bit.

Tony had gone back up to the car to get water bottles and Millie’s swim ring, when he came back we went and talked to him then Millie and I got large tubes and went back in to the waves. We both floated on the tubes and I held on to Millie’s and made sure the waves hit me first so she wasn’t buffeted so much. It was fun (hard work on my abs) and she enjoyed it as long as we stayed fairly shallow. The other kids had tubes by now too and were bouncing around on the waves in the deeper part of the pool. Tony went out to join them and Millie and I went out as well when the water was calm. We swam in the deep water for a little while then Millie wanted to go back to shore before the waves started. We played a bit more in the shallower waves and tried having the tubes around our middle rather than lying in them, and that was pretty cool too. Tony got in his tube and he and the 2 kids all hung on to each others’ handles and let the waves bring them as a group all the way to shore once they started. We saw the girls we’d met in Katherine and told them that Caitlin was out in the deep water, they headed straight out to find her. Millie had had enough of the waves after a while so she and I went and played in the shallow water pool which had little water fountains and no waves.

Tony came out of the water after a while having had enough sun, so he stayed with Millie in the little pool (which was shaded) and I went out into the waves. I grabbed a tube and found LiAM and we swam against the waves (which was really hard) to try to get deeper – eventually I realised that the troughs between the waves were quite low so I could push off with my feet every time and get a bit of distance that way, and I was able to pull LiAM with me some of the time so we eventually made it most of the way out, and then the waves stopped. We joined up with Caitlin and the 2 older girls, and made a circle of the tubes, holding on to each other’s handles. It was hard to stop from drifting over the lane rope at the back of the pool, and pretty funny trying to keep our circle together and in a safe place. Once the waves started we let them carry us all together and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be. We were fairly close to the wall, where the waves tend to be bigger, and it was fun and pretty easy, then we went around the corner where the pool widens out, and the person at the back of the group each time got tipped up high and nearly capsized. The waves rotated us between each peak so everyone had a turn at being up high – we managed to all hang on to each other and we were laughing so hard we could barely breathe. It was an incredible amount of fun and very exhilarating.

We all went back out into the waves and played around doing our own thing for a while. When it went calm joined together in a group and this time included the 3rd of the sisters – we put her between me and the oldest girl (nearly 15) so that we could hold on tight to her and she’d be safer. This time the waves took us down the middle of the pool and dumped us on the shore fairly quickly – it got really rough as we got shallower and again we were close to being tipped out. Our circle broke and we ended up being a long line of 6 tubes for the last little bit, then we came around to nearly being a circle again and someone capsized and then our line broke up completely. It was hilarious and a lot of fun again.

We got out to have a bit of lunch and put more sunscreen on, and chatted to the girls’ mum for a while. I had arranged to meet a friend here and she’d messaged to say she was coming in earlier than expected – while I was trying to text her she arrived. She’s a friend from when I did my teaching degree and I hadn’t seen her since our wedding – very exciting to catch up again. She came in to lagoon and we sat and chatted, she met the kids and they came in and out of the water, playing with their friends, eating food, and having more time in the waves. Millie pottered around in the shallow water with a tube and had a great time. Tony walked up the street to get new tubes for his bike tyres. My friend and I caught up on things we’d been doing over the last 13 years, what we’re doing at the moment, what it’s like living in Darwin and in Victoria, what our families are up to and so on, and the afternoon passed really quickly.

I went in for one last swim before they closed, and we were the last people at the lagoon. The kids were in the water right up to 6pm when they close, we really got our money’s worth. LiAM said it was the most fun place he’d ever been. Some of us got changed and then we all wandered back to the carpark and said goodbye to my friend. We drove home via Woolworths where Tony picked up a hot chicken for dinner, then back to our tent.

We had hot chicken rolls, Caitlin talked to a friend on the phone, we tidied up our table and then we headed to bed. I read Brisingr for a while and everyone was very pleased to be lying down – those waves were exhausting. It kind of felt like being in the ocean except that the pattern of waves was so regular – if you stayed in the same place you would just get hit by the same wave again and again and again, and after a while you could start to feel seasick. We all had sea legs for a little while after we got out and our bodies were all aching a bit from all the work we did holding on to the other tubes. A very exhausting and fun day.

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