Our friends were leaving for dancing at 6.30am so most of them were up before 6. Caitlin and I were as well, hanging out with them before they left. Amelie woke in time to hug everyone goodbye, and Liam woke enough to say good bye, then fell asleep again. Once they were gone I had breakfast and had a shower, then started putting everything in the car. I woke Liam because I needed him to eat so I could pack the rest of our food. We were pretty well packed by 9, then our host pulled the trailer out of the driveway with his ute (it was going to be too heavy to pull over the steep lip of the driveway with my car) and I hitched up out on the street. We were in the car and had said goodbye to the kittens and the youngest boy, ready to go by 9.30.
Not far into our drive we saw 2 wedge-tailed eagles – an exciting start to our journey. We were all sad to be leaving our friends, although confident that we’ll see them again soon and it will be like we never left. The drive south was all new to me, I’ve never done this inland trip from Brisbane. The mountains we were driving towards were fascinating to look at, so many craggy peaks and interesting shapes. We were very slow going up and over the gap, but managed it ok.
We stopped in Warwick for petrol, and continued on towards Tenterfield. The land here was less lush and green than in Brisbane, although not dry. We saw lots of cactus by the side of the road. Liam and Amelie had a nap. Driving through Tenterfield I still felt ok, then soon after started to feel tired so stopped at a rest stop (near Bluff Rock) and we had a toilet break and a bit of lunch, and I made a cup of tea. I put my window down to get some air in the car when we stopped, and then it didn’t go back up. I managed to get it about halfway and we had to do the rest of the trip like that.
I felt better back in the car and the drive was interesting and mainly easy. I had downloaded a heap of music in the last week so we were listening to that, it was a pretty cool mix. We stopped in Glen Innes for Caitlin to run into McDonalds and get 3 soft serve cones, I made myself another cup of tea. I was feeling excited by now as the terrain felt familiar – I think I may have driven to Glen Innes once, but it was more that it felt like New England and felt comfortable. One part of the road near Guyra was tricky, it was a long, steep downhill section. I’d had a truck behind me for ages – I’d lose him on uphill stretches then he’d catch up in between. He was right behind me on this section and it scared me – he was supposed to only go 80 down the hill, but I think he wanted to go faster. I was only going 80 because I was quite scared, the trailer was pushing the car and it felt much faster than I would have liked, and the truck was on my tail the whole way. At the bottom there was an overtaking lane and he went past me and I felt much better.
Arriving in Armidale was quite exciting, very keen to have a look around and see the places I remember. There was a hint of autumn in some of the trees and it looked pretty as we drove in. We came in from a slightly different direction than I’d expected, but I soon got my bearings, and was excited to drive past 2 of the streets I lived on while I was here. We easily found the showground and rang the caretaker to check us in. She came over and charged us $15 per night, I was expected to pay $20 so that was a nice bonus. I’d thought it might take us 6 ½ hours, with rest stops and driving slower because of the trailer, and I was right!
I picked a spot and backed the trailer in, and the kids went off to explore. Once I’d unhitched I made a quick call to Tony before he went to work, went to the toilet myself, and then started to set up. Caitlin had a shower and the others wandered around and talked to people with dogs. There’s several other people staying here, including some show people who are staying for the autumn festival next week (Armidale show was last weekend). Once they’d explored enough they played on their ipods in the car – it is a lot cooler here than in Brisbane and they were staying out of the breeze. We’re lucky that the last 4 days or so in Brisbane were only mid twenties instead of mid 30s like the first few days – otherwise we’d really really be feeling the cold here! We rummaged around in the car and found jackets and long pants which we hadn’t needed for a while.
Set up was pretty easy and it was nice to be back in the tent again. Once I had the beds up we walked into town – it’s 3 blocks along the same street from here to Coles. (Before we left I covered the open window with a blanket). The kids found an abandoned Coles trolley and took turns pushing each other in it along the path. Amelie skipped ahead. The sun was setting and it was very pretty.
We bought some food for dinner (ravioli and soup) and breakfast (hot cross buns) and a couple of other supplies and headed back. It was completely dark now and everyone was tired. Back at camp we quickly cooked our dinner and ate it. I put the blankets on the beds and made sure everyone had enough to keep warm, and everyone was in bed by about 9pm (which is only 8pm for our body clocks).