Saturday, 31 October 2009

THE MISTS OF GOD - next step

Hi all.
We are counting down in earnest now. Only 6 weeks to go.

To update you all....

This Thursday night Len flies down to Leongatha to have a look at the school there, where there is a job comprising music, woodwork and sundry tasks. Leongatha is 2 hours SE of Melbourne in the Gippsland area. It is small-ish school that wants to grow and seems like a good place to be.

There is also a position in Kingston, below Hobart.
This one closes next Friday and we have asked them if we might get some idea if Len is in the running or not, as Leongatha need an answer as soon as we are able to.

Apart from that, there are no other jobs in the pipeline at this stage. this means that we are not really able to pack successfully, as we don't now where to send the car and a car full of gear (which we are down to now).

On the living front, we are still squatting at Driver Avenue. We were just told that some builders will arrive in the next two weeks to start cutting concrete etc. Someone will live on site in a caravan, and will need to use the toilets etc. This might be too much for us and we will move out earlier than anticipated and return to our 'home', the Free Spirit Resort and live in the caravan for the last few weeks.

Both our jobs up here are fantastic and we both will miss them. Len is having an excellent time at Marrara and the end of the year will be quite painful actually. Comments from staff are so amazingly encouraging that it is making it even more difficult to leave that it was earlier in the year.
Jude loves Litchfield Christian School and this too will be difficult to leave.

A simple (for us) solution is for immediate family move up here!

We have Terry and Cheryl Young visiting, they are here for two weeks and leave on Wednesday. They have just left (Saturday) for Kakadu, for two days. It has been great to have them here.
Bevan French is here today from Tiwi, and we also have Ryan Warlapinni staying, a student from Tiwi College. Sam is very excited to see him again. He will move about with us this weekend and catch the ferry home Monday morning.
So, it is very busy, eight in the house and all. But it is also very nice having them as well.

So, as we work towards our next move, please keep us in your thoughts, and feel free to comment below.
Until next time.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

What next??

Here we are, 8 weeks today from when we plan to drive away from Darwin and begin our journey south. As we say that is the plan at this stage. The school year finishes then, it will be the beginning of the wet, hot, sticky weather. Our "plan" is to move out of the house we are in at present about a week before that and live in our van, back at the Free Spirit Resort for the final week. Seems fitting that we began our time up here, in a cabin at the FS for about 8 weeks. We also hope to meet up with the French family (friends of ours who came up with us and were also at FS and over on Tiwi with us) on the Friday night. We will have a final meal together there, a swim in the pool and chat about where we will all be heading from there. Seems all so strange but nice too that it is wrapping up in this way.

As we said, we "plan" to drive to the southern states via Western Australia, to be in Tassie by 23rd of January for my niece Jayne's wedding, then to celebrate a late Christmas with family and friends. Christmas for us will be in the van, somewhere down Western Australia. Of course this all counts on the rain not being too heavy by this stage, the road to WA may be impassable and we may have to head through the centre or via the East Coast.

If we have jobs in Tassie ready for us, we will head over on the Spirit of Tas and after the wedding be ready to settle back in for the new school year. If we don't have jobs, we may need to consider Victoria. We do feel that where ever we end up next year though, we will need to stay put for a few years, to allow Jess and Sam to settle in school, and particularly Sam to move through years 9 - 12.

At present Len is applying for jobs in both Tassie and Victoria, hoping for some nibbles, but still waiting. There definitely aren't many in his teaching field in Tassie at the moment. It is all a great time for patience, seeking, hoping and praying. In the words of Sam, "Something will turn up, it has before".

In the meantime, we continue working, both Len and Jude thoroughly enjoying their schools, probably the happiest we have been in our work for a long time - a bit of a shame we will be leaving really. Sam is enjoying playing in an indoor cricket team now that outdoor is finished for the year. Both he and Jess are reasonably happy at school and have made a few friends.

We are all very thankful for all we have done over the last 2 years and wait in bated breath for what exciting adventures await. As someone said to Len, it is like walking into the mists of God.
At church last week, a new song (for us), had a great section in it,

"You took me out of the deepest sea
You gave my soul a song to sing
You took me up on a mountain top
I see my life in a different light."

This was a great song for us at this point in our lives and for the time we have been up here. I hope and pray we can go back to a more "normal" life but hang on to all we have learnt from being away. Now that we have seen our life in a different light, it would be good to use what we have and go for it, for God.

Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.

Back from the West, still in one piece (Episode 3)

After our great experience at Marglu Lagoon, we headed back in to Kununurra for one more night, stocked up on supplies, had an interesting experience at the local chicken take away shop. Len and the children were getting our tea while I finished off the groceries. They found themselves sitting amidst a fight breaking out, police arriving, people massing around. Meanwhile, they sat reasonably calmly waiting for their meal to be ready. If we hadn't had all our experiences the last 2 years this probably would have been a pretty scary experience for them, but they were all quite calm and safe as well. Praise God! As I came out with the trolley and heard/saw all the action over there I was naturally worried for them all and wondered what on earth was going on.

The next day we set off for Lake Argyle, lovely drive in, good roads and quite picturesque. The caravan park at Lake Argyle Village was a pleasant spot, clean and casual. We explored the area, were amazed by the small dam wall which had created such as massive lake. Below right is the dam wall, taken from the Ord River side. The left shot is looking back down the river. Below is the Lake Argyle side of the dam wall and looking out over the Lake. It is something like 35 km by 75 km.

We were all pretty amazed by the sheer size of this project, and to us as complete amateurs, it seemed to be such a positive thing not only for the communities of this area but also for the environment. It would be great if other places in Aus could tap in to the natural supply of rain water each year. Even if this Lake had no rain for 25 years they would still have plenty of water for all the irrigation etc for the region. But of course they get the wet season every year so the water quantity is huge. They even have to let some of it go, enough that would provide water for other parts of Australia. What a pity they can't come up with a cost effective way to move it south. The water capacity of the lake is nearly 20 times that of Sydney Harbour.

On our second day there we decided to treat ourselves to a Sunset cruise on the Lake, and a treat it was. First we watched a dvd about the construction of the Lake, most of the resources used were found in the immediate area too. The cruise just showed us again how awesome the size of this place was. We were on the boat for about 4 hours, and only saw about 1/4 of the Lake. We saw various birds, a few rock wallaby, some fish (the Archer fish were cool, they spat water at you when you were feeding them). We had one swim half way through the cruise in water around 26 degrees - beautiful. A little daunting that the solid ground was up to 19 metres below you - we stayed close to the boat. The kids loved it. Later, at sunset, the boat was stopped again for a second swim, complimentary drinks, dip and crackers, all while floating around in the water again watching the sun go down. Wow, what a great moment. This time they gave us noodles to bob around on so we could relax a bit more.

What a wonderful day and experience. One of those again that we will never forget. We seem to have so many of those from the last couple of years, we better get some extra long term memory storage for all these great moments.

After our 2 nights at Lake Argyle, we set off back to NT, the border only about 1/2 hours drive from Lake Argyle. We stopped at Timber Creek for lunch, met a guy from Wynyard who is travelling round Aus on his own after his wife died. Then on we went to Katherine. Decided to stay there for a couple of nights and relax a bit before heading home. The caravan park was one of the best we had. Well laid out and concrete slabs for all sites. Incredibly noisy bats as the sunset though, quite an amazing sight and sounds. We also had a meal with Colin & Merran Smith. They are the couple who let us use their house in Gunn when we first came over from Tiwi. Judith is now working at Litchfield Christian School, sharing the class with Merran and Colin is the principal. They also went to the Kunurra area for the holidays. Enjoyed relaxing for the 2 days, went to the Katherine hot springs and on our journey back we went in to Edith Falls, another very pretty spot which we had never seen, just north of Katherine. Had a swim and on we went back for home. A great 10 days, and the van and Prado had served us well. A few things to fix or improve on, but now we feel ready for the journey at the end of the year.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Back from the West and still in one piece (Episode 2)

After leaving Turkey Creek we travelled north ready to drive in the Gibb River Road to the El Questro area - looking forward to seeing various gorges, waterholes etc. All was supposed to be very beautiful. We got to the turn off, knew it would be dirt road but the map indicated major unsealed which usually meant reasonable condition. In we went, hoping it would be fine for our poor old van. After the first km we were worried, the corrogations were terrible!!! What should we do, maybe it gets better. We continued for almost 10 km, some bits were better but mostly just the same. Len was even worried for the Prado and it is 4 WD. We stopped again and made the decision, we would turn back. If we went in it was 50 km, 100 km round trip (OF THIS!!!) It wasn't worth damaging everything so back we went. We stopped at the turn off and looked in the van and things were being thrown about, a door broken, oven door off etc. We were glad we didn't continue. (Left is a picture of our trusty van and Prado - before Gibb River Road)

We then decided to drive up to Wyndham, the most northerly town in WA although apparently not much to see or do there. People were right, very small, quiet, but it does have a port and the meeting of 5 rivers. There is a good lookout to go up and see the whole area, but unfortunately on this day it was very hazy, think it might have been some of the dust from east drifting across. (Right is Wyndham)

We spoke to the local tourist lady and she was gobsmacked when we told her we went in the Gibb River Road with our van, she reckons she wouldn't take her 4 WD in there. Apparently it gets graded and is often quite good, but it is now the wrong end of the tourist season, we copped the worst. She suggested staying at Parry Creek farm so we drove a few km south of Wyndham and drove in to there. A beautiful little oasis, lovely pool, its own lagoon and good ammenities. We stayed overnight and also checked out the dreamtime statues, giant croc, big boab and look out in Wyndham.

On the second day before we left we drove in to Marglu Lagoon, near Parry Creek. If we had gone to El Questro we probably wouldn't have seen this and we are so pleased we did. We have never seen such a huge number of birds in one place. There were nearly 50 brolgas, pelicans, magpie geese, egrets, whistling ducks, and numerous others. We also spotted a couple of decent sized saltwater crocs. One which had a very foolish bird walking close to the sharp end. We sat for
about an hour, enjoying the sights and sounds. It was like we were in their world but they didn't notice or at least didn't care. A great experience.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Back from the West and still in one piece!! (Episode 1)

We did it. The Prado, the van, 4 people, 12 days, another amazing adventure. It was a great time to sort out anything else we need to do with the van before our 6 week trip down through WA heading south at the end of the year. We all had our allocated jobs, so by the time we got back home we had the time for packing up and setting up running quite smoothly - Fantastic! We are so pleased with the van, its size and layout. It really was a good buy and will be a great family van for many holidays to come.

We drove from Palmerston to Victoria River on the first day, a small caravan park and roadhouse. Beautiful setting amongst the trees and watching the sun set.(Above - Victoria River)

Second day we drove across the border into WA and stayed in Ivanhoe Caravan Park at Kununurra for. We loved seeing the changing countryside, WA is much more hilly than NT. Also enjoyed the arrival of the Boabs, we all really like these trees, they have so much character. The border crossing is reasonably strict, no fruit, veg, nuts etc. Turned the clocks back 1 1/2 hours. Explored the township, went to Kelly's Knob lookout and watched the sunset, checked out the agriculture - good soil, and an over abundance of water in the area, also drove across Ivanhoe crossing, part of the original road through from Kununurra to Wyndham.

Placing the photos in the right place on a blog is obviously a bit tricky. These photos are boab trees, us driving over Ivanhoe crossing and the sunset over Kununurra.

After 2 nights at Kununurra, we decided to tackle the Bungle Bungles. We made the journey south to the Turkey Creek Roadhouse (Warmun community) We camped there overnight, ready to head off early the next morning into Purnululu National Park (The Bungle Bungles) A 4WD track only, through Mable Downs station and then the national park, only about 50 km but the time was about 1 1/2 hours of bouncing over corrugations, round bends and a few water crossings (not deep though) Finally we made it and were so pleased we did. Went to Cathedral Gorge, saw the domes typical of the Bungles, and into Echidna Chasm. It was very hot, so we were pleased to leave by early afternoon, but glad we made the trek, Len's life long dream now a reality!! We stayed another night at Turkey Creek, and realised you needed to watch out for the locals when heading to the toilet block.