It's almost two weeks since we've arrived back in Brisbane to live and I haven't even begun to recount the final leg of our cross country journey. There is no time like the present, so let's get started! Where were we? Oh, yes, that's right, we were just about to leave Melbourne...
As much as I enjoyed our little stay in St Kilda I have to tell ya that I was very glad to roll on out of Melbourne. More and more my heart craves wild spaces and though Melbourne might be 'hip' and 'cool' it just doesn't light my fire the same way it does other peoples. No, no, I was itching to get out of the concrete and traffic and see some more of this countries natural beauty. We didn't have to go far to find it either. We left Melbourne on Friday afternoon in peak hour traffic and headed towards Phillip Island where we spent the night. In the morning we visited the Koala conservation centre and then continued eastward towards Wilson's Promontory.
Oh my good green goddess of all that is wild and free, this place is surely one of the most beautiful National Parks in the country. We spent three days in this incredible wilderness hiking up mountains, snorkelling in kelp beds and wandering pristine beaches. We met with some friendly wombats and took in breathtaking views of the southern ocean and I could not believe how utterly spectacular Wilson's Prom appeared. A big long bank of cloud hung above the mountains for the entire time we were there, but all around this cloud we mostly saw blue sky - it was surreal. I loved our visit there more than I can say - it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and if you have never been to Wilson's Promontory I strongly encourage you to find your way there. Just look at it!
After three amazing and active days at Wilson's Prom we continued towards a tiny seaside town in southern Victoria called Marlo. This is where the Snowy River meets the sea. It's a very small seaside village and I spent the day walking along the inlet and painting whales by the water while Ben worked in the van. From here we headed further east, crossing the border into New South Whales and driving through the wild southern forests and farmlands. We pulled up for the night in Eden which is a fishing village famed for its tales of friendly orcas who used to help the whalers catch humpbacks back in the whaling days. I'd just read a book about this place and its history so it was fascinating for me to see where it was set. Now Eden is a fishing hub and much friendlier towards the whales. The humpbacks were still around while we were there so I booked myself a tour for the very next morning and though the sea was rough and I got very sick (yeah, I spewed, ewwww) it was totally worth it because we saw two mummas and calves and one of the calves decided it was playtime! In all my whale watching trips I haven't been so lucky with calf encounters so it was really special for me to see this beautiful baby up close and having the best time practising its breaches in the mighty sea. (The whale images are by Cat Balou Cruises.)
From Eden we rolled on up to Batemans Bay where we spent a lovely night eating Mexican food and sleeping by the sea. I explored the little town, wandering along the river, trying to make friends with the timid pelicans. It rained most of the next day so we continued to drive onward towards Sydney and ended up at Cape Jervis where we experienced some pretty woeful weather. We had been told that the beaches here were beautiful, and no doubt they are on a clear day, but they were wild and gloomy and very, very wet while were were there. We had really hoped to get in some snorkelling here but it wasn't to be, so after spending a very damp night in the national park we tried a bit of walking in-between showers in the morning and then decided to continue north. We'd experienced so much gloomy weather on our trip that we were used to shrugging our shoulders, making the best of it and moving on if it was dampening the spirits. Instead of spending a day by the sea we thought we'd try a trip into the hinterland and I'm so glad we did because we got to experience the beautiful surrounds of Budderoo National Park. Oh, oh, and it was here that we immersed ourselves into eastern rainforest for the first time in so, so long! It felt like a 'homecoming' of sorts. I love Western Australia and really wanted, with all of my heart, to settle there for good, but the one thing I missed more than anything was the rainforest and the beautiful hinterland that we have here. Being in Budderoo amongst such lush tropical foliage and seeing gushing streams and waterfalls really felt quite magical. I had forgotten how much I loved being amongst the tangled trees and vines and all of that splendid green!
After a day in the mountains we cruised towards Sydney and made it as far as Wollongong where we spent a night. Then we headed into the rat race and found ourselves a place to stay in Manly in Sydney's north eastern suburbs. Our accommodation was woeful and cost us the earth but we were right in the heart of Manly, only 5 metres from the waters of Cabbage Tree Bay and I had a delightful few days here exploring this gorgeous seaside suburb. I snorkelled my little heart out and met the famous Manly groupers on my underwater adventures along with a whole host of other fishy friends. I also got to meet and hang out with some other ocean loving creatives that I'd met through social media and it was so awesome to share our mutual loves of the natural world and painting together in such a beautiful and iconic Aussie beach location. What a dream! Yes, I had a very lovely time in Manly indeed!
From Sydney we headed on up to Maitland where we spent the night with a dear friend and her adorable, imaginative, dinosaur-loving son. It was so lovely to see a familiar face and we caught up well into the early hours of the morning over many bottles of bubbly and wine. We may have woken up a little worse for wear but that is how catch ups with old friends are meant to go and anything less wouldn't have been quite right. It was really wonderful and I am so grateful to have good people in my life who offer me their friendship. Blessed.
Then it was time to start the last leg of our trip and scoot on up to Brisbane. We broke the trip up over a few days spending a night in Port Macquarie and one night in Broken Head. It was lovely to drive this familiar stretch of road after two years living in the west. The landscape is so different in the east - much greener and junglier! The beaches are different too - the colours, the waves, the light at the end of the day. How I loved those western sunsets over the sea. *sigh* Anyway we made it home last Sunday and have been settling into the house we left two years ago, regaining the love and trust of our old kitty cat, and getting straight into some renovations.
We are neck high in household chaos at the moment but we should be sorted before Christmas and I will start the New Year off with a new studio in an old house in a familiar city. I am finding the adjustment difficult - I miss the sea dearly. I also miss the wide open skies, the dry heat and the smell of salt on the air. My heart is heavy for the first place I ever felt truly at home. But such is life. I can only press forward and let this new chapter unfold as it will. Heavy heart or not, life continues to take us on its ride and I can only trust that what the future holds is a manifestation of my investment in the present moment. I must bid my heavy heart farewell, let go of the past and exist in the present, in this place. This new story begins now and I'll be damned if it's not a happy tale! Let's go! :)
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