“Where are we staying?” Tracey asked as I ground my way through the gears and we slowly picked up speed on the way out of Scamander.
“I was about to ask you the same thing?” I told her.
“Are you kidding me?” Tracey’s tone told me I better be. “You know it’s the Australia Day long weekend, don’t you?”
My wife and I have very different ideas about how to handle our schedule on this big lap of ours. I think we get in the bus and head generally in the direction we’re going and eventually we’ll run into somewhere we can plug into power and water – because adventure, baby! Whereas Tracey thinks we should be a little more specific about what we’re aiming for. Ideally, she’d like to know days or weeks ahead where we intend staying.
Our compromise is often to argue about it the night before until one of us caves.
Clearly, I’d been distracted during the final round of last night’s discussion when it was decided I was to have this organised.
“Want a coffee for the drive?” I asked Tracey as I pulled into the curb near a service station and ducking out the bus door before she even had a chance to answer.
Then moments later, standing at the machine pressing buttons, I looked at a map of Tassie, Googled ‘Swansea caravan park’ and made a quick call.
“One night? Shouldn’t be a problem at all,” the woman on the other end of the phone assured me. “How long did you say you were?” I explained we were as good as nineteen meters with the car trailer, which we’d prefer to keep attached to the bus. “Yep, we’ve got a spot or three. And how many of you are there?” I ran through the usual spiel of seven people including five kids aged 5 to 14. She said we’d need to pay extra for some of our kidlets, bringing the price to $65. “Five kids. You’ve been busy.”
I didn’t bother mentioning they were our youngest five rather than our entire brood.
“Not for few years,” I assured her instead. Adding, “Don’t worry. We’re not noisy.” Then I realised how that might have sounded. “I mean the kids aren’t noisy, not that Tracey and I are….” I trailed off. By this stage I was transferring the coffees over to pay for them and one of the eyebrows of the guy behind the counter was heading northwards. “As close to the toilet block as you can, please.”
“Done,” I told Tracey back on the bus as I handed her a cup. “We’re staying at Swansea.”
“How far’s that?”
“About two hours,” I said. “A bit longer for us.”
Because our kids need to pee a lot.
But even with their teeny weeny bladders taken into account, it turned out we were to be on the road a lot longer than that. Closer to five hours, in fact.
And not just because of the meandering goat tracks Tasmania has mislabeled as roads.
I was, it’s true, flat out doing 30km/hr up some of the hills we encountered, and I tended to refuse to go faster than that down the other side. I drove to conditions tempered with a healthy dose of fear factor. I always signal to let people pass where I can see far enough ahead and I pull over when I can, but for the mental wellbeing of a couple of young hoodlums in hotted up Holdens if you know someone who knows a guy who’s mother plays bridge with the auntie of a dude who deals with the main roads down here (I’m told this is how things work in Tassie) I’d suggest a few more overtaking lanes might be in order. Outside of Hobart the roads really are as bad as you’ve heard. Beautiful views at every curve, but the driver can’t risk a glimpse.
Those of you who are following our travels and know their way around a map of Tassie might be wondering about now how I know the roads are better in Hobart when I’m halfway up the east coast?
Well, that would be because that’s where we ended up having to drive to in order to find somewhere with a place we could plug into power and water.
You see, it turns out there’s a Swansea in both New South Wales and Tasmania.
Can you guess which one I Googled and booked us into? How about the expression my wife gave me when we worked it out, you what to try guess what that looked like?
Hint: it was hell scarier than the roads I had to keep driving along for the next two plus hours as we passed one booked out caravan park full of Australia Day revellers after another.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
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