The Paronella Curse

I’m not saying I’m superstitious, but I think we’ve finally worked out why we’re having so much trouble with our bus, Kenny.

The mechanics found a leak in the brakes, shipped in some parts over the weekend and fixed it on Monday. After a week of hanging around shuffling our feet we were one good night’s sleep away from heading off again.

“We have to be in Gympie by Friday,” Tracey reminded me as I was heading out the door to pick it up – like I hadn’t been stressing about it for days over things like a specialist’s appointment for Miss7. “How far are we going to try for Airlie Beach? Ayr?”

“We’ve already stayed in Ayr,” I said. “We should try for somewhere different. What about Townsville?”

“The tourist mecca? Is that far enough?”

“With the number of piss-stops the kids make it’s the best part of a day,” I said. Then I added hopefully, “But I reckon we’ll still be able to stop by Paronella Park on the way.”

Paronella Park, like Coober Pedy or Bonnie Doon, is one of my must see destinations on our trip.

“Let’s do it,” said Tracey.

And that was the end of that. We were doomed. It seems like every time I mention going to Paronella Park the wheels come off. Not literally, thank god, but you know what I mean. There’s been roads made unaccessable with flooding, an accident where they shut down a stretch of highway and then, when we finally got moving, the brakes fighting the accelerator for superiority. Every time we talk about going we seem to meet with a roadblock.

Sure enough, as I was driving the bus back to the park it became clear we still had an issue of some sort when I tapped the brakes to slow down around a corner and they slammed on.

Worse news was ahead when late the following day I stood next to our pride and joy and asked if I’d be able to take our bus back to the park that night, like I had the previous couple where they’d been working on it, and return in the morning.

“No,” was the simple answer. Understandable, because we were standing amongst bits from Kenny’s underbelly which were no longer attached.

We’ve heard about things like this, obviously. Breakdowns which pull up a journey like…well, like the brakes on our bus were doing before I took it in. But the anxiety which comes with it is something we weren’t psychologically prepped for. It’s not simply a matter of worrying about how much money we’ll be up for. When your bus is not just your means of transport but your home it’s where are we going to sleep? Plus everything is on the bus – our clothes, food and medication.

My computer!

We’re in a world of pain.

Fortunately, the people here at Coconut Resort have been lovely and very understanding of our situation. They found us a unit at the last minute and exceeded the job description in so many ways, even using one of their buggies to help transfer a heap of our camping equipment, like chairs and gazebos, from where the bus had been parked to our room. We’re genuinely indebted to them – and I don’t think Tracey crying at them was the reason they were so lovely because they were helping us way before we crossed that bridge and she tells me they were mainly tears of relief.

This is the lovely Debra, who went above and beyond to help us out and, more importantly, let Miss4 pretend she was driving. I think Master11 was keen for a go as well because he didn’t seem keen to get out.

Despite being 1500km from where we need to be, we’ve naturally decided to make the most of it.

Yesterday, while Kenny was being nursed back to health, we commandeered a Bali hut by the pool so the kids could swim and I couldn’t.

And I mean couldn’t literally. My legs are so sore, from our recent trip to the Cairns Library (21,500+ steps registered on Tracey’s Fitbit), I could barely bloody walk. In fact, I’ve been wearing so much Deep Heat I’ve given up on aftershave because it doesn’t stand a fart in a cyclone’s chance of being noticed.

But it hasn’t been all limping and bad news.

On the very bright side, I managed to cram all the kids into the lounge/kitchen area of our small unit, meaning Tracey and I have had a room to ourselves. This beats a tent, I’m telling you.

Then, more good news late this afternoon. The boys at the workshop had stayed back and our bus is ready to continue our journey. No idea what we’re up for yet in terms of dollars, but whatever it is, it’ll be worth it. Fact: a thirteen tonne bus needs reliable brakes. Especially when every bum in every seat belongs to someone I love.

Plus my Apple workhorse is back there too!

Which is why I’d just like to put it out there for the whole universe to hear and understand – we will not be stopping at Paronella Park on our way south. I repeat, universe, not.

Yes, we know it’s beautiful.

No, we really don’t have time to stop.

Yes, we absolutely agree it’s a must do if you’re ever up this way.

No, I refuse to check our new schedule to see if we can maybe stop in for even an hour.

Yes, it’s killing me to drive past it.

No, I still don’t believe in superstitious nonsense like bad luck charms, omens or curses.

However…because our bank account simply can’t risk another setback, first thing tomorrow we’re throwing salt over our shoulders, rubbing Miss7’s Troll’s belly and imagining ourselves to be in the possession of an especially large rabbit’s foot as we make a dash to get past it.

Cross your fingers! I would but I’m driving.

Frustating – yeah. Worrying – you bet. But I still think it’s all part of the fun. Adventure baby! 
Had a few enquiries this week when I posted this photo about why I was doing Movember in January. The simple truth is when we arrived at the resort Tracey told me not to bother putting the tent up, so I decided not to bother shaving.
Kids trying to convince me they could ride the pedal cars around the resort. Basically, they gave up making good arguments and just forced my head to go up and down.
Yes, of course you kids can ride around the park. No, no, we’ll just wait here by ourselves. It’s okay, we don’t mind missing out on the fun. Off you go. A sneaky toasted bacon sandwich for the win!!
Tracey’s cousins work here. Actually, one of them works here and one of them owns it 😉 Kidding, Craig. Thanks guys for taking care of our bus and seeing it to rights. Lovely to meet you and your lovely family too, Brendan.
Walking the kids to the water park when I noticed Miss4 wasn’t up with us. Turned to see this. The other kids had decided to turn her into a pack mule.

Look at them, suffering.

Miss9 to Tracey and I: “You know, you two could be making the most of our time here and using this equipment.”  Like I’m not sore enough.
Poor poppet, forced to bounce on these things every day.
They thought this accommodation might be a little small to fit us all in. No problem. It’s way bigger than our bus. Plus the aircon works during the day. And there’s TV!!

 I asked for a photo and got a room full of dabs instead.
Being in a unit isn’t so different to being in our bus, in that we have a kitchen and Tracey won’t let me cook in it because the smell might stick around. Since we have a telly in the unit no one wanted to help me at the BBQ tonight. Meaning it was a most excellently peaceful and relaxing half hour for me. You might also have noticed I’ve shaved. No reason 😉

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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