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“Dad,” I half heard Miss7 whisper in my ear while I was sipping coffee and reading a news article on my phone, “Eff you.”

Pleased to at least be able to say not the actual eff word, just the letters F and U. Hardly a consolation really and, boy, didn’t it get my attention.

And to be honest I was a bit miffed at any criticism at that point because we’d spent the last four days exploring the area around Canungra with the kids and calling it homeschooling. Drives up into the mountains and walks through rainforests to waterfalls, spotting wildlife, just about gutting a fudge shop and ching-chinging in a local pub. We’d even picked the short walks so Miss13, our resident cripple, could come with us.

There’s also been families at the showgrounds here for the kids to play with. I started to wonder if that’s where this sort of talk was coming from.

Not that Tracey would suspect that.

“I beg your pardon?” I stammered at Miss7, grateful we were on the bus and not in a crowd of strangers somewhere. I was equally grateful Tracey was focused on editing photos for a client because I am under no illusions who she’d blame for this sort of gutter talk coming out of our second youngest’s mouth.

“Eff. You,” Miss7 repeated a little louder, and much too casually for my liking. “What comes after that?”

“Harsh words and a ‘please explain’ from your mother?” I hissed. “You’re not allowed to say that sort of thing.”

She went on as though I was making no sense and, in fact, deliberately making things difficult – I recognised the tone I use during homeschooling lessons.

“Da-aad! Help me!” she continued. At this point I figured if her mother heard her there was nothing I could do for her. Mainly because I’d be focused on defending myself. Then she went on yet again, “What comes after eff you?”

“Stop saying that,” I told her, shooting a nervous glance over my shoulder to where Tracey was.

Too late. Tracey was staring straight at me and frowning.

“D-G-E,” she said. Oddly, I thought. Then she explained, “She wants you to spell fudge, you lettuce. She’s trying to Google a recipe so we can make it tomorrow.”

Well, thank effing goodness for that.


And this was why – a fudge shop we found on our adventures. Considering I’m attempting to cut out a lot of sugar from my diet and don’t even sugar my tea or coffee anymore, I sure ate a lot of fudge. I can’t recommend the Lemon Meringue enough. The Fudge Shop, Springbrook
Even the views from the car are sensational up here. This is Hinze Dam at 80km/hour. Who knew dead trees in water could be so magical. 
A lot of the roads on the way up into the Gold Coast hinterland run along what my kids would deem cliffs. “I think I just made a little fudge of my own,” Master11 mumbled as the trees cleared at one point and revealed tiny, tiny houses in the valley below. Then we hit a cloud. More magical.
We met Derek and family, who are over from Singapore, at two of the three bush walk stops we made today. Lovely people. They explained there was a bit of an issue with cloud cover at the lookout. We went anyway.
The crouch-crawl of a boy with height issues arriving at a lookout.
Apparently, the cloud was hiding this.
Felt like the edge of the world.
Easy to be brave when you can’t see the scary bits.
This. Only I’d have used ‘aren’t’.
Can you guess which two walks we went on?
Miss9, you’re doing it wrong.
The drop was fudge-worthy. 
Make way for the cripple! Miss13 was a trooper. She came on two of the three hikes of the day, missing out on the Natural Bridge because the pain escalated.
Top of the falls is deceptively calm
Family shot, sans Tracey.
Family shot, with Tracey.
Family shot, mocking Tracey for whatever the hell she thought she was doing in the previous photo.
View of Purling Brook Falls from the other side.

The walk from the carpark to the Natural Bridge, in a time lapse vid. It’s very dark and boring but I just wanted to show how easy it is to get to.

The payoff. This was the highlight of the day. Even moreso than the fudge. Was telling the kids how when I was a kid we’d come here and people would be jumping through the opening into the water. “People were so much dumber when you were a kid,” said Master11. Just as magical as I remember it. 
Looking out from inside the cave.
This is not a faulty photo. It is, in fact, full of glow worms – nature’s least photogenic creature – in the Natural Bridge cave. I’m starting to think Disney lied about how much light these sorts of things throw off. At night they’re apparently amazing. Was thrilled the kids got to see a few of them glowing even though it was half an hour until sundown.
We saw one of these birds! Miss7 was very excited. “It’s the bird from Shrek!” she screamed, scaring it off, thankfully before it exploded.
Too many signs here for the kids to hide, but it was getting late so we had to go. Besides, we realised at this point the car alarm we could hear from seemingly halfway down the valley, and which we were tut-tutting about, was ours. Turns out Miss13, whose leg was too sore to join us for this walk, was sitting in the car teasing Master11 by unlocking and locking doors so he couldn’t get in and something had decided to protest. I took photos of the signs to make the kids read later. I’ll say for educational purposes but I think they realise they’re being punished.
Tracey and Miss9 discovered the local op shop in Canungra. Great stuff and, unusually, prices. I received a message from Tracey with this photo of Miss9’s suggestion for me. Such a kidder.
She’s my girl. I love dictionaries too. Especially big dictionaries. And only $5! Unfortunately, we live in a bus now without a lot of spare room.
So of course I let her buy it….for her.
Kids have found a short cut to the loos. While the kids insisted I prove I could climb the fence, I still choose to walk around so I don’t hurt myself. Which made my tripping over the annex rope of some dolt who set up camp right in front of the gate and hurting my foot even more hilarious to them.
Can’t wait to have our bus fully set up for taking the kids bikes with us, but in the meantime their scooters are getting a good workout.
I used a scooter to go to the shops a month ago. Master11 was my instructor. “If you want to stop you just go into the grass.” I did. My scooter stopped perfectly. I did not. This also caused a lot of hilarity amongst my children. I’m starting to think they just like to see me in pain.

This sign at the Canungra Hotel upset Miss9. “We can’t go in here! We need to be with a responsible adult!” Apparently Tracey and I don’t count.
Drinks at the soft drink lounge.
Then more adventuring! Spotted these beauties on the road to O’Reillys.

Say that again?

Looked them up in our wildlife book. Not surprised they’re known as Pretty-Face Wallaby.
View from the car at some look out on the way to O’Reillys. Apparently the sunset from up here is magnificent.
Interesting history of the O’Reillys area involves a plane crash, a couple of survivors and a bloke named O’Reilly who somehow found them when everyone else had given up hope.
Start of the tree tops walk
The kids were so excited they raced ahead. Oh, look. Master11 is waiting for me. I wonder what he’s leaning on?
A rest area of some sort. Nothing to see here, Dad. Move on. We’ll catch up.
Nothing to see here either. Keep moving.
If only there was something educational on these sorts of walks.
I really feel they’re missing an opportunity to teach people about the bush. Instead, all they’ve put up are these occasional things to lean on for a rest.
A tree you can get inside. Getting them out was the hard bit.
This walk in the tree tops is invigorating and not as scary as I thought it’d be. That makes it sound like I’m scared of heights. I’m scared of everything.
Watching the kids start to climb up to the lookouts was though, because I knew if they went I’d have to go up to get them down.
Still more adventuring! Finally found the local Tramway Tunnel we’d been told about. Quite aside from the fact I’d driven past the start of the track some half dozen times without noticing it, for some reason my GPS kept sending me in the wrong direction out of town.
Bigger signs require more children. At least they’ve stopped arguing and are working together as a team.
Would love to have gone in. Imagine carving this out of the rock?!
Apparently idiots were covering the walls in the tunnel with a lot of graffiti, as testified by the sign saying it was closed to ‘pubic access’.
‘The tramway was used by the locals as transport, sitting atop the logs for children going to school…’ You know, before workplace health and safety came and ruined all the fun. Also, umm….no.
She can’t understand why her knee pain doesn’t seem to be improving.
We’re having a ball with our little family. Love this woman so much. 
From this weekend Tracey is taking photos in Brisbane and Bribie Island and then, from early next week, the Gympie region again. Contact her for more details if you’d love photos of your beautiful family done or just want an idea of when we’re in your area.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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But please help my family by popping over for a moment and checking out this sponsored post – Seeing Into The Future. We appreciate it.


  • Priceless memories, what a great desicion you’ve made. Looking forward to reading the next instalment .

  • Wow…..your family will never forget this adventure. Something all families should do, all around the world…..investigate your bigger back garden in fact. Tracey, your photographs are stunning and you should be so proud ……I’m loving your journey. Keep your chins high and blast your way into every town, leaving behind a positive reminder of your visit.
    Hoping to catch up once you hit the Mid North Coast of NSW .
    Stay safe and ENJOY!!!!!……Deb

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