As plans go, this was one of Dad’s best.
An hour after cleaning the mess we were all up, dressed and sitting in a cafe at a town just down the mountain eating bacon, eggs, sausages and hash browns, with mushrooms and tomato on the side.
Even Mum looked happy after she’d polished off her first cup of real coffee and was well into her second.
“What’s on the agenda today?” Dad asked us. “I was thinking about a bush walk,” he suggested with ill conceived enthusiasm. Fortunately, Mum looked as horrified as I felt.
“I was thinking about finding somewhere to sleep,” I told him honestly. “Like on a soft rock or something.”
“Me too,” said Mum pointedly. “Just as soon as you move our tent to somewhere level.”
After dragging our tent around the camping grounds some more, we finally settled on a spot right at the far end of the park. It was level. There were no nasty smells. There were virtually no other campers. A small grove of nut trees gave the whole scene a lovely, country feel.
Dad had a lot of trouble getting the pegs into the ground because the roots of the nearby macadamia trees had spread out in a very dominant fashion, and several pegs were now looking far more bent than when we first removed them from the blue sausage.
We were so far from the toilet block now we’d need to duck into the trees before got there. Dad volunteered to drive us when we needed to go.
On our next visit he took us to the shop near the ranger’s office for an iceblock. The clouds had cleared and the sun was beating down furiously.
Sitting on a bench near the BBQ’s were Crusher and Bruiser, chatting to a couple of girls and, from what I could see, doing quite well.
Meg and I told Dad we’d walk back to the tent and positioned ourselves discreetly beside the shop. There was no way of knowing if we’d gotten away with our plan last night, but it was exciting just watching and waiting.
Bruiser put his backpack up on the table and rummaged around inside it, bringing out a rock he’d obviously found in the rainforest. That you weren’t supposed to take anything from the rainforest, including plants, animals and rocks, had apparently escaped his notice. He was pointing out something of interest about the rock, maybe a fossil or a vein of crystals, and the girls were leaning in.
Almost instantly the atmosphere around the table changed.
“Here we go,” I said to Meg. We were on the edge of our seats.
The girls put their hands up to their faces. They asked the boys something but Bruiser and Crusher just shrugged. It didn’t take long for the two girls to excuse themselves and leave the table.
As the girls trotted away, both boys were looking under the table, checking the soles of their shoes and sniffing under their armpits to try and locate the smell. They even sniffed each other.
Meg and I were trying desperately not to laugh out loud. There was virtually no way the boys would hear us from this distance but we couldn’t risk being heard.
Finally Crusher had the idea of sniffing Bruiser’s bag and, to my joy, after gagging he chucked up onto the bench he was sitting on.
Learning from Crusher’s mistake, Bruiser approached his backpack with more caution. He looked in the main part, then the side pockets where he kept his torch and water bottle. Lastly, he unzipped the small front pouch and immediately pulled away in disgust.
The leftover fish head from our snapper dinner which I’d retrieved from the bin at our campsite, and which Meg had shoved into Bruiser’s bag while I was getting beaten up, was working its magic in the hot midday sun. Walking away, Meg and I gave each other a quick high five.
“Who’s the stinkbug now, losers?” I said in Bruiser and Crusher’s direction.
But I said it quietly. Quieter than a whisper.
Where those two lugs are concerned it’s sensible to err on the side of good, old-fashioned common sense, so my lips barely even seemed to disturb the huge grin plastered all over my face.
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs”