Oz road trip part V: Desperately Seeking Sunshine

This is the day that I admit to y’all that not every day on sabbatical is all sunshine and totally awesome. Some days are boring or frustrating or disappointing or even sad. Sometimes Trent gets on my nerves, and many days I get on his and vice versa.

The camper van leaves little space between us and nowhere to run in an argument, but most of the time we are cozy and all smiles.

We awoke to the sound of rain in our little camp site in Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast. We are headed north another 1,000 miles or so to Cairns, and we sure hope that the sun comes out eventually, but it’s not lookin’ good. I won’t tell you how many times the word “cyclone” comes up in conversation with the locals when we say where we are headed. I think cyclone sounds a little less ominous than hurricane. Maybe it’s the lost syllable.

The day started off wet but promising. We had camped out, unbeknownst to us, right across from the Eumundi Market, the most famous market in northern Australia! Imagine our excitement!

So, we hauled ourselves out of bed at 8am as the parking lot filled up around us with eager shoppers from, purportedly, all over Australia, but more likely a radius of about 50 kilometers.

The market was definitely a good one by any standard. The highlight was most definitely the mini petting zoo, attended by us and a bunch of four year olds. We got to pet a baby wallaby!!!! That was a big ol’ dose of cuteness that would help get us through the rest of the dreary day on the road.

A 10 month old whip tail wallaby names Jimmy. Trent petting the baby alligator.

There was music (but somehow we missed the didgeridoo) and lots of shops and yummy food. I had a homemade chocolate and banana muffin. Trent had a fresh ginger beer, made with local ginger. It was nice, and the rain magically subsided by order of the shopping god no doubt. But we’veq been to a lot of farmer’s markets, so after an hour or so, it was time to roll those wheels northward.

While Trent watched the snakes, I looked at vintage Strawberry Shortcake dresses I think these very very lightweight wooden bow ties are too cool! Denver hipsters need these back home!!!!

We have spent about 3 bazillion hours together by my count, just in the last five months. Sometimes that feels like too much. Like today. Every time I rounded a bend a little too fast or got a little too close to the curb (this darn left side driving!), I could hear Trent trying to breathe out his anxiety as if he was a slowly deflating balloon animal. As much as I want to say that made me slow down, it did not. At first. Eventually I determined that scaring the daylights out of us both to prove a point may not be too bright. The great news is this did not cause a fight, and we didn’t die in a fiery car crash. That’s growth, and that’s what sabbatical is all about.

Taken a week ago on a sunny day in Port Macquarie

We were coming off another not so great day where we were both already a bit worried about stretching our dollars here in Oz when our awning had blown up over the van and the poles broke. That will set us back a few hundred dollars more. Not great, but in the scheme of things, we really can’t complain. It won’t be the end of us or our sabbatical. It just sucks. But sometimes life does just suck, even on sabbatical.

Anyway, our 4.5 hour drive took us about 7.5 hours in the rain, par for the course. In a camper van, everything takes longer. And the smell of our damp towels that desperately needed some sunshine too did not make the drive go any faster.

Sugarcane is a major crop for Queensland, and we saw it all along the drive north.

Along the way, I did have some great fish ‘n chips (fresh barramundi!) and Trent had a terrible hamburger (you can’t win ’em all).

We made it to the free camp site on the Calliope River in Calliope of all places. I couldn’t believe this was a free site. It’s nicer than some of the paid sites we have been at. The views of the river were unexpected and gorgeous, and the rain stopped long enough for us to sit outside and appreciate the views.

Calliope River Rest Area, free camping with a view!

Trent made chili and crackers for dinner, and I drank a bottle of rose. Because this is sabbatical after all. Gotta spruce up that chili someway.

As I write this, we are overlooking the river and I’m wondering if crocodiles crawl up steep banks. I wouldn’t. But crocodiles may be less lazy than I am. I just have no way to know. Hmmmm…… Here’s to finding some sunshine tomorrow!


No sunshine to report, but we did have a better today, so I guess as Annie says, the sun will come out tomorrow (even when it doesn’t). Our sabbatical life is no different than real life in some ways. We still have to deal with conflict and emotions and negative cruddy crud, but instead of having dozens of people to take it out on or work it out with, you mostly have just two. Each other.

Taken on a sunny and windy day at Fingal Head a few days ago

Its’s intense sometimes, but our marriage is stronger now than it’s ever been, and we are more aware of the trigger points and how to avoid them (or recover from them), than we have ever been. It’s definitely the best part of sabbatical, theoretically speaking.

In reality, those times when you are frustrated or annoyed or just plain mad suck more than ever because there is nowhere to hide in a camper van, and you pretty much have to face it. I realize I’ve gone off on a tangent, but it’s an important one, the most important one for us. Whether it’s just an annoying habit or a BIG HAIRY UGLY ISSUE, you can’t walk away when there’s nowhere to walk except into a pit of crocodiles or killer spiders or a riptide, or whatever else is going to kill you in Oz.

Now back to the adventures! We drove just an hour and a half north from Calliope to Rockhampton, where we stopped at a caravan park to do laundry and take showers.

It was a pretty drive and we noticed the landscape changing from green to gold.

We spent the rest of the day at the FREE Botanic Gardens and zoo (after the rain let up). Still no actual sun to report, but that’s okay. We are getting really good at finding free stuff, and that is it’s own kind of special sunshine for these wanderers. While I don’t ordinarily like zoos because I want the animals to be free in their natural habitats, I thought the Rockhampton Zoo did an excellent job with the enclosures and settings. The zoo seemed to feature primarily, but not exclusively, native animals, many of which are endangered.

The zoo is nestled in the Botanic Gardens. Kangaroos Crocodiles

Caramello, The 17 year old koalaWombat, critically endangered

Dingoes, howling because they want to be taken on their walk with the other pack. Sleeping chimpThe Cassowary is the third largest bird in the world and really cool! Also endangered.

Next stop: Airlie Beach, the one place nearly every Australian we encounter tells us that we just have to see on the way to Cairns.

One thought on “Oz road trip part V: Desperately Seeking Sunshine

  1. Love your open honesty, and admire your stick-to-it-ive-ness! (Don’t understand why Merriam-Webster still hasn’t added that word to the official dictionary!?)
    Delighted to see the Aussie animals….and that you NAME them for me.
    Sounds like a lesson for Sabbatical…and LIFE in general….is just keep on going.

    Liked by 1 person

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