So, Australia! Well, we had it on our list for family visits, but otherwise I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm. Baking heat, bevies of snakes and spiders waiting to crawl into your tent. Met with a warm welcome in Sydney, we began the last leg of our journey. Geoff had booked the smallest hire car possible. The kindly lady at the hire desk peered over at our huge bags and sucking her teeth, suggested we might like to hire a car which would allow the children to travel without carrying half the luggage on their laps. We ended up with a smooth 4×4. Cranking on the air con, we set off. After a little difficulty with the blinding lack of signage, and a couple of trundles around the airport, we finally made it to Lolo’s. The beaches here, and the plants, have a much more tropical feel, and we recognised a lot which grow in Seychelles. We swam, ate and visited, all enhanced by being with family. Orlando even got a massive thunder lightning storm for his birthday! Beginning to get a taster of the huge variety of bird life with some rainbow chappies, a couple of ‘nigels’ and the beautiful kookaburra. We then head off down princes highway. We loved the drive through the bush. Such a difference from anything else. Brilliant blue skie’s, brilliant blue sea and the smell of warm eucalyptus. We stop off at some pretty sea pools. At Mikes suggestion, we turn off towards Jindabyne. First very cold night for a while. Jumpers on! I suppose this is one of Australia’s skiing areas! We stay one night in a doc style campsite. Not as private as the nz ones, we share with a goodish crowd including a big school group! Any wildlife we were hoping to see would have been sensibly in their dens. We do go on a wombat hunt, every bit of warm clothing coming out! We spot lots of wombat holes, but no sign of life. They have a happy hunt with their torches though! Orlando and I try for a sight of the elusive platypus, but no luck. Geoff and I really enjoyed all the driving here. Beautiful bush. The three agreed it was OK, but once you’ve seen a bush, you’ve pretty much seen them all. We agreed they wouldn’t have to gaze out, enthralled, and could pass the time with ds or famous 5 if they concentrated enthusiastically on the especially good bits. This worked well for all, and we passed many a happy hour in ‘bob’ the 4×4. ‘Many an hour’ is right, as we soon discovered that the chappy who superimposed the map of Europe onto the map of Australia wasn’t making a humerous joke. This place actually is huge. After a long days drive on our way to Wilson prom, we come across my least fav campsite of all time. Alongside 90 mile beach (yes, there is one here too) there is a thin strip of bush between the dusty road and the beach. It was getting dark, and Geoff had located some free camping spots along this bush bit. A squalid, dusty, charcoal, glass and bottle tops infested area with the most fetid long drop I have come across so far (we have come across a lot). I couldn’t use it it was so foul. Luckily it was just for the night. Unluckily, everyone, tent and car got covered in black. I blamed Geoff, but for some reason the three disagreed, arguing that he could not possibly have fortold such filth. We moved on swiftly in the morning. The day went quickly from 11 degrees to hot. Friendly faces awaited us, and much fun was had by all! Surfing, swimming, beach rugby and wombat hunts were highlights. Toton Willie has a gift for spotting wildlife, and he led the trio on many a forage through the bush. My bleats about the lurking deadly snakes were brushed aside airily, and many a snuffling wombat was happily tracked down and goggled at. Despite the sweeping statement that the snakes are afraid of us, there were plenty too many sightings for my liking. A lady in the campsite spotted a snake slither into the bit of bush Will and the trio were in the middle of examining. We missed seeing a Tiger Snake by a whisker, and Rio nearly stepped on what he and Tatie Jess say was an Eastern Brown Snake, and Toton Ricky says was something else. As Tatie Jess is a local, and the EBS is pretty deadly, therefore making it a much more desirable sighting, we are disregarding Rickys say, and going with the popular choice! We have been lucky enough to see so many animals in their wilderness. Kangaroos with joey’s. Kualas, Emus, Wallabies, Wombats, a snake and a huge variety of birds. Our last trip was to the platypus sanctuary where we were charmed by the playful platypus, and also saw Dingo, Tasmanian Devil, Echidna and also tiger snake. However, I digress, and have left out our tent story. We purposely bought an insect/snake/other nasties secure tent. The first few night we spent in it were great! Until we got to the prom. After a beautiful day to start with, Will organised a little wind to spice things up. This was doing a nice job of whipping up the dust. The dust was nice and fine, so it got into everything, including through the handy insect net that the inside of the tent is made of. Our first night had been fine until we woke up in the morning and Geoff discovered a biggish tear in the netting. He had the crust to suggest that I had done it while moving the tent to a flatter spor. After a luttle investigation, it became clear that a wombat had torn it in his excitement at the possibility of a food stash. It had obviously been a particularly dim fellow, as the tent was new, and no food had passed it’s zip. The only conclusion was that there had once been food on the camp spot. We didn’t fancy moving the tent in the gale force winds, so we left it. And so followed a restless night. The tent was blown this way and that by the gusts. Every time the outer flap lifted, a sandstorm blew in and settled on sleeping faces. Well, three sleeping faces. I was twitching and poking Geoff. Weird noises coming from all around, I almost missued the tearing sound. Old womby was back. Another big tear. No chance of sleep. I toss and turn, dusting the trios faces and eventually we give up, post the happily oblivious 3 into ‘bob’, bundle up the tent, dust and all, and squash in for a last car night. Geoffs back hasn’t been the same since. A huge warm welcome from jess family in Nilma, we had a lovely couple of days. The rest of the trip passes in a whirl of adventures with spectacular walks in the grampions, some first class accommodation, plenty of werewolf, animals and family fun. We loved Melbourne, and Australia, and are looking forward to exploring a bit of the outback next time! Our adventure couldn’t end without a bit of stress. I packed the bags. I packed and repacked. When they pulled out Elodies bag I assumed it was a lip balm. Imagine the dismay when the lady pulls out e”s diary, and out of the ring binding slides her gold, bullet shaped pen knife…….. the lower lip wobbles. Little tears start to form. I steel myself and ask the lady if I can take the knife back out and post it. Amazingly she agrees! Leaving the 3 and paps waiting under the sign saying any weapons in hand baggage will encute a $10 000 fine, i leg it out, buy a card, find a post box and post it to tonton Willie! I leg it back to find three tearful faces and one sweaty one looking out for me. It turns out the same lady found Rios extra large penknife secreted somewhere in the depths of his bag. What’s a mama to do? I located another security guard. Not the same one. Too cringing. Again, amazingly they handed back the knife and I legged it out again and repeated the whole sweaty, twitchy process. Geoff by this time is looking green around the edges. Worth all the stress as three huge smiles and thumbs up greet my as I come through my third bomb scan (the random picking system picked me out each time!) We made it on the plane. Not ‘just’ but close enough for Geoff to still be twitching slightly on our second flight. Poor paps. And so end our adventure in Oz.