Ever been to the Byron Bay lighthouse?
If you have, you will know that the narrow road winding to the carpark is often traffic-logged with tourists driving, walking and cycling their way to the attraction that gives epic views of the main beach, township and the vast ocean where whale sightings are par for the course. It is no different the day we visit.
We are at a crawling pace when our car stalls.
No worries. Turn it over, rev the engine, off we go.
It stalls again.
Phill and I look at each other.
He manages to start it up again and we move forward. A metre. Before it stalls again. On a steep corner. Cars are banking up behind us at this point because they can’t see past to safely overtake. Hazard lights are on.
This is where I channel my inner Fat Controller and walk onto that road and start directing traffic like it’s my day job. Stop to you sir, in the white Jeep. Proceed to you madam, in the red VW. And to you sir, tooting your horn, no we haven’t just stopped to gawp at whales – we’ve genuinely broken down – so on your way!
Truth is, we hadn’t broken down at all.
We’d run out of fuel. I know. Terribly irresponsible. The fuel light was on and we ignored it because we thought we’d be fine to zip up to the lighthouse before finding a petrol station.
Let me tell you something about M-UXs. They have a long, shallow fuel tank with an intake positioned in the middle. It means that you definitely should not attempt a climb when the fuel’s low, as what’s remaining sits below the intake. I know this not because I am an aspiring mechanic, but because hubby Googled it and I listened.
Anyway, Phill thumbed a lift to get some fuel and I hiked with the kids up to the lighthouse. And it was wonderful. Four hang-gliders were soaring overhead, and below, whales were breaching, slapping their fins, catching the breeze on their southern migration. We looked down on Byron Bay’s main beach: a sparkling blue skirted by a swathe of white, and patterned with sunbathers on beach towels, surfboards and sandcastles.
By the time we’d had a poke around the lighthouse itself, snapped a few photos and meandered back down the road, Phill was back and we were off.
I have to say, it was a lovely little drama.
That’s going to read strangely, but it really was. I mean, the kids were wide-eyed in the back, thinking the world was about to end, and Phill and I were actually cucumber-cool about the whole thing.
It was a drama without the drama.
God tempered our responses and we just rolled with it – albeit gripping the seats and feathering the handbrake down the steep incline.
It was fine.
And we’re left with a memory. Already the kids are telling anyone who will listen about how we broke down and mum told the traffic where to go like the guy loading the cars on “the big red boat” (The Spirit of Tasmania).
The Big Red Boat isn’t far away. Come Sunday night we’ll be boarding that vessel, homeward bound after more than three months travelling in a caravan up the east coast of Australia to Cooktown and back down again.
We’re so very grateful for the experience, for the way that God, like a doting father, has bestowed so much goodness onto us. We’re looking forward to coming home to friends and family. But I won’t pretend there’s a bit of bittersweetness to it all. We could do this for much longer! And who knows…
What I’ll miss, and what I won’t miss
I won’t miss:
- 1-ply toilet paper.
- Having to wear my thongs in the shower.
- Neighbours who can hear our every interaction, especially when the kids need some, er, guidance.
- Grocery shopping every two days because the fridge is really just a glorified shoebox.
- Treks to the toilet block.
- And then again because the little one who adamantly DID NOT need to go, needs to go a minute after you return.
- The squish.
I will miss:
- New discoveries every day.
- Barefoot wanderings.
- Accidental tans (Roman looks like he’s wearing white undies when he’s nude at the moment).
- Beach days (we never tire of those).
- Salty skin.
- Those moments when you forget you’re an adult and are squealing and jumping up and down with as much gusto as the kids.
- Car sing-alongs.
- When you’re driving along and suddenly realise that the car is quiet, and you turn to see that both kids are fast asleep, and you look at each other with deep satisfaction at a delicious window of uninterrupted adult time.
- The squish.
*Footnote. There are some things that you both love and hate. Like what I have dubbed ‘the squish’. It’s on both lists! Sometimes it’s wonderful to be smooshed into a space with the three people you love most in the world. It makes you realise how little we actually need to be happy. Our company and some basic living essentials really are the extent of our needs. However… However, the squish can also be extremely testing on frayed tempers and this introvert’s yearning for a quiet place to disappear for a bit. To sit somewhere undisturbed, writing or reading or drawing or thinking. I don’t need it all the time, but when I do, I notice. And there’s tension between the love I have for our vibrant family vibes, and the voice in my head saying “ENOUGH!” That is all.
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