The First Leg

On The Road

We finally did it! We are on the road! I still have to pinch myself repeatedly to believe it. Driving through the ancient forests of the Great Otway towards Colac makes for a spectacular start of our journey. We have driven this stretch of road regularly whilst living on the farm yet, the scenery still impresses me like it did the first time. Observing the magical lightshow displayed by the sun shining through trees and giant ferns, the low-lying fog sneaking out from beneath the lower hanging branches and slowly moving around trunks of the ancient giants of the forest, fills me with contentment and peace. Other than this morning, the sun is now shining her gentle, late afternoon light through large gaps between the clouds. Thousands of water pearls on leaves, grass and fences sparkle as if glitter was sprinkled all over the world. Looking at this wonderful transformation of the landscape makes me wonder whether I really want to leave? Will it be worth trading all I have for the simplicity of a life in the caravan? How will that life on the move be? What if I don’t like it? I can’t just go back, can I? Will I ever be able to go back?

Thousands of water pearls on leaves, grass and fences sparkle as if glitter was sprinkled all over the world.

Thousands of water pearls on leaves, grass and fences sparkle as if glitter was sprinkled all over the world.

My brain is getting into some sort of a rush hour state. Questions after questions are queuing up for answers that seem non-existent. I feel trapped in my own thoughts, unable to make sense of this sudden change to my emotions. It feels as if all the anticipation, hope and excitement from earlier today has imploded into a big hole of nothingness. What did I get myself into? Why did I ever agree to travel with people I barely know, for an unspecified time and without a proper travel plan?

Not even that question I can answer. I can’t remember how I ended up with this so called “family of mine” nor why I actually stayed with them. One day, I just was there with them, listening to their travel plans and getting excited about joining them on their adventure. It feels as if I have always been part of this family yet, I know from their stories that they only recently returned to Australia after living in Singapore for a couple of years. I have no recollection of a life anywhere other than the farm and I can’t think of a time without the Limacher family. All I remember is the elation at the thought of travelling around Australia with them and the weeks of intense preparation leading to today. Where has that excitement gone? What has changed since then?

Landscape: straight street through rolling hill and fields on an overcast day

I look out the window and notice that – once again – grey has won the battle over the sky. A change, I strangely seem to appreciate. It feels familiar and it reminds me of all the mornings I have stood by the living room window, waiting for even the smallest whit of sunlight. Staring at the greyness of the foggy autumn landscape back then, I was dreaming about that big and exciting world out there behind the clouds only waiting to be explored. A world in colours, filled with sounds, scents and textures. That’s right! I have hoped to feel the soft sand of pristine white beaches between my toes, dreamed of laying in beds of colourfully blossoming wildflowers and imagined getting enchanted by the apparently commonly described sunsets of the Australian outback. I have hoped to experience the diversity of Australia, and I have dreamed about finding home. Not just a place I ended up in by coincidence but a place of my choice. My home, a place where I feel I belong, where I feel at peace and relaxed. A place where I can retreat to if required and where I can open up the doors for family and friends if I feel like it. The enchanted forests of the Great Otway do give me that sense of home, yet as long as I haven’t visited foreign grounds I won’t know for sure. So, what am I waiting for then? Let’s go for it Lissi, explore the world and find that place you can call home.

Today’s drive will take us to Ballarat, an old gold-rush town about 150km North-East of Wyelangta. From there, we intend to cross Australia from South to North through Central Australia before travelling west through the spectacular Kimberly region. From Broome we plan to head south towards Perth and across the Nullarbor back to Wyelangta. If my family won’t be tired of travelling by then, we might head east and pay Sydney a visit before traveling north along the East Coast towards Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast area. Like me, my family is not quite sure about where they want to settle after the big journey. Originally from Switzerland they lived in Sydney for a several years, then moved to Singapore for two years before returning to Australia a couple months ago. Well, for now home is our caravan and all the places it will take us to.

A look out the window tells me that time has passed. Daylight is slowly fading as we drive though the quaint village of Daylesford. A pretty little town even under a mostly grey sky. Historic buildings and vintage houses adorn the main street yet, soon an arcade of dark green trees guides us out of this picturesque place. We drive past dull green countryside, farmland, deserted hamlets and seemingly forgotten villages, reminders of the past, where the hope for gold brought people from all over the world to Victoria.

With traffic running smoothly we reach Ballarat just before dark. For the first night, we stay at a Caravan Park fully equipped with playground, bouncy pillow, game and TV room, heated floors in all wet facilities, and a camp kitchen with oven and a herbal garden. What a pity we arrived so late. I would have loved a good jump on the bouncy pillow or maybe some relaxing time on the swing…? Well, at least my family gets the convenience of warm feet under the shower and – probably more important – when they step out of it as the temperature has dropped to currently about 10oC.

Tonight, the kids bedtime routine is kept short. They are keen on testing out their bunk beds and so it doesn’t take long before the last bedside light is turned off and everyone is soundly asleep. Everyone, except me. Due to my not too humanly make up I don’t need to sleep. Neither do I require food or private time on the seat with the hole. This gives me the benefit of time. Time to think, time to experience and eventually, more time to live. It might appear boring having to wait for everyone else to wake up but more often than not the night offers me insight into a world, humans only rarely get to experience. However, that is a story for another time.

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