Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
We quickly settled into a comfortable and relaxing rhythm at our campsite in Ben Boyd National Park. We woke at 5am with the dawn chorus of the birds (and movement of the fisherman at their cars next to our tent) then tried to sleep until 7am before rising, dressing and greeting the day. Our children had breakfast while we continued our fasts*. We pottered around, read our books and prepared for our next adventures. Some days it rained and we were cosy in our huge tent, with 3 of us reading and our son doing activities (yes that glorious time has arrived when our daughter happily reads silently leaving us to do the same) or we made good use of the communal covered area in the campsite. Other days we had fine weather and set off for a play at the beach or a walk to the waterhole on the way to Saltwater Creek. Our children are gregarious and tried to play with some Australian children at the campsite but without success. They chatted freely with the young foreign couples that camped around us. A large Czech group had a troupe of children and our two happily joined in with them in their active play. After a few days I noticed a Dutch family with two children and chatted with both of the parents and introduced the 4 children to one another. I invited them to join us for brunch on Christmas morning.
It’s a short (30 minute) and easy walk to the waterhole on the track to Saltwater Creek. We stopped at the ruins of Bittangabee homestead and tried to visualise the house, the inhabitants and the utter loneliness and difficulty of life there. We took our time, stopping to look at creepers, birds, rocks and fungi on the way to the waterhole. The water was refreshingly cool. The brown/orange colour of the water is caused by decomposing plant material (tannin). The surfaces of all of the rocks are covered with dark brown slime, making it very slippery. The 4 of us enjoyed relaxing on the warm rocks, dipping in the cool water and trying not to fall over. Baby wipes were our best friends that week due to the lack of showers, so we took the opportunity to bathe in the freshwater waterhole. On the walk back to our campsite we were privileged to observe a stunning male Superb Lyrebird. He scratched around in the leaf litter and tolerated us watching him from a distance. I was so enthralled by watching him that I didn’t try to take a photo until he had moved far away.
On Christmas day our children were delighted to find that Santa had found our tent (thanks to my clever husband) and we had a cosy time together in our tent investigating their gifts. At 10am we set-up in the communal covered area and were joined by the Dutch family. We ate grain-free pancakes with organic peanut/cacao spread and strawberries, (naughty) grilled croissants with free-range ham and cheese, and boiled eggs. Conversation flowed easily as we discovered that all four of us hold PhDs and the 4 children loved playing together. After a rest we 4 set off to an inlet to the north of Bittangabee beach and happened upon the Dutch family there so we played and chatted together some more. It was a lovely, relaxing and very enjoyable day.
I am the manager of a facility in the Middle East and several projects with weekly reporting requirements, so unfortunately for us I had to leave our campsite twice to go into Eden for WiFi access. Fortunately my family are happy to try anything so they happily adapted to that restriction and we twice spent enjoyable afternoons there exploring the beaches, having tasty barbecue lunches in the park at Cocora Beach, refilling our big water bottles, and a hectic two hour block of work for me each time. I went to Sprout Cafe which is great because it sells fresh produce, it offers a range of gluten free snacks and even a gluten and sugar free slice, it serves good decaffeinated coffee and provides free WiFi and a quiet and calm environment for work. I had so much work to attend to that I struggled to get enough done in those two hour blocks and both times as I started the long and bumpy drive back to the campsite I found that my muscles were very tight, I was breathing shallowly and my ‘calm’ from camping had disappeared. I work exceptionally hard for my company and I am beginning to feel resentful of the unfair demands that are placed on me and the costs to our family. Since our daughter was born I have worked part-time and revelled in a balanced life where I continue my scientific career while delighting in the childhoods of my children. This is now at risk and I have some serious questions to consider about loyalty, career progression, job security and costs to marriage, family and health of stressful work.
At Cocora Beach our children loved playing on the sand and splashing in the water, while we picked up beautiful shells from the sand.
At Cocora Beach we could hear bellbirds and decided to take a walk with our binoculars around the headland of Weecoon Cove and to the beach to the west of that. The entire walk there we failed to spot any of the bellbirds despite hearing many of their calls all around us. We enjoyed the walk through the coastal forest with a canopy of eucalypts, an abundance of hakeas and other shrubs and plenty of leaf litter. We climbed down onto the beach to the southwest of Weecoon cove, crossed the stream and walked into the forest to the west. There we were able to stand and watch a couple of Bell Miner Birds follow one another from banksia flower to flower, just 2 metres from us. After returning to the forest directly to the southwest of Cocora Beach we also saw some Bell Miner birds very close to us. What a thrill to see those olive green honeyeater birds with red legs and yellow bills whose loud, clear call is so very like the tinkle of a bell.
*A note here on intermittent fasting: we both find great benefits from daily fasting and while we are at home it’s pretty easy to fast for 16-17 hours each day and we’ve been doing it for about two years now. However, I have found that while on vacation I don’t sleep very well, I eat more carbs and it’s difficult to distract myself from the hunger so I often break my fast earlier than normal. I also do not usually fast when I’m travelling for work due to the need to fit in with the rhythms of the people around me, although I did do it daily during my recent 5 week trip to the Middle East. My husband made a modified version of my smoothie mix and I’ve been having that each day this trip. It’s a fantastic boost to my energy levels, it’s tasty and very nutritious.