Penguin viewing on a cool evening.Phillips Island.
After saying goodby to Anne we decide to travel back to Shiriri the long way around. With Edith clinging to the roof rack again, Heather and I head south to the coast and then follow it all the way back to Manley. We visit Mornington near Melbourne where Heather`s father was born, and later dip our feet in the Southern Ocean. We visit penguins who are coming ashore on a chilly night and look south across nothing but ocean between us and Antarctica. Do we detect a bit of yearning to voyage in that direction? No, surely not, we are land voyagers at present!
A windy day crossing the Gateway Bridge.
Back at Manley Boat Harbour we resume our by now familiar life: Heather is now halfway through the third Patti story, I paint more postcard pictures of our south Pacific travels and we use the van to travel locally. Soon we hear that Anne has another school break and we arrange to drive south to meet her at the Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains inland from Sidney. As we both have cell phones we keep track of each other with text messages and arrive at our campground within an hour of each other!
Camping beside the river at Jenolan Cave.
While going underground is not my favourite activity, the caves are really spectacular. We then convoy up to the top of the mountains for a few days and walk along the rim near the ‘Three Sisters’ before we head back west and bid Anne a sorrowful goodby as she drives off back to Mildura and we head back north via towns like Orange and Dubbo and Tamborine. We finally reach the coast again and stop for a visit with Keith and Nora.
A forest walk near Tamborine.
These school breaks of Anne`s have kept us hopping but it is now nearly time to hand our van back to it`s owner ( John, another very kind stranger). It is not the youngest van in the world, but has served us very well with only one fuel filter and two new tires in the six months we have had it.
Our next plan is to fly to New Zealand before we leave in May for the long trip home across the Pacific, buy another van, and explore for four months. Gwyn will holiday with us over Christmas, and then Anne will join us when she finishes her teaching contract in Mildura. It`s funny to think that several years ago when we first imagined what life could be like if we had a live aboard lifestyle our expectations were modest indeed compared to how we are living now. Almost, but not quite, we look forward to the monastic life of sailing again on the broad blue sea.