In the 1980's, it took a long time to get anywhere. Seeing there were no highways or tollways to take us places - to cut the times in half - we had to take the long way to get anywhere. It took almost an hour to drive into the city driving through Logan Road and other back streets. A day trip to Grandma and Grandpa's started at 8am and finished after dinner; and it would take us around 45 minutes to drive home, instead of the 20 minutes it took from Tarragindi.
The first time we decided to travel further than Tallibudgera we were in for a big shock. We had heard about this great little holiday destination called Brunswick Heads; and Dad was told the fishing was fantastic, us kids could have some fun, but the water was undrinkable. Well, we decided to go. We hooked up the Chesney van to the Kingswood and took off down there; with no clue how to get down there. We drove through the ranges. This took us an hour or so out of our way; and with a van on the back and a boat on top of us, made it very dangerous and heavy. We also got lost! We arrived down there around midnight and set up as quietly as we could... right next to the Pacific Highway! It felt as though the traffic was driving right through our annex when it zoomed by on the road day or night! The massive trucks made the van shake and most of our nights were rendered sleepless because Dad snored. Some holiday! To top it all off, most of the caravan park became physically sick from drinking the water by accident; and forgetting to boil it first. I was throwing up out of being worry that I was going to drink the water by accident because Gabe drank it (yeah, I was one of those kids!). And Mum and Dad thought this was going to be a holiday. At the same time, Mum weened me off my medications for my Epilepsy; this was the year I had grown out of my childhood Epilepsy. I barely noticed I was going off them. By the time I went back to school, I was an ordinary kid who had gone on holidays to a new holiday destination.
Over the years, the trip to Brunswick Heads has been refined to a fine art. We know what to take, what not to take and what we can get down there. The drinking water situation has been fixed up so it can survive the tourist season and we can drink the water from the tap. However, we've survived some really big things down there.
One time, the whole town went without water for about three or four days. None of us showered; and we had to ration our water. It was dreadful, but the little kids didn't seem to mind at all. And Dad showered at the surf club (the only place with running water). The only drawback with that place was that it had cold water showers only; not our idea of a clean shower, just another way to freeze our butts off in the Easter Holidays.
We've seen some really wet holidays where there was nothing to do but plays games, read books and watch the gutters fill with water. But then, that rain could also be very destructive. Like the time I was down the coast and it poured over Christmas Day Night, Boxing Day and the day after that. Right in the middle of those three nights, I was very tired and crashed early to the lovely thrumming of the rain on the annex roof; when at 3am or so, I hear a loud CRACK which woke me from a dead sleep. It was pitch dark when I called out to Dad - and when I didn't get an answer - I went back to sleep. At 6am, I woke to my alarm, turned over and found that the flouro above me appeared very close to me, until I reached up and found that it actually was very close to me! I laid there calling out to my parents who were sleeping soundly inside the van while I heard the annex roof creaking under the strain of all the water it had gathered in the three hours it had collapsed above me. Dad spent the day - a public holiday - looking around for a camping store in Mullumbimby to be open. Fortunately the owner of the biggest one around forgot his wallet and had returned to his store and sold Dad exactly what he needed to keep our annex from doing two things: 1. becoming a microwave oven and making everything boiling hot during the day and a steamer after rain, and 2. becoming a water tank again. I tell ya, I was very hesitant about sleeping under that annex that night; after all it was raining again that night and I really didn't want to sleep there again.
Another thing we've seen at Brunswick is flooding and evacuation. When Gabe and I were younger - well before they built the by-pass - I remember watching the Brunswick River break its banks and everyone in the Massey Greene Caravan Park (as it was called then) being ordered to pack up and leave three days before they were supposed to. Some people had another week or two to go; and they were packing up without being told. Us? Gabe and I could only help until a certain point, then wait until Mum and Dad had the van hooked up. But on this day, I remember standing up on an unpowered site (they're all powered now) and watching the river in turmoil. The tide was coming in as the river was trying to empty itself; and the water kept coming up. I found it an amazing thing to witness up close - a river attempting something that was going to partly destroy it; and yet we couldn't do anything to help it. It made me feel more than a little helpless. And the trip home was amazing! It was a huge convoy of holiday-makers taking the one road through the ranges to Brisbane with their trailers, caravans and cars, utes and 4X4's full to the brim of their wet camping gear.
The next time we were evacuated in that manner, I was driving a car. My Celica played a major part in the packing of Dad's fishing gear and my stuff too. I folded down my back seats (one of the main reasons why I loved the car was because of the extra space I could make in it through these seats; and that I could sleep in it if I needed to) and we packed it full. My car became part of the convoy on that two-way highway up through the ranges; being hit by a hubcap on the way through. When we decided to pull up in a vacant car park somewhere, I asked one of my cousins to help me and I found that my license plate had been bent back by the force that the hubcap hit my car. No other damage was done to my car thankfully. That drive was particularly tiring at it had taken so many holiday-makers to long to get home - again.
But over the years, since our first trip to Brunswick Heads, we have become a local family who holiday there. I have grown up in that town over my holidays and seen things come and go, people come and go and our van site move from the highway to being as close to the river front as we have it now (which is about 5 or 10 metres; how nice is that?). It's a lovely place to stay; quiet and pretty and the smell of the salt is so wonderful to inhale - so much different to heavier scents of a city.So, what places did you go on your holidays when you were young that you remember? Did your family return to one place in particular year after year? Or did you travel everywhere; never staying in one place for more than a few years? Until my next post, take care, keep warm and safe and remember, I'm always here.