It seems more than a little ironic that I’m writing this post on Day 13 of our trip. And yes, I’m a bit behind. Hopefully that can be amended, if things from here are a little less crazy.

So, Week One.

Week One was NOT what I expected. Not even a little bit.

In fact, Week One is one I would possibly rather forget. And yet, it’s etched into my mind. And so I try to focus on the glimpses of good amidst the nightmare.

Day One was exciting, but exhausting. It was very surreal. And I decided to celebrate by having four alcoholic beverages in one session – something that hasn’t happened for many, many years. It was fun, but I’m not going to make a habit of it, it’s too expensive and calorie-consuming! Maybe once a month is OK…

Day Two was fairly straightforward and quite relaxing – in hindsight I wish I’d done more, before things went downhill fast. But it was sort of amazing to read a whole book in one day – another thing I’d not done in years.

Day Three was where things went downhill.

I’m guessing that everyone who does this crazy travelling with kids thing, doesn’t do so without fear.

There could be the fear of breaking down in the middle of nowhere. There could be the fear of being in an accident. There could be the fear of losing children (that almost happened to us today eek!! Will save that story for later). There could be an endless list of fears.

My fear was gastro. I HATE vomiting. HATE it. And the thought of dealing with it in a caravan was literally my biggest fear.

Well, it took three days. THREE DAYS!!!!

And it was even worse than I imagined it would be.

Miss 4 felt sick in the morning – ended up vomiting and I’m like oh noooooo, but was hoping it was a once off sort of thing, perhaps from being a bit put out by the change in environment, or from food or water. Anyway, we needed some things from the shops so Luke set off with the big two and I stayed behind with Miss 4.

Then came the poo. And the vomit. And the poo and the vomit. And I was free camping, with no phone signal, no car, no nappies or other supplies. And it turns out that rather than going to the town 20 minutes away, hubby couldn’t get what he needed, so went an hour (each way) away, cruising long getting lunch etc as well, and took FIVE HOURS to get back. And it was the peak of the illness. Poor Miss 4 was struggling to make it to the toilet, too – so I ended up with 6 or so sets of soiled pants. After the first 3, I decided to get creative and stuff her undies with toilet paper because that’s all I had at hand. It was terrible. She kept saying it was the worst day ever, and when I tried reassuring her (and myself) that it was just one day and then she would be better, she kept asking when this day would be over. Poor little chicken, it was horrible for both of us.

And it didn’t get better. The next morning she seemed a lot better, but after a little walk out in the sunshine, she faded quickly. She got feverish, and very lethargic, she still wasn’t eating and only having minimal fluids. The next day was the same, and that evening I decided to take her in to the local hospital as I feared dehydration and was a bit concerned that she wasn’t better after three full days. That’s when we learned that norovirus is pretty rampant at the moment and was likely what she had. Uh-oh, that was not the news I wanted to hear, because with us living in such close quarters, I know that meant that it likely wouldn’t stop with her.

And it didn’t.

Two hours after we got home from the hospital – so at 1am – I hear a little voice coming from THE TOP BUNK saying “I just vomited” – and by that, Mister 7 meant he had leaned over the side of the top bunk and emptied the contents of his stomach….from approximately 1.5m up you can imagine the splashback (waaaahhhh). Not. Pretty.

I had sat up in quite a hurry and taken a bowl over to catch the rest. When I turned back towards the bed, Luke had turned as white as a ghost….then proceeded to fall back on the bed and start convulsing!! TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT!!! So I had that happening at one end of the van, and vomit all over the other end of the van – fun times! It was also FREEZING COLD and we were free camping with no power, so no heater either!

Somehow I found it in me to triage the situation – I told Mister 7 he had to stay put, gave him the bowl and said I needed to help daddy first. Not that I knew how to help besides making sure he was actually OK when he came to. I didn’t even know how to use the satellite phone and so begged him to tell me, in case I needed an ambulance. I think perhaps it was maybe his version of the virus – and not the fact he wanted to get out of more vomit/poo catching and cleaning duty since he’d missed the first lot, too!! Anyway, I made him lie down so I didn’t have to worry about him, and got to dealing with the other end of the caravan. I don’t even like to think about it, really. Copious amounts of paper towel were used in the process.

Then it was Master 7 and I bunkering down for the rest of the night on the couch. Lots of cleaning and comforting, but I must say that in between, he was the most ridiculously cheerful sick person I’ve ever known. In between the vomiting was questions and giggles – I sometimes laughed, and even cracked a “dad joke” – because let’s face it, if you don’t laugh, you cry. And I’d done enough crying already.

When everyone else got up that morning, I insisted on going to a powered site, so we drove into town (this was Day 6, by now) and proceeded to spend $60 on washing and drying clothes, and attempting to decontaminate in order to hopefully save Miss 9.

But it wasn’t to be. Miss 9 succumbed that night, when our little washing machine was rocking the caravan and she felt nauseous. I really felt for her – she’s a bit anxious about gastro, like I am, and was terrified about it. I had been feeding her with charcoal and she seemed to only get mild symptons and we still managed a pretty good night’s sleep, which was a relief!

As Miss 9 had said to me while I was catching her brother’s vomit at 3am and talking about how this had been my biggest fear……”someone once said that whatever your biggest fear is, if it comes true and happens to you, then it makes you not be afraid anymore”…..so, I guess I can now say I’ve conquered my biggest fear. Even when I didn’t think I could. And I just kept reminding myself that surely it could only get better from here!

So on Day 7, we proceeded to head to our next stop. We almost lost our bikes from the back of our caravan, and had to stop for emergency welding repairs (as well as travel with our bikes on our bed inside the van, which is how they’ve continued to be transported), but we pulled into camp at 6:30pm – exhausted!

The drive was actually really interesting at times – we saw wild emus for the first time, which the kids (and I) were super excited about!!! Lots of other animals too, both dead and alive (one road was renamed “Roadkill Road”). And we took our very first daggy “touristy” photo! Ha!

I was going to get everyone to share their highlights and lowlights, but they’re sleeping as I write, and I’m almost ready to join them, so I’ll do that as a sequel to this post!

We are still working on finding some kind of rhythm to our days, and I definitely feel like I haven’t found my feet yet, but I don’t regret it, even after the hell of Week One, and I’m excited for where our adventure takes us!

Foxbar Falls – my sister’s property (and campground still in progress of being built) – is amazing!!! I would have loved to do more explore – there’s lots of tracks and rock scrambling and things to see and do. It was great that we could have a fire every night, right on the waterfront. The playground area was AWESOME – I’m a big fan of nature/upcycled playgrounds. The balancing log and tyre swings were big hits with the kids. And it’s fantastic for bikes. The kids had a great time racing along the runway, and also mountain biking through some of the bushland. I’m looking forward to going back when it’s completed!

Here are some of the highlights from Week One – seeing these is such a good reminder of silver linings and glimmers of light in the darkness!


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