Saturday, October 31, 2009

There and back again

We've been back from our trip for a month now.

I wanted to close my contribution to our blog with an entry after I'd had some time to reflect on what the trip had meant to us, what it was like to be back and how we were settling back into our non mobile home on Dangar Island.

The past twelve months have been without any doubt the most amazing period of my life so far.

To get out of the city and to see so much of our great country was an incredible opportunity.

To have made it all the way around Australia with only one puncture and no mechanical problems at all is almost a miracle. The Troopy was amazing. To have traveled 48,000kms without hitting anyone else, any wildlife (excluding a couple of birds), or even getting a speeding ticket also surprises me. The laptop made it round without dying, my iphone lasted long enough to get replaced for free when I took it to the apple store and complained about a crack in the back, and the camera gear survived the vibrations.

We made a pact well before the end of the trip that we should not let the trip be defined or soured by how difficult it was going to be to transition back into 'normal' life back in Sydney.

This has worked pretty well up to a point, but I think a huge factor in that has been coming back to the peace of Dangar Island rather than bustling Newtown.

Dangar Island is in the Hawkesbury River around 55kms north of Sydney CBD.

The Island is surrounded by three National Parks and the river system is just stunning.

We share the island with around 250 other people. There are no cars on the island, just a fire truck and a ute for collecting the rubbish. Locals transport their goods from the ferry wharf to their houses in wheelbarrows. The place feels a little like Hobbiton without the hairy feet.

Candi & Steffen had been house sitting for us for the last six months of our trip and largely undid five years of complete neglect of the garden.

Dangar is an incredibly fertile island, things just grow and quickly get out of hand. Our place (880 square meters) was almost entirely covered by wandering jew.

When we were all here at Christmas time you could barely get up the front path.

Candice & Steffen (with help from Ken & Jean) ripped out all of the wandering jew and cleared a lot of the undergrowth and removed a lot of fuel in good time for fire season.

Ness is now keeping herself busy in the garden and the place is looking better than it has in years. Next step is to get some chickens!

The addition of a bird feeder at Christmas has attracted even more of the local birdlife up to the house.

The carrots went in today and will hopefully be ready around new years.

The cabin up at the back of our place. Now painted inside and very acceptable additional accommodation for guests.

Our next door neighbour was good enough to chainsaw his way through one of the trees we had cut down a couple of years ago. This will provide enough winter heating fuel for a couple of years at least!

Green waste is collected every two weeks but we have found out that there is an approximate two bag limit. We still have around twenty bags to go so this could take a while yet to get rid of (we're now well and truly in fire season so we can't just burn it).

Now we are on the island full time it gives us much more opportunity to get involved with the community. I have come back on to the board of the bowling club, and am now on the committee for the Dangar Island League.

Ness made her first contribution to the local island newspaper (The Mullet Mail) by writing a piece reminding people about responsible dog ownership.

We have also signed up to join the Dangar Island Bush Fire Brigade.

There's also been a wedding to plan. Busy, busy, busy.

It's been fantastic to be able to get back into lawn bowling after such a long break. There are very few better ways I can think of for spending a sunny sunday afternoon with good mates and few too many beers.

Our wedding is now only six weeks away and we are really excited that so many of our friends and family are able to come along. Being away from Sydney has meant we've been a bit slack in catching up with people.

The commute to work is quite a different proposition compared to the ten minute each way from Newtown.

The alarm now goes off at 5.30 and I'm on the 6.10 ferry off the island and then the train has me into work at around 7.40.

As far as commutes go though I can't really complain. The ferry trip still hasn't lost its novelty for people who've been commuting for years and years.

There's normally someone with a six pack on the ferry coming back on a Friday night to turn it in to a booze cruise.

The view from Hawkesbury River Railway Station isn't too shabby either. A very peaceful way to start the day, although I'm sure things will seem a little harder once we get into winter.

It's not been nearly as bad as you might have imagined for me getting back into working full time. Things would have been quite different I think had I not done any work on our way around. As it was I've largely been able to keep up with developments and what I need to be focusing on.

I'm also lucky to work in a dynamic team and in a job where this never a dull moment. No time to get bored here and the days just fly by. As much as I love my job though, it is always great to leave the city behind and head back to the island.

Candice & Steffen are moving out in a couple of weeks and the great news is they will be living right next door. Even more exciting than that, Candi picked up a wicked little boat on ebay last week. Despite dramas last week (motor not starting, rowing it across instead, falling in the river etc) the motor is apparently in good shape and she should be getting it back next week.

So that I think brings everything up to date. While it is very different being home now, we have come back to an awesome life in a beautiful spot. And you can't really ask for more than that.

Thanks to everyone who gave us advice and support before and during our big adventure. We hope we can provide inspiration to others to take the trip on and we're both happy to talk for hours about the practicalities if anyone wants to listen!

We are of course now saving for our next adventure - a crossing of the Simpson Desert for our honeymoon. We have to wait until the end of summer for things to cool down enough for us to make the attempt. We're both looking forward to being back on the road again ...

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