As our last night on Fraser Island draws to a close, I wonder how it’s possible to feel so happy and sad all at once. It’s been amazing – so many new experiences for me – and probably life-changing. I would never have guessed I’d spend nearly two weeks in the company of children under the age of two, and come away feeling so relaxed and chilled out. That’s probably partly because it’s such a change from my normal life, but for whatever reason it’s opened my eyes for the first time properly to the joys of a young family, and it’s the first time I can remember truly wanting one of my own. I’ve even got pretty good at putting nappies on (haven’t had to face the poo though).
As I write this, I haven’t quite finished putting together all of the blog posts I’m hoping to, so it’s strange in a way that I’m writing the end before the middle. Even as I’ve been trying to document the days I’ve spent here, there are so many things that have become almost every day, and escaped the day to day records. So many precious memories that can’t be captured as a single moment, but that I will look back on and long for when I return to life in Sydney. I wanted to take the time to try and capture the spirit of this trip, because while I’ve been here, Fraser Island has certainly captured some of my spirit.
The days here start when I slowly become aware of the roar of the ocean, or occasionally the patter of rain on my tent. I have time to wake up slowly and appreciate nature all around me. Through the thin walls of my tent, I soon hear the noise of the others, until I know that Yolly and the girls are up, then it’s time to stretch and emerge.
Mya usually greets me with a hug around my knees, her hair is a cloud of blond tangles as she looks up and says “Good morning, Jo”, and I wonder if there’s a better way to start the day than this. If the sun is out, I can walk across the dunes and watch it dance across the breaking waves.
I brush my teeth outside in the grass with a cup of water. The kids eat their breakfast and Ivy ends up wearing part of hers, then it’s our turn to eat, we sit outside, with tea and food cooked on the tiny gas stoves inside the tent.
Part of the day is usually spent chilling under the tarp with my kindle, or playing in the waves. Sometimes I get to hold Ivy’s tiny hands – or rather, she wraps her fingers around mine – and walk her around. Sometimes, I go out into the ocean with Yolly and we swing the girls in the waves while they giggle. Mya is a gorgeous little angel, but when baby Ivy smiles and laughs, it’s magical. Sometimes Mya comes over, wraps her little arms around me, and says, “Hello, Jo”.
The sand gets everywhere. It sticks to our feet, it blows into our faces, it invades our food and it sneaks into our beds. It doesn’t matter how much we sweep, every day, it’s always there. I tried not to fight it, that would be a losing battle, but sometimes it’s hard to ignore the crunch. It does have its up side though: it brushes our skin soft as silk, warms (and sometimes burns) our feet as we walk across it. Soft and dry, it’s nearly impossible to walk in, and it’s a miracle to see the life that survives here.
There are no mirrors in the tents. I can’t see how bad my hair looks and I haven’t even thought about make up since I got here. I’ve worn the same thongs (flip flops!) all week – when I bother to wear shoes – and bummed around in my bikini most of the week. It’s liberating to not have to worry about any of that.
Most days involve getting in the car to go somewhere. Driving over the beach is the best part, since anywhere else is spectacularly bumpy. I still hold on and try to hold in the gulps, but over the worst bumps, sometimes I let out a girly shriek. The first drives were terrifying, but somehow now it doesn’t seem quite so bad. Yolly and I try to take turns to sit in the back with the girls. I feed them far too much sugar. Mya has learned to say “Peas, Jo” (she can’t quite master ‘L’ yet) to get pretty much anything she wants. Ivy loves chocolate, she loves to spread it all over her face and laugh about it, and we love to photograph her when she does it.
The days end with the light slowly fading over the tarp, while I swig a glass or three of wine, and Yolly and Casey feed and shower the girls. The shower is still an amazement: a small ensuite tent with a shower hose. When they’re all clean, it’s stories, cuddles and bed. We’re not usually that far behind, and I fall asleep quickly while I’m trying to hold on to the sound of the outside as long as possible. Tonight, that will be especially true as it will be the last one. On the plus side, I now own the tent and am already planning my next camping trip, as well as my next trip back to Fernvale.
I can’t pretend I won’t be happy to get back to some of my home comforts … mainly those in the bathroom! But I will miss Yolly, Casey and the girls terribly, as well as all of the others who shared our holiday here. I’ll miss the chilled out atmosphere of the last ten days or so. I’m so glad that I decided to come, and so grateful to Yolly and Casey for sharing their holiday (and everything else!) with me – because it really has been totally amazing!