Then it was a quick run down the coast to Macksville to stay the night with cousin Mick, who put on a cracking lamb roast for us.
Beaches, lakes, coastal rainforests, bush walks, sunsets, camp fires, flat batteries, learning, quiet and bbqs; we loved this spot and would love to return.
We then dumped the toilet, as you do after three days of limited facilities, at a dump site with the best view we have seen so far.
Then we headed down the road to stay with Tanya's old work colleague, Mark, and his family in Newcastle. More dogs, more kids and a warm fire as well as an introduction to the game of Trouble for Arlo and Galen (we have been scouring op shops to find our own game).
Having a coffee with Mark on Lake Macquarie the next morning, Mark checked the weather and let us know of a severe weather warning: a coming cold front with 90km/h winds that were going to lash the area over the next couple of days.
Yes it was a bit windy and not great weather for towing a 2.5 tonne sail in the shape of a caravan. In a bit of a mild panic we "slowly rushed" down the motorway to my aunt and uncle's place where we holed up for the night and caught up with cousins, second cousins and even third cousins (does such a thing exist?).
We got a lot of caravanning advice from Ken and Wendy, had heaps of laughs and managed to survive the wind.
Then it was on to The Entrance where we had our first experience of caravan park (sardine) living. At least we didn't need to park the van, as they have a guy on a tractor do that for you. When we arrived we had the option of having a waterfront site, which sounded great, but the lady at the counter said you might want to check it out first as it was a bit breezy, a quick walk down and we decided some shelter would be preferable.
My sister and her family came up for the weekend and we had a super, (but cold) family weekend, with nice beaches, lighthouses, great food, cousin time and lots of stories, games and catch ups. By the time the family left on Monday the weather turned around and we had a lovely afternoon sitting by the river (everyone else had left by then too).
We then left the coast and headed up the Great Dividing Range to our first free camp, basically a rest stop halfway between Newcastle and Dubbo. Very cold, horrible toilets, but the scenery was lovely, we got to have a fire and the price was great. The beauty of being self-contained is that you really don't miss out on any luxuries.
Waking up to a temp of -4 Celsius certainly lends itself to a slow start!
Once we had thawed a little we made our way to Dubbo, where we checked into the Red Earth Winery for the next three nights. Power, water, good wine, homemade dumplings and a great view were well worth the cold weather.
We also managed a trip to the Old Dubbo Gaol to give the kids a bit of an Aussie history lesson. Arlo was not too impressed and got freaked out by the cells (especially solitary confinement), animatronics and conditions, Dad got freaked out by the price and Galen loved it and couldn't stop asking questions.
Our first two weeks have certainly been a learning experience for all of us, while being lots of fun and well worth the effort.
Next up, the reason we came to Dubbo in the first place.