Last week we went bush, for our annual Easter camp-fest. Early Wednesday morning Mum and her partner Ashley picked us up, and we drove, and drove, and drove, until we reached the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, about an hour south of Mildura. 580 kms and 6+ hours feels like forever, but it’s all forgotten when you get there and take in the view of the beautiful Murray River.
We camp on a huge sandbank on the edge of the river, with no reception and no distractions of the daily grind. It’s a really, really lovely spot to unwind.
Mum and Ashley have been camping there for the last 11 years, along with a few other families, some with kids and some without. They are seasoned camping veterans and it’s all very civilised, with both toilet and shower tents at the ready.
In our gang, there’s two brothers aged 13 and 16 and they are the nicest young lads I know. So well mannered and just so brilliant with Ava. They love her and she loves them, and they pretty much look after her the whole time we’re there. They dig holes, splash in the river, go for walks, play cards – they’re pretty much the best babysitters a parent could wish for! It’s ‘win/win’ for everyone.
So here’s what we got up to.
Day 1: Wednesday
We hit the road at 8am, and after a couple of pit stops in Wycheproof (what a name!) and Ouyen we got to camp around 5 o’clock.
The weather was absolutely perfect, and as soon as she could find her bathers, Ava was in the river.
After Mum’s spag bol for dinner, we stoked up the campfire and got the marshmallows out. Ava was in heaven! And it’s the only way she’ll eat them, ‘burnt by fire’ as she says.
Day 2: Thursday
Super lovely sunshine-y day, so it’s on with the bathers. The kids are off digging holes and having water fights, so we read, eat, chat, relax and that’s pretty much it.
It’s Happy Hour at 5ish then chicken and rice salad for dinner. Then it’s down to the fire again, the nightly ritual. This year Ava got to stay up later than usual, and she loved being up with the ‘big’ kids.
Day 3: Friday
More stunning weather and more swimming, digging holes and splashing around in the river for the kids. And a lot of chilling for us big kids.
A few of us drove half an hour out of camp and then came back by kayaking down the river, about a 5km journey. It was so beautiful and serene (insert Darryl Kerrigan’s ‘Ah, the serenity’ quote from The Castle).
On day 3 the gang always cook a roast, it’s an annual tradition. It was pork, loads of veg and gravy for us, with a generous helping of crackling (oh yeah!).
Back to the fire to chill, a lot of stargazing, and of course more marshmallows.
Day 4: Saturday
Because we were leaving on Sunday, we (ahem, sorry the Easter bunny!) sorted an Easter egg hunt in the morning and both the big and small kids loved it.
After another beautiful lazy afternoon, it was time for curry night. Ashley cooked a seriously yum green chicken curry and rice, his own paste brought from home. Ava and I couldn’t get enough!
Day 5: Sunday
It was our last day, so we were up early to pack our bags to come home. After a quick brekky we set off for the airport. As Mum and Ashley were staying for a few more days, we flew home from Mildura. They dropped us at the airport and before we knew it, we were home.
How was your Easter? What did you get up to?