Last thoughts on our Big Chunk trip - what worked, what didn't and what we learnt
06.07.2011 - 07.07.2011 20 °C
We saw a variable message sign today near the soon-to-be-opened Ballina bypass on the Pacific Highway. It said: 'New roads. Ignore GPS. Follow traffic signs'. Edwina didn't have those roads on and yes, she would have got us lost.
Generally speaking though, Edwina has been $200 well spent. She's a middle-tier Tom Tom from Dick Smith and she's got us around lots of towns and cities we don't have maps for. She's given us ETAs so we can phone and say "Linda, we'll be there at 11:22am". She's found accommodation, petrol stations, swimming pools, and houses of friends and family - in the country and the city. When I was the only adult in the car, during the first few weeks and this last week, Edwina was sole navigator. Mount Gambier had her stumped. And she took us up a few closed roads and a few strange back routes. But she's been great. Go Eddie!
The big chunk of cookie has almost fully crumbled. So, what else, big and small, are we especially glad we had on our trip?
- a plastic table cloth, with foam backing, for all those dirty picnic tables we needed to eat off. Amazing how much bird poop there is out there.
- extra kitchen implements that accommodation places seldom supply - a sharp knife, a sharp potato peeler, a can opener, a microwave dish with lid
- mobiles and computers that were functional in remote places and also compact. Keith did a lot of homework on this before we left. We have an HP 10" netbook (see photo below), Next G dongle, cables galore, USB sticks, a gmail account, and a 'blue tick' cheapie mobile hooked up to the Telstra network.
- sleeping bags. These were bought with a mass of other camping gear in Adelaide. While we only camped two nights (we're wimps), the sleeping bags were used as extra blankets on nights when our accommodation didn't provide enough blankets and it was too late to ask.
- a travelling DVD player was useful when the accommodation didn't have a TV. It wasn't used in the car though as the kids worried they'd feel car sick.
- a selection of first aid things like pain killers, band-aids, cough medicine, antiseptic cream etc. In only the first few weeks, we used them all!
Things we shouldn't have bothered with:
- some items of clothing that just never got worn
- some books we thought we'd read and never did. Some games too.
- wet weather gear. We tended not to go out in wet weather and we were lucky in getting so little on our trip.
What did we wish we had?
- a 4WD. Just joking! We didn't need one for the roads we went on but the extra luggage room would have been nice.
- children who liked bushwalks. 'Do we have to do another walk?' was a common refrain and we really did few. Other people have told us that's normal!
- more patience. Things get a bit intense sometimes when it's just the 3 or 4 of you for days or weeks on end.
- more reliable information about places to stay and visit. Cutting through the gushy tourist brochure prose and working out what was really worth seeing was an art. There seem to be websites on which roadhouses are best to stay at.
- more CDs. Taylor Swift is surprisingly good but we all know her songs word-for-word now. More Katoomba Convention or bible talk CDs would be great. Bulk order next time!
Next crumb: Answers to a few FAQs about the trip. Please text or email any you have. Otherwise we'll make them up!