Seeing Toowoomba

Last week we stayed in Pittsworth on George, Ruth, Jordan and Michelle's  beautiful farm overlooking thousands of acres of black soil plain country. We helped with some yard maintenance and bobcat work (Tim couldn't help himself once he spotted the Bobcat) as our way of saying thank-you, and other than that we mostly hung about camp. Dusty got over his nasty fever virus but Maxie got it so we basically quarantined ourselves and tried to keep Maxie healthy and cheery, the latter was pretty hard work! Had some wild weather as well, with storms blowing over. Good at times for flying kites...

And at other times we hid in the shed away from the gale and watched the dust blow over the plains... scratching grit out of our eyes and spotting bolts of lightening.

Another good mate in Pittsworth, Pete, showed us his crop for this season and gave us a tour and taste around his paddocks. Our boys picked broad beans, which we later shelled and cooked for dinner in butter and beer.

Pete explained how to check the yield on wheat and the best time to harvest for different purposes; he also showed us his baby corn starting to grow.

Pete's crop of barley was impressive. After a bit of rain the sunset was striking and I couldn't stop taking photos.

Here is Pete and his dog Frank. 

Maxie tried to lose himself in the crop running high-speed toddler laps down the furrows. He really didn't get very far before he fell in a fit of giggles. It was great to see him feeling better.

There were so many rich learning experiences for the kids out there. Everywhere we looked there was something to explore, feel and talk about. 

On Sunday we went to the Bunya Mountains - an unusual cluster of rainforest-covered mountains high above the plains (north of Jondaryan). The markets are on on the third Sunday of every month so we were lucky to have a wander through the stalls, but even without them there are a number of walks and waterfall treks. None of which we did - a picnic was our plan. That, and a bit of bush-tick collecting (maybe I shouldn't have rolled about in the grass with the kids.)

With a wallaby looking on, Dusty learned lots of botanical facts. Tim's uncle Michael spent 30 years working in forestry and could answer every question, he even showed us where wild pigs had been digging up wild sweet potatoes. 

Michael and Katrina spotted an echidna on the way out, he hid his face from us.

On the weekend we also shifted camp, to stay in Michael and Katrina's backyard. It was the right time for us to stay with friends as I was coming to terms with what we were doing, starting to feel the effects of selling our home, and had a good teary cry (ok, bawl) with a nice hug from Kat to cheer me up.

Their property is also beautiful and we positioned our caravan looking out over the neighbours' grazing cows, it was so peaceful.

So during the week we had a fun time in Toowoomba, catching up with cousins, and friends Ava and Milla at their homestead. 

We did a bit of fossil digging in the Grand Central shopping centre dinosaur exhibit ...

... and seeing as many touristy sights as possible. With nanna-Anna, we visited the botanical gardens to see the amazing flower displays (the Carnival of Flowers was on last week so this week is the perfect time to see Toowoomba at its best).

Will you believe me if I say the flowers below, purple and white, are kale? 

And then we had an awesome time next door at the Cobb & Co Museum. This is a fabulous place for kids, and worth the trip to Toowoomba - especially if you're one of my home-schooling friends, as there is so much for kids to explore and do here. There's the historical area about horses and carts ... 

Plus seasonal exhibits and activities for kids, and also the science centre, where you can all work together on motor-building and generating electricity. 

Dusty also built a wagon wheel while Maxie did puzzles.

It's reflecting on days like this that I think the boys are gaining so much playing tourists in Australia. This real-life experience, along with opportunities to play and study independently, is natural learning at its best. I can't count my blessings enough for living in Australia, where we have the support to homeschool on the road.

The other important lesson for our children is learning to support ourselves and help others who give us a place to stay. Dusty was enthusiastic to weed gardens with me as a way to thank our friends for having us. It's a small token, but an important part of life and I'm proud to see Dusty pro-active in his help - even when he accidentally picked waaaaay too much lettuce and parsley for Katrina!

Tim kept himself busy 4 days this week - one day with Jordan shifting equipment out near Goondiwindi and 3 days working with another friend, Ava and Milla's dad Matt, to assemble his silo from individual parts. Tim likes doing puzzles too apparently! 

Finally - today - a last visit to 3 playgrounds at Picnic Point that we had promised to Dusty, and a breakfast picnic with Tim's parents, Anna and Peter. 

How could I have been to Toowoomba so many times before without never visiting Picnic Point? This view was sensational - it was truly like sitting on the edge of the earth. 

This mountain is called Tabletop Mountain. 

I've loved being in Toowoomba and it feels very much like another home to us. Maybe we'll settle down here for a while one day. 

But not yet. 

Our adventure is just beginning.