Macksville, Utungun Farm, Dorrigo (just south of Coffs Harbour)
At Utungan Farm (just outside Macksville), we set up the caravan in the cow paddock. There was so much good stuff happening during our few days at the farm, like sharing meals with our much-loved cousins and generally taking in the scenery and beauty of the family farm, hosted by Tamara, Matt, Geoff & Nadine, and their folks Marlene and Doug who have been on the land for decades. We canoed up the creek for a little spot of fishing, had a pizza-oven night, bathed in the creek during the hottest parts of the day, played in the dirt and explored the local area.
And took a drive to Bellingen and then up the range to Dorrigo where we discovered - with a huge amount of excitement from the boys - a railway museum with hundreds of old trains and carriages (and other industrial relics from Australia's earlier years) in the open air.
Later on, I took some time out to plan our journey, drawing in the dirt with a stick. I'm finding so many ways to inspire and teach the children about Australia, history, and life-skills just through simple outdoor activities like this. Dusty and I added sticks for locations, and he also added rivers and places we had visited recently.
Dusty and Maxie have become closer and closer, just so joyful to have each other's company. It's a beautiful friendship that I reckon could only have blossomed through this adventure. We love to see how our relationships are becoming so much more meaningful with this time together.
Maxie had his first experience in a canoe and tried his best to tip us over squirming and screaming. On a second attempt, we invited our big red dog into the canoe, and Maxie was content as the whole family was together. So the 5 of us paddled upstream, I would have loved a photo but there was no way I'd take my camera aboard. We spotted a huge carpet snake and rowed alongside it for a while, watching it glide along the log uninterested in us. I decided to not swim again after seeing that!
Dusty is enjoying himself immensely and is retaining so much of what we see and say - repeating landmark names, checking the map and navigating, talking about next stop to visit, bringing up memories from last places, he is surprising me with the unusual names and information he is retaining. He is totally at ease now with travelling every few days and excitedly tells friends he makes in playgrounds, "Bye! I'll never see you again, 'cause we're travelling Australia again tomorrow!"