On the way down to Melbourne, via the Great Ocean Road, we went inland and found the perfect free camp at Dando’s. The sites included picnic tables and fire pits and were set among 200 foot gums growing straight up all around us. There was even a river to swim and fish in.
The next day we did a walk in the treetops, ‘The Otway Fly’ in the rainforest.
The next night, we stayed in another free camp, complete with blackberry bushes. See above.
On the 23rd we took the overnight ferry to Tassie.
We found stunning free camping in the Bay of Fires, a rugged part of coastline in northeastern Tasmania, famous for its pounding surf and granite boulders covered in orange lichen.
Because we had to rush to get to Deaf Games in Adelaide, we decided to go back and see a few sites that we missed. . . And so we drove south on Highway One towards Melbourne. We have a ferry booked for Tasmania on 23 Jan. We’ll spend three weeks there then carry on around Australia clockwise.
First stop: Little Dip Conservation Park.
We met a family with three boys who’d just spent nine months going round Australia and were on their way home. They carried with them less then half of what we had.
They showed us their favourite spots on a well-worn map, mostly off-road. ‘I’m allergic to bichimun,’ the mum said with a glint in her eye. As a child she’d sailed across the ocean to America.
I watched with admiration as she reversed the four wheel wheel-drive with trailer attached. (I haven’t even driven the four wheel-drive yet!) This mum–so enthusiastic, so game–was inspiring.
When I asked about homeschooling she said, ‘Every day? We were lucky to get the school books out once a week!’
The history of interstate deaf sport in Australia dates back to 1895 when the Victorian deaf cricket team travelled to South Australia for a game. Deaf Sport Carnivals have been held from 1914.
“Whilst sport is clearly core, the Australian Deaf Games also constitutes a major social and cultural festival for the whole Deaf community.” —Australiandeafgames.com
We arrived to a sea of hands on 9 January for the opening ceremonies in Adelaide. Teams from every state and territory, Fiji and Vanuatu were involved and hundreds of spectators from around Australia welcomed them.
Highlights of the week included:
–Watching the Fijian team enter the stage of the opening ceremonies with smiles and traditional dress. Fiji has a very strong deaf community.
Consider getting off Highway One and taking the inland route, where you can visit the magical Little Desert National Park.
On the fifth of January, after a long hot drive from the other side of Melbourne, we arrived at our campsite hungry, tired and hot. At 6.30 in the evening, it was still 31 degrees C. I had a headache, the girls were fighting, but we pressed on—we had to—and set up the camper.
The drinking water was warm and the flies swarmed and there were more ants than I’ve ever seen in my life, including bull ants—no thongs here!
Then it was past 7 and I knew I should cook dinner, but instead I said, “I’m going to put my toes in the river.” K followed.
The river, just 20 meters from our campsite, was green and wide with a slight ripple. We put our feet in, looked at each other, took off our clothes and jumped in the water.
The effect of being submerged was instant—we laughed and splashed, feeling cool and free and fully refreshed.
That night it was quiet and light until nearly 10. Even at 10.30, the stars weren’t completely out. At 11, when the girls were finally asleep, Lee and I started to see shooting stars. There were only two other campers in this large campsite, Horseshoe Bend, named for the bend in the river. And although there was a live redback in the women’s toilet, there were no mosquitos.
The next morning, when I was tidying up the camp kitchen, I turned around and found myself face-to-face with a large emu. It gave me a shock. Close behind was an emu chick, who was still larger than my four-year-old.
We stayed three nights. One morning K and I biked into town past a large olive orchard. When we saw a rope swing hanging over the river, K stared longingly at it. “I wish I lived here,” she said in Auslan, “then I could go on that every day.” And she made the sign for swinging on a rope, letting go and splashing into the river that described the action in a perfect visual manner. It’s something I would never have thought up myself, despite the fact that I’ve been signing for five years and have a Diploma in Auslan.
This happens all the time when I’m signing with deaf people. I try to describe something, fail, and then they give me the visual language for it—paint a picture in the air so succinct, so apt. I wish my brain worked like that. For me, Auslan will always be a second language. K’s chosen not to wear her hearing aids lately—excited by the prospect of going to Deaf Games in a few days, where she’ll communicate with everyone in Auslan.
Nowa Nowa is a lazy town in Victoria on Highway One with a river, a caravan park, a pub across the road and a population of 144.
We came for two nights and stayed four when we met a friendly extended family from Gippsland. They hosted us for New Year’s on camping chairs outside their caravan. We chatted into the wee hours about campsites and blogs and dogs, while the kids slept and we listened to free live music from the pub across the road: a perfect way to ring in the New Year.
Next stop, Melbourne (for trailer repairs). Then we’ll make our way to Deaf Games in Adelaide, via a National Park somewhere . . .