Our trip to Melbourne was brief but busy. We had braced ourselves for cold weather but it seems spring had sprung a little in Melbourne and we enjoyed the cooler sun filled days…and brief rain showers.
Heading back to Melbourne was a bit of a culture shock too. The stunning scenery of the outback out of the plane window was replaced with rows of ordered houses and streets dotted with headlights. The big sky country gave way to big city lights. The slower pace and noises of nature were replaced with electronic sounds, schedules and to do lists.
It made me reflect on how the simpler lifestyle and fresh air has been good for our souls. The kids have had very little screen time or structured learning and commitments. We have not had to try and fit too many things into unrealistic schedules and commitments.
We managed to pick up a new diff thanks to the amazing team at Guest 4WD. Within 24 hours of phoning it was ordered and ready for pick-up. We also got a new tow hitch for the trailer. Time was spent preparing for Oma’s service and attending it on Friday. Andrew even fitted in a tidy up at the barber! The kids enjoyed finding things in the cupboards. For Matthew, it was puzzles and Izzy declared she loves exploring the cupboards and discovering olds toys that her dad, uncle and aunts played with.
Oma’s services was lovely and full of stories and reflection of her life. It was held at the Uniting Church in Mt Eliza, a church of which Oma was a founding member. I always find that although deaths are a time of sadness and loss they are also a time of reflection and celebration of someone who is loved. And in Oma’s case, someone who has shaped us and our community. One key aspect that came through from the service was how much Oma saw the good in everything and everyone, her determination and strength to face anything, as well as her great sense of community. She would have been chuffed to see how bustling the greater church facilities were while the service was being held, with a playgroup, mini maestros, art class and more taking place in the time we were there.
Oma’s service reflected the importance of community in her life. I have noticed through our travels that it is the communities that are connected to country and culture that thrive. Often it is the community arts centre that is the hub of the community and that has, in many places, reconnected people to country. I have spoken to people at a number of art centres that grew up elsewhere and recently returned to their country. It is the arts and cultural centre that has helped that re-connection process.
Unfortunately our reconnection into our trip was not super smooth. We got to the airport realising that the diff was too heavy to get on the plane. It was a rather stressful 90 minutes of Andrew rushing to the freight section of the airport to send the diff separately, parting with more money and then rushing back in time for the flight. It seemed our luggage had been checked in under his name so at one point I thought I would end up in Darwin with no Andrew, no luggage and no diff. But he made it with 30 seconds to spare. I did wonder why Qantas was not channeling Oma’s sense of helping others out. We certainly were channeling her grit and determination.
This meant an overnight stop in Darwin and more time in Katherine getting these new parts fitted. The car went smoothly. Unfortunately the trailer did not. All we can say is when traveling do take note of Google reviews when selecting service centres for your car and trailer. We did not and totally got the run around by a service centre for the trailer. In short, 8 business days after dropping the trailer off we took it elsewhere and got the job finished in 2 hours. It was a great way to give the kids firsthand experience of how honest and clear communication is the key to great customer service.
The up side was we spent more time at Katherine Hot Springs. Until our time in Katherine, Matthew had been reluctant to enter the water, even though in the past he was quite confident. Our time here though coincided with a massive breakthrough from not swimming at all to doing big jumps and swimming down the springs.
So we left Katherine, for the third and final time this trip feeling wiser in many ways and keen to get back into the rhythm of life on the road.