27th November to 31st December
After a relatively quick drive up the freeway we arrived at Chateau De Burton, AKA as my aunty Robyn and uncle Max’s gorgeous house just north of Mandurah. We quickly set up and spent the rest of the day catching up with Rob and Max. Over the next couple of days we continued catching up with family we hadn’t seen for at least 5 years.
However after a few laid back days it was time to get sorted and unpack, unload, sort, bin and send to salvos all the stuff we haven’t been using and carting around. We started by unloading the car, we think it grew about 4 inches without the extra weight on board and breathed a sigh of relief. Nik had a few jobs and bits and pieces he needed to do with the new van now that we are based somewhere for a while, so he kept himself busy gathering contact numbers, locating willing tradies, welding and generally enjoying tinkering with the new van.
Not long after we arrived in Mandurah Zoe was lucky enough to recieve her grade 6 graduation certificate, it was finally official, she wasn’t a primary school kid anymore!!! To keep ourselves active we also decided to join a local surf lifesaving club, after some quick research by our friend in the know, Kerry, we chose to join Secret Harbour Surf Lifesaving Club. It was only 15km away from ‘home’ and it gave the girls a chance to meet some new friends and for Bec to requal for her Surf Rescue Certificate and notch up some hours patroling for the club.
However after a week or 2 we needed to get into the Christmas spirit and get organised for the big day, so we spent a lot of time exploring and discovering the abundance of shopping centres available around the Mandurah/ Rockingham area, the choices were numerous!!! Finally after getting ourselves sorted with van stuff and Christmas we set about going out to be tourists!!
First stop, Fremantle Prison, what an amazing place full of historical stories both humorous and horrible!! We chose to do the ‘Doin Time’ tour and the ‘Great Escapes’ tour and certainly enjoyed ourselves. We learnt about how the prison was built and used for the convicts and later on the ‘modern day prisoners’. Where and how the infamous Irishman John Boyle O’Reilly, came to be a resident at the prison and how he made quite a successful name for himself in the US after he had escaped from the jail and sailed to the US on a whaling ship. We also saw the whipping post and gallows, listening to the somewhat gruesome and terrible history being told by our wonderful tour guide and story teller, John about how the last man was hanged in 1964 and the blood curdling techniques used by the guards during the whipping or lashings to the prisoners. We learnt and laughed about the infamous ‘Moondyne Joe’ and his escapades and John also told us about the famous 1988 riot and the damage it did to the structure of the prison, whilst no one knows to this day still what the rioters actually wanted or tried to achieve………
We also learnt about the very nasty husband and wife resident serial killer that were undone by the courage of a young 17 year old who was able to escape and alert the police to their atrocities, god knows how she recovered after what she endured. John, our guide, was very aware of the kids present and was very discrete and mindful of the more horrid stories he partially told. All up we had a great day, the kids really enjoyed themselves too, we also contemplated doing the tunnel tour and night tour but the minimum age was 12 so that ruled out half of our mob, much to Bec’s dissappointment. Our tours finished anout 1:30 and we were starving so naturally we headed off to Little Creatures Brewery just down the road for a bite to eat and a beer of course!!
Whilst in Mandurah we also had our second magazine article published in 4WD Action, it was very exciting and the kids loved seeing themselves in a magazine, we also have a special mention and thank you to our dear travelling soul mates the Leeds who once again starred in the many photos in the article and shared such a wonderful time in the East Macs in Central Australia with us. We were also lucky enough to have dinner and a catch up with a dear friend from home, Keiran, poor guy probably couldn’t get a word in with the 6 of us constantly chatting and asking him questions. Whilst I also spent some time with my inspiring sister inlaw, brother and their precious boys and finally managed to pin down my best mate for a long overdue coffee, even if it was 11:00 at night!!!!!!
And before we knew it was Christmas eve, Nanny had arrived from Melbourne and we were lucky enough to spend a wonderful Christmas Day with Mum, her sisters and brother and all of their kids and grandkids. It was a great hectic day and of course the girls got spoilt by Santa Claus. The celebrations continued on for the week that Mum was here as we also celebrated the New Year and reflected on the wonderful adventure that was our 2015.
So after a busy December sorting and celebrating with family we have decided to stay put for the time being, to recharge our batteries and most importantly our bank balance as we have discovered that money does simply not grow on trees, no matter how hard and how high we have looked. However our hearts still have that yearning feeling to get back out on the road again, we have come so far and have seen so much, BUT we have so much more to see and do and we can’t wait to share it with our 4 precious daughters and also to all our family, friends and followers on OZLAP. So stay tuned as we bunker down and begin to prepare ourselves for the next exciting instalment and adventures on our OZLAP………