Pender Bay – Dampier Peninsula

When we arrived at our campsite at Pender Bay, Isaac jumped out straight away so that he wouldn’t have to help set up. Setting up took a lot longer than usual as we were using the tent and we had to get everything off the roof. While we were getting everything off the roof, Isaac came back with none other than our friends from Broome (their other sister was at the caravan).

Once everything was off the roof, and the tent was set up, Dad went to go help a lady who had been locked out of her car, leaving Matisse, Mum and I to set up the stretchers. After the stretchers had been set up, I started to wonder where Isaac and Tobias were because they had left to go with Ella, Will and their dad. Eventually they came back informing me that to get to Will’s campsite, you had to climb down the cliff, cross the beach and then climb up the cliff on the other side. When we had set up everything I went down the cliff to check out our friends’ campsite. It turned out that they had and amazing view and the sand on the beach was SUPER soft.

Later on, we all went down to the beach to enjoy the sand and sea and also to chat. Whilst we were down there, Isaac and Will were playing a game where they threw sand at each other and during which Isaac got sand in his eyes which finished that game.

The next day we headed over to our friends’ campsite where we played a game called Mexican Trains. Later on we on a super fun walk which involved climbing along rocks and walking along the sand. When we came to the final beach, all the kids except Matisse and Tobias. We all hid in the same little nook and when Matisse saw my legs I came out pretending not to know where the others were. Eventually we were all found and we went for a swim and I swam in my clothes.

That evening, we all went over to our friends’ site to watch a movie. We were joined by another girl who we met on the beach. We watched The LEGO Movie 2 while the adults ate biscuits and corn chips.

Sadly, that was our last night and so in the morning we all had to help pack up our tent. Once most of the work was done, we got to have one last play with our friends before leaving. All too soon the time came to leave and as I climbed into the car, I thought about how much I had enjoyed Pender Bay and everything in it: the soft sand, the beautiful sunset and the spectacular walks. All in all Pender Bay was probably one of my favourite places.

Broome – Cable Beach

When we rocked up at Broome Caravan Park one of the first things the kids did was to go check out the pool. It was HUGE, although it was all the same depth(1.4 metres). Fairly soon we had set up camp and we decided to drive to the beach for the famous Cable Beach sunset.

Cable Beach has incredibly blue waters and white sand that feels amazingly soft between your toes. When we arrived, mum took Matisse and I for a walk down to the water. At first we were all a bit hesitant because there were a lot of jellyfish in the sand but in the end we went down. Once we were down there however, we heard Isaac playing with someone and when we turned around, we realised that a friend Isaac had made at Spring Creek rest stop was there as well.

Soon we were all playing together. I was talking to Will’s older sisters, Ella and Sophie about Harry Potter. After a while we started to make a mountain which we decided to turn into a turtle. Whilst we were making the turtle, some other people we met at Spring Creek arrived. When we spotted them we called to them and they joined us. With the extra help of Eva and Marian we managed to complete the turtle before complete dark.

Cable Beach is a beautiful place. As I watched the sun set the sky became a beautiful mixture of oranges, pinks and reds with the sun creating a simply stunning centrepiece. As I watched the sun slowly set I really begun to notice how big the sun was and appreciate its beauty.

Next day, Dad took Isaac and I to go hunting for dinosaur footprints. We weren’t sure if we saw any but we had lots of fun scrambling over rocks and going right to the waters edge. When we got back, we showed the kids our photos and then went to the pool. I spent my time there perfecting my front flips in the pool and seeing how many I could do until the kids asked me to play with them and I went to go hold the noodle for them to jump over.

Later that day we went down to the beach again except this time we drove down on to the sand and along the beach. When we found a spot, Isaac and I started building our sandcastle straight away. We decided to make a kingdom with a wall surrounding it. By the time our friends arrived, we had completed half the wall and after we explained what we were doing Ella and Will came to help us but Sophie decided to work on the Villains’ Mansion. After a while Isaac and Ella went to go and help Sophie leaving only Will and I to do the city. Whilst we were building we began to argue over whose creation had the best protection. Before we had finished however, the camels came by and Will’s mum wanted to get a photo in front of them. After that everyone wanted to get photos of the sunset and we forgot about our creations. When it was time to go we said goodbye and drove back to the foreshore to go and play at the playground.

The next day was Sunday which meant that we had to go to church. After mass, we went to the markets which was something we were all looking forward to. When we arrived however we were quite disappointed as they weren’t very interesting. We went back to the camp and spent the rest of the day playing and swimming in the pool. We also met a very nice man who was camping next to us.

When I woke up next morning I was very reluctant to get out of bed because that day was pack up day until I remembered we didn’t have as much to do because we were leaving the van there and going to Pender Bay on the Dampier Peninsula to stay in the tent because it was a 4WD track and we couldn’t being in our van. When we had packed up, we all piled into the car and set off for Pender Bay.

Alice Springs

“Mum how much longer is dad gonna take?” Isaac asked. “Not much longer”, replied Mum, “look, here he comes”. “We’re all sorted,” my dad said. “How much did it cost?” mum asked but dad just said he’d tell her later.

When we got to the campsite, all the kids decided to go exploring. We all wanted to find the playground and jumping pillow so I grabbed the map and led the way. We soon arrived at a playground but there was no jumping pillow. I double checked the map but all that did was prove we were in the wrong place. Since this made no sense we decided to go ask our parents for help. When we got there they were still setting up so we all helped them set up before we all went over. When we were ready, I showed my parents the map and they told me that there was another playground and we went to the closest one to us. With that knowledge we all started heading in the direction of the pool which was supposedly near the pillow. Once we got to the pool, we weren’t to sure where to go but luckily a park ranger came past and he showed us where to go.

The kids thought they should be the ones to eat those pancakes.

That evening, Isaac, Dad and I all went to the kangaroo and emu shed to listen to a man play the didgeridoo. We listened to quite a few songs before we decided to go back to our site. When we got back we showed the other kids the video we took. Then we all climbed into bed and I pulled out my book and started reading.

Next day, we went to go have pancakes at the camp kitchen but the line was too long and we needed to get to mass so we decided to go get hotcakes instead and eat them at the park after church. After that, we went back to the campground so we could go swimming. The swimming pool at that campground was spectacular. It had four pools of different depths and it also had a water-slide. We spent a fair bit of time there, before heading back to our site for a shower before mum, Isaac and I went to a star gazing talk. At the talk we got to look through a special telescope that shows three of Jupiter’s moons. When we got back, we ate dinner and slowly climbed into bed.

On our second full day, we decided to go to ‘The Mega-Fauna Museum’ in Alice. Mega-Fauna are not dinosaurs but are other animals that lived on the earth millions of years ago, but after the dinosaurs. At the museum we saw lots of different mega-fauna and we compared our heights to them on a wall. We discovered a room that had a time elapse video and some blocks. There were also two bins with sand and bones in them and you had to uncover the bones with some brushes. We even got to meet a palaeontologist who had just come back from Alcoota which is where the bones are most commonly found. He had been in Alcoota for a little while and when he came back he discovered that the fridge where the specimens were kept had turned off so that there was a horrible smell wafting through the place. When we got back we changed for a swim and then going through the usual nighttime routine.

The third day we were in Alice we spent hanging around and we also spent some time doing schoolwork. Isaac was working with mum on a recount and Matisse was doing a recount while I was doing some maths. We also went to the pool and the jumping pillow on our bikes.

Isaac writing with mum. Tobias is playing on the iPad.

On the very last day of our stay in Alice Springs, we went to hire a go kart. Dad and I walked down together and we got one that seated four. On the way back, I drove and dad helped me peddle. Once on the way back, I took a particularly sharp turn which caused dad to bang his leg into the side of the kart. When we got back to the van, the kids all piled in and we had to organise ourselves so that we could get as much speed as possible. We ended up swapping spots quite a bit as everyone wanted a turn sitting next to someone else. Eventually we had all got a turn with each other and it was time to take it back. It ended up taking longer to return it than we had thought as we forgot to bring Tobias’ helmet and I had to walk all the way back again. But we soon had everything returned and we headed back to our campsite where we were already starting to pack up.

My parents decided that the day we left was going to be the day we went to the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctors Service). When we arrived we received a quick talk on what was happening and then we went to go have a look. There was a model plane which you could go into, a screen with colouring in and memory and also a few headsets which you could put on and see what the experience with the RFDS was like for different people. After we had a look at that we went to see a hologram of how RFDS started. After that Dad had to go and move the car while mum took us into the museum. As soon as we arrived there we caused mum a lot more stress than we should have by running wild. Fairly soon we were out of town and driving towards the next adventure!

Coober Pedy

When we stepped out into the open air of Coober Pedy the only thing we could see for miles was dust. Dust on our shoes, dust in the caravan, dust just about everywhere! But not even mum had time to worry about the dust, (although she certainly would later) because we had to be at an opal mining tour by 7:00 pm.

This is our campsite!!

After we had dinner we went straight to the tour where we met our tour guide whose name was Rick. During the tour, we learnt about how you have to peg your claim to be able to go opal mining. To peg your claim you have to get permission from the mining authority. You are then given 4 wooden pegs and 4 plastic tags which you place in the dirt. These pegs represent where you are allowed to start digging a mine. There are close to 2 million opal mine shafts across the Coober Pedy Opal Fields. We also learnt about the different ways to find opal. One of these things was noodling. Noodling is when you visit the mounds of gravel, stone and sand that have been brought up from the mines and you search through it for small bits of opal. When there wasn’t much of the tour left to go, Rick asked me if he thought I could crouch longer than him and my answer was that it depended because I didn’t know how long he can crouch. He then challenged Matisse, Isaac and I to try and crouch longer than him. I beat him by about 3/4 of the talk. As a prize, my siblings and I got to put our hands and pull out some of the things in there. At first I didn’t trust him, but it turned out that there was actually lots of rocks and possibly small bits of opal. That night we went to bed knowing a great deal more about opals than we did only 1 and a 1/2 hours earlier.

The day after the tour my family and I visited the town of Coober Pedy. We saw lots of houses that were built into the earth. The first place we went to was the Visitor’s Centre. I read about how an English author came to try her luck at opal mining. After that we visited the church which was underground. It was very interesting to see how it was all very similar to our church yet really different at the same time. I noticed that there was a curtain over a hole in the wall that was the tabernacle. I also saw the stations of the cross. We then went to go get a stamp at the post office like we have done at all the places we have visited so far. We continued to wander around and we came across a shop where we bought waffles and a tiny bit of opal.

Then we went noodling together. I found two bits of rock with opal in it. Matisse decided to take this opportunity to pretend to be the queen and demand my finds. Of course I refused and she was very cross with me. She kept on saying “I am your mother, princess!!”. When we got back to camp, we started to chip away at the rock I found. Sadly, we ended up breaking it into multiple pieces.

Our time in Coober Pedy was spent learning, listening and having lots and lots of fun!!

The underground Catholic Church in Coober Pedy.
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Watch where you are walking. Be careful not to fall down one of the 2 million mine shafts.