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Birthday Surprises and Waterfalls

Things have settled down since the fire in February and we’ve been so grateful for a little bit of rain to help things green up around the area. It’s lovely to see the paddocks back to a healthy colour and a bit of water running in the river again.

The girls have had a great few weeks at school with assignments, homework and the Cross Country last week. They will both represent the school at Zone next term and are looking forward to it. We’ll have to do a bit more practice over the holidays to keep their fitness up.

My mum turned 80 last month and she had a couple of weeks of lovely surprises. My dear cousin Claire surprised Mum with a visit, travelling all the way from London without Mum having any idea. From what I hear, there were tears and swear words but they had such a lovely time together. I decided to surprise Mum as well with a quick weekend trip. The girls and I flew down to Sydney and we had so much fun catching up with family. We had lots of café stops and shopping. We even managed to get Claire into the ocean one afternoon. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time and I think we all needed the break. I just wish she didn’t live so far away. The last time I saw Claire was when she was my bridesmaid almost 14 years ago.

Yesterday, we decided to have a device free day and headed to Minyon Falls to bushwalk to the base of the falls. We haven’t been before but it’s been on our ‘to do’ list for a long time. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much water at the Falls but it was lovely to spend some family time doing something we haven’t done in a very long time. The walk was very scenic but got difficult at the end where there was no track and we had to scramble across big rocks to get to the base of the Falls. The water was too cold to swim, even for our little mermaids but they enjoyed the day. My poor old body is feeling it today though. The most physical activity I have done in months.

School holidays are coming up soon and we are planning a short trip to Dorrigo, Bellingen and then onto Taree for a couple of nights. We hope to do some bushwalking around Dorrigo and along the Waterfall Way and just generally explore the area. We’re also looking forward to seeing Mum again in the 2nd week of the holidays.

Bushfire, Devastation and Loss

As you have probably seen on the News, our town of Tabulam has been affected by an out of control bushfire this week.

Here’s a little insight as to what has been happening this past week. Some photos are Linden’s that he took while he was at work.

I was at work on Tuesday and we were advised a fire had broken out around 10km west of Tabulam on the Bruxner Highway. The Highway had been closed and we had to make alternate arrangements for some of our students to get home. We had very little information about the fire or how bad it was. By the time I left work, it had travelled very quickly towards Tabulam, through the Aboriginal community of Jubbulum which had to be evacuated. The fire kept going down Chauvel Road towards the river, where houses, sheds and equipment were lost. It jumped the river at the Racecourse (2km from our home) and the town had been evacuated.

Linden was recalled into work to help with evacuations and I was told to wait at the bus stop where I collected the girls from their school bus and wait until it was safe to return home.

Around 6.30pm Linden told me I could go back home. The smoke was so thick and there were so many people unable to get back to their homes, either due to the fire being too close or the highway being closed. I opened the house up to whoever needed a safe place and we had about a dozen people waiting until the highway was clear for them to head back to their homes.

The next day the smoke was still chokingly thick and I decided the best place for the girls and I would be at work/school as the fire was nowhere near there. It’s been a very scary and stressful week with flare ups and more houses lost in the area. There have been times when I didn’t know exactly where Linden was and unable to contact him. I’ve been concerned about friends who are now in the area where the fire is burning but I know they have a good evacuation plan and the fire crews are looking after that area.

We have had the helicopters refuel at the town oval and that’s been exciting to watch, especially the ones with the water buckets. Elvis the water bombing helicopter has been here doing an amazing job as has the fire retardant planes. Fire crews from NSW and QLD have all been working around the clock to contain the fire.

A recovery centre has been set up in our local hall to drop donations for all the people that have either lost homes or been evacuated and unable to yet return. The girls and I took a delivery of items over on Saturday afternoon and the volunteers in there are such hardworking, selfless people. I’m so impressed by the community spirit.

I have read there have also been deliveries of hay for the farmers who no longer have food for their livestock.

The last update I had seen was that the fire was being contained so I am hopeful that things improve soon. Though the hot and extremely dry conditions will continue this week. We are in desperate need of some rain.

Our town is not currently in danger but surrounding areas still are. The fire has turned away from town, moved back up to where it started and is burning around 15 minutes West of Tabulam. The many fire crews, pilots, emergency services and community recovery centre have been amazing. We can’t thank them enough for what they have done. We all hope this nightmare is over soon.

A positive attitude

What a whirlwind the last few months have been. It’s hard to believe it’s 2019 already and is likely to be our last year here in Tabulam. Alice is starting Year 6, the final year of Primary School so the big decisions need to be made this year of what High School we will apply for. Lucy will start a new school this year, joining Alice at St Mary’s and will be in Year 5. She’s nervous and a bit sad to be leaving more friends but I know she’s going to love it and do so well there. Both girls had a fantastic year at school last year and we were so proud of them. Lucy achieved lots of sporting awards for both Cross Country and Athletics at the end of school presentation night. Alice received a medal for 11 Year Girls Athletics Champion.

They were both extremely busy towards the end of the year with presentation nights, end of year concerts at school and gymnastics. They also competed at Zone level for Little Athletics. They both qualified for Regionals in February but we decided it was too far to drive for the weekend being so close to starting school again so won’t be attending.

This school holidays have been very busy but so much fun. I don’t know if I’m ready to go back to work next week but having a routine again will be good.

We spent 3 weeks back on the Central Coast catching up with family and friends. The girls had a busy schedule with every day booked up with playdates and shopping days. We went to the beach almost every morning to surf, swim or walk along the beach. It was just magic to be back near the ocean. We managed to fit in a night in Sydney and had a lovely 2 days wandering around the Botanic Gardens and a bus trip out to Bondi Beach.

Linden and I caught up with a builder and a handyman to organize some renovations to the house. It’s going to be an exciting year.

I have started the year with a positive attitude and have so much to look forward to. We have booked our first overseas family holiday to Phuket for the July school holidays.

Linden has gone back to work after having a month off. The girls and I decided to have a quick trip up to Brisbane to visit my dear Aunt and Uncle and Cousin Cate. It was good timing as my other cousin from Perth was visiting with his daughter, who I haven’t seen in years. We had such a lovely 2 days with them all.

I think we are all ready for the new school year to start next week and we are all very excited about what this year holds for the Jewkes family.

Until next time x

Fraser Island Adventure

We’ve been back from our Fraser Island adventure for a week now and I’ve finally got a few minutes to sit down and write about our trip. In typical Jewkes holiday style, we had quite a bit of rain, even a tornado warning on our last night on the island but thankfully the rain was only ever at night or on our travelling days. I’m so grateful I talked Linden out of camping this time around, it wouldn’t have been pleasant.

We spent 5 nights on the island at Kingfisher Bay Resort in a 2 bedroom villa. Her’e’s our travel diary.

Day 1 – We dropped Minnie off at her boarding kennel and made our way up the coast to Nambour for the night. We arrived later than we were hoping so didn’t get much time to spend with my beautiful friend Louise and her boys but it’s always great to catch up with her when we are nearby. Linden got out for a surf in the rain so he was happy after a long day of driving.

Day 2 – Our 13 year wedding anniversary! We visited Noosa in the morning and the girls had a great surf. The water was so clear and the water temperature was perfect. Mid-morning we drove up to River Heads where we were to catch the barge across to Fraser Island. We were surprised at how unobtrusive the resort is. The whole resort is nestled into the trees and it’s so very quiet. We had booked a 2 bedroom fully self contained villa so we could cook our own meals. Having our own laundry was fantastic too to get wet towels dry each day. The resort pools were lovely and clean and it wasn’t very crowded the week we were there which was great. I couldn’t believe how quiet the resort was. We were only woken up each morning by birds singing in the trees.

Day 3 – Lucy turns 10! We gave the birthday girl a choice of sights to visit and she chose Lake McKenzie. Lake McKenzie is around 10km from the resort. I’m glad Linden decided to drive, the tracks took a bit of getting used to and I don’t think I would have had the confidence, especially when another car comes towards you and you have to find a passing bay. Lake McKenzie is just how I remembered it from 15 years ago. Still crystal clear water and incredibly beautiful colours. We took a lot of care not to use sunscreen or insect repellant as these have been damaging the lakes and people are asked not to use them. All food must also stay locked up in cars so as not to attract the dingoes. We had a magical hour or so swimming and playing before heading to Lake Birrabeen. Lake Birrabeen is less crowded than Lake McKenzie but just as pretty with pure white sand and clear blue water. We also drove to Lake Boomanjin which is the world’s largest perched lake and has an incredible tea-coloured water.

After the lakes we stopped at Central Station and went for a walk along the boardwalk to see Wanggoolba Creek. The rainforest in this area is so beautiful and Wanggoolba Creek plays tricks with your mind. It looks like there is scum sitting on the top of the creek until your eyes adjust and you realise it’s the quartz sand underneath the crystal-clear water.

Day 4 – Another big day planned with a trip to the East Coast. We drove about an hour to get to 75 mile beach and drove along the sand highway to the Maheno Shipwreck. Once a luxury steamship, then during WWI she was used as a hospital ship. When she was retired, was sold to Japan as scrap metal. In 1935 she was being towed up the coast from Sydney when a cyclone hit and she drifted onto the beach on Fraser Island where she was abandoned. In WWII she was used as a target for bombing practice.

The beach was a lot more crowded than the inland tracks with 4WDs, campers and people fishing. We saw 2 dingoes walking along the beach. Fraser Island is thought to have the purest strain of dingo in eastern Australia.

We then drove north to Champagne Pools and spent a while exploring the rockpools. There were whales jumping out of the water just off the beach. It’s towards the end of the migration season and there were lots of mothers and calves putting on a show. The rockpools are a popular place to visit and swim with lots of small fish in the pools.

After cooling off, we drove to Eli Creek and spent an hour or so floating down the creek on our inflatables. It’s a crowded spot with visitors and tour buses but it wasn’t too busy that we didn’t enjoy it. Eli Creek pours 80 million litres of freshwater into the ocean every day. It’s clear fresh water was beautiful to swim in.

Day 5 – With whales still in the area, we decided to take a morning whale watch cruise. The boat picked us up around 7.30am and we were taken up to Platypus Bay where the whales usually play. We weren’t disappointed, seeing around a dozen humpback whales. There were mothers and calves and the calves were very active breaching and waving. It was so beautiful to watch. One mother and calf came right up to the side of the boat which was a nice treat. The conditions weren’t the best with choppy water and a bit windy. Thankfully we didn’t get seasick but a few passengers didn’t fare so well.

The afternoon was spent relaxing around the pool. After a couple of very long and busy driving days, a rest was just what we all needed. We decided to have dinner out at one of the resort restaurants. We chose The Sand Bar which was more casual bistro style dining.

Day 6 – Our last day on the Island, we decided to go back to Lake McKenzie. We wanted to visit Lake Wabby with it’s green water and sand dunes but the weather was meant to turn nasty in the afternoon and it was a long drive and walk into the lake so we didn’t want to risk being caught out. We spent a couple of hours at Lake McKenzie and it was just perfect.

Later than night the storm was coming and we were getting emergency text messages warning to take shelter as a possible tornado was approaching. Thankfully it didn’t come to the Island, we just had a lot of rain and lightning. The girls went to join a Junior Eco Ranger night and made some new friends playing games and having dinner.

Day 7 – We caught the barge back to the mainland and drove to Coolangatta for the night. Torrential rain almost the whole way there and horrendous traffic meant we arrived a lot later than we hoped and weren’t able to get to the beach.

Day 8 – It rained again in the morning and surf conditions weren’t good enough to swim or surf so we went for a walk, then met some family for brunch before heading home from a wonderful holiday.

Sorry to load you with such a long post. Until next time x

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