We’ve finally managed to take stock the last few days here along the Great Ocean Road. We realise there hasn’t been much communication so we’ve had to try and get our bums in to gear to bring you up to speed. This will be the first of two instalments. Enjoy.
Well I guess we’ve got a fair bit to catch up on since our last instalment. It’s only been about 9 months!
At the end of our last update, we made the big mission to South Africa. This involved a 2 day drive from Mitchell Plateau to Broome, a 2 hour flight to Perth, a 5 hour wait until we boarded an 11 hour flight to Johannesburg, where we were treated to a 5 hour wait at the airport before boarding our final 2 hour flight to Capetown. It was a mission to say the least but the kids were fantastic travellers, kept entertained by the in-flight entertainment! A time and a place to be sure.
Our African adventure began in Capetown for four days where the kids and us found our heads spinning, back in a metropolis after the serenity of the Kimberley bush. Nevertheless, we had such an amazing time driving around the Cape, getting our fill of fresh and exotic produce whilst taking in the sounds, sights, smells and all the excitement of Southern Africa. The birds and wildlife were amazing, as was the hospitality from the locals. We caught up with Rosco Deane in Muizenburg (an old mate from London) before we headed further North to Stellenbosch and the Cape wine regions. Well, apparently Capetown had been in drought for the previous few years but you wouldn’t have known it. It was a bit of a shock to our Kimberley system having to wear so many layers again. We experienced flooding rains, there was snow on the Swarzberg pass, and ice on the windscreen so it was very conducive weather to enjoy Franschoeks full bodied reds!
Heading further North and East we passed though the Little Karoo, winding our way though that intriguing and arid environment until we had done a big loop, through Outschoorn and back down to the coast again where we enjoyed a few days with Karl and Mandy Nutt in Knysna. More wine. More food. From there we parked up in Jeffery’s Bay for a week where it was nice for us all to get our fix of salt water and waves without the fear of getting eaten by a crocodile. After a nice break we carried onwards, and literally upwards, through Addo National Park where we delighted at the amount of awesome wild animals we experienced up close. Elephants and zebras in plague proportions. The kids had an absolute ball spotting wild game.
From there we headed away from the safety of the garden route and into the untamed and remote Transkei. As it was for me on a previous trip, this was to become our favourite part of South Africa. It was the real and rural Africa which we craved and maybe our experience in the north of W.A had instilled in us a love and appreciation for the simpler and more remote areas of the world. It was a fascinating thing observing the kids playing and interacting with the poorest kids in Southern Africa, who largely spoke little or no English. It was a beautiful thing to watch the continuation and further development of a tolerant and non judgmental attitude towards people that are different to themselves in culture, that our kids have attained since living in the community. To them, kids are simply kids and no different to themselves (which is true I guess) despite their upbringing, their beliefs, the houses they live in and the food they eat. In our eyes, this is perhaps the greatest thing that our kids will take away from this whole trip, and we are so proud of that. That open mindedness will hopefully be one of the biggest gifts they receive in their life. Hopefully it counteracts the comparative lack of curriculum based academic prowess.
The couple of weeks we were in the Transkei were just so good for the soul. It was simple living at its best. We ate crayfish and oysters straight out of the sea. We enjoyed long walks though rolling green pastures where herders tended to their flocks of cattle, sheep or goats. We rode donkeys and horses. We dodged pigs and chooks on the rough roads through villages. We ate a freshly killed chook and mealie pap (maize) meal with a family in their unpowered mud hut rondavel. I surfed a truly wild and remote coast during the sardine run with literally hundreds of dolphins (and probably other large fish) schooling around me whilst I watched the whale highway at peak hour just beyond the breakers. I shared warm longneck beers with extremely poor but proud African men in the local shabeen where we talked politics and sport. We celebrated Byron’s 4th birthday with the local kids. It was surreal and magnificent and we never wanted to leave. But there were other good things on the horizon.
The real reason we had come to this amazing land was to share in the celebration of our good friends Lee and Anita Cummings’ wedding. We met up with them just North of Durban in Umhloti, a week prior to the big day. A group of dedicated travelers from all over the world had made the journey to see these two awesome humans wed (again). And it was here that we started to meet them all. We had the best week in the lead up to the big day. It started with a huge bucks show in Durban where we jumped off a bridge, drank our weight in lager and ended up dancing to the rhythms of Nigerian Jazz in a nightclub in a completely dodgy part of town. The hens day was a more civilised affair (sort of) with day spas and cocktails on the menu. We all made the journey to a private game reserve where in luxury, we marvelled at the diversity and scale of African wildlife. We were treated to true Zulu hospitality complete with a dancing performance. We all trekked up into the Drakensberg mountains to see the stunning beauty of the area. And over that week, the eclectic group that had made the trip, truly bonded. We felt so lucky to be a part of this celebration.
In the last of the lead up, we all hung out together in Umzumbe, south of Durban, where we surfed, ate, drank, shopped and generally chilled. The day itself was so awesome to be a part of. I was lucky enough to be part of the bridal party and Elsie was very chuffed to be appointed with flower girl duties. It was an incredible ceremony where love was the real winner. The reception carried on well into the night where there was live music performances, flash mobs, fires, dance offs and the most incredible gin. It was a collection of simply fantastic human beings, championing omptimism and positivity and above all, LOVE!
And it was from the next day, that people started to peel off and go their own ways, exhausted but content. It had been a truly amazing African adventure. We feel so lucky and privileged, that not only did we get invited, but also that the community gave us the time off to make it happen. It really was the trip of a lifetime for us to do as a family and we will always remember it. We feel so fortunate of where we have come from and the opportunities we have had to allow us to partake in such an adventure. We acknowledge the hardship that many South Africans have been and still go through. We are thankful to have stayed safe throughout the journey and to have met the people we have. We all still laugh at things like vervets getting into our room and stealing bananas (cliche right?), Harvey hunting an octopus in a milky brown river in the Transkei (which we ate), doing a dodgy cash deal for a zebra skin in the car park of a service station, the kids going down a waterslide out the back of a pub where the water temperature must have been close to zero and they all turned blue and had to hand back their left over tokens. For Byron, it was such a blur and we’re not sure he grasps the concept of being in another country as he keeps talking about it like it’s a part of Australia, and I guess it’s great that these times blend into one big amazing experience. It was just superb and a great little holiday in the middle of our trip around Australia. Kez and I didn’t say no to much and left a few notches longer around the belt. The colour, culture and diversity of South Africa will long remain with us and we feel blessed at having experienced such a lekker place together.
While we were in South Africa we received the unfortunate news that the community could not fund our tutoring position past the last term so we were left with some decisions to make….
To be continued……..
An African Wedding