Six Months, 22,000kms, 52 destinations, 169 days of travel. How do I sum it all up in one blog post? Almost impossible, but I will try. Our trip around Australia as a family was the most incredible adventure, a mind expanding, heart opening journey. At times it was also a grueling ordeal (some might call it a ‘challenge’) and the grinding monotony of kilometre after kilometre of wide open roads, corrugated dirt tracks and day on day of setting up and packing up camp. It gave us all new perspectives and strengthened our bonds. It gave us greater respect for the culture of the original people of our nation, and further deepened our love of nature. We all grew immensely.

Sleeping in a tent for six months, we were immersed in the incredible and awe inspiring wonders of nature. Most days we awoke blissfully to birdsong. Some days and nights were spent huddling in the cold tent listening to the squally wind or relentless rain. Thankfully those days were few. As in everyday life the hard times contrasted with the good ones, making the breathtaking beauty all the more beautiful. We experienced the best that our astounding and varied country offers. We walked through the wet tropical rainforest as well as the arid reds and golds of the outback. We canoed, swam and snorkeled through emerald gorges, natural springs and incredible coral reefs on both the east and west coasts of the continent. We awoke to sunrises overlooking muddy rivers, red dirt, Mulga country, windswept sand dunes and sparkling forests. Hours of walks led to beautiful gorges where we experienced a oneness with nature. Our experiences in nature were everything I hoped for and more.

The lack of many things gives you a deep gratitude for those things when you return home. That lack also gives you space for other things to enter your life or to arise from within. Traveling with one man and two boys gave me a craving for female companionship and understanding.  Chaps just don’t get the need for tears when I see photos of our beloved pets back home or when reading ‘Red Dog’ and that old vagabond dog dies. They also discount the need for cleanliness and a grit free bed. My lady friends get it.  Finding wonderful women to connect with along the way was such a blessing and a joy. I love that saying ‘We do not make friends, we recognise them.’ I certainly recognised some beautiful friends along the way and reconnected with some I already knew. I am so grateful for my friends now that I am home. The other side of lack is gratitude. The basic things of life become harder to attain when you are on the road for so long. I am so grateful now for a solid roof over my head, for an upright fridge with a door, for fresh food growing in the garden, and for a clean bed. Bliss!

The inner journey was an incredible one. 250+ hours of watching the world go by from the car window gives you a great deal of reflecting time. Looking back over my life and our life as a family with so much time and space gives you a big picture, aerial view. This view is hard to get when you are caught up in the busyness of work, school, sport and social obligations. The trip gave us time to reflect on the past and to make big plans for the future. We reconnected with old dreams and values. My purpose in art and life was clarified, my focus is now on helping others to find the joy in nature and creativity that I have found. The trip provided fodder for a stack of paintings resulting in the ‘Art around Oz’ exhibition at the Hahndorf Academy in 2016.

Those six months created life long memories for our family. We reset our intentions with effects that will ripple out for many years to come. The journey strengthened us in so many ways for new adventures in art and life.