Travel Journal: A Spot In the Bush…Near The Beach

Wandadian

Wandadian – Jervis Bay Area.

With the battery issue resolved, we hit the road and headed north.

However, paranoia hit hard and we were afraid to turn the car off. So, we drove north to Wandadian without stopping. We even (gasp) went through the Maccas drive through in Bateman’s Bay so that we didn’t have to stop the car.

Of course the car is fine.

We figured out the fridge. Rich was told, when the battery died, that a good days drive is needed to bring it back to full power. Shame it was only 3 hours to Wandadian. Better than nothing I suppose.

Our Wandadian stop was an AirBnb about 15 mins west of the coast. It was a granny flat situated on 5 acres, nestled into the eastern side of the Southern Highlands. While part of a property with another house and dwelling, the granny flat feels separate. It’s completely self-contained.

The only thing it needs is a clothes line or a dryer since we had washing after the beach. Otherwise, it had everything we need.

One of the nicest parts of being in Wandadian was the easy access to the beach. While we were staying in the bush, the beach was only 15 minutes away.

Despite the fact that we’ve camped in the area before at Booderee National Park, we’d never gone to Hyams Beach on those prior adventures.

It was now on our list of things to do while we were staying at Wandadian.

After battling for parking, we found it and let me say, it was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen in Australia (and I’ve seen alot!). I could have stayed for hours. It was warm, very sunny and although the water looked enticing, we were worried about getting sunburned despite the copious amounts of sunscreen we were wearing.

But the walk along the beach was, dare I say, blissful.

The sand was white, compact and the water was ever so clear. It was like the perfect beach day. While it was crowded, it didn’t seem crowded. There was plenty of room for people to spread out, play games on the beach, play in the waves.

I just wish we would have planned better. A picnic would have been great but we forgot to bring food and Rich was hungry (feed the bear!).

We moved on to Huskisson (Husky) for lunch. It was okay, but it was yet another touristy beach town for me.

It was a lovely afternoon out but by the time we got back, we were hot. Odd considering we had just spent a few hours at the beach. But, nasty weather was starting coming in and the humidity was really high. I don’t do well in humidity, which was not boding well for the following week in humid-town (Cairns). What could we do? Put the air con on of course! Ah, luxuries.

Monday was spent repacking. We had a lot of stuff to sort, and in heading back to Sydney the following morning, we needed to work out what we would drop off at the Taxibox storage. The pile was increasing and that was great. Less stuff we needed meant that maybe we could actually see out of the back of the car when we were driving! Boy, that would be nice.

We determined that by taking the cargo pod off the car and packing it, we could actually see what would realistically fit in it. There’s only so much you can see when the thing is mounted on top of the car. Especially when you’re hanging off the backdoor, or balancing on the tire base,

Turns out it was a brilliant move.

We got more into the pod than we thought, with Rich checking the weight factor as he went. He packed it, took a photo, remounted it back on the car and then packed it once more. We thought we could pack it and then mount it but was just too damn heavy. Loaded it would add to around 70kg and even for the two of us to lift that above our heads and on top of our Ford Kuga was something we were not ready for. The repack went quickly though.

The following morning, we were up at 6.30am, ready to hit the road. But, like all good plans, we didn’t leave until closer to 10am. A friend had emailed me, asking for help and I really wanted to get back to her quickly. I some other pressing work-related emails I needed to respond to, and by the time I was done with email, Rich had essentially finished packing the car. We just needed to shower and we’d be off.

As I waited for him to finish getting ready (a common theme to our life. He’s a dawdler most days.), I looked at the clock on the wall. It was 8.50 am and I knew he had a standing phone call he needed to make at 9.00 am. One that takes about an hour. We had planned on being by the beach by 9am, where he could take the call without me around. Somehow time had gotten away from us.

Why so imperative that he take this call?

It’s all part of our 2.0 plan. You see, part of this adventure is to restart our life as a couple. In 2016, Rich and I hit a massive crossroad. We’ve been married almost 10 years, together for almost 14 and throughout the entire time, Rich has been an alcoholic.

In July, I told Rich I was done with our marriage and would be leaving him come November, when our daughter was finished with high school. I was not going to up-end her life as she finished her final year of high school. I would remain around until she was complete. But I was clear it would be over. I could not live the rest of my life living with an alcoholic.

Since July 24th, 2016, Rich has not had a drink. He’s been dry since then.

He decided then and there that he was done with drinking. There were a lot of other issues in our marriage, but most of them were caused by, or a result of, his alcoholism. I wasn’t convinced that him not drinking was going to change anything. He’d stopped drinking before. The longest he’d ever gone was 2.5 weeks.

I detached from our marriage. I asked for space. I joined Al-Anon and I received counselling.

Over the next few months, Rich tried EVERYTHING to keep us together. I resisted. When Natalie finished her last exams, she and I left for Italy for 4 weeks together. I told Rich that at the time our departure, we would be officially separated.

He was still sober when I left.

I did a lot of soul searching in that time. I realised I could not control everything, him included, and whatever he did had to be his choice and his decision. Part of his recovery also meant that he needed to go into counselling and by the time I left, he was refusing that element, seeing his drinking only as a ‘physical manifestation’. A typical reaction for an alcoholic.

When I returned from Italy in December, I came home to a different person.

Rich was seeing a counsellor. He had had a number of revelations while we were gone and he told me that he was willing to do whatever it took to keep us together. He’d made plans of his own, in case things didn’t work out and he finally admitted that a lot of what I was saying was indeed fact and he’d looked at things objectively. Probably for the first time ever. I finally felt like I wasn’t alone in our marriage.

We reconciled after long discussions of boundaries and commitment.

***

So this standing phone call he needed to make, was with his counsellor. His counsellor, who was in Sydney, had agreed to continue his counselling via the phone, once a fortnight, now we were traveling full time.

At 9am, with the car packed around me, I sat for 45 minutes and waited while he made the call.

He always says that ‘he doesn’t need the counselling sessions’ but it really does make a difference. Before he made the call, he was resistant to everything, grumpy and full of angst. After the call he was mindful, open and agreeable. I am eternally grateful to his counsellor for making the exception to have these calls with him. Not all would.

After is call, we headed back to Sydney. We were up for some gully washing thunderstorms. Driving in it never bothers me. With the extra weight, the car was grounded in the wet and the investment we made in all terrain tires made a world of difference as well.

Just part of the preparation for a long term roadtrip in Australia.

Normally Rich does the ‘country driving’ and I drive in the city. He hates city driving and I don’t mind it as long as he does gasp at every stop light.

Somehow we didn’t make the switch and by the time we made it to Macquarie University to pick up keys & a postal notification from my sister, I was wound tighter than a rubber band ball.

After the tense pickup, we headed over to the post office near her house. My passport renewal had come through and the timing, as it turned out, had been perfect. I could pick up my new passport and take it with me, rather than waiting until May to get it. Once that was done, we headed to the Taxibox warehouse to add the excess to our storage unit.

When we drove in, the guy looked at our car, loaded to the hilt and nodded.

But when we added only a few things and were leaving with a still-full car, the look on his face was priceless. Confusion plastered all over as we waved upon our departure. I’m sure he doesn’t see that every day.

The rest of our evening was spent catching up with my sister and her roommate, ordering in dinner and just enjoying a relaxing night in front of the television. We haven’t had a television for five years, so it’s a bit of a novelty, especially when there’s so much crap on television and flipping through channels is half the experience.

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