My brother moved overseas when I was 17 and in my last year of school. For most of the last 26 years (minus a few short years in Perth) he has lived O.S…Switzerland, Mauritius and now Dubai. Family holidays with his family and our family have been very, very few and many, many, months and sometimes years in between. In fact, I can count on one hand (or a couple of fingers!) the holidays we have shared. We went to their home in Mauritius only twice in the 11 years they lived there and we are yet to get to Dubai.
Christmas at our house in Perth, over the last few years, has been as close to a family holiday as we have had…and I can tell you, as the Mother of the house…it aint no holiday! Christmas with 8 people living in the house and many more visiting, is no time to relax. Uncle Ant joined in the Christmas festivities via skype last Christmas…we sat the laptop at the head of the table and chatted with him over our lunch (his breakfast in Dubai!). Novel.
So, for the first time EVER, with Uncle Ant having secured a 10 day ticket of leave for Easter, and managing to get his family to Perth during school holidays (an absolute miracle in time management and organisation) we packed up the 4 girls and 4 adults, booked the canine furchild into the
pet hotel vet; left Grandma Min in charge of the house and other feline fur children; packed up the boat with vast supplies of Easter eggs, alcohol and food and headed ‘Overseas’ to Rottnest, our favourite place to get away for a boating holiday.
Thank you Mother Nature and Perth for turning on the best autumnal weather for us. It was a little gusty on the thursday we were due to head off so we decided to have a night on the river and head off with calmer seas on Good Friday. This gave us time to find our sea legs, sample the mojito (all that mint and lime to fend off scurvy) and try the fine wine supplies and consume a small amount of the food that was weighing the boat down.Good Friday saw us finally at Rottnest, with an amazing amount of sunshine and fine weather. Dude is the official weatherman. He constantly checks B.O.M (Bureau of meteorology) to find us the best bay, the best mooring, out of the wind with the least rocking and rolling a boat can do. Lets just say he is a B.O.M stalker…he checks for updates like most normal people do on Facebook! Geordie Bay happened to tick all the right boxes for us, this first Rotto night.The kids got to stretch some rather long legs at Fayes Bay. One of my favourite hide away beaches and relatively undiscovered paradise.Saturday saw us on the move again…the perfect tourist boat. Little Parakeet Bay, with its white, clean sand dunes beckoned the kids to climb. Where is that large piece of cardboard when you need it? That slope just beckoned to be sled down.South Thompson Bay called itself home for night 3. With 6 princesses on board and only a short supply of water able to be stored in the tanks, showers have to be taken on land and Sth Thompson offers the cleanest and quietest on the island. Thank you Dude for thinking of us and allowing this small allowance to our toughen up Princess holidays!
Easter Sunday…How did that bunny find us floating on the water? Remarkable…I wonder just how many chocolates flew off with those naughty seagulls? What to do for Easter sunday brunch…too late for breakfast, too early for lunch? Go and have a total pig out at the legendary Rottnest bakery of course!! No better time for a meat pie and sauce, especially the Rotto ones!…where the vanilla slice and chocolate eclairs are on steroids and the term ‘supersize me’ was invented. I kid you not! Good bye to Thompson Bay for a little while…we had to leave – you make us fat!With another capable boat handler on board, Dude took the opportunity to moor overnight at the west end of the island – Rocky bay at Narrow Neck. It’s beautiful and rugged and very isolated…and I don’t like it for all of those reasons when it’s just Dude and the girls and me on board. I’m not a confident boat crew (read: I don’t have the faintest foggiest idea what to do if something serious happened to Dude ) and so have always put a dampener on us staying overnight there in the past. The one time we went before, we were the only boat in the whole bay…creepy. It’s a tip toe in through the reef. We witnessed a gorgeous yacht crunch heavily into a piece of reef not long after we pulled up a mooring. Thank goodness for a keel – something we don’t have just in case we hit the reef.
But this holiday, being Easter and the islands busiest time , the bay was full. No shops, no cars, no street lights, nothing. Just reef and water and fishing a plenty. We pulled in about 35 fish in an hour…mostly for catch and release but kept about 8 eating fish. Herring and something else (don’t ask me! I am just the official photographer!) I mostly watch but decided that I wanted as much fun as the kids were having and in my 5 minutes as a fisher woman caught the biggest fish of the holiday! GO MAMA! Dude even knotted (no hook) a fish head onto a long line to show the kids how the sting rays (that are abundant around Rottnest) would eat it…such a buzz for the kids to see the huge rays swim up to the fish and devour it!There is nothing like fresh air, snorkelling, fishing and a BBQ to send the all kids off to bed early – bliss. To sit in the evening with a glass of wine or two…or…! We chatted and laughed,
argued debated a little, like all good family do, laughed again and played RummyO and Scrabble (where I may add, I whipped Kaz and Ant’s butts. Dude was asleep by then – words do that to him!).
Have you ever been in a ‘Dead calm’ on a boat? When there is no wind, no swell, no waves. Not a ripple on the water. Words cannot express what an amazing sight and feeling it is, especially early in the morning. So, so pretty. You can hear the dolphins come up for air it is so peaceful. The reflections off the water are every artists dream. Unfortunately, my favourite lens was playing up by this stage and I couldn’t quite capture what I wanted to on my camera.A weird fog settled heavily over the land and bay during the morning. The air felt thick and cold in some areas and humid and sticky in others. A very strange experience. It was like seeing pleasure craft on a cold, foggy Loch in Scotland. Bizarre.Of course, my big bro, airline captain brother did explain the cloud structure and weather system to me , but I think I switched off. It just looked soooo pretty!Dude got restless (weather stalking again) so we pottered off to the other side of the island, finding a little quiet bay I have never visited before (Porpoise Bay), next to Parker Point. Check out the nest! This sea eagle was on the hunt for some tasty morsels just near where we moored.More snorkelling, paddling and general lazing around ensued. I just LOVE my underwater camera! Our last night was in Longreach Bay. Everyone starting to feel a little sad our gorgeous holiday was drawing to a close and that the next day the family would be on a flight back to Dubai and the reality of work and school and study.
We were blessed with the most wonderful autumn weather we could have asked for. April, nearly winter and yet each day we were sun-kissed and hot, having only pulled on a light jumper at night. I’m happy to say the holiday was a huge success. I will admit to being just a little nervous as to how 4 adults on the very confined space that is a floating caravan, could hold their tongues for 5 days and how 4 girls of different ages would manage to coordinate games and play to suit a 6-year-old through to a 15-year-old. But we all managed to remain happy and relaxed throughout.Bel taught the little ones how to relax and just hang out in the tender…We played games…real games…no technology allowed (except my iPad photo upload in the evening and music on the iPod). Balderdash (hilarious!) RummyO, Scrabble, Monopoly, cards. Normal games when we were kids, but almost vintage and unknown with this generation – and they LIKE it.The cousins re bonded as all cousins seem to do, regardless of age or how far apart they live. It’s a cousin thing.We ate like Royalty, drank NOT in excess, which was impressive, though we did enjoy Mojito’s, Rum, coke and mint concoctions, G n T’s and some lovely wines. Oh and Corona…dont forget those Corona’s (with a slice of lemon). There was not one hangover, nor one trace of seasickness. Remarkable. No arguments or tears (from children or their parents!) No stubbed toes or fish hooked fingers. No stingers!! The tiniest bit of sunburn on my bel’s delicate, Scottish skin…but other than that…Nothing!
Ant and Kaz, when you read this…Thank you for a lovely 5 days. It’s not often we choose to share such confined sleeping and bathroom arrangements with anyone even for one night, let alone 5! We did it all so well…a little messily given the space issues, but comfortably and with such a lot of fun involved. I hope and pray that we will start having annual family holidays now the girls are growing up and our lives are so much more settled.