Lots of you have already seen and commented on our little preview of our recent vacation, but now, a week after it ended, it’s time to share about our experience in a bit more detail. This trip was our longest and furthest away from Perth (as a family) since we arrived in Australia; a whopping 4 hours by car to the south, for 4 nights! With all 4 of us!
This was also the first break we’ve had from the FIFO routine since Kate was born, and it was very refreshing. It allowed us to step back a bit and think about how it’s really been so far, and how well we’ll be able to cope with it on an ongoing basis. I (Tim) am going back to work with a fresh energy, feeling confident that I’m in the right place and doing the right thing for now, despite how hard it is to spend those 8 day stretches away from the family (particularly Eden, since Kathryn and I get to talk a lot in the evenings).
On to the vacation itself! The place we stayed at is called Pemberton Farm Chalets, as recommended by our friends Simon and Helen. Their website is pretty old school, but the chalets are quite cosy and the location was absolutely perfect for a family like ours, with young kiddos.
We arrived on Thursday arvo, after a pleasant and somewhat drawn out drive down the number 1. Perth is built on a sandy river delta, but as we travelled south the soil must have become much more fertile (i.e. it was actually soil), as the depth and richness of green began to increase. Eden knew we were heading to a farm, and there were a lot of farms along the way. Many, many times she cried out, “There’s the farm!!” as we crested a hill to see a paddock full of sheep and/or cows grazing below us. “Sorry Eden, that’s not the right farm”, we would respond, “just a little bit further…”
The chalets (cabins would be a better term in my Canadian mind) were located in a line along the southern hill of a scenic, east-west trending valley. Below and just outside our front window was a paddock that typically contained about a dozen sheep (4 of which were adorable, several-week-old lambs) and anywhere between one and 6 or so kangaroos. There were a couple of horses in the next paddock over, and a fat, old goat. Throughout the day, it seemed like the sheep had a tendency to graze in a pattern from bottom to top of the hill, possibly following the sunshine.
The rest of the farm consisted of a playground with swings and a climbing structure, an old-school trampoline with no guarding on the sides or over the springs, a tennis court, a barn area with chickens, rabbits, and supplies, a pool – that was closed for the winter – and the office. It was small enough that we didn’t mind giving Eden some freedom to roam, particularly when she went looking for her friend Diva (pronounced like an Australia says “diver”), the semi-tame ‘roo featured in the video from our previous post.
The inside of the chalet featured a fairly firm queen size bed for Kathryn and I, single bunk beds for the girls (they slept on the bottoms!), a fireplace (Kathryn was in heaven), and a spa bath. The bath was nice, but they didn’t have anything to take the natural tint out of the water, so there was some sediment in it and it looked like a tub full of pee; that didn’t stop Eden (or any of us) from enjoying a good bath or two!
Highlights of the vacation – besides the relaxation and peace of it all – included feeding the animals, experiencing some of the southwest’s natural beauty, and (for me) climbing a super high tree called the Bicentennial Tree. We’ll let the pictures do most of the rest of the talking (click on any of the pictures to open a scrolling ‘gallery’ view):