Day 7 – Last full day – museums and meals
Thursday 8th December 2016
Today is the last full day of this holiday. It’s a surreal feeling. It’s that moment between still wanting to enjoy being on holiday but at the same time slowly thinking of resuming normal life and all that entails. When I spend some time tonight reflecting on what has happened over the past week, I’ll no doubt be full of conflicted emotions. I guess I’ll just have to cross that bridge when the time comes.
In the meantime, I awoke to find the unit buzzing with the usual morning routine. Something was definitely different, however. It was hard to put my finger on it but I think it was the fact that it was overcast. A cold front was passing through and it had taken the edge off the otherwise pristine summer sunshine. Don’t get me wrong, it was still short sleeves and shorts temperature but the pool was no longer bustling with kids and there was very little activity outside. It even started to rain a little. That rain eventually progressed into a downpour that lasted for much of the morning. Rain or no, however, the kids still wanted to spend yet more time in the inside pool, so Sandy did the honours and went over with them, but not before putting in a stellar performance at the BBQ pit outside to lay on a delicious bacon breakfast for us all.
Some of the families we’ve interacted with over the past week were heading home today, so there were a few goodbyes and exchanges of e-mail addresses. Jennifer in particular will likely want to keep in touch with some of the departing kids – a sure sign she has enjoyed her time here.
Having done all the big-ticket tourist activities in the immediate vicinity, we scoured through some of the remaining minor places of interest to keep us occupied for the day. Potentially on the cards for today were the clock museum and the pioneer museum. By the time lunchtime came and went, the rain had starting to ease up a bit and we all piled into the car to make our way over the bridge to the pioneer museum. If we had time later, we would take in the clock museum as well.
We rocked up at the pioneer museum, which is just a minute’s drive past the bridge into NSW. From the outside, it didn’t look like much, so we walked in with some trepidation. Talk about dusty ancient fossils – and no, I’m not talking about the charming old lady that greeted us at the reception desk. Having said that, I did get a sense that she, like some of the artefacts paraded around the museum warehouse halls, was a little out of her time. Nevertheless, she greeted us all with a smile and I handed over the $12 for the privilege of the four of us to spend a lazy hour looking around. Everything in the pioneer museum is an homage to life in the eighteen hundreds. Old vehicles, farm equipment, clothing, mechanical machines and just about anything and everything to do with life back then was somewhere on display.
One of the exhibits the kids enjoyed was very obviously out of place with respect to everything else there. A two by three metre table upon which was a model electric train set. It was built up with Lego. Not hugely impressive, if I’m honest, but the kids enjoyed watching the train go around the oval track when they pressed the button on the wall. The train derailed a few times and the lovely old lady did her best to try to rectify the problem. In her own words, however, she was a bit out of her depth so I stepped in and assisted – several times in fact.
As we wandered the ‘rooms’, each of which was devoted to one particular subject matter, we stumbled into what appeared to be a mock cinema, complete with rows of comfortable spring-loaded chairs (I first thought they were pews). We took a seat, as much to rest our weary bones as anything else, and the old lady took this as a sign that we were interested in watching some of the old VHS tapes on various things like life in the outback, the building of the dam or life on the Murray River back before there was electricity. Oh great! She immediately set about attempting to operate the technology, a painful process to watch I might add. Perhaps as much out of respect and politeness than anything else, we indulged the old girl, who clearly seemed enthusiastic to have visitors (we were the only people there the whole time we were there). There was a TV and a combo DVD/VHS player (fitting we were in a museum) and she did her best to operate them using what for her must have seemed like a bewildering array of remotes – well, there were two of them but they both had lots of buttons. Once again, I stepped in after watching in silence for several minutes of one tape running at fast-forward speed. Once I hit play on the VHS player, the tape started playing at normal speed and the audio came on. Relieved that the embarrassing deadlock of confusion was now lifted, we sat in comfort to watch a riveting – and I use that word quite wrongly – tape on life working the Murray River during the downturn of the paddle boat industry following the development of rail transport. Seriously, could there be anything more interesting?! Anyway, being adults, Sandy and me were perfectly capable of fixing ourselves to our chairs long enough to satisfy the polite etiquette of indulging the old girl. Our kids, however, have grown up in a different era with electronics and ultra-fast gratification. Watching a dodgy old VHS tape on an enormously boring (to them) subject was realistically never going to keep them glued to their seats, so both Sandy and I did our level best to try to maintain their interest with a diverse array of parenting tricks – none of which worked. I did my level best to try to maintain some degree of interest and this was working to a point when, for reasons best known to herself, the old girl decided to pick out a DVD and slip in into the DVD player. This stopped dead in its tracks the splendidly riveting monologue of an old fella long since dead talking about…something or other. ‘I thought you might want to watch something a bit more modern,’ she said, turning to us all with a warm smile. I think she meant to imply that we would be better off watching via the more modern technology of DVD versus VHS. Unfortunately, it looked like is was a program recorded to DVD from an even older VHS, which was in turn recorded from something else. It was in black and white and looked like it was shot on a generation of cinematic equipment that pre-dated stone tablet by quite some time. ‘That’s OK’, I hastily said, standing up to announce our intention to move on, ‘we’d like to explore the museum some more while we still can.’ ‘Are you sure?’ she asked, ‘You’ll miss learning all about the dam.’ My eyes glazed over. ‘That’s a risk I’m just willing to take,’ I said.
So we eventually explored all the nooks and crannies the pioneer museum had to offer. The charming old lady was pleased with a bit more interaction from us all in the form of the kids spending a few dollars on a little keepsake each. We bid our farewell and returned to the car. As we were a stone’s throw from Mulwana town centre, we thought we’d kick ourselves if we passed up the opportunity to take a quick look, so we turned left out of the museum car park and set off into Mulwana. After a minute or two of driving, we were kicking ourselves that we had done so, as there was really nothing there worth seeing. After we past a supermarket and a petrol station, we realised that was it. I turned the car around and we set off back towards Victoria. Oh well, we at last now know.
The sun was out again by now, so we stopped in at the Maccas drive through to pick up a couple of ice creams. Back at the unit, the kids made a beeline for the inside pool…again. We gave them an hour or so in the pool before getting them dried and dressed for what will be our last evening meal of the holiday. Since we had such a good time at the RSL the other night, we thought we’d end on a high and went over the bridge one last time. As predicted, the meal was terrific and we all came away very satisfied. We’re now back at the unit again and, after a bit of playing around in the games room, we’re now all slowly grinding to a final halt.
Well, what an amazing holiday this has been for all of us. Not entirely conventional, with plenty of laughs and some tears along the way as well. I’ve just asked the family to nominate their three most favourite memories from the holiday:
- The kids enjoying the pool and having the freedom to run off and play with new friends
- Paradise Queen cruise around Lake Mulwana
- Nice weather
- Rocky the reindeer (a cuddly toy received for Sinterklaas – a Dutch celebration on 5/6th December)
- Having a TV in the bedroom (which he only got to use once)
- The pool
- Inflatable assault course on the lake
- Spending time with friends and family
- Laying in the water on the boomnet during the Paradise Queen cruise
- Fishing (notwithstanding the flies)
- Having nothing to do and afternoon naps
It’s interesting to see just how diverse all these responses are. Clearly, we each got something different out of the holiday. I’ve also particularly enjoyed writing up these daily blog entries. It has been especially gratifying to know that others have enjoyed reading them as well; knowing that others have been going through the highs and lows with us has been somehow comforting. The feedback I’ve been getting on Facebook and elsewhere has spurred me on to write them as well as I could. When I sat down at the laptop every night, I never had any preconceived notion about what I was going to be writing about. It all just comes to me naturally. I start by writing simple one-liners summarising the main points of the day. I then take each of those memories and expand on it. Somehow, it just sort of comes out humorous. If I made anyone else laugh along the way, and I know I did, then I will consider it a big success and worth all the effort. As an added bonus, these blog entries will also serve as a nice reminder of the holiday in years to come.
It’s probably worth noting that the events recounted in my blogs are not the entire story of what happened to us here. There were plenty of things I could have written about but chose not to. For example, we had sex nearly ever night of the week whilst here. On the first night, we were too exhausted after the arduous journey and unpacking, so it never happened. On the second night, the kids were too excited and were awake a lot longer than normal, so it never happened then either. On the third night, I made a flippant remark just at the wrong time and she rolled over (with all the blankets I might add). On the fourth night, Sandy fell asleep before I finished my blog, and so on. Like I say, we had sex ‘nearly’ every night of the week.
I had originally harboured the intention to write some more of my sequel to my Portallas novel series whilst here this weel. That never eventuated in the end. By the time I finished writing my daily blogs each evening, there was just no time or energy left to do anything else. Hopefully, I will pick that up again when we’re back on terra firma. I will, by necessity, hit the ground running upon our return to Lyndhurst in Melbourne’s southeast suburbs. The day after we return, for example, I will be helping to run one of our biggest events of the year for our volunteer organisation. The Lynbrook Moonlight Cinema & Carols public event will play out in the park and may attract a thousand or more locals. I’m also performing in that event as a cheeky elf in a stage show to entertain the kids in the audience ahead of Santa’s arrival. I still have to rehearse the performance with my fellow performers, so nothing like cutting if fine. It’s just as well I will be coming away from Yarrawonga so very well rested, as it will be go, go, go for me from now until the new year.
So, we will leave Yarrawonga and this resort with extremely fond memories. It has been just the holiday we needed. A big thanks to Vanessa and Scott for helping to make this happen. A big thanks to all my followers who have stayed with us for the journey. A big thanks to the staff here at the Murray Valley Resort. Most of all, a big thanks to Sandy, Joey & Jennifer for being the very best family a man could possible hope for. I love you all to bits 🙂