I think for most people, the love of travel begins on your first trip abroad, the excitement of boarding the plane for your first international flight, followed by the subsequent boredom if it’s a long haul one, arriving in a new country and being both overwhelmed and awed simply by the airport. Then the adventure truly begins and you never look back.
While that first overseas trip certainly contributed to my love of travel, it was not the beginning for me. The beginning was my childhood. We were not a rich family, nor were we poor. We couldn’t afford to travel overseas as a family of four, but we never missed out. My parents would take us to a very small coastal town in the Middle of Eyre Peninsula, called Venus Bay. Now when I say small, I mean it. This town had 1 caravan park, 1 shop (affectionately known as the Top Shop) and a smattering of small holiday shacks. In the middle of Summer we would pack the car, wake up at some ungodly hour and begin the 8 hour drive. My excitement was always palpable in the car, my brother was asleep (or refusing to let anyone else drive in the later years), the dog was between us and my dad would unfailingly begin his own personal brand of torture: 8 hours of country music. I loved it.
When we would finally arrive at the caravan park, mum and dad would park the car at the top of the hill and collect the Cabin/ Caravan/ Toilet keys (Yep, toilet blocks), while us kids would kick our shoes off in the car and run down the hill into the caravan park to find out where all our cousins were. The cousins we were so excited to see, who lived all over South Australia and would all convene once a year at the Venus Bay Caravan Park. We’d chat for 5 minutes then settle into our cabin or caravan, put our togs on and head straight to the beach for some jetty jumping. Although in the later years we drove with a run down camper van in tow and had to spend 2 hours arguing about how best to put the thing up while our relatives watched on in amusement. After which we were too exhausted to do anything but play a game of cards.
A small town like Venus Bay had no phone reception (1 pay phone that was always in use) and no internet, we were lucky if one of the Granny’s had a small TV which we could watch Home and Away on. But mostly, we didn’t need it. Everyone should spend a holiday in total tech darkness, it taught me how to live without it, although I need to remind myself often. Even in the 90’s my parents knew we needed time away from technology.
We spent the hot summer days learning to swim, jumping from the jetty, body boarding at the surf beach, playing boccie around and around the caravan park, 4WDing, eating Weis bars at the Top Shop, fishing and playing endless games of cards. I still love playing cards because it reminds me of those wonderful days. Body boarding at the surf beach with pristine white sands and not a soul in sight but your own family, now some people travel the world all their lives to find that, but I’ve had it all along. Major birthday’s were quite the event, an 80th and my 21st saw more of my relatives than the town was prepared for.
After 2 weeks we’d come back home sun bleached, with matted, salty “Venus Bay” hair, calloused feet from running around barefoot and massive smiles on our faces. I would sleep the whole way home, thoroughly wiped out from 2 weeks of bliss, only to start school again 2 days later.
This is where it all began for me. Why would two people drag their children 8 hours into the middle of nowhere for 2 weeks out of the summer? because they knew exactly how good it would be for us.
And what a difference it has made to my life.
Note: I will be returning to Venus Bay in Summer 2018 after about 5 years absence and celebrating my 27th birthday there. I’ll be sure to include that in my blog when it happens.
Make Each Day Count