Welcome to our world of 4 boys, Autism, Homeschooling and life in general.

Hi I'm Angie, busy Homeschooling Mum of 4 young boys aged between 4 and 11 yrs.

Bailey (11) is a huge car enthusiast, particularly classic cars, VW 'Herbie' beetles and VW Combi vans. Bailey lives with Autism (ASD) and Epilepsy but does very well coping with everyday life these days since we made the change to homeschooling back in 2010.

Dane (8) enjoys playing guitar, building Lego masterpieces and all things superhero! Dane also lives with a form of Autism (Aspergers) and a Language developmental delay (Apraxia of speech).

Ehren (5) is our gentle 'giant' and is a keen student in our Homeschool classroom. He enjoys both physical and mental pursuits and has a clear interest in currency!

Fraser (aged 4) is our little pocket rocket. He's a confident, head-strong little boy who never stops talking, singing or dancing!

Follow us on our journey as we learn about the world around us in our own unique way!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our Mount Barney Camping adventure

Last weekend we were lucky enough to get away for a family camp along with many of our Homeschooling friends. One of our more experienced camping Mums chose Mt Barney as our location and I must admit that at first I was a little hesitant when I heard a creek ran right along the camping ground. I tend to be a bit of a 'freaker' when it comes to water as I have 3 non-swimmers amongst my 4 boys (we're working hard on the swimming thing). Anyway we decided to go along on advice that the creek was out of immediate sight and was fenced off to a certain extent. I made sure we set up our tent on the opposite side of the campground which also helps ease my nerves a little.

Turns out the creek really was far enough away to not be overly concerned. The creek itself ended up being quite a godsend as it happened to be fairly warm during the day. The younger boys proved to be very well behaved and stayed within the campsite playing happily with their friends. In fact all 4 of the boys gave both Clif and I a chance to relax and enjoy the company of the other Mums and Dads.

We arrived late afternoon on the Thursday and set up camp. We took our awesome Black Wolf turbolite tent with us so it took very little time to set up and settle in for the night. The older boys set off for a nightwalk with the other kids being led by Innes, the owner and manager of Mt Barney Mountain Lodge. Innes is an energetic and lively fellow. The kids loved his larrakin nature and he had a great way of motivating the kids all weekend, even when their energy levels were waning. Innes never stops, he's super fit and knows the land like the back of his hand which made you felt like you were all in very safe hands. The kids made damper after their night walk and had a sausage sizzle dinner before returning back to us ready for bed. By then we had managed to get the little ones down to sleep so we had a nice time relaxing around the campfire with the other parents.

The next morning we needed to be up early and ready for a big bush walk commencing at 8am. Turns out I need not have worried about being prepared in time, the little boys woke up with the birds, just as they did all 3 mornings that we were there! We managed to get in a bacon and eggs breakfast before I took off with the big boys and left Clif back at camp with the little ones. The walk started at the lodge and took us up through Mt Barney National Park, following the creek up into the depths of the forest. I'm quite accustomed to bush walking with great fitness level these days but I must tell you this bush walk even had me eagerly waiting each waterhole stop along the way! The walk itself was approximately 7km long but it was the terrain that proved the biggest challenge. We spent a good half of that distance rock hopping along the creek, crouching down under trees, branches and wading through waist deep scrub (or should I say neck deep for poor Dane and the younger kids in the group). It was fun though, a true adventure. We felt like we were in some small way living a day in Bear Grylls footsteps!! We stopped off at 3 waterholes along the way, each one providing clearer water and more lush surrounds. Innes advised the final waterhole was by far the best and where he would be stopping for a swim himself. I waited for that last waterhole to have my swim and it was well worth the sweaty, exhausting wait.

The water was cold but so very refreshing. You needed to be very careful getting in as the edges consisted of slippery, moss laden rocks. Innes showed the kids the one spot where it was safe to jump in off a large rock that protruded across the waterhole. They all delighted in taking turns, running back up around the rocks to climb up and take another turn. It wasn't long before I was targeted to give it a go chanting "Angie, Angie, Angie". The inner child in me let loose and besides I couldn't let my own boys think that I was scared, surely? I followed up the jump with a relaxing float along the stretch of water whilst keeping an eye on Dane playing in the shallows with Johnny, Melody and Torran. They decided together as a team to build a dam across the creek entry to the waterhole. It was another of those moments when your truly grateful that your children are growing up surrounded by such wonderful friends, seeking out learning and adventure in some of the most natural ways possible.

After our 5 hour bush walk was completed we headed back to camp. Clif had taken the little ones down to the creek for a dip and play amongst the rocks. They seemed suitably impressed and quite exhausted which of course meant there were no disagreement later come bedtime. All the kids got off to bed quite early that night which left us adults to sit once again by the campfire, chatting, toasting marshmallows til the wee hours of the night. I must have said I was going to bed at least ten times over the course of 2 or so hours. Eventually I made my way to bed around 1am hoping to get a good night's sleep, seeing as we had an early start the next day at 7am for Rock climbing.

Morning rolled around quick after we all had a great night without a single interruption. Anyone else camping a family of 6 in a tent (with 4 kids aged between 2 and 9) will know this is quite an achievement! Bailey and I joined our guide Innes for a trek up the side of a mountain til we reached the cliff face we were going to use for our Rock climbing adventure. It was quite a daunting sight staring up on at least 50m or more of ropes, especially for Bailey and I who had not been rock climbing on real rocks before!

Bailey as determined as ever advised me he was going to take the difficult climb first up (there were 3 to choose, easy, medium, hard) and in normal Bailey fashion made it look completely effortless. He reached the top in no time at all and managed to abseil down even faster. Next was my go and I really wanted to choose the easy route first but was encouraged by all around that I should give the difficult course an attempt first. I was shaky, felt giddy in the tummy and kept telling myself not to look backwards, only up! About halfway I was ready to give up as I couldn't see anywhere to put my feet and hands. Our guide showed me a few tiny spots of protruding rock and against my own desire I pushed onwards. Once past those spots I was climbing at a good pace and before I knew it I'd reached the top! What an incredible feeling. Bailey's face was gleaming up at me, I knew I'd done him proud. The abseil down was shaky at first but as I got my rhythm I found myself enjoying it. We all continued swapping between climbing, belaying (working the ropes for the climbers) and resting for a few hours before heading back for our steep decline to camp. The experience was one that Bailey and I won't ever forget. In fact we are already planning our next adventure and hope to climb the Kangaroo Point cliffs in the near future!

Apologies I only have a picture of me rock climbing :(

On returning to camp Clif decided to take the 3 big boys for a drive and a swim whilst Fraser and I took a nap in the tent with the beautiful breeze blowing nicely over us. Our last night was a little quieter around the campfire. The kids all had a turn at marshmallow toasting over the fire before crashing to bed without a single hesitation. Next morning we packed down our tent as some dark clouds were looming and we thought it best to make a quick getaway before the rain decided to join us.

In all we had one of the most amazing weekends camping ever. It was so lovely to be able to get away as a complete family and find enough things to keep each of us busy and entertained. The boys are finally getting to an age where they can all play well and stay within our sight without giving us too much hassle. They all sleep right through the night in the tent, even when right next to each other! I can really recommend camping at Mount Barney Lodge. Try and do at least one of the organised walks or activities with Innes, he will find something to suit your family for sure. Tell Innes the Homeschoolers sent you!

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