Kangaroos: Take 2
The Mackay Bluewater Lagoon is one of the coolest public pools, it even showed up in an email I recently got from Trip Advisor with their top 10 most recommended pools in the world. Fortunately for us we had the whole thing to ourselves, unfortunately for us it was freezing cold and all the water slides were closed during the winter. But we made the most of it hanging out on the playground splash pad while killing a few hours, or more like one hour. before they were too cold.
Ryder's duck face in this just about kills me dead. Homeboy don't mess around.
Besides the polar bear plunge, the rest of the day was spent traveling until we made it to one of our favorite stops. Cape Hillsborough. Otherwise known as Cape Kangaroo. Not really, but that would be very fitting. We settled into the campground, enjoyed the hot showers and free wifi and explored along the beach as the sun set.
The beach was covered with these balls of sand made by soldier crabs as they dug their holes. At least that was the conclusion the kids came to, based solely on an episode of Octonauts. Octonauts has proven to be quite informative and I am always amazed at all the facts the kids remember. We got into a heated debate about the migration of Saltwater Crocs. Google finally settled the disagreement, Jason-0, Octonauts-1.
What makes this place so special is that every morning as the sun comes up, dozens of kangaroos find their way out of the bush to graze on delicacies the tide has brought in (and the food that the campground owners scatter out for them, gotta keep their moneymakers happy). Sunrise was around 5:30 am and I kept waking up all night worried that I would sleep through my alarm and miss it. Yes, I'm a dork. I woke up before the sun to the sound of rain. I was so nervous the kangaroos wouldn't come out because of the weather, and nervous that the kids wouldn't want to come out either because of the weather. Maddox, my ever trusty sidekick, was eager to join me and we quietly made our way in the pitch black through the woods (in any other situation I would have been scared out of my mind), the only sound was the breaking of twigs underfoot and rain softly falling on the canopy of trees above. As the woods opened up to the beach we could already see a few silhouettes of kangaroos gathering for breakfast. Kylie and Jason joined us a few minutes later (Jayden was too tired and volunteered to stay with Ryder who was still sleeping) and it was one of the most magical moments I had ever experienced. The sunrise itself was remarkable, add the novelty of kangaroos and it just about blew us away. Documented by no less than 500 photos. I wish Jayden and Ryder could have experienced it, but I hope it's one that Kylie and Maddox will always remember. I know I will.
Is there anything cuter than a baby joey? I think not.
Later that morning we decided to walk out to that island on the left that can be accessed during low tide. It looks deceivingly close in this picture, but by the time we finally got there the weather had made a turn for the worse. Rain, winds and some threatening waves made us turn around. We still enjoyed exploring, trying to identify and catch soldier crabs, turning over every rock, trying to break open coconuts, collecting shells and any stick that resembled a gun.
I wouldn't let him bring his treasures with us, so he requested a picture before he left them. I always love seeing his collections and what catches his eye.
I know how precious this time with just our family was. It is something I didn't take for granted as I tried my best to really be present in the moment. It's not to say that I didn't ever lose my temper, or get frustrated or wish I had a bedroom that I could slam the door and lock myself into, but I recognized what a gift this experience has been. At times my heart was so full it hurt.
This beautiful moment came to a screeching halt when one second later Kylie's arm swung back and smacked Maddox square in the eye. Oh the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth that ensued for the next 30 minutes...
Much to our excitement we found that the kangaroos wandered around the campground. They were a little timid and shy, but friendly enough to allow the kids to pet them before hopping along. Now how many kids can say they have pet a kangaroo in the wild? A domesticated campground still totally counts as the wild.
Maddox is always so good to Ryder (which isn't always reciprocated), watching out for him and quickly running to his aid whenever he is need. He has such a loving and sensitive heart, that boy. Ryder was feeling frustrated that he couldn't pump, so Maddox clipped their swings together so that he could pull Ryder along as he pumped. That look of adoration on Ryder's face says it all.
Today's lunch stop was at an abandoned rail line in the middle of a cane field. Lunch is always the same, grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, but at least the setting has a little variety.
We pulled into Airlie Beach that evening filled with excitement for one of our most anticipated days, and anxiety about the looming forecast. There wasn't much we could do about the weather, but we made the most of it while shivering in the public pool (which, we could definitely take some pointers from the Aussies when it comes to public pools) before rain and lightening forced us out. We drove around in a cloud of gloom trying to find an empty parking lot that we could camp in and keeping our fingers crossed that the weather would miraculously change.