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I'm a nomadic mama with four lovely daughters. We're travelling Australia — meeting inspiring people, learning lots and re-thinking everything.

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21 July 2014, 17:28

Looking for a fantastic place to play on a natural watercourse on a hot day? A visit to Basket Swamp Falls can include free-camping in the adjacent Boonoo State Forest as well as fresh-water fun in northern NSW.

Basket Swamp, Basket Swamp National Park, outside Tenterfield, July 2014
Spotted with granite boulders, Basket Swamp consists of over 200 hectares of heaths and sedges that filter the water that eventually flows into the Clarence River.

Basket Swamp National Park is about 20km north of Tenterfield and part of the granite belt’s wondrous region of untouched beauty. The isolation of this national park — coupled with the lack of “proper” facilities — means that it remains underused and almost pristine.

Although it’s dirt, the track to Basket Swamp Falls is graded and suitable for all vehicles in dry weather. Although we planned to spend all day at the falls, the changing weather made me feel nervous. I didn’t want to get bogged on a muddy dirt road in the middle of nowhere — however beautiful it may be!

Basket Swamp Falls, Basket Swamp National Park, outside Tenterfield, July 2014
The mist is still hanging over the watercourse as we scope out the top of the cascades.

Basket Swamp Falls, Basket Swamp National Park, outside Tenterfield, July 2014
The colour of the strata on the rocks is beautiful in its detail.

Basket Swamp Falls, Basket Swamp National Park, outside Tenterfield, July 2014
Shallow pools slowly fill to the brim and over the side to the rocks below. We're visiting during a dry spell and there's very little water coming down the creek.

Basket Swamp Falls, Basket Swamp National Park, outside Tenterfield, July 2014
On a hot summer's day, this would be a great place to hang out and play in the cool water. Today we're hopping over the shallows, intent on staying dry.

Instead of clambering down the rocks which were pretty slippery, we elected to take the short trek via a fire trail from the top of the falls to the bottom. The track is maintained for use by 4WD park-ranger vehicles and so is the equivalent of a very steep dirt road.

Basket Swamp, Basket Swamp National Park, outside Tenterfield, July 2014
Below the falls, we cross one of the many small creeks that empty the nearby swamp.

Basket Swamp Falls, Basket Swamp National Park, outside Tenterfield, July 2014
In the background, Basket Swamp Falls trickles down the rockface. There's almost a constant water flow all year round, but its quantity varies enormously.

Basket Swamp Falls, Basket Swamp National Park, outside Tenterfield, July 2014
The girls spy this little beach — the perfect place to have a picnic while others play in the water — but the weather sends us scurrying back to the shelter of our vehicle.

Colourful bark on the background of moss, July 2014
As we start back up the track, this mottled bark catches my eye.

Gum leaf sparkling with water drops, July 2014
The mist has rested on a low gum leaf, leaving it sparkling.

Driving along Lindrook Rd to and from the cascades, we spotted wallabies, kangaroos and colourful parrots. A longer stay in this isolated park would surely reveal more native wildlife although a large sign gave notice that regulated hunting is permitted in this location. I’d like to come back again when the weather is conducive for swimming, and I know the girls will agree!

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20 July 2014, 12:55

“Knitchen” is a wonderful term — evoking kitsch within a natural combination of knitting and kitchen — and I had to see it for myself! Coordinated yarnbombing is a beautiful thing — and even more so when it’s influenced by the colour-savvy eye of artist Loretta Grayson. Today we visited Warwick Art Gallery to see the Knitchen exhibit — a retro kitchen entirely covered in fibre!

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
A doily-covered fridge is part of the collaborative exhibit that took eight months to complete.

Jumpers & Jazz in July has been running for several years in Warwick. Locals cover the trunks of the street trees in fibre — some are properly yarnbombed, others are wrapped with fabric. It’s a fun and interesting exhibit and — along with the workshops, musical gigs and car rallies — the town overflows with visitors who come to participate in the experience.

Jumpers and Jazz in July, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
The exterior columns of the art gallery are decorated for the festival.

Jumpers and Jazz in July, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
A tree-trunk in the carpark is covered with patchwork squares.

Jumpers and Jazz in July, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
The trees in the courtyard are wrapped up.

I first heard about Jumpers & Jazz and Knitchen from Grayson’s Instagram pictures. When I saw her photos of a rainbow chair and then learned that a whole kitchen set-up was being yarnbombed, I knew it would be beautiful! She includes a rainbow spectrum in many of her artworks, and I wake every morning to the cheerful sight of her trees pasted alongside our bed in the bus.

Loretta Grayson's crochet works, Warwick Art Galley, July 2014
I love the colour combinations on all Loretta Grayson's artworks. She has the special knack of choosing complementary colours that stretch across the spectrum!

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
The retro furniture is completely covered by crocheted and knitted pieces.

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
A line of biscuits sits on the side table next to a rotary telephone. Even the phone's cord is covered.

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
Next to the fridge, a stove, sink and counter are completely covered. The colours for each piece were coordinated and the wool was provided to the many contributors before being joined together for the exhibit.

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
A tassel evokes water falling from the faucet into the woolly sink while a selection of fully-wrapped cutlery and a crocheted plate sits in the strainer.

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
Artwork on the walls and a hanging lamp complete the look in the little, utilitarian knitchen!

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
The table is set for two, with toast on offer and a roast chicken ready for carving.

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
Grayson's beautiful rainbow chairs are my absolute favourite item in the exhibit.

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
Even the floor is covered by a checkerboard of knitted squares.

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
An open cupboard stores extra crockery and the quintessential Aussie staples of Vegemite and tomato sauce.

Knitchen, yarnbombing a kitchen, Warwick, Queensland, July 2014
We love the intricacy found in the details — like in this bowl of fruit.

Before we drove out of Warwick, we cruised up and down the streets to enjoy the different tree jumpers. The girls’ imaginations were caught by the variety of wraps on display, and we’d love to participate in something like this one year!

There’s still time to visit Jumpers and Jazz and the Knitchen exhibit in Warwick. The festival continues until July 27th, and if you miss this year’s event, mark your calendar for next year which is sure to be even better!

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18 July 2014, 22:44

After four years on the road, we still tend not to linger for long when we’re visiting friends. I’m well aware of the adage “fish and guests smell after three days”, and I know that my four extra children tend to add a stress to most households. Even when we’re in a group dedicated to living in community, I’m aware that we all need time to learn to navigate through the many different relationship combinations, and so I like to remove our family in our bus and explore other local parts for a while.

Brioni playing with digger toys, July 2014
The diggers have already moved in to begin construction on an extension for the community house on a property in southeast Queensland.

I don’t always have to set an arbitrary date for driving on. Sometimes external pressures such as shopping or appointments create a pressure to be somewhere else. Other times I make arrangements to do something fun or visit another set of friends so that the girls are leaving one fun household for another. Usually we like to retreat somewhere to regroup as a family — often a national park where the girls can play outside freely.

As the girls mature, I share with them the true concerns of relating within a community. They understand that other children may not be used to sharing their spaces, they know the value of carving a quiet retreat for themselves and they recognise when they need time away from their friends.

At the community where we’ve been parked for almost a week, Brioni is expressing a strong desire to leave. Although she blames her clashes with one other child for her unhappiness, the other parent and I know that she’s simply missing her close friendship with Aisha. At one point I was able to explain calmly to the other child that although Brioni’s outbursts seemed to be directed at him, he shouldn’t take them personally as they were rooted in Brioni’s own feelings of loss. When Brioni returns to a better emotional space, I know that she, too, will be able to recognise the truth of this and in time, she’ll learn to look within herself for the cause of her unhappiness rather than seeking to blame someone else.

A key to conscious parenting is learning to separate myself from my children’s emotional outbursts so that I can continue to provide empathy, compassion and support without spiralling down into a bad mood that is generated by insecurity or low energy. Our children learn that they can remain unaffected by others’ negativity if they see us modelling a calm, safe refuge (even if inside we’re cringing!).

Last week, four-year-old Delaney asked me for a drink of milk at the end of an uneventful day of playing with friends. She’d happily gone along with whatever was happening and now because I sipped at the milk before handing her the cup, she rejected my offering with a huge emotional display. We were in a “safe” household — one that is not judgemental or noise-sensitive — so I sat with Delaney and let her thrash on the bed. She cried and kicked out at everything that touched her, and I had to remove some objects for their own safety and her own, but otherwise I just sat and casually reached out to Lana to remind her of my presence. Finally she calmed down enough for a cuddle and soon fell into an exhausted sleep. I believe that her outburst had nothing to do with the drink of milk but was simply a manifestation of the emotions she had been controlling all day. Until she was with a safe person (me), she had kept herself under control — always behaving appropriately — and at four years old she had done very well! While I was talking about the outburst with my friend, she remarked wryly that this was similar to what she experienced at the end of every school day while she was sending her children to school.

I believe that if I had stifled Lana’s outburst she would have hidden her emotions away to explode another day. My other option was to remove myself from her so that her negative energy didn’t affect me, and sometimes — honestly — I don’t have the energy to deal with a horrible temper tantrum. However, on this occasion, I was buoyed by my friend’s supportive presence and — especially knowing that I wasn’t being judged on my 4yo’s outburst — I found the serenity and compassion to remain with Delaney until she was back to being her usual cheerful self.

Every time I am able to remain present with my children — without letting their negative energy pull me into their dramas — I demonstrate the conscious relating that I want to see in them. I strongly desire that my girls to learn to see others’ pain without feeling responsible, to analyse themselves for the core issues that create their unhappiness and to live harmoniously with those who are may be less emotionally intelligent. Compassion is best learned through demonstration — compassion for those who are horrible, compassion for those who say mean things, compassion for those who don’t understand that another’s journey can take different turns — and so I must first live that principle in real-time.

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