After scouting the area, David decided to take us back to Eatonsville for a couple of nights of camping off-grid. We’d last been at this particular part of the Clarence River almost two years ago, so I was familiar with the setting, but this was our first time to spend the night there.

Eatonsville is a little village only twenty minutes from Woodoo’s house on the outskirts of Grafton. Our campsite was in a designated recreation reserve where locals launch their boats and swim in the Clarence River. We were about 40 km upstream from where we previously skied on the river, but it’s probably only 12 km as-the-crow-flies.

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
Our camp was very close to the Clarence River at Eatonsville.

There was one other campsite set up when we arrived. Two tents were hidden discreetly in the trees, and I chatted briefly with one of the owners. They were quiet — ideal camping neighbours, really!

After arriving at the river, we parked the truck which always takes a bit of thought. It’s such a big vehicle, and we’re looking for a level platform so the girls’ bed is flat, plus now we have to plan room for the trailer too. Once we were in place, the girls headed to the river to start playing.

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
David dozed on the bank while the girls played in the mud.

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
The girls' play changed as they embraced the opportunity to get muddy instead of trying to avoid it.

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
And then I was greeted by this sight.

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
And another.

When Dell went down for a nap in the truck, I got out the canoe and took Brioni for a ride upstream (once she had cleaned her mud off!). We detoured into a creek that emptied its muddy water into the Clarence and when our way was blocked by a fallen tree, we climbed out to explore the steep cow paddocks on one side of the creek.

When Brioni and I reached our campsite again, David had gathered himself and Aisha together with boards and flippers. David set out to cross the river on the long surfboard, encouraging Aisha to follow him with the body board. I think he ended up pulling her most of the way because her technique wasn’t very effective.

I put Cali into the canoe, and we followed them. The current was strong, but not too swift. We all made it to the other bank in almost a straight line, although at times we were swimming diagonally against the current.

It took about five more minutes for our dog to make it all the way to us. She was slow in the water and was swept downstream and had to pick her way back to us on the bank. I always worry a bit when she swims across the rivers with us, but she’s a strong dog — albeit slow.

For the crossing back, David and I planned our strategy more carefully — having once experienced how strong the current was. Once again on our side of the river, David took the girls for an explore while I paddled the canoe back to camp, towing the surf board behind me.

When I am alone, I enjoy the moments to myself — especially when Dell is still sleeping. The respite gives me an opportunity to journal our activities so I don’t forget what we’ve been up to.

Before dusk, we all started gathering firewood for our campfire. The girls collected twigs while David and I found logs or sawed off dead branches for fuel. The fire was in a hollow under a tree, and later we moved our mattresses outside to make it more comfortable.

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
Campfires at night are the best thing about camping!

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
The girls liked lighting sticks from the fire. In the background, you can see that we've been using the side of the trailer as a kitchen area. We plan on installing racks and shelves to properly turn it into a food preparation area.

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
The moon was almost full, providing a beautiful light for us as we slept under the stars.

The air was cool but not cold, and Aisha stayed up late with us, asking questions like “What is electricity/wood/leaves/the trailer/cheese made of?”

At the Eatonsville camp, October 2010
The evenings were so mild that David and I slept on these mattresses next to the fire instead of retreating back into the truck or trailer.

Without any clocks to mark the progress of the days, we’re getting more in tune with our own (and each other’s) needs. We eat when we’re hungry and sleep when we’re tired. It’s a great way to live!