It’s all about the journey, right? While travelling with children, it’s hard to forget this very basic truth, and although I had planned the distance of each day’s driving from Brisbane and where we would be spending our nights on the way to Cairns, I’m learning to be flexible so that the girls have the opportunity to enjoy each day fully.

I’ve started driving in the evenings, and so last night we pulled up at the Calliope River rest area in the dark. This is free 48-hour camping site on the northern side of the Calliope River, with toilets and non-potable water, but there are also sites on the southern side of the river with better water access.

Camping at Calliope River, Calliope, Queensland, November 2012
Because we parked last night in the dark, we didn't get to explore our surroundings until this morning.

Old Bruce Highway, Calliope River, Calliope, November 2012
The old bridge that used to be part of the highway is now closed to traffic and looks like a terrific place to play today!

After breakfast, we drive around to the southern bank of the river for a play. This is probably the furthest north that we will be able to swim freely, and this site is already sign-posted with signs warning against crocs and stingers. I’ve checked, and the furthest south that a saltwater crocodile has been sighted is still 280 km north of the Calliope River, but the council must be conservative enough to put up warnings in this waterway and others around Gladstone.

Delaney and Calista looking off the bridge, Calliope River, Calliope, November 2012
The girls peer over the edge of the bridge at the weedy water below.

Playing on the sand at Calliope River, Calliope, November 2012
Once we get to the sand, the girls are happy to start playing.

Brioni and Aisha at the Calliope River, Calliope, November 2012
Brioni and Aisha collect natural and manmade objects from the riverbank and use them to illustrate an elaborate scenario of royalty and conflict.

Brioni and Aisha at the Calliope River, Calliope, November 2012
The girls investigate the rocks and weeds to see if they can find more treasures to accessorise their imaginations.

Calista cutting grass, November 2012
Calista is enjoying playing with scissors a lot at the moment, so I encourage her to find something outside that she can cut — and to give her hair an opportunity to grow again!

It’s late in the afternoon before the girls are finished playing and are ready to drive on. I, too, have enjoyed a lazy day — albeit without internet access — and am ready to keep heading north.

As we get used to the bus, we get faster and faster at packing it up for travel — although we still sometimes manage to leave something unlocked. Today, we had a lot of wet swimmers, towels and sand to deal with before we could drive off.

Sand on the floor in the housebus, November 2012
It's inevitable at the beach — a large amount of sand comes into the bus with the girls — but Aisha gladly sweeps it out before we drive away.

When I have chores to do, I invite those girls who are around me to help. If they don’t want to, I don’t coerce them or bribe them into it. I just let it go. This afternoon, both Aisha and Brioni happily helped me get the bus ready to drive away.

I find that the girls’ willingness to contribute to the running of our household has a lot to do with my heart’s attitude towards my chores. If I don’t want to do my chores, why would my children want to? If I am happy and cheerful to serve our family this way, my attitude is contagious, and the girls gladly pitch in.