It is quite fitting that our first day back in Australia is also the first of the new year. Our plane arrived into Brisbane yesterday and the friends who had been borrowing The Gifted Gypsy collected us from the airport. Lana’s response to the bus’ appearance in the pick-up zone outside the Arrivals Hall echoed our whole family’s attitude. She ran up to the front corner of the bus and gave it a hug, resting her cheek against the painted metal. It’s good to be home!

This morning, as I heard the kookaburras start their raucous squabbling in the hour before dawn, I felt so much gratitude to be back in Australia and into our own space again. It’s a relief to return to the familiar, and after a more socially-subdued 2014, I now have the energy to embrace new adventures in exploring Australia and getting to know more people who inhabit this land.

We’ve been living out of our bags for the last four months. Somewhere along the line we acquired one extra suitcase’s worth of winter jackets, boots and toys which doubled our travelling allowance. After making do with so few possessions, I looked at the empty cupboard-spaces in the bus and wondered how I’dl fill them all.

The Gifted Gypsy, parked outside the shed, SEQ, January 2015
The Gifted Gypsy is once again parked outside our shed as we reload it with our belongings before heading south for the summer.

Slowly unpacking our possessions back into the bus is a great exercise in simple living. I’ve gone through each item of our suitcases and each item from the pile that I removed from the bus last August and assessed whether it suits our current state of being. It turns out that so many things I was carting around for the last two years simply took up cupboard space and weren’t necessary.

Now I carry only a bare minimum of tools. It turns out that most home-owners have their own sets of tools that I can borrow if I need to do minor repairs. I’ve also cut back on the number of books we take with us. Apart from a small number of favourite titles, all our reading on the road is device-based, and we’ve amassed quite an extensive collection of e-books and can always visit local libraries.

And — in an audacious act of bravado which I’m still not certain I’ll survive — I’ve left my big sack of wool behind. I’m carrying a single crochet hook and one ball of yarn that I bought in Iceland. The idea is that I won’t get more wool until I finish this one project… we’ll see how that turns out!

We are carrying more toys, however. The girls have each been able to fill a whole basket with the toys of their choice. Although they have full access to their electronic devices, they tend to only use them when there’s no other option, and instead devote hours to creating extravagant imaginary worlds with their toys as props.

While I’ve been packing today, the girls have been sleeping. We spent two consecutive nights on planes as we flew from Mauritius, and our body-clocks still think we’re living off the coast of Africa. It wasn’t until the sky lightened this morning that the girls discovered they were tired enough to abandon their games for some sleep.

When we finally drove away from the shed in the early afternoon, our first appointment took us to the Gold Coast. As soon as she felt the heat yesterday, Aisha asked if we could go swimming to cool off. I had my own agenda for getting us on the road and offered an evasive answer, not promising anything. But circumstances brought us beach-side at the right time of day, and I reminded Aisha that she was receiving what she requested — although neither of us manipulated its occurrence. I’ve discovered that if we allow life to unfold in front of us without trying to make things happen, we’re rewarded with extraordinary adventures that are greater than our imaginations!

Aisha and Brioni running on the beach, Miami, Gold Coast, January 2015
The girls sprint down the beach to where the lifeguards have marked the patrolled zone with red and yellow flags.

Brioni burying Lana in sand, Miami, Gold Coast, January 2015
She really likes sand! Lana finds a hole that someone else has carved out, covers the lower half of her body with sand and then instructs us to finish burying her top half.

2015 feels like a fresh start for our family. After hyper-scheduling the last four months, I’m trying not to plan so much this year, but I hope to spend more time exploring Victoria in particular. As I start our drive south, I’m happy to be back behind the wheel of our little home, content to see where the road leads — knowing that it’ll be good!