The Homeward Journey

The homeward journey is a bittersweet thing. There is the end of holidays and relaxing, but also the anticipation of home comforts and friends… And of course work… Which isn’t as negative as it sounds. I enjoy time away but a life without purpose beyond relaxing and doing what I want is not what I am made for.


We left Denham this morning after 2 days there and began the drive south and tonight we are in Port Denison listening to the wind and rain as it beats down on the camper. We had ‘finished’ in Denham and felt the need to move on, but on reflection one more day might have been wise. I always misjudge how I will feel when we re-enter clouds, wind and rain. I expect this part of the world to be like the north – sunny only colder. I don’t know why. It isn’t rational! So when we we were approaching Northampton today and the first signs of cloud and cold were appearing I suddenly felt flat and annoyed. I think next time we head north we might make the final drive an 8 hour straight thru.


Shark Bay/Denham was really nice – beautiful beaches and cool sunny days minus the wind. The school kids had all gone home so it was just us and the grey nomads – some of whom had been in that same caravan park for several months… I can’t fathom that, as there is so little to do in 2-3 days… What must a month be like?

So it was nice to enjoy some peace and quiet at last. We did the Monkey Mia dolphin thing which I really think is highly overrated. Still whoever stumbled on a way to get those fellas to rock up to shore 3 times a day every day must be laughing all the way to the bank. We explored a bit of Francois Peron Nat Park and also some of the western bays on the drive out. Its pretty stunning through there and if it were a bit warmer we would love to head back there. If I were into fishing I reckon Denham would be awesome. But as a surfer it’s probably the worst possible scenario with no surf even possible on either side of the peninsula. The local pizza shop does a great woodfired pizza though and that was one of the high points. If you get there then be sure and try one – although the nomads weren’t so excited about the pizza shop as it seems the owner turns up to work when he feels like it and goes to he pub when he doesn’t…

We drove back out to Great Northern Highway, stopping here and there to sightsee and then set sail for home. Usually we find ourselves stopping at Galena bridge on the murchison river, but today we headed thru a bit further to make the final run home a short one. We have never camped in Dongara/Denison so I suggested we head there.


It’s actually been a lovely night kicking back in the camper with the kids and chatting – two hours of questions around God, faith and the universe and the opportunity to sit there and discuss some of life’s biggest issues with your own children. Gold.

Right now though the rain is belting down and it’s probably as stormy a night as the old camper has seen since we stopped halfway across the nullabor and hoped for the best. I just stepped outside in my jocks to wack a tentpeg back in and managed to drop my little sledgehammer on my toe… Ouch!

We have a day here tomorrow exploring and then home on Thursday, but we might have to see how things look in the morning…

Once home, work kicks back in and there is already plenty lined up – the beauty of being away and letting it back up. There may be some new developments there too, but that not in the immediate future.

We have been tossing up selling the camper as next year’s big holiday is set for Ireland and we might not get a lot of use between now and two years time. It would mean booking chalets every time we went somewhere or hiring another camper. Not sure yet… I regret selling our last Patrol and I’m wary of making the same mistake with the camper. The car has been great in every way except fuel economy, where it has been a complete dog and it seems there is no explanation for it. If I could remedy that then I’d be stoked, but for now I am contemplating moving it on again… A big call though as everything else about it is great.

Anyway, that’s the homeward journey. I’ve actually got a control box to install in Gingin on the way thru and then a lot of clean up before conducting a friend’s wedding on Saturday. Thankfully I’m not doing any teaching on Sunday – that would really take he edge off the last few days!

Northern Wanderings


It’s been 4 consecutive years of spending winter in the north west and I don’t think the love affair is over yet. As we head back with 6 days left of this trip I am struck by how much is left to see and how many places I would love to return to.

We hit the road two weeks back and this time made for Kalbarri as a first port of call, a town neither of has been to for many years. Being that little bit off the beaten track means you have to ‘want’ to go there.

We stayed in Anchorage caravan park for 4 nights and enjoyed the time there. Kalbarri is pretty spectacular and Danelle had an 8km coastal walk one afternoon, right through the western cliffs. The swell was down and Jakes point wasn’t breaking – not that I was complaining… I gather its a little heavier than I like to ride these days.


I imagine we will go back there again as we didn’t get to check out the gorges. For some reason they had chosen the first week of the school holidays to do road maintenance on the one road into them. Odd… and pretty dumb if you ask me. Either way it was nice to start the break with a cruisy few days where the weather was kind albeit pretty cold at night. (And the Kalbarri bakery does a pretty good job too.)

It was nice to unwind, although I wasn’t feeling that wound up. For the two weeks previous work had dried up so I was as chilled as I get.

From Kalbarri we left early Wed am and headed for Exmouth – it’s out fourth consecutive year we have made this a holiday location, which probably says something. We did the 9 hour drive from Kalbarri and arrived only to discover we weren’t booked in at the caravan park – not sure if it was my stuff up or theirs – but either way we spent the first night on the town oval and paid $62 for the privilege… That’s what you can charge when the town is full… Again the weather was kind with mid 20 degree days each day we were there and some good swell to make it even better. We had some time with friends and some time alone – a good mix.


I think Exmouth’s Dunes Beach is one of my all time faves. Warm water and mellow waves make for a lot of fun. The crowd factor can get a bit insane, and ‘drop ins’ happen a little too often at the main peak, but if you sit further south the crew are a bit more relaxed and easy going. I could have stayed much longer just for the surf.

That said, I’m not sure we will do many more caravan park holidays in the school break. If you want peace and quiet then these are not the go at all. (And I realised I wanted/needed this more than I anticipated) Having been woken by a crying baby 4 mornings out of 7, and with lots of kids everywhere in the park we were very ready to move on when the final day came.

From Exmouth the car wanted to head north to Broome and the warmer climes – after 4 years of Broome holidays it seemed wrong to head south… We could have got there but the long drive home and a critical deadline (a wedding the day after) was leaving us both very uninspired. So instead we headed a whole 120ks south to Giralia station for what was going to be a night or two. We were seeking some peace and solitude and this place looked great. We got set up well away from the main camp and it was all about ‘the serenity’ until a group of 3 grey nomad vans arrived and set up right next to us – and then proceeded to run their generator non-stop. The tranquility was beautiful until these guys arrived… Seriously – who runs a generator all day long?… Grrr


Giralia is a good spot for one-two nights and at $24 for all of us we thought it was a good deal. The station turn their own power on at night and there is bore water to use for cleaning. There are hot showers and a camp kitchen all included.

We had a very quiet night and didn’t wake to any babies crying, but at 8.00am on day 2 the nomad generator had been kicked into gear and was banging away. We drove down to the beach for the morning (good if you fish – not so good to swim in) and decided that if the generator was still going when we got back we would pack up. At 11.30 it was still throbbing away and we weren’t up for sitting next to it all day so we packed up and hit the road.

While there we were offered a free purebred red cloud kelpie puppy. The station owners had one left from the litter and told us we could have it if we wanted it.

You know how cute puppies are?… Well this one was beautiful and the parents also looked the goods. Ellie wanted it badly… Sam wanted it… And I think Danelle and I were both feeling a tug, but the fact that our property has no fences would mean it was going to be a very expensive puppy – not to mention the question of how we would get it home over the rest of the holiday. As we were about to leave Danelle and I were close to saying ‘lets just do it and figure it out on the run’, but a visit from the caretaker ended the idea as someone else had already taken it. Ellie was devastated and we were both sad and relieved. The thought of spending a week with a new puppy in a camper was not something I was looking forward to, and then coming home to knock up a fence – where I know the materials alone would be $2-3k also wasn’t appealing. So for now we will remain dog-less although our resolve has been weakened…

From Giralia we headed further south into a blustery headwind getting a whole 4.5ks per liter as the Patrol literally drank the diesel. I’m still not sure if there is something wrong there or if its just weight, aerodynamics or a heavy right foot. We ended up deciding to drive into Quobba and spend a night or two there – hoping for peace and quiet yet again…


As we arrived we discovered the sites at the Blowholes were $5.50/site/night while Quobba station was $42.00/night for the four of us. The decision was made fairly quickly and we put up the camper in the midst of a strong and icy south easterly. The wind was so cold that I couldn’t generate enough heat to cook on the outside stove. This is a pretty cool place though – with great beaches, spectacular scenery and some pretty decent space to set up. And it is quiet… Yes…


Convincing our daughter that unpowered sites without showers are a good option is getting increasingly difficult. Once we are there she toughens up, but the princess gene is starting to develop and if it were just down to Ellie we would be ‘camping’ in the Hyatt in the middle of any capital city with wireless and room service.


While in Quobba we took a drive up to Red Bluff, just 60ks north and a pretty easy trip. We sat on 80kph most of the way and never needed to go into 4wd. We could have got the camper up there quite easily but decided not to this time.

I had heard about this place for many many years but have never been, so it was good to finally get there. It is as beautiful as everyone says and the beaches and bluff are stunning.


There was no one in the water (surfing) when we got there. We walked out to the point to check it out and I’m guessing it was because it was a very low tide, because there were some big sets charging thru, but breaking only metres from the reef. Either that or they were all scared like me…

Either way I think the bluff is a young blokes wave. If I were 20-30 years younger I’d love to give it a crack – it is a super fast charging left hander… But now… While it dents the ego I think I have to admit that it is not for 49 year olds on sun-browned mals.

While travelling I finally managed to finish ‘Home’ by Marilyne Robinson, an excellent novel but not an easy read if you like things to keep moving. It is well written and has many wonderful moments, but it’s not for the impatient or easily distracted. This was my fourth attempt and I had to work to stay with it. Now I’m re-reading Shantaram, one of my favourites. I have never been to India but I reckon this feels like what I imagine it to be like. A great story with many redemptive moments and intriguing twists.

From Blowholes we headed south today for Carnarvon and a night in a caravan park to shower and clean up a bit. It’s a one night stop as Francois Peron national park is the next spot on the radar. Next to us is a family one week into their round Oz adventure so we spent some time chatting to them and I have to say it stirred me to do it again… Next year we have an Ireland adventure planned to celebrate my 50th but I could be tempted to swap it for 4 or 5 months on the road – and I think the budget would be about the same!

One of the challenges of holidaying while running your own business is taking phone calls and being able to switch on and off at will. I’m getting pretty good at it now, but it’s taken a while. With no work for 5 weeks now I kinda need to hit the ground running when we get home. Today there were 6 voicemails and some pretty good looking jobs are lined up which means I should be able to roll in and get cracking.

Anyway that’s the journey so far…


A Taste?


Ever have moments when you think life can’t get any better?

I’ve had lots lately and it’s sparked my curiosity. Occasionally I like to consider what it will be like when God restores and renews this world – when he ‘makes all things new’ as the Bible says and we share in that new creation.

I am much more inspired by this vision of the future than by the ethereal heaven that I saw as the goal for much of my life. NT Wright describes it as “life after life after death”, but either way it is the ultimate destination for those who follow Jesus – to live with God on a renewed earth and to enjoy that forever.

It’s hard to grasp just what that may be like, but my hunch is that we get glimpses every now and then – we have moments when we feel incredibly alive and have that sense of “it just can’t get any better than this!”

I’m sure you have those moments too.

This morning as we sat by the river on a beautiful day and laughed and played as a family was one of those times.

Wondering… Will it ever get any better than this? Is this a taste of what it’s like when God’s kingdom comes?

I think it is.

I believe we do get glimpses of the future kingdom every now and then – when worry is absent, beauty is palpable and people are close. I tend to think those moments are there for the taking more often than we may even realise, but in the busyness and craziness of western life we rarely are able to appreciate them or are in a place to enjoy them.

On a theological level it makes sense that we should experience the beauty of life in the kingdom here and now, but often our thinking has been shaped to expect this world to be hard and for life to be disappointing more than it is invigorating.

Maybe if we slowed down and took the time to savour life a little more then we would experience this reality more often and maybe that would be a catalyst for us as followers of Christ to lead others into this kind of life too.

Aussie Stand Up

Frank-WoodleyThe flight home last night ended up being a five and a half hour marathon rather than the regular 4 1/2 hr deal. I don’t fly anywhere near as much as I used to but you have to be grateful for those little seat back entertainment systems that seem to be standard fare on all Qantas flights now. You can sit down, zone out and come back when the plane lands.

I managed to find myself in the back row next to the toilets… lovely… as you are continually getting bumped by people walking past, you are last for food service and then there’s the disturbing aromas  that waft from the toilets into your area… Not sure what I did to deserve that particular spot, but I think I’ll be checking in much earlier from now on!

The in-flight movie choice wasn’t that impressive. I had watched the Silver Lining Playbook on the way over as well as The Impossible, both nothing special, but watchable. I had seen several others so I was down to the dregs. I tried Parental Guidance, Guilt Trip and finally Lincoln, but none could hold my interest past the 10 minute mark, so I decided to move to the stand up comedy section.

There was an hour from each person and it was quite intriguing to observe the different approaches to genre each brought. I watched an hour of Carl Barron and some chunks of Akmal Saleh, Frank Woodley, Judith Lucy and Arj Barker.

Barron is genuinely funny, both with stories and facial gestures and he manages to circle back to some familiar themes throughout his repertoire. He moves between a west Sydney drawl and a more intelligible style of speaking. Akmal Saleh does the same, and while he’s funny in places a lot of his humour is at the expense of the audience as he throws out insults and interacts while thinking on his feet.

Judith Lucy has moments of being very funny, but I really struggle with her whining voice. I guess its her trademark and some will love it, but as far as female comediennes go, I’ll take Kitty Flanagan any day. When I flicked across to Arj Barker no one was laughing… He did get better, but the big winner for me was Frank Woodley who impressed  with his ability to be genuinely funny without having to say ‘F&ck’ every second word, without having to insult his audience, and without having to resort to obscenity.

I’m not particularly precious about those things, but it seems they are the way to get a quick laugh and Woodley didn’t take the easy route. He had some great content.

I like to watch the various Comedy festivals when they come around, but each year the  level of explicit and offensive sexual material seems to rachet up a notch. Its a shame because now it seems that the challenge is to be the edgiest with content rather than the funniest. I reckon audiences sometimes laugh because its the only way to deal with the awkwardness.


So if you’re an Aussie stand up comedian then I reckon your challenge in this culture at this time is to get people laughing without having to say ‘F&ck’, without having to speak of incest or bestiality and without having to insult your audience. There aren’t many who seem to be able to jump that bar.

Maybe that’s our fault?… If we don’t laugh at them then maybe they’d get the message. I hope I’m not just getting old and grumpy, but I would love to see a whole crew of stand ups come through who are just FUNNY.



Messy Kids

Last week I listened in on the speech given by Alan Chambers, leader of Exodus International as they closed their doors and publicly apologised to those around them for some of their practices over the last 35 years, particularly their method of reparative therapy – ie trying to make a gay person straight. It seems the apology generated a fair amount of cynicism – which seems sad to me as I’d like to always give someone the benefit of the doubt.

That said, it is a statement with significant implications. It seems that ‘people in the know’ are saying that it doesn’t work to try and straighten someone out – in fact more than that, the apology indicates that it is destructive to try and do so. I am inclined to listen to those who have spent 35 years in the trenches.

If I read between the lines correctly, it seems that Chambers continues to hold what would be considered biblically conservative views on the subject of homosexuality. So while he sees wrong done to people in their attempts to ‘re-orient’ them he still would not affirm gay sexual practice.

I find the whole subject quite a conundrum and much easier to discuss in the absence of real people who are in the midst of varying degrees of struggle. Theories are much easier to work with than human beings… But theories are useless if they can’t hold up in real life.

I have long had a conservative view on this issue – formed both by scripture and my evangelical culture. I find it very hard to read scripture as affirming of gay relationships. I don’t find it at all difficult to imagine gay people in relationship with Jesus though.

I do often wonder if this is another issue we have been wrong on not unlike our views on women. At this stage I can’t say my views have shifted although they have been shaken. That said I am listening more carefully and trying to revisit my reasons for where I sit because I think this will be one of the pivotal issues of our time in regards to the church and I could be wrong.

One of my biggest struggles is with our own internal inconsistencies – allowing divorced people in leadership (the Bible is much clearer on divorce than homosexuality) or even porn addicts – but not gay people… We seem to be much more lenient on the sexual sins we struggle with and tougher on the ones that we can attribute to a less powerful minority.

Another struggle is that I think we (as evangelicals) have been largely responsible for the emergence of gay churches or the like because we have been so vehement in our response to gay people. We have denied any possibility of real faith while a person is gay. So now expecting them to find a place in any of churches would be like asking them to enter what is perceived as a lions den. I know there are some exceptions to this.

I was discussing the issue with a friend this week and the difficulty we have in speaking of it. Even to raise the issue is to hold up a ‘hit me’ sign to the group you don’t side with. It seems the options in front of us so often appear to be either ‘condemning’ (albeit ‘nicely’ at times) or ‘affirming’ and neither sit well with me.

Is there a different path that we can take that avoids either affirming or condemning and simply points people to Christ and allows him to do whatever work he wants to in their lives? Because he is the one who is best placed to make any judgements and offer direction.

I’m guessing there may come a time when we can speak more freely on the topic and when the heat will have gone out of it. Now isn’t that time. We are always treading carefully – partly because it is hot and partly because we are actively trying to re-think and re-assess – a process that is not easy when your views are so entrenched and your culture so polarised.

What I liked in Alan chambers speech was his comment that God would ‘rather have messy kids than no kids’. If his gay kids are ‘messy’ albeit in a different way to ‘straight kids’ then he would rather have them close to him than far away. It was a statement that rang true and carried the vibe of Jesus who never seemed at all bothered by the ‘messy kids’. And they liked him too – not something we can easily say of the church and the gay community.

So as I consider my own response at this point in time – and perhaps permanently – it will be to point people to Jesus and help them really encounter him. Because he seems better at helping people find life than I am and he is well used to ‘messy kids’. (And yes – I understand that this is simple discipleship for everyone – but I don’t think it has ever been seen as this simple.)

I have never written a post on this subject before as I haven’t wanted to deal with the barrage of hate mail that inevitably goes with the territory. That said – my views are now out there and you can do what you like with them…