We’re going to Bonny Doon Hills!!

Ahh, the joys of travelling 600km with 4 nieces, mother and sister. The storied tradition of heading down vast lengths of dual carriageway to Nana and Pa’s place carries on, with another completed bypass making life easier, and a yet-to-be-completed bypass making life more difficult.

What was historically a 7-7 1/2 hour drive becomes an 8-9 hour negotiation process. Every gadget, game, trinket, lolly, book, and iota of parental attention is carefully shared between siblings, sold to the highest bidder where the currency is tears – real or hedged. It’s a place where the monotony of kid’s jingles is suffered for the sake of silence and relative piece and quiet – Delila, if I have to hear about Henry’s bucket one more time, i’ll throttle him with stone for sharpening the dull hatchet to cut the straw to plug the hole!!

And it’s a place that you wouldn’t trade for the world… in an age where my nieces will likely have more virtual friends than real, it’s comforting to be able to pass what is an otherwise dull(ish) trip with the goo’s, ga’s (and occasional shrieks) of the baby, the “Yesssss” of delight as the eldest rides on the back of an Angry Bird to a new high score, the story telling and ‘kiddy’ maths from the back seat, and the “Uncle Jimmy, do you like my singing?” from the middle car seat. It’s the passing of corn thins, the sharing of tic-tacs and the shoulder rides to and from the Macca’s playground that make the trip an enjoyable experience. Then there’s the chance to catch up on recent history and future plans, the backseat driving lessons and the other oddities that contribute to another successful trip home.

And that’s why, as a childless spinstero, I would elect to pass over 8 hours in a car, compared with a quarter of that in an aeroplane. And while I would prefer that ear-splitting shrieks be conspicuous by their absence, it’s a take a sip, take a skull proposition – all or nothing; tears and smiles.

Happiness is hearing your 4 year old niece choosing to play your favourite (somewhat obscure) folk singer on the ipod while passing time between stops, getting a carefully chosen tic-tac presented on a grubby finger, getting a cheeky smile between fits of restlesness…

No, we’re not there yet…

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