January to March 2020: Australia: Gold Coast & Yamba


New Year in the Australian bush. Boat jobs on the Gold Coast. Marina living in Yamba. COVID-19.

LIFE. 2020 began with two bush blokes unimpressed with two ship sheilas.

BOAT JOBS. Deep clean. Anti-foul. Steering bearings. Engine services. One million minors: bulbs, elements, handles, pumps, screens, screws, shades, vents, spray dances.

BIRTHDAY. Nine! This gentle girl, grown in Asia on our first yacht ZINC, knows more than she knows about where the wind blows.

Unfortunately, she is now pierced.

FUTURE OLYMPIANS? Ummm… not at this sport. Yet, it was the girls’ favourite holiday camp, ever.

CYCLONE SEASON. We sailed south.

We berthed in beautiful Yamba, New South Wales, latitude: 29 degrees south.

SCHOOL SCHOOL. The local school’s welcoming, sporty, and ocean-focused community won our hearts. Willow nailed it as the new girl.

Hazel followed a few days later.

SUSHI. Our queen returned to live with us at the marina.

LIFE. Family down the road. We have not lived close to cousins before. It was wonderful.

Friends from interstate.

Torrential rain.

SURF. We all surfed, a lot.

We joined Angourie Boardriders and met fun, active families – a great bunch of kids and parents.

SHATTERED DREAMS. Willow swam through the school, district, and regional competitions. She was on her way to the state titles in Sydney…

But. You know. COVID-19.

But I have trained so hard for this!” Willow wailed, referring to two 40 minute sessions a week for six weeks. We tried to explain how athletes unable to compete in Tokyo this year must feel.

Turns out she is a focused little racer (Lane 3). Sigh.

And, I may be the proudest parent ever. Oh my.

But then my parents turned up, and trumped me as the proudest grandparents ever.

COVID-19. As the 24-7 news cycle spiralled out of control on the second last weekend in March, we sailed up the Clarence River to escape the hysteria. The Pacific Highway stopped and the Harwood Bridge rose, just for us. We felt frivolous. Gosh. What if someone in the traffic was expected somewhere, important.

Unfortunately the COVID-19 hysteria followed us. We heard non-essential services would cease. Was raising the Harwood Bridge an essential service? Would we live up the Clarence River forever? We raced downstream. The bridge rose, we passed through.

Next we heard the Queensland border would close. If we couldn’t be in Fiji, we wanted to be in Queensland for winter. We bid sad, hurried goodbyes and fled overnight across the border – Von Trapp Family style, without the talent or style.

The overnight sail to the Gold Coast Seaway was uneventful. We were all seasick, a combination of ordinary conditions and too many months in a cushy marina berth. We’d lost our sea legs.

REMOTE SCHOOL. Willow and Hazel did remote school with their Yamba classes from the second last week of Term One. The Yamba school’s COVID-19 response was remarkable. Somehow the staff kept learning fun, flexible, and available to all families regardless of ‘pandemic’ circumstance. We are thankful for this small school of collaborative, hardworking teachers.

LIFE. My parents offered Sushi a comfortable home on land. Oh Sush. Sob.

Dale’s meditation class moved online.

Lunch breaks.

New kite gear.

Chinese laundry.

MEMES. Gosh how I loved the memes.

This was me – *grandma*.

A few favourites:



The Island of Sea Women – freediving.
Never Split the Difference – negotiating.
Midnight in Chernobyl – terrifying, humbling.
Absolutely – laughing.
This House of Grief – puzzling, crying.
Olive, Again – smiling, crying.
The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters – sistering.
[unfinished] City of Girls – annoying.
[unfinished] The Man Who Invented Vegemite – boring.

I loved them all, but for City of Girls and The Man Who Invented Vegemite.


Willow says:

“The Grace Stories were my favourite. I also love Jacqueline Wilson – The Bed and Breakfast Star and The Lottie Project. Pippi Longstocking is hilarious and I burst into laughter loads of times. I have read The Magic Faraway Tree three times and I still love it. Dog Man was okay, I could read another one. I loved Harry Potter so much I begged Dad to keep reading it to me every night. I liked The Wombles. Wombles are funny and weird.”


Fairy floss and the amazing Anh Do. Hazel introduced the Wolf Girl series to our family. It is a goodie, but not for sensitive souls. In a post-apocalyptic setting, a young girl loses her family, joins a canine pack, and rules her world. Apparently this is Hazel’s dream life. Oh Hazel. Sigh.