Tuesday travel – Macleay Valley

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My older sister complained all the way along the winding dirt road. It wasn’t my fault that my leg kept touching hers. I was always the one squashed in the middle and even though I was small there was nowhere to put my legs. I tried to keep them squeezed together but every time we hit a bump – and there were lots on this road – my knees would slip and I would touch her leg. She kept saying I was doing it deliberately and would poke me in the ribs. Sometimes if she did it too hard I would cry out and then dad would roar at all of us to be quiet. We should enjoy the scenery and stop that fighting in the back seat. It was alright for him, but I couldn’t see any scenery to enjoy from where I was squashed in the middle of the back seat. The one time I did try to see it seemed like we were clinging to the edge of a mountainside and the valley below was a million miles away. On top of everything else I was starting to feel carsick. The swaying and bumping car and the lack of air was making me feel queasy. I didn’t bother listening to dad talk about how exciting this trip was. ‘We’re going to see where Slim Dusty grew up,’ he said. But I wasn’t really listening. I wanted to lay me head back and sleep. I knew I would be in trouble if I asked if we could pull over. ‘No time to stop,’ dad always said.

‘Mum! She’s doing it again!!’ I had closed my eyes for a second and had accidentally dozed off and then my leg slipped and touched Jasmine’s again.

‘We’re nearly there, girls. Just be quiet for a bit longer.’ That was what mum always said. But it seemed like hours later when we finally stopped. Everyone piled out of the car and when I was finally in the fresh hour my legs felt wobbly and I nearly vomited and the green grass.

Mum spread a picnic blanket on the ground and Jasmine was the first to flop down on the ground with her knees in the air and her arms behind her head. Stephen called me over to look at the creek so I wobbled across the paddock after him. The air smelt of tea tree and sassafras. I took a deep breath and suddenly I realised what Dad had been talking about. This was the kind of place where you could live and just spend the rest of your days being part of nature. There really were sleeping gums on the hillside and herds straying by, just like in the song. I could hear Dad in the distance talking about Slim Dusty again as I joined Stephen by the creek in time to see a turtle splash into the water.

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