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The Road Home

April 2023

Lake Tyrrell

After several weeks in South Australia we finally head east for our final leg of the 2 year journey. We took the Mallee Highway east for 450km to Ouyen for a lunch stop. It was here I received news that I had been offered the Waste Project Officer role with Port Macquarie- Hastings Council and I was rather shocked. Despite constantly envisioning myself in the role, focusing my positive energy on a future job in this area, and hours of preparation for the application and interview I still had some self-doubt. After 17 years at the University of Wollongong I was unsure how 'competitive' I would be applying for roles that I am interested in. It appears, I am! Woohoo!

Sea Lake Silos, Mali & I on Lake Tyrrell

I really wanted to visit Sea Lake, a small Victorian town located just 7km south of Lake Tyrrell. It is about 90km off the highway but it looked like such a unique place. We had finally arrived in Victoria! It is nothing personal, but we have only allocated one night for this State. Lake Tyrrell is Victoria's largest salt lake. Cheetham Salt Works, at the northern end of the lake, harvest the salt and extract over 100,000 tonnes of salt each year. It is an important local employer. Small islands in the lake are used as a breeding ground by thousands of seagulls. It was quite beautiful. The recently installed Sky lounge allows you to view the stars at night in a reclined position. Cool!!!!!

Sea Lake itself offered free camping behind the pub. We enjoyed a nice meal to celebrate my new job (I paid $30 for a glorified plate of mushrooms on toast. Luckily I was hungry and it was delicious and I have a new job! haha). I took an early morning jog around town to view the silo art and town centre. Sea Lake was showcased on the ABC show Backroads in 2021. We met a local at the pub who told us about the grants that one community member had obtained to add the town to the 'Silo art trail' and build the sky lounge and interpretation signage at Lake Tyrrell. We also found out that a doctor, who is from Sea Lake, wanted to give back to the town so paid to refurbish the pub, which was terribly run down and badly managed. It was a beautiful pub and full of some really friendly people. Thanks Royal Hotel Sea Lake!!!

Goodbye Victoria and hello New South Wales. We are almost home!!!! We found a wicked camp on the banks of the Murray River at Deniliquin's Murray Valley Regional Park (Willoughbys Beach). At $6 a night we loved the campfire on the sand, bird life and gorgeous sunrise walks through the forest. It was freezing!!! Exiting the next morning was a little tricky. The exit was steep with a lip at the top. Craig was concerned that we might bottom-out (on our second last night). We tried to do a 3-point turn but there simply was not enough room and a sharp turn on the soft sand was not advisable. We decided we just had to pull the ol' tiger up the steep exit. We were nervous but she came out clean - the only thing that hit the lip was the metal step. Phew!.........we are coming home now!!!

Yay!! Wollongong!

We decided to stay at Corrimal Beach Tourist Park for 11 nights and it was perfect. We swam and walked on the beach most mornings and it was glorious weather. We had plenty of visitors and cousin sleepovers. We stored the van for the remainder of our time in the Gong and stayed with Aunty Rie and Uncle Mark. I had the most amazing time at 'home' (even though I am trying not to call it this anymore). I had some wonderful catch ups with friends and family - coffee walks, aqua jogging and coffee with my UOW workmates, scooter rides, mountain bike rides, roller skating, parkrun, e-bike rides, free gym classes (ouch!!) and plenty of meals out (thank god for the gym classes).

Mali spent lots of time with her cousin Asha and my Mum 'expert cake decorator' taught her how to decorate cakes. She made a special one for her Dad who was having a 45th birthday whilst we were in Wollongong. I organised a surprise party for him at Resin Brewing in Bulli. I found as many friends as I could and arranged for them all to meet here. Even the Coopers (our precious travelling friends) made an appearance!! He was pretty surprised, to say the least, and was not sure what to say. It is rare for Craig to be speechless.

It was truly wonderful to be home again and spend some time with friends and family outside of the crazy Christmas period, like our last visit. Dad was so much better and we had some quality family time. I had so much fun that I could have stayed in Wollongong. Over the last few months Mali has struggled with the concept of not coming back to live in Wollongong. She calls the Gong 'home' and has spent most of her short life here. Her cousin Asha is like a sister and she loves all her cousins dearly. She loves her aunties and grandparents and she has strong ties to her family. We feel the same way. However, after travelling as a tight family unit for the past 2 years, and thanks to our experience in Kalbarri, we have recognised how magnetised we are to small town living. We embarked. on this trip to figure out what we really wanted for our small family, for our relationship, for our careers and for the well-being of all three of us. We have had time to assess what is important to us, as a family and as individuals. It is this - proximity to nature, slow living and community. I am afraid Wollongong has outgrown us. One of the criteria we often joke about is living in a town without traffic lights. Kalbarri did not have them and South West Rocks does not either. So we have decided to give the mid-north coast 6 months to determine if it is the place for us.

We are moving to South West Rocks, one of NSW's best-kept secrets. Some say it could be the next Byron (let's hope not). Craig has secured a maintenance job at Ingenia Holidays caravan park, where we will be living in the caravan. Mali will go to school up the road and I will commute to Port Macquarie for work (not ideal but I am excited about the role and making a dent in Australia's excess waste problem). If we do not give it a go now we will probably never will. So in the spirit of adventure we are exploring a new path and providing a life for our daughter that will help her thrive and stay connected to what is real. It is difficult to find the 'perfect place' but South West Rocks ticks so many boxes for us - nature, beaches, surf, fishing, hiking trails, some MTB trails nearby, a school and a lovely community, closer to Wollongong and the Sunshine Coast than WA (our next choice) and no traffic lights!

Family time (clockwise from top left): Mother's Day, Mali & cous Tiarne, Mali & Pop, Mali & Asha exploring Carl's Ambulance.

It is only 6 hours away so come and visit!!!!

Corrine, Craig and Mali xx




Lily Yu
Lily Yu
Jun 01, 2023


Welcome back Home you three! Can't believe it has been 2 years already! Where did the time go? Happy for your new role, looking forward to visiting you someday

Corrine de Mestre
Corrine de Mestre
Jun 01, 2023
Replying to

Hey Lily!! I missed you when I visited UOW. 2 years I know. Crazy!!! I hope u are happy. ome and visit for sure!!!!

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