Wondai. Part One.


We decided to do a short trip to Wondai where we could park for 3 – 4 days and experience what that would be like. That, and I had a complete breakdown and I think, for the safety of the neighbours, that Derek wanted to get me away for a few days.

This time I tried to focus on nailing the packing. I took over completely and packed everything save Derek’s clothes and personal items. I cooked for a whole day to make sure we had lots of tasty meals that would be simple to prepare. I thoroughly thought out everything with lists and checklists and a well organized sensibility. I cleaned the entire house because I hate coming home to a place with one thing not clean and tidy. And besides, I could alphabetize the pantry and with Derek out of the house, it would stay that way for more than just a couple of hours. Being a tad OCD, that thought gave me more pleasure than I can even begin to tell you.

It was perfect. And then, once we were in the caravan and driving off and I could sit and relax. I sat, I relaxed and I think we made it to the corner of our street before crappydom over took me. I was exhausted. Notes to self, next time, don’t do it all in one sitting, don’t do it all alone, ask for help. Of course I lost all the Notes to Self before we made the corner turning on to the highway due to the fact I was a woman and have a deep need to do everything, while at the same time self-flagellating and walking on hot coals. When I wrote them I was not doing so sincerely.

Short drive this time. We had stayed in Wondai once before on our way through or on our back home again and there were a few choices for caravans in the quiet little town. You go through towns in Australia where no-one seems to care at all about the condition of their houses or yards and then you find some where it seems like everyone met and agreed to make every effort to keep things tidy and well looked after. The funny thing is, it does not seem to matter whether the houses are big or small or whether people have money or not . . . it just seems to be that a town decides, through some mysterious form of mutual agreement that is communicated through the vapours to every member of the community. Wondai is a pretty little town.

I like how Australia seemed to wake up early on in its development, to value those things that were created by the people who first came to this country. Great care is often taken to preserve the older buildings and the heritage of the country. In some towns, you feel like you are stepping right back in history and with animated townspeople who often carry on traditions, can recite the whole history, and use the original recipes for cooking. There isn’t a slice of tofu to be had anywhere. The whole feel is quaint and very inviting.


Like many small towns in Australia that I have been through, I had to wonder how they would survive much longer. More and more towns are clearly almost dead, with only a few diehards hanging on, refusing to go. You could see how, once those people left, there would not be anyone to replace them. The younger members of their own families had long ago abandoned them for the cities and greater opportunities that allowed them to make a living.

Wondai seemed to be a town that would soon find its way heading down that path. No real industry near by and few young people in view. It appeared that many of the people who were around the town, doing business, were farmers, in for a few supplies, but not living in the town itself.

We picked Wondai exactly for all those reasons. It was not holiday season, and we knew it would be fairly quiet. Because both Derek and I keep our own home quiet, there is an even greater expectation of quiet when we go out caravanning. We are definitely not in search of the party train.

We chose the showgrounds this time and it was a really pretty setting, set on the river with lots of green expanses, trees, and well-kept buildings. Along with the free roadside caravan sites offered in almost every town, the showgrounds also offer spots with electricity, water, bathrooms, and showers. It is a brilliant system, and although only allowing short stays, it is just one more example of how Australians seem to do all they can to facilitate all its people having the opportunities to live the lifestyle they choose. Wondai offered short stay camping, free overnight camping, a small fee overnight stay at the showground and then private campgrounds that charged more. Something for everyone.


We were one of maybe 3 caravans in the park and we choose a private space tucked away from everyone else. I had a great outlook to be able to sit out under the canopy and write while Derek golfed, and we were really happy about it. Derek has a gift though. He parks anything – the truck, the caravan, whatever … and he always chooses a space far away from everyone else. We sit in a restaurant and choose the table way off to the side with miles of spaces between us and others. Everyone else is sitting in a cluster on the other side of the room, or it is completely empty except for us. Then, the next person that comes in, has to park/sit right next to us.

We may try to avoid the party train, but the party train always seems to find us.

While Derek was away to get something from the store, a van pulled in next to us and parked so close I had to go out and ask if he thought there would be enough room for us to get our vehicle in. In a huff, the driver got back into his caravan and tried to repark it. Unsuccessful, he gave up and drove off. YAY!! I know, from the way he slammed the door and snorted, that he wanted me to be both offended and to feel dutifully spanked, but I was neither. I was pretty proud of myself. Passive Aggressive 1 Point. Go Canadians!

I am not sure why Derek was not more impressed with my last minute save. His evening was definitely NOT going to be nearly as much fun as he may have originally thought. I could feel a headache coming on. Headaches are amazing teaching tools. Great for guiding and establishing appropriate behaviour in the male.

If I just stopped speaking to him, he would think I was rewarding him.

He decided to set up the awning and put everything out for me so I would be completely comfortable while he was away. He even handed me my own set of keys for the caravan which involves an 80 lb set of identical keys – some 2,302 of them. On the list we kept, of things we need to purchase for the caravan, I wrote, “a wagon or small burro to carry caravan keys for me.”

He left, and the wind began. I turned on the news and discovered there was likely to be storms with high winds. I listened to the sound of the awning twisting this way and that way, flapping hard against the metal rods and the tie downs that held it in place. I felt the caravan shake and had a whole range of thoughts that included swearing at Derek for leaving it up to wondering how much it would cost to replace the awning and if I would be to blame for having no idea how to put it down, etc. I tried to tell myself it would be fine and if it broke, it broke and Derek would not blame me for it but I failed to convince myself. When when I could no longer stand it, having imagined the wind grabbing the tarp and tossing the caravan and myself around the showgrounds, knocking down horses as we flew, I got out and looked at it. I then had to gather the courage to go and speak to a fellow caravanner and ask if someone could help me.

I decided against the one that had tried to park next to me. They were busy partying. In fact, I was pretty sure that both of them were sitting in their lawn chairs naked and I did not want to see anything flapping in the breeze.

I did speak to one of the other men. I was able to communicate in a language he understood and I told him that I was alone, and needed help to get the awning down, because of the wind. The gentleman said he knew about awnings and came over with me. As he struggled to figure out how to take it down I wondered whether it would be worse to have the wind break it, or some stranger that I had invited over. I realized he was probably 90 years old and not even as tall as I was, although, he could have stood on his walker and reached the top peg.

Eventually we got it down but I was pretty sure he had broken something in the process and I convinced him to leave the one bar until Derek got home, mainly because I considered that him reefing on it, using his whole body weight, hanging from it, trying to force it down, was probably not the best idea. I had seen Derek put the awning down and he basically waved his finger in the air and it magically folded up. My job was to hold the rope to keep it from slamming up against the caravan, which he would immediately come and take from me once he waved his finger, as I could not be trusted to gently roll the awning up. Clearly that whole process took technical training way beyond my pay grade.

I sat looking at the jacked up awning, the one pole bent at a strange angle and the rope that was dangling from where it was not supposed to be. I did hang on to it, the awning had just not rolled like it did with the whole finger waving thing. I wondered if Derek would appreciate I had saved the caravan … and some of the horses. Would he care that I could have been killed? I seriously doubted it. He would be focused on the awning. I decided I did not have much defense so I figured I would go on the offensive.

It would be the second night of headaches for Derek. His fault. He made me mad. I always get a headache when I get angry.