Diary of the Traveling Marshalls

Australian Sabbatical 2017

The Great Barrier Reef

3. Cairns June 11-14

Quick stay in Cairns before we head north to Port Douglas. We flew here from Sydney, rented a car and have a great airbnb house with a pool!

House pics:

SUNDAY: It was cloudy, warm and a little rainy. We arrived in Cairns early, but didn’t do too much. Unpacked. Grocery shopped. Swam a little. Recovery from traveling. We are slowing​ down. As we arrive in each new place, it does seem we need to pause and catch our breath. Figure out where we are and what we want to do. The planning for each portion of the trip usually takes place on that first day. I need to see the area before making daily plans. 

MONDAY:  Today was one for the record books. It was our first trip to a Dr/ER since we’ve been here. Also had to call poison control for help. Everyone is okay and that story will come when the time is right. All that drama was over by 9:30am and the rest of the day was great. Amazing weather. We spent the morning swimming at our pool. Then we headed down the the Esplanade to play and splash. The playground was super fun and the lagoon was great.  Carins doesn’t actually have beaches, but the lagoon was perfect and the kids had so much fun. Wes and I spent a good amount of time researching and organizing our reef trip for Tuesday because that’s the reason we came to Cairns. We watched Finding Nemo to prepare for the next day’s adventure.

TUESDAY: This day will 100% be getting its own blog post. We snorkled in The Great Barrier Reef. I wish we had a ton of photos to show you how incredible it was, but we were too busy living it up to take pictures. I still have to go through Wes’ phone and Elle’s underwater camera. It was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life. There are no words to describe what we saw and how it felt to see it. The best part of the day was the 20 minutes or so that all 5 of us were out on the reef together. I didn’t think it would happen due to some serious fears, but we did it!!!! It was a bumpy boat ride to get there and I had to “rescue” Mae from a fish attack, but it was worth it…even for my kids who have seen so much and may be unimpressed by nature these days…it blew their minds. I’m so happy they all did it. It was the most exhausting day ever. Must recoup, look at photos and process. Stay tuned for a GBR special edition blog post! For now…here are a few pictures from the day:

Wednesday: Another travel day! Today we drove north an hour to our new house in Cooya Beach, which is just outside of Port Douglas. We had a few hours to kill before we could check in…so we stopped at Palm Cove, which was on the way. So glad we did. It was gorgeous. So was the ride between Cairns and Port Douglas. I, unfortunately, came down with a fever and hoped to sleep in the car, but it was too pretty to sleep. We got to our new house around 2:30pm and now it’s time for our PD adventure! 

Pics from Palm Cove:

​​ We had an eventful few days. Cairns was not my favorite city, but we also weren’t here very long.  Cairns gave us what we needed…access to the Great Barrier Reef. All this moving around is definitely catching up to me. We are staying in such beautiful houses and beautiful places and I want to enjoy them, but it’s time to slow it down a little. We will be in Port Douglas for 5 nights with not alot of big plans. Our house is a good place to reset. The kids can swim. Wes needs to do some work. I need to catch up on laundry and organization. In less than a month we will be back in the USA for our Cape Cod/CT trip. It’s going by so fast!!

“And now I must confess
I could use some rest
I can’t run at this pace very long”.  -JB


Blooper Blog

At nighttime, after the kids are in bed, I like to look through my photos from the day and decide which ones to add to Instagram. I am plopping all my favorite pics there and really using it as a photo album/scrapbook of our adventures. 

If you follow me on Insta, you see the many pics I post. I post for different reasons….pretty, memorable, important, special, etc..  For every picture I post, there are probably 25 outtakes. I decided to make a blog of my blooper photos. Just for fun. I will remember that this trip is full of hiccups and blemishes and boo boos and mistakes…and some silliness.

Presenting…My pics that didn’t make it to Instagram

Hee Hee


2. Canberra/ACT June 8-10

We arrived in Canberra, which is the Capital of Australia, on June 8th and stayed for 2 nights. A quick visit. It was cold and rained on and off. One of our travel books basically says that time spent in Canberra can be better spent elsewhere in the country.  However, I’m so glad we came. We spent 6 months living in this country and I feel a strong connection to it now. It felt great to visit the Parliament House and War Memorial. We visited the Mint to see where and how the coins are made. Weird confession: I will miss AUS currency. I think it is beautiful. Visiting Parliament fascinated me. Learned more about AUS Senate and House of Representatives and political parties and lawmaking. I could’ve spent even more time there, but the kids ran out of steam. The War Memorial is beautiful and we were honored to see the Last Post Ceremony. Between that and the Anzac Day ceremony at Coogee Beach, I have a greater appreciation of the history of Australia. I feel like we owed it to ourselves to spend some time in the ACT paying our respects and understanding this country has a history and isn’t just surfing and kangaroos. But speaking of ROOS! Canberra will go down in the history books as the city where we finally saw kangaroos in the wild. Amazing. We stayed at a great hotel. We had ajoining rooms and they made the “kids room” up with fun stuff…an Xbox, bean bags, candy, coloring books. For me, they left a bottle of bubbles for my birthday. Best of all….2 bathrooms! After 4+ months of one bathroom,, this was a luxury! The hotel lobby has candy and apples, which we have enjoyed and a delicious cafe that’s also a book store. History and Roos…a great trip! Oh, it was my birthday while we were here, but it wasn’t a big deal. We finally found a cake shop the day after to have a treat and celebrate. Next, we spend a night back in Sydney. Crashing with our friends’! Then we head north for warmth on Sunday June 11th. 

Royal Australian Mint

Parliament House

Birthday Cake


Australia War Memorial

* DBM  🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🎂🎂🎂

1. Blue Mountains June 1-8

We left Sydney on Thursday, June 1st and drove to the Blue Mountains. It obviously wasn’t as hard to pack up our Coogee house as it was when we left Denver. However, we had been there for 4 months and had a lot to do. Gratefully, we were able to leave 4 bags at our friends’ house while we took just a few bags with us for our 6 week Australian travels. I got an early birthday present this day…Wes upgraded our 5 seater economy rental car to a minivan! Seriously, this was my REAL birthday gift. 3 rows means separation and a way more pleasant road trip. I was elated. Especially because our longest drive happens to fall on my actual birthday. 

We said farewell to Coogee and drove west for about an hour and 45 minutes to Katoomba, which is a town in the Blue Mountains. Elevation is only about 3,300 ft, but we were coming from sea level, so….

We have an Airbnb for the week. The house is a renovated 19th century​ miners cottage that overlooks a mountian ash eucylptys reserve. Winter is here, so it’s cold. When we left Coogee, temps were dipping into the 60s. Here, it’s in the 50s. We haven’t been this cold since January. The air here has a chill, but thankfully, the sun has been shining so we are warm enough to go out and explore during sunlight hours. The house is great…not heated, but the space heaters keep us really toasty. I love the kitchen and the gardens are  beautiful. Nice view! There is a record player which we’ve enjoyed. Lots of time for puzzles, board games, cards, movies, and dance competitions. Here are some house photos: 

FRIDAY: Luke and I walked around the main Street, which they call a mall. We went to a few shops and picked up some groceries. Then we all went to Echo Point to see the Three Sisters (rock formation) and walk the paths to a few lookouts. We only spent about an hour here, but it was really pretty. 

Next, we went to the cutest place ever. The Gingerbread House! Great menu…coffees, teas, candy and ice cream. The gingerbread hot cocoa was my very favorite. The kids enjoyed the playground/play area. We will go back! 

SATURDAY: Scenic World! This is a touristy place to see the Blue Mountains and I was skeptical about it. Turned out to be a super fun day! There were 3 rides and plenty of beautiful walkabouts. The rides were: 

Skyway (a glass bottom cable ride between cliff tops soaring over the Jamison Valley)

Railway (steepest railway in the world down to the valley…64 degree incline!!!)

Cableway (like a giant gondola that decends 545metres into the valley)

Great fun. Great scenery. I loved the waterfall and Rainforest boardwalk the best. We all loved the steep railway. We road it down and up a few times. 

SUNDAY: Elle and I went on an adventure! We took a 2 hour train back to Sydney to attend a taping of The Voice Australia LIVE show! We had the best time ever!!!! Had a great spot up against the stage near the judges’ chairs. Our family and friends saw us on TV (you can see in the pics below.) We’ve been watching the whole season and this was the first Live show. All of the top 12 performed and then one went home. We spent the night at our lovely friends’ home and took the train back to Katoomba on Monday morning. Definitely worth the trip! 

Monday: An early birthday celebration. High Tea at the Hydro Magestic Hotel with Mae and Elle. It was the most beautiful setting and everything was delicious. Almost everything. The children’s tea did have Vegemite, butter and cheese finger sandwiches….we tried to like it. We really did. Elle said this was the fanciest place she’s ever eaten. It was Mae’s first tea, but she actually had hot chocolate with hers. Tea & scones with jam and cream is probably my favorite thing in the world. 

 TUESDAY:  Today we drove about an hour and a half to take a tour of the Janolan Caves. The ride there and back was beautiful. The backdrops looked fake. We saw a wallaby at a rest stop. He was just hanging out so we pulled over. He hopped right up the the car and posed for a few pictures. When we tried to drive away, he followed. Super cute. We’ve been hoping to see some true Aussie animals in the wild, so this was a treat. On the way back, we stopped again to take some pics of goats. They also were very agreeable to my photo shoot. The caves were amazing. We chose a difficult cave to tour because it contained 910 stair steps. It’s hard to show in photographs how cool the cave was. We also stopped at a great candy store (The Lolly Bug) on the way home. Great day! 

WEDNESDAY: Cold and rainy. Chill and pack day. 

THURSDAY: My birthday! Its very confusing because it’s not Michael Buckley’s birthday. And it is winter. I do not have  a a winter birthday. I am wearing a beanie, UGGS and drinking a gingerbread flat white?!?! Leaving Katoomba and driving to Canberra. 

Blue Mountains were gorgeous and it was a pretty and relaxing week. Very strange to be so cold in June. Looking forward to traveling back to the beach and warm temps soon. 


What’s Next?

Australia Adventure 2.0; Gypsy Living

Hard to believe we are nearing the end of our time as Sydneysiders. 4 months flew by and now we have 2 months of travel ahead of us. It’s time. We have come to a place where it’s time stop this temporary​ living.  It feels like we need to either settle in here and make a real life in Sydney or move on. We are moving on. Wes and I talk hypothetically about living here. It would be so nice. We chat about where we would want to live and what life would be like. Wes could likely get a job here if we were interested and the salaries sound amazing. But we’ve definitely learned  that Sydney is a very, very expensive city. Too expensive. Additionally, we have too many close friends and family members the USA. Travel between the countries is just too expensive. And too far. So we are definitely coming back to the USA…to Denver…to our home. We leave our house in Coogee on June 1st. We begin our journey with 2 road trips. First to the Blue Mountians and the second to Canberra, Australia’s capital city. We look forward to a nice mix of nature, relaxation and history on these 2 trips. My birthday falls on the day we drive from the Blue Mts to Canberra. Not a super fun way to celebrate. Car rides with my darlings isn’t my favorite activity, so I may be celebrating my US birthday on the next day. Besides, I can’t have a different birthdays than Michael Buckley. That would be so weird. I don’t really care about my birthday. We have bigger things going on anyway. 

After Canberra, we fly up to Cairns. We have split our time there into 2 places…Cairns and Port Douglas. So much to do up there. Great Barrier Reef and rainforests. It will be more tropical and a whole new world. That trip is about 8 days total between the 2 places. Next, we fly down to Brisbane and will drive to Byron Bay to spend about 5 days. Luke’s 10th birthday falls during this part of our trip. We are excited to check out the Byron Bay area. 

  Then, we drive up to Noosa where we will stay for 8 nights. We will explore the Sunshine Coast. There is so much to see along this part of the coast and I’m glad we are staying so long to allow for some day trips and such. 

After Noosa, we drive to Brisbane. Wes has a conference in the city, so for 5 days he will be doing that and the kids and I will explore. 

Next, we fly back to Sydney for a few nights before we head to America. 

We will go straight to New England for our usual Cape Cod/Connecticut visits with friends and family. We will need some time to adjust back to life in US/time change, etc…This trip won’t be as long as it usually is. Getting to Boston from Sydney is not easy, but we can’t skip a summer on the east coast and our house in Denver is leased through July anyway. 

FINALLY….we head back to Denver at the end of July. Wes will go ahead of us to pick up a “new” car we are purchasing. Phew. 

We are staying at a mix of hotels/apartments/Airbnbs. Mostly Airbnb houses. Having a kitchen and laundry are important.  It will save us money on eating out, and with a washing machine, we don’t have to pack as much. For a family who doesn’t even usually take vacations….this is insane. We’ve really only gone to Disneyland, Breckenridge and back east to see family. 8 weeks traveling seems crazytown. However, after moving to another country, we aren’t the same family.

It’s those changes in latitudes,
Changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane. -JB



     Similar to the beach…coffee deserves its very own blog post.  I’ve said it a million times to anyone I talk to back home…coffee in Australia is so, so, so good. And like the beach, it’s hard to put into words. You really just need to come and experience it for yourself. I’m no expert so I can’t really explain why it’s so good. I can tell you how it’s so different from USA and how much I will miss it when we go home.

Day one…I walk down the street to get a coffee. It had been a LONG day/night of traveling. Our house had some sort of contraption that required coffee pods, so I couldn’t make coffee at the home. I walked into the first cafe I came across, which was right at the bottom of our street. I didn’t even know how to order or what to order. I’ve since learned so much. I think I got a latte because it seemed simple. This cafe became very important during our first week because we didn’t have any Australian currency at first, and they allowed me to use my credit card. It’s not as common here to use a credit card to pay for something under $10 or so. I learned this throughout that money-less week. A few places would charge a fee if you wanted to charge under $10. This cafe also had a JUMBO size…more on that later. This did not end up being my favorite place to purchase a coffee. It helped me in the beginning to get my feet wet with the coffee scene in Australia. They also gave a biscuit (cookie) with your coffee which Mae Mae enjoyed. Sadly, they ended up closing last month. Good memories there. 

As time went on, I was able to try out the variety of cafes on my block and tried some different drinks. I’ll try and explain it the best I can. How can coffee be different? Isn’t it universal?

 I remember going to Einstein’s Bagels in Denver a week before we left. We were with our Sydney friends. They told me a little about the coffee in Australia, so I had an inkling of what I was in for. I remember them saying you’ll never see those big vats of  drip coffee in Australia. I also talked to the guy at Logan House Coffee in Stanley who told me that flat whites were popular in AUS. I’d never had one, but I remembered Starbucks introduced them as a new drink a while back. 

Here are my takeaways of the coffee culture in AUSTRALIA: 

*Takeaway is also a term used when ordering coffee because otherwise, you will get it in a mug. 

1. Size- Coffees here are small. So much smaller. I mentioned the JUMBO size…it was probably like a Starbucks grande. This took some getting used to since I have always been a venti drinker. Here is why…for the last 10 years, I’ve only had decaf. At home, I make a pot of decaf so I can drink 3 or 4 cups.  If I go to Starbucks, I’ll have a decaf venti americano. I love coffee so much and one little cup isn’t enough. When we were packing up our house to move, I started to make half decaf/half regular pots. When we got here, many places charged extra for decaf and I was now drinking milky espresso drinks not nearly as strong as an americano from Starbucks. So I went for it and have been drinking full caffeine this whole time. I intens to go back to either half and half or decaf when I get home.  Seriously, I’ve never seen coffee cups this small. I’ve learned to drink slowly and savor. Honestly, the thought of a venti (and Starbucks in general) is NOT appealing to me at all anymore. Here are some awkward selfies trying to demonstrate​ the size. Sidenote: I didn’t even take these photos for the blog….they are from group texts with m’ sister wives back home trying to show them the coffee sizes because it blew my mind. 

2.  The Meaning of Coffee- The term “coffee” here seems to have a different meaning all together. To me, coffee means brewed coffee beans. Drip, pour over, french press. Just plain old coffee. People drink it black or add milk. I have never seen this here. I know. That seems crazy. So if someone offers you a coffee…they do NOT mean plain black drip coffee. It’s all espresso drinks. I know “regular coffee” exists, but it can’t be very common. Definitely not at cafes anyway. Probably in people’s homes. So…coffee means espresso drinks…latte, cappacinno, flat white, etc.. I’ve included pictures of  menus from  local Coogee cafes to give you an idea of what I mean. I suppose if you want plain-ish coffee you could order an americano, which is called a long black or a short black, but it’s still espresso. I was at the airport in Sydney, and I overheard a lady trying to order a coffee. The barista asked her what kind she wanted. The lady said, “Just coffee.” The barista responded, “No…do you want a latte or a flat white?” The lady got annoyed and said, “I just want a black coffee.” Nope. Wasn’t going to happen. This is NOT Dunkin Donuts.

3. Price- Coffee typically comes in one regular size. I’d liken it to a Starbucks tall. Usually, at most cafes, no matter what you order, a regular is one price. Then you can pay a bit more (around 50¢) for a large or other things like decaf or soy or maybe a flavor, but flavors don’t seem too common. This confused the heck out of me. It was so simple yet so complicated. Check out the menus below and see for yourself. There’s obviously some variety in pricing from cafe to cafe. I’ve seen places charge less for an americano and more for a mocha. A regular is typically around $3.00-4.00 and a large would usually be an extra 50¢…give or take. Again, I am NO expert. This is my anecdotal evidence of coffee culture. Have I mentioned it’s ALL delicious?  When thinking about prices keep in mind, this is AUS currency.  $4.00 in Australia currency (AUD)  is about $2.96 In US dollars (USD.) And also the size of the cup has to be considered, too, when making the comparison. It’s very odd, still, that I bring 2 tiny gold coins to buy a coffee. I’ve probably never paid for a coffee in America with coins! Definitely not with just 2 coins anyway. 


4. Availability- IT IS SOLD EVERYWHERE! This was also shocking to me. I mean…everywhere. The movies, a dry cleaner, clothing boutiques, on the ferry, grocery stores, McDonald’s, museums. I’ve seen coffee sold in the most unusual (to me) places. Almost every kind of business appears to have an espresso machine/barista set up and ready to serve you. At sit down restaurants, you can go to the counter and order a takeaway coffee. The kiosk by the beach/bus stop….full coffee menu. It’s so amazing to me that every kind of business is in on this. I tried to count how many different places I could get a coffee between my house and the beach and I stopped counting at 12. I live a block away from the beach!! And that’s just on my direct route. 

5. My Drink- My coffee tastes have definitely changed due to geography. When I started drinking coffee way back in the 90s, my drink of choice was a Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla Light and Sweet. After kids, I switched that to a decaf. Then I moved to Storrs, CT and lived in walking distance to a Starbucks so I would get a Decaf Americano with vanilla. When I moved to Denver, Starbucks was still the place to go and I pretty much got the same drink with the occasional variation of soy milk or no vanilla. I like what I like and I don’t stray from my fav too often. I didn’t get these drinks on the daily…as I mentioned, I like to brew my own at home so Starbucks was a treat when I was meeting a friend or out and about. Not an every day habit. When I go back to the East Coast every summer, I’m so happy to visit Dunkin, but I haven’t been able to drink their hot coffee since I moved away in 2009. I’ve tried. Can’t do it. I can enjoy an iced coffee from DD with skim and 1 sugar. It has a murky color, and it’s more nostalgic than delicious. This brings me to Australia. I don’t like lattes at Starbucks because it feels like I’m drinking straight milk and they’re so expensive and mostly foam. That’s why I went for the americano. Here, the drinks are small enough that I don’t mind the milk. I get skim. And the flat white is way more coffee and less foam for my liking. So my new go-to is a skinny flat white with 1 sugar. Occasionally, in the afternoon I may go for a cappuccino instead. The flat white is truly a delight as the foam is a microfoam and really soaks up the coffee flavor so it isn’t too milky. I hope Logan House at Stanley is ready to perfect this for me. I’m serious. Someone tell them. I actually like Logan’s regular French roast brew and I look forward to brewing my own beans at home in my electric pour over.  Hoping I can even buy some Campos beans in the USA?!?!?!?

6. Babycino- Mae is working on a blog of her own where she reviews the BABYCINO scene in Australia. You won’t want to miss it! 

 In addition to the beach, coffee has been a source of simple and great pleasure to me here in Australia. No matter what is happening, I’ve been able to depend on those 2 loves to happy up each and every day. Lucky me I don’t have to look far for either. 


Bondi to Coogee Costal Walk (Best Day Ever)

     Emergency blog posting! I don’t want to forget this day, so it is getting memorialized on Instagram and its very own blog post loaded with pictures taking you along for the walk. I took a gazillion photos and tried to capture our day and the beauty and not set up too many posed pictures. Wes was snapping some as well. I would love to do the walk again with no camera and just soak it all up, but that’s unlikely to happen, so I happily clicked away as we walked. I’m so glad I did. These photos will remind us of a fun family day and that time we lived in this beautiful city.

     A little background: The Bondi to Coogee walk is kind of a big deal around here, and we are lucky enough to live in Coogee. So, we ended up seeing bits of it just wandering around our neighborhood. However, people travel far and wide to take this 6k costal walk because it’s so beautiful. We decided to walk Coogee to Bondi because we’re rebels like that. The walk technically begins at Bondi Beach (see map below) and climbs south along the coast of Sydney and ends at Coogee Beach. The walk actually does continue on the other side of our beach and is also very pretty. I walk that way often when I take a morning stroll.  We’d been to Bondi before and Clovelly and Gordons’s Bay. The rest was going to be a surprise. And it is just that. Every time you climb a staircase or turn a corner, there was a new sight to see. Luke ran ahead a few times to peek and would run back and say, “Mommy, you’re going to love this. It’s so pretty.” Along the windy walk, there are rocks, cliffs, a cemetery, public beaches, playgrounds, and ocean pools. Most of all, you are walking along the most stunning coastline and seeing the most specatular views. 

     The plan: Doing this walk has been on our Sydney bucket list. We were waiting for the right conditions. One night back in February, we ended up walking home from dinner in Clovelly along the path. We got a feel for how hilly and windy it was and sometimes narrow and crowded. That day Wes announced that there was no way we could do the whole thing with our kids. They kept bumping into people, complaining, and overall it was just pretty miserable. That day I knew we WERE going to do it. Challenge accepted. 

     May 11, 2017: Here we go! Weather forecast was just right. About 70 degrees and mostly sunny. We chose to go on a weekday hoping there would be less people. We left right after breakfast. First stop…coffee for mom. First tumble…Mae Mae fell before we even made it a block down the street. It was all good. As I mentioned, most people walk Bondi to Coogee. Since we live in Coogee, we decided to start here, walk to Bondi and take the bus home. Off we went. We decided to take a “start” and “finish” selfie, and a nice lady offered to take our “start” pic for us! 


Most places I read predicted the walk takes around 2 hours at a leisurely pace. I don’t think that factors in 3 kids. We had no idea how long we’d be gone or how many times we would stop. We just went for it. First stop. Gordon’s Bay. I’ve been here a few times on normal walks because it’s very close to Coogee, but today it looked different. I don’t remember the water being this pretty shade of turquoise. We didn’t want to hang around too long because we knew we could come back here anytime. However, it was beautiful and serene. 

1. Gordon’s Bay

Next we continued on to Clovelly, which is a public beach. The stretch between Gordon’s Bay and Clovelly was fun. We hopped off the path to climb on rocks and cliffs. We watched the waves crashing against the rocks (see video below) for a while and just soaked up the vast views in all directions. 

2. Gordon’s​ Bay ➡️ Clovelly

Then we arrived at Clovelly.  Kids beelined for the tiny playground, and we pulled out some snacks. The area on either side of the beach are nicer than the actual beach. The kids walked right past the ocean pool, which is unusual. They were just happy to see a playground. Kids are the best. Typically, I have to drag them to the playground near our house, but after all that sightseeing, they just wanted to play! 

3. Clovelly Beach 

We said goodbye to Clovelly after a short pit stop and began the walk to Waverly Cemetery.  On the other side of Clovelly Beach, there were sports fields and outside exercise equipment and lawn bowling fields. A very cute town. Some parts of the walk are actually along streets, so you can see the towns too. Then we climbed on more rocks, of course. 

4.  Clovelly ➡️ Waverly Cemetery

We arrived at the most amazing cemetery I’ve ever seen. Hard to even really show in pics. Unfortunately, this part of the coastal walk (a boardwalk that extends over water) was damaged in a storm last year, so we had to take a detour through the cemetery. Walking through​ it was fascinating. We got to check out some gravesites and have some interesting conversations. Like I said, it was hard to capture the size and beauty of this place. Google ‘Wavery Cemetery’ in Sydney and maybe you’ll be able to see it better. While you’re at it, buy yourself a plot because we should all rest in peace here together. 

5. Waverly Cemetery

Onward. Next we arrived at Bronte Beach where we stayed for a while. First, we unpacked all our snacks and had a little lunch by the beach. Wes popped up to see the town as he does. We watched surfers for a while. The waves were huge! I told the family I wanted to take a quick peek at the ocean pool, and they all came along. Good thing. We had no idea it was so nice. The kids hopped in right away. It was cold, but felt like a real pool. Then an orange rolled out of our bag and down the rocks and plooped into the water. There is a pic below of us all trying to rescue​ it. What a funny memory. Glad Wes snapped a pic. Another man was watching the whole thing. How silly we must have looked. That’s us… silly Marshalls trying to save an orange from the ocean. We succeeded, by the way. It was a lovely break at Bronte. We must have been there for at least an hour. Next up… on to Tamarama! 

6. Bronte Beach/Rock Pool (aka: The Great Orange Rescue)

After leaving Bronte… we walked over to Tamarama. This next set of pics is from the walk to Tamarama and of our stop there. We didn’t plan to stop. Tamarama is a small beach, also known as Glamarama. I read up on our walk before we left, and it was called this because it’s where all the “good looking” people hang out. My kids found this funny, and we joked about it. Clearly, that is why we had to stop here. No, actually, it was because there was another playground! Wes and I were hungry so we shared a salmon bruschetta from the beach kiosk and sat at a table near the beach while the kids had popsicles on the playground. The kids began to play an imagination game of “Animals”, which was Mae and Luke’s favorite part of the whole day. Their game continued for a bit more after we left Tamarama. Mae was a kitty. Luke was a puppy. Elle was the owner. Something cute like that. I had to include a pic of them at this playground since 2/3 of them declared it their best part of the walk. They played nicely, and it allowed Wes and I time to sit quietly for a few minutes.  Then we carried on to our final stretch!  So close. 

7. Bronte ➡️ Tamarama & Tamarama Beach

Finally, the walk from Tamarama to Bondi. Nothing too exciting to report during this time. I thought it was so, so beautiful here and, possibly, my favorite stretch of the walk. I took heaps or pics, so I’d better stop writing words and get to the photos. Besides… they speak for themselves. 

8. Tamarama ➡️ Bondi

9. Arrival to Bondi/ Bondi Beach/ Finish Line


Walk Home From Bus Stop:
THIS. This picture below is everything and may need its own blog post someday. It’s not a perfect picture. It truly epitomizes this experience. THIS is what we came for. Not the beaches or the coffee or the kangaroos. THIS. In Denver, my kids walked in 3 different directions, and if we ever did go somewhere all together, they’d be in the car fighting. But here, in Australia, they are stuck with each other and it’s been good and bad and ugly. But they’ve done it all together. The reason I’m so glad Wes snapped this photo is because it’s something we’ve done 100 times living here in Coogee. Walking up Coogee Bay Road home from _________.  And, here, after a 5 hour walk and 2 busses to get home… they’re strolling along side-by-side chatting it up (which will likely end in a blowout and someone storming ahead).  They now have THIS 6 month shared experience.  

Together, they will always have “that time we lived in Australia” (-SM). 

This is what we came for…


Motherless Day ♥️

     This has NOTHING to do with the traveling Marshalls, but it’s almost Mother’s Day and I just feel a strong desire to write a blog post about my mom. About losing my mom. I know…it’s heavy and depressing and grim and not the usual vibe of m’ blog. But indulge me. My mom’s dead…it’s the least you can do. 

     Sorry. My brother and I tend to do this. We make “dead mother” jokes. To keep it light. To show people that we are okay. We are okay. Our world was devastated, but we keep living and laughing. Isn’t that what Barbara would want? God, I miss her sense of humor and her laughter. Her jokes. Her voice. 

     I lost my mom on October 10, 1999. Changed me. Changed my world. I don’t talk about it much. I talk about my mom, but not her death or its impact. Losing her was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I was 24. She was 56. Now, at almost 42, those numbers stop me in my tracks. 24. 56. I was so young. So naive. She was so young, too. I truly thought we were both so old and had lived a long, good life together. I had no idea what it would be like to be  a motherless adult woman, a motherless wife and a motherless mom…a motherless daughter. I really didn’t have a clue. Why would I? Nobody does. Unless you’re in this stupid club…you don’t know either. No matter what your age. This unwanted “wisdom” comes with your membership card.

     Mother’s Day. For the first 5 years it was quite miserable. I didn’t​ have a mom and I wasn’t a mom. I saw the commercials and cards and felt this day was just a big fat reminder of what I didn’t have. I would stay inside all weekend because it hurt to see people out celebrating with their moms. 1999 was the last Mother’s Day with my mommy. Her cancer diagnosis came right around that time. I remember she gave ME a Mother’s Day card that year thanking me for all my help. It was not a good time. Scary. Unknown. Pain.  Even after becoming a mom, my heart just couldn’t “celebrate” Mother’s Day. I faked it for the kids and Wes. I still don’t care for the day or care too much about it. I feel loved every day; I’m good. It has become my “pity party” day and I hate that. I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. I am usually glad when it’s over. 

        I heard Whoppi Goldberg describe losing her mom once and what she said was exactly how I’d been feeling for so long, but couldn’t identify. She talked about missing her mom’s love. And that was it. Precisely. I missed being THAT loved. THAT important to someone. THAT special. Think about it…my kids are my EVERYTHING. They really are. I miss being someone’s everything. It sounds a little selfish. But it’s not…it is purely about being loved. A mother’s love is THAT powerful and it was taken away from me too soon. I still need it. I’ve always carried on feeling so blessed that I felt that love for 24 years. It gives me great solice. It is not always a guarantee. Some people have a living mother and don’t know that love. I knew it every single day of my life. How amazing is that? I’m so lucky. Grateful. That’s why it felt like we had a good, long life together. We had enough good to last me a lifetime. I still wish I had more. 

     My mom died the Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend. I wasn’t prepared. She’d been sick since May, but I didn’t actually know she was going to die until the day before. I spent that whole weekend in a fog. People were in and out of my house. I barely noticed. I had spent 5 months in the trenches of this brutal disease. Now it was over and there was nothing left to do. I had been doing so much that if felt strange. I don’t even know who was there. Such a blur. All I know is we were surrounded by loved ones and that meant a lot. We were not alone. Yet…I was the only daughter there watching my mom die. 3 of us were there that day watching our mommy die. But my mom was also a wife and sister and aunt and grandmother and friend. She was quite popular. For all the love she gave me…she, too, was so loved. My mom was actually adored. I love that about her. I was happy to share her love with others. I knew my relationship with her was special. She had no other daughters and I had no other mother. People who knew and loved my mom have a very special place in my heart. It helps me feel connected to her. 

    I did some very difficult things during the 5 months of her illness and after her death. She had taken care of me my whole life and now the roles were reversed. I lived home during this time while I was beginning my teaching career. I took Mom to chemo and radiation. I filled prescriptions and fed her through an IV.  Then came the heartache of buying a cemetery plot, planning a funeral. I can still picture myself standing in her closet picking out HER funeral clothes. I shopped for myself, too, and it was surreal to be at the mall watching people act like the world was so normal. Life was going on, but I felt like I was in a dream. A haze. I planned a funeral. Picked out a freaking casket.  I’m not listing all of  this because I was a hero. Far from it. I wish I had done some things differently and those are tough thoughts. And I wasn’t alone. We had so much support.  Those 5 months were awful because she was not well and it was so hard to see her suffer. When she died, I definitely felt relief for her. Cancer was finally gone. Stupid cancer.  

     My mom was the best of the best. I wish all of you reading this could have known her.  I smile and feel genuinely happy when I think about her. I don’t relate my mom to loss. She is a happy thought. Although, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed her in the last 17 years. Pretty much every day.  So happy she loved my Wes. She would’ve gone crazy over my 3 kids more than I can even tell you. They would be perfect in her eyes. I’m sure. She would set them straight and spoil them with so much love and Beanie Babies. I’ve had to rely on so many other people in my life to fill the void. My sweet Auntie Kathy is stuck listening to the minutia of my life and giving me so much emotional support. I don’t know what I’d do without her.  Wes has always been my strength. My dad and brothers are so very important to me…we went through it all together and we are still standing…a pretty amazing Buckley family.   

    One thing that helped me get out of my Mother’s Day funk was realizing I wasn’t alone. So I slowly started to acknowledge this dumb holiday again. I sent cards to other women in my life who have lost their moms. Sadly, over the years, this list grew and grew. The club nobody wanted to join, and I was constantly “welcoming” new members. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to send any of those cards this year. I’m thinking of you ALL. Especially if it is your first motherless Mother’s Day. You’re all in my hearts. I dedicate this blog post to my Dead Mom’s Club back in Denver…xoxoxo DMC forever!!!!!! 

     Thanks for reading. I know it’s not a pleasant subject matter. I just felt compelled to write it. So I did. This Sunday, I plan to keep it simple and do a few things I love with my crew…in Australia! 

To all who celebrate: Happy Mother’s Day. 

To all who don’t: I get it.



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