It only took mere minutes with our car to realise that it's allotted life span was drawing to a close. You see it had now taken to projecting the most horrendous rattling sound whilst driving at any speed under 10km/ph. Whilst I was all for the theory of just driving faster we thought it best to get it looked at. Turns out that the compressor bearings had worn. Best case scenario you keep driving and the air conditioning will never work, worst case scenario the whole engine pretty much drops out.
But what's life without a bit of risk? None of us wanted to sink any more of our limited cash into our already vastly depleted in value car. To add insult to injury at thus point it had become clear that the roads were altogether too flooded and dangerous to attempt our trip to Cairns. A huge blow as this was a part of Australia that I was particularly looking forward to but after already flirting with natural disasters once we didn't want to push our luck, so we scheduled to fly back out of Sydney.
We decided that we would set off that night late (so if the engine dropped out we would only kill ourselves on the empty roads), destination Tamworth. It worked out well for us to drive to Sydney via Tamworth - not only because the roads on the east coast were still dodgy from the floods but because Tamworth was in the midst of the hugely popular country music festival.
I was very much looking forward to seeing all the family again and feeling slightly more cheerful, we once again set out from Southport (this time for the last time). It was unfortunate that we couldn't say goodbye to Sonnia and Shaun but they were in Brisbane doing what they could to help out the flood victims. The car did us proud and held up all night (except for a minor tantrum up a steep hill), tucking mile after mile under it's belt. We pulled up outside McDonalds to give it (and us) a much needed rest.
After a restless nights sleep in the boot of the car I was glad we only had a short drive to Tamworth. Stuart, Lynda, Julia and of course Millie seemed to take 4 Englishmen invading their weekend at short notice in their stride. The laughter and enjoyable atmosphere fell into place as easily as it did during my first visit and I hope they had as much fun as we did spending the day in the sun for a change (for us anyway). As the afternoon wore on (and the beer supplies wore down), "the boys" were in good shape to explore the town. There promised to be a good atmosphere about due to the festival and although the band we intended to see were flooded out in Brisbane we had good fun watching there replacement. I am absolutely certain that Lynda and Julia would have been suitably embarrassed of our singing and dancing.
We returned home where I instituted my family rights to claim the big queen sized bed (blood is thicker than water right?) feeling rather merry and soon crashed out. Naturally, we had plenty of stories to laugh at throughout the next day and the sun was shining yet again. In fact after a number of visits in the pool, some good food and some sun on our bones we managed to squeeze a few more beers in that night too as we looked over some Brandon family photographs - some of which brought tears of laughter to my eyes!
It took real will power to not try to sneak Millie in the boot as we said our goodbyes. Stuart and Lynda's hospitality was above and beyond the port of call to put us all up and give us some great memories to take forth on our trip. We headed out of Tamworth to Gunnedah, to call in for a cup of tea with Aunty Helen and Uncle Barry. It was so wonderful to see them both again and in such good form. We enjoyed looking through some of Barry's photos from his time in the bush and possibly eating Aunty Helen's fruit cake even more so. All too soon it was time to get back on the road again. I am already looking forward to my next trip to Gunnedah!