The Perils of the Tropical Nor-West

Dave002 nigaloo sunrise photo by Kim


I have always been a bit of a softy when it comes to crying. At an early stage of our courtship, Kim chose to give me the benefit of the doubt  (‘he must just be sensitive’) when she spotted a few glistening streaks rolling down my cheeks at the climactic crescendo of the family comedy starring Steve Martin, ‘Cheaper by the Dozen 2’.

And so, it is probably unsurprising that when Olivia and Mia came charging towards me off the tarmac and through the sliding doors into the Learmonth airport arrival lounge I had to blink away eyefuls of saltwater as I embraced them joyfully. They’re here! We are all together in Western Australia and our trip has finally begun.

Prior to leaving, I tried to contemplate every contingency that could pose a possible threat or discomfort for Kim and the girls. Whilst we are beginning our wander a long way from crocodile country, starting our trip north of the Tropic of Capricorn means that there are still plenty of infamous Australian nasties (sharks in the water, snakes on the ground) to keep in mind. Then there are the more mundane risks, like ensuring the water tanks in the van are always well supplied with potable water for drinking (and, of course, multiple daily showering). Not to mention working communications, life jackets, and sun protection. On and on it goes.

Even with many months of dedicated preparation, I will openly admit that I never imagined that the first potential hazard our family would face would be… wait for it… asphyxiation by essential oils.

Having arrived at the campsite, we got stuck into setting up ‘Chelsea’ (the girls’ name for the van, ‘Elsie’ being the name of our car). I turned my attention to arranging ground sheets, tables and camp chairs outside. Kim focused on organising the van. What a team. Coming inside after some time, I was met with the overwhelming aroma that I can only liken to someone attempting to suffocate me with a large bunch of lavender. Turns out, one of the (many) things to make it on Kim’s last minute essentials list was a fancy new aromatherapy kit, complete with a high-tech electric diffuser and a selection of essential oils that was large enough to justify us setting up a stall at the Exmouth Arts and Craft market this coming weekend.

That was ok, whatever brought the comforts of home for Kim was fine with me. But there was a little wrinkle. The entire contents of a bottle of highly concentrated extract had spilled over one of Alice’s pram accessories (that mesh netting stuff) and then the offending bit of material surreptitiously hid itself in a dark corner of the van. All three kids, exhausted from a long day’s travel, went to sleep with uncharacteristically little resistance. ‘Wow. They really were pooped.’ Kim and I commented to each other. When I went to do my routine check on them a half-hour or so later, I noticed that they were all smiling peacefully. It was then that I also noticed there was an almost visible ‘lavender haze’ still enveloping their side of the van. Kim madly started searching Dr. Google for ‘Lavender Poisoning’, I located the offending piece of material, and our first ‘crisis’ was officially averted.


The feature image for this post is of the gorgeous Ningaloo sunrise and our lavender-lunged daughters this morning. Photo by Kim. 

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