I got lost driving home today. To be fair, this was the first time I’ve ever driven a car there myself, I haven’t lived there for eighteen years and there’s a whole new road in-between. Still, it was a little embarrassing seeing as this was the same route my high school bus followed every day for five years.

I got confused by the new Tanby To Kinka Beach Road and ended up at Emu Park again. Not to worry, because I knew how to get from the to my Mum’s place. Unfortunately, as the driver I couldn’t study the countryside in as much detail as I would like, observing changes where they have happened (not as much as expected).

No more pineapple farms along Tanby Road were one change, as were the extra housing developments. But the closer I got to Mum’s the fewer the changes.

My Mum lives in a locality rather than a town. They’ve got signs up telling you the locality name now, that’s new.

Once you get off the main road it’s usually gravel around here. I was a little nervous driving on the bumpy, hilly road where approaching vehicles are best spotted by the plume of dust behind them. Even more apprehensive about driving up the rough dirt track up the steep hill to Mum’s house. But I did it, recalling that I once reversed down the same road in my tweens.

Mum’s house had both changed a lot and very little. The front garden was tropically pretty, but the trees had grown so tall that the magnificent view West to the Berserker Ranges was now mostly blocked. Where once I had stood at the corner, gazing towards distant hills and fantasising of an escape south now all I could see were leaves and branches.

Not that I could stay out long to contemplate the scene: The mosquitoes were ferocious. Inside were many of the ornamental knick knacks accumulated with age along with memories of childhood. A collection of Ladybird books from before their modern ironic revival, Matchbox die-cast cars, trains and planes, old Lego, a Transformers watch.

Once precious gift was my Mum’s journal of our caravan journey up from Melbourne to Rockhampton, including a photo of my first kayak ride, something we forgot to photograph with Alex yesterday! I’ll have to revise my post about that trip.

I was so nice to share my family history with Alex. He has been asking to see photographs of the grandfather he never met and of my childhood. Now he had a small chance to experience it.

My sister and her brood arrived, so we held the long awaited Easter egg hunt. Then it was down to the nearest town, Keppel Sands, for the Crabtastic festival.

I have a special fondness for Keppel Sands. Sometimes I dream of the drive there, though there is usually a train line there, something that only ever existed in my imagination. I think it’s because Keppel Sands is a “nothing” town. It’s got a hotel/motel pub, where the festival was being held, a general store, cafe, caravan park and a school. That’s a little more than when I lived nearby, but the thing about Keppel Sands is that it’s the end of the line.

You can’t pass through Keppel Sands to reach somewhere else, unless it is by boat. Wedged in by two creeks and the ocean there is only a single road in and out.

For some reason I find that attractive. But for most people there is no reason to visit Keppel Sands, hence the necessity of events like Crabtastic to give people a reason.

In years past Crabtastic was a large festival with stalls lining the foreshore road with many smaller activities to supplement the main attraction: the mudcrab tying competition. Today the festivities were restricted to the grounds of the pub, which was doing a roaring trade.

There was bidding on the crab races and fastest at tying the crabs with string. The adjacent paddock hosted a free jumping castle and kids throwing footies. There was also facepainting for the kids under the shelter and the local crocodile farm grilled crocodile ribs for snacks. The farm is down to road from Mum’s, but we had missed the tour times for the day. The ribs were pretty tough and I really didn’t like the soy marinade, but at least Alex got to try them.

He seemed to be having fun with his cousins, bouncing around in the castle and playing dodgeball in the field. It was pretty late by the time we drove back to Mum’s and said farewell to the others, who had expanded to include my sister’s future parents in law.

Then it was our turn to farewell the house. I don’t know if we will have the chance to return before Mum moves out, but it was nice that Alex had a chance to experience it.

We took her out to dinner at the Pine Beach hotel at Emu Park, overlooking where we ate fish and chips yesterday. We were fortunate not to arrive later as they were soon fully booked. My Chicken Oscar was delicious and the others were more than satisfied.

We said goodbye to Mum under clear dark skies, the Milky Way so much more visible than in Sydney. Then a drive back to Yeppoon along the coast, past the inky black ocean and brightly lit service stations until we reached a Yeppoon active with Saturday night celebrations.

Alex is sad to be leaving. He has enjoyed spending time with his Nanna and cousins. B and I have also had a great time. Though we have travelled to some distant places around the world as a family, sometimes these closer domestic trips can be as much fun in a different, more relaxing way.

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