Let’s Be Pen Pals

Hello sweet friends,

Oh what a marvellous adventure I’ve just been on. This weary, full hearted traveller has returned, and I cannot wait to tell you all about my solo road trip out west.

For those who may not know, I have spent the last two weeks journeying alone out to Broken Hill. This has been a long held dream of mine for years, and unfortunately not one my beach loving family has shared. So, rather than face three long weeks of bored kids whinging at me, I decided to be step into my own destiny and go by myself.

Oh glorious freedom.

Hubby was more than happy to hold the fort at home (bless him), and so I packed for one, baked two cakes, filled the van with my camera and photography props, refused to feel guilty and with some trepidation, drove away.

It took an hour for me to exhale. Up until then I felt paralysed, pretty much wanting to cry my heart out and put the foot to the floor at the same time.  

It’s not easy leaving your kids. As mothers, we wear our hearts outside our chests in the lives of our treasures. And yet, when we are desperate for a break, and well deserving of one, we feel guilty. As I read today, cleaning the house alone is not a break, having a shower alone is not a break, doing the groceries alone is not a break. Mamas are people too and we need  time to ourselves, and we need it regularly. Sometimes we need more than an hour or two. 

Over the last few years I have felt increasingly swallowed up by motherhood, struggling to remember who I am and where my identity is found. I remember the Anna of long ago, the free spirited dreamer who longed for creative adventure. I know she is in there somewhere, she hasn’t disappeared, but I think she has been crowded out, suffocating in the daily grind of motherhood. My mission was to find her again. I even put a photo I found of myself as a carefree teenager up on the sun visor of the car, to help me draw her out.

So when I drove off into the unknown, desperate for time alone, time alone to think, to get my mind out of the washing machine, I felt the full force of the complexity of motherhood. That tormenting paradox where we will literally die for our children and love them more than life itself, and yet at the same time we can feel our minds slipping into insanity if we have to pick up one more sock off the floor or tell one more pair of bickering siblings to quit it. 

It took me an hour to calm down. Eventually, I was able to breathe. An introvert by nature, solitude is something I am very comfortable with, so the idea of not talking to anyone for two weeks was quite appealing.  Within two hours, I had Kate Bush blaring far louder than my children will tolerate in the car, and I could not wipe the silly grin off my face!

I made a rule for myself no mum guilt allowed. Although I had never been apart from my children this long before, most of them are teenagers and can all cope quite well with their dad for two weeks. Do I sound like I am trying to convince myself it’s ok to drive away alone for a holiday?! Ugh.

Ok. Mama bear musings aside, let’s talk about cake. I baked two layer cakes to take on my road trip. The idea of course was to buy or collect flowers along the way and find quirky places to stop and photograph them. Let’s just call this my second Cake Vigilante road trip. 

The further I drove from home, the lighter my heart became and the more I was able to observe the world around me. I love driving, finding it the perfect time and place to bring out those thoughts that have become lost in a busy house full of people.

I am all about the journey as much as the destination, happily pulling over, or even doing a u-turn to investigate something that has caught my eye. The more I did this, stopping to set up my camera in front of rain soaked grass or a row of unusual mailboxes, I felt the layers of my responsibilities as the middle aged mama peel back, one at a time, drawing out the younger, vibrant creative heart within.

I gave myself three days to get out to Broken Hill, purposely stopping in towns where my mother had been born and grown up along the way. She is a child of the west, born in Warren, the daughter of a shearer, granddaughter of a shearer’s cook. She spent her whole life in rural Australia, living there still. This was a journey of retracing my heritage, my country roots, as much as it was a bout cake and solitude.

Bruce Hornsby eventually replaced Kate Bush as my travelling companion, followed by Neil Diamond and his soothing ballads. My journal became my solace and confidante. Lingering anonymously over my flat white, tucked away in the corner of a cafe, free to observe and glean from the lives of country folk became my delight. The deeper I went into the west, the dustier my trusty boots became, the more I was captivated by everything around me.

It wasn’t long before I was quoting Dorothea MacKellar, sharing her conviction, knowing without a doubt, with her beauty and her terror, the wide brown land is definitely for me.

Stay with me next week as I journey deeper into the heartland.

Love Anna xx

9 comments

  • Wow. Your writing makes me want to jump in the car and explore the country! It looks amazing! Your photographs come with so much emotion! I love it! Xo

  • Beautiful ????
    I don’t know what it is but returning to the creative you is a journey I’m seeing everywhere.

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Hi Meg, thank you so much for your lovely comment. xx

  • PLEASE write and publish your adventure in a novel. LOVE everything about this babe ❤️

    • The photos- colours, light etc are stunning. I loved your last paragraph quoting Dorothea MacKellar. Can’t wait to catch up xxx

      • A
        Anna Hogbin

        Thanks dear Kathie!! I am so happy you loved it. xx

  • Wow! ????

  • Emily Ruigrok

    I LOVE, love, love this so much ???? Thankyou for sharing a glimpse of your journey… I got lost in it for a little moment in amongst my own mummy-chaos, and it blessed my day ☺️. So so glad you could get away & rediscover the creative, free, country girl you still are xx There is something incredibly special about the West ????????

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thank you sooo much for your lovely comment Emily! I really appreciate it. I’m so happy you loved my adventures. xxx

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