Why Scuba Diving is the Best Family Sport for a Round the World Adventure

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Why Scuba Diving is the best family sport for a round the world adventure.

 By Anne Helmers

 

I’ve been a scuba diver since I was 18. I love the water. As soon as I saw a SCUBA course listed on my college course list I registered and I was hooked.  Then I married a Kentucky boy and moved to a land-locked state.  We had kids and the opportunities to dive came less and less. As the kids started to get older we snorkeled everywhere we could go and I always knew I would eventually get them all to dive.

When our Round the World adventure actually became a reality and we started to make plans, one of the first actions we took was to get everyone certified to dive. My son was 10 and my daughter was 14. They could both do PADI Junior Open Water Diver certification, and my husband would do Open Water.  I would do a re-certification since it had been a while since I had been diving. Spending a few weeks in the pool of our instructor, a local rescue diver, got us really excited. The kids were naturals and even though completing open water certification in a cold gloomy quarry wasn’t particularly fun, it got us thinking about the possibilities in our near future. The giant map that hung in the living room began to be filled with bucket list sites and it had a few places that looked promising for eager divers. Diving was becoming part of the plan.

It was several months into the trip before we put our diving skills to the test.  First, we drove across the USA stopping to raft the Colorado River for a week.  We sold our car in LA, flew to Guatemala and spent a month learning Spanish.  There we enjoyed meeting the people and taking in the sites. We then went to Peru where we spent a few weeks in the Amazon Rainforest and climbed Machu Picchu. These were unbelievable experiences.

We arrived in Fiji in October of 2012. It was everything you imagine Fiji would be. We took a small plane to the Yasawa’s – a chain of islands – to a dive resort called Blue Lagoon. We would have plenty of opportunity to dive here.  You can snorkel right off the beach onto the most amazing soft coral I have ever seen. Octopus, sea snakes, clown fish and giant clams are everywhere. I would just stare at one spot and it looked like the most beautiful fish tank I had ever seen,  There were more small tropical fish than I could name. The colors were unbelievable.  I couldn’t imagine that the diving would be any better. It was. The kids loved it. Having a dive guide is great with kids because it is hard to relax and enjoy the dive when you are worried about your children. The guide took the kids and David and I buddied up. We followed behind so we could watch them in front but still take in all that is around.  This strategy worked.

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Using a dive guide provides the parents the comfort of an extra pair of eyes on the kids

We had three weeks in New Zealand before we got to the diving mecca of Australia. Our first dive down under was at Lady Elliot Island and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Giant sea turtles came so close you could touch them, manta rays circled and huge beautiful fish and coral filled the water. Again, a dive master led the kids and we were able to watch the kids ahead of us.

Our next dives were from Mission Beach. A rainy day dive was fascinating.  We loved seeing the rain drops on the surface of the ocean from underneath the water. Sharks, rays, and fish galore, The Great Barrier Reef does not disappoint.

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Diving is a great way to learn about nature

With several dives under our belt, we took the plunge and decided to do a live- aboard dive trip from Cairns. This promised to take us to a new level of dive experience but diving was a big reason why we had come to Australia. We weren’t sure the kids would keep up with the demands of 11 dives in 3 days. We weren’t sure we could. It would include two night dives and most of the trip would require self-navigation.  It was a lot to take in and we were moving a bit outside our comfort zone. The boat, run by Pro-Dive, was excellent, with a large well-trained crew and an excellent itinerary. We were thoroughly briefed before each dive and our equipment was always ready to go. The kids loved it.

The first self-navigated dive gave David and I an opportunity to work on communication skills and involved some new hand signals not taught in the PADI dive manual.  (Picture an underwater marital disagreement, lots of directional finger pointing and eventually the middle finger). This first trip took a little more time to get started as the kids were arguing about going too deep, staying together, touching each other etc. In other words it was a normal family experience. And we shared some growing pains.

Once we worked out a system we became like a well-oiled machine. We became quite adept at self-guiding our way around the Great Barrier Reef – even at night!  We each took a role, we communicated effectively under water and had many amazing dives. It became something our family was really good at and brought us closer. We had some crazy close encounters with morays eels, sharks, and bumphead parrot fish.  It was everything I had ever dreamed of and more.

We went on to dive in Bali, Indonesia.  Diving is a little bit different in every place you go.  In Bali, the local women carry your tanks down to the shore on their heads. There is an amazing wreck dive (the USAT Liberty) off Amed that was shallow enough for the kids to experience.  At the site everything we saw seemed to appear in techni-color and marine life was abundant.  Similarly, In Thailand, off of Kao Lak where the mantas play, there was a moment when I was looking up towards the surface with the sunlight penetrating to the coral that I could see my family diving around me.  I believe I was as happy right then as I have ever been.  Like the transcendent place that can be reached through meditation and is described as “bliss” or “at peace” – I found it then and there.

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Bump headed parrot fish – one of the unusual critters found on the Great Barrier Reef

Because the kids are Jr. Open Water Divers they were limited to a depth of 12 meters or 40 feet.  As we were all diving together, David and I generally followed the same restrictions.  That was okay.  Shallower dives prevented us from having to really worry about decompression problems.  Some of the best diving in the world is in less than 12 meters of water.  For beginners shallower diving keeps you safe and is a good way to make sure everyone really knows what they are doing.  At this point, I’d say my kids are good divers.  After 25 dives they are pretty comfortable in open water and have developed the skill and passion to become excellent life-long divers.

If you are a family contemplating long-term travel go get certified. It will add a dimension to your travels that you will find deeply rewarding.  There are amazing dive locations all over the world and you will be thankful if you enable yourself to experience them by completing dive certification.

 

* Editors Note: Diving is an incredible adventure. As this family saw – every dive site is unique and even multiple dives at the same site can be unique. There is a lot of controversy about touching of marine corals and marine wildlife. Many don’t see a problem as long as it isn’t causing damage or hurting the animal. For me though thats a little too open to interpretation and so I like to encourage a hands off attitude to diving. Hang back, observe and see if the animal you are watching sticks around for that little bit longer.

Great story guys. Thanks for contributing. I hope that you have many happy dives together in the future. At 3 my son is obviously way too small to go diving, but I’m excited about this possibility in the years to come.  He has already earmarked the animals he wants to see underwater one day! Have you dived anywhere with your family? Where have you found to be the best family diving spots? Let me know in the comments below – I’ll be making a list … 🙂

 

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For The Love Of The Ocean

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For the love of the ocean

By Auds at Our Journey To The Sea

The thing about loving the ocean is that you constantly feel the need to explore. Whether it is deeper and wider in the areas you already know, or travelling across the world to see what there is on offer. It is a constant need. There might be better surf there, better fish there, or just a whole new experience.

Ryan has travelled far and wide for a wave. Through Africa, Portugal, France, Indonesia, Australia and Samoa only to name a few. Together, we have explored a range of oceans diving, freediving and spearfishing. It is never enough. We always want more.

It’s extremely lucky that the universe brought us together. Just prior to meeting Ryan I was already planning on giving up my day job and finding a crewing job on a yacht, somewhere in the world. Fate brought us together. Our love for the ocean pushed us closer. We soon realised that we were both aching to explore the world by boat.

And so our planning was set forth. Buy a boat in Europe, sail it back to Australia.

At the moment we are still working towards our goal. Given our age, we have to ensure we are still set up for the future before going on this wonderfully exciting adventure.

Imagine the oceans we will see, the fish we will spear and the waves we will surf. It is simply the best goal we could ever have set for ourselves. We are determined to get there, even though it might not occur as soon as we would hope (like now!).

In the meantime, we are still exploring the wonderful oceans as often as we can. Here is a quick look at some of the beautiful experiences we have already had so far:

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Top 10 2013 – #1 Went to the Beach

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Top 10 Instagrams of 2013: #1 Went To The Beach

By Rowena Mynott

As 2013 starts to wind down its a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed and the year that is to come. I have obviously been in a reflective mood recently as last month I decided to start a monthly ‘Taking Stock‘ routine: pausing life for a few moments to realise what you are happy and thankful for right in that very moment. Right now as I sit here and look through my images from 2013, I embrace the good and the sad, the ups and the downs and the growth that has taken place. This year has focused on family: Visits and holidays with family from overseas early in the year, my grans passing mid year and these days realising my son is no longer a toddler but is growing into the most incredible child I could ask for.

72&Rising is also growing and developing. I left the magazine format behind and embraced the world of blogging. Thank you to all those that embraced that change with me. It was a difficult decision to make as I loved the old product, but for me right now this is where we need to be. Who knows what the future holds but in 2014 you can certainly expect some exciting things happening here as this process of writing, taking pictures and posting on a regular basis becomes more fluid. I’m re-defining 72 and I look forward to hearing from you about what you would like me to focus on a little more.  There will be plenty of the old: travel and photography but also some new … Let me know.

So as a way to reflect on 2013 I decided to give you a little glimpse into my life and share some of our Top 10 family highlights as seen from my Instagram.  If you would like to follow along, I will be posting one each morning for the next 10 days. Today is Went To The Beach.

Went to the Beach

You cannot go wrong with a trip to the beach. It’s impossible. No matter what the weather: sunshine or rain it’s a wonderful connecting experience. We go to the beach if we are having one of ‘those’ days, the wide open spaces, the soft sand between our toes, the crashing of the waves all bring us back to the now, the important and allow us to share a fun moment together. The beach is also a great place to investigate. To investigate nature: shells, passing wildlife such as whales and eagles, things washed up on beach be it exhausted shearwaters, bluebottles or ocean eroded wood and we investigate rock pools . We go to create. Create with bits of nature that we find along the beach, we build sandcastles, we draw in the sand. We exercise: running around, playing with a ball or walking the dog. We learn, not just about everything we are seeing but new skills such as how to rock skip and soon – how to surf! Most importantly we spend time together, free from emails, phones and computers, just alone in nature.

What do you like to do at the beach? Let me know below.

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A late afternoon trip to the beach
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A surfer checks out the waves
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A windy day does nothing to deter kite surfers and dog walkers
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Mr 3 ready for the beach
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Mr 3 creating a piece of artwork on the beach
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Setting sun on Port Philip Island
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Blue skies, soft sand and puffy clouds on the horizon that promise rain
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Winter does not stop us getting to the beach
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The shear joy on his face makes my heart sing
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Adventure and beyond. A fallen tree becomes a new plaything
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You can’t go to the beach without building a few sandcastles

Top 10 of 2013 – #2 Hung out with friends … and each other

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Top 10 Instagrams of 2013: #2 Hung Out With Friends … And Each Other

By Rowena Mynott

As 2013 starts to wind down its a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed and the year that is to come. I have obviously been in a reflective mood recently as last month I decided to start a monthly ‘Taking Stock‘ routine: pausing life for a few moments to realise what you are happy and thankful for right in that very moment. Right now as I sit here and look through my images from 2013, I embrace the good and the sad, the ups and the downs and the growth that has taken place. This year has focused on family: Visits and holidays with family from overseas early in the year, my grans passing mid year and these days realising my son is no longer a toddler but is growing into the most incredible child I could ask for.

72&Rising is also growing and developing. I left the magazine format behind and embraced the world of blogging. Thank you to all those that embraced that change with me. It was a difficult decision to make as I loved the old product, but for me right now this is where we need to be. Who knows what the future holds but in 2014 you can certainly expect some exciting things happening here as this process of writing, taking pictures and posting on a regular basis becomes more fluid. I’m re-defining 72 and I look forward to hearing from you about what you would like me to focus on a little more.  There will be plenty of the old: travel and photography but also some new … Let me know.

So as a way to reflect on 2013 I decided to give you a little glimpse into my life and share some of our Top 10 family highlights as seen from my Instagram.  If you would like to follow along, I will be posting one each morning for the next 10 days. Today is Hung out with friends … and each other.

Hung Out With Friends … And Each Other

Life is nothing without friends and family. Being surrounded by those that you love brings laughter, love and support to your life.WWe make sure that we hang out with our friends and each other often, at the beach, in the garden, at the airport – the location isn’t important. These moments are what create the stories that we share years down the track, they create the laughter and the shared bonds.

You know it does not matter where in the world you live, as long as you are surrounded by family and friends you loveand are loved by, then you are at home.

How do you spend your time with family and friends? Let me me know in the comments below.

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Nothing better than spending time with friends
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A boys best friend. These two are never far apart from each other
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After a bit of gardening you can’t go past a cuddle in the rocking chair admiring the view
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Lifelong friends playing in the ocean waves
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Friends with a shared passion: planes!
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Dancing in the rain with another blond beauty
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Happiness is a child in the rain
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The boys spending time together
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Me and my cheeky little sidekick

Top 10 of 2013 – #5 Learned About Animals

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Top 10 Instagrams of 2013: #5 Learned About Animals

By Rowena Mynott

As 2013 starts to wind down its a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed and the year that is to come. I have obviously been in a reflective mood recently as last month I decided to start a monthly ‘Taking Stock‘ routine: pausing life for a few moments to realise what you are happy and thankful for right in that very moment. Right now as I sit here and look through my images from 2013, I embrace the good and the sad, the ups and the downs and the growth that has taken place. This year has focused on family: Visits and holidays with family from overseas early in the year, my grans passing mid year and these days realising my son is no longer a toddler but is growing into the most incredible child I could ask for.

72&Rising is also growing and developing. I left the magazine format behind and embraced the world of blogging. Thank you to all those that embraced that change with me. It was a difficult decision to make as I loved the old product, but for me right now this is where we need to be. Who knows what the future holds but in 2014 you can certainly expect some exciting things happening here as this process of writing, taking pictures and posting on a regular basis becomes more fluid. I’m re-defining 72 and I look forward to hearing from you about what you would like me to focus on a little more.  There will be plenty of the old: travel and photography but also some new … Let me know.

So as a way to reflect on 2013 I decided to give you a little glimpse into my life and share some of our Top 10 family highlights as seen from my Instagram.  If you would like to follow along, I will be posting one each morning for the next 10 days. Today is Learned About Animals.

Learned About Animals

I have always loved animals from a young age.  I grew up in the country and was surrounded by both domestic animals, cattle and wildlife. We would often pop down to the farm which we lived next to and play with the calves letting them suckle our fingers. I have memories of being woken up in the middle of the night so we could watch another farmers sheep give birth to tiny lambs in the barn opposite. My brother and I were always bringing home an assortment of kittens that “needed” homes, injured birds or frogspawn from the local moat. Between us we had an impressive collection over the years of dogs, cats, rabbits, fish, a tortoise, hamsters, rats and stick insects.

From very early on I have taught my son to engage with wildlife. To sit quietly on our deck and watch the lizards scurry around, to watch and listen to birds in the trees. Understanding the value of each creature no matter how big or small makes you appreciate nature as a whole and gives a new understanding of your place in the world. Mr 3 knows to respect wildlife but not to fear it.  He knows not to touch snakes that visit our yard but also that he doesn’t need to put a shovel in them either. We pick caterpillars from our vegetable patch and keep them in a jar, feed them and watch them turn into butterflies rather than kill them. When we visit national parks, we explore animal tracks and cicada shells, leaf shapes and bird sounds. This year we have learned about the cycle of life from the birth of tadpoles, to the death of birds on a shorelines.

As I write this post I listen to the sad news of Nelson Mandelas passing. He has been an incredible inspiration to so many of us.  Over the years I have had his quotes posted on my wall or in the old days of Facebook posted in my ‘quotes’ section, but I’d like to share this quote with you. It is a sentiment that I have used time again especially during my marine education programs. It is the key concept to reducing impacts on our marine environment such as overfishing, shark nets, pollution. R.I.P Nelson Mandela and thank you for your light, your inspiration and your vision.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world

– Nelson Mandela

 

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We found a cicada shell on one of our nature rambles
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Learning about silk worms at play school
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Our ‘pet’ carpet python sunning himself on the roof after a few days of rain
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Saying ‘Hi’ to some friendly goats
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We found this beautiful specimen whilst we were out walking one day
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Mr 3 always likes to pop over to visit this lonely fellow
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Spotted hiding amongst the grass in the playground
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We hatched our very own tadpoles this season and watched them grow into stunning little frogs
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They grew up big and strong
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And moved on to find a home of their own
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We also sadly learned about death after hundreds of shearwaters died from exhaustion on our local beaches
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This lovely lady who nested by our house abandoned her two chicks after a particularly large storm. Unfortunately they didn’t survive.
Did you have pets as kids? Do your children? Do you feel that it has had a positive impact on their interactions with nature?

Top 10 of 2013 – #6 Travel

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Top 10 Instagrams of 2013: #6 Travel

By Rowena Mynott

As 2013 starts to wind down its a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed and the year that is to come. I have obviously been in a reflective mood recently as last month I decided to start a monthly ‘Taking Stock‘ routine: pausing life for a few moments to realise what you are happy and thankful for right in that very moment. Right now as I sit here and look through my images from 2013, I embrace the good and the sad, the ups and the downs and the growth that has taken place. This year has focused on family: Visits and holidays with family from overseas early in the year, my grans passing mid year and these days realising my son is no longer a toddler but is growing into the most incredible child I could ask for.

72&Rising is also growing and developing. I left the magazine format behind and embraced the world of blogging. Thank you to all those that embraced that change with me. It was a difficult decision to make as I loved the old product, but for me right now this is where we need to be. Who knows what the future holds but in 2014 you can certainly expect some exciting things happening here as this process of writing, taking pictures and posting on a regular basis becomes more fluid. I’m re-defining 72 and I look forward to hearing from you about what you would like me to focus on a little more.  There will be plenty of the old: travel and photography but also some new … Let me know.

So as a way to reflect on 2013 I decided to give you a little glimpse into my life and share some of our Top 10 family highlights as seen from my Instagram.  If you would like to follow along, I will be posting one each morning for the next 10 days. Today is Travel.

Travel

As I mentioned, I haven’t travelled far and wide this year as it’s been a year for spending time with family. Travel is in my blood and I desperately miss it when I am bound to one place for too long without the ability to explore. Whilst we haven’t been overseas, we have enjoyed a couple of domestic trips. Ethan loves travel almost as much as I do and he too has learnt that it’s not just about the destination. He loves to sit and people (and plane) watch with me at the airports, find joy in living out of a suitcase and meet lots of new people along the way.

Melbourne is a city that we visit every year. It is my favourite city in Australia, full of life with countless restaurants of all nationalities, art, music and sporting events. The highlight of our last trip down had to be the Botanical Gardens. A very beautiful but long walk out from the CBD (I’d recommend catching the tram especially with a 2 year old in tow!). From the moment you walk through the gates you lose yourself in the beauty of the grounds forgetting that just outside the garden gates are the hustle and bustle of city life. The children’s garden is an absolute joy and it’s what inspired me to create our own kids garden at home. Full of trickling streams that beg to be followed through overhanging trees, giant animals covered in bright mosaics, cubbies, pint sized bridges, mazes and ponds where you can feed the ducks.

Philip Island was another treasure. I had travelled here on a day trip many years ago and so it was exciting to be spending a week exploring here. We took Ethan to watch the penguin parade, a nightly event where thousands of little penguins return to their burrows having spent the day out at sea feeding. They linger out to sea just past the breakers whilst they check out the crowd before making a swim for the beach. They run up the beaches chattering and squawking to each other and their chicks in the burrows. There is a lot to cover on Philip Island and we barely scratched the surface. Aside from the penguins, we went to the motor races, explored the headland and of course couldn’t go home without visiting the islands chocolate factory.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

– St. Augustine

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With plane in one hand and hand luggage in the other, Mr 3 heads to the airport
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Up, up, up and away
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Two generations ponder life on Port Philip Island
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It would have been rude to go past the chocolate factory on Port Philip Island without paying a visit.
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Watching hot air balloons as the sun rises over the city of Melbourne
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Finding what lurks amongst the trees at Melbourne Zoo
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Collecting extra luggage
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The plane always comes to the airport with us
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Exploring botanical gardens in the city with grandma
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Wrapped up warm against the chilly weather in Melbourne
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Loving riding the tram

Where did you travel to this year? Did you travel overseas or prefer to stick to your homeland?

Top10 of 2013 – #7 Shows

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Top 10 Instagrams of 2013: #7 Shows

By Rowena Mynott

As 2013 starts to wind down its a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed and the year that is to come. I have obviously been in a reflective mood recently as last month I decided to start a monthly ‘Taking Stock‘ routine: pausing life for a few moments to realise what you are happy and thankful for right in that very moment. Right now as I sit here and look through my images from 2013, I embrace the good and the sad, the ups and the downs and the growth that has taken place. This year has focused on family: Visits and holidays with family from overseas early in the year, my grans passing mid year and these days realising my son is no longer a toddler but is growing into the most incredible child I could ask for.

72&Rising is also growing and developing. I left the magazine format behind and embraced the world of blogging. Thank you to all those that embraced that change with me. It was a difficult decision to make as I loved the old product, but for me right now this is where we need to be. Who knows what the future holds but in 2014 you can certainly expect some exciting things happening here as this process of writing, taking pictures and posting on a regular basis becomes more fluid. I’m re-defining 72 and I look forward to hearing from you about what you would like me to focus on a little more.  There will be plenty of the old: travel and photography but also some new … Let me know.

So as a way to reflect on 2013 I decided to give you a little glimpse into my life and share some of our Top 10 family highlights as seen from my Instagram.  If you would like to follow along, I will be posting one each morning for the next 10 days. Today is Shows.

Shows

One way to get out and about in your local area is to check out some local shows. Its been a busy year for shows here, from the traditional country shows that take place every year to some new and interesting shows such as the Prawn Festival. These gems are some of what make living a rural coastal life interesting!

Our local country shows are great. Very traditional with WI tea and scones, cattle judging competitions and show jumping, craft stalls, food stalls and fairground rides.

It was our first time at the Living Earth festival this year – a fantastic little (but incredibly popular) festival based around sustainability and held in local community gardens. Tasty locally produced food, organic plants for sale, impressive costumes and educational talks.

The Prawn Festival was a new one on the list this year, not just for us but the first time it had been held. Despite a huge storm hitting towards the end of the day, the crowds descended on the shoreline to see the usual animal presentations, craft and food stalls but also some unique events such as prawn shelling competitions and prawn tossing competitions.

Given that we love the ocean as much as we do (and we have secret plans to buy a boat one day), it is tradition in our house to visit our local boat show every year and salivate over all the sailboats. It’s a fun family day out, especially when you encounter some unexpected moments like batman flying through the air on a jetpack, but we always try and head there early as the crowds are pretty intense by the time lunchtime roles around. This year my husband and son discovered another boat show – similar set up but with less crowds so they were happy.

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A beautiful contestant in the Bangalow show
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Live music at the Mullumbimby Living Earth Festival
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Prawn tossing competition in the inaugural Ballina Prawn Festival
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Mr 3 tests out a yacht at the Gold Coast Marine Expo
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Local produce at the Bangalow Show
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Flying man at the Gold Coast Boat Show
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Batman flies in for a visit at the Gold Coast Boat Show

Do you and your family visit any shows throughout the year? Which are your favourite?