We were living an idyllic life in the remote tropics of Western Australia, in the small, unique town of Broome. We had fantastic jobs in the arts and education industries and our three children were thriving in our dream hometown. The beach is five minutes from anywhere, multicultural stimulation abounds and there is a real sense of community. In far-flung places such as this, the heat of the wet season is as extreme as the locals. They are real characters, some of the most genuine people on earth. The population grows exponentially in the tourist season because of the the town’s novelty, not to mention the magnificent beaches and surrounding wilderness. People find it hard to leave. But we did. We had no choice. Or did we?
Our children discovered the circus in Broome; they participated in weekly classes and performed around town, as well as alongside students on remote Aboriginal communities. One day someone told them about a full-time circus school in Australia, an elite level, global one of a kind facility on the other side of the country. Our kids researched and learned they could provide a video audition, so they dutifully went to the park behind our house every day during the school holidays and made a combined performance piece encompassing the required skills. We didn’t think much of it as they were keeping themselves entertained. At the end of the holidays they asked me to video their show with my iPhone. As parents we were pretty impressed with the performance, but admittedly biased. We emailed the video, explained to the kids we wouldn’t even consider moving unless all three of them got accepted, and emphasised that such an outcome was highly improbable. And that, we thought, was the end of that.
Well, you guessed it, all three children were offered a place. (Expletive!) We couldn’t say no to such passion. So, we sold everything except our sturdy 4WD, and put the kids on a plane to stay with their grandparents, because the quickest drive across the country was also the most dangerous at that time of year. We set out with our beloved dog in the midst of the oppressive wet season. We headed down the remote, off-road Tanami Track, which was closed due to flooding and has no mobile reception, to a town on the other side of Australia where none of us had ever been.
We were told no one had been seen on the Track for weeks when we stopped for fuel at an Aboriginal community. Much later, hundreds of kilometres from anywhere, we set up camp under a threatening sky. Then, nature pounced in all its fury, seemingly screaming at us for such senseless risk-taking. It was another slow several hundred kilometres through muddy tracks and deep rivers with water up to our bonnet. It was terrifying, but we made it…