A teacher and a writer have packed their bags – and their two children – and taken an adventurous roadtrip around sunny Australia for a year, to broaden their horizons
A WEST Cork family have taken a year off and headed down under for an adventure of a lifetime.
While some of us may only dream of taking a ‘gap year,’ the Graigner family from Cloughduv did just that and are living the dream in sunny Australia.
Diarmuid Graigner, his wife Jean – a former teacher and a now well established author who is on her 16th book – and their two daughters Éadaoin (11) and Siobhán (8) are spending a year travelling around Australia in a jeep and caravan.
Speaking to The Southern Star from Queensland, Diarmuid – who teaches at Bishop Galvin Central School in Newcestown – said that they are thoroughly enjoying the adventure so far.
‘It all came about a couple of years ago when we were thinking of something adventurous to do while the girls are still in national school,’ said Diarmuid.
‘A huge amount of thought went into it but we were in the fortunate position in that Jean – who is a full-time writer – can work anywhere as long as there’s internet access every couple of days. She sells her books through Amazon and only published her first book in 2013.’
Diarmuid was granted a year’s career break by his principal Dorothy O’Donovan, and he is teaching his two daughters while on the road.
Needless to say, Éadaoin and Siobhán embraced the idea of a year travelling in Australia wholeheartedly.
‘They couldn’t believe it when we told them we were going to Australia. They have four first cousins here as Jean has two sisters in New South Wales and one of her sisters, Barbara, along with her family, are with us on the road for the first couple of months.’
The family had toyed with writing a blog about their travels, but decided against it as they have enough on their plates with both parents busy writing books.
‘The hardest part of organising our travels was getting a 4X4 vehicle and a caravan, as well as the registration and insurance. The Australians, like the French, love their paperwork!’ he quipped.
The family set off on their travels at the end of July, stopping off in Singapore first, before arriving in Sydney. Over a month into their adventure, the family of four are loving it and have been travelling up the east coast to Queensland, taking in places like Hervey Bay and The Whitsunday Islands and getting to see the Great Barrier Reef. Diarmuid is no stranger to travel, either, because, as a member of the band Natural Gas he has toured all over the world.
Readers might recall the band scored a huge hit with The Langer Song, earning double platinum status in 2004.
Not only that, he also published a book earlier this year. Witnesses to Freedom is about the War of Independence in Cork and its success was far beyond his wildest dreams. He also has a book in the pipeline with an Australian theme, that has a close personal connection to him.
‘My current project is in preparation for the 200th anniversary of the Deshure Whiteboy Ambush near Terelton in January 1822. As a result, several local men were hanged and more of them, including an ancestor of mine, was transported to New South Wales,’ said Diarmuid, who is researching the book during his trip.
While they will miss their families, friends, neighbours, and even their pets, he said a year won’t be long going.
‘We’re already enjoying the refreshing directness of the Aussies, their stunning landscapes and this amazing country where the sun tracks from right to left in the northern sky.
‘And yes, when we look up at the night sky, we can see The Southern Star!’
Incidentally, Jean’s latest book Trials and Tribulations – The Robinswood Story – the third in her Robinswood series – is available to pre-order now through Amazon.