As a kid, family holidays were the highlight of my year. Even on a budget, my parents went above and beyond to make a rural getaway a memorable experience. Visiting Halls Gap was one of those magical memories because my family used the little they had to send me on a Treasure Chase (patent pending to the Morris family).
Anyone who has been to the Halls Gap Caravan Park knows there are plenty of treasures to behold – the kangaroos at twilight, the trek to Venus Baths, even the ice cream at the corner store tastes like God whipped it up himself. But my mum took it a step further and, inspired by the new wave of reality TV shows about treasure hunting, created one herself.
Like all good family holidays, our Treasure Chase required healthy competition. So, my father and I became staunch allies as we battled against my twin sister and mum. The rules were simple: every day, each team would hide ‘treasure’ in the park and write a cryptic clue leading the other team to the goal. It would lead to the ultimate treasure of day five – some wonderous, probably delicious treat that I can’t remember.
What I can remember is the excitement that I woke up with each day. After eating our cereal, each team would skulk off to find a new hiding place. As the days went on, our clues became longer and more cryptic. By day five, our competitive bent was full throttle, and Dad and I came up with a genius plan to send the other team on a wild chase, where one clue would lead to another, Amazing Race Style.
Naturally, the length of their task meant Dad and I were destined to find our treasure first, and we would be declared winners. Something my mum and sister weren’t too impressed with by clue three, yet they persisted (even while we laughed at their misfortune!).
There are lots of things I learned from that holiday. I discovered the value of treasure and how the chase is more valuable than the reward. I learned how a family could healthily navigate competitiveness and joy. And I witnessed the values of my parents, who gave up their own resources and quiet time so their daughters could create life-long memories in the Australian bush.
That holiday, I learned to treasure time and relationships over the big, expensive trips other kids took to Disneyworld. Sure, winning the Great Morris Treasure Chase was a bonus. It is in the small moments when we show our love with the little we have that we come upon the real treasure.
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