Fond memories ... Carnarvon National Park, Queensland.

Fond memories ... Carnarvon National Park, Queensland.

I LIKE to think I was a pretty smart kid. Unfortunately, most of the evidence points to the contrary.

My dad rarely played tricks on my brother and I - probably out of pity, now that I think about it, because we were incredibly slow in figuring out what he was up to.

Dad's favourite, and recurring, trick involved putting a little Lego man in his cupped hands, blowing a quick breath on it and making it magically disappear, only for it to reappear on a shelf somewhere in the house after my brother and I had spent half an hour or so looking for it. It was a brilliant "keep the kids occupied" trick for Dad and we never did work out how he did it.

I even made him promise to explain it to me on my 21st birthday but to this day, the secret remains as hidden as his Lego men. He now refuses to even do the trick - saving it for the grandkids, I guess.

Then there was the Easter trick, which has gone down in family folklore as one of the great swindles of the so-called smart Groundwater brothers.

We were staying with some of my parents' friends in Switzerland and, waking up on Easter Sunday, we realised the "Easter Bunny" had hidden little chocolate eggs throughout the back garden - about a 1000 chocolate eggs, as far as my brother and I could tell, because every time we thought we'd found all of them, we'd just go and discover a whole lot more. We had enough chocolate to actually become the Easter Bunny.

It wasn't until a few years later that we found out what had really happened. See, every time we found an egg, we thought it best to put it somewhere for safe keeping, so we gave it to a trusted adult: Dad. Dad would then pocket our eggs, wait until we'd turned around to go searching again and then hide them again in the garden. About 20 eggs turned into a morning-long hunt for an incredible chocolate bounty. It never did occur to us that at the end of this marathon collection we still seemed to have only 20 eggs.

I've been thinking about this story lately because despite the fact I was horribly tricked, it's probably my favourite childhood Easter memory. My family always used to do the traditional holiday break but it would have had to be a pretty special one to top a 1000 chocolate eggs hidden in a Swiss garden.

Most of our holidays were much closer to home and involved far more exercise than a wander around a garden. They didn't, however, involve a roof over our heads.

My parents are mad-keen bushwalkers - always have been, still seem to be. So, our short Easter holidays were usually devoted to the pursuit of a pastime my brother and I had about as much interest in as problem solving.

We would make the drive out to Carnarvon Gorge most Easters, pitch the tent in the campsite and then get our walking boots on. Meals were cooked on the camp stove and eaten on plastic plates while sitting on canvas chairs. Each day was one long bushwalk after the other.

Most of my friends' families had done the smart thing and stayed at home in central Queensland, meaning they were all swimming at the beach and having fun together while my family was tramping around a gorge looking at wildlife, which might be some people's idea of a good time but not for your average high school kid.

These Easter holiday trips eventually came to an end, however, when my parents decided they couldn't be bothered dealing with the crowded campsites, the crowded roads and the whingeing teenagers. We canned the Easter break in the early '90s and now that I think about it, things have remained that way for our family, whether separate or together, ever since.

I rarely travel at Easter because, like Christmas, it's the time when everyone else travels and I would rather not spend my relaxing holiday with everyone else.

This year, however, is different. I'm getting back on the horse. Having been sucked in by the extra day off and a highly organised friend who's already booking everything, I'm breaking with tradition and taking an Easter holiday. We're going to the Margaret River region in Western Australia, where I plan to drink lots of wine and pretend I can surf, though not in that order.

I probably won't find any eggs hidden in the garden, or even any Lego men on the shelves - just a lot of wine, which sounds like a good substitute to me.

bengroundwater@gmail.com