THE COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN FOR OUR YEAR OF TRAVEL
Finally. We are doing it. 2022 is our year of doing the lap of Australia. We are going ‘Waltzing Matilda’ in the caravan.
No surprise I guess. We had a couple of practice sessions. Four months in 2017 and four months early 2021. Both times travelling with a Trayon Camper. We loved the lifestyle but at the same time learnt some lessons along the way. Hence, we now have a Jurgens 23 foot Caravan. Never thought the day would come but there you go – we are now caravaners. No matter the weather we have accommodation with all the comforts of home (albeit a bit smaller). Short term you can handle a bit of discomfort living under a canvas roof (put it down to adventure) but long term, definitely not. The disadvantage is that some places will be inaccessible with a van but we still have camping gear and a 4WD.
WHY ARE WE DOING IT NOW AND NOT WAITING UNTIL WE GET THAT RETIREMENT PENSION INCOME?
Our government policy deems that I must continue to work until I’m seventy before I qualify to get the pension. Blimey that’s ludicrous. Seventy! Honestly, who knows what the future holds? The only time that’s relevant is now and we are daring to live the life we want. No excuses. The most important thing is we know 100% that the travelling lifestyle makes us happy. It’s that feeling of ultimate freedom. Each day is different. We wake up to different views out the window – sometimes ocean, sometimes outback, sometimes forests. Different sounds – the sound of waves crashing, or the sound of dingoes howling, or the sounds of wind and birdsong in the trees. We don’t think about household bills, monotonous work routines or feel our restless souls getting frustrated. Each day holds a bit of mystery. Always new things to experience. We have our health and physically right now we are still capable of hiking, exploring and immersing ourselves in the natural world. Why put it off for a day that may never come?
TO DO THE BIG LAP OF AUSTRALIA SOME PEOPLE RENT OUT THEIR HOUSE OR SOME SELL UP COMPLETELY. WHAT DID WE DO?
It has been a process getting ourselves in exactly the right position to do it our way. We like the ‘keep it simple’ philosophy. We sold up. Not really intending to do The Lap at the time but we happen to be in that position so the timing is perfect. Embracing a minimalistic lifestyle we literally now own nothing but cars and a van. It feels good to not be encumbered by stuff and reduces our expenses. Maybe a little unsettling to realise we don’t actually have a bricks and mortar base anymore but our home is now where we tow it. Maybe on our travels we will find “that” place that we want to call home but now is our time to travel.
SO HAVE WE RETIRED? HOW WILL WE FUND OUR TRAVEL?
So no doubt people will think we have ‘retired’. Nope. We have been saving hard to fund us for a while but if work opportunities present themselves as we travel we may well ‘top up the coffers’ along the way. If opportunity knocks we will answer as we don’t have the luxury of huge superannuation funds to fall back on. We are not using the proceeds of our home sale to travel – that’s to buy another home one day. I guess we have accepted the fact that we will never be wealthy but we won’t let that stop us travelling. Our wealth is in our experiences and the memories we make and I think that is more important at the end of the day.
DO WE PLAN OUR TRAVEL OR JUST WING IT?
I love a good plan. Our plan first and foremost is to follow the weather mainly. To the South Australian beaches for a bit over the summer. Learn to fish again. Do the post work wind down which we know from experience takes a while. Then head across the Nullabour to the West. At least until Easter in the South West and then up the coast toward Broome. From there is yet unplanned.
I have a rough itinerary for the first few months simply because it’s school holidays and the popular places are impossible to get into. So I have a few bookings to ensure we don’t miss something special. (A camp site at Lucky Bay in Cape LeGrand National Park near Esperance. I managed to get two nights in February. Crazy popular but stunningly beautiful. I’d hate to miss the experience)
I love to achieve that fine balance between planning a bit and being flexible. Do a bit of research before we go so we know what the best attractions are. I know that works best for us otherwise we wander around aimlessly and find out later that we missed stuff. I get immense satisfaction when a good plan comes together, like the time I managed to snag the best camp spot at Osprey Bay at Ningaloo because I booked 6 months in advance. We just kept the booking in mind and made sure we were in that vicinity around the right time. It was so worth it as the campgrounds were fully booked out. We wouldn’t have got in otherwise and it was so special swimming with the whale sharks.
WE HAVE NEVER BEEN IN A BETTER POSITION TO GO THAN RIGHT NOW
So a couple more months more working and tucking money away in Alice Springs and then mid December we hook up the caravan and finally tow it down the South Stuart Highway. We have been living in it since July so it already feels like we are on a working holiday anyway. Got used to the quirks of permanent Van life.
So, Cheers to Waltzing Matilda around this beautiful diverse country in 2022. It’s taken at least 30 years to get ourselves in the position to do it and we can’t wait.