Here I am, sitting in our caravan – our home!
We are nearly 8 weeks in to this. Nomadic travel! Travelling Australia with 5 kids in a caravan. And I’ll tell you something – I have never felt happier! Never felt more content! We are all so happy. So relaxed, so excited and so, so, so content!
It’s been a long time coming!
Yes, we’ve done this before. In 2013, when we had just 4 kids, we sold everything, bought a caravan and went on Our Aussie Adventure (halfway) around Australia. And it was AMAZING! Looking back now, I really don’t know why we stopped. I always wished we hadn’t!
Since then we have had many, many more awesome travel adventures. 3 months around Europe and many big exciting Asian adventures including Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. And then there was also, before that first caravan adventure, our incredible trip across America in an RV.
But for the last couple of years we have had a break from our travels. From the life we love and feel truly connected to. Besides a whirlwind trip to London, travel has taken a back seat……
Why? Well, that’s a complex question. And one I don’t even know if I really, completely know the answer to…..
At the end of 2017 I had a major back operation. Leading up to it I was in a really bad way. So, so much pain. The operation was successful (to a degree) but recovery took a long time. And I struggled physically and emotionally. It’s only now, well the last 6 months I guess, that I am feeling myself again. Most days I have zero pain, and when I do, it’s really quite minor. Actually, since we have been on the road, I’m feeling better physically (and emotionally) than I have in years. A combination I’d say, of more exercise, fresh air, healthier eating and probably the most contributing factor – less stress!
Anyway, this lack of travel over the last couple of years was to say the least – really crappy! None of us were truly happy. Pete was working full time, as well as for one whole year going to university full time. I was drowning in housework and “Mum of 5 kid” activities and commitments, and doing most of it completely on my own. There were some times that we wouldn’t even see Peter for days at a time. He would often come home just to sleep before another shift or class. The kids were happy enough at school, but having pretty much grown up travelling, they were becoming restless and bored. They would always talk about our past adventures and constantly ask and pester us as to when we would travel again.
And then one day, soon after her 13th birthday, Anna our eldest, wrote us some letters. She talked about how this was not the life that we were meant to be living. Our house, our “stuff”, our routine. Why did we have all these things? Were they making us happy? There is a whole world out there waiting for us to explore it. To experience, learn, see, uncover…… These letters were on A4 sheets of paper and I think there were about 8 of them. She stuck them on the walls around various parts of the house for us all to read. It was those letters that changed everything. Changed our lives!
I clearly remember that moment. Pete and I read them together and looked at each other. Before we even spoke, we knew what was about to happen. I don’t think to this day, Anna quite realises just how powerful those letters were. They woke us up. Ignited something within us. Something that was already there but had been lost in this sea of “normal life” that we had thrown ourselves in to. Those letters were our life jackets. We just needed them thrown in our faces to realise they were there all along. We just needed to grab them and put them on!
Within a week we were caravan shopping. We looked through many caravan yards, spent hours each night scouring the internet, researching and searching for that perfect caravan. And within just 2 weeks we found it. The one! The minute we walked in to it we fell in love and knew immediately that this was our new home! A renovated, retro, family caravan. Perfect in every way, for the seven of us. Double bed at one end, kitchen and dining in the middle and an almost separate room at the other end with 4 bunks, one of which made bigger to fit 2 small kids together. And it came with everything we needed and wanted. Air-conditioning, loads of storage, and even fully stocked cupboards with kitchenware, full bedding, new towels and so many other little extras.
On that same day we also found our new car. It was serendipitous! As we drove away from having looked at and left a deposit on the caravan, Peter looked once again online and there it was, just listed. The absolute perfect car for us! A 4WD Landcruiser, in A1 condition, only 1 previous owner and equipped with roof racks, dvd player, and many other extras we would have had to fit ourselves had we bought any other one.
Now as with all our other travels and adventures over the years, we are not ones to waste time. Once we decide we are doing something or going somewhere, we are ready for it to happen yesterday! And this new adventure, this new life, was no exception.
Within just a couple of months (or maybe even less, it all happened so fast it’s a bit of a blur), we had sold all of our furniture, packed our house, given notice to work and schools, farewelled friends and family and set off into the great unknown to begin our new life!
And you know what, I know it’s still early days, but not once have I looked back. Questioned whether this was the right thing to do. Wondered what if. This is our what if…..
So so often (depending on the day…..) Pete and I will just find ourselves in the moment, in the caravan together, and we just smile or glance over and (half of the time without even saying anything) we both know – this is it! This is our life! This is what we want and need and what makes us truly happy! And the kids….. they are the same (for the most part…… let’s just pretend for a minute that there are no teenage hormones or mood swings flying about). We’ll be on a beach or having a picnic and one of them will come up to us and say “this is the best day ever” or simply “thank you”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them, my own children, so content before! Don’t get me wrong, our life is by no means reflective of any scene from The Sound of Music. They fight, they complain, they beg for iPads more often than I’d like to admit. But ultimately, they are loving this as much as we are. The caravan truly feels like home! And the world is our backyard!
We left our home in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne on November 18th and headed inland to Bendigo and Echuca. After about 3 weeks we returned to our home town for Elyssa, our second eldest to compete in (and win) a singing competition as well as graduate grade 6. From there we headed to the coast, excited to see the ocean and really truly begin this new life of exciting, unplanned, indefinite nomadic travel!
Over the last 4 weeks we have travelled along the Great Ocean Road, visited the Grampians (our home for 2 years from 2015-2017) and then from there headed in to South Australia. We are now currently on the South Australian coast. Slowly making our way along some of the most beautiful beaches we may have ever seen.
We have already seen and done so much. I can hardly comprehend just how much exactly in such a short period of time. And knowing what is to come…….. well actually we don’t know what is to come – that’s the beauty of it, the most exciting part – there is NO PLAN! I mean, we have a rough plan – to head slowly, verrrry slowly, to Western Australia. We have never been to WA before and we’re excited to spend a long time exploring there. We plan to head overseas also. Explore some more of Asia to begin with. Lots of Asia hopefully. And from there who knows……
All I can say is that this is only the beginning and that there is a whole world out there that we are ready to explore.
This is our life! We only get one and we are sure as hell going to make the most of it!