We recently embarked on a 4WD trip around Australia. It’s the second time we’ve well and truly embraced full-time funemployment for an extended period. On our first trip, which lasted 18 months, we travelled with ‘Claude’: a 1963 fibreglass caravan whose home comforts included an oven, an innerspring mattress and more storage than we knew what to do with.
We left from Sydney and went clockwise, mostly sticking to the coast, apart from the odd inland foray, and got as far as Exmouth in Western Australia. We spent our days running free, learning, playing, laughing and – in our minds – truly living.
Trip highlights included swimming with whale sharks, exploring gorges and mountain ranges, Jono surfing some of the biggest waves we’ve ever seen, watching our dog, Ned, frolic with dolphins, reaching the most western point in mainland Australia and so much more.
We also spent periods of time working, initially on a superyacht docked in Fremantle and then in a restaurant (Laura) and house painting (Jono), living in our caravan all the while.
While travelling in Western Australia, Claude got written off, and we had the choice to leave him to the wreckers or try to rebuild. Of course, we couldn’t leave Claude behind.
With the help of a local family who opened their hearts and their home to us, and the expertise of a wonderful local tradesperson, we managed to get Claude up and running again – with some battle scars to tell the tale.
So, it certainly wasn’t all roses. Some days were the best of our lives and others the most challenging, but it was such a profound experience that when we got back to Sydney, we knew it couldn’t be the end of our time on the road.
Fast forward nearly two years, and we’re off again, this time in a Troopcarrier with no tow vehicle. It’s a definite downsize in space and comfort but we know the upgrade in mobility will make for a whole different set of adventures and we can’t wait for what’s ahead.
For now, we’re in South Australia spending some time on the Eyre Peninsula. We plan to head north through central Australia and project ourselves towards the Kimberleys. However, things seem to change daily, so who knows.
From our own experiences and the many people who’ve said to us, We’d love to do something like that, we’ve learned that getting away is the hardest part. The seedling that grew into our first trip was planted by a single Instagram photo of a bus camping out under a starlit sky.
From there, we started thinking about how awesome it would be to travel Australia, selling pancakes (the selling pancakes never happened. Eating pancakes did). Then we began discussing it regularly until the dream became too big to ignore.
After that, the harsh realities kicked in. How would we earn money, pay bills, get a foot into the property market? This is where most people come undone. Life tells us we need a bricks-and-mortar home to be secure in our futures. We didn’t – and still don’t – own a home, which is something we do hope to achieve one day. But we also don’t think we’re failures for not being there yet.
The reality is, whatever life or financial stage you’re at, there is always potential to earn more money. However, no amount of money can ever buy your time back. This realisation helped us get past the crippling fear holding us back, and to start navigating the unknown about travelling Australia. What didn’t we know? Quite a lot, it turned out.
Researching helped. We learned from blogs and social media how others had done it and roughly what it cost, got a huge map of Australia which took up half a wall and made a list of places we wanted to visit, looked at the weather and seasons, Jono spent countless hours watching 4WD videos on YouTube.
Ultimately, the important thing for us was to embrace that we couldn’t possibly know everything. If we had waited until we did, we’d never have left.
Then came the flurry of job quitting, vehicle preparation and packing. We hear some people kit-out their vehicles, take numerous practice trips, pack their belongings, hand in their resignation letters and leave the day after finishing work.
That’s not quite how it happened for us. In fact, it’s hard to accurately describe the maelstrom that enveloped our lives in the lead up to our most recent departure. While feverishly trying to get things installed on the Troopy (electrics, a water tank!), we alternated between thinking it was best first to load the car or pack the belongings we were leaving behind. Achieving neither, we instead spread everything we owned across just about every room of the house plus the front porch, the garden shed and the backyard.
We couldn’t find the things we wanted to take, and when we did, we’d lose them into the vortex again. At the eleventh hour, we also decided we should open new joint bank accounts without fees, forgetting of course that bank accounts come with debit cards and we’d need these.
For seven-eighths of the car pack, we did a good job of minimising what we were taking. “Look,” I’d say smugly to Jono, “this space is still half empty, and we haven’t even got anything in that space yet”.
Then, on the final, manic morning, we found ourselves with baskets full of “maybe” stuff. Plenty of those things found their way into the Troopy which has resulted in a surplus of Tupperware and tarps, as well as other miscellaneous items which we probably wouldn’t have brought had we’d been in our right minds.
In all, it took us ten days more than planned to get ourselves sorted and out of there, and by the time we left, we really did need a holiday. On the bright side, now we’re back on the road, living our dream, and wondering what took us so bloody long to get here again!
Check out more of Laura and Jono's adventures on their blog