March Reflections of our Australian Travels

March Reflections of our Australian Travels

March saw us deep within the beauty that is Tasmania. Wrapped in her glorious green forest, and calmed by her turquoise blue waters. The worst thing about acknowledging another month has passed is facing the reality that we are closer to leaving this stunning, soul inspiring island.

There’s a backlog of posts to publish, both from our journey to get here, and our explorations while we are here, so we are currently sitting for a few days at a powered campsite to relax, and catch up.

I figured the easiest way to stay up to date of what we’re doing and where we’ve been is to write a monthly reflection of our travels, so, this being the first one I’m going to focus right back from the start of our full-time travel journey and then follow on each month from now on:

bay of fires australian travel with dogs

Adventures Travelling Australia With Kids:

What it feels like to finally hit the road on our big Australian family holiday at last.

Week one on the road free camping at Bulahdelah NSW.

Heading toward Melbourne – Bulahdelah to Gunning free camping.

Staying at Jugiong free camping on the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne.

Sailing the Spirit of Tasmania with Kids (& the dog).

We tried the beautiful local produce at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm & Anvers Chocolates.

We stayed in beautiful Stanley Accommodation, and at the Country Club near Launceston.

We explored the intensely inspiring Port Arthur, and the kids did great activities.

We also were brave enough to face the Port Arthur ghost tour.

Guess what's for dinner! #yum!!

 What’s coming up for April?

Well, we’ve really got the whole of Tasmania to uncover for you. From the breathtaking Cataract Gorge in Launceston, to the postcard worthy Bay of Fires, the most southern tip of Australia and everything in between. Over the next month, or two we’ll be uncovering the beauty of Tasmania and the best things to head out and explore with kids when you visit. One of my favourite experiences this month was the “Her Story” tour at the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart, so I’ll be sharing that with you soon too.

If I had to describe Tasmania in one word, as cliche as it might sound, then AMAZING is that word. I can’t wait to bring you more of our travel stories.

Where have you been in March?

The day it finally happened….

The day it finally happened….

Even now, as I write this to you all, it seems surreal.

Years of discussion, hard work, hard decisions, uncertainty, guilt and struggles both mentally and financially have taken their toll.

I truthfully can’t remember the first moment we decided we were really going to go on the biggest ever holiday with kids and tour Australia full time, it was something we’d always said we wanted to do. What we didn’t realise is just how difficult the journey to get to this point would be.

What we did realise though, was that we were on the way to finding our happiness, and yet didn’t feel happy. Things felt hard, and difficult, we were waiting for things to be right, and easy, and that just wasn’t going to happen.

Then, when Matt got sick, we realised the waiting had to be over, and we needed to be present in the moment and force our dreams to come true. Our dream of travelling full time has been a tough one to achieve, but, it taught us the most important lesson we’ve ever learned:

Dreams are hard to achieve, but it makes achieving them feel even more amazing

 

 

 

So, instead of waiting until we had the perfect gear, and the perfect finances in the bank, and the perfect work done to the car, we put all our effort into doing what we could with the time and money we had, to be prepared enough. “Perfection” is the killer of dreams, “enough” is a word that will set you free. So we have been quiet, we haven’t been blogging much, or on social media pretty much at all, but we’ve been busier than we’ve ever been in our lives, and here’s why:

A few “all nighters” and we stopped procrastinating, got done what we needed to, and here it is… the only picture I have of us driving off to our new lives, snapped by my sister in law.

travel australia set up

At 11pm on January 20, 2014, we rolled out of my brother and sister in law’s driveway near Dubbo. Waved them goodbye, along with my 2 nieces and nephew, and drove off into the wilderness to live our new nomadic lives. I would be lying if I said I was tear free, I couldn’t help but let a few tears flow, we’d been living with them for around 8 months while Matt was working and as chaotic as it was having 2 families living on top of each other, we’d all survived it pretty well and had a rhythm, even if it was a chaotic one. We’ll be forever grateful to them for everything they’ve done to help us achieve our dream.

We arrived at Mendooran, to the free campsite there, which is a beautiful camp ground with flush toilets and cold showers with lots of space and beautiful open skies, set up our van for the first “official” night on the road, and settled in to take in everything that we’d experienced on the path to that moment. Seeing as we arrived so late, we were happy to figure out that the Swan is able to be put up while still hitched to the car, and it doesn’t take long to set up either. Check out the picture below, it took my tears away and brought a smile to my face.

FirstNight2

So there you have it, we’re one the road. We’re full time nomads. No more short or medium trips, no more real home base to return to, this is it, we’ve got everything with us we need to get by. We feel excited, vulnerable, and no matter what happens throughout our journey, we all feel proud of sticking to our dreams and getting this far.

Look out Tasmania, we’re on our way……..

Hello 2014, Hello Dreams Coming True….

Hello 2014, Hello Dreams Coming True….

Hello 2014,

Can I please tell you, right from the start, how pleased I am to see you!

It’s not that 2013 was a particularly bad year, however, it didn’t really go to plan. A year not going to plan isn’t unusual of course, I’m sure it’s true for most people that their yearly expectations are often a great distance away from their yearly reality!

travel australia welcome 2014 goals

 

The thing is, 2013 threw us plenty of challenges we didn’t need. I can proudly write this today and say that we survived each and every one of those challenges and we learned important lessons in the process which is always a good thing!
This year however we say goodbye 2013 leaving so much behind us now, and those challenges we’ve faced mean the future is shining brighter than ever before.

We are ready,
We are excited,
We are grateful,
We are living our dream in 2014!

 

When Dreams Become Reality & Some Hard Truths.

In a couple of weeks we will be living full-time on the road and sharing our journey and all the amazing things we uncover with our readers. We will be exploring Australia with our kids and our kelpie by our side.

Our dreams, the ones we’ve spoken of so often over the last couple of years, are finally coming true. In less than two weeks, we’ll be driving away from my brothers’ house where we’ve been staying for the last few months, and we’ll be truly nomadic. Living on the road, travelling Australia stopping wherever we feel the desire to, or wherever work takes us.

But, we’ve learned so many lessons on our journey to “living the dream”.

We’ve learned that dreams are hard work. They are possible to achieve, but, most dreams, if they are worth achieving will take A LOT of hard work, they won’t magically happen just because you want them to, you really need to keep focused and keep moving forward.

Following your dreams means sacrifice. It would be nice to think that you can have everything in life, but the hard truth is, that’s just not possible. In order to achieve our dream to travel nomadically, we had to sacrifice many things, some of which are a bigger struggle than others. We sold our business at a loss, left behind friends and family, we struggle with the parenting guilt of perhaps not doing the right thing by our kids taking them away from their friends. We’re sacrificing building certain types of careers, or buying a house. The reality of it is though, when we looked closely at what we really wanted out of life, sacrificing those things was much easier to do than missing out on our dream.

Achieving your dreams is scary. We joke all the time with people who ask us about what we’re doing with our travels, that it takes a crazy person to be willing to sell or give away most of what they own to drag three kids and a dog around Australia. We’ve been told many times “Oh I wish we could do that.” The truth is, that anyone could travel Australia, but it’s a bloody scary thing to do. It’s not easy to go against the grain and do something your heart longs to do, when it seems to fly in the face of what everyone else considers responsible. It’s scary and you doubt yourself regularly, but, we still wouldn’t stop moving forward, we’re sure it’s the right decision for us and our family.

Hiccups will get in the road of your dream. Matt got sick last year. After a stack of tests, nothing came back concrete and that was almost more worrying than him being sick in the first place. The great news is, that he’s fine, and we’re pretty sure he’ll be fine for a long time to come. We also ended up much worse off financially than we anticipated. That wasn’t going to stop us however. We had decided even if we didn’t end up being able to afford a caravan, we would just take our tent. Things worked out wonderfully and we have our van, Matt is well, and we just took the hiccups as we were confronted by them and took it one step at a time.

A support network is invaluable. As hard as we’ve worked to get to where we are, there have been moments that having a support network has helped us very much. You don’t need a huge support network, but it definitely helps having people in your corner, encouraging you to fight hard for what you want.

Our Biggest Lesson

You must live your life for the now, while working towards your dreams. Don’t let your own self stand in the way of achieving your dream. It won’t be easy, we can almost promise you that, but it will be worth it.

We’re looking really forward to 2014, the year where all our hard work and struggle sees us setting off on our adventure with our children and our dog, with our car and our van, and the basics we need and venturing around amazing landscapes and communities and meeting amazing, everyday people as they keep our country ticking over.

How to live a happy life quote

 

We’ll talk more about how we’ve achieved our dream, what we’re travelling with, what we do and don’t need, what we do and don’t like, and what you can do to achieve your family travel dreams, as we blog this year. We hope to bring you useful info, and inspire you to live your dreams as a family, whatever they are.

Happy New Year from our family to yours, wishing you an amazing year!

Matt, Loreena & Kids.

Once Step Closer – What Dreams Look Like.

Once Step Closer – What Dreams Look Like.

The last time I spoke to you personally about what has been happening on our journey to travel Australia with kids, I shared the difficult reality that our plan to have no plan certainly hadn’t gone to plan! We’re still waiting for test results to come back for Matt, although most nasties have been ruled out, so that is a huge relief of sorts, but I also have some other wonderful news to report:

We’re one step closer and I want to show you what dreams look like:

I know that my dream, and your dream won’t look exactly the same, but I can’t share my feeling any better than showing you the what the defining moment of knowing this adventure was all real looked like for me.

Sure we’d moved, sold our stuff, survived the chaos of 9 people living in one house together (huge thanks to my brother and his wife for this one),

Yet, this moment I’m sharing with you now, this was the real first view that everything we’d given up felt worth it, that what we’d set out to achieve was really going to happen, that one very important step closer to our dream happening and things were falling into place. I looked in the rear vision mirror and I could clearly see our new home tagging along behind us 🙂

what dreams look like

WE ARE THE PROUD OWNERS OF A JAYCO SWAN OUTBACK!!

Sure, she’s not the latest, flashiest model, but she’s all ours, to live in, to enjoy and to tow behind us and to become our home as we explore this amazing country that is Australia.

We chose to go a Jayco outback camper mostly because we knew that a full van would be a little bit too restrictive for what we wanted to do as well as costing more to tow. We also knew that a flip top camper trailer, while being slightly more “offroad” than the Swan, wouldn’t afford us the little bit of luxury that this camper will.

our home while travelling australia with kids

 

I’ll give you a tour soon, but each end pops out to a queen bed one end (the kids are sharing that side) and a double bed the other end. There’s a dinette with lounge chairs and table, and a larger U-shaped lounge, as well as a fridge, water tank and sink, gas cooktop and griller, a microwave (we’ll probably remove that for added storage space, and lots of cupboards and storage that means all our kitchen gear etc can stay set up and we won’t have to unpack and pack quite as much as we would in a full canvas camper.

It has a kitchen side awning which is great for shade and privacy on the kitchen side of the camper, and an awning with full annex on the door side of the camper. It runs off 12 volt or 240volt, and we’ll be hooking up some solar panels to keep us powered when we’re bush camping.

So, that my dear wanderlusters is what has us excited at this very moment.

our new home jayco swan outback

If you’re travelling Australia or planning to, what are you using for accommodation? Got any tips for us on owning the Jayco? Please comment below….    

Travel vs technology are your family holidays affected?

Travel vs technology are your family holidays affected?

It’s confession time. I’ve been known to joke that I check I have my phone on me before I check where my kids are, and I’m ashamed to say, it’s not an over-exaggeration. Luckily my kids are old enough to know not to wander far, but the fact they’ve seen me on more than one occasion have a borderline panic attack when I misplaced my phone for a millisecond probably isn’t a good example for how to use technology responsibly in our lives.

I’m aware of how technology affects our lives. I try to make a conscious effort to lower my phone when answering their questions, and look them in the eye, but here’s the horrible truth:

I fail.

Perhaps even more disturbingly, when I look around the living room of an evening, the television is on, the adults are nursing iPhones, and the kids a range of iPods and iPads, I wonder if we’ve got things horribly wrong.

When it comes to your own travel vs technology, are your family holidays affected?

is technology ruining your holiday

I’m not alone in thinking even family travel is held at ransom by tech obsession. Tourism and Events Queensland found in a recent survey that 80% of people admitted to texting while also talking to someone else, 53% of respondents admit to using their phone on the toilet, I’m guilty on both these counts as are most people I know. Somehow though, I don’t think my husband would be too happy if I was one of the 48% of respondents who admitted to their smartphone interrupting them during sex. Maintaining a sex life with three children is hard enough so our phones can bow out of that one.

When news hit my inbox this morning that the Sunshine Coast is aiming to become the world’s first destination to combat smartphone dependency by introducing phone free zones, it caught my attention. As a blogger caught up in the world of internet and social media, I’m guilty as charged for Instagramming my food, interrupting the kid’s enjoyment of a destination in order to capture the best photos and videos, and I can say I’m with the 65% of people who said they could never leave their phone for 24 hours.

My husband is forever nagging me that I’m too busy looking at my phone to see all the awesome scenery we drive through on our road trips, so I guess that adds me to the 48% of people who have argued with their partner over smartphone usage.

The Sunshine Coast is telling us, in order to really enjoy our lives; we must make time to consciously switch off. Talk to our partners and our friends, our children and loved ones with undivided attention. Stop and look around, breathe in the beauty of life that surrounds us, without being tempted to check our emails or post photos online.

British technology expert, Dr. Tom Chatfield says ‘this doesn’t mean that technology is something bad, or toxic, that we ought to try and give up. A better way of thinking about it is that we want to be gourmets of technology and if we love it and want to make the most of its wonderful possibilities, we should pick and choose and select and not just stuff our faces with it continually.’

Introducing the Smarter Smartphone Code of Conduct:
  1. Avoid being a search-it-all. Make the most of the moment and seek out your own special corner of the Sunshine Coast.
  2. Elbows and phones off the table. Make the most of the moment with great food and company.
  3. Kiss your phone goodnight. Make the most of your night with a restful night’s sleep or some romance.
  4. Look before you snap. Make the most of the moment and take in this truly breathtaking place.
  5. Take a phone-free day. Make the most of the moment and experience nature without distractions.
  6. Talk now, text later. Make the most of the moment and enjoy this precious time together.
  7. Taste before you upload. Make the most of the moment and savour every mouthful.

While it’s likely I’ll struggle to go phone-free, perhaps a trip to the Sunshine Coast is in order to help me, after all I could think of worse ways to try and combat tech addiction. The most important part of campaigns like this is the fact they make us think, they make us aware and mindful. I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I’m tired. Tired of being constantly connected, tired of being ignored by my children sitting on their devices, and I can’t complain about their behaviour when it’s a mirror of my own. It’s time to take some tech time-out, join me if you dare.

Car Modifcations for Travelling Australia – Rear Drawer System Install

Car Modifcations for Travelling Australia – Rear Drawer System Install

The planning stage for a trip around Australia requires a whole lot of decisions to be made. We’ve written before about how to choose the best car to travel Australia and we wrote this basic guide to planning a big lap of Australia for those who weren’t sure where to start, so now, we thought it was time to share with you some of the choices and modifications we’ve done, starting with our vehicle.

We chose to travel in a Nissan Patrol. A big reason for this was the space and the off road ability, as well as the dual fuel tanks and tow capacity. We knew before we purchased our car, that one of our ideal modifications was to fit a rear drawer system.

There are many options on the market for rear drawers, with everything for just fitting a basic fridge slide, to systems that contain water tanks, fridge slides and drawers. We went with the latter.

Things to consider when choosing a drawer and slide system for your vehicle:

Weight is a really important factor: Regardless of the specific weight specifications of your vehicle, the more weight you add, the bigger you can expect your fuel bill to be, and fuel is one of the biggest expenses of touring the country, so anything that keeps the cost down is a bonus. Aluminium units are ideal, some use wood, and that’s ok too, you just need to think about what it is you’re purchasing.

Self install vs professional install: Some brands give you the option to deliver the product flat packed and you then do all the assembly and fit out yourself. If you’re handy with the tools this can be a good way to go, and save you some money. Keep in mind the extra time and your skillset and weigh up these options.

Your vehicle type: Depending on your vehicle, you’ll have a range of options available to you. We had several options for the Patrol, although some less popular models may have less options available. For a basic fridge slide, most cars will be able to have this feature installed.

Second Hand Purchasing: We scored a bargain when we purchased our fit out. We have a triple drawer system with fridge slide, and a 60 litre water tank with 12 volt pump, and a half cargo barrier so we can load it up and things won’t go flying into the front of the car. I believe it would have cost close to $3000 installed. We picked it up for $1900 from ebay and it was in perfect condition. $80 delivery fee from QLD to our door, and a few hours install and it’s one of the best choices we’ve made.

Here’s our guide to the Nissan Patrol, rear drawer system and water tank install. Our rear drawer and water tank system – It arrived wrapped in plastic complete with instructions. Rain was approaching and it was afternoon when it arrived, but we figured it wouldn’t take too long so we layed it all out with a tarp on hand just in case and went about installing it.

nissan patrol rear drawer system

First Step: Remove the rear seats for the Patrol, then install the half cargo barrier.

before the nissan patrol drawer system is installedSecond Step: Was to install the water tank which is the silver you’ll see in the next photo after this one. Then install the bottom plate and attach to the floor of the car where the seats normally anchor. The drawers are then built up on top of this.

installing nissan patrol rear fridge slide system

Up Next: Install the sides and the fridge slide components.

nissan patrol fridge slide install

In go the drawers, and the shelf for the top:

rear drawer installation nissan patrol travel australia

And we’re done! By this time we’d put a gazebo up to protect us from a few showers, and it was super dark and we were working by torch light, but even though we underestimated the time it would take, it was a relatively easy job and the finished product looks great.

fitting a rear car drawer system