Posts Tagged With: Travelling around Australia

Guest Post – Sarah & Malte

Today’s post is the first ever ‘Guest Post’ to feature on the Are We There Yet? blog.  I asked Sarah & Malte if they wouldn’t mind sharing with us the adventure of their time travelling around Oz.

Sarah and Malte were the first ever backpackers to work with us on the farm at Blue Sky Produce for three months last year.  They set the bar pretty high for all our other workers going forward. They were two of the most hardworking and lovely people we have ever met!  Added to that they enjoyed teaching us ‘Wizard’ – a really fun German card game and then whipping our butts at it!! Lucky they taught us a few German swear words too!!  Malte and Sarah are just about to head back home to Germany and we are sad to see them go – they spoilt the kids while they were here at Blue Sky and we loved getting to know them and learn a little about their lives in Germany.

They have seen so much during their time in Australia – more then most of us Aussies will ever see!! Thank you Sarah & Malte for sharing your travels here and best of luck for your futures ahead – I hope we get to see you again sometime!

Sarah & Malte after a hard day of mulching - not the most fun job!

Sarah & Malte after a hard day of mulching at Blue Sky – not the most fun job!

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Categories: Camping, Travel | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Charleville to Isisford

Me publishing a blog entry while the kids played in the playground at Augathella

Me publishing a blog entry while the kids played in the playground at Augathella

Finally getting a chance to post this entry from last night!

It is warm – I only have 2 layers on tonight – wahooooo!  We couldn’t believe it when we hopped out of the car at Isisford at 6pm tonight and didn’t have to instantly reach for the beanie’s and extra jumpers!
We have had a looooong day today!  We set out from our free, beside the road camp, just out of Charleville at just before 9am this morning and only pulled in to Isisford at 6pm.  We survived the ‘night in the middle of nowhere’ free camp without any incidents except something had a chew on my thongs and our rubber floor mats during the night!
Our first stop was at Augathella for a toilet stop (as a side note all the public toilets we have used have been really clean out here – and it is a nice feeling knowing I won’t be cleaning a toilet for the next 7 or 8 months!) and to have a look around town and publish last night’s blog while we had reception.  Augathella was such a pretty, tidy little place but very quiet – the kids wanted to know where all the people had gone as lots of shops seemed to have closed down – perhaps as the highway no longer goes through there.
The next stop was Tambo for lunch where the kids were spoilt at the Visitor Information Centre with new colouring in books and a packet of smarties each!  We had a little wander through the historical post office and telegraph office in Tambo which was free and quite interesting for the kids who learnt how to send their names using morse code on an old telegraph system.  We checked out the ‘Tambo Teddies’ store – beautiful teddies but very expensive!
Another hour further down the road we stopped at Blackall which is where my uncle was a bank manager and lived with my cousins for a few years – we even tracked down their old house!  There was another great information centre in Blackall which the kids enjoyed and we loved seeing the Jack Howe statue – unbelievable that he was able to shear 321 sheep in 7.5hrs – a world record that has never been broken!!!!
Things went downhill a little after Blackall as about 20minutes out of town we ran into another muster happening in the middle of the road.  (Uncle Murray I’m blaming you for this because you said it makes for interesting reading!!!)  We were being very touristy taking photos and I was worried that I was in trouble when one of the men rode over the car, but he had come to tell us that while we were stopped to let the cattle pass by he had heard air hissing out of our left hand camper tyre.  Aaaargh – sure enough the valve on the camper tyre was split and leaking all the air out of the tyre!  So we pulled over – of course right in the middle of all the cow poo which Matt proceeded to stand in and put his hand in – and spent the next half an hour changing the tyre – but we are at least pleased to say we had all the right equipment this time and managed the change without drama!!  However, this now meant that it was getting late and it was kangaroo time on the road – not ideal for us still to be out driving!  Luckily though we ended up behind some grey nomads with their caravan and they hit all the kangaroos first (well – they only hit one, but that was one more than us!).
So when we arrived in Isisford it was quite dark.  We drove down to look for a spot on the river but it was quite crowded so we just kept driving along the river track, and driving, and driving because we could not find anywhere to turn around with the camper!  Needless to say we were all tired and grumpy by this stage, and hungry!  Eventually Matt had to reverse the camper in the dark with me walking and guiding him until we found a tight spot to turn around!  During all this Lexi wet her pants because she was busting to go to the toilet and couldn’t hold on any longer.  When we finally just went back to the entrance to the campground and pulled up beside another caravan (they will probably be grumpy that we are camped so close but we will sort that out in the morning!) we were not happy campers!!!
However, we are now all fed and have had our first hot shower in 3 days and we do not need to go to bed all rugged up so we are all feeling much better!!!  I think we have done some big driving days and would just like to stay put for a few days now, but we will have to try to work out our plans in the morning.  Once again we are very tired – this sightseeing and driving stuff is hard work it seems hehehe!
So, off to bed for me!  Here’s hoping QLD has a win in the State of Origin – we had thought we might find a pub to watch the game in tonight but it just didn’t happen!!   Go the Maroons!
Favourite Parts of the Day
Lexi – hopping out of the car and it was warm
Toby – playing in the Augathella meat ant park
Jack – having dinner (we were hungry), seeing the wild pig run across the road
Jess – not feeling cold for the first time and having a hot shower!
Matt – having a look at Tambo – a town trying really hard to attract the tourists and is a nice, friendly place

Meat Ant Sculpture in 'Meat Ant Park' Augathella - made by Ang Graham's Aunt for any Malandarites reading this

Meat Ant Sculpture in ‘Meat Ant Park’ Augathella – made by Ang Graham’s Aunt for any Malandarites reading this

Augathella - the home of 'Smiley' - we will have to get a movie for the kids to watch!

Augathella – the home of ‘Smiley’ – we will have to get a movie for the kids to watch!

Beautiful mural in Augathella

Beautiful mural in Augathella

Great visitor information centre in Tambo

Great visitor information centre in Tambo

Great information centre in Tambo - kids loved the 'Are We There Yet' book pictures that were on the wall in front of the kids table

Great information centre in Tambo – kids loved the ‘Are We There Yet’ book pictures that were on the wall in front of the kids table

Jack in the old telegraph station house in Tambo

Jack in the old telegraph station house in Tambo

Pretty standard old Queensland home in Tambo

Pretty standard old Queensland home in Tambo

Blackall is famous for being sheep country

Blackall is famous for being sheep country

Jack Howe statue in Blackall

Jack Howe statue in Blackall

Blackall - where the saying 'beyond the black stump' originated

Blackall – where the saying ‘beyond the black stump’ originated

Uncle John and Aunty Marie's house in Blackall where my cousins Melissa, Sarah and Michael lived for a few years

Uncle John and Aunty Marie’s house in Blackall where my cousins Melissa, Sarah and Michael lived for a few years

We drove through another muster on the road to Isisford

We drove through another muster on the road to Isisford

Loved the sound of the muster, cattle mooing, cattlemen whistling, horse with bell clanging, dogs barking - wish I had of videoed it!

Loved the sound of the muster, cattle mooing, cattlemen whistling, horse with bell clanging, dogs barking – wish I had of videoed it!

Matt changing the camper tyre - a success!

Matt changing the camper tyre – a success!

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

The ‘Worry’ List

IMG_2677At this point in our trip preparations I am flipping between being totally excited about heading off and the places we will see, the time we will have to spend all together and the adventure of it all, or like today – totally freaking out about what on earth we have gotten ourselves in for!!

I know I am a stressor and an over thinker.  I know we are heading off on the 1st of June no matter what and that our reasons for doing our trip are important to us.  But I’m worried and just a bit scared and nervous. Not helped by the fact that today the kids were little terrors – misbehaving, fighting and making so much mess!

So here’s my ‘worry list’.  I’m concerned ……………………………………

  1. About how on earth we are going to get our 1 acre block, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 5 person house all packed up and cleaned in time.
  2. That we will be so freezing cold and miserable for the first few months of our trip as we are heading off in the middle of winter.  I’m worried our sleeping bags won’t be warm enough and nor will our clothes!
  3. About our kids thinking that life is just one big holiday and not knowing the value of hard work!  I’m sure with all the camping/travelling we have done with them it seems like all we do is go on holidays!
  4. I feel a bit guilty, that maybe we don’t deserve this trip.  Some people work their whole lives before they get to go off on an adventure like ours.
  5. I’m worried that after 8 years of shift work and crossing paths like ships in the night most of the time, that Matt and I won’t know how to spend so much time together anymore!
  6. About the kids fighting ALL of the time and driving us all nuts!
  7. That we haven’t had enough experience with 4-wheel driving or travelling in remote areas.  I’m not sure what we are in for!  We really wish we had of joined a four wheel drive club a year ago.
  8. That by probably getting to the Kimberley in August we have left it to late and won’t get to see the true beauty of that area.
  9. I’m worried about leaving behind all the great friends and community we have here in Brisbane and not finding anything like that again!  It has taken us this long to finally start feeling like we belong!
  10. About the kids schooling and that we won’t do enough with them while we are travelling and they will get too far behind and have to repeat a year.
  11. I love routine and organising.  I’m not sure I will like not having that.
  12. That something major will break down on the trip or on our house that we are renting which will throw our whole budget for the trip out!
  13. About our little car not selling and having to offload it for whatever we can get, therefore significantly reducing our fuel budget for the trip.
  14. That we are not going to fit everything in the 20ft container we have ordered to store our house.
  15. I’m worried that our dog is losing his marbles and is going to be a burden on those who look after him for us.

And there are so many more little silly things but those are the main ones!  What on earth are we thinking doing this trip?!?!

I’m taking myself off to bed, I am sure it will all seem better in the morning and hopefully in a few months I can laugh at all these worries.

Nothing Great is Easy, Nothing Great is Easy, Nothing Great is Easy …………………………………..

Categories: About Us, Planning | Tags: | 11 Comments

Words from the Wise

As you can imagine, we have spent hours and hours of time on the internet researching (yes – ‘researching’ not procrastinating to avoid folding the washing or to avoid the million and one jobs that actually needed to be done!) places we’d like to visit, joining online groups such as ‘My Swag’ http://www.myswag.org and ‘Prado Point’ http://www.pradopoint.com and pouring over their forums and posting numerous questions hoping for feedback, as well as reading blog after blog written by others who have undertaken trips similar to the Trip Around Oz that we are planning.  Oh, and I have joined way too many to mention, Facebook Groups relevant to our trip!!

One blog in particular really stood out to us as being the most informative, easy to follow and totally captivating read that we came across in our hours on the internet, and that is the story of Lyndon, Bec and Charlie’s trip around Australia.

Their blog ‘1 year Off’ can be found here http://www.1yearoff.com.au.  It is worth checking out just to see their beautiful photos of many of the amazing places that we are hopefully going to visit on our trip!  We aren’t the only ones who think the ‘1 year Off’ blog is pretty great – Bec, Lyndon and Charlie actually won the Explore Australia Road Trippers Hall of Fame competition in 2012!

http://www.exploreaustralia.net.au/Competitions/Road-Trippers-Hall-of-Fame

Anyway – we liked the Blog so much that we decided to get in contact with Lyndon, Bec and Charlie and after a few emails back and forth, Lyndon was kind enough to send through a stack of tips for us that they learnt first hand from their trip around Australia.

And you, our loyal readers – probably all 3 of you – Mum, Dad & Gayel, are lucky enough too that Lyndon has ok’d that we share these tips on our Blog.

So, below is the email we received from Lyndon – we feel very grateful as most of these ideas are ones that we would never have thought of ourselves!!!  Thank you Lyndon for taking the time to send them through to us!

“Hi Jess,

Here are a few tips we picked up along the way, you probably have thought about quite a few of them already; 

We found a few things very handy that we kept in the car.

  • A wrench and spanner to check the wheel nuts on the car and trailer almost daily. The amount of people we met who had lost a wheel all because they didnt check.
  • A compass in the glove box, was very handy for when we were lining the trailer up in the campsite so we didn’t face west.
  • A small spirit level to ensure the trailer is level.
  • Tyre pressure gauge in the glove box. So much easier grabbing it out of the glove box to check the pressure than finding it in the back drawers each time.
  • I saw on your last post you were wanting a HF radio, we bought a satellite phone instead, thankfully we never had to use it but it was always there in the front seat in case we did. I entered the Royal Flying Doctors numbers in there for each state.

For the Camper

  • If you can fit a heater in, take one as it will be freezing cold in certain parts.
  • We took too many clothes, especially tshirts and shorts.

For the Car

  • I see you have the bull bar and snorkel as a “want”, see if you can move them up to “essentials”. There is a lot of wildlife on the roads and a bull bar will protect that radiator which means you can hopefully drive away from the accident. A snorkel will keep a lot more dirt out of your air filter than where the current air intake is positioned which is essential on those dirt roads you will be travelling on. If you have a compressor, get an attachment that allows you to easily clean the air filter after a day on the dirt and always carry a spare filter.
  • Spare fuses, also spare fuses for the caravan.
  • Hide $1000 cash in the car somewhere for emergencies. You never know when eftpos will be down in the middle of nowhere and you need to get fuel.
  • Top up on fuel whenever you see fuel in remote areas. When we crossed the Gibb River Road, there were 3 places that sold fuel and only 1 was working. We were even at El Questro for a week and their system was down for that entire time.
  • Pack a set of wheel bearings with grease for the car and also your caravan and wrap them up really well so the grease doesnt leak. (If you dont know how to do this, get a mechanic to do it for you). If wheel bearings arent checked they will cease, and even if you dont know how to change them over, at least you have bearings for your outfit and someone will be able to fix it for you. You dont want to be packing the grease in on the road as chances are it will be on a dirt road and grease and dirt dont mix well together…

A few other things I thought of that we took.

  • A pack of 20 occy straps from Bunnings, its amazing how many uses they have…
  • A pack of 5 small super glue tubes, they come in one pack and at least then you don’t go and use the glue and it has dried up…
  • A small tarp had a number of uses, laying it on the ground to get under the car or trailer in the wet or dirt, extra shade etc.
  • Spare radiator hoses and fan belts for the car.
  • Gloves from supercheap auto, were great for setting up and packing up the trailer.
  • Fly and mosquito nets to put over a top of a hat and cover your face. The mosquito ones were very handy in Kakadu as they swarmed there in the evenings.
  • A mallet for bashing in pegs (I need to get my index finger reconstructed this year from hitting it at Kings Canyon, it was such hard ground there…) plus very good pegs for your annex, and also sand pegs for places like Ningaloo Station.
  • Make sure you get good head lamps as it gets very dark out there.
  • We took quite a few other spares also such as battery terminals, wheel nuts and bolts, spare headlight globe, soldering iron, engine oil, diff oil, oil filter, plenty of tools, fencing wire, maxtrax, axe, car recovery kit such as a snatch strap, tree protector, pruning saw etc, a very good first aid kit.”

We are now slowly working our way through these tips to make sure we are as prepared as we can be when we hit the road!  We all know that I love a good ‘list’ to tick off!

So, does anybody else have some good advice for us to keep in mind as we get organised over these final few countdown months??  We’d love to hear it!!!

Categories: Camping, Modifications, Planning | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Why Are We Doing This?

When we tell people that we are heading off around Australia, travelling with 3 kids aged 7 and under, with a camper trailer to live in which is probably smaller than the size of your average bedroom, for the next 6 or 7 months – many people think we are totally bonkers!!

I know that perhaps it does seem crazy to jam a family together in such a confined environment for over 6 months, and maybe financially irresponsible to put the mortgage on hold, a step backwards to sell many of the possessions we have spent so many years accumulating, and perhaps even detrimental to the kids schooling ……… the list goes on.

We are very lucky that our family and friends have been very supportive, positive and genuinely excited for us. However, we do still get a few – ‘you’re nuts!’ or ‘I’d rather chew my own arm off” comments and these make us think – eeeeeek – are we doing the right thing??? Are we crazy????

The answer for us is always YES, we are NUTS, but we feel 100% this trip is the best thing we can do with our lives right now and here’s why;

1. To Celebrate our Success
In my younger days I was a swimmer and at one point, our little country swimming club ended up with a very loud, diet-coke drinking, American swimming coach called Dave. I learnt a lot about working hard, goal setting and dreaming big during his time with us. Something else he tried to impress on us (big shout out to any Malanda Aquatic Dragons reading this!) was the importance of celebrating your success. He believed that if you won a race or swam a PB (personal best, for the non-swimmers out there) then you must celebrate – with a big fist pump or huge yell or even just a big grin & jump. Now – for a pretty shy, small town ‘aussie’ farm girl – this sort of behaviour didn’t come naturally. It seemed very ‘American’, very boastful and loud. It didn’t feel right and unfortunately I never went on to be an Olympic swimmer. However, I now believe that Dave was right. It is important and OK to ‘celebrate your sucess’. You’ve got to do something to make your self feel good, amazing even, after all the hard work …… otherwise, why on earth go back for more/to do it all again????

So, this trip for us is a big ‘fist pump’. It is a chance to celebrate the hard work Matt has done to get to the point of 10 years long service leave, to shout out ‘we survived!’ the sleep deprived baby years of raising three kids, to ‘jump & grin’ about the home we have managed to create and the life we have built that is pretty darn good so far! This trip is the reward and the motivation to start out on the next chapter of our lives – and it feels great!!

2. Time to ‘Smell the Roses’
We believe that sometimes it is important to stop, slow down, and ‘smell the roses’ a little. We feel like the last decade for us has passed mostly in a blur of shift work for Matt, buying and shfting houses, part-time work for me with a ‘hi/bye’ at 2pm as we swapped over work/house manager roles, sooooo many nappies and school pick ups and drop offs. We want to use this trip to spend time together as a family – cementing our bond, sealing in our family values, instilling a love of this beautiful land we live in and generally ‘loving’ each other!

3. Simplifying Life
Our current life has been too busy, we have accumulated too many ‘things’ and our kids have no idea that you can actually wash dishes without a dishwasher! We want to change all that on this trip. We want to make life simple and re-programme some better habits for our life. On the trip we will only have 4 sets of clothes each and the kids will only be bringing some Lego and colouring books with them. There will be no TV. Our aim will be to eat healthy, fresh, yummy, basic meals (coke and chocolate addiction be gone!), exercise every day, read lots, sleep lots, see lots, sing lots, draw lots, write lots, talk lots, laugh, and probably, fight and cry lots. Idealistic maybe, but it’s worth a shot!

4. Time out to Plan the next step in our Lives.
I’m an eldest child. I’m a Virgo. I am an accountant. And Matt & my sister’s will tell you – I’m a bit ok, a lot Bossy.

It is well known that I like to Plan, Set Goals and Make Lists – end of story. (yes, yes, family – I know it can be very annoying, but stuff gets done ok – so quit the ‘eye rolling’!!).

So – Matt and I have been married 10 years this year, it is time to set the new 10 year plan. We have been fortunate that the last one was pretty straightforward.

Establish careers – tick

Buy a house – tick

Travel lots – tick – just missed the living/working overseas thing due to the step below arriving a little ahead of schedule!

Have lots of kids – getting there – tick.

Be Happy/Live life to the full – mostly, tick.

This next 10 year plan though, is much harder ………..

We’re not sure where we now want to live and raise our family, we’re not sure our careers are really the ones we want, we want to do more with our lives, to make a mark on the world – something GOOD, useful, fulfilling and challenging that will carry us far into our futures, but we have no idea how or what that should be!

We’re hoping this trip will give us the time out to clear the mind and allow room for the mud map for the next 10 years to come to life ………….. we’re open to suggestions!?!?

5. Making the Most of Our Life
Pretty self explanatory – we want to live life to the full and to show our kids that they can do that too!! We want to get to the end of our life journey and know we filled it in to the brim with love, family, adventure, and that we gave everything we wanted to do, and even some that we didn’t, a ‘red hot go’. Travelling around Australia with our 3 young kids in a camper van is definitely one of those ‘must do’ things for us.

So, in the words of Mary Oliver ………….

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems

Categories: About Us, Camping, Planning | Tags: , , , , , , | 42 Comments

12 Weeks To Go!

So it is time to just bite the bullet!  I have been wanting to try to really make this blog look beautiful and professional and perfect but it is now time to just get it going and hope that it will evolve into all of those things over time!  I can’t believe I set this blog up over twelve months ago and this is only my second post – eeeek – so much for keeping you all up to date with all of our planning and ‘goings on’!  Oh well, a brief summary to bring you up to speed – it is my intention to go back and do some blog posts in a bit more detail about what we have been up to for the last twelve months but for now, a quick update;

  • In June 2011, we began talking about Matt’s 10 years of Long Service Leave and what we would like to do when that time came.  We tossed around a few ideas – renovate the kitchen, pay a whack off the mortgage, take the kids to Disneyland, go to Bali, sell up and move back to the country etc, etc.  However, after a weekend away camping and some talking around the campfire, the idea to take 6 months off and travel around Australia with the kids was born and the talking, planning, talking, dreaming and researching (ok, and maybe a bit of arguing!) began!
  • In February 2012 we purchased ‘Peter Prado’ a 2008 model Toyota Landcruiser Prado with just under 100,000km’s on the clock.  Many thanks to Mum & Dad for driving all the way to Alpha to collect him and then delivering him to us in Brisbane!Image
  • In September 2012 we purchased ‘Karen Camper’ a 2003 model Goldstream ‘Goldstar’ Camper Van (there was lot’s of too-ing and fro-ing about the decision of what ‘style of accommodation’ we were going to choose for our trip – we looked at everything from tents, caravans, camper trailers and combi vans – I think we need a whole separate post on why we finally settled on the Goldstar – stay tuned!).

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  • Since then we have managed to fit in one camp a month to some great places like Bribie Island, Somerset Dam, Elanda Point, Flannagan’s Reserve and Sandy Creek.  Oh, and we also took the camper all the way home to Far North Queensland and back over Christmas!  We are hoping to squeeze a few more camps in before we leave in June.

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  • We have done a few modifications to our ‘rig’ – mostly UHF installed, suspension lift, new iPhone compatible stereo unit, new ‘hitchmaster DO35’ hitch for the trailer, dual battery system, Anderson plug, heavy duty power outlet in the rear, roof racks and side awning.  Matt will have to do a post for more details on those things!
  • And we have also bought a Waeco fridge/freezer for the back of the car and an air compressor.
  • And in amongst all of this – we have had Jack start Grade 2, Toby finish kindy and start Prep as well as lose his first tooth, and Lexi start Kindy.  I had a trip to New Zealand for Nana Bell’s funeral ): Matt is working full time, I’m working part-time and I think that is about it?!?!

So that pretty much brings us up to now – 12 weeks until we leave Brisbane on the 1st of June and head off towards Longreach and Winton as our first major port of call.  We are hoping to meet some of the family in Winton as a nice kick start to our trip.    At the moment we are feeling a little stressed with all we still have to do before then – rent the house, sort out the kids schooling, pack the house and work out where to move it to/store it, keep working to earn as much money as we can, pack camper, sell as much of our unwanted/unnecessary household items as we can to increase our $$$ for the road, get our blog up and running, remember to not yell at children when it is all feeling too stressful, sell our second vehicle as this is our fuel money for the trip, declutter the house, cleaning and tidy up jobs around the house so it is ready to be rented, research places we ‘must’ see …………….. oh the list is endless!

But nothing great is easy right???  And we are soooooooo excited at the prospect of seven or so months on the road all together and getting to see and experience some amazing parts of Australia …….. bring it on!!

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Categories: About Us | Tags: , | 17 Comments

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