TAWK Featured Family - 'Roving Reeves'

March 2016

1.   About you

After 23 years of marriage and two beautiful boys (8 & 10) we decided to leave work and ‘life’ behind and take off around Australia, we call ourselves the “Roving Reeves”. We left our home in the Southern suburbs of Perth WA back in February 2015.

We’re travelling in a 100 Series Landcruiser towing a 22ft Jayco Starcraft. Our plan was to travel for 12 months but it’s now been over 12 months and we can’t see ourselves stopping anytime soon, life is just too good on the road.

So far we’ve travelled through WA, the top end of NT, made our way down the coast of QLD and some of NSW. There is so much to see and we don’t like to travel too fast.

2.   Why did you make your decision to TAWK?

In the early 2000’s we travelled through the UK & Western Europe.  We loved our time but decided Australia was definitely the place we want to live our lives,  so the decision to travel Australia was the next step. Great idea, but we needed funds so we went back to work. 

Our first little boy joined our family and 20 months later another one appeared. We said to ourselves back in 2006 that when the kids are 8 & 10 we’ll do that trip around Aus. But like a lot of families out there, we both got settled into good jobs working 5-6 days a week to pay off our mortgage and put our kids through a good school, everyone we associated with was doing the same, so we got caught up in the ‘norm’ and did a good job of doing the normal thing - but it didn’t feel right to us.

We couldn’t help but think there must be more to life than this? So in 2014 we made the decision to just do it, you only have one life and we didn’t want to wait until we were retired to do the trip. We wanted our children to see Australia and we knew we wanted that for ourselves as well.


3.   How did you get organised and how did you prepare?

We sold our family home as we were emotionally attached to it and didn’t like the idea of tenants in our space, we do think if we kept it we would have both had a yearning to go back, which may cut our trip short. We put most of the money into building another property which we rented out as soon as it was built. We did this for two reasons, firstly our money was still invested in something solid and secondly we have something to live in when we get back without the need to try and get a mortgage after not working for 12 months.

Once we ordered the caravan we needed to buy a car which was able to tow it, so we sold our family car and purchased the Landcruiser. We had a tight budget for the car and we were advised to buy a 100 series Turbo Diesel. We purchased a 2004 Cruiser with 180’000 kms on it. I was worried about travelling Australia in a car that had done that many kms, but I’ve got to say it’s been the best car we’ve ever had.

So after buying the essentials we were set, some savings money in our account for the year. We quit our jobs (hardest thing ever for us to do) packed all our belongings into a 20ft sea container and dumped it on a friends property, exited the house and moved into the van. “Ahhhh what the hell are we doing????” went through my head a few times. Lol!

We decided to do a little shake down trip as the car and van were both new to us and we weren’t sure if we had forgotten anything or if we had taken things we didn’t need. So we spent 4 weeks travelling around the South East of WA and back to Perth. I’m glad we did this as we had taken a few things we didn’t need and we were able to unload these into the sea container.


4.  What has been your biggest joy?

Freedom and a new found knowledge of this beautiful country of ours – what a diverse, amazing place we live in.

The freedom of being able to choose what you would like to do or see on a daily basis. Not having to be somewhere at a certain time and not being stuck in a rut – the ‘living day to day’ life.

We can’t believe how little we’ve known about this country we’ve lived in all our lives. Not only has it been a great education for the kids but for us both as well.


5. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Learning how to relax, how to live in a confined space and the home schooling of the kids.
The first part of the trip was like being on a 2 week holiday it was all great, but after 6-8 weeks we went through an adjustment period of learning our places in the van. It took us a while to get used to our new living arrangement, but now it’s become our new ‘normal’. We did a house sit over Christmas and we actually missed living in our van????

Lets also add Home-Schooling to the challenge list.  Mum is the person you can tell anything to, unfortunately for Mum, as a teacher the children don’t feel the need to hold back and whinging about school work can be intense.  There have been days I’ve stayed in bed in the morning, thinking “If I don’t get up I don’t have to fight with the boys to get their school work done”.  Doesn’t work of course. 

Would you believe Term 4 started much the same as every other Term and then a week in the boys ‘got it’, they woke, got on with their school work without any prompting and were amazing.  So we’re assuming it’ll be the same this year and they’ll get things sorted by Term 4 again lol!

Its been wonderful meeting teachers along the way, they give you that confidence boost you need as a homeschooling parent that you are doing a great job.

6.   How did you get organised with schooling, what did/do you do and how did you come to that decision?

For the year before we left I really stressed about getting our boys education just right. As we all do I'm sure! Coming from a Montessori school the boys were used to a certain way of learning. I didn't want to 'wreck' any of the amazing work their teachers had put into installing that love of learning they both had.

I must have read every item on the internet about homeschooling - I was obsessed. Finally I decided on books from an online Australian Homeschooling page where I had to test the boys and then buy in accordance with grades in each subject.

I rang the Beaconsfield home educators site in WA, they were very helpful and after forwarding birth certificates to them I was issued a certificate advising I was now in charge of the boys education. A moderator popped out a few weeks later to go through my program. She was wonderful.  I had maths, English and spelling books. Dictionary, atlas and many research books. I had a plan for art, language and music.

The first year the boys did all these books Mon - Fri then did research and assignments at libraries.  Mathletics and Spellodrome as well.  Art is never a hard one and we were lucky to go to nearly every art gallery we came across. We visited museums and all information centres we saw. We did a bit of Italian but that didn't last long. Then the travel journals each day.

Did that go down well?  Hmmm, it wasn't easy and I realised I needed to streamline. So this year we have a maths book for their years and a science/English book.  I obtained a couple of computer disks for maths that are full of games to mix things up. And I'm concentrating on their book reading, in paper books if possible.

Finally, the reason I chose homeschooling was the flexibility to teach current and appropriate subjects to the boys. To allow their schooling to be based on their likes and motivations, allowing them to continue to develop the love for learning that has been installed in their early years at Montessori.

We've all learnt so much about Australia, animals, cars, rocks, gems, architecture and nature because the boys are so excited to share what they're learning and we are so involved in the process.


7.   Where have you enjoyed and Where has Disappointed you the most?

Enjoyed

We’ve loved the diversity of everything we’ve seen so far, from the beautiful White sandy beaches of South East WA, the red rocks hitting the turquoise waters of the far North of WA, The Gorges in the Pilbara, the waterfalls of the NT and the amazing rain forest, Reefs and Islands of North QLD. Every State, every corner of this beautiful country has something different to offer.

A highlight for us was being invited to stay at Kachana Station in the Kimberly WA. Kachana land was part of El Questro Station, 780’000 acres was sold off from El Questro and became Kachana Station. Katchan is run by Chris and Jacqui who live on the station and their children (Bobby, Rebecca and Kristina) still fly in and help out. For us, our visit started with a 40 min flight in a 7 seater light plane over the Durack Range (as there is no road access into Kachana) and a two hour tractor ride into the homestead with Bobby. (which the boys loved immensely).

We were met by the most loveliest people Jacqui & Chris and their daughter Kristina. We were shown to our open air bedroom and bathroom and then sat down for an awesome dinner. This place is like nothing we have ever experienced before. To be in such a beautiful part of this country and know there was only the 8 of us on this 780,000 Acre property was truly amazing.

Chris has his own Cessna 6 seater plane to fly in and out of the property and almost everything on the property was flown in. The homestead is set in a valley between the Elgee cliffs and the Durack range over looking Regular Gorge.

A small walk to the East of the property and we found the most amazing waterfalls and large swimming holes with no crocs and to the West we found large water holes full of fresh Barramundi and fresh water crocs. Great spot to catch dinner.

Chris had some friends who were working in the area drop in for brekky one morning, in a R44 helicopter. I mentioned I'd never been in a helicopter they said jump in and they took some of us for a low level flight over the Chamberlain River through some of the Gorges and back to the homestead. To say it was a buzz would be an understatement. This whole experience is something we will never forget and we hope to get back there one day to see it in the wet season. There is a little story here to explain what Kachana is all about.

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Disappointed

Absolutely nothing has disappointed us on this trip. The wonderful realization we have come to, is what we like – we love remote areas over the larger town and cities, We last a short time in cities seeing Australian icons then pop back into the country to see places we find icons.

8.   What surprised you most about the trip?

We’ve been blown away by the amount of families travelling Australia like us. I’ve got to admit when we started planning this trip I thought we were doing something out of the ordinary, something not too many other families have done. Wow was I wrong. It’s been an absolute joy to meet so many other families on the road and we’ve made so many good friends along the way. People we have so much in common with.

9.   What would be three pieces of advice to give to a future TAWKer?


  1. Our advice would be,  “you have to do it”!
  2. Make sure you don’t plan your trip too far ahead. What I mean by that is, don’t book your accommodation too far ahead, allow yourself to be able to change your minds along the way. You will find places that you fall in love with and you may have only planned to stay at for 2-3 days but then you’ll want to stay for a week or two. As you meet people along the way you’ll learn of places you’ve never heard of and you will want to change your plans to visit these places.
  3. Don’t be shy; when you pull up somewhere go for a walk around the camp or CV Park and meet people. My wife and I used to just sit at our van and say hi to people walking past but we wouldn’t really engage in conversation and I’ve found this is what a lot of people do. We now make it our mission to meet people along the way. We now do what my wife calls her ‘Aussie Chardonnay Promenade’ where we grab ourselves a couple of drinks and walk around the camp or park and introduce ourselves to people who are sitting under their caravan awning, around their fire or walking around like us. Yes you will meet some people that don’t wish to be found, but we’ve found the majority of people want to chat. We’ve made some great friends from these walks and have ended up traveling with some of them that have been going in the same direction.

10.   How do you think that this adventure has changed your family?

Going from two working parents, two children in school, after school activities, caring for a home and household, etc – we are now living within metres of each other 24/7.   We ALL know each other soooo well now. Dad knows what the boys want for lunch or how they wear their clothes, he knows their emotional needs and wants.  Mum knows – well mum knows everything of course hehe.  The boys have learnt how to play together better and rely on each other when mum and dad are annoying.

We are all much more excited about learning.  Home schooling the children is such a great opportunity to learn yourself.  The basics happen easily, it’s the interesting things we learn along the way that make our family bond stronger and stronger every day.


Finally

We are told we are ‘lucky’ to be able to do this.  Don’t let people tell you that.  We’re not lucky, we are brave to have made a decision to put our families first and take time to see Australia, to learn about life together.  That’s what families should be about.  As we all know most of us on the road don’t have heaps of money, we just made a decision and followed through.  Can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.

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