Hi ! We are the Willett Family. I'm Tania, Ben is my husband and our children are Véda 13, Hendrix 11, River 9 and Astrid 5. Betty is our Staffy ;) We have been on the road for 18 months so far and have now visited every Australian State and Territory! We are travelling in our renovated 1973 Viscount Caravan - we get a lot of comments on it.
We made our decision to TAWK in 2008, completing a 6 month trip of QLD and NT - It was this trip that saw us move interstate from Sydney to Bundaberg. After a year or so of 'normal' life we knew we wanted to get back on the road, so we made a 5 year plan to help make that happen.
We sold our 16ft pop top that we had outgrown and used the money for the purchase and renovation of a new 20ft, full height, tandem axle van. It took $10'000 and 3 years to complete the renovations. We sold all of our non essentials, adding to our savings, put all our keepsakes into storage and we were finally ready to hit the road.
Our biggest joys, are probably different for each person in the family, for me, I find Joy in every single day. (not always easy!) We are so blessed to have all of this time together as a family and I am truly grateful for that. We have also made some amazing friends on the road, whom I know will be friends for a long time to come.
Our biggest challenge ? That's a hard one. I'm going to have to settle with blowing the fuel pump 300 klms from a serviced town on the remote WA coast. It turned into an expensive exercise after towing fees, a hire car and accommodation - and that's before we even paid for the new fuel pump or mechanic's labour.
We have enjoyed a lot of places.... The entire state of Tasmania was so great. We spent 3 months there and are planning a return journey for another 6 months. Kings Canyon was also pretty spectacular and we all loved our trip to Cape Leveque and the Crystal Blue Waters of Exmouth and Coral Bay.
We were however quite disappointed in the South West of WA, we kept hearing how wonderful the South West was, and we just didn't feel it. The weather was absolutely atrocious, it rained for 22 days straight! It was freezing cold, a few events we had booked in were rained out, it was just miserable.
The three eldest children are registered with the Home Education Unit QLD, this enables me to write my own plans for the kids. I like that flexibility, we can study the area we are in, it's history, industry, geological significance and culture. We don't ever have to be online, or send or receive work on a regular basis. I do a report for each child at the end of 10months and that's it. I'm so glad we made the decision to join HEU.
Most Surprising thing ? That's tricky. I think I'm going to say: How many people are actually out here doing what we're doing. Part of you thinks you're escaping into a different world, only when you arrive you realise you're late to the party :)
We've also been surprised by the quality of free camps, some are simply amazing! The price of some caravan parks can be quite surprising too, the highest quote we've had was $110 per night for a powered site. Hence we don't use parks much. (And why we are trying to get the TAWKer Supporter Program up and running - TAWK)
Advice for future TAWKers would be...
This adventure has changed our family, each one of the kids, and both of us, for the better. Ben and I have realised we want a much simpler lifestyle, with far less belongings. It still amazes me how little we own, yet function perfectly - It makes you wonder what on earth ALL that stuff in your house is actually for.
Our eldest daughter, Veda has an anxiety disorder, before we left she was insecure, anxious and full of self doubt. This life has lead to her now being a shadow of her former self, and it is just wonderful to see.
Hendrix, who is a funny boy, yet quite studious, has become more social and made some really good friends on the road. He has also had time to delve into his personal interests of geology and Greek mythology. I love seeing kids follow their interests and learning for love.
River, who has ADHD - was labelled as a trouble maker at school and spent a lot of time in isolation and missed out on rewards because of bad behaviour. Now that he has freedom to be physically active, pursue his own interests and the time and space to work in short furious bursts, he has come forward in leaps and bounds academically.
Last is Astrid, As she was only just 4 when we left, she doesn't really know a different way of life, but she is a happy free spirited little girl who makes friends with everybody.
At the end of the day it doesn't matter if you're travelling in a million dollar rig, a tent, or even just a car or bicycle. Get out there and see it. It'll be the best thing you ever do, your only regret will be not doing it sooner.
Thanks for reading and Happy Travelling everyone, you can follow us on our Facebook Page Caravan of Crazy.