TAWK Featured Family -
'Getting Back to Nature'

November 2015

1.   About you

We are the Ashford family aka travelling gypsies according to friends. Husband Mark 30, daughter Ivy 4, son Cale 2 and myself Dani 30. We have been travelling for a year now with another year to go. We are travelling in a Jayco Outback Hawk with our Nissan Patrol named Duncan!

2.   Why did you make your decision to TAWK?

I come from a travelling family and have been camping and four wheel driving since I was a baby. My parents are from Switzerland and Germany and when mum was 18 they travelled Australia for 2 years in a Combie Van. I have grown up wanting to do the same and I have always wanted to move out of Sydney.

When Mark got sick of spending 3 hours a day traffic to get to and from work, 6 days a week, I decided to value our house to see what we could get. 

Bingo! It got valued for more than we expected and we put it on the market a week later, sold it the next, stopped working and we started organizing. 

We're not moving back to Sydney, so while on this trip we are also looking for a potential place to live before Ivy goes to school! I love the Sunshine Coast, my husband loves Tassie. Who knows where we end up!

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

Organising took us four months, at Mark's now leisurely pace (he had stopped working). We boxed up our essentials and put them into storage. Everything else, we sold or it was given away. We up graded our 1992 Nissan Patrol called Hank, to a 2007 Nissan Patrol named Duncan. 

For living accommodation we wanted to be able to go off road, be maneuverable, be off the ground and fit four people. That limited it to pop up caravans or tent trailers, we chose a Jayco Hawk Outback. We installed solar panels, built some drawers for the 4wd, decided on essential  camping gear, packed everything into plastic containers and off we went. No planning of the route, just a vague idea.....clockwise.

4.  What has been your biggest joy?

My biggest joy is seeing the kids being able to spend time with their dad. Before we left I was like a single mum and Mark was at work before the kids woke up and then he came home when they were going to bed.  The freedom of time and choice is fantastic. Our great love has become a remote camp by water, where we can get in the nude, get dirty and just wash it off in the river, no rush, no deadlines, just mosey along as we feel like.

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

Like everyone else, our biggest challenge is being in each others faces 24/7! Especially in cold rainy weather!  But you just make do. Separate the kids, one on each bed with a special activity and mum and dad have days out. Mark loves hiking so he will do a day hike and I will go to the markets and have coffee and treats. The kids will have the same tantrums on the road as they do back home, you just have a different view each time!

6.   Where have you enjoyed the most?

This is a hard one!  So far we both loved Tassie, especially the west coast as its very rugged. Unfortunately we did have a lot of rain and cold! Like ice inside our trailer and no heating! (I don't like cold!) but we managed a few hikes, 4wdriving and a few cheeky swims! A great place for free camping, everywhere and almost everyone are so friendly, helpful and generous.

7.   Where disappointed you the most?

Most disappointing, Phillp Island. Very expensive place to stay, and the penguin parade was too expensive. Luckily we had discounts and only ended paying for one person but otherwise wouldn't have bothered. Felt really sorry for the penguins too, as they were scared by the hoards of people and  we were there in the off season.

8.   What surprised you most about the trip?

What surprised us the most is; we don't want to stop!  We are in love with our little  "house". It's small but it works. And the kids love making new friends. All the superficial things you cared about before, you don't care about anymore and you feel alive. Mark always says it's the first time he feels like he is actually living life.

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

1.   DO IT!  JUST DO IT. the only regret you will have is not getting on the road earlier.
2.   Take as little as possible. If it's just in case leave it at home. If you find you really need something on the road then you can always buy it.
3.    If you plan to go off road, prepare your car and have the right recovery gear.

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

We all hate each other now. Bahahaha!!  But seriously, we have found that because of the constantly changing environments, situations and company, we now rarely find ourselves out of our comfort zones. As long as there is dirt, rocks, sticks and water, the kids are happy. We have become more easy going, problems and inconveniences now cause little stress.

I get excited about telling our story to try and encourage more people to get out and explore! This is how mark and I got together in the first place, because I invited him camping!

Thank you for this opportunity to share our story.

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If you would like to become a Featured Family please complete the form at the bottom of the page.

If you would like to be a part of the TAWK Featured Family page and share your Australian Road Trip with everyone, then please complete the form below and I will send you the details.  The more of us that share our journeys, hopefully we will inspire other families to get out there and travel our wonderful country.

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