TAWK Featured Family -
'Mac's Tracks'  

1.  Who are you?

 We are Mac's Tracks (the Macdonald family) from Melbourne, Victoria. Marta (36), Brett (36), Ella (6) and Mia (4).

We've left our daily lives behind and taken off on the trip of a lifetime for 12 months - exploring Australia in our 2014 Toyota Prado, towing an off-road Cub Escape camper trailer. If you would like to follow us as we laugh, learn and live our dream on the road check out our Facebook page and Insta account.

2.   Why did you make your decision to TAWK?

After some personal circumstances over the past few years, the reality that life is short and we should seize the day really hit home. This trip had been a 'someday' dream for us since a month long tent camping trip along the NSW North Coast, in our early twenties (pre kids).

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

We started to save, accumulate leave and purchased an old Land Cruiser 100 Series to get some 4WD experience (since upgraded to a Prado 150). We also locked in some tenants to rent out our house quite early, so we had a set date for when we had to leave.

Apart from a quick shake down trip when we purchased the Cub, we didn't take holidays for a few years. At times we felt like the universe was against us, like when we purchased a brand new car for the trip a few months prior to our departure date, which turned out to be a lemon (not the Prado).

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4.  What has been your biggest joy?

The freedom that we have together as a family. The first day that we drove off to start our lap after all the hectic months of packing, planning and buying a replacement car at the last minute, we were finally free.

The last few months on the road, we've been able to experience the freedom of going wherever we want to and not being tied down to the daily life routines. It's been amazing to be able to do that, but also a joy to experience the simple things together as a family.

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

Food!! Keeping up with two active, growing kids who seem to be bottomless pits. They constantly want to eat. To date, food has been our biggest weekly expense and we're a bit worried how we will manage this when we get really remote - hopefully we'll catch lots of fish! If anyone has any suggestions please throw some our way, as we still haven't overcome this challenge. Brett and I often joke that we are on army rations in order to keep the kids fed.

6.   Where have you enjoyed the most and Where disappointed you the most?

We've definitely enjoyed the Coral Coast of WA. This is an area we have always been looking forward to visiting, and it sure didn't disappoint. The Ningaloo Reef is absolutely stunning, and so accessible for families as it lies just a short swim off the beach in many places. The kids are now expert snorkelers, constantly amazed at the different sea life they've seen. Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Exmouth was a personal highlight!

A week-long trip to Dirk Hartog island was another favourite (off mainland Australia's most western point, and site of the first recorded European landing in 1616); as was a few days spent sailing on board Capella (a chartered catamaran) on Rottnest Island. 

The national parks of the Yorke and Eyre Penninsulas in SA were also stunning.

We don't feel like we've been anywhere that's disappointed us, but just wish we had some better weather in the South West of WA.

If you are thinking of Travelling Australia With Kids, then the TAWK Guide would be a great place to start.

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

We were really lucky to be granted an extended leave of absence from Ella's principal and were also provided with several packs of work from her previous year's prep teacher. The age specific educational books that can be purchased from newsagents (which follow the school curriculum, in Ella's case for grade 1) have provided us some extra structure.

We try to base schooling around formal work through the books and packs we have, plus explorative learning on the road. We find that doing formal school straight after breakfast (when Ella is full of food) is usually the best time.

Mia, who is at a kindergarten level is keen to participate in Ella's school work which can be a bit of a challenge. So we do try to tailor for her as well and have some great apps for both girls (like Reading Eggs).

8.   What surprised you most about the trip?

We were really surprised about how easy the transition for us was from moving out of a house to a camper trailer. We've all managed to cope really well with the reduction in our living space and feel like we won't know what to do with ourselves when we move back in to our house.

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

Our 3 pieces of advice are:

1. Just do it. There will never be a perfect time and it's so easy to fall into the trap of one day we will.... and never get around to it.

2. Don't feel you have to have the latest greatest camper trailer/caravan. We've seen people with all sorts of set ups having an equally great time. 

3. Buy the Wikicamps App - it's the best $7.99 we've spent and it's never steered us wrong, it can even be used without mobile reception (the TAWK logo will be appearing as a filter in the next upgrade of the Wikicamps App, highlighting the TAWKer supporter parks - TAWK). 

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

 It's given us the opportunity to spend a lot more time together as a family. For me (Marta) I've made a point to try some things that are out of my comfort zone and felt a great sense of achievement from that.

The girls social skills and confidence have evolved and Brett is learning how to relax and have some down time. All of these things have helped us grow individually but strengthened us as a family as well. 

There's so much to see and do, even in 3 laps you'd never see it all. So, if you can only do 3 months, 6 months, 9 months etc.. take what you can, but also take your time to soak up the area you chose to focus on.Several times we've found ourselves getting burnt out from trying to see too much. Some of our best memories (so far) have been when we've stopped and chilled out for a bit. Get out there and enjoy!! 

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