Hi there, we’re Mick, Sam, Mackenzie (6) and Bronte (3) and we’ve been on the road now for 5 months. We’re travelling in our Toyota Prado with a Patriot X1 camper trailer in tow and love the adventure of back roads and 4WD tracks.
We were both juggling demanding full-time careers and trying to raise a young family. We were more stressed than we’d like to be and we barely saw each other…we knew something needed to change. Now, here we are half way through our trip with absolutely no regrets, sure it’s not our greatest financial decision and it will set us back years, but the family time and memories we’re creating are priceless.
From making the decision to travel Australia to hitting the road was about 6 months. Fortunately, we already had a well set up 4WD and off-road camper trailer, so it was just a matter of tinkering a little to prepare them for longer term travel.
A large laminated map of Australia (we sell one here - TAWK) dominated our lounge room and everyday we’d look at it armed with a dry-erase marker highlighting places we wanted to visit and trying to map out a rough route. We did some serious de-cluttering and decided that renting out our house while we are away was the best option for our circumstances…the rent covers the mortgage repayments and it means we have a familiar home to come back too.
Our biggest joy is not one single thing but rather all the little moments along the way where we really connect with the kids and get to watch them grow and develop, but one of our happiest memories of the trip so far was the day we hired bikes at Uluru and rode around the base…there were just so many genuine moments of laughter and fun.
Like many others, our biggest challenge is learning to spend 24/7 together in a small confined space and feeling like there is nowhere to escape to…except perhaps to do the laundry or a grocery shop. Some days/weeks are a breeze and others are tough.
Overcoming it? Trying to give everyone a bit of space from time to time, including the kids. A great reset is finding a good playground or caravan park with other suitably-aged kids for the girls to play with because often they just craving some quality kid time.
Cape York will always be hard to top, specifically the Old Telegraph Track. The 4WDing is a lot of fun and the added risk and challenge of some creek crossings really adds to the adventure. Regardless of how many times you do it, there is a real sense of achievement reaching to tip of mainland Australia.
There have been a few places where expectations and reality haven’t quite met but honestly we haven’t been anywhere that we haven’t ended up enjoying for one reason or another. Each place is what you make it.
Fortunately for us, our schooling requirements on the road is for Year 1 only. We opted for homeschooling over distant education as we felt that it offered greater flexibility and would be more suited to the life we envisaged on the road (and we have no regrets).
We’re currently registered with Queensland Home Education Unit who were brilliant to deal with. They promptly emailed through information to assist with the registration process which was essentially to develop a work plan to show how we’d provide a quality education.
Our work plan is based on information I gathered from the ACARA website for Year 1 students and we feel we can meet those requirements using a variety of formal workbooks for English and Maths, some learning apps and plenty of hands-on learning on the road.
The biggest surprise is the friendships we’ve formed along the way…we knew we’d meet a lot of people but we never expected to make life-long friends.
It’s such a great feeling to connect with other families/travelers then continue to cross paths every few days or weeks or months because you are heading the same general direction. For the kids, it means friends they’ve already connected with too so no shy/awkward introductions or learning where they stand in the pecking order, just straight in to start playing again where they left off from.
This adventure has changed our perspective on a lot of things and when we get back home we’ll make sure we continue to have regular family adventures…we function better as a family when we’re off the grid.
If you want to follow our adventures further, we’re documenting our trip on Facebook and Instagram @MeanderingAroundAustralia.