TAWK Featured Family - 
'MILSY Pezwardo'

1.  Who are you?

Hi! I am Millie – I am a mum, wife, midwife & keen sewer from the Central Coast of NSW. I am an over sharer, an over thinker and I use exclamation marks excessively! 

My little family & I are on an indefinite trip around Australia! We stop to work when we need money and travel around checking out this great country when we don't! My travel companions are Andrew (husband/boilermaker) Ruby (8) & 6 year old twins Rosie & Zac and last but not least our dog Pippy!

We traveling in our 99 model Troopy & 98 model 16ft Windsor Offroad caravan (it initially only had 2 single beds but my handy Andy added a double bed & bunks).

2.   Why did you make your decision to TAWK?

Why? We got sick of work, work, WORKING! There was no happy balance for us and in the end we were only spending time together as a family on a Sunday! And only getting away camping once a month! Everyone kept telling us these were the best years of our lives, our kids were young; enjoy them! We didn’t want to miss the best years of our lives not seeing our kids! 

In 2008 my husband Andrew & I set off for a ¾ lap of Australia – we knew we wanted to take the kids on a similar adventure so it was always just a matter of when!

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

We set a date! We packed our stuff in a shipping container that we put down in our back yard, got a tenant for our house, quit our jobs & off we went!

Sounds simple! Well it kinda was – once the date is set everything seemed to fall into place! The culling/packing up the house was probably the most stressful so my advice would be to give your self plenty of time for that! Thank goodness for my Mum and Kathy or I would still probably be there packing!

The Rig! Our 99’ Landcruiser Troopy and a 98’ Windsor 16ft Pop Top caravan would do the job just fine so apart for the Troopy getting a GVM upgrade and the caravan got a few 12 volt add on's like water pump and USB ports our set up remained the same.

Yes the idea of a new Landcruiser and a new caravan was very appealing but being tied up to repayments would mean us having to work more – less work was the whole point about getting away! If we had new stuff I don’t think we would have been to half the places we have been too – we don’t mind the odd scratch, ding or snapped stub axel!

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4.  What has been your biggest joy?

My biggest joy as a mum is watching them come out of their shell by doing things they wouldn’t have been doing so often at home!

Ruby was always a little timid around animals now she is picking up frogs & touching snakes! Rosie was scared of heights now I watch her jump out of trees into swimming holes and go down crazy high water slides and Zac – well Zac is such a boof head, watching him be completely himself without a lot of the rules that formal schooling would have imposed is captivating! Fishing is life for this kid – he can tie his own fishing knots, bait up and cast the rod and even catch his own livies! 

And of course watching them interact with each other is also entertaining! They do have the odd dust up as siblings do but for 3 kids that spend 24 hours a day together I think they get on really well! 

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

Adjusting to day to day living on the road for us hasn’t been challenging! Our biggest challenge to date has been a mechanical one!

Mother Days 2018 was spent on the side of a gravel road! It was actually nice – we had a fire – fish fingers for lunch and got to chat with all the lovely people who stopped to see if we needed a hand! 

What happened? We snapped a Stub axle on the Nathan River Road about 20kms south from the Lorella Springs turn off! I am talking go find the tyre in the bush complete snap! We got towed to our nearest community and Andrew was able to source and refit a second hand stub axle – we were then able make it to Katherine to do further repairs! So grateful Andrew is handy as the local repairer would have taken over a week! Thanks to Andrews welding skills & some helpful locals we were back on the road in 48 hours! So challenging yes! A negative experience? No! As usual our kids went with the flow!

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

Our favourite spot to date would be Gregory Downs QLD – we love the simple things so free camping, camp oven dinners & a river with a good current to float down ticks all the boxes!

Coming in at a close second would be Lorella Springs NT! If you get there early in the seasons the swimming holes are awesome – the 4wd-ing is so much fun & we met some awesome people I think we will be mates with for along time!

Disappointments? None so far! We make lemons out of lemonade but there is honestly isn't anywhere we have been that we have felt disappointed by!

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

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Finally all the information you need in one place! Easy to read format with handy links to help you get started on your trip.

Grab a copy right now and save yourself hours of sifting through the internet trying to find the information you need.  To help you get organised, and to turn your dream into a plan!

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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?

I created a bit of a checklist before we left of what I wanted out of ‘School’, what I was prepared to do and what was I willing to compromise on!

This list went like this; 

  • I wanted to follow a curriculum so the kids could slot back into to ‘normal school’ if was so required.
  • I wanted someone to check up on us, make us accountable & help us if we were struggling.
  • I wanted resources, I am all for making and finding my own stuff but I knew my motivation time would be limited when we were busy exploring!

Distance Ed ticked all the boxes for us! We have been enrolled for almost a full year now & the twins are currently in year 1 & Ruby is in Year 3! We are enrolled with NEPSODE a distance education school based in Port Macquarie NSW!

If you are interested in any more info on how we do ‘school’ check out our blog post here.

8.   What surprised you most about the trip?

How easy our transition to this life was and that after almost a year it would still feel like holidays! 

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

Our 3 pieces of advice are:

  1. Limit your one night stops! If you are on a strict schedule they will obviously be unavoidable but we have found back to back ‘one nighters’ bloody exhausting!
  2. Try not to plan too much! A tricky concept if you are a ‘planner’ but we found ‘word of mouth’ camping spots to be sometimes the best! We chat with lots of families that miss out on cool kid friendly cheap spots because they have already booked and paid for a caravan park a few months ago!
  3. Be realistic! Life on the road is just like life at home but you are in a tinier space so things are more intense! You will still have fights, you will still burn dinner, you will still let washing pile up & your kids will still have punch ups in the back seat of the car! My advice is laugh it all off & think of the alternative of being back home making school lunches & juggling school drop offs and pickups!

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

It has brought us closer together! Definitely! We have always been a pretty tight unit but we are now a well oiled machine! And the best part is we don’t have an end date in sight, we still have so many places we cannot wait to take the kids too and friends to catch up with along the way!

I love how we much we enjoy the simple things in life, the funny conversations I have with the kids when we are collecting fire wood, the impromptu games of UNO and the LOL moments we would never have had if we weren’t on this adventure!

Follow more of our journey on our Facebook page and website - see you there!

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