We are a family of 5, Me (Blake) my wife Sue, our 3 sons Luke 12), Jarred (10) and Ryan (6) from Brisbane Queensland. We are just over 6 months and 26,000kms into our 12 month Loopy figure 8 Lap of OZ (as of mid August 2015). We are travelling in our Jayco Starcraft Outback with triple bunks, now being towed by a 200 series Landcruiser.
After years of running the urban life on the treadmill full time in relentless executive jobs, living and moving all over the Australia, and running the school rituals of daily life we sat up and had a thought one night over a glass of wine, we should just get up and go somewhere for a gap year and find ourselves again.
With the age of the boys we decided it was now or wait till they finish school in 12 yrs time! Along with both of us having ageing parents who will need our care and assistance in later years, we thought NOW was the time!
We had to get organised in a rush, as we only decided 3 months prior to departure that we were going!! We tend to make a decision quickly then go for it! We rented out our home in Brisbane for twelve months. The pack up was swift to say the least! We hired 2 x 20ft containers, filled them till they bulged, locked the doors and sent them out to wait for our return (also means if we choose a different place to live we can simply have them delivered to wherever that may be).
As for the van we decided comfort was paramount for 12 months (and Sue demanded we have a toilet and shower). We own a large soft floor camper trailer with 2nd bedroom but shuttered at the idea of the rituals of setting up and packing so it’s now sitting quietly and wondering where we are!
We went to the camping show and drilled the Jayco reps but with no success as they simply couldn't build one in time for our short noticed departure. So we stumbled across the same one in near new condition from another family and it followed us home two months before our departure date. All the details are on our website of our setup and shakedown trips mistakes and modifications http://stricklandsloopylapofoz.weebly.com/planning-stages.html
Hmm we can’t pin point one as we had many goals and reasons why we are on this trip, but to date they would have be that we are fortunate enough to be able to take our boys with us a family and share time with them before they won’t want to.
To watch them grow in confidence with so many changing places and people. Also for Sue and I to reconnect and spend time together rather than meeting in the kitchen at home for breakfast and dinner every day.
The big bonus is the fact we have such a unique backyard with so much to see adds to the whole family experience with place's we have dreamt of one day going to see now featuring on our Trip Tracker as ticked off our travel bucket list.
The first 2 - 3 months would have been our BIGGEST challenge, the realisation that we are all in each others face 24-7 without the usual time out for work, sport, school, friends, hobbies etc - We all found our groove and place within our small space and allow each other to do their own thing when it feels like time to have a break.
Funny now how doing the groceries can be a relaxing time v’s being a chore in the past. We have noticed now, just over 6 months in we are doing just about everything together with far fewer breaks which means our goals of family bonding are all coming together. Schooling on the road? Yes it's a challenge but at home and at school, it was too.
We have added to our Trip Tracker many favourite places and many of them for such different reasons, and its a family decision if a place deserves to hit the favourites.
Wilsons Prom VIC still stands out as one of our most scenic and favourite places. Followed by our journey up the centre of OZ along the Oodnadatta track, most of the Northern Territory from Litchfield to Kakadu. But I must admit sitting here typing this sitting by the beach at Quandong Beach in WA some new favourites will be hitting the tracker very soon.
The infamous Gibb River Road- not just due to its conditions and never finding where the grader had just been, but more so the fact we thought every km of it would be scenic and stunning, sure the first bits such as El Questro, Home Valley etc are great as are the last bits closer to the end - but the middle bit was somewhat underwhelming.
Just the fact we are doing it !! And we actually got going in such a short period of time. The little hidden gems we find, be it people, places or animals along the way. We are also a little surprised in how many people are following us on our journey via the websites and Facebook, we really only set out to do it for the sake of keeping a record, so it came as a pleasant surprise when we have so many followers and other families that ask questions and seek advice on our whole journey.
1. Go!! - You will only ever regret the things you don't do in life not the things you do.
2. Follow your own journey - just because we travelling for 1 year in a caravan doesn't mean it can’t be done in 4 months in a bus or in a tent. This also goes for places to stay along the way - someone else favourite spot you may hate or vice versa.
3. Take some tools and spares and be prepared to fix things and just allow it to be part of the adventure.
Probably best described by a few keywords. Relaxed being the top of the list, followed by patient, resilient and closer as a family unit.
All of our adventures from the planning to pack up, leaving and all of our adventures along the way on a monthly basis can be found at our website http://stricklandsloopylapofoz.weebly.com and our Facebook page tends to be on a daily basis depending upon place and phone reception.
We also have our Live SPOT tracker which when we are on the move you can follow us LIVE - so come and join our adventure, we'd love to see you there!
If you think you'd like to turn your family travel blog into a little online business then this video will give you food for thought.