TAWK Featured Family -
'The Great Escape'

1.   About you

We are Nathan & Renee, and our 3 year old son Ryan. We left our home in Melbourne back in January 2016 and so far (as of October 2016) we have travelled up the east coast all the way to Cape York, stopping occasionally for Renee to work as an Emergency Nurse. We have a Mitsubishi Triton & a Cub Camper and love getting off the bitumen whenever we can.

2.   Why did you make your decision to TAWK?

We travelled fairly extensively before we had our son, both overseas & on other overland trips in Australia. We thought we were ready to settle down into domestic life in Melbourne, so we bought a house, had a child, and even managed to stay in one place for almost 4 years. But we got sick of the daily grind, and our feet got itchy again.

Renee wanted some new challenges in her career, so travelling and working in various rural hospitals seemed like a great way of doing that. And Nathan wanted the chance to have a break from his work as a Carpenter, and spend more time with our child. We're also working on child number two, but unfortunately this is not something that happens easily for us. So we figured we might as well get out and enjoy life while we wait.

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

Honestly, we left ourselves very little time and did not prepare a great deal. Once we had made the decision to go, we were eager to get going. We already had a 4wd which was set up ready to go and we had an old soft floor camper trailer that we have travelled around in before.  However, we decided to upgrade our camper trailer, and got what is more or less our dream trailer, a hard floor Cub Camper (which cost rather a lot more than our original budget!!)

Because we owned our house, we had to decide what to do with that. We had recently done some renovations and improvements (hence why we had very little money to travel) so we drew on the equity we had in our home, refinanced our house, and kept some money from that to buy our new camper trailer plus a little bit of cash to get us started. Then we rented our house our though an agent, and thankfully the rent just covers the mortgage, so it's sitting there paying for itself while we travel. We sold most of our stuff, packed up the few things we couldn't part with & chucked them in storage, quit our jobs and hit the road!

4.  What has been your biggest joy?

How do we pick one? We're watching our child become his own little person and just amazes us so often in what he can do and learn. We've seen him become this outgoing and articulate person, who spends 90% of his life outdoors and very little time in front of a screen.

We're learning new skills and challenging ourselves, both in Renee's career, but also in domestic life. We can bake bread on a Weber, and fix things we never knew existed on a car. We're fitter, we're healthier, we're happier. We've found places we never knew about, and met some amazing like-minded people. And we've shared some of these places and experiences with people who may also have never known about them and hopefully we have encouraged a few other people to travel in the process.

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

Definitely being away from the rest of our family & friends. We firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and being away from that village can be challenging. We love life just the 3 of us, but we are also acutely aware that our child is only going to be a little boy for so long, and while he's away with us, he's missing those valuable relationships he has with his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, plus all of his adopted aunties, uncles and cousins that come from our close friends back home.

We've been very lucky that some of these people have chosen to come and visit us along the way. But we will never be able to choose a permanent life on the road while we have all these ties back home. Sooner or later they will draw us back.

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


We've loved those places that are a little bit different, and a little bit harder to get to, which is one of the reasons that we are so glad we chose our camper trailer as our mobile home. We sometimes come across these little gems on Wikicamps that we never would have found otherwise, and just don't want to leave. But we recently got back from a few weeks up Cape York, and it definitely exceeded all of our expectations!! We also love that stopping for work contracts allows us to see places we may not have stopped at otherwise, and really explore them and the local area.


As for disappointments, I think we find the best in most places, and if we don't like a place we move on. But it's generally the bigger cities and the more touristy places that we're not hugely fond of. Places like Byron Bay, and Port Douglas, that are beautiful, but have started to become over priced and overwhelmed. We've also been a bit disappointed in the amount of money we're had to spend on our vehicle to date! Between general maintenance/servicing and unavoidable expenses, and extra little mishaps along the way, vehicle maintenance is by far our biggest expense unfortunately.

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

Luckily our child is not yet at school age so we haven't had to worry about formal schooling. But we do make use of local resources like library's and their associated kids activities, playgroups, and even day care when we're stopped for work, which all have their educational value.

And there has been so much general learning! He helps us cook, helps us fix the car, he's become a very confident swimmer, and his language has developed amazingly by being around 2 adults all day long (including the occasional swear word...).

8.   What surprised you most about the trip?

Not much. Maybe money - we've travelled a lot before, and we're very good at budgeting, but we're still consistently spending more than we would like. But luckily we can stop and bring it back in relatively easily, so it's not as much of an issue as it could be.

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

  1. Don't think so much, just do. If this is something that you want to do, then it's very likely that the only thing stopping you is you!
  2. Think about the way you want to travel, and find an appropriate 'home' for you. Only you can make this decision. If you want to go bush and get offroad, and not limit your opportunities for exploring then there's no point buying a giant caravan or motor home. But if you can't live without a tv and aircon, then a camper trailer ain't gonna cut it for you.
  3. You'll be surprised what you can live without. You do not need all the bells and whistles. Less is definitely more, especially for your kids. And believe it or not, they have shops all over Australia, so if you do realise there is something you don't have that you really can't live without, then just get it as you go. Op shops & Kmart are definitely your friends on the road!

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

Look, we already had the same attitudes we have now, but this trip has just reinforced them. We've come to appreciate each other more, and the things that each of us brings to the family. To appreciate the little things and life, and to realised how little 'stuff' you need to be happy. And also to appreciate our family and friends back home that little bit more, as we miss having them in our lives.

As an Emergency Nurse I know how precious life is. It can be taken away in an instant, and you never know when that day is going to come. So you need to ask yourself, if that day comes tomorrow, would I feel happy knowing that I've lived the best life I could, and I couldn't have done any better with the time I had? For us, we really think we have, and I think that's pretty awesome.

Please follow the us on our Facebook Page The Great Escape and we look forward to sharing more of our journey with you.

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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