It has been a year. A whole year since we settled into the van to live permanently in transit, travelling the highways and tracks of Aus… out on the wallaby. This was a dream of ours since The Man and I met. It was one we shared from very early on in our lives and now we are living that dream. One we hope to live for many more years to come.
I planned a celebration, a bottle of something nice, a candle or two and a good feed somewhere as it has been well worth the celebration. It took some small adjustments along the way even though we have been practicing for a long time and still there are things we tweek, things we discover anew and nut out changing, or further developing so that things run smoothly. You can follow our journey in the different blog posts here, listed under the tag ‘Oldies at Large Aus’
The latest lesson of ours is in regards to communications. Having just driven out of the Kimberley communication is a biggie. I thought the Nullabor was difficult for communications but there are many places equally, if not more challenging. It seems that Western Australia and Central Aus. has the most challenges when it comes to communications with the rest of the world and I guess it is related to population dispersal. That though doesn’t help when thousands of travellers hit the region regularly, even though they only count residents when talking population and development. Seems a bit daft that.
We have learnt heaps and continue to learn. We have learnt that you can go most anywhere if you don’t punish your rig with speed and disregard. We have learnt that no mater what rig you have, a mobile home is by its very definition moveable… in all parts. Wear and tear happen and maintenance is your lifeline. We have learnt that you can stay out in the bush-side at freecamps for extended periods if you consider and conserve things such as water and power but comfort is everything. Even with its challenges though, living bush is one of our greatest pleasures and having travelled internationally… there is something very Australian about living bushside and freecamping that you find no where else in the world.
Having dined on wild blackberry pie and fresh caught fish we have also learnt to enjoy and savour these very special things. I am not looking forward to the time when we need once more to settle into a house having grown too old to manage well, travelling our country. I love stepping out to a new view on a regular basis and I love planning new adventures into new and old regions we visit, or plan to revisit.
I think back to the days when my parents and relatives travelled the roads twenty and forty years ago and enjoy recalling their tales and adventures, those that we listened to over a cuppa or a beer. One of my favourite pic’s is one of my Dad having a bush shower in some remote region of Australia. Tales of bull dust and dirt roads curl into my mind occasionally as I travel the same roads now… trimmed and tarred. We are now beginning to look for newer dirt tracks and wider horizons seeking these same adventures. We are finding that those wild tracks of yesteryear are becoming quite tame. Places like the Boomfield Track and the Gibb River Road.
I remember when the novelty of showers became a part of the caravan setup and how my Aunt declared that they were the most useless of things. Better to use a tarp strung around a tree and a shower bucket… she used her in-van shower for storage mostly for many years. I would be lost without mine I think. We have become very spoilt. Before solar power the freecamper was constrained by the number of batteries they could power-up and how long the gas could last between freecamps and caravan parks. This or manage without and the traveller and freecamper of old became very adapt at managing without, it was all part of the adventure of exploring new places.
I recall with a smile those first mobile phones… or bricks. They were powered up on Sunday’s only between 6-10pm and you had to guess where the hell the parents were or in what time zone if you wanted to call them. In-camp you would find them sitting at the top of the nearest high point or hill, often around a common campfire waiting for that all important phone link to kick in.
One of my best memories is in the bush in Central Queensland on the gem fields on one of our very early forays, kids in tow. Telstra had installed a phone box in the middle of nowhere… one of the very early experimental solar powered units no less. I recall rocking up at this remote point having negotiated a maze of dirt tracks. We were surrounded by bush and knowing the novelty of this phone box was there, pre-mobile years, we had picked our time to coincide with the cheap rate Sunday evening slot. We arrived to find an orderly line of locals and campers standing in the middle of nowhere in the dusk… patiently waiting their turn to ring rels from the bush phone box. It was one of the funniest things I had ever saw… we joined the line in the dark and waited too as we chatted to everyone else.
These are memories and this is what it’s all about. The things you remember and we have gathered some wonderful memories from the last year. We have met some wonderful people and surprisingly enough, we continue to catch up with them near everywhere we go.
It’s a great life… and I wouldn’t be living it any other way. May we continue to hold fast to the opportunity of the freedoms to be found in our wonderful land and to enjoy this experience of camping bush-side somewhere in the wilderness if we choose… this is my most precious and valuable wish.
Jan is a traveller and a author of travelogues and tales of Australian Aboriginal fiction exploring their ancient Lore. You can find her books at Amazon.com