I’m parked up in another of the many bush camp today, and I do love the bush camp I have discovered. Previously I have written about the delights of a camp out amongst the gum trees, but in our time travelling full time around Aus’ … and for a long time on and off, we have heard so many of our friends and mates comment on how we are living the life. We are dawdling our way around the country on “The Lap” and already we are planning lap No.2 … there is just so much to see and so many adventures to be had. So I thought it was perhaps time to look at just what that means as a lifestyle.
For those ‘international readers’ amongst you out there, “The Lap” to Aussies is a dream, and to many a reality. It’s when you retire, kit up, set off and circumnavigate the continent in a mobile rig. Be it an RV, a caravan or a station wagon and a tent … there are many ways to do “The Lap”. It can take a few months or a few years depending on your resources and your inclination and it isn’t for everyone. It is however like the ‘back yard’ … it’s an aspiration many Aussies have for their retirement years. This before they end up in some retirement village and their health begins to beggar their plans.
However for those who aspire to do “The Lap”, and who understand just what that means … it is truly the life. You will meet more people than you have ever befriended before, particularly if you are a freecamper as freecampers are in general a friendly lot. We are a community on the move, a demographic that is somewhat care-free and mobile. We all follow our interests chasing the seasons we prefer, be they heat or chill. We follow the sun largely or the shade when the sun is hot. We chase the kids and grandkids wherever they may go or whatever takes our fancy at the time.
Facebook is also a great resource and you can link into whole mobile communities in Freecamping and Touring Nomads. There are great resources out there, many for free and at a touch of the keyboard or finger to screen, maps, advice and even news sheets can be found on the web, all aimed at making life on the road easy and friendly.
Such a resource demands one thing though and that is communications links. Doing “The Lap” means you have to give this one some thought and there is no one answer for this. Some are happy with a phone and walk to the highest point holding the phones to the sky … it’s a fun dance. Others have antenna boosters which plug into their phones, or their modems which connect via wi-fi to their computers and phones and still others get very serious and invest in sat’ phones and personal epurbs. You can even get subsidies for these little bugga’s but it all comes down to what you are the most comfortable with … there is no one answer for all.
We began our journey many years ago when we realized we love to travel al-a-carte’. We are independent travellers and love the freedom of making our own decisions, being responsible for our own plans and wearing it when we miss out or get it wrong. Thankfully we don’t do that often as nobody knows what we truly enjoy more than ourselves. We have managed to travel much of the world and a great deal of our country in the last forty or fifty years. Still though there are many places we haven’t been and many other things we want to see.
Our personal journey began with a tent and kids in tow… this moved onto a little 12’ bondwood vintage van that was aluminium clad and our ‘learning hub’. She was christened ‘The Bitch Box’ in time. So named because she was considered my little waggon as The Man was still working and I was retired. I also travelled with a female pup, Tuppi. Not at all what you imagined hey!.
We also have a camper trailer that sees the light of day on family holidays, where the kids can join us or when we get a bit more adventurous and want to go where the caravan can’t follow easily. Importantly we have choices, all carefully considered and planned over many years. Choices, which have arrived in their own time over decades of planning and discovery. Depending on where we are going and what we are planning, we may pack anything from a tent or swag, to a twenty footer mobile aluminium can with all the bells and whistles. Some of which we never actually get around to using much. We love travelling and we have now made it our life’s journey.
We bought our ‘serious’ rig some years ago now and we had a good idea exactly what we wanted for our comfort on the road. We road tested ‘The Turtle’ (duly named) for years, tweaking and adding. We refined our needs along the way, strengthening our rig where we needed, all the time growing more and more in love with the idea of our joint and pending full retirement. We planned diligently and we don’t trade in things easily. Rather the devil you know than the one you don’t. However retirement came early with retrenchment, all out of plan and you can read about our journey of the last 18 months in a e-book just published, this for the cost of a cuppa. You can find it on Amazon, its called ‘Discovering Australia and Her Lore’. There are also smaller tours we have taken, many told in the series ‘Around the Campfire’. My personal interest is Australian Aboriginal Lore as I write about this in my novels … but that’s another story.
Doing The Lap is a journey, one around the country, and to within yourself and your relationship. For us it is easy as I am accustomed to when The Man farts at night. I don’t mind that he will leave the dishes overnight either, as long as he understands I might not cook the dinner at times. We both have our camp tasks… his is outdoors mostly and mine are indoors. When he gets slack I will get out and do his jobs as well and when I get slack … I will hear about it and we exchange a litany of ‘efforts in slack’. This is entertainment.
Seriously though, entertainment is a biggie. Some plan on doing the tourist thing and that is great … that too can be a lot of fun. For us though, this is a lifestyle and we have done the tourist thing before, often. This time in our travels while we are discovering things new and brave, yes… we still find new thing that we might treat ourselves too, but mostly, aside from finding great friends, we are also discovering the games we have always associated with oldies playing in bingo halls. We have learnt to play cards… the latest is that ‘harry potter’ thing .. what is it? I did mention that the brain is on holiday too, after all we are getting older. Ahhh yes. Cribbage
Cards have become another of our night entertainments since we met a lovely couple on the road who introduced us to that ‘harry potter’ thing. From there it has become something of an addiction, one we can happily share with other travellers. An entertainment that doesn’t require us to put food in our mouths or a glass in our hands but then that too is optional.
Other entertainments often will include the infamous ‘Happy Hour’ where we sit around in a wonky circle and chatter away to total strangers who become the best of travelling friends very quickly. It is amazing what you can learn! Common to travellers doing The Lap are entertainments such as reading and a vast collection of movies and series’ that get reruns often and it helps if you have kids who collect these things. We gave up mostly on the offerings on the telly … it has become an afterthought when we are in cities or hubs of population and seriously we don’t miss much. Radio has become something more though and I do enjoy the ABC and her varied offerings.
But the most important thing when you’re travelling, or doing ‘The Lap’ is companionship. The joys of meeting new people, seeing new things and discovering Australia’s many wonders and hiding places. Companionship is a huge thing, the biggest of them all. It isn’t the size of your rig, the things you can afford to do or the many toys you can accumulate to make life fun and easier.
Companionship is also something you can find easily when you set out on ‘The Lap’. Learn to say Hi … have a chat and enjoy making new friends. When the times are quiet and your parked up in a bush camp somewhere on the edge of reality … it also helps if you married your best friend.
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