Diary of a caravanner: Top tips for a first-timer

For the past five years, we’ve been getting an education in all things caravanning and camping.

I still recall that fateful day when we attended our first caravan and camping show. What an event! A bedazzling, cornucopia of caravans all promising a chance to experience the great Australian dream.

Polaroid-like imagery slowly developed in my mind. There I was, watching Uluru dance with colours at sunset; swatting flies while camping on the banks of the mighty Murray River; and chasing the sun on an epic Australian road trip.

A Newhaven sunset

The mere thought of escaping life’s routines and responsibilities to travel was hypnotically tantalising. And, if we so desired, we could opt for bundles of luxurious extras to ensure we did it in style … enter the glorious wine chiller!

All jokes aside, I totally admit to being wide-eyed (OMG, they have an outdoor heated shower!) and slightly naïve (it’s how much?) when it came to actually finding the right caravan for our family.

Whether it be a basic camper trailer or a pimped-up rig, it’s so easy to overlook the most important things. Such as:

  • Can we actually afford it?
  • How much weight can our car tow?
  • Where the heck will we store this beast?

As you can well imagine, the fancy-pants van was very much beyond our modest budget range. Instead, we acquired a much-loved, retro camper trailer enthusiastically dubbed the Freedom Fighter. Yep, cheap caravans can be a thing.

The Freedom Fighter!

This van and our family have seen many adventures. We’ve covered about 15,000km and we’ve met wonderful travellers on the road, from young families to grey nomads (or silver schoolies).

As you can see, we’ve had a bit of an education when it comes to caravanning capers. So, with that in mind, here are some things we’ve learnt about how to caravan that we thought others might benefit from.

Find the right van for your family

There are so many things to consider when you’re in the market for a van. Budget obviously defines a lot of what you will get but knowing the weight that your car can tow is very important. You don’t want to be in a predicament where you have to upgrade your car, too.

If you are okay with trudging off in the middle of the night to the shared camping amenities, you certainly don’t need the luxury of a toilet and shower. But you should consider whether you’ll need extra beds for guests or an annex to store stuff when it rains.

In fact, there are so many things to consider, but luckily there are loads of resources out there to assist. Yep, there is a whole collective of caravanning and camping folks eager to provide advice.

Joining a caravanning Facebook group online is a good start. Or reading the printed camping mags. And for adventure junkies, TV shows like Patriot Games are enough to wet the whistle. We found YouTube videos really helpful, especially when learning how to set-up our van safely.

Decisions, decisions…

Safety, plus some!

This point is super important. Crossing your chains is a thing! You can get fined if you don’t hook up your van to your car properly.

Also, the distribution of weight needs to be considered when you’re packing everything into your van and hitting the road. The majority of the weight needs to sit over your wheels.

Avoid packing heavy items in the back. You don’t need a swaying van attached to your car. We are pretty pedantic about safety checks before we leave. It’s easy to set up a routine with someone doing a walk around and checking lights are working, ensuring chains are fastened, the van brake is off, water and power caps are closed, etc.

It’s so important to do regular safety checks.

Kit up

The dollars quickly add up when you get a van. You don’t just need insurance and registration; there’s all the stuff required to live in your home on the road.

Essentials like a kettle and toaster, bedding, cutlery, and dinner sets are standard issue. We actually bought new items for our house and moved the second-hand stuff into the van.

We soon realised there was a lot more to kitting out a caravan – and so began an ever-increasing list of items, from water hoses and connections to an outdoor barbecue.

Camping with a mob of kangaroos
I think Skippy liked our outdoor set-up.

Get ready to choose your own adventure

It’s a great idea to have a test run. We did so for three nights on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. This helped us with learning what not to do!

Like, don’t just leave the caravan keys anywhere. Or better still, have an extra set cut. Choose one designated place where you keep them – ours is inside the car door – otherwise you may suffer from having to put the van back up to find them.

This kind of trip is all about baby steps, and you will likely find fellow travellers who are more than happy to help out. The communal vibe is tangible.

We certainly don’t consider ourselves to be experts in any way. But after experiencing an eight-week road trip, and then all of our other shorter family adventures, we’ve reached a point where we feel pretty confident.

In saying that, we all have our Achilles heel! I seem to be cursed with forgetfulness when it comes to remembering to remove the hose connector at holiday parks. Luckily this is a common occurrence – as I’ve learnt – and most parks have a box full of ‘those that were left behind’ accoutrements to borrow.

So, best of luck with your caravanning adventures! Please do say hi if you see us around the traps. Just a heads-up though, we’re upgrading our van. We’ve realised the caravanning life is our kind of life.

This article was commissioned by BIG4 Holiday Parks, December 2018.

Have child, will travel!

The year was 2005 and I had just boarded a National Express bus in Glastonbury, England. I was well into my ‘round the world’ trip and would soon be jetting off to Canada to live and work in the Rocky Mountains. My attention was drawn to a mother and child walking past the bus. I began to speculate on the perils of parenthood, and in the process, began to draw comparisons to this complete stranger’s life and that of my own. Here I was, free to travel the world, not rooted to the routines and responsibilities of motherhood.

Then a curious thing happened. They boarded my bus, smiled politely and took their seats. The child, a girl of around 5 years old, carried a backpack that was covered in a chaotic collection of geographical patches. They were a German, mother-and-daughter-duo just doing a ‘short trip’ around the UK ‘this time’.

That was really a defining moment for me. I was so inspired by the experience that I vowed to never stop travelling because, as I’d just seen, having kids doesn’t mean you can’t travel – it just changes the way you go about it. Staying true to my promise has meant that I’ve had to find creative ways, or work-arounds, to keep exploring this beautiful continent and beyond.

State of Play

Get the lay of your land by exploring your own ’hood’. You don’t need to travel vast distances to have an amazing holiday. We travel around Victoria all the time. This year, we’ve indulged in some Murray River magic at both Moama and Mildura; we’ve camped at Capel Sound on the Mornington Peninsula; we’ve wandered through rainforests around Healesville and waded through the Yarra River in Warburton. For the recent Melbourne Cup break we camped at Wye River, then had a weekend in Bright. We’ve just returned from Christmas with the family at Rye (we parked our caravan in the driveway!) and finally in a few days time, we will be heading to Phillip Island for a few weeks.

Become a membership maverick

Check out the membership discounts you’re already eligible for from your roadside assistance club to union membership perks. If your kids are over 2 years old and don’t qualify for a free flight, sign them up to a frequent flyer program and pool your points people! My son is a member of Qantas’ Joey Club, so all frequent flyer points he earns will conveniently end up in my account. Invest in a holiday parks membership, we joined BIG4 before we left for our 2-month Australian road trip last year and we saved a lot of money, plus we’re still members.

Develop superhuman organisational skills

This one is important. You need to hustle! Get that annual calendar out and block out possible travel dates. Monitor your work leave balances. Take note of your children’s school curriculum days, list all term breaks and highlight those very welcome public holidays. Book things well in advance – it really does help to either get those good camping spots or membership perks like get 3 nights for the price of 2.

Our recent trip to Wye River was only possible because of a school curriculum day smack bang in the middle of a weekend and Melbourne Cup Day. And, that Bright trip I mentioned earlier, well it was a short 2-night trip (in a cabin, so lux!) so we could squeeze that sucker into a weekend – with the small caveat being that all of us are missed 2 hours of school and work, but I don’t really sweat the small stuff.

 

As you can see, our wanderlust does not have to be abandoned or shelved like a dusty old encyclopaedia. Sure, we may not be hitting ‘the road’ Jack Kerouac-style, but we can still have glorious adventures travelling with kids in tow and as willing participants. So, where are you off to next?

Note: This article was commissioned by BIG4 Holiday Parks, November 2018.

5 experiences for kids that parents will love too!

When I was 6 years old, my parents took my siblings and I to New Zealand. It was my first big trip and I recall feeling very grown up because we were required to write a travel journal.

I remember feeling intimidated by the size of the Qantas ‘jumbo’ jet, excited by the novelty of aeroplane food, and worryingly asthmatic due to the constant haze of cigarette smoke (what were they thinking?). These were my first impressions, felt with so much emotion and pure wonderment.

My New Zealand travel journal, bulging with glued-in postcards and the wonky handwriting of an excitable 6-year-old, detailed travel stories from a snow-capped Mount Cook visit to a fjord boat cruise around the breathtaking Milford Sound. But, in the midst of all these bucket-list worthy adventures, there is one diary entry, one magical memory-making-moment in Queenstown that I wrote about in capital letters: WE PLAYED ELEVATOR TIGGY!

Family holiday in New Zealand 1983
Just a little excited about travel (I’m in the middle).

That defining moment speaks volumes about kids and travel. In all the places that we’ve taken our 9-year-old, both in Australia and overseas, he always surprises me with the things he loves the most. So, keeping that in mind, here are 5 experiences for kids that adults will love too.

Wilsons Promontory National Park

Wilsons Promontory National Park. Well worth the online application, every June, for the summer camping ballot. Surfing, hiking, kayaking, bike riding, wombat spotting, free junior ranger activities, sunrise/sunset beach walks, the activities go on and on. Invest in walkie-talkies so that the kids can take off on their adventures and regale you with tales of their triumphs. Be prepared for constant updates (over and out!) and don’t forget to pack extra batteries. One non-negotiable activity every year is watching a film at the Tidal River Open Air Cinema. Snuggle down in comfy bean bags, don the blankets and have a magical cinematic experience under the Milky Way.

Sailing with kids on Tidal River with Whale Rock in view
Sailing by Whale Rock at Tidal River, Wilsons Prom

Follow the sun on a family road trip

Escape winter and keep thesun company on a family road trip. We’ll never regret doing this last year. Our experience sailing in the Whitsundays was a favourite for all of us. The kids took on the important task of protecting the catamaran from pirates with gusto.

Catamaran capers with the kids
No pirates here

Vivid Sydney

Experience Vivid Sydney, especially the Vivid Taronga Zoo event. Larger than life animal installations are on display in a riot of colours. Take a one-way ride on the cable car and watch the show from above. That was our favourite part, watching Sydney sparkle across the harbour while listening to a cacophony of animal sounds fill the night.

Vivid-at-Taronga-Zoo
Sydney sparkling across the harbour

It’s play time!

A family that plays together stays together. Theme parks such as Movie World and Wet n’ Wild are great fun for everyone. We stayed at the BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park which was located close enough to ride our bikes to these amusement meccas. If you want to go further north, I highly recommend the BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort. This place is kid-heaven and boasts an incredible waterpark. Plus, don’t forget about that oh so pleasing tropical Queensland climate.

DSC02430
Barefoot beach adventures are the best!

The Great Barrier Reef

Take a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. My son still raves about his snorkelling experience with Cruise Whitsundays. During the boat ride, out to the reef pontoon, we watched whales breaching and dolphins diving through the wake. A rainbow of colours were on display as we snorkelled with an abundance of marine life. For those who don’t want to get wet, there is an underwater viewing chamber and semi-submersible ride where you learn all about the largest coral reef system in the world.

Snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef
We loved our Great Barrier Reef snorkelling experience

Note: This article was commissioned by BIG4 Holiday Parks August 2018.

 

Byron and beyond

Before we hit Byron Bay, for a much anticipated holiday with my parents to celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary, we spent 3 nights on the Gold Coast. This was a strategic decision on our part when ‘selling’ the idea of travelling for 2 months to our son.

Child  in a blue kombi

Yes, you guessed it. Theme parks! You see, the Gold Coast doesn’t just glitter for the glamorous, it also boasts a boisterous array of kid-heaven-stuff.

But before that fun stuff happened, the repetitious but rather necessary assembling of our home on the road had to take place. The drudgery of this procedure was lightened considerably by the fact that we were staying in the beautiful surrounds of the Big 4 Gold Coast Holiday Park.

Camping with a mob of kangaroos

Heated resort-style swimming pool with licensed cafe, tick. Huge camp kitchen with all the mod cons AND an aquarium, tick. Having so much fun that you have no time to take photos, tick!

So our 3 nights were a lot of fun. We spent a day at Movie World and another at Wet n Wild. It wasn’t a peak period but it was still surprisingly busy. An afternoon riding our bikes around and then lazing by the pool was very welcome after the colourful chaos of the theme parks.

During the ‘pack up, take down, move on’ scenario of our final morning, we had a spring in our step. We were heading to Byron to stay at the most delicious holiday home hidden under a canopy of vibrant, tropical foliage, surrounded by a bedazzling, heated swimming pool.

Fireside at Byron Bay Retreat

I celebrated New Year’s 1999-2000 in Byron. It was a very different town back then. It’s still beautiful, bold and full of energy but now there is so much traffic! We had camped in a friend’s backyard right in town. That little beach shack is long gone, replaced with boutique accommodation for its perpetual influx of visitors.

Whale watching at Cape Byron Lighthouse

This time around, my family and I enjoyed Wategos Beach, did the Cape Byron lighthouse walk, hit the town one night (thanks for babysitting mum and dad), caught up with old friends, swam everyday, played some serious table tennis and chilled out in front of the open fire at night.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, New South Wales

I’ve never known a town to truly embrace its motto as much as Byron Bay does. So next time you visit remember to Cheer Up, Slow Down, Chill Out

Till next time Byron!

 

 

Queensland’s Capricorn Coast

After our adventurous sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands, it was time to turn south. Homeward bound – well, with a few planned stops along the way of course.

To break up an arduous drive to Yeppoon, we plonked ourselves at the surprisingly fabulous Potter’s Oceanside Motel. This place, and its manager/owner, is seriously cool. He was very accommodating, giving us extra room to park our camper trailer and even driving Cam to the supermarket to get supplies. Sometimes it’s just the little things, a laundry to wash your clothes, airconditioning, a balcony to watch the sun setting over Mackay, and a story-telling ex-publican playing ‘host with the most’.

The rugged Australian outback

Kinka Beach, slightly south of Yeppoon was our next destination. We camped right near the Causeway and spent 3 days exploring Yeppoon, Kinka Beach and Emu Park. The weather was so beautiful and the view across the ocean to the Keppel Islands, just stunning. I’ve been to Great Keppel Island twice, so we avoided it this time, but if you ever get the chance to visit you won’t be disappointed. There are so many hiking tracks and you can find yourself on a deserted beach with not a soul in sight.

As the sun sets the moon rises over Great Keppel Island

Yeppoon itself is a gorgeous town to visit and it offers a unique water park right on the foreshore called the Keppel Kracken.

Yepoon foreshore

A notable mention of our time here was the Centenary of ANZAC Memorial Walk in Emu Park. It takes in enviable views of the beautiful Southern Great Barrier Reef and the Keppel Islands. The artwork pictured is strategically designed to blend in with the horizon so that it looks similar to the morning of the Gallipoli landing.

ANZAC memorial at Emu Park

For those of us whose relatives have served, it is a moving tribute and a sobering lesson in world war history.

My suggestions for any time spent here would be:

  • Ride your bikes around the area, especially Kinka Beach, it’s so flat and the scenery and fresh air is awesome.
  • Go to Great Keppel Island for a day trip or even for a night. The ferries leave from Rosslyn Bay daily.
  • Treat yourself to some ‘straight off the boat’ seafood! The seafood co-op in Rosslyn Bay is the best ever!

So, once again it was time to pack up our tiny home on the road – me leaving behind another hose connection on the tap in the caravan park – and set our sights on the glitz and glamour of the Gold Coast.

A beginner’s guide to sailing the Whitsundays…with kids

You’ve all seen the advertisements right? Calm, azure waters, sun drenched sails billowing in the breeze. Ah, the allure of sailing the Whitsundays. Wouldn’t it be relaxing. Stop. Right. There.

Welcome to Whitehaven Beach, where the wind is a fierce 25 knots, the waves are smashing against the catamaran, the kids are taking it in turns to vomit over the side and the toilet macerator has broken down. Yep this stuff can happen. There can be a mixed bag of weather conditions, including strong south easterly winds in winter, so be prepared to be unprepared!

To give some background to this tidal tale, we thought it would be a fabulous idea to hire a catamaran and barefoot sail around the Whitsundays. No biggy! We have a boat – no sails though – and Cam sailed when he was a teenager – does windsurfing count?

Sailing in the Whitsundays on a catamaran

It wasn’t until we were at Abell Point Marina, boarding Ruby Sunday that I realised that I really had no idea what I was doing and neither did our intrepid crew which consisted of 3 adults and 2 kids. Our dear friend Amanda, who was supposed to be sailing with us, was suffering from a serious case of 8 month pregnancy-itis and had to stay in port, for most of the time, at Airlie Beach.

After spending our first night on the boat in the marina, we had half a day of training. There was a lot to learn but, amazingly, Mike (our instructor) was happy to leave Ruby Sunday in our (somewhat sweaty) hands. Cam, Ant and I all looked nervously at each other as we powered out across the Whitsunday Passage.

All crews need a grounding force, a capable commodore that will take the lead, Captain Cam was our saviour. His only worry was berthing the cat at the Hamilton Island marina while dodging multi-million dollar vessels, but of course he sailed through the challenge (pun intended). It was happy days for him there on in.

Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays Queensland

Now, it is true that I’ve been known to add a touch of drama to my tales, but that could be because I’m a worrier. Just like my mum and her mum before her. It goes down the line. I think we could safely say we’ve mastered the craft of anxiety riddled thoughts. So imagine, my precarious predicament during our second night at sea when we were moored in Tongue Bay. I woke up to pelting rain, howling winds and what felt like the spin cycle of a washing machine. Yep, we were spinning. Round she goes.

I had always thought I could live on a boat and master the art of sailing the seas, but a salty dog I am not! That storm, which apparently was considered minor, and that everyone else slept through, nearly broke me but the good news is, I got over it and ended up absolutely loving the adventure.

Nara Inlet

This adventure was like an organisational team building exercise on steroids. There was a lot to do and it took a team to do it. We had morning and afternoon radio calls with Mike to track our position, get weather updates and plan our itinerary. There were navigational charts to decipher, tidal times to monitor, sails to tame and everything else that it takes to sail a catamaran.

Our intrepid crewThe beautiful thing about the adventure is the fact that the kids were so cruisey. Their biggest concern was finding the best coral to snorkel around, so they clearly had an inflated sense of confidence in our abilities. They would laugh and scream while lying down on the trampoline mats while the water splashed onto them, dress up as pirates and defend our boat from invisible foes and stare in wonder at the amazing marine life we were sharing the water with.

No pirates here

Here is my list of ‘must do’ things while sailing the Whitsundays:

  • Go to Nara Inlet and visit the Ngaro Cultural site.
  • Hire a stinger suit for piece of mind AND go snorkelling.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for whales, turtles, fish and bird life.
  • Berth for a night at the Hamilton Island marina. It was around $120 and is a good mid-point break where you can use all of the resort’s facilities, stock up on supplies, have a hot shower and do your laundry. Also, hire a golf buggy and whip around the place like a character out of Fantasy Island.
  • Watch the sunrises and sunsets.
  • When you actually get those sails up for the first time, play Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’ on the stereo.

 

The sails are up and we are actually sailing the catamaran

I guess the obvious question is would I do it again? That is a resounding yes! This is bucket list stuff people and is so transformational in terms of personal growth. So if you do get a chance, go for it!

Note: This article was commissioned by BIG4 Holiday Parks and appeared in Kidspot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airlie Beach

When I was a child my parents took our family to Airlie Beach. It was the 80s – Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, neon colours and shoulder pads were in vogue, and indulgence seemed to be on the national agenda.

Boats, catamarans and yachts at Abel marina, Airlie Beach
Airlie Beach

Airlie was booming! We stayed in town at a schmick new holiday resort. Everything was shiny and new and there was a buzz in the air.

Flash forward 15 years later when I’d just returned from backpacking around Europe and wanted to explore my own ‘backyard’. Airlie was a very different place – all of those lux resorts in the 80s were now budget backpacker digs. The town seemed totally transformed.

A decade later, and in the wake of Cyclone Debbie, I again returned but this time with my family. I had mixed feelings about staying in Airlie after the much publicised devastation caused by Debbie but I had nothing to worry about. Airlie is recovering! Yes, the trees aren’t as luscious as they once were but they, like the town, is regenerating.

Tropical oasis in Airlie Beach

Taking a trip to Shute Harbour, which bore the brunt of the storm, is a different story. Here you can see the devastation unleashed by the cyclone. The clean up process is still happening here. The reality of living in paradise clearly has some risks but many would argue it’s worth it.

Cyclone damage with catamaran in the trees

We camped at The Big4 Whitsunday Adventure Resort and it was brilliant. They were in the final stages of building a huge waterpark, which I hear is completed. Nightly movies were screened at the outdoor cinema and it was a great place to chill out and get prepared for our barefoot sailing adventure. We were able to store our camper trailer here for 8 nights while we sailed around the Whitsundays on a catamaran.

There was one particular night when the breeze was so balmy, the setting sun coloured the sky in amber, a crescent moon hugged the horizon and the stars lit up the night. It was just beautiful.

Crescent moon against the pink sky at sunset

 

 

Fraser Island by 4WD

When I was in my 20s, I was lucky enough to visit Fraser Island. For those of you that don’t know about Fraser, it’s a World Heritage area and is the earth’s largest sand island. Interestingly, its Indigenous names – K’gari or Gari – which means ‘beautiful place’ have recently been ‘made official’ by the Government.

Sunrise across the sea

During that late spring trip (in my 20s), I spent 3 days on a 4WD bus tour with 15 other travellers. It was a beautiful and busy adventure with dingo and brumby encounters, sizzling sand dune hikes and cooling fresh water swims. Lake Wabby was a curious highlight as there were little fish that nibbled on your skin.

This time around, we decided to hire our own 4WD and tour the island. It was a completely different experience. We used Hervey Bay as our base and organised to pick up the car on the island. Catching the earliest ferry over to Fraser was fascinating as many of the island’s workers were doing the crossing too.

The beauty of leaving so early in the morning and going to Fraser in the winter months is LESS PEOPLE. It was so quiet and peaceful – like the whole island was just waking up itself. We bounced up and down over hills and gullies as the sun rose higher than those towering eucalypts.

Eucalytus trees

Fraser Island isn’t just beaches and lakes. There is a diverse array of flora that grows here. Above is the Eucalyptus haemastoma, known as the scribbly gum, it’s an Australian eucalyptus that looks like it has scribbles written all over it.

There’s a lot to explore on Fraser. Once we got to Seventy-mile beach – yes a beach highway – we drove as far as permitted, all the way to Champagne Springs. Just around the corner is Indian Head, where the views are breathtaking.

Fraser Island coastline

You can’t miss the Maheno Shipwreck – literally – it’s right on the (sand) highway.  The Maheno ocean liner is Fraser Island’s most photographed long term resident. What is left is a shell of its former engineering mastery, its opulence and its saving grace as a WWI hospital rescue ship.

Taj searched for ghosts that are said to haunt the Maheno, but he found none. He was caught up in the former majesty of the ship, and its history. It’s my second visit (after 17 years) and my feelings remain the same – who wouldn’t want to run aground and rest in this piece of paradise.

The Maheno on Fraser Island

We gazed up the coloured sands of The Pinnacles and followed the crystal clear waters of Eli Creek which weaves its way down to the ocean. I didn’t brave the cold waters of Lake McKenzie this time around but instead watched the rippling waters that were a deeper blue than the sky above.

We had to pull over as a plane came in to land on the beach, saw very experienced drivers get bogged and marvelled at how a sand island can sustain such life. But it does and it’s extraordinary.

Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island, Australia

I still loved the trip in my 20s but this one was so special because it was just the 3 of us and we didn’t have to follow an itinerary. If you do one day find yourself stranded on a desert island, this ‘beautiful place’ is where you’d want to be.

 

Yamba and Wooloweya

So we came to be at a place that offered an embracing calm. Wooloweya, just a 5 minute drive out of Yamba (Northern NSW), is a watery land full of lush national park forests, glistening inland lakes and pounding ocean surf.

View from the Yamba Hotel

Is it any wonder our friends chose to live here? What a reprieve from the camping life! We were welcomed with open arms and hearts into their home. After the bright lights and big city festivities of Sydney’s Vivid, Wooloweyah’s chilled energy was just beautiful.

Inland lakes at Wooloweyah National Park

It also just so happened that it was Cam’s 40th birthday the following day so celebrations were on the agenda. Think seafood feasts, beach jaunts, laughing children (and adults) and drinks at the Pacific Hotel which takes in beautiful coastal vistas – and a world renown surf break which has seen the likes of many local and international surfing heroes. It is also home to the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club, the second oldest in Australia (founded in 1908).

There is a more sobering story to this place and its people (like many areas in Australia). The Yaegl and Gumbaingirr people who come from this land are said to be some of the last to be ‘discovered’ by the white man. I’m certainly not the authority on all of the details, as I haven’t had a chance to do much research being on the road and all, but I think it’s a story that is worth sharing. If you want to learn more please go to the NSW government website.

Sparkling waters of Wooloweyah's inland lake systems

After we’d experienced just a taste of beautiful Wooloweya, the road was ready to meet us. So we packed up and returned to the highway that goes on and on, and to those dreams of adventure – until the moment we chose to stop again and take it all in – all of it. That’s when we are really travelling.

The journey continues

As I write this, I’m sitting in our little camper trailer in Kinka Beach. It’s a gorgeous little seaside hamlet, 10 minutes south of Yeppoon, Queensland – most commonly referred to as the Capricorn coast.

The ocean during sunset and moonrise

I’m surrounded by trees (where the resident kookaburras  rule the sound waves with their hearty cackles), the Causeway lakes system and an ocean view that takes in beautiful Great Kepple Island.

I’m describing where I am now because I feel I need to make some sort of declaration about my writing (or lack thereof). Travelling is a great exercise in expectation management. You know what I mean? What you expect the place, that you’ve never been to, will be like. How the journey along the way will be. How much creative time you will have along the way. All of these things were little pockets of expectations I put on myself and the trip. In hindsight (yep, that old water chestnut), I was expecting a lot. When you have an energetic 8 year old son, accommodation that needs about 90 minutes to set up then pack up, things to do, places to explore….you see where I’m going with this right?

Natalie Tuck at the Maritime Museum Sydney

I’ve got 100s of photos of the amazing places we’ve been; hiking and four wheel driving on Fraser Island, sailing the Whitsundays, snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve got both hair raising and heart warming stories of our adventures along the way that I’m so excited to share and I will, eventually, I promise.

Young boy sailing the catamaran

So this is our journey so far and it is continuing. The boys have just taken the drone down to the lake to get some aerial shots. I’m about to get a locally sourced seafood platter sorted to share with our friendly neighbours and then it’s time for a sunset walk on the beach to get some photos and to shake off those pesky expectations.

Feet on the dashboard while four wheel driving on the beach at Fraser Island