Why We Decided To Travel Australia… With Kids
Backs Against The Wall – Decision Time
You’re a contractor, the GFC has savaged your business and work has all but disappeared. What are your choices?
Continue to spend days and weeks trying to find new work? I tried continually, with little success. Some small jobs eventuated, but not enough to sustain a living.
We decided to turn everything on its head. Let’s look at our situation from another viewpoint. This is what we concluded:
- There was no prospect of work in the foreseeable future.
- The mortgage was paid down. We had enough to sustain ourselves for a year, if we were careful AND we rented out our house.
- If we stayed at home, then what? Stress out about not having any work? And how could we afford to live?
- Travel was a passion.
- We had a 4WD and camper trailer set up for off-road and remote travel.
- We had experience travelling in remote areas. Three trips of 3 weeks duration had given us the confidence of explore further.
- Our children were at an age (15 and 11) where they would learn a lot from travel and all the benefits it brings.
- I had the practical skills to fix any breakdowns and get us out of sticky situations.
The result of our analysis? In truth, it was hardly analysis. We made this decision in the space of 2 days!
Rent the house and travel around Australia for 12 months. Hopefully by then, the economy would be in better shape… and I would certainly be in better shape to chase work. For more details on how we reached this point, go here.
The reality of our decision? In a word – exhausting:
- Rent the house.
- Clean the house.
- Move our possessions into our small workshop for storage.
- Get a camper top fitted to our off-road trailer.
- Organise distance education for the kids.
- Negotiate with respective schools to keep a place open for our kids for 12 months.
- Organise phone diversions, mail diversions, power, gas.
- Arrange for a mate to run the remnants of my spare parts business.
Wow, there was a bit more to this than we thought. We kept telling ourselves it was worth it.
Five weeks to go. We were busy cleaning our home in preparation for an open house. Did we feel apprehensive about renting our home to strangers? Not at all. It was our ticket to travel. Plus when you break it all down, an empty house is just a pile of bricks and timber – it’s just a “thing”.
Two weeks to go. Still no luck with renting the house, despite a supposed rental shortage in Wollongong. It was concerning. If we couldn’t rent the house quickly, we’d have a hole in our finances. Also, it would affect the lease term. A 12 month lease is far more appealing to renter than a 6 month lease. Perhaps we were going to have to stay in a caravan park temporarily when we returned.
Some good news – we now had a trailer with a camper top. Until now, it had a lift-up aluminium lid and we had been using tents. However, the thought of sleeping in teepee tents for 12 months didn’t have much appeal. So we had a camper top fitted.
It was brilliant, folding out to a big room with an awning and we (Peta and I) had a queen sized bed!
Ben (11) was determined to sleep in a swag (or on the floor in the camper). Charlie (15) had their own tent. Given Charlie’s age, we thought this was the best solution for all concerned! So Charlie had their own place to make a mess in – just like home…
(Charlie is transgender, hence the “they”, “their” terminology rather than he or she).
One Week To Go!
Almost time to go! Tenants had signed a lease and were moving in around mid-October. This final week was a blur of cleaning, moving furniture and a thousand other last-minute things. It was absolute chaos.
Wisely, we decided go to Mum’s for a day or so (on 40 acres South of Queanbeyan) to catch our breath. We had a vague plan from there; head down thru Wagga and Narrandera and find a spot to camp somewhere on the Murrumbidgee River.
After that, we’d explore Mungo National Park (North of Mildura). A good place to stop for a while, catch our breath and allow the reality of what we were doing sink in!
Free At Last!
We were on the road at last. Drove out of the driveway on a Saturday afternoon – strange feeling. A mixture of relief, excitement, anticipation and exhaustion.
As planned, we spent 2 days at Mum’s (Burra Creek, South of Queanbeyan NSW) organising, re-arranging and buying stuff we needed. Charlie and I set up the new camper tent for the first time.
Schooling On The Road
Charlie and Ben started Distance Education at Grandma’s kitchen table. They were both keen to get a head-start.
Magical Burra Valley
Mum lived on 40 acres (16 hectares) in Burra Valley, about 20 km South of Queanbeyan. The Northerly aspect is delightful. A late afternoon storm handed Charlie a perfect opportunity to try out the new camera. A combination of dark skies and late afternoon sun was simply stunning.
So Why DID We Travel Australia With Kids?
In hindsight, it’s obvious. Quite simply, we were ready.
We were backed into a corner. No work, no income, no prospect of work. It just made sense, financially and for our mental health.
Ironically, before we left so many people would say, “You’re so lucky”, “Wish I could do it”, “I’m really jealous” and so on. I’m sure they all thought we were either mad or millionaires! Our answer was always, “You can do it too if you really want to”.
And it’s true. If you want to do something badly enough, you’ll find a way.