Our family is on a new adventure. At the beginning of 2016, we left our home and started a year-long trip round Australia. We wanted to challenge ourselves to live a simple life centered on collecting moments, not things as well as:
- Explore Australia and learn through our experience together as a family
- Find opportunities to offer acts of kindness as we spend time in different communities
- Visit schools and libraries along the way to read my storybook Mason’s Greatest Gems
- Figure out where we want to live next!
On this page I will record posts related to our travels.
Campervan, Caravan or Tent? – This post shares our initial thoughts about choosing how we would travel around the country.
Getting Ready to Homeschool – My five tips for getting ready to homeschool (not all about the academics!).
Preparing for our Year of Travel Around Australia – Preparations the month before we leave, including learning about Australia, packing, decluttering, doing a trial run, and saying goodbyes!
What to Pack in a Kids Travel Bag – My list of must-have items for my kids when we travel, either by car or plane.
5 Easy Ways to Integrate Learning into Roadtrips – Whether you are travelling for a long while or a short while, here are a few simple ways to create learning opportunities for kids on the road.
What to Know Before Planning a Road Trip with a Baby – My list of essential tips for road tripping with a baby.
5 Tips for Homeschooling on the Road – After three months of homeschooling during travel, I share my tips over at Expedition Australia.
Halfway through Our Trip Around Australia – What is has been like to live on the road, six months into our journey.
15+ Acts of Kindness for When You Travel – A collection of ideas we put together based on our experience about how you can “pay it forward” while on the road.
Top 10 Camping Road Trip Accessories – A list of our favourite and most useful items for the year-long road trip.
I did ten book readings during the year and had such a great time sharing Mason’s Greatest Gems at schools and libraries around the country.
We left at the end of January 2016…
Before we left Brisbane, we had a fantastic staycation exploring some of the top sights in our own lovely city. Read the post: Brisbane Highlights for Young Families. We stopped overnight in Toowoomba, Roma and Tambo before spending a few weeks in Longreach, a small town in central western Queensland. Two favourite attractions were the Starlight’s Cruise as well as the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame learning about the life and history of families living out on properties in the outback. We also took the opportunity to visit the tiny town of Winton before heading east.
We explored more of Central Queensland on our way to the coast, first stopping in Emerald and then spending a few wonderful days at Carnarvon Gorge where we went on a stunning 11km hike to see Aboriginal rock art plus a lot of wildlife. I shared my hiking tips from this experience on Mumtastic. Next we spent time in Myella farm near Baralaba and had such an incredible time that I wrote a post about our experience and what we learned. Read it here.
Our car broke down so we had the unexpected chance to explore the small mining town of Moura for 6 days until the necessary parts arrived. Then we spent a few days in Tannum Sands before stopping over in Gladstone for a few weeks for work. Next we headed south to Hervey Bay.
We took a daytrip to the incredible world heritage listed Fraser Island (read my review on here) then made our way up to Capricorn Caves, north of Rockhampton. We stopped in Armstrong Beach before leaving to make it to the Wintermoon Festival near Mackay.
After that we spent time in Airlie Beach before heading up to Townsville, where Reef HQ, the Museum of Tropical Queensland, and Castle Hill lookouts were all must-dos.
Next we visited Mission Beach before spending a week in Cairns which was packed full of awesome adventures including learning about the Aboriginal people of the region through the Tjapukai Cultural Centre plus a trip to Kuranda via the train on the way up and the skyrail on the way down. Of course we couldn’t pass up the chance to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef as well!
We also drove up to spend two days in the Daintree Rainforest before heading south again, where we were super excited to spot a cassowary on one of our hikes. After driving down the coast and inland again, we spent time in Charters Towers as well as Richmond, home to the famous Kronosaurus Korner. After that, we explored Mount Isa and prepared to leave the amazing state of Queensland!
Crossing the border into the Northern Territory was super exciting. Within a few minutes we saw a massive monitor lizard on the side of the road, and along the way a lot of big birds including hawks and eagles. After spending the night in Tennant Creek, we visited Karlu Karlu/ Devils Marbles on the way to Alice Springs.
After a few days exploring the town and the MacDonnell Ranges nearby, we headed towards the Heart of Australia. We spent a few days at Kings Canyon then a few days at the Ayers Rock resort campground.
We were lucky to see Uluru in the sunny and rainy weather (the waterfalls around the rock were amazing!) as well as Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). After our lovely time in the Red Centre, we headed up to enjoy the thermal pools in Mataranka, as well as time in Litchfield National Park.
Next we had a great time exploring Darwin, then the amazing Kakadu National Park. There we learned all about crocodiles, Aboriginal artwork, and got to appreciate some of the most incredible views of the Northern Territory.
We loved our time in Katherine, exploring many of the gorgeous natural sites around the area, one of my personal favourites was Knotts Crossing. After that we crossed the border into Western Australia, immediately impressed by the the Boab trees. We stayed at Lake Argyle as well as Kununurra.
One of the highlights of our time in the Kimberleys was a boat ride through the Geikie Gorge where we spotted over a dozen freshwater crocs in the rocks and on the shores. We then spent a few days in Broome, where finding the dinosaur footprints in the rockpools of Gantheaume Point at low tide was super special. Next we headed to the amazing 80 mile beach where we saw tons of treasures at low tide, and then marvelled at the breathtaking sites in Karijini National Park.
It was interesting to learn about iron ore and salt mining in Port Hedland. After that we spent time in Karratha, a town with tons of hidden treasures to explore. We were lucky to be there during the wildflower season as well as the time of year when you can witness the Staircase to the Moon. It was gorgeous!
Next we headed further down the coast to explore the Ningaloo reef region. We loved spotting emus, sea turtles and humpback whales around Exmouth. We had an amazing time at Coral Bay spotting huge fish off the beach and a lot more wildlife while snorkeling. Quobba Blowholes was another site to remember which we stopped by before heading to Sharks Bay. Seeing the bottlenose dolphins in Monkey Mia was a highlight of our time there.
Next we enjoyed seeing the amazing sites in the Kalbarri region, with more spectacular desert wildflowers scattered all over. The Pink Lake which was quite interesting to see, and further south we spent an afternoon marvelling at the Pinnacles.
We learned about stromatolites at Lake Thetis, and enjoyed seeing lots of wildlife (especially red kangaroos and echidnas) on the drive down the coast. In Geraldton we visited the Museum of Western Australia which shared the heart-wrenching story of the Batavia. Pictured above is a model of one of the longboats that carried the shipwrecked passengers to shore. The Perth region offered a lot to explore, two of the highlights being the meet-and-greet animal sessions at Caversham Wildlife Park and the tour at the Perth Mint.
After Perth we headed towards Esperance where driving along the Great Ocean Drive was a real treat. Our last few days in Western Australia were spent in Eucla where we loved playing on the sand dunes and being introduced to the Shingle Back Lizard. Soon after entering South Australia, we felt very lucky to spot a mother and calf Southern Right Whale at the Head of Bight since we passed through at the very end of the whale watching season.
Ceduna was a lovely town and we had a lot of fun on the beach at low tide. On our way down the Eyre Peninsula we were excited to see the colony of sea lions at Point Labatt Conservation Park as well as Murphy’s Haystacks. The highlights of Port Lincon were spotting wild koalas in Mikkira station, and “daddy” braved a day of cage diving with Great White Sharks.
Going north again, we all enjoyed learning about the history of the HMAS Whyalla (constructed in the town of Whyalla where it is now available to tour) and also spent a morning exploring the Wadlata Outback Centre in Port Augusta. Our next long stop was in Adelaide where three of the highlights were walking the Sephamore Jetty and spotting a sea lion, doing the fabulous (free!) tour at Haigh’s Chocolate Factory, and learning the history behind the Adelaide Gaol.
Heading east we stopped by the little town of Nhill where we greatly enjoyed the swamp boardwalk where we spotted lots of birds, tadpoles and a possum. Then we spent a few days in the Grampians National Park. Brambuk Cultural Centre had a wonderful video about the Creation Story told in this part of Australia plus the general history of this area, and we loved visiting a few of the beautiful sites in the park including McKenzie Falls, Bunjil’s Shelter, and several lookouts.
Next we headed to Melbourne where we enjoyed checking out a tiny bit of what this amazing city has to offer.
The state of Tasmania was next to explore. We greatly enjoyed the 9 hour journey on the Spirit of Tasmania through the Bass Strait. Berry picking near Devonport, learning about paper making in Burnie, seeing penguins at dusk and hiking up The Nut in Stanley were highlights of the first week.
Our visit to Cradle Mountain had us learning about the Tasmanian devils and hiking around Dove Lake. On the west coast we enjoyed watching “The Ship That Never Was” play in Strahan then, a bit more inland, taking the lovely hike through Mount Field National Park to see Russell Falls.
Seeing the view of Hobart from Mount Wellington was very impressive! We loved the Tasman Peninsula where the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman Arch and lavender fields were special memories. A day at Port Arthur helped us appreciate the convict history much more. Then we headed up the east coast, the Bicheno Blowhole and fishing at Friendly Beaches being favourite experiences.
We loved seeing all the wildlife in Narawntapu National Park, especially seeing wombats in the wild for the first time. The underground rivers and glow worms in Marakoopa Cave in the Mole Creek Karst National Park were awe inspiring, too. After taking the ferry back to the mainland, we headed up to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. Visiting the National Museum of Australia and the free tour of the Parliament House were amazing learning experiences.
New South Wales was our last state to explore, and we will have to go back one day as we were time limited! We arrived in Brisbane 368 days after we left and had a lovely party with friends to celebrate the completion of our Big Lap. Then we did one last long drive and settled in Townsville in Tropical North Queensland!
I am working on some resources that document our journey and learnings. Sign up for my newsletter to be notified when they become available.