Summary: Halfway through our trip around Australia, here is how we are finding our year of family life on the road.
Snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef. Running into a Cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest. Hiking to see Aboriginal rock art in Carnarvon Gorge. Squeezing through the dark passageways of Capricorn Caves. Walking around the base of Uluru. Looking out for Saltwater Crocodiles in Kakadu National Park.
These are just a handful of the memories we have made during the past six months.
In January 2016 our family of five left our home in Brisbane to travel around Australia in a camper trailer for one full year. In preparation for the new lifestyle, we sold most of our belongings and moved the rest into storage. We registered our 7-year-old for homeschooling and said goodbye to “normal” life in the suburbs.
Why We Decided to Travel
Most people assume that we are travelling because we want to see the gorgeous country of Australia. While this is true, in part, the larger reason we decided to travel was to challenge ourselves to grow in new ways.
First of all, it was great timing for my husband’s medical career. He had recently passed his Emergency Medicine consultant exams after several years of study. If we ever wanted to take an extended period of time to travel before settling down into a permanent position, this was best the time to go.
We also knew that by locuming (doing part time relief work) in different hospitals around the country, we would get a feel for what different communities would be like to live and work in. From the mining town of Mount Isa QLD to the largely Aboriginal community in Katherine NT, he is getting a wide variety of work experience that is incredibly enriching to his professional development.
Personally I am lucky to be able to transport my work anywhere since I work online, and I have also started a Diploma of Counselling via distance education while we have been on the road. The travel has definitely helped me reevaluate my career path and set new goals.
Regarding the children, there are pros and cons to travelling while they are young. Our kids were 1, (almost) 5 and 7 when we started out. The benefit of going early rather than later is that the kids were not already established in school like they would be when they are older. It does mean, however, that we have to set a pace that is reasonable for our little travellers and the types of activities we participate in are occasionally limited. We don’t usually drive more than 10 hours in a week, and one touristy type outing is usually enough for each day. If our children were older, I’m sure there would be different challenges but still challenges nonetheless. In any case, they are growing by leaps and bounds through all the amazing experiences they are having which I’m sure would be the case when travelling with children any age.
All in all, every family member is finding out what it means to truly value moments not things, and getting to see so much of this amazing country we live in is, in a word, priceless. I don’t think we will ever be able to explain how much we have all gained from this experience.
Would We Do It Again?
We have always done a lot of travelling as a family, but this year of trekking our way around Australia has been an invaluable experience for all of us.
Yes, we have had a flat tyre and other mechanical problems. Yes, we have had to set up camp in the pouring rain. Yes, we have had to sleep in 42 degree heat. Yes, we have had multiple screaming kids on a long car ride. But I wouldn’t change a thing!
With all the fun memories and insights we have had during our trip, I can safely say this will always be one of our favourite years to look back on.
I would recommend, to anyone who can swing it, to definitely give “life on the road” a go. If there is one thing I keep learning again and again it is: embrace life and enjoy the ride.
To follow our journey, visit this page.
You may also enjoy…
Great read and ideas – thanks! We are planning to leave for gap year around Oz in December. Cannot wait. Your adventures sound amazing. Have you mostly stayed in caravan parks? Also interested to hear about budget. We are hoping $1000 per week will be enough. Enjoy continuing to make memories. Jacinta
Chelsea Lee Smith
Yay exciting, I wish you all the best with the planning! Except for when my husband is working (because we stay in accommodation provided by work during those times) yes we have been staying in caravan parks mostly, although a couple months ago we got a battery so can go unpowered for up to 3 days. Now we do our best to stay in a few free campsites each week we are travelling if the location and timing works out for us. It definitely saves a LOT of money to try the free places, as most caravan parks are expensive (and especially when they charge for each extra child). Wikicamps is a great resource to find them.
Chelsea Lee Smith
Thanks Kate 🙂
This is just awesome. That is all. 🙂
Not My Fault
Hi Chelsea, traveling as a family is fun experience. You are creating memories that your children will cherish when they grows-up. We are all aware with all the challenges you might face during the long period being on the road. I just set myself 3 days on the road, that’s the longest so far and never yet push through. Above all, it’s all about the experience, traveling is a learning process with so many things specially for the kids.