Girraween National Park

A wander through the Australian wilderness perfect with little ones, brought to you by Country Road...

I recently found myself describing Girraween to a friend as much like Australia’s version of the Joshua Tree National Park…

Indeed it was these incredibly unique natural rock formations which drew us to explore this beautiful part of the world.

We took a 4hr drive from northern NSW via Tenterfield to this magic part of Southern Queensland. ‘Girraween’ meaning place of flowers is made up of stunning granite platforms moulded by flowing waterways. With enormous boulders dramatically perched on one another balancing against a sky of blue and gums.

With more than 17 km of walking tracks, there are plenty of options from a short stroll to an all-day trek – some more suitable with littlies than others;

Here are 5 park trails to get you started:

1.Granite Arch 1.6km (30 mins round trip)

For a gentle stroll choose the Granite Arch. Cross Bald Rock Creek and walk past blackbutt and stringybark forest before passing through Girraween’s very own natural stone archway.

2. The Pyramid 3.6km (2hrs return)

The Pyramid trail will challenge both your legs and your nerves. Passing eucalypt forests and grassy flats, the walk culminates in a steep climb up exposed rock face. Take some time at the top to take in views of Balancing Rock and the Second Pyramid.

3. The Junction 5.2km (2hrs return)

The walk along Bald Rock Creek to its junction with Ramsay Creek is a highlight of this picturesque trail. Time your walk for spring to see the wildflower displays that attract all sorts of birdlife from fairy-wrens to thornbills.

4. Castle Rock 5.2km (2hrs return)

A challenging walk that takes you from moderate gradients to a rocky and steep climb. The summit offers incredible views as far as the eye can see.

5. The Sphinx and Turtle Rock 7.4km (4hrs return)

A popular all-day hike that includes a gentle walk along a ridge taking in stunning views of the country. While the distant views are incredible, the stars of the show are definitely the rock formations from which the hike gets its name. The Sphinx is a granite pinnacle with a large balancing boulder on top while Turtle Rock is a granite monolith resembling a turtle shell.

We stayed overnight at the quaint Diamond Vale Cottages by the riverside. Spacious and comfortable cabins and cottages, surrounded by sweet country gardens.

A perfect evening was spent here by the fire with red wine flowing below a sea of stars.

Vista Tip:

Collect water and picnic goods for your adventures as you travel through Stanthorpe.

Jam Works Cafe and larder was our go to coffee house just on the edge of town.

All images by Lisa Sorgini

Matt, Delilah Bee and Julia all dressed by Country Road.

YOUR 24hr GUIDE TO BRISBANE CITY

Was 24hrs really enough time...? certainly not - but we gave it a red hot go!

Here is an itinerary which will certainly keep you on your toes, and even dip them in the water.

4.00pm

Check in at Spicers Balfour followed by a drink in the hotel bar on sunset.

5.30pm

An early (kids hour) dine at Happy Boy, a new and popular modern Chinese restaurant with chic industrial design. The salt and pepper prawns come highly recommended. A great wine list too.

7.00pm

A stroll back to the hotel to catch the pretty bridge lights shimmer across the Brisbane River, and a swim in the tub before bed.

7.00am

Breakfast of yummy, fresh sautéed greens, eggs and halloumi in the Spicers Balfour courtyard.

8.30am

A second coffee and juice stop at the nearby Miss Jones.

9.30am

Off to the arts precinct, GOMA & GOMA Bookshop! Check the programming before you go, this gallery attracts some incredible exhibitions by internationally renowned artists, often with specific activities for kids.

10.00am

Queensland Museum is fantastic for kids, with more dinosaurs and taxidermy animals than you could ever imagine. Plus and interactive light show which we loved – head to level 4 for the action.

11.30pm

A quick juice stop at the all new Three Blue Ducks, take in a scenic view of the Brisbane river.

1.30pm

Homemade style sandwiches and excellent coffee at the long standing, Jamie’s Coffee House

3.00pm

Afternoon Tea at a locals favourite (which quickly became our favourite too), Scout Cafe.

4.00pm

The historic Powerhouse Museum is situated right next to New Farm Park playing host to live arts, weekend farmers markets and moonlight cinema.

5.00pm

A short ferry ride and stroll through South Bank under flowering arches of bonganvillia to the beach! Well, the city beach aka ‘kids heaven’.

The highlight…? Being so centrally located at Spicers Balfour in lovely New Farm. Walking distance from a great foodie scene, the river and city ferries which are such an easy and scenic way to get around – especially with kids.

If you have more time these great Brissy spots are really worth checking out;

London Fields Cafe at The Stores, both a cafe and bar serving fresh foods and craft beers in a lovely, airy al fresco courtyard space.

Nodo Donuts a chic looking space with mouthwatering treats

Range Brewing a relaxed space for cold beer and hot pizza!

Rainworth General found in Bardon, a sweet area leafy area of Brisbane. Well known for their coffee, wonderful food, friendly staff and a great big veggie patch for the kids out back. Community and sustainability is the focus of this business and it shows.

All images by Matt Rabbidge

SPRING FLING

Mukti brings your skin out of winter hibernation with a few quick tricks!

Winter can leave us all a little more scaly than supple. In addition to the cooler weather, we tend to take our showers hotter and drink less water leaving our skin dry and prickly.

Its time to tune back in and change our habits as the spring season is here.

We love these Mukti products to awake and stimulate the skin. We trialled this 4 step ritual twice a week and could see and feel the difference straight away. Winter skin be gone!

STEP ONE: FACE

This gentle 2-1 Resurfacing Exfoliant is made up of fine bamboo particles and native fruit extracts.

Use light circling motions to applying targeting your dry areas (for me its above the brows) and wash with a warm water cloth. Skin instantly feels softer.

STEP TWO: FACE

Deep Cleanse Antioxidant Masque

Unlike other masques this one will not leave your skin feeling parched or aggravated. Use plentifully covering face and neck and leave for 15 – 20 mins.

With natural extracts including Kakadu Plum, Banksia, Silky Oil Grass the skin feel cool and nurtured. Remove with a warm cloth and reveal smoother clean skin.

STEP 3: BODY

Bio Active Body Polish

The warmer weather is here and its time to bare all! so exfoliating old wintery skin is a must. This is a beautiful, nourishing and easy way to do so.

Bio Active Body Polish applied with hands onto the body will target things like stretch marks and cellulite. We apply first on our legs, feet and bottom, then shoulders, arms and backs of hands.

STEP 4: BODY

Bio Active Body Elixir

The final step is to replenish. You will love the feel of this oil and how beautiful it smells, with an exotic combination of ingredients like Sandalwood Seed, Kangaroo Paw Flower, Rosella Flower and Wattle Seed.

The Body Elixir is especially good for keeping stretch marks at baby for baby mamas, plus rubbing oils on your belly is one of the nicest ways to connect with Bub. Happy baby, happy muma x

All natural, all organic – Mukti never ceases to amaze us with her beautiful and gentle products.

I must also make mention of Mukti’s newest and exciting project! – her beautiful and informative new book, ‘Truth in Beauty‘.

Providing insights into deciphering labels, finding natural alternatives and intern conscious decision making for you and the environment.  This book is now launched to the world wide market.

Shot on location at the stunning ‘Pretty Beach House

Please feel free to use my special 20% discount code when making your first online purchase of Mukti product! Quote ‘THEVISTA20’

Julz x

SPICERS PEAK LODGE

90 mins from Brisbane QLD, and a world away from it all...

With a tranquil expanse stretching out as far as the eye can see – this unique, luxury property is set upon 8,000 acres.

Around 20% of this land is dedicated to cattle farming, and the rest is reserved for natural preservation of a world heritage listed national park.

The emphasis at Spicers Peak is placed both on relaxation and luxury – so if the resorts fine dining, bar and day spa aren’t enough to allure the pristine grounds and surrounding nature walks certainly will…

Pregnancy massage is offered by the lodge’s wonderful therapists. The spa also come complete with an indoor and outdoor bath to extend your relation time as you wish.

Artful additions to the property like this London style telephone booth keep things a little quirky.

King size beds in each room ensure all baby moon guests have the very best rest possible.

Spend cozy afternoons here together in the lounge by the lodge fire.

Witness a spectacular sunset over Queensland’s Scenic Rim from the upper balcony, complete with a library and pool room or take part in cheese and wine tasting on the grounds.

Our favourite memory of the space was the outdoor hot tub which takes in a view of a million stars at night.

Walking the trails around the property on sunrise we spotted a brand new highland calf with its mother, she had given birth at dawn.

Gourmet breakfast by the pool. All costs of your stay are inclusive from the mini bar to the wine.

Spicers Peak Lodge is the original property of the Spicers collection. We very much look forward to discovering the rest (perhaps after this next baby of ours comes along!)

Book your romantic baby moon escape HERE

 

 

Pretty Beach House, NSW

Nature, nurture and luxury - it's all here...

It was a long time dream of mine to visit Pretty Beach House situated in the tanquil Bouddi National Park, approx a 1.5hr drive from Sydney city.

En route our springtime visit was welcomed by fragrant fields of native wildflowers. As the gum trees parted and the main homestead came into view we knew we had arrived in just the right place.

With 4 luxurious private pavilions (with incredible beds may I add) it’s easy to sink into a beautiful way of existence here, surrounded by the smells and sights of nature.

Soak away in your choice of heated pool or take to the deep baths situated in all rooms, complete with great sound systems and even a collection of great vinyl to choose from.

Each space is designed with the environment in mind –  a warm combination of natural design aesthetics using wood, sandstone and glass welcoming the perfect vista from all angles of the property.

Let us not forget the food…the glorious food! Your personal chef on request will create a range of delicious plates to your taste.

Whether its your baby moon, 40th birthday, romance or just a well deserved indulgent escape – Pretty Beach House certainly comes with our highest recommendation.

Book HERE

Julia wears marigold dress by MLM The Label.

White linen dress by All That Remains

Sun hat by Worn Store

All images by Leaha Lockley

Bells at Killcare, NSW

Just the right recipe for a perfect baby moon...

We had many emails and messages from fellow pregnant ladies out there who wanted to find a great space to escape and reconnect with their love, bubba to come and most importantly themselves before their next birth…so we took it upon ourselves to find just that.

Welcome to Bells at Killcare, situated on the New South Wales Central Coast (approx 90mins from Sydney airport). This Hamptons style resort is equip with everything you need to keep your feet up and your mind at ease.

Starting with great food! Bells at Killcare prides itself on an incredible selection of fresh gourmet foods (plenty of which are grown onsite) and matching wines. Service is incredible and the fact that you can literally add truffle oil to absolutely anything you wish is truly a pregnant woman’s dream is it not…?

For breakfast, choose from the à la carte menu or the fresh buffet style selection of fresh fruit, yogurts and delicious pastries.

The bells dining room complete with a cozy food fire.

We loved creating a garden style platters from a range of local cheeses, nuts and seeds from the Bells pantry – word of warning you can help yourself to the pantry at anytime…we certainly encourage this!

A cute pool bar serves a range of cool drinks and snacks throughout the day, allowing you pick a sunny position and post up by the water as long as you wish.

A highlight for us was the incredible spa. Lead by a team of experienced therapists, you immediately feel that you have stepped into a space where you will be completely nourished.

Inspired by the indigenous people of the area each treatment or ‘journey’ uses a combination of native ingredients including lillypilly, desert lime, Australian sandalwood, Tasmanian kelp, wattle seed polish and quandong fruit.

We selected a combination of ‘Lowana’ a facial along with a hand and foot treatment and a ‘Marma Koko’  a rhythmic body massage applying traditional Aboriginal techniques and using macadamia and Camellia oils to nourish and hydrate skin. This was a supremely nurturing experience for a mum to be.

An O’Yarrang “smoking ceremony” of local gum leaves, paperwork, oak moss and lemon Myrtle to begin the transportive journey.

All in all, the Bells Killcare experience is designed with a focus on you, the perfect thing you will long for in these last days of pregnancy. Babymoon away Mama x

Book Bells at Killcare HERE

Mention ‘THE VISTA’ on booking your overnight stay and receive a complimentary Vista add-on of heated quandong hair treatment and scalp massage, with any massage in the Bells Day Spa. *Valid until 01.01.2019.

Julia wears clothing from All That Remains

Leather bag from Sancia the Label

Straw hat from Worn store

All images by Leaha Lockley.

HOSHINOYA TOKYO

HOSHINOYA Tokyo is hospitality at its finest. Beginning at its entrance, a grand foyer that instantly takes you a world away from the bustling streets outside.

Here it’s shoes off (a traditional custom in Ryokan style stays) while you’re warmly greeted by the lovely staff.

The rooms are a considered blend of traditional and modern design, a favourite feature was the exterior building patterns that cast stunning shadows across the suites rice paper walls in the morning sun.

Hoshinoya’s restaurant offers an exquisite selection of foods, aimed at engaging all five senses. This Japanese / French inspired experience was a true highlight of our stay.

Each guests dining space is in a simple private room where the food does the talking. Every level of the hotel also boasts a central tea room – open all day and night serving snacks, tea, coffee and sweets.

Venture to the rooftop to discover the hotels onsen – tapped from hotsprings over 1000m below the earth. These unique open air spaces allow you enjoy ultimate relaxation whilst viewing the stars far above the Tokyo skyline.

Everything about this hotel is overwhelming beautiful, it’s attention to each delicate detail translates as true luxury.

Book HOSHINOYA TOKYO HERE

Download your copy of the complete vista guide to Japan HERE

THE VISTA X TOOSHIES BY TOM

A little conscious living goes a long way - we chat to these gorgeous parents about how they make greener choices for their families both at home and on the road. Plus, enter our giveaway to win a 6 month tooshies by TOM subscription x

These gorgeous photos were taken on location in Byron Bay featuring our friends and their bubs sporting tooshies by TOM nappies, captured by Amelia Fullarton.

Jasson dad to Taro and uncle to Dali

The more we practice something the better we become at it. Ignoring what we know to be right is practicing ignorance. I think it is much better to practice the opposite and cultivate a state of higher consciousness. One little decision at a time. No matter where you are, you can listen to that conscious voice that indicates the right course of action and move in that direction.

Mia with son Taro 

We’re lucky enough to live in an area that’s super eco conscious, so it makes living mindfully a lot easier. Fresh organic produce, endless plastic free options and almost everything comes in biodegradable form! However, it can be hard to maintain this lifestyle when you’re travelling, and it’s easy to get attached to only eating/shopping a certain way but part of travel is experiencing and being open to new things. Which for me, often means letting go of some of my preferences. But my non negotiables are clean water, fresh food and minimal amounts of refined sugar, msg & preservatives.

Hana mum of Dali

Once you become aware of the waste that’s been created and the use of harmful and toxic sprays been used within the food industries and the impact all of it is having on the earth and all its inhabitants, making conscious decisions becomes a necessary in your every day life. There’s so many little things you can do that make so much difference. We each have a keep cup, if we don’t have it we don’t get a take away coffee, Gelatos are only ever ordered in cones – why create more waste when you can eat a delicious waffle cone instead. Bees wax wraps and Tupperware containers are you’re best friend. Preparation is key we shop at local markets, take our own jars to fill at Whole Foods stores. Always have shopping baskets in the car. Before we head on the road or overseas i’ll google where the closest organic/Whole Foods store is to stock up on food and snacks, and I’ll easily spend a day looking up places to eat that support and use locally grown produce. It’s about acting with awareness in every little decision we make – We’re all part of this big beautiful earth.

Molly mum of Willa

I have always been conscious to do my bit for the environment, I’m no saint, but having a baby has really made me want to conserve this planet for our little ones…and their little ones. Just obvious conscious decisions like recycling waste, carrying my own shopping bags and coffee cup, not owning a microwave, buying preloved clothes for me and my babe, spending quality time together as a family instead of watching TV are all ways we can do our little bit to reduce the impact on this earth of ours and set up good habits for our future generations.

Holly mum of Della

We try and make conscious decisions on the way we live as much as possible. For Bub, we try and use the most eco-friendly nappies we can get our hands on. We also have little rules in our household, like only use bar soap and bamboo toothbrushes for Della, glass bottles are also great and last so much longer than plastic. My fave is Lifefactory. We use Nature Baby cotton squares for cleaning up spills around the house and washing her face. We try to buy her clothes second hand and don’t offer too her much in the way of toys. She’s happier playing with her dads work tools anyway! I love simple, everyday hacks that make our footprint a little smaller. On the road, we buy most of her snacks from the bulk foods store to fill her lunch box for our adventures. Since she was born, I’ve always carried around a reusable box for wipes that is always stocked up, this means I’m not buying a new pack of wipes every time we have an emergency! We also have an array of reusable calico bags I use for sorting all her bits and bobs.

Julia & Matty parents of Delilah Bee

Matty and I both feel that little things can make big change. We start at home with compost and recycling teaching DeeDee as we go. She even has her own little section of the veggie patch which she grows and cares for. When traveling we love to seek out farmers markets to buy groceries and snacks, supporting local industry – whether we are in Bangalow, Japan or California!

 

ENTER HERE for your chance to win a 6 month subscription to Tooshies by TOM

 

Hana and Mia wear dresses by All That Remains

Holly wears St Agni

Julia wears Auguste the Label dress

Bubs Nature Baby clothing

Delilah wears Millk clothing

Hanging mobile by Bernii

Shot on location at Temple Farmhouse

All images by Amelia Fullarton

INDIA // a second home

India with children...? I know what your'e thinking, and some of us would never dare attempt it. You may change your mind after reading this beautiful story.

Introducing avid traveler Rachel Glasby, 36 year old mother of two daughters, Luna Indigo and Zaala Zahara (both under 5). Rachel and her family venture to the motherland twice yearly for photography assignments and to source treasures for her online shop The Silk Road. She also leads small bespoke journeys to India, for mothers and daughters. Today they share their travel tales…

Autorickshaw in Jodhpur

There’s always flowers on every corner

What was the penny drop moment which had you first packing for India?

I first landed on the streets of India through family. My daughters Grandpa was born and raised in North-East India and my brother in law’s family are also from India, so I had travelled there a few times before Luna and Zaala were born. When it came to travelling there with the girls, there was never really a penny drop moment. There simply was never any question that taking them to India couldn’t be done! They’ve now learnt to crawl, walk and talk in India over the past five years of Indian journeys.

Flower Pujas

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Where did you travel within India?

With the girls alongside me I have travelled extensively through North India, mostly in the states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujurat. These are our most-loved places in India and have become like a home away from home. I feel such a sense of homecoming when I arrive back. Over the years we’ve made good friends and there are many familiar faces who wholeheartedly welcome us back each time.

Matriarch love

What was the most rewarding moment of your journey?

I think for me as a mother it is seeing the girls interact with people from all walks of life and noticing that they simply do not see differences from one human to the next. It makes it so glaringly obvious that we as adults create these barriers, sometimes even unconsciously. Children’s eyes simply don’t see them, and this is something I want to ensure stays with them. I know as they get older it’s inevitable that they’ll intellectualise that ‘differences’ exist, but my deep wish is that these early-life experiences will allow them to acknowledge these differences for what they are but only pay heed to the fact that our humanity unites us, and that this comes before anything else.

and the most daunting?

Extricating yourselves, your kids and your luggage from an autorickshaw and making your way through the crowd to find your seat on a train at any Indian train station can be a stress like you’ve never experienced! We learnt very quickly this was not a place to assert our travel independence by saying no to the porters. Negotiate a fair price from the get-go, and they will safely deliver you and your luggage to the exact platform and carriage for any route you could possibly throw at them. If your train hasn’t yet arrived, they’ll stand you in the exact spot you need to be and you’ll be stunned when your train arrives and realise that they’ve dropped you within one metre of your carriage door.

Puja’s in Pushkar with a Brahmin priest we have now known since the girls were babies

Train journeys to the border of India and Pakistan

Where did you stay in each region?

Over the years of many hits and misses, I now have a few firm favourites that never fail to make us feel at home. In Udaipur, we have always stayed at Dream Heaven Hotel. It has a gorgeous view over the lake, it’s very low key, the kitchen is wonderful and the owner is one of the best guys in town. In Jaipur, Umaid Bhawan is beautiful and peaceful. In Pushkar, you can’t go past everyones not-so-secret favourite, Inn Seventh Heaven. Anoop has become a dear friend and will always go above and beyond to make sure our stay is wonderful, even if he is not in the country.

Spinning around at the Taj Mahal

Did you have any sicknesses on the road and how did you avoid this?

India and varying degrees of an upset tummy go hand-in-hand for probably 99% of travellers. Even the most seasoned traveller with a cast iron gut is still not immune. I find if you’re travelling during the cooler months you are far less likely to get sick. In the summer months, with soaring temperatures and frequent power cuts, you might as well start taking your anti-nausea medications as soon as you swallow your first mouthful of Biriyani…We’ve all been sick at one point or another and you just have to ride it out, unfortunately. That said, Indian food is absolutely sensational and if you stick to vegetarian food, busy restaurants/street vendors and eat where locals eat, you’ll have a far better chance of staying well and finding the best food India has to offer. My best meals in India have been at the simplest roadside stalls, hands down.

When you close your eyes and think of your trips, what do you see, smell, hear? Take us there…
Every possible hue of colour as I walk through the flower market with mountains of flowers overflowing from bundles made of old saris. Swirls of jasmine incense drifting through the air mixed with the omnipresent smell of cow dung and an open sewer. Sunset in Pushkar with the evening Aarti bells ringing in slightly uneven unison across the lake and the roar of a gas flame as it gets turned up full blast under a pot of sweet chai. And incessant car horns….They’ll make you lose your mind and once you have, you’ll learn to drown them out. Chaos and bliss, India is a constant juxtaposition.

Cuddles at the Taj Mahal earlier this year

Your one word of advice for families traveling to India this would be?
With kids, aim to be as light and mobile as you can. In my experience, India is not a place to travel with prams or car seats. If you’re travelling with a little one, get them used to a baby sling of some kind (We have worn-out three amazing Ergo’s.) Travel light and you’ll be able to get around in autorickshaws and trains with far more ease. You’ll also be swept up into the fabric of everyday India far more this way than if you are travelling everywhere in a private car. You simply won’t hear, feel or bear witness to the thundering heartbeat of India with the windows rolled shut.

Jodhpur Blue

Thar Desert

Rachel will be journeying to the south of India on a photography assignment for The Birthing Kit Foundation of Australia in a few weeks time. When she’s not travelling, Rachel works as an emergency department nurse in Adelaide, SA.

Follow along her journey for more of India and learn about this amazing organisation! @thesilkroad_ and @rachelgatsby

QUEENSLAND // where the road begins…

10,864kms into their trip around Australia we catch up with Teegan and her family from the road. Get the load down on caravans, 4WD-ing, packing and doing it all with 2 kids under 3.

What was it that first inspired you and your family to hit the road?

There was two reasons why we wanted to hit the road. Adam is an accountant and was working 40+ hours a weeks and missing out on lots of things with the kids. We wanted to find a lifestyle that meant he wasn’t missing their milestones, and where they got more time with both parents around. We also just wanted to live a simple life. One where we weren’t tied down by our material possessions, where we had the freedom to go where we want, when we wanted, and to be be able to explore this amazing country with our children in tow.

Cobbold Gorge, Far North Queensland

How long have you away from home?

We are coming up to 100 days since we left our home, with no plans to go back to the South Coast of NSW yet. We are currently looking at basing ourselves somewhere for 6-12 months to top up our funds and upgrade our car and caravan before hitting the road again.

Kawhi sunset in 1770, Queensland

Home schooling on the road?

Our children have just turned one and three (both on the 14th August!) so we don’t have to formally home school them yet, which was actually another reason why we wanted to do this trip now. However, we do make sure we are always doing numeracy and literacy activities, painting and drawing and other general things that we feel they would be doing at home or in a pre school. We have met a number of other families on the road who are either home schooling or have their kids doing distance education so it’s definitely possible. We have already discussed that we would like to home school both our kids for a period when they’re older so that they can continue to live a life on the road. We feel that experiences are the best education.

Mission Beach, Queensland

You’re BIGGEST learning?

Definitely patience in living together in such a small space, and being around each other 24/7. We have also learnt that the best plan, is to not have a plan! Many of our highlights from our trip so far have been things that we’d never heard of, or places we didn’t plan on going to, but when we did we absolutely loved them! Not having plans also gives us so much more flexibility and the ability to just go with the flow.

Teegan and Luna at Cardwell Spa, Cardwell

Anything you would do differently?

We don’t regret anything we have or haven’t done. We have really taken our time with the areas we have visited so far so that we haven’t missed anything. We would like to change our setup to be more capable of going off-road and more comfortable for longer periods of free-camping, so we will be upgrading both our car and caravan in the near future.

Adam and Kawhi at Tallebudgera Creek, Queensland

Personal highlights of the trip?

Adam’s highlight would be Paronella Park, it was somewhere that we missed on the way to Cairns (we didn’t really know about it), we said if we have time after Cairns we will go there and we are sure glad we didn’t skip it. The park is a showcase of José Paronella’s dream, which was to build a castle on his property of 13 acres beside Mena Creek Falls about an hour south of Cairns. The story of the man who built the castles and the grounds is very inspiring.

Kawhi and Luna at Milla Milla Falls, Queensland

Teegan’s highlights have been Adels Grove, Babinda Boulders, Milla Milla Falls and scuba diving off Hayman Island. I’ve also absolutely loved some of the small things, like seeing Kawhi ride a bike for the first time and seeing both kids swim in the ocean surrounded by fish.

Family camping at Burke and Wills Roadhouse , Outback Queensland.

What do you think the kids learnt, loved, experienced that will stay with them forever?

We hope that above all, they will remember the time we have had together as a family. That their Mum and Dad were both around when they were young. The new friends they have met along the way. That a home doesn’t have to be made of bricks and mortar, it can in fact be found in an 18ft caravan, as long as your family is together.

 

THE COMPLETE LOW DOWN (for anyone serious on doing a trip like this): 

We left our hometown of Culburra Beach on the South Coast of NSW with no firm plans of what our stops would be or how long we would take to travel. All we knew was that we wanted to get far away from the winter weather that was beginning to set in. Having two kids under 3 we wanted to limit our drive days to a maximum of 4hrs in the car on any one day. Since leaving, we have only twice had driving days over 4hrs, with most driving days only being 2hrs. We also wanted to take our time to really explore places, some spots we have stayed for two weeks, whilst others only for a night or two. Our overall route was to chase warmer weather and as we left in May with the days getting shorter and colder our aim was to head north to chase the sun.

From the South Coast we headed north following the coastline as much as possible until we got to Cairns, where we started to travel west along the ‘Savannah Way’, before venturing up to Karumba, a small coastal town on the Gulf of Carpentaria. After a few days in Karumba, we are currently following the ‘Matilda Way’ back south, stopping at Mount Isa. From here we will leave the caravan for a few days and take a tent to go camping at Adele’s Grove in Lawn Hill National Park. This is as far as we have planned, sometimes we only decide on where we’re going the morning we take off from our current location. We love this way of travel as it enables us to follow recommendations of other travellers or people who live in the area and find places we may have otherwise missed if we were travelling to a set itinerary. We do a mix of free camping, low-cost camps and caravan parks.

The towns we have stayed in are:

Culburra Beach
Stockton Beach
Macksville
Ballina
Tallebudgera (Gold Coast)
Brisbane
Sunshine Coast
Hervey Bay
Bundaberg
1770
Gladstone
Yeppoon
Mackay
Airlie Beach
Bowen
Home Hill
Townsville
Mission Beach
Cairns
Babinda Boulders
Paronella Park
Atherton
Mount Surprise
Georgetown
Leichardt Lagoon
Karumba
Burke and Wills Roadhouse

Stops to come:
Mount Isa
Adele’s Grove (Lawn Hill)

We hope to do the whole of lap of Australia before the kids start school (2021) we’ll have to stop for periods along the way to work and top up funds.

Car and Caravan

We are travelling in a Mitsubishi Triton, towing a Jayco Expanda Outback Caravan. We brought the Triton in 2014 and were originally going to upgrade it and buy a brand new van for the trip, however as we didn’t know if we would love or hate the lifestyle we chose to buy a second hand Caravan and keep the Triton. This also saved us a substantial amount of money doing it this way, which made taking the leap of faith and quitting work a little easier for the Accountant in Adam.

We chose our caravan as it was light enough to be towed by our ute, yet provides us with more than enough space for storage, and for the four of us to live in full-time. We are also able to live ‘off-grid’ for a period of time by way of a solar panel and water tanks.

We plan on upgrading the car and caravan in the near future as we love the lifestyle and can see ourselves living on the road for many more months/years to come.

Our car is set up to go off-road, but not for extreme 4WD-ing. This isn’t something that we really wanted to do while the kids are this young, but we look forward to going more down that path once they’re older.

Packing

We honestly believe that less is more, so the less we could pack the better. Having fewer things also means less time cleaning them, maintaining them, tidying them, etc and more time together and with our kids. In the caravan, we are also heavily restricted by how much weight we can carry and space is at a premium. Moving into the caravan made us realise how much ‘stuff’ we own and how at one stage we considered this ‘stuff’ to be essential in us being happy or a necessary item to own, i.e. a big screen tv or the latest kitchen gadget, when it was actually not really providing us with any tangible benefit to our happiness. We sold some items and ended up giving away a lot of our possessions, which in itself was liberating. The more we got rid of the more we realised that we are just getting rid of stuff and all these items are replaceable, however the memories we were about to make and the time we would get to spend together was a once in a lifetime experience that too many people miss out on. The longer our trip goes the more we know that the stuff in our caravan or house isn’t what makes us happy, but the communication and time spent together is what makes our life worth living.

As we made the decision to chase the sun, we knew we would not need a lot of warm clothing. So we each only have one set of winter style clothes. Our wardrobe only had hanging space, so we built some shelves which meant each family member has one shelf and one drawer for their clothes.

We’re big believers in the benefits of being barefoot as often as possible, so the kids don’t really wear shoes. Kawhi just has a pair of converse and some gumboots – very handy for young kids as they’re so easy to slip on. The kids have more clothes than we do as they’re generally filthy by the end of the day after playing in the sand and dirt.

We packed only a minimal selection of toys for the kids (toys fit into one plastic tub) as they generally just prefer to be outside playing in the dirt or riding a bike. We also packed toys for the adults such as a skateboard and a surfboard however, we have left the surfboard with family in the Gold Coast as it took up too much space and was not going to be used once we got past 1770.

We have one cupboard dedicated to books and painting gear for the kids. We didn’t bring any books for ourselves but we do have a Kindle each.

We have acquired half a dozen DVD’s for the kids since leaving. We have some other movies on a USB and hope to move the DVD’s that we do have onto the USB also to save on space in the cupboard.

In terms of kitchen things, we only have 1 cup, plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon, etc each. We have one saucepan, one fry pan, a steamer and a kettle.

We packed a Ziegler & Brown BBQ with attachments to cook pizzas, or use a wok on it. We can also roast veggies in it as we don’t have an oven in the caravan.

We also brought a stick blender so that we could continue making purees for our daughter.

We have two sets of bath towels, 4 beach towels and 2 tea towels.

One of our most essential items is the Aeropress (hand driven coffee maker). We love it as it’s easy to use and doesn’t require any power, plus we have found that in some outback towns it can be hard to find a good coffee, if at all!

Follow this great family quest further via their Instagram feed @thetaggtribe