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:
Tallebudgera (Gold Coast)
Burke and Wills Roadhouse
Stops to come:
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.
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