A rash decision and its 3418km price tag


We had been home 5 weeks when Chris and I worked ourselves into a Green Ginger Wine fueled internet frenzy one night, searching for exit strategies.


Buying another car and caravan…  Cheap flights to Asia. Oh look, motorhomes are cheap in Germany! And there are cheap flights to China.  Hang on, nope, lets not go there again!  What about Canada?

It’s hot here; nearly 40 everyday. We’ve been hiding inside in the air conditioning and venturing out to beaches and parks and the river when the heat has subsided, just in time for the sunsets.

We lasted five weeks, mostly back in our old home, culling and selling and preparing it for sale.  Then the itchyness got unbearable, our plans to go away camping were not firming up well enough.

One of our many options is to get a rig and travel around in Australia. So Chris suddenly decided he wanted a particular type of 60 series Toyota Land Cruiser, and hunted the country top to bottom for just the right one.  We thought we’d get a funky old cruiser and a funky old caravan to tow behind it big enough to have a bathroom and beds for 7 but not longer than 24′.  Hey, we said, let’s just fly to wherever we find the right car, drive  it to where ever we find the right caravan, and be home in time for tea.  Too easy.

So, with  an uncharacteristic lack of stopping-and-thinking we bought flights to Melbourne and left two days later. Mum, who will drop anything and go anywhere, agreed to come with us, having never driven the Nullarbor before.  We bought the car on the spot, in the center of Melbourne city from a barefooted bloke outside his mate’s flat.

It was nearly 10pm and we had no accommodation. I rang a few places and it was looking like a $300 night. Ouch!!  Then, with only 6% left on the phone battery, we found a backpackers’ with a family room for $139.  Eight of us ate the overpriced pizza and squished into the 5 beds.

We drove 300 km the next day to visit two caravans. Neither were any good.  It’s a good thing we didn’t buy anything online, unseen! Its funny how rust and dirt and broken electrics don’t get metioned on ebay.

Knowing there were more caravans to see en route to Perth, we bought a roof rack on eBay the next day and spent the morning installing it onto our new car, on the footpath outside the backpackers, in inner city Melbourne.  And Sparky’s wheelchair and all our bags fitted on top.


Boys putting the roof rack together on a central Melbourne sidewalk


Then we began the drive home to Perth, only 3418km, and a week to do it in. Chris had to be back for jury duty, of all things.


I had been homesick for the Australian landscape in our 12 months away. Its a desolate, dry kind of beautiful.  We crossed rural Victoria, with dairy cows and rivers here and there.  So pretty.


The coast line was beautiful, high cliffs and wide bays with turquoise water bashing and frothing at their base.

We drove the great Ocean Road and saw the twelve apostles bathed in morning light.


In South Australia, things got vaster and browner, there were old stone cottages everywhere, and giant-like wind generators in wheat fields.


Then the Nullabor; 2000km of nothingness, desert, shrubs and rock. “Null Arbor” …..no trees. Not much of anything really.


We haven’t really spoken to any one yet apart from the odd friendly mum or dad at the caravan park pool.  We give the cursory one finger bush wave to passing cars. Motor homers wave only at other motor homers, caravan towers wave at other caravan towers.   Pettiness, the world over.


We worked our way through all the random music we have on file, the kids singing Kasey Chambers’ “Biggest Backyard in the World.”   Kasey grew up right here on the Nullabor, her dad was a fox hunter, yet another extraordinary childhood which produced an extraordinary musician.  We listened to Kasey all over Asia, a little of bit of home that came with us.


The children have named the new cruiser ‘Kasey’.


Here’s to raising children with big backyards, I say.



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24 Responses to A rash decision and its 3418km price tag

  1. Bron March 21, 2013 at 3:49 am #

    Wow! I wish you had contacted me in Melbourne, we could have housed you all somehow! Thrilled your adventure is beginning!
    Bron recently posted..Family update.My Profile

    • kathy lang August 31, 2013 at 12:41 am #

      Dear travel friends,
      We met you on a bus in Cambodia over a year ago. I have been following your blog occasionally and have tried to make contact (my computer skills are rusty). If you are ever in Alaska, please come stay and play-be great to trade travel stories.
      All the best in life and adventure,
      Kathy, John and Sam

      Alaskan family traveling for a year in Asia

      • Jill September 12, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

        Hi Kathy, yes I remember!
        Alaska is on the list!

      • Kathy Lang September 28, 2013 at 10:02 am #

        Hi Jill,
        Keep us in your address book. We may take off again next year -my new email is kathlang.ak@gmail.com. Would be great to catch up with longer time and stories to share. Sam is 16 now-gosh, they grow up sooooo fast. He totally change perspective during our year of travel. All the best.

        • Jill October 2, 2013 at 8:09 am #

          Hi Kathy, great to hear from you. Where are you off to next?
          Good to hear about Sam, people are often wary of travel with teenagers, but I think its a great idea.

  2. Carla March 21, 2013 at 5:22 am #

    Woohoo! There is nothing like a jump-up-and-go family adventure to keep the spirit settled. Wonderful stuff.

  3. James mitchell March 21, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    Good pick on the vehicle choice. Landcrusiers built this country , love the name too :)
    James mitchell recently posted..Episode 0007 – The 5 often overlooked travel necessities that may save your lifeMy Profile

    • Jill March 21, 2013 at 8:58 am #

      Thanks James, yep, Chris did the research, and the firm consensus is that a better car has not been built since Toyoata made the 60 series!

  4. Lisa Wood March 21, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    WOW that is one fantastic adventure…..looking forward to following you on your journey :)

    And yeah eBay listings are really cleaver with how they can cover up things that they don’t want the buyers to know!!

    Love the new “Kasey” – and love how much you need to travel (feel the same!!)
    Lisa Wood recently posted..Adventure Traveling :: Biggest National Parks in BaliMy Profile

    • Jill March 21, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Hi Lisa! thanks!!
      I know you feel the same, I do enjoy reading your adventures!

  5. Karrie Pearce March 21, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    A 60 series, best car ever! Might see you out one day travelling in our 60 series. can’t wait to see what Caravan you got.

    • Jill March 21, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Yay!! we bought the right car! It did drive very nicely….and a good looking beast too.

  6. Deb @ Bright and Precious March 21, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Wow, love your spontaneous spirit! And you were in Melbourne?!!! Gosh Jill, you should have called and you and your family could have stayed here! (for free!!!). Next time, yes? (Not luxurious, mattresses on floors, but you’re always welcome!). Sounds like the ‘mini’ adventure is just what you needed. Where to next?? I can’t wait. xx
    Deb @ Bright and Precious recently posted..Good ThingsMy Profile

  7. Maria March 22, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    I loved this post and the crazy spontaneity of it. The pictures, as always, are fantastic.
    Maria recently posted..The Best Museum in the WorldMy Profile

  8. Sarah March 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    I just drove across to Victor Harbour with a friend last week. I mentioned to my friend that I thought that the cars with WA number plates were the most unfriendly in giving a finger of recognition and thought maybe it was because we have to drive such long distances within our own state. Driving to Albany you never ever get a wave or finger. I loved the space and the treeless plain. I just wished it lasted for more than a half hour drive. People have told me that they would love to do it but their kids would get bored and I find that so sad. Good luck for your new adventures, you are truly an inspiration!!

  9. tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations March 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    my DH dreams of going to Australia… maybe some day. Beautiful this country of yours!
    tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations recently posted..Give Away Friday: Teach Them to Your ChildrenMy Profile

  10. Tara March 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    We have a car… a caravan… and hope to be leaving for round Australia in May/June!! Very excited.

  11. E Wiebe April 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    You are such an inspiration to my husband and I! Thank you for sharing your journey!!

  12. Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel April 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Thank you for sharing these photos of this fantastic huge, dry country, really appreciated. Love travelling along with you and the kids.
    Seana – Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel recently posted..The PARKROYAL Darling Harbour – Family-Friendly Accommodation in SydneyMy Profile

  13. Sam @ Travellingking.com May 9, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Great shots!
    Love the scenery! We are headed to the GOR in July – looking forward to it!
    Sam @ Travellingking.com recently posted..Photo of the Day 9th of MayMy Profile

  14. resorts in hervey bay June 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Wow, that is one amazing family adventure! Fantastic stuff! Thanks for sharing your journey. Lovely photos! Great share!

  15. Red Crane Travel August 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Wow, i love the photo of the nothingness! love your spirit too.

  16. Michael Leung August 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    I love Melbourne too!
    I like twelve apostles stones!!!
    Michael Leung recently posted..New Photo for AucklandMy Profile

  17. Ariana September 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    The place looks quiet, just perfect if you want to spend time alone with your family. I can see how your children enjoy the trip, I totally love their smiles.
    Ariana recently posted..OLD FAITHFULMy Profile

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