Our Lap of Australia

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Travelling around Australia in 365 days sounds doable … but getting the journey into 1,400 words in focus … probably Impossible! Nonetheless, much loved locals Hayley and Ross Dwyer, along with their three kids – Millie, James and Daisy – set off in January on an epic 12 month adventure. They arrived home mid December, and we caught up with them to find out about life on the road.

Hi Hayley! We’ve been following you on Facebook, and it looks like you had an amazing 12 months! What made you and Ross decide to pack up home, shop and kids and set off for this trip? 

 Ross and I had talked about doing a lap of Australia before we had our kids. Life’s too short and the kids were at the perfect ages, Millie (11), James (8) and Daisy (3) So we decided to go for it.

How long were you in planning, and what tools did you use to map out the trip?

It was a split decision, because our circumstances changed, so we didn’t have a great lot of time to plan. We rented our house out fully furnished and sold the family car and boat to pay for our home on wheels. 

We had a camping book and some great recommendations from friends. We followed a few families’ travel pages on FB, but the best tool we used was an app called Wiki Camps. We were able to plan and track our whole trip using this app. We also had an app called Fuel Maps and a large map that we stuck inside the van, which was a great visual for the kids. 

We didn’t have a set plan; we just knew we would head south first and try and beat the cold weather.

Tell us about your “home” for the last 12 months. Did you camp or have a motorhome?

We bought a second-hand caravan off the Camping and Caravan page on Facebook. We didn’t have a great amount of time to save, so we had a budget and fluked a van that fit that. It had double bunks, toilet/shower, and we set it up to run off solar, so it was great for free camping (which we did a lot of and loved the most). 

There were so many different setups on the road; friends of ours did it in a camper trailer, so depending on what you want to do will depend on your setup. Our van was perfect for what we wanted to do.  

State by state, give us two highlights from each …

There are so many highlights, it was hard to keep to two … oops! 

NEW SOUTH WALES

  • Great Beach camp at Coledale.
  • Picture perfect beaches at Greenpatch (Jervis Bay).
  • The kids loved the kangaroos everywhere and the surf at Pretty Beach.
  • Narooma was great for seals and sting rays in the bay and was close to the cute little town of Tilba.

VICTORIA

  • Amazingly diverse landscape and all of the wildlife at Wilsons Promontory. 
  • Rainforest walks hunting for Lyre Birds in Turra – Bulga National Park.
  • Great fishing and free camping in Marlo at the mouth of the Snowy River.
  • Cruisy city and amazing esplanade of Geelong. 
  • Watching the fairy penguins march up the shores at Phillip Island. 
  • Eating mussels by the kilo and enjoying a beverage overlooking Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. 
  • The Twelve Apostles were amazing also.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

  • Catching squid and Blue Swimmer crabs off the Jetty in Ardrossan.
  • Western Beach, Admirals Arch and Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island.
  • Having the beach to ourselves  at Fishery Bay near Port Lincoln. 
  • Coffin Bay Oysters in Coffin Bay. 
  • Catching up with family in Adelaide and waterskiing on the Murray River. 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

  • Ningaloo Reef was our number one spot; we went swimming with the Whale Sharks, Sea Turtles, Manta Rays and thousands of tropical fish. 
  • Exploring Karijini Gorges. 
  • Loved the swimming holes and waterfall at Emma Gorge (El Questro).
  • Nothing quite like the sunsets on Cable Beach in Broome. 
  • Rottnest Island with friends and meeting their resident Quokkas. 
  • Margaret River for the awesome surf spots, wineries, cafés, breweries and camping amongst the olive trees. 
  • Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand for its unbelievable beaches of white sand and aqua water.

NORTHERN TERRITORY 

  • Spending time with family in Darwin. 
  • Croc jumping tour on the Adelaide River. 
  • Litchfield National Park. 
  • Yellow River cruise watching the resident crocs swim along side the boat.
  • Cahills Crossing in Kakadu, watching the crocs at the change of tides.
  • Mataranka Hot Springs!

QUEENSLAND

  • Kayaking the emerald water in Lawnhill with friends.
  • Having the secluded bush camp and beaches of the Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation. 
  • Watching the burning of the cane fields on the Burdekin River. 
  • Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsundays. 
  • Relocating Loggerhead Turtle Eggs on the beach of Mon Repos. 
  • Sighting the local Cassowary and drinking the fallen coconuts at Etty Bay.
  • We could easily have enjoyed living at 1770/Agnes Water. 

The list goes on …

Did you run into any issues? If so, how did you overcome them?

We had some wheel bearing issues with the van; thankfully we were never far away from help. Would you believe we had a mechanic leave his screwdriver in the bonnet of our Ford Ranger in Carnarvon, so many nights’ sleep were lost over the rattling noise that was coming form the car. Take note; if you ever have van/car trouble in WA, be prepared – because Western Australia is also known as “wait awhile”, as we found out when Ross had an incident with the car in Broome. There was always a cold beer on hand when these problems arrived or a helping hand not too far away.

What did the kids learn from this adventure?

They learnt so much about the beautiful country that we live in. But they also learnt how to be patient, how to make friends quickly, how to walk great distances and how precious water is. One of the subjects through Distance Education (North East Public School) was about envirnonmental awareness, so we taught the children to be more environmentally conscious; we removed litter from beaches and we taught them how they could be more self sufficient. 

What did you and Ross learn?

To slow down, stress less, and be happy. We learnt that experiences mean more than things, and you don’t need a lot of “stuff”. The valuable part for us was being able to spend more quality time with our kids and each other.

What would be your few tips for others looking to take on a trip around Oz?

Don’t overthink it; just do it.

Give us the trip totals …

Klometres travelled: 39,000.

Days away from home: 330.

Best day: too many to count.

Best memory: swimming with the Whale Sharks and meeting lifelong friends. We shared many a laugh whilst sitting around the fire at Happy Hour.

Once you get home, what is the plan for you guys?

The plan is to try and settle back into reality. Sell the van, move back in to our house and start up our business again, R1 Building and Pest Insections (excuse the plug lol). 

The long term plan is to explore our surroundings more, enjoy time together as a family and try not to get caught up in the daily grind. When you do a trip like this, it really makes you realise what’s important to you. 

Thanks Hayley.

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