The first days on the road! From Kalgoorlie to Fraser Range

Finally we are on the road!

After the car troubles from Monday, and the poo disaster within 20 minutes of driving out of Kalgoorlie the day we finally left again, we are finally on the Nullarbor!

Hot tip: Line your boot with a tarp when travelling with dogs! Ideally one of those cheap, pretty much disposable ones! And carry a spare!

We had two stops between Kalgoorlie and the place we decided to stay at for the night.

One was just a quick stop for petrol at Norseman, where we realised that we’re about to hit the Nullarbor! A very exciting milestone in this trip for us – we are officially travelling across Australia now!

The second was a rest and lunch stop at Muddy Waterhole, about 30kms out of Norseman (sans the water and the mud, because… summer! Bonus attractions: decomposing camel carcass and a lizard the kids got to traumatise by trying to catch!)

Travelling Family Nullabor Australia

Travelling Family Nullabor

Traveling Family Nullabor

We then drove to Fraser Range Rest Area which is located on a salt lake and was an absolutely stunning place to see a sunset at! Though we certainly do need to skill up on our sunset photo-taking skills, to truly capture the beauty! Fraser Range Rest Area is a 24hour rest area with toilet facilities. Dogs are permitted to stay there, but there are warning signs about the 1080 poison being used in the area, so they need to be on leash at all times and very closely supervised.

Fraser Range - Nullabor

Fraser Range - Nullabor

Fraser Range Rest Area

Going to bed when the sun goes down and waking up when it goes up meant that we were up all rested by 5:30am. We had a lazy morning, enjoyed a coffee outside, walked the dogs, the kids got to ride scooters and play soccer, and we were still packed up and on the road by 8:30am!

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The first speed-bump: how we ended up camping on our verge!

The last week before we headed off was filled with social engagements! We wanted to catch up with all our friends before we left, so we were seeing people every day up until the departure day.

Everyone was asking us if we were excited. In our heads we knew we were. But did we feel all giddy, jumpy and thrilled? No, I don’t think we believed it was true, after 10 years of dreaming this trip up! The kids still saw daddy going to work, he was working right up to the day we were leaving, and I had a neverending to-do list.

“I have imagined this moment for so long. Is this real?”
The Matrix Revolutions

Finally, the day came

It was a beautiful, sunny, 33’C day. We packed up, hooked the caravan up and drove off… only to smell a weird electric smell out of the aircon vent! We hadn’t even left the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder yet, we were maybe 10-20kms out of town. We pulled over, popped the bonnet and saw nothing unusual. The smell was gone, so for a moment we thought that it must have been coming from the car in front of us. It was only when the smell reappeared, that we pulled over, popped the bonnet again, and realised that it was definitely us!

The air conditioner compressor’s clutch pulley bearing went bah-bye. We had a crazy thought of bypassing the air conditioner and continuing on, but the thought of crossing the Nullabor without the airconditioner did not seem appealing, and we were less than 30 minutes from home. So we turned around, parked the caravan up on our verge, bought a new bearing and pulled the car apart.

*Insert a million phone calls to family for advice*

We were going to be back on the road within a couple of hours.

Air conditioner compressor's clutch pulley bearing

Then we broke the pulley while trying to remove the bearing.

Let’s be honest: we were not at our finest after that. Trying to get specific car parts in Kalgoorlie takes time. We wanted to be on the road, not camping on our verge!

Everything happens for a reason

We learnt quite a lot from this situation. Or, more accurately, we learnt quite a lot from our kids in this situation. We all hear that life is whatever we make of it, but to kids, making the most of every situation comes so naturally. When a mother yells out “We’re leaving in 5 minutes”, a child will see it as an opportunity: “I have 5 minutes to get as many jumps in this muddy puddle as possible!”. Am I right?

The day we broke the pulley, I heard Mr9 talking to hubby:

– Daddy, will you play with us?
– Not now.
– Why not?
– I’m not in the mood.
– But if you’re going to sit there being miserable, you may as well play with us being miserable.

The holiday has started. The kids were ready to have fun despite the circumstances. To them, the fact that daddy is home every day is all that matters. So holiday activities ensued: a trip to the local swimming pool, park and playground trips, and lots of board games.

It took three days for us to get the part sorted and shipped from Perth. We installed it and decided to leave the following day. Lets hope this speed-bump at the start of the trip means smooth-sailing from now on! Lets also appreciate the fact that I now know what an “air conditioner compressor’s clutch pulley bearing” is!

Do you have any stories to share with us?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Also, follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the latest blog posts and to see where the road takes us!

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Packing the kids: clothing and toys in a caravan

Travelling Family

By the time we headed off on our trip, we’d already been living in our caravan for 6 weeks. It was a great way for us to get accustomed to the small space living. It also assisted us in figuring out what we actually needed versus what we thought we needed but what was in fact just a waste of space and of the precious weight allowance!

Packing the kids: Our wardrobe solution

In the months coming up to the trip, I had already reduced the amount of the kids’ clothing to the point that they had one drawer each in a chest of drawers!

When the day of moving into the caravan came, we decided it was time to buy a bag each for the kids’ clothes. Our caravan doesn’t have any wardrobe storage for the kids, so we found that bags underneath the double bed would be the perfect solution for their clothing. I went to many shops that day, but could not justify paying a small fortune for three duffel bags or gym bags. Then I found the perfect solution at a local Red Dot: $3 blanket/storage bags! We’ve been using them for 2 months now and I still love them!

Packing the kids

Packing the kids: How many pieces is too many?

It is so easy to over-pack when packing your caravan. I know we did, when we moved into it six weeks prior to our departure, and I’m a minimalist at heart!

I think we’ve come to the final number of pieces that seems to work for us. Bare in mind our kids are 9, 7 and 5, so past the toilet training age.

They each have about 5-7 tops, 5-7 bottoms, 2-3 jumpers, and 2-3 pairs of pyjamas. Miss5 also has 3-5 extra pieces of dresses and skirts. They also each have a pair of thongs, a pair of runners and a pair of gum boots. Again, here Miss5 has an extra pair of sandals. All the shoes live in a flexitub underneath the double bed.

For most part, when the weather permits, I highly recommend having the kids live in board shorts and sporty fabric tops – they are light, fold very compact and dry extremely fast (a feature especially important when hand-washing!). Also, don’t forget that there are shops around Australia, so if you find you’re lacking something, you can always pick it up along the way!

Packing the kids: Toys

Reducing the kids’ toys was also something that we’ve been doing for quite some time in preparation for this trip.

When it came to the final packing day, we gave the kids a box each and told them they could fill them with their favourite toys. Their favourite teddies are quite large and came with us on top of the toys the kids chose to put in the boxes.

So far, they haven’t mentioned that they miss any toys, but there are toys in their boxes that I still haven’t seen them play with!

Do you have any tips to share with us? We’re all ears!

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Also, follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the latest blog posts and to see where the road takes us!

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Travelling with dogs? Here are some things to remember!

Travelling With Dogs

We are travelling Australia in our caravan with our three kids and two German Shepherd Dogs. As we’re travelling for an extended period of time, over the past few months we’ve been trying to tie up all the loose ends at home with regards to… well, everything! One of those things was making sure that our dogs are all good to tag along for this holiday of our dreams!

Here are a few things that you should make sure are sorted before setting off for your adventure with a dog or two:

Make sure their vaccinations are up to date

You don’t want to have to stop your holiday because of your pet getting seriously sick! I won’t even mention the worse case scenario here! Make sure you book your dog for a vet check, discuss the necessary vaccinations and make sure they’re up to date. Then, don’t forget to have the vet email you the necessary paperwork for your records – in case you want to book your dog into a kennel along the way in order to make your way into a National Park! Also, don’t forget to have your pet wormed and flea and tick treated and stay on top of these while on the road!

Make sure that they’re wearing tags at all times and that they’re microchipped

Travelling with dogs can be hard work, you don’t need the extra stress of “what if they run off and we can’t find them!?”. The best way to make sure that they are reunited with you if found by a good Samaritan or a ranger, is to have an up-to-date phone number on the tag at their collar and on the microchip database.

Tags can get lost or damaged, so it is crucial that your phone number attached to your dog’s microchip is correct. You can double-check that all the microchip details are up to date by phoning Central Animal Records. I called them only to find out that one of our dogs has a microchip in, but no details whatsoever attached to that microchip! I sorted that now, but I’m glad I called the C.A.R. to update our details, or we would never have known about it!

Pack enough dog food and don’t forget food and water bowls

If your dogs are on a particular vet diet, you’ll have to plan ahead a bit more and make sure you have enough food to last you until the next place where that food is available. If you’re travelling with dogs that eat popular supermarket food, or just about anything, you won’t have to carry as much, but you’ll still have to make sure you have enough depending on your planned routes. Collapsible pet bowls are a great invention, and so are travel water bowls! Don’t forget to count your pets in the daily water consumption as well, especially if you love free camping as much as we do!

Figure out the sleeping arrangements and take the dogs’ accessories with you

From essentials, don’t forget the collar (with tags, which should never go off while you travel), leash and a gentle leader/halti (if you use one for walking).

Work out where your dog will sleep. Do you need to take a blanket, or are they happy on the floor/ground? Will they have anywhere shady to lay in during the day? Take along a couple of their favourite toys and the grooming brush. They will shed the same way they do at home, and if they’re a double-coated breed, you’ll need an undercoat brush to keep them cool during the hot days!

Do you have any tips to share with us? We’re all ears!

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Also, follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the latest blog posts and to see where the road takes us!

Would you like to work with us? Contact Us!