House sitting, Sand, Snow and Budget!

Housesitting

From Bruny Island We headed straight to our house sit. Housesitting is something that we had considered incorporating into our travels around Australia to break up life in our home on wheels as well as saving on accomodation costs. Little did we know that houssitting would be so helpful to get maintenance done, air out the van and also explore a large area close to a city.

We picked up our first housesit through the Travelling Australia with Kids Facebook page. Some other travelling families who I had been speaking with about housesitting tagged me in a Facebook post, and 15 minutes later we had locked in the housesit on the south side of Hobart for 10 days.

The housesit had us looking after a cheeky puppy in a beautiful bush setting close to Hobart. It was great to have a lounge to sit on and watch telly, a kitchen to do some cooking, and a “normal” washing machine to get all the soft furnishings clean. The kids loved being able to build lego and not pack it away daily. We were lucky to have such chilled out owners for our first housesit, and I know not all will be like that, but it is nice to break up life living in a caravan. 

During our time at the housesit we explored the Hobart area, and visited many areas that we might not have had we not done the sit. For us the free activities that we enjoyed were;

  • Mount Nelson Signal Station
  • Kingston, Blackmans Bay, and Fort Pierson loop drive.
  • Flowerpot, Verona Sands, Eggs & Bacon Bay to Cygnet loop drive
  • Salamanca Markets, Federation Dock, and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
  • GASP Sculptures near Glenorchy

Car and Van Maintenance

Between all the exploring we were able to do some much needed maintenance on the car and van. We were lucky that the home owners were happy to receive some packages for us to be able to do maintenance. We did maintenance like a service on the car, tyre rotations on the car and van as well as some repairs to the coolant system that had popped up.

Our biggest learning curve after living in Tassies moist and cool climate was the hidden moisture issues we found when we started emptying out the van. We knew that there was some issues, but some had been hidden from us by soft furnishings. We found that due to having an east-west bed we had had moisture dripping down the side of the bed and growing mould in the bed base and also onto the quilt. There was also moisture in cupboards under the sink (from the oven temps), in the bathroom cupboard (from the hot water system), and even in the overhead cupboards where we store our food. It was a real eye-opening experience for us.

We realised that for the rest of the time we are in the cooler locations we are going to have to be more proactive about moisture. We found these awesome SunSack reusable moisture absorbing pouches for $9.95 each. They absorb moisture and the picture on the front changes to let you know it is time to dry them out in the sun or microwave. We placed these sacks in various places around the van where moisture had been the most issue. We have also been much more vigilant with opening windows daily to create airflow, and also drying up any condensation each morning with a towel.

Aussie House Sitters

Since this housesit we have registered ourselves with Aussie House Sitters and have locked in 2 more housesits for when we get back to Melbourne. We believe that when we do our first housesit we will have already saved ourselves the cost of joining the Aussie House Sitters website, and any sits after that will be a bonus. I think if your timeframes have some flexibility then housesitting will absolutely be worth it to save on costs and break up your trip around Oz.

If you want a discount on joining Aussie House Sitters then hit us up for a discount code!

From Sand to Snow

Post housesit we headed for the end of the road. Cockle Creek was a location that was always on our list, for the fishing and oysters mainly. We arrived at the Cockle Creek Campground which compare with the summer months was sparse with campers and had plenty of space to enjoy the minimal phone and tv service. We met up with two other travelling families while here – Kasuba’s Caravanning and the Red Nomad & Co. Kids loved exploring and playing on the beach while the parents fished the crystal clear waters. We collected ourselves some of the famous Cockle Creek Oysters at low tide and enjoyed a couple for breakfast and lunch. A couple was all that was needed to make a meal.

From here our final location in the south was Port Arthur. We headed across to Dunalley and parked ourselves up at the Free RV camp next to the Dunalley Hotel. From here it is a nice drive towards Port Arthur. We started the day with a visit to the Tessellated Pavement. Little did we know that the loaves and pans are formed depending on how much salt, water and air they see!

Then we headed to the Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen where we learnt again about how the seas created these amazing forms of art!

From here it was on to Port Arthur. OMG what an amazing place. I remembered it from my visit almost 20 years ago, but for the kids some of the stories of how the convicts lived, worked and died was a real learning curve. We enjoyed the included Intro tour and the Cruise on the harbour, but the stories as part of the Escape tour (additional cost) were amazing feats of ingenuity and courage.

As part of your entry you are given a playing card, and this relates to a convict. We all really enjoyed finding out about our convicts!

We finished the day at sundown checking out the Dog line at Eaglehawke Neck. This is where they had ferocious dogs lined up to stop the convicts escaping! They look pretty scary in my book!

From Dunalley we made the swift decision to tick off a big bucketlist item and go camping in the snow! We had seen Hocking’s Home Away from Home enjoy some epic snowfall in the central highlands so decided we would make our way there. We drove, very carefully, up into the central highlands in the hope of seeing falling snow. Little did we know we would make it right up onto the plateau and have a full afternoon of falling snow! 

There were squeals of excitement from the backseat that brought tears to my eyes. Reminding us exactly why we are on this crazy adventure as a family!

The smiles were stuck to our faces all afternoon. We have had snow fights, built snowmen, made snow angels and FaceTimed family with falling snow! It was an epic afternoon and it couldn’t have happened without my amazing husband agreeing to drive our 7.5 tonne setup on the icy roads!

Overnight we had limited snow, so we were so lucky to have had the afternoon before. We had an adventure trying to get out of the place too, with haulage hill on the north side of the central tablelands closed due to ice. We had a long day driving around the lakes and finally making it to camp later afternoon. Was it worth the extra time and cost, absolutely! Whenever you can have a once in a lifetime experience like this one it is always worth changing your plans to make it happen.

From the snow we headed for the beaches of the north west. With only 4 weeks left in Tassie it is time to tick off the last quarter of the state.

Budget

Here is a quick overview of our budget. Please remember that all families travel differently and this is just OUR budget for the month of May. In May we have travelled 2544 km and had 5 fuel top ups.

  Month Per week
Accommodation $230 $52
Food $1,406 $317
Fuel $955 $216
Alcohol (Bruny Island) $704 $159
Eating Out (Bruny Island) $1007 $227
Experiences $239 $54
Maintenance $1198 $270
Other (phone, internet, on road bills,
at home costs, maintenance, medical, permits)
$1,999 $451
Total $7,738 $1,747

This month we completed a lot of maintenance on the van and car. As well as this we lived it up on Bruny Island spending up on food and alcohol. We also drove plenty of km’s and therefore spent up on fuel.

We met some amazing travelling families in Tassie in May. We met Family 4 Adventure and McCullock Family in Derwent Bridge, Kasuba’s Caravanning and Red Nomad and Co in Cockle Creek, and finished up the month with One Day we Should. More of our adventures with them next month.

We have seen the big fork, the big baby whale, the big cherry and the big motorbike tractor this past month. This month has been a big one and if you have made it to the end of this post then well done!

If you have any questions hit us up below.

Bruny Island – Tasmania

From Left of Field we headed towards Hobart. Along the way Adrian had suggested a stop at the Salmon Ponds. This was a great experience with the kids being able to feed the salmon and trout as well as learn about how they originally brought the fish eggs to Australia from England and started the trout and salmon industry in Tasmania. After spending a chilly morning in the English style gardens we stopped in the little café on site for a serving of their beautiful crepe style pancakes. Whether you choose savory or sweet, you wont go wrong.

Bruny Island

Bruny Island is a short half hour barge ride using the Sealink Bruny Island ferry from Kettering. The cost of the ferry is by length, for us it was $85 return. All the details of times and costs can be found at by clicking the link above. Although the ferry is a short ride the kids really enjoyed it. They are able to get out of the car and explore the barge, they even got to go up and see the captain and check out the view from the bridge!

Before arriving on the Island we had asked a few fellow travellers on their experiences about where to stay and what to do. We understand that every families preferences are different but we love hearing from others and their experiences.

While on the island we decided to stay at the Bruny Island Landscape Supplies. John and Sheryl have provided a great RV park where you get power and water for $20 per night (no charge for kids). Pets are welcome and there is plenty of wildlife onsite too. We decided to stay on the island a week, and the only problem we found with this site was the distance from a lot of the attractions on the South Island and also from the dump point at Alonnah. In saying this Sheryl mentioned that they are in the process of improving the site with toilets and dump point on site part of the plan. If we were to come back to the island I think we would probably split our stay or stay down on South Bruny because of the activities we like to enjoy.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse

Speaking of attractions . . . there is so much to experience on Bruny. Other than the fishing, our favourite experience was the tour of the Cape Bruny Lighthouse. Our tip is to book online before arrival or arrive after lunch to avoid all the tour buses. The small museum onsite is free entry and has some very interesting artifacts. The record of the tides and swell over time really intrigued us, and there is a pin board where you can record your home location.

The lighthouse is one of very few that is still in its original form. In the transition to modern lighting and power many lighthouses were gutted and their lenses etcetera thrown over the cliff. Luckily this one was preserved and the new, much smaller, LED solar powered lighthouse was built on the adjacent hill. The tour of the lighthouse is $35 for a family (children must be over 5 years) and lasts around 30 minutes. We were lucky enough to have the tour to ourselves, allowing us to get the tour guide to capture some great photos for us and for the all of us to ask plenty of questions. You will get the history of lighthouses like how they were built, how they were manned, the characters who manned them, and how they worked. To us the cost was well worth it for the information we learnt from the informative guide.

Fluted Cape Walk – Or Grass Point Walk

For a more natural experience we highly recommend the Fluted Cape Walk. Another of the Tasmanian 60 Great Short Walks, this is a 2.5 hour return walk that takes in the history of whaling in the area, some awesome rock stacking, the beautiful Grass Point and then up to the very high cliffs of the Fluted Cape.

This walk isn’t for the faint hearted, or for children. There are exposed high cliffs very close to the track and some points of the track are very steep.  A more tame and child friendly walk is the 1.5 hour return walk out to Grass Point only. You will get the history, and some views of the fluted cape from this lovely walk. We enjoyed this with the kiddies and even took our fishing rods out to wet a line. For more information on this walk check out the Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania Website.

The Food and Drink

Bruny Island is renowned for its fresh produce and amazing food. We thoroughly enjoyed a lot of it while we were there. The kids enjoyed a visit to the Bruny Island Chocolate Co and also The Honey Pot. Being able to view the inside of a working beehive was a highlight. And tasting the fudge and chocolate is always a pep up for everyone.

For the adults our highlights were the meal we enjoyed at Hotel Bruny. Dean and I shared the amazing Seafood Platter for Two which included all local produce where possible. We enjoyed oysters, fish, salmon, calamari, scollops, chips and salad. It was one of the most epic seafood platters we have ever eaten, and what the best part was . . . there was an abundance of local produce on the plate! The kids meals were also beautiful and fresh!

The other meal we really enjoyed was our visit to Get Shucked! We are both big oyster fans and had heard that the oysters that come out of these waters were divine. We enjoyed the mixed dozen oysters that come natural, Kilpatrick and Asian style. These were so beautiful. It is the first time we have tasted Asian style, and it is absolutely a style I plan to make in the future. They also do bowls of chips for the kids, and have a fully licenced bar onsite to enjoy a G&T with your oysters.  Take away is also an option, which we did ready for our 3 month anniversary on the road!

The last and most expensive stop that we enjoyed was The House of Whiskey. There is a cost associated with the tastings here but they were well worth it for the knowledge and information that we gained about the production of gin and whiskey and how to do it justice when drinking it. For me, Amy, I thoroughly enjoyed the gin tasting and brought home with me a small bottle of the Seclusion Limited Release Satellite Gin. This gin is super special, in that when tonic water is added it causes a chemical reaction and changes colour.  Added to this it tasted amazing. Dean tried and brought home the Lake Pedder Honey, Orange Zest and Spice Tasmanian Mellifera. We walked out a little poorer, but we have some lovely gin and whiskey to enjoy with our mates when we catch up with them in the Red Centre!

Other Attractions

Depending on your budget there are plenty of adventures you can go on. We chose not to pay for the big tours, but plenty of travellers we spoke to believed that the tour was well worth the dollars. For us we were much closer to home when we were trying out the fishing spots, four-wheel driving and visiting some of the more remote locations on the island. Our recommendations were a visit to Cloudy Bay, the inland 4WD track from South Bruny across to Adventure Bay through the Mount Midway Forest Reserve, and also a drive to the most northerly point, Dennes Point.

In conclusion we loved Bruny. Well worth the ferry cost and we can see why it is a really popular holiday destination for Tasmanian’s. We recommend trying to visit in the quieter periods so that you can enjoy the island, rather than waiting in line and dealing with the traffic. No matter your budget, you can have a ripper experience on this island.

In our next and final installment of our third month on the road we hit the sand and snow. When it goes live click here! In the mean time hit us up with your questions below.

Tasmania’s Central South

Our third month on the road has been a big one for new experiences. As you can see from our Polarsteps above, we are really filling in the state. We caught up with the Targa Tasmania, experienced our first house sit and finished the month with sand and snow. Bruny Island was also part of our adventures. With so much to share with you to plan your own adventures we will do May over a couple of posts. With so many tourist attractions closing in the cooler months, we want to show you there is still so much to experience in Tasmania.

Derwent Bridge and the Targa Tasmania

Epic fairy floss sunset at Derwent Bridge

Targa Tasmania

For us racing fans, any event that you can attend for free is a bonus. The Targa Tasmania is a tarmac rally that has been held on the amazing winding, twisty and hilly roads of Tasmania since 1992. When we realised we would be in Tassie for this event our aim was to try see at least one of the stages. For us the stage that traveled through Derwent bridge fitted in with our plans.

We parked ourselves in the free camp at the Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel which is right on the Lyell Highway. It wasn’t our intention to be so close to the action, but on the morning of the stage we awoke to the support teams surrounding us, and heading into the hotel for breakfast. Throughout the day we enjoyed chatting to the support teams, watching the club drivers file through, before the big guns reached us later in the afternoon. It was an eventful day with around 8 cars ending up on the back of tow trucks, only one being a serious accident where everyone walked away safely. The cars drove straight past the back of our van between stages, and so it was an all round enjoyable experience.

The cars and crews, right behind our caravan.

Derwent Bridge Attractions

Also whilst in Derwent Bridge we hit up some of the local attractions. The Wall is an amazing wood carving display by renowned artist Greg Duncan. The carvings are spectacular and many have been left purposely unfinished to show the process. Camera’s are not allowed inside, so you will have to go there and experience it for yourself.

On a rainy afternoon we headed out to the beautiful Lake St Clair. The information centre has the most amazing warm fire on a rainy day and plenty of displays and information for the kids and adults alike. The kids also got to see the other end of the Overland Track, and this has become a future goal for our family. The lake was also beautiful, even on an overcast day.

Other attractions that we really enjoyed was a visit to Tassies Belly Button (geographical centre of Tasmania), the old wooden water pipes and further out to Laughing Jack Lagoon which is another local free camp.

Left of Field – Mount Field National Park

The Left of Field experience is something that I had been hearing about from all the traveling mum’s since hitting Tassie shores. Left of Field is a bush camping experience that you need to have in Tassie! Adrian will be your amazing host and he will go above and beyond to ensure that your experience is one to remember. Bonus, if you stay 3 nights or more you don’t pay extra for your kiddies.  

You are welcomed to site with the tradition of a Chupa-Chup while you do the “boring stuff” at check-in. This is the time where you book your amazing outdoor bath experience, and pick from the draws of decadent bath bombs (more on this later). Adrian can fill you in about the amazing walks that you can take from the site without having to move your car, visits out to the amazing Gordon Dam, and how else you can fill your time in the local area.

Mount Field National Park

On our first day in this beautiful area we took a walk along the edge of the Tyenna River to the beginning of the Mount Field National Park. We had our eyes peeled for Platypus, but were unlucky on this instance.  We walked the easy track into the beautiful and well-known Russell Falls. This fall is accessible by wheelchairs and is a super easy walk for the kiddies.  We reached this fall in no time, so pushed on up the many many steps to the top of Russell Falls and then onto Horseshoe Falls. Here we went back to the fun of treasure hunting and found ourselves geocache while we were there.

We then returned back to the information centre and explored the many items on display, and then ordered ourselves a take away cuppa and enjoyed that while the kids played at the lovely park. This park area extra enjoyable on a beautiful warm Autumn Day.

The Gordon Dam

On the next day we headed off towards the magnificent Gordon Dam. This long and sometimes winding drive is well worth the effort. The road takes you out through the recent fire ravaged areas of Adamsfield Conservation Area, and then onto the glorious views over Lake Pedder and onto Lake Gordon.

The fire ravaged areas of Adamsfield and Strathgordon.

Lake Pedder is best viewed from the lookout at the western end of the lake near Strathgordon. Pedder is the overflow area for Lake Gordon, and together form part of the Hydro Electric system in Tasmania. At the lookout you can learn so much about the area that surrounds you, including why Lake Pedder continues to exist. The view is pretty epic too!

Lake Pedder Lookout

After the lookout we continued onto the epic sight that is the Gordon Dam wall. Completed in 1978 the Gordon River Dam is a major gated double curvature concrete arch dam with a controlled spillway. The wall is 140m high and 198m in length. With the wall in place Lake Gordon has a capacity of 12.4km cubed. The walk down onto the wall isn’t for the faint hearted. Descending the many grate stairs down onto the 2.7m wide wall is a little heart pumping. But once on the wall the views down the gully and also back across the dam and just spectacular.  

The Twisted Sister

We broke up the long return drive with a short walk to the Twisted Sister. This site was one of a long running protest to ensure the continued preservation of the area. You can still see some of the ropes in trees where the protesters had themselves tied to the trees. Along the short walk to the epic eucalyptus there are many chance to view some epic trees and amazing lichen. Upon arrival at the Twisted Sister we were awestruck by it’s size and boggled by how it became to be. Even with some Google searching we couldn’t find how it came to be twisted!

The Outdoor Bath – Left Of Field

Our final experience in our time at Left of Field was the amazing outdoor bath. Yes the air temp was a chilly 5 degrees, but I wasn’t missing out on this amazing experience and it was Mothers Day to boot! The kids and I met Adrian at the communal fire and were led to the secluded area where the bath has been placed in the most magical circle of trees. Lanterns hung from the tree, the campfire roaring, and the bath full with steaming hot water . . . what more could you want. There is an endless supply of hot water to continue to keep the bath warm on these chilly nights. You are your selected bath bomb and lay back to stare at the stars, enjoy the crackle of the fire, and just be.

I will admit it was a little squishy with the 3 of us in the bath, but Adrian has plans to fix that with a second bath being installed in the coming months. For me I would say this has been one of my most memorable experiences in Tassie. Spending the time in the bath with the two beautiful beings that made me a mum, and just appreciating the journey we are travelling on as a family. It was beautiful to just be and appreciate life!

Whats next for us . . . . Onto Bruny Island. Click here for the post when it goes live! In the mean time hit us up with any questions below!

Most Used Travel Apps

We have been recently asked about what apps we are constantly using on the road. When we thought about it there are quite a lot that we are using everyday to make our lives easier or to save us money. So we thought we would pull them all together for you.

Wikicamps

Unsurprisingly our number one App is Wikicamps Australia. This app for the tiny price of $7.95 has saved us this hundreds of times over. Not only can you search for caravan parks, showgrounds and campsites, but you can also find portable (drinking) water and non-portable (shower/washing up) water, dump points, attractions, lookouts and parks just to name a few. The feature that we used the most within this app is the comments and costs. Users are able to make comments about the points of interest and also any costs associated. This has been really helpful in planning our budget, seeing if there are extra charges for kids, and deciding if the campsite will fit our big car and caravan. We can also plan our next steps and save favourites that other travellers have suggested. To us this app is indispensable and our life pretty much revolves around Wikicamps.

BOM – Bureau of Meteorology

Living an outdoor lifestyle has lead us to living by the weather. The most reliable app for this we have found is the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) Weather app. The app is similar to most weather apps in allowing us to see the current temperature, winds, and rain predictions. The predictions are 1 week in advance allowing us to plan our activities for the coming week. It has the radar and as they are the department that issues weather warning we receive these by notification first. This is super important to us to ensure we can pack away our awning and outdoor equipment before it is damaged in the wind or rain. 

Polarsteps – Travel Tracker

Polarsteps – Travel Tracker is an app that automatically tracks your route (even when out of phone service) and places that you visit along the way. By just carrying your phone in your pocket you will have a beautiful travel journal at the end.

How it works is that you create a trip (i.e. Tasmania from 2nd March to 20th June) and then once inside these dates the app starts recording your travels, locations and tracks the photos you take at these time intervals. I know a bit big brother, but the part we love is that we can share our personal link to our families, and at anytime they can see we are still ‘travelling’ and alive and well. As well as this they can see the photos and comments we upload.

Once you have time to sit down in internet service you click into the app and all your locations are uploaded into the tracker. Suggested stops are there for you to look at. You can add these in, or just select different spots and load your own stops along the way by choosing the timestamped dots on your route. You can attach photos, comments, and also landmarks/campsites/points of interest to each stop.

At the end of your trip you can order your beautiful travel journal including all your routes, comments, statistics and photos. It is printed on 200gsm paper and has pricing listed on the app inclusive of shipping depending on the number of pages in your book.

We love that with a little bit of work along the way we will end up with a beautiful journal to remember our travels forever.

Fuel Map Australia – by Wikicamps

Fuel Map Australia is another app that has saved us quite a bit of money. This is a great app and it allows us to;

  • Look up where the closest, or cheapest fuel station is to us
  • Allows us to find where certain brand fuel stations are for applicable discounts
  • Tracks our fuel ups including L/100km, km/L, km/$, $/100km, average distance and litres between fuel ups.
  • Accumulative distance, refills, litres and costs which is great when tracking or planning a trip.

Across our time in Tasmania we have saved ourselves money on most fuel ups by shopping around and planning our fuel. The prices in a small area can vary quite a lot.

There is a disclaimer to the app though. The data in the app on the prices is only as good as the users that are entering them. If people aren’t entering up to date prices, you might be basing your fuel ups on incorrect information. There is a timestamp on when prices were last entered so you can make an informed decision. To help this we always try to enter the prices into the app when we stop for fuel, so that they are accurate for the next person.

Geocaching

One of our newest pass times since hitting the road is Geocaching. For those who don’t know what it is there is basically millions of various sized containers hidden all around the world, and this app lists them all. We as geocachers then head out to find them based on the coordinates and clues that have been placed into the app.

There are different levels of access within the app. There is the free version of the app where you just download it, create an account and off you go. The only thing we have found with the free version is that there are all the caches/containers that we couldn’t access without a subscription. This became quite frustrating for us as you can see them on the app, but not access the clues or log them.

After about 2 months on the road we assessed that the geocaching is something that the kids and us adults quite enjoyed, and as a bonus it was taking us to many places we wouldn’t have normally gone and we were learning so much more about this country that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We then looked into the subscription and for $38.71 per year we could access all the caches within the app. For us travelling full time was a no brainer.

One of the things we love most is the caches that are created by passionate cachers is that they include an abundance of history and information about the locations that the cache is hidden. Often we will read the information to the kids in the car or on the walk to the cache’s. This is increasing all of our knowledge of this beautiful country, and we recon that is worth the $38 a year.

Fishing

Being the fishing loving family that we are, Australian Tides (Au Tides) and TasFish Guide have become our two favorite free fishing apps. The Au Tides app has taken all the guess work out of reading the tides for us. The app automatically picks up our location from your mobile phone and selects the closest tide location. It has allowed us to plan our fishing trips in locations that we are unfamiliar with, and make sure that when we turn up we aren’t greeted with a sandflat instead of water!

Although the TasFish Guide is Tasmania specific most of the other states have similar apps (FishSmart NSW, QLD Fishing, NT Fishing Mate, Vic Fishing, SA Recreational Fishing Guide, RecFishWest). The apps outline the fishing rules for each specific state, most including regulations, licences, size and bag limits as well as photos of the fish so you can identify them. Seeing as we have just ventured into the world of spearfishing, this app as been so helpful in identifying the fish before we catch them.

In summary there are so many apps out there these days that you need to work out what ones are useful to you and your travel style. But for us the ones above have been indespensable and have saved us so much money and time along the way.

Got any questions . . . hit us up below.

Tasmania – Breaking the Budget

Tasmania is the best place to find your feet in the caravan, roll with the punches and just live. The budget is not what its about, its the attractions and experiences.

Our second month in Tasmania can be labelled the spending month! We have been spending left, right and centre. When we left on this adventure we agreed that we are not living to a struct budget, we are just LIVING! We are going to enjoy ourselves, and rein in the purse strings when we need to. That being said this month we have spent way more than anticipated on many things. But you know what, we have had the most amazing time. Tassie is the best place to find your feet in the caravan, roll with the punches and just live.

Polarsteps App – This is what month 2 looks like in our tracking app. We love this app for tracking exactly where we go, and also to give our families access to and piece of mind we are OK. You can also order a printed book at the end of your trip.

Campsites

During the month of April we have stayed at 7 different campsites, mostly being a mix of low cost and caravan parks. We really enjoyed all our campsites for many different reasons and here they are;

  • Scottsdale – Free Camp – water and toilets, flat sites close to town and beautiful park with platypus in the waterways.
  • Old Mac’s Farm – Launcestion – We really enjoyed this location for its convenience to Launceston for shopping (the bank account didn’t though), for the beautiful surrounds, the animals for the kids to feed and room for the kids to explore.
  • Longford Caravan Park – Although a little more expensive per night the park is beautiful, has an awesome skatepark next door and amazing park down the road.
  • South Arm RSL – Low cost at only $10 per night for access to lovely toilets and showers during opening hours. Lovely locals and they do a great meal. Mostly though we loved how close it was to some awesome fishing spots where Dean got to try out his new spearfishing gear.
  • Arthur Lake, Pumphouse campground – Low cost, amazing inland fishing spot, and the best smelling pit toilets you will ever visit thanks to the amazing caretakers.
  • Gowrie Park Wilderness Village – We stayed here over the easter weekend with friends and it was the perfect place to explore the area. Mount Rowland, Devils Gullet, Tazmazia, Sheffield town of murals, and Cradle Mountain – so much to do that we ended up expending our stay.
  • Strahan Golf Club – Although we had really average weather on the west coast we made the most of it. The campsite at the Golf club is quite basic with access to water and basic gravel sites but you cant expect much for for $40 for the week. So so cheap.

Attractions

We have ticked off some really big ticket items this month. We have feel like we have really explored all the area’s we visited thoroughly. But here are the epic attractions that we think are must sees;

Jacobs Ladder – Ben Lomond National Park – One hour from Launceston, and best visited in the warmer months, unless you want to ski!
Supercars Tyrepower Supersprint – Symmons Plains Raceway – super affordable for families compared with many other Supercars races, especially with the Park and View upgrade.
Cateract Gorge – Launceston – Chairlift is amazing fun, kids loved the park, and the parents enjoyed the quiet coffee taking in the surrounds.
Devil’s Gullet – Super easy walk for an epic reward. No photo could convey how high these cliffs are! We visiting this one from Gowrie Park.
Trial Harbour – The wild west coast, We traveled here from Strahan.

Montezuma Falls – Oh what an adventure this one was. It is the highest waterfall in Tasmania and we were getting there. Check out our Facebook post to find out how – click here

As you can see we have really mixed it up with the costs of our attractions. We are really picky on what we spend our travelling dollars on and we are not big on touristy attractions. Although the World Heritage Cruise cost us a couple of hundred dollars we felt it was well worth the money, especially with the discount we got through NRMA and the absolutely amazing lunch provided as part of the cruise.

The day out getting to Montezuma Falls was also one of our favorites, showing the determination of our family to get there in the end. But the outing we are most proud of this month is getting to Marions Lookout in the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair Nation Park. For those who have walked it know it is quite a hike, and the kids didn’t whinge a bit . . . well maybe only a little bit! But we made it as a family, and the kids proudly called Grandma from the summit.

Budget

We have made some big purchases this month and which has lead to an increase in our overall weekly spend. We have also had to do some unscheduled maintenance on the caravan.

This month we have traveled 2567km resulting in 4 fuel ups to keep us moving. We have been able to save on fuel by shopping around using the FuelMap app and have paid between 155.9 and 157.9 c/L. Compared with last month we have driven about 1000km more, leading into a significant increase in fuel costs. We have also paid for accomodation more often with Easter and school holidays.

We have put new tyres on all 6 rims for the car costing around $1600. This was to ensure that the correct rated tyres were on the car for its specifications. We also set ourselves up for snorkeling and spearfishing resulting in a small purchase coming to $1125. Hopefully this will pay us back a little with fish in the freezer!

For the caravan we have had to replace the thermostat in the fridge, the pressure release valve on the hot water system and a new battery charger pushing up maintenance costs. But these costs will arise when we have a 15 year old caravan.

Budget Breakdown

MonthPer week
Accommodation$468.00$105.67
Food$1072.12$242.09
Fuel$912.00$205.93
Alcohol$388.85$87.80
Eating Out$424.90$95.94
Experiences$265.00$59.83
Other (phone, internet, other bills and spending$5830.47$1316.55
Total$9361.34$2184.31*
*1548.47 per week taking out the big purchases

In conclusion, with our everyday costs we have saved dollars on food shops and only spent slightly more in eating out. Alcohol is slightly up reflecting the “settling in period” for caravan life and distance schooling. To be honest I don’t think we had a dry day in April. Oooops! But overall we are happy with the fact that our everyday costs on the road are actually comparable to living at home.

If you have any questions for us please put them below. We want to encourage other families to do what we are doing, and experience this amazing country.

North East Tasmania – Budget, Campsites and Attractions

Spirit of Tasmania I – Day crossing

We have now been on the road for about 6 weeks and there have been some lessons learnt, amazing experiences and most of all some awesome memories made.

So far we have traveled at a lazy pace exploring the North East of Tasmania. We have stayed at 9 different free or low cost camps since hitting Tassie shores. This state is the king of free camping in Australia, and we are taking advantage of this fact. There are over 200 free camps throughout the state, with over 150 of them accepting your four-legged pals! This month we have stayed 20 nights at free camps, and another 10 at low cost/donation camps costing us a total of $36. Our budget for camping comes in at a huge $71 or $2.20 a day. We set out on this trip with all the facilities in our Bushtracker Caravan to free camp as much as possible, allowing us to travel for longer periods of time on the money we have saved. 

Over 200 free camps throughout the state, with over 150 of them accepting your four-legged friend

Favorite Campsite

Our favorite campsite this month would have to be Swimcart Beach in the Bay of Fires. We were able to fluke a beachfront spot and during our time there enjoyed stunning days in front of the turquoise waters, but we also endured the windy afternoons and one freezing cold day (where is snowed in other locations in Tasmania).

The kids loved this site having the beach at their disposal each and every day. There were so many sand castle, fortresses and tunnels built in this time they should have achieved their engineering certificates. This location allowed us to explore the Bay of Fires region including Binalong Bay and St Helens, the Blue Tier Giant, Pyengana Dairy and St Columbia Falls.

Other than the wind there were a couple of other downsides including the smelly pit toilet, the popularity (it was packed most days) and the black feet! We will leave this one for you to experience yourself. The negatives were well outweighed by the amazingness of this place. It needs to be on your Tasmanian Itinerary.

Favorite Attraction

This month we have paid out $311 in attractions (this includes the tickets to attend the Simmon’s Plains Supercars Race in the first week April). Of the experiences that we have attended the kids most enjoyed Seahorse World at Beauty Point. The learning from this attraction well outweighed its cost. The kids learnt about many different Australian and international breeds of seahorse, which ones are endangered, how they breed them, how they are shipped all over the world as pets, and  the most exciting part was being able to hold a seahorse at the end of the tour. This is a well worthwhile learning experience.

“The learning from this attraction well outweighed its cost”

Tasmania is also abundant with wildlife. We have encountered countless wallaby’s and bird species. Most notably we have been excited to encounter 2 echidnas, a wombat, 2 stingrays, a Tassie devil and a platypus. The shy platypus was the most excited due to how rare they are in the wild.

Feeling privileged – Scottsdale, Tasmania

We are on the hunt for big things on our travels too, and this month we have encountered 2 big things, one natural and one man made. We hiked into see the largest living tree by girth in Australia. It measures a 19.4 meters around and was big enough for ours and the Barravanning Oz families to be photographed in the hollow of its trunk. It soars to over 60 metres tall and is estimated to be over 150 years old. Defiantly worth the walk through the rainforest to visit this epic site.  The man-made big thing we found this month is the Big Thumbs Up in Scottsdale. Carved from a tree that was knocked down into the driveway of Joshie Janoschka’s, a local Scottsdale cabinet maker. Joshie could have just cut the tree up into firewood, but his quirky sense of humour prevailed the big thumb was gift to the town.

We are enrolled in distance education through NEPSODE (See our reason why here). For us this way of schooling is working well for us. We are in the roll of it and it isn’t impacting on our exploring. The kids are doing on average about 2 hours work 5 days a week, plus a half hour online lesson each a week. Hit us up if you have any questions. We are happy to answer them.

This Month’s Learnings

So what have we learnt from our travelling experiences this month. Many many things, but here are the key ones;

  • Food in Tasmania is a little more expensive with only small IGA supermarkets available in most towns. Coles and Woolworth are only in major cities and towns.
  • The landscape in Tasmania is hilly with many dirt roads and we have found it best to camp somewhere central and explore out like spiders legs, saving yourself money in fuel as your not towing the van so often.
  • The above also means less pack-ups and set ups.
  • If you put yourself out there you will meet amazing people, and maybe make new friends. The kids met many new friends to play with in our travels. Whether it was a quick play at a park or at the campground. We also met up with 2 other travelling families (Barravanning Oz and Trekking Downunder) purely by connecting with them via social media. We also met Michelle and Gary at one of our campsites, and have kept in contact.
  • Learn what everyone’s triggers are and how best to calm them down. Is it music, a walk or going fishing. No matter what it is everyone needs to recognise when each other needs space.
  • Girls, your skin will get really really dry from being outside all the time. Prepare for this before you go!
  • You will initially stress about water fill ups and dump points, but it will become part of normal life!
  • Make sure you replace your spare gas bottle as soon as it runs out, because your 2nd gas bottle will run out at the most inconvenient moment – like at 8pm on a Sunday night when you want a shower after a day of fishing!

Budget

Here is a quick overview of our budget. Please remember that all families travel differently and this is just OUR budget for the month of March. In March we have only travelled 1,688 km.

  Month Per week
Accommodation $71 $16
Food $1439 $325
Fuel $503 $114
Alcohol (liquid sanity) $342 $77
Eating Out $381 $86
Experiences $311 $70
Other
(phone, internet, on road bills,
at home costs, maintenance, medical, permits)
$1870 $422
Total $4917 $1110

We are pretty happy with our budget. We were hoping we were going to be living on between $1000 and $1200 per week. But for us we aren’t going to limit our experiences not only because of money. This is our life for the next 3 years, and we are going to enjoy it!

Got any questions about our travels or our other must sees . . Comment below and we will get back to you.

One Week living on the road . . . . How did we get here?

As we have written before it was in 2014 that we had our disaster trip to the Cape and we made the decision to hit the road for “a long time”. We are now 1 week into our trip, but between 2014 and now . . . What happened.

What happened here . . . This “incident” led to our decision to hit the road. To read our reason why – Click Here

Making the Decision

This was probably the easiest part of the whole process. We knew that travel would be good for our relationship as husband and wife, good for our relationship with our kids, and also the kids relationship with each other. From previous trips we had done we knew that the whole family would learn a bunch, and how much better is being out in the “environment” than learning in a classroom environment for the kids!

Making the decision was only one step in what became a very long process to ready ourselves for an adventure of a lifetime.

Changing the Australian Dream

We were one of those couples who followed the idealistic Australian Dream. We met, got married, bought a house and had kids. We had the family Commodore and and the Ute that towed the Camper Trailer for our weekend getaways. We both had decent jobs and lived close to family and friends. Why would someone be silly enough to give that up?

To us our decision to travel was a decision to also live a more simplistic and minimalistic lifestyle. We had a crazy busy life with Dean working over 50 hours a week plus 3 hours travel a day, me working 3 days a week, all the kids school and after school activities. We felt like we didn’t have time to breathe and just be a family.

So we decided that we needed to downsize, chuck out and move towards a nomadic lifestyle. So how did we get to the point where we are living our New Australian Dream? With a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

The steps to hitting the road…

Now I want everyone who reads this to know that every travelling families journey is different. This is just what WE did, and by sharing what we did we hope it inspires others to do what we have done.

House

To sell or rent – for us we have been lucky that we had family who were willing to rent our house off us allowing us to continue to store our furniture and some belongings there, saving us $$ over the life of our travel. So we went to the bank and set the house up so that we only have to put in minimal top up payments to make the house run itself.

Jobs

Dean was only working casually, but in the Mining industry he was lucky to have long service leave that he saved up and we have used as a jump start to the trip. For me (Amy) I was lucky enough to have the most beautiful boss who completely understood that the open road was calling, and has said that when I am ready to settle to come back and see if there is a job for me. We both left our jobs in positive ways, as you never want to burn your bridges.

What to travel in

We originally had a Nissan Navara and an Adventure Camper Trailer. It was very clear from early on that this set up was never going to suit our needs for full time travel. We need more space to live – and for when the weather sucks! All I can say to people when trying to make a decision in what to travel in is to really think about the travel you want to do. For us we wanted to travel everywhere! Coast, Bush and most importantly outback. SO a tough offroad caravan was what we wanted. After a lot of research by Dean and manufacturing tours we settled on a Bushtracker. Brand new was way out of our price range, but second-hand was within reach. After month of searching, a crazy trip from NSW to Perth, we secured ourselves an allusive Family Bushtracker.

Tow Vehicle

With a tare weight on the van of 4 tonne, we needed a decent tug vehicle. Dean wasn’t keen on being limited by a Landcruiser, so started investigating American converted vehicles. He would have loved a RAM, but the Chevy Silverado was much more in our price range. After another chance meeting by my parents in QLD we bought the gold truck sight unseen (seen by my parents but not us). It has given us enough capacity and ability to travel almost anywhere we want to go.

Schooling

Knowing our kids, and how I work, I knew that Unschooling or Home schooling was just going to stress me out would not be an enjoyable trip. So after some asking around we decided on distance education through the North East Public School of Distance Education. For our reasons why check out our previous post – Click Here

Savings

Savings – So what about the money. For us we had a focus, first we wanted to get our debt under control (house refinanced, we owned the cars, caravan under a super low interest loan). All I can say is that in this area there has to be sacrifices. You have to give up things to get where your going. For us we sacrificed pub meals, weekends away, kids school activities and any excess spending so that we could put away half our weekly wage towards debt/savings. This was hard at times, especially when the kids asked why others get new things and they weren’t. But they are now realizing that we are on the road that the sacrifices were worth it.

Know your budget

I budget regularly, food plan weekly and these things help me to save as much money as possible. As well as this it has also helped me to know how much it was going to cost us to live on the road. I recon we can live on about $1000 a week, but we will have to wait and see!

Lists

Once you are in the swing of it all lists will become your best friend. I had lists for the car upgrades, lists for the van, lists for the kids, lists, lists, lists everywhere. But it made sure that I didn’t miss anything, and also let me sleep at night. Break it down into parts on a list and it will be more manageable and more attainable.

Day of departure – 19th February 2019

What now we are on the road…

One week in we are loving life. We are slowly getting into the grove of this lifestyle. Kids are settling into DE and the parents are learning how to stay calm now we are around the kids 24/7. Finding time to have our own space is going to be important, but most of all we have learnt sooooooo much about this country of ours and it has only been a week. What will the future hold? Who knows but I know we are going to love doing it as a family.

Campsite Review – Camp on Allyn

Want a spot right on the river with a relaxed countryside feel . . . then this is your place!

Large grassy campsites – we fitted 3 caravans, a camper trailer and a couple of tents all on the one site. (Note: each accomodation is charged as a site for fee purposes)

LOCATION

1972 Gresford Road, East Gresford, NSW[

Late last year we joined a group of our friends to celebrate a 30th Birthday at Camp on Allyn. The owners, Robyn and Tom, have recently opened up their working cattle property to the public, allowing them to enjoy this piece of paradise that is on the Allyn River.

Kids enjoying some pillow pasta around the campfire.

CAMP FEES

  • $25 per powered site (2 people)
  • $20 non-powered site (2 people)
  • $5 per extra person over 3 years of age

FACILITIES

  • Flat grassy paddock site
  • 2 x Family Rooms with hot shower and toilet
  • 2 x seperate toilets
  • camp kitchen
  • dump point and garbage disposal
  • central campfire – individual fire drums on request
  • pet friendly
  • 8 x powered sites available, and un-powered sites at the owners discretion (there is a maximum limit of people on the site to prevent over crowding)
  • access to the Allyn River

Upon arrival you get an in-depth induction into the correct use of this site. There is a lot of history on this site and the owners expect all campers to respect the site and facilities they have installed for your comfort. It is important to realise that if we all use these new campsites in the right way, they will be there for our kids and grandkids to use for years to come.

Gotta love a campfire…

What I loved about this campsite is that each of the sites are extra large allowing for groups to camp together, and to not feel like you are sitting right on top of your neighbour. It also gives the kids plenty of room to run and ride around and enjoy the countryside.

The sunsets were epic, and the company priceless . . . and that’s what camping is really about isn’t it.

To further check out the site or to make a booking click below – https://www.facebook.com/Camp-On-Allyn-East-Gresford-781950861978147/

Distance Education – How we made the decision

When we started investigating education in NSW our options are limited. There is the chance to homeschool, but the regulations only allow homeschooling in a fixed location. This was not going to suit our travel lifestyle, so we have made the decision to school our kids via Distance Education from 2019. We connected with a few other travelling families who were from NSW and they couldn’t speak highly enough of the North East Public School of Distance Education (NEPSODE) based in Port Macquarie.

http://www.nepsode.org.au

6 Reasons why we Chose Distance Education

There are many reasons for our choice but here are the key ones;

  • creating my own curriculum freaked me out and that’s not what our trip is about.
  • we got awesome feedback from other travelling families enrolled with the school.
  • we chatted with the Deputy Principal at NEPSODE and found their program for travelling families to be just what we needed
  • there is some flexibility in the program allowing us to get the best out of our travels.
  • our son thrives on structure, so with the flexibility that will be our trip, structure with schooling is something we can give him.
  • finally, if we are having trouble help is only one call away!
Meet and Greet

Even though we had sent the enrollment paperwork off we took the chance while in the area to make a visit to the school campus in Port Macquarie. It was lovely to sit and meet with the Principal and chat how the Distance Education process works. We learnt about blue bags, the magic USB and all the resources, support and the community we are becoming part off. The distance education process is very much about being in a supportive relationship with the school who will help the children thrive and learn.

We look forward to our learning journey. If you have any questions about the process we have been through so far, hit us up.  We would love to hear about your Education journey! When we commence the journey we will be sure to update you all on the progress.

What’s our why? Why pack up our family and travel?

This photo right here is the inspiration for our trip around Oz

We planned for 2 years for our dream trip to Cape York. Saved our bums off. It finally it arrived . We left with 2 small kids and so much excitement for what lay ahead.

Less than 2 weeks in we hit a ditch a little too fast on an outback road and the result was a bent chassis on our Nissan Navara. That night my grandfather passed away . . . And that made our decision easy . . . Leave the car behind and fly home!

So that is our why:

  1. Making time for family – life is too short
  2. Taking the slow road for a while – more snuggles, more fun, less rush here rush there
  3. We have made this lifestyle our priority
  4. Our kids need to know freedom and adventure
  5. Minimalism – time out from peer pressure, deadlines, crazy schedules, less stuff, less technology . . . Less of a lot of things.

We cant wait to hit the road and give our kids more of our time and more of ourselves to make help them grow into amazing human beings.

You can do this too . . . Make a plan, commit your whole heart to it, and it will come true. It may seem like such a big decision, but it really isn’t. You are just making a decision to enrich the life of your family. Go on, do it!

#Inspiration #ourwhy #plan #commit #goals #travellingfamilies #travellingaustraliawithkids