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.