Escaping the Corporate Wilderness: The @RedNomadOz Australian Road Trip Solution!

| October 27, 2013
RedNomadOz at Yourambulla Caves, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

RedNomadOz at Yourambulla Caves, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

In Australia there are a large number of people who become ‘Grey Nomads’ when they retire, which is euphemism for people with grey hair who buy a 4WD and a caravan (a ‘rig’) who then head off to explore Australia over an extended period of time.

By contrast  some younger people also undertake this iconic road trip and over the past year or so I have very much enjoyed hearing the road trip travel stories from my friend Red, who is the author of the Amazing Australian Adventures (aka RedNomadOz) blog.  Red shares amazing stories and photos from the far reaches of Australia with a large number of avid followers.

Red has kindly agreed to be interviewed to share her story so far…

Red, you and your partner ‘Pilchard’ have travelled around Australia for over 21 years. How did you get started doing your Australian road trips?

Real-world travel is the BEST legitimate way to counteract corporate-world dreariness! Taking a few days off and driving somewhere – anywhere! – whenever we could became our favourite distraction from the madness of bureaucracy. Back then (not THAT long ago, but before mobile phones were common) we were expected to give contact details so our employers could get in touch with us during our holidays. So we became moving targets and spent ALL of our vacation time somewhere on the road. Recovering from the rigours of leisure at my desk rather than during my precious time off was an added bonus!

Our other life philosophy is working to fund our holidays – made much easier by our DINK (Double Income/No Kids) status! This also made planning a trip as easy as packing a few clothes, some food and our maps in the car, then hitting the road!

Lawn Hill Gorge (Boodjamulla NP), Queensland Australia on their LONG trip!

Lawn Hill Gorge (Boodjamulla NP), Queensland Australia on their LONG trip!

Later, when I finally got long service leave, I took it all on half-pay ie 6 months instead of 3. See? No kids! We sold our house, bought our camper trailer – the one we still use today – and spent 10 months or so on the road. We didn’t even make it right round Australia but spent that trip doing a giant ‘S’ bend through (mostly) New South Wales and Queensland. And THAT made us realise just how much we DIDN’T see.

Camper Trailer at Poddy Creek Campground near Winton Queensland Australia in 2011

Camper Trailer at Poddy Creek Campground near Winton Queensland Australia in 2011

We’ve been catching up on that ever since!

How much of each year are you on the road?

Generally a few months – but not necessarily all in one trip.

RedNomadOz's Home

RedNomadOz’s Home

Where are you right now?

HERE:

That’s home, in case you were wondering …

Where do you plan to travel next?

We LOVE the Grampians National Park in Victoria, and usually plan some time there in spring for the wildflowers.

Of course, visiting the FAAAAAABULOUS Halls Gap Bakery is incidental!!

How do you plan your road trip itineraries?

One of the key dates on our annual calendar is the Caravan and Camping Show where we transmogrify into psychotic brochure-collectors with a competition fixation. Add that to a time consuming camping magazine habit AND reconnaissance from previous trips and we settle on one or two destinations or regions – which makes up the bare bones of an itinerary.

From there, it rarely proceeds beyond bare bones – we just hit the road and make it up as we go along!! It’s not uncommon to end up in places we hadn’t even thought of – but this adds an essential element of excitement (or fear!) that makes road-trips so memorable!

Have you ever travelled to an international destination? If so, where and when and how did you find the experience in comparison to Australia?

I was born in New Zealand, spent my formative years in the Fiji Islands with visits to other Pacific Islands and worked in Papua New Guinea. Then Pilchard and I travelled to Bali for our first holiday together. But comparing those experiences to travelling in Australia would be like comparing koalas with elephants – they’re neither better nor worse, just different.

Broome Beach, Western Australia

Broome Beach, Western Australia

In the early days, we didn’t consciously set out to travel exclusively in Australia – but the more we saw, the more we found to see. And with limited holiday time, we didn’t want to spend half our trip in transit. Now we’ve found caravanning takes the whole experience to a different level as, contrary to what many people think, caravan parks and campsites are often in the BEST locations! AND this kind of travel stretches holiday dollars MUCH further – last year our 3 month, 16,000 km road-trip around half of Australia cost around $AUD68 per day for travel (fuel) and accommodation. I didn’t factor in food costs – you’ve got to eat anyway – but travelling with your own kitchen means costs are closer to what you’d have at home anyway.

The view from RedNomadOz's campsite in Kununurra

The view from RedNomadOz’s campsite in Kununurra

Although we’ll ALWAYS make an exception for a good bakery!!

I love your toilets of Australia theme. What inspired this unique focus? And do you actively look for the star attractions or do you just find them by accident as you go?

I had an epiphany at Kata Tjuta (aka the Olgas) a few years ago when we pulled into the carpark and I used the amenities before heading out on the walks. When I emerged, the awesome domes of the rocks were right there as one of the most stunning backdrops to a convenience block I’ve ever seen! I took a photo then and there!!

 

Where it all began - Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) Public Amenities

Where it all began – Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) Public Amenities

Of course that was WAY before I had a blog … but when I started it, I made the Scenic Public Toilets of Australia a feature because public loos are close to nearly every scenic attraction in OZ! You’ve got to go sometime – so why not make doing your business a pleasure?!

But the jury’s out as to whether being associated with Public Toilets is a downside or bonus!

You take fantastic photos which make me drool with envy!

Then my work is done! But I’m a total amateur – my best trick for good photos is to visit killer locations!! Sometimes I feel like a fraud – it seems like all I’ve to do is hold up the camera and press the shutter button!!

Ardrossan, Yorke Peninsula South Australia

Ardrossan, Yorke Peninsula South Australia

What inspired your interest in photography?

An unrealised creative urge coupled with a bone-idle lazy streak!

Pilchard gave me a film camera for Christmas in 1991 and I immediately fell in love … I still use photos taken by this camera on my blog even though I no longer use the camera itself. The only thing wrong with it was a faulty shutter button which a local camera shop told me couldn’t be fixed. They also told me to get a life and go digital … but that’s another story (which I’ve told HERE!) Pilchard gave me my first digital camera for Christmas 2011.

I don’t aim for my shots to be photographically perfect – they’re primarily a visual diary of our travels that show what the places we saw REALLY look like at the time of our visit! It’s a bonus that readers seem to like them.

And it’s amazing what you can get out of a camera sometimes …

Photo of an Australasian Darter

Photo of an Australasian Darter

Are you a Canon or Nikon etc person?

I’m SO disloyal!! But maybe that just means I’ve yet to find a compelling reason to choose one brand over another. I’m very happy with my current Olympus camera – but I’d never say never!!

ANY savvy camera company could probably make me an offer I’d seriously consider – especially if they wanted to promote their easy-to-use models!

Do you own every camera gadget known to mankind or do you manage with a more limited set of equipment.

I’m a lazy technophobe! I hope that answers your question!!

RedNomadOz's Most Popular Australian Photo

RedNomadOz’s Most Popular Australian Photo

What is your standard camera kit that you take everywhere?

HHHMMMmmm… let me think …

1 x Olympus SZ-10 digital camera

1 x Crest camera case I can sling over my shoulder

1 x spare SD card

1 x power can inverter (kept in car for 12v recharging)

1 x recharge cord (kept in car as well)

Yes, that’s IT! See above for comments about laziness …

WARNING: Take a virtual tour of Australia with Red Nomad OZ on her blog Amazing Australian Adventures at your peril! You just might want to ditch your day job and hit the Aussie road full time …

Take care!

Visit Amazing Australian Adventures for places to go, what to see, things to do and what I’ve been up to Downunder!

OR get your very own exclusive piece of Australia HERE!

Red Nomad OZ

 

Red, thanks for sharing your story.  I look forwards to your next email lobbing into my inbox!

If you enjoyed Red’s story please have a look at her Amazing Australian Adventures blog for more inspiration about why you should explore Australia (and where to find many amazingly scenic public toilets)!

 

Photos: All contributed by RedNomadOz via the Amazing Australian Adventures blog.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Australian Experiences, Road Trips

Anne Sutherland-Smith

About the Author ()

Anne Sutherland-Smith is the founder of the Pretraveller blog which focuses on travel planning. Anne is a keen travel planner who loves researching and preparing for her next trip. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

Comments (31)

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  1. Renuka says:

    Cool! Enjoyed the interview. :) I’m glad there are more people bitten by travel bug. :)
    Renuka recently posted…Jaisalmer Fort – In Pictures (Part II)My Profile

  2. Belated thanks for the opportunity to share my story, blog and photos with your readers!! I’m glad to report I’m now actually in the Grampians – and looking forward to sharing more about this GREAT region, along with much more!!

    Have a great week ahead!!
    Red Nomad OZ recently posted…Capture the Colours of OZ Country Towns!My Profile

    • Red, thanks for sharing your story with me. It was a real privilege to get to know you better. I hope you enjoy your time in The Grampians- it is an area that I have really loved over several previous visits! And I look forwards to seeing more of your fabulous photos!

  3. I am a follower of RED and enjoyed this interview. On out recent (and first) trip to South Australia we actually visited a couple of iconic and a couple of little known places RED recommended on her blog.
    We travel as much as our working life will allow, and one day hope to do the Aussie circuit.

  4. Red’s travelling tales are so inspiring -
    And her Scenic Toilets series is hilarious –
    I think they undoubtedly show the country off at its best – If that’s what you can see from the toilet I can only half imagine the scenic wonders that must lay beyond the shot :)
    And it was great to get an indication of what a 3 month trip would cost when so many say how expensive it is to travel in Oz – $500 a week for fuel and accommodation seems very affordable for a trip of this magnitude -
    Thanks Anne for asking the questions.
    And to Red for sharing her extensive travel experiences :)
    Linda ~ Journey Jottings recently posted…Kakadu – Twin Falls – GungkurdulMy Profile

    • Linda, thanks for your comment. I have also loved Red’s blog ever since I came across it approximately one year ago.

      I agree that the camper trailer option can be a very cheap per week travel option, however I always have a stumbling block when I look at camper trailer options. To get one that I would be happy to live in for a longer period I end up looking at options in the $15000-$20000 range, and once I start thinking about that amount of money and how much I would need to use a camper trailer every year to get good value out of it (plus the cost of rego, insurance and maintenance) I have not yet managed to make a convincing argument yet. I will keep doing the numbers over time, perhaps if you own one for a long term period you can make it pay off.

      • Although it’s a little bit more work, we recently did a month long trip through the Territory simply with our station wagon, a tent and self-inflating mattresses (10cm thick!). The equipment required was a minimal investment and by always setting up camp for a minimum of two nights (Drive one day and set up camp, explore the next) it wasn’t too exhausting. I think by doing a trial run like that you really get a feel for what one’s priorities are for comfort which are hard to predict (We were both surprised at how comfortable the mattresses were!!). I think we can sometimes get too caught up with suppositions instead of just getting out there and giving it a go, even if it’s not perfect and on a lower set up budget.
        Linda ~ Journey Jottings recently posted…Kakadu – Twin Falls – GungkurdulMy Profile

        • Linda, I agree that camping is most likely going to be a more affordable option, and if you can keep your camping kit to a minimum then it should be easy to get around.

          • You can always hire a camper trailer and see how it suits you – or buy a 2nd hand one like we did!! And I agree with Linda – Just DO it, and sort out the problems as you go. There’s always the fallback of going home if it’s really that horrendous.
            Red Nomad OZ recently posted…Australian Watercolours made EASY!My Profile

          • I just went camping with my daughter for a Girl Guides activity on the weekend and we had a lovely time. We took our ‘Tent Mahal’ which sleeps 12 (but there were only two of us!) as it is the only tent we own and I didn’t want to spend any money to get a smaller tent.

            After an awful weather forecast for Saturday it turned out to be a beautiful day. I was not sure whether we would stay to camp but I eventually decided that we were going to stay so we set up camp – the alternative option was to go home as per your suggestion above. After an amazing evening we had a good nights sleep (apart from the three kookaburras being very noisy at dark o’clock) and we woke to a ‘wonderful’ rainy day. Packing up the campsite was not as much fun but we still had a nice time and my daughter was able to play some more with a new friend!

            I think we should invest in a smaller tent but we will wait for the next opportunity before spending the money…

  5. That photo of Broome beach brings back really happy memories, sigh! ;-)

  6. I love Red’s blog. I have been following it for a few years. I did an interview for her once. My blog is a mixture of travel and family.
    diane bohlen recently posted…REMEMBERING HOWMy Profile

  7. Tiffany says:

    Wow such beautiful photos! Sadly I haven’t made it to Australia yet, but it’s definitely very high up on my bucket list. Thanks for the great interview!
    Tiffany recently posted…Photos of the Week – Budapest, HungaryMy Profile

  8. sushil says:

    wow amazing landscapes i wanna go there
    sushil recently posted…Summer reveals ‘hot destinations’ to enjoyMy Profile

  9. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot says:

    The Red Nomad always makes me want to get out on the road, thanks for the inspiration Anne and Red :)

  10. David says:

    Great interview! I started backpacking 2 years ago and I realized that there’s really a lot of great places in Australia, especially the beach! Surfing and wake boarding is one of the sports I enjoy in the Gold coast. Keep writing Anne! You’re inspiring a lot of newbies.

  11. Great travel post and tips. Very interactive and I think the photos are amazing too. Thanks for sharing.

  12. A long but interesting interview. I should own your standard camera. I like taking photographs!

  13. Great read!

    As a Victorian myself, the Grampians will always hold a special place in my heart and we have spent many family holidays road tripping there from Melbourne. Perhaps we’ll run into you there one day!?