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!
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.
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.
Where are you right now?
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.
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.
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!!
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!!
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 …
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!!
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 …
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.