Welcome to a new regular series on All Around Oz, featuring some awesome travellers who are out there doing ‘The Big Lap’ or who are planning their Big Lap. It’s all designed to answer any questions you might have, to help get you on the road faster. So welcome to Chris, Vanessa and Tilly from Chris, Vee and Tilly’s Big Lap.
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Thanks to All Around Oz for asking us to write this post. We love to be able to share our experiences with others and hopefully inspire others to get out there and see the world. Whether it be somewhere locally for the afternoon or getting out there and seeing somewhere a 1000 kilometres away.
WHO WE ARE
We’re Chris, Vanessa and Tilly from Chris, Vee and Tilly’s big lap. We’re a couple in our late 30s with our fur baby Tilly from Perth and we have always loved to travel.
Originally from Manchester in the UK, we first arrived in Australia in the early 2000’s to backpack our way around Australia in our 15 year old VN Commodore and our tent. We loved Australia so much we decided to head back to the UK and apply for residency and come straight back at the first opportunity.
Things have certainly changed over the years since we last travelled around this vast land with our tent. We’re now seeing Australia by driving these sun drenched plains in our land cruiser towing our little home behind us as we go.
WHY WE CHOSE TO DO THE BIG LAP NOW
After working super hard upon arriving in Perth all those years ago, we had managed to build some savings and we missed our travelling days. We thought it may be the time for us to start exploring again and hit the open road.
It’s not a decision you can come to overnight and set off the next morning, so we slowly started putting things into place to make things happen.
We had decided to rent our house out, to help cover mortgage costs and other expenses. We also looked into storage options for our furniture but found it was quite expensive so we decided to block off one room in the house that our new tenants wouldn’t have access to and squeeze all our worldly possessions into there.
After several months of planning, home opens for tenants to rent our house and packing we were finally ready to start the lap.
We left home on the 6th November 2017. We’ve been living on the road full time for 10 months. Our initial plans were to do maybe 12 months give or take but plans change and we’ve just re-let our home again for a further 12 months as we’re no where near ready to go home yet – lol.
When the tenancy does come up for renewal again we will probably head home and see where the next chapter takes us.
OUR SET UP
We’ve had a caravan for a few years now, our first caravan was great but it wasn’t quite big enough for full time travel life. Vee wanted something with more storage space to live more comfortably on the road with. It’s just like having an extra set of bedding and more kitchen equipment for cooking indoors in the cooler months.
We speak to a lot of people online and whilst on the road who cook outside all the time. However, we think when you are on the road permanently and it’s 6 degrees outside the last thing you want to be doing is turning the snags on the barbie in the dark. So having the extra storage space meant we could live more like we do at home and not stress about the “if onlys”
We have a Jayco Starcraft 19.61.2. We bought it brand new from Jayco so we had warranty cover and roadside assist for the first 12 months.
It has a double bed, booth dining area with fold out table. Kitchenette with 4 burner gas hob and a full oven with grill, full size fridge freezer, microwave and ensuite and we also got a washer thrown in from Jayco as well.
We also decided to get the axels underslung to give us extra clearance. We had no plans of dragging the van down hardcore off road routes but wanted additional lift and this choice has saved our ass on more than one occasion.
The land cruiser is GXL 200 series diesel. We had a FJ cruiser beforehand and have always been happy with Toyota, but the FJ didn’t have the towing capacity for the Starcraft, so we traded for the land cruiser.
Chris did hours and hours of research to find the right car for us. He wanted to make sure the towing capability was good enough for towing the weight of the van plus contents and the land cruiser seemed to suit all our needs.
As we had savings for the trip it wasn’t a deal breaker that we needed to work. However, Vee is a trained beauty therapist and hairdresser so she brought her kit along and gets a bit of work along the way. The extra $$$ she makes each week just help to top up the funds.
We don’t have kids but we’re travelling with our doggo. Tilly is a German shorthaired pointer.
She’s an absolute legend to travel with and has adapted to life on the road amazingly well. Life to Tilly is moving on every few days and experiencing new smells and meeting new doggy’s on her walks each day. She loves being with us 24/7 as we love being with her.
LIFE AFTER THE LAP
When we return to Perth we do have our home to return to. We’re still unsure what will happen when we get home. The thing about living in a caravan is you realise you don’t need the big 4×2. I think it’ll be weird to go back to such a large home but only time will tell what we do.
Life will definitely be back in Perth though, we love the west coast and everything it has to offer.
BENEFITS OF DOING THE LAP
We’re experiencing things we wouldn’t get to do on a day to day basis. We’re seeing places that are off the beaten track, staying in places where there is no light pollution and watching the stars and the Milky Way light up the night sky. Watching the sun rise over the Pacific in the east rather than setting over the Indian in the west.
We’ve become closer as a couple as we only have each other. Don’t get me wrong we still argue when we’re putting the van on-site in caravan parks but we’ve settled into living in each other’s pockets really well.
ADVICE FOR ANYONE THINKING OF DOING IT
DO IT! We don’t know what life holds for us, we’re only here once….. well unless your Vees mum, she thinks she’s been here before lol. But in all seriousness life’s too short, make it work. Yeah we don’t have kids so it is easier for us, but we see so many young families on the road, the trip is an education for the kids as well. Make it work, find work where you can. There is so many options of accommodation for vans from gravel pits on the side of dusty highways to sparkling caravan parks on the beach. The experience is one you’ll never forget…..
WHAT OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY THINK
Most of our family and friends were happy about the idea of us taking off. I think it’s easier for the family especially as they live in Europe so the’re used to us being the other side of the world. Vee’s parents were a little confused on why we had decided to do this. We think they thought we had turned into gypsies but after she explained to her parents what our plans were they seemed to be on board with our plans.
As for friends, we only value our close friends opinions. You will always get people who can never be happy for anyone’s else’s good fortunes in life and that’s just human nature. We set up our blog sites through social media and told friends that we wouldn’t be updating our personal accounts with our trip all the time and if they wanted to follow our trips progress they could follow our pages. Again this was a way to not annoy people who didn’t want to see our trip in their news feeds. If they wanted to see us they could follow us.
TOP 3 FAVOURITE PLACES
- For us, we can’t go past the Margaret River Region of WA. From Busselton all the way down to Augusta it’s absolutely awesome. The region has world class surf, beaches, wineries, breweries, a cheese factory, chocolate factory, olive oil factory, beautiful cafes and restaurants. All set amongst stunning karri trees and bush. It’s our favourite place in Australia
- Still in WA, Vee makes a point of telling anyone that’ll listen that if you ever find yourself in the great southern of WA you HAVE to visit Duke of Orleans Bay, just next to Cape Le Grand national park, you will never find the sea more aqua or the sand more white…… simply mind blowing.
- Another of our favourite regions in the Great Ocean Road between Warrnambool and Torquay. The drive and the little coastal towns that you find along the way are beautiful. The winding road is an engineering marvel and leads you from bay to bay and town to town. It’s true eye candy. Our favourite town along this route was Apollo Bay. We stopped at a great caravan park in Marengo, situated right on the beach.
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Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Chris and Vee…..safe travels!