As usual we have underestimated just how much work is involved in putting our plans in motion.
But we are here. On the road in Australia in a Jayco Expanda Caravan being towed buy a Toyota Prado. I wanted to get a better Landcruiser, but the Prado is able to pull the van. I was also keen to get a more robust Jayco, but we had to draw the line somewhere as did not want to spend more of our savings and not be able to afford to take some time off of work to enjoy the first leg of the road trip.
We based ourselves in Sydney at my dads studio in Leichhardt – he is an abstract painter, and his wife Denise is talented felt artist. We drank plenty of their wine whilst climbing our admin mountain – NSW Service Centre are cultural black holes, and to be avoided at all costs. Things also seem to take a bit longer over here in Australia – a camera bag for instance took over a week to arrive via Australia Post and deliveries of other kit have been incomplete.
A day out of admin to complete a St Johns First Aid top-up course were we learnt about snake and spider bites, and refreshed our CPR skills. Now living in the hope that we never need these skills, but it feels good to be prepared for the worst.
After collecting the Jayco from storage at Gosford we drove up to the Maitland show-grounds for our first night in the van (not forgetting to fill the kitchen sink with a bag of ice and a few stubbies of Coopers Pale Ale).
As we parked up in the dark of night, waking up to find we were right beside the horse running track, complete with a horse drawn buggy training. We begun our Tow-Ed towing course with only the experience of towing a small pop up camper trailer, were taught the beautiful geometry of reversing using marks taped onto the van. By the end of the day we can both confidently reverse the van onto a spot exactly where we want it – with the promise it will save our marriage. A great course, but did not help our map reading skills – mistakingly towed our new home back to Leichhardt over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with the lanes getting narrower and narrower and the traffic getting busier and busier.
Next task was the installing solar panels on the roof – we decided to install a separate system to be used only for charging phone, cameras, iPads, laptops and other small devices. Not wishing to screw up the existing van set-up I left it well alone. The plan is to connect the two systems down the line when I have learnt a little more so hopefully I don’t screw it up. Will wire it all up on the road.
We do tend to push hard to get things done under tight deadlines, so after two weeks of sorting and admin we set off – solar panels attached, but not connected as only had half of the components. First stop – Bundeena National Park, 1.5 hrs south of Sydney.