So planning. Planning is so hard to do from here, because we're currently in Malaysia. We can't buy a van and do lots of practice runs before we go. We can't test drive tow vehicles. We can't do a towing course (but we will as soon as we have the car and the van). We can't slowly work out what we need and what we don't. We're going to have to do all our research now and hope that we're not very wrong in our preparations.
We have printed out a number of maps and have started scribbling all over them. Directions to travel, places to see, people to visit, dates that we hope to be in certain places. And of course, once we agree on a route, we change it for a better one the next week.
Our plan is to have no firm plan, but at this stage we're heading to Uluru first, then north, then east, then south (Melbourne around Christmas), then west, then north, then east, then south again. Annoyingly vague yet? This plan should have us avoiding most of the cold weather down south and most of the hot weather up north.
We've downloaded Wikicamps (brilliant app!) and I've been getting heaps of advice from a friend here in Malaysia who did the same trip three years ago (what are the odds of that?!). I'm arranging first aid courses for all of us (yep, even the kids are going to learn what to do if they get bitten by a snake). We're getting ready to sell everything (garage sales were the only way to get the kids to part with a lifetime of kid junk - they get to keep most of the money, but they'll also donate a portion to a charity of their choice). We'll ship some things to Australia, but most of them will stay in boxes until we move to the next overseas destination after we finish our lap. Everything else will be sold or given away.
We've only got just over 100 days left before the end of the school year, and I know that the end of June, our departure date, will be here before we know it. We really need to get organised...!!
In July 2017 we travelled to Bali from Malaysia to celebrate my Mums 70th Birthday with lots of family from Australia. While sitting around the pool Tanya and I got talking about how lucky we were and how lucky our kids are to live the life of an international teaching family. Our kids have visited so many great places and had a world class IB education.
As usually happens in these contemplative moments, the talk often drifts to when (if) we are going to return back to Australia. We had been away for 7 years and couldn't see us returning any time soon. The IB international education is too valuable and we couldn't guarantee it on returning to Australia. I also love my job and there are few and far between similar jobs back home.
We both want our kids to know Australia beyond a couple of weeks at Christmas or a 6 week jet setting trip up and down the East coast in June / July. We were also jealously following some friends who had just hired a camper van in Darwin and were doing Kakadu.
Tanya of course asked the question, "Do you think we should do something like that".
"yeah I remember a kid at school whose family bought a bus, refitted it and took a year to travel around Australia, I have always wanted to do that".
"We should do that"
Ten minutes later, I looked up from my book "actually we could do it, we should do it"
Derrygoround was born.
We wanted to do it asap, but we thought finishing school in 2018, was a bit soon (it was twelve months away). Two years would give us time to see everything else we wanted to see in Malaysia, really think about it and save the extra money we would need to live a life on the road.
Lots of discussions and contemplation has happened since then
one year or two years (would one year be enough)
do we work on the trip
caravan vs camper van
when do we start
where do we start
how do we learn everything we need to know about 4WD's and caravans
where do we buy a caravan
what about the kids education
when do we tell people
can we afford this
can we afford not to do it
plus plenty more
We have resolved some of those questions, but still have lots to go and our list of questions have only increased.
At the moment,
we are doing one year
in a caravan and 4WD
starting in August from Brisbane
the kids will be unschooled
we are telling people now
It's now been 18 months. We have resigned from our jobs and started telling everyone (so now we really have to do it)
We are all super excited, the kids were great at keeping our family surprise for over a year, many a skype call or visit back home we almost let the cat out of the bag.
Christmas 2017 we even visited a caravan showroom just to get an idea of prices and the type of van we might like. We got some useful first hand knowledge and it gave us a great starting point.
When we walked out of the showroom Galen burst into tears.
"Whats wrong mate?"
"Where is our Caravan? Aren't we taking it today?"
Once again sworn to silence (this is our family surprise) we explained that we were only looking and we wouldn't be starting out adventure for another eighteen months.
We are now in the early planning stages, we have printed out maps of Australia and started scribbling over them with potential routes and some of the places we want to visit. We've joined facebook groups, downloaded the wikicamps app, started chatting with those in the know and those with opinions on how we should do it.
We have been fielding lots of questions and to be honest I have been overwhelmed by the number of positive comments and "wow, that is great we should do something like that" type of comments. I thought there would be a heap of "why are you doing that?" "How can you afford it?" What about the kids education?" but these comments are non existent or people are keeping them to themselves. When I think about it, this shouldn't be unexpected, it is a great thing to do and a wonderful experience for all of us. The positive comments solidified our desire to do our big lap.
Sure at times it is going to be tough, there will be arguments, we are going to have bad days and things will go wrong.
We still have so much to plan and decide (including everything we need to do to uproot from Malaysia) but we are looking forward to lots of this from August on.