It’s hard to believe that we are already 3 months in to our 2 year journey, travelling around Australia in our 4×4 with #coromal caravan in tow! As total caravan (and camping) newbies, we’d received some good advice early on that it generally takes the first 10 weeks to adjust and become accustomed to this life on the road, and whilst we’ve still been experiencing our fair share of head-scratching moments, I’m surprised at how quickly we have all settled into this new lifestyle and how much it already feels like home.
When you take a huge leap of faith in life, be it a new job, a new relationship, moving abroad or packing up your life and travelling full time, there are so many unknowns and questions that will most likely go unanswered until you are fully immersed in the new experience. For us, we had no doubt that spending 24 hours a day together would be the best thing for our family, in fact it was something we had yearned for since Jasper’s arrival in 2016. Fortunately Paul and I are also great work partners, our motto is “We’re better together” (thank you Jack Johnson!), and we thrive creatively when we are collaborating. So as far as time and space goes we had no doubts about sharing our 17m2 living and working space, and basically living on top of each other. We absolutely love “Orange” our home on wheels and all that she is bringing to our family – new horizons, new experiences and that precious quality time together we so longed for!
With backgrounds in television, events and production management it’s fair to say we know our way around a good planning document, and we certainly drew on these skills in the 12 months before hitting the road, mapping out the steps, actions, responsibilities and our goals. We also had many discussions around safety, and our individual concerns that come with living a full time caravanning lifestyle. For Paul, his main worries revolved around road safety, feeling confident towing a 22ft van and ensuring we had a procedure in place to manage Jasper when hitching and unhitching. What kept me awake at night were the things more out of our control including the wildlife we would inevitably encounter on the road. Now don’t get me wrong I’m a huge wildlife lover, and having worked 6 years alongside Australia’s most famous conservationist Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) I’ve had more than my fair share of incredible wildlife encounters! However as a mum of an inquisitive 3 year old, I worried (and still do) about the unique and deadly wildlife this country of ours boasts. From snakes and spiders, to saltwater crocodiles, Australia is home to some of the deadliest (and most amazing) animals in the world!
However, the one thing we didn’t consider or even discuss, was a plan to deal with natural disasters such as bush fire, flood or cyclone – all of which are very common occurrences here in Oz. On reflection I think perhaps it is because neither of us have ever been faced with such a threat, however in hindsight I can’t believe two of the most organised and planned people could be so unprepared!
Fast forward 10 weeks into our travels around Central and South East Queensland and we find ourselves in the midst of a State of Fire Emergency, with more than 70 bush fires burning across Queensland and even more throughout New South Wales.
We were woken, in the very wee hours of the night, to a sight that was both confronting and gut wrenching. The night time sky was a glow of orange and the crackling sound of flying embers cut through the stillness of the sleepy caravan park we were staying in. After a quick and surprisingly calm discussion we made the decision to pack the car with our valuables and essentials, in the event we needed to evacuate quickly. Our new friend and camping neighbour Richard had managed a quick chat with the Fire Chief, who advised that the fire had been lit by someone on the beach (in a state of total fire ban it sure makes the mind boggle!) and that the attending crews had the blaze under control. And whilst this certainly made us feel a little more at ease, we opted to pack down and hitch the van just in case.
Needless to say Jasper was the only one to enjoy a good night’s sleep that night, and while Paul and I laid on our bed, fully clothed and wide eyed, it gave us the opportunity to discuss an emergency plan, and list through the items we needed to pack into a “grab bag” for emergency situations.
What this experience has taught us is that being prepared is without a doubt the smartest way of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your family. Yes there are things that are always going to be out of our control – that’s life and we’re up against those risks everyday – but without a plan there are no steps to follow in those crucial moments, and without focused attention, the fear can certainly take over. Whether you live in a fixed dwelling or your home is on wheels, having an emergency plan is a must…. it could just save your life!
~ Katie Guerin
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