Thursday 26 February 2015


I was reluctant to write this post, Im not sure why. I think I just didn't want people knowing our business. But hey if you have read the rest of my blog you will see it might be a bit late for that!!!!!

I took one of the kids to a birthday party on the weekend and was chatting to a Dad about our trip. Obviously a figures man, his first question was 'So, how much is something like that going to cost you?' 

This wasn't the first time we have been asked. So if anyone else is wondering, here is a rough answer.

Hmmm.... let me see.......

The truth is we really have no accurate figure as we have never done a trip like this before! So we are running on estimates.

I am shocking with maths so I leave all the calculations to Craig. That is his forte.  He has read a few articles and made a few scribbles on paper and has come up with a magical number of  $1,000 a week for us to spend on our holiday. 

We are going for six months (24 weeks) so our budget for this trip is $24,000. Which Craig then rounded up to $30,000 to include things like break downs (I think he was talking about the car but maybe he was talking therapy for me). And unforeseen things like if we need to fly home for anything or if we need to stay in a hotel for two weeks because I can't cope with a camper. 

Anyways, his $1,000 pretty much comes from adding up how much food we eat, accommodation, fuel and spending money

We have averaged it at:

$250 per week in groceries which is what we spend now. I doubt that is going to change much on the road, unless our kids decide they want to increase their appetites!

Fuel is based on $100 per tank but we may get it cheaper in some places. And we will be filling up around two times a week. So $200 a week. This will be more or less, depending on where we are and how many KM we travel per week. But this is average. 

Caravan Parks are roughly $50 a night. Give or take. So that is $350 per week if we stay in paid accommodation every night. We have over budgeted here as some nights will be free camping. And we haven't added in the fact I have pre paid a large amount of our accommodation from Perth to Darwin already.  Anyways its good to over calculate.

Spending money, dunno how he worked that out but its roughly $200. 

Which is a grand total of $1,000. 

I also have a money box at home that I have been throwing $50 a week into, its called the 'ice-cream' money and it is for us to waste on roadhouse pies, ice creams, shitty souvenir t shirts, etc. 

And I have been putting together coles myers vouchers to chuck in the glove box so if we go over budget one week we can dip into our vouchers and buy fuel or food. 

We also have a container full of $1 and $2 coins for the washing machines. I estimate that I will do four loads a week (I am hand washing some stuff but still need the machines for towels, sheets and heavy items like jeans). So 4 loads at $3 a pop is $12 a week. Times that by 24 and my gold coin container will need to be $288 heavy by the time we leave in April! Im going to have to hide my washing money somewhere safe so no one steals it. Hmm maybe I should get Craig a bum bag to wear it around his waist?!

Before we leave Perth we will already have pre paid most of our big bills like insurances. We will have a telephone bill per month and our HBF. But apart from that we won't have any other outgoings. 

We also have a few costs associated with our investment property here in Perth which we have already set aside money for so this doesn't come into our holiday budget.  We also have a empty credit card with a $6,000 limit so this can be our back up should any shit hit any fans while we are away. 

Craig had a chat with a guy who did the same trip in the same amount of time, they spent $12,000 plus their food. So it can be done much cheaper than our $30,000. Baring in mind these people had one less kid than us and did it two years ago. 

When we return from travelling we will have a little money left and then a fair bit of equity in our investment property so hopefully with us both working we can purchase a family house to live in within six months to a year of returning. In the mean time we are happy to rent somewhere when we return to establish ourselves again. 

Also, just wanted to add..... were not handed any of this money on a silver platter, we have not been given any big breaks nor are we lucky. We have worked BLOODY hard and our family has gone without so we can prepare for this trip. This is a once in a life time holiday so we want to enjoy it. I don't see spending $30,000 as a waste of money, I see it as an investment into our kids memories. 

Once the trip is over I will do a post about the actual costs and link it with this one. I will be a bit wiser by then!

Monday 23 February 2015

The Doctors Box

One of the things that worries me about taking this trip and going to remote places is the lack of medical facilities should any of us fall sick or get injured.  Most of our travels are going to be close to towns, chemists and hospitals, but there are a few stints where we will be away from civilisation for up to a week at a time. So I must be prepared for any variable that can arise.

Today I have gone through all of our first aid kit and re organised our supplies. We just have a basic St Johns box that we have used for years. 

I took everything out and checked use by dates. I then organised into zip lock bags for better organisation within the box. 

I then organised the more regularly used items in the top shelf of the box. Things like kids panadol. adults panadol, Dora bandaids..!!

I also made a small 'lunch box' size first aid kit for the camper. If incase one of us is out in the car and the other is at the camper and needs something. Or if its the middle of the night and we don't want to go out to the car. This box has the basics; panadol, cold and flu tablets, kids chest rub, cold sore cream, bandaids and a small bandage. And a brand new nasal spray for Craig who gets hay fever which can make his life miserable. 

Usually the first aid kit (or as the kids call it, the Doctors Box) only comes out for mild injuries or discomforts. Sometimes we just need a Dora bandaid or an eye wipe so we can carry on with the day! 

But sometimes things can get serious. 

Several years ago Craig was four wheel driving and came across a man who had been injured in the sand dunes on his motorbike. Craigs basic knowledge of first aid and his kit which contained thermal blanket, bandages etc assisted the man until they could get him out of the four wheel drive area and to the waiting ambulance. It is something that has stuck in my mind and in Craig's and as a result we have always had a first aid kit in the car.  

Because its not just us as a family that I need to be organised for, but fellow campers and strangers we may cross along the way. Also thinking about the four people that saved the man who was attacked by a shark on a remote beach in Esperance late last year. It was noted on 60 minutes the other night that had they not have had basic first aid supplies to tourniquet his wounds he would have definitely died.  

It is very very unlikely we will be in that position but if we are, at least I am able to assist in a small way until medical help arrives. 

In my opinion the difference between being prepared or not being prepared is, in some cases life or death. 

Saturday 21 February 2015

Practice pack

Yesterday Craig did a practice on the roof rack to check how we were going for room. 

He has attached a fishing rod contraption to the side to carry his gear. Which is ok but it makes a bit of a flapping noise once we go faster than 80 km. Apparently he can fix that. Lucky cause it shits me already and I've only had it on for a day!

The blue plastic box is filled with kids toys. A bag of my little ponies, a bag of beanie kid teddies and a bag of barbies. We then have some sand toys and a few games. There is still heaps of room in this tub to add more stuff later. 

This weekend feels like everything is coming together, slowly. 
Craig has told his boss about our plans and luckily for us he is just taking six months unpaid leave. This means he has job security which is great, but also means we definitely will be coming home after the six months, restricting us to extend our holiday if we wanted to. 

Only six weeks to go. That is six more weekends to pack, finish the stuff to the car, clean out the unit and catch up with friends for a last minute drink before we go. 

Toot Toot. The countdown is on. 

Friday 20 February 2015


The other day I was chatting with a friend (hi Kez) and we were talking about taking chances and doing stuff we want to do, as we all only live once. We were joking about the popular acronym YOLO (you only live once) when she said 'hey you should write a blog post about that!'.

So here I am...

I never thought about YOLO until I was in my mid twenties. Previous to that death and life and all in between was not something I contemplated. I mean why would I. I had no need to. In my mind I could live this life a thousand times and had all the time in the world to do it. But as I have gotten older I have realised that we do in fact only live once. So probably time to start making it the best life it can be.

When Matilda was about one year old I started a bucket list.  

I have a list of 54 things so far but here are a few:

21: Travel around Australia
34: Pay for a strangers dinner
35: take the kids to see the monkeys in Borneo
37: save an animal from death
40: Iceskate outdoors
44: walk behind a waterfall
47: climb a mountain
49: pat an elephant 

Hopefully a few of the 54 can be crossed off the list in the next six months!

So, where are we going?!

Lots of people have asked where we are going. 

So here is a photo of the map we have on our wall, the green is where we intend to go on our six month trip.

Starting in Perth we are heading to Kalbarri for five nights. This is our happy place. We often go there   for a week at a time and its good to be going somewhere familiar and relaxing for our first stop. Hopefully Kalbarri will get us into holiday mode! 

From Kalbarri we then make our way up the West Coast staying in places like Coral Bay, Cape Range National Park, Karratha, Broome and then up to Cape Leveque. We then leave the coast and head east across the Gibb River Road to Lake Argyle, then head up to Darwin. We are staying in Darwin for a week and then will head down to the hot springs of Materanka and further south to Three Ways roadhouse before heading east again through Mount Isa, Longreach and Winton. From there is is up to Cairns where we are staying a week then heading south down the coast of QLD and down the coast of NSW. We take a detour into the ACT to Canberra then hit the coast again right down to the bottom of Victoria. Into castlemaine for 10 days to see my family then over to Warnambool and up the coast to Adelaide. From Adelaide we head up through Coober Pedy to Alice Springs. We then make our way back down to Uluru before heading west and across the great central road. Back to kalgoorlie where we will stay a few nights to make our phone calls about jobs, houses etc then head off for a week to Esperance, Albany and back home to Perth.

PHEW..... sounds easy doesn't it?!!!!!

Its a total of 6 months and 20,597 kilometres. 

We have allowed extra time in Darwin, Cairns, Gold Coast and Adelaide so we can add a few bits in if we so wish. 

It looks like a lot of planning but really it hasn't been. It was just a matter of getting the map out and saying righto where do we want to go, then connecting the dots. 

Some of the places we have left off the list are Karrajini National Park and Cape York. Both places are somewhere we will go when the kids are older. With a 3.5 year old, 5 and 7 year old we just don't want to push our luck with the four wheel driving and the outback camping. We also reluctantly had to delete tasmania from our plans after I called up and found that it was going to cost us an extra $2,500 to get there and back. Tassie will be on the cards for a flying holiday one day in the future when the kids are older. 

Travelling is such a personal thing and we are only doing what is right for us.

We may add in Jabiru and Kings Canyon in Northern Territory and Port Lincoln in South Australia. If we get the time and have the money. 

But for now that is the mud map and we shall be sticking to it fairly well. 

I have a large Australian map on the wall and Matilda is getting involved in finding places to go and googling them. So far she is most interested in Coober Pedy. She has made some notes in her diary about some places she would like to visit there, including the 'Bedrock hotel' which is underground  accommodation. Finances permitting we may indulge in an over night stay there just to amuse her!!

Friday 13 February 2015

On second thoughts...............

Today the idea of travelling has lost its appeal. I am tired and emotionally exhausted and the idea of actually DOING this holiday is making me feel like I want to curl up in a ball and sleep. 

Craig is stressed about how much he has to do to the car and how little time he has to do it. He is annoyed because we no longer have our house with a big shed and he is trying to do stuff in the driveway here at the unit. His frustration levels are at an all time high. And I understand it. His tools are in storage. It is hot in the driveway.  

He also has the added pressure of this work. This is the first job in a long time that he actually likes. I would go as far to say he loves it. The money isn't as good as working away but it pays well for an in town job. It has good hours and is close to home. I know he is worried about how he will tell his boss as he doesn't want to upset anyone. 

We are a family that is used to our house and our space. The girls have been bickering today. Getting in each others way. Wanting to play outside but theres no yard. Matilda has hung around me all morning. Wanting to make things and wanting to roller skate around the house. They are opening the front door. every. five. minutes. There are flies everywhere inside. 

Also, we are back into the swing of school term. The kids are settling into school and getting birthday party invites and making friends that they want to have play dates with. The idea of taking them away from their normality is confusing. 

Gem the dog is so clingy. Since loosing Ruby she likes to sit by my side every second she can get. I don't want to leave her for six months.

And me? well I am looking at houses to buy on I want to run as fast as I can back to my normal. Back to the safeness of every day life. Back to what we have always done. Im scared of this change. Even though its only a small change in the scheme of things it seems big right now. Big enough to sell our house, back up our belongings and leave behind all we know. 

Big enough to be scary and make me want to change my mind.

But we are already SO SO close. Only 7 weeks till we hit the road. 

We are all stressed, I know this holiday will be worth it but then again I don't want the next 7 weeks spent being stressed and upset while we wait to go. Right now it would be easy to just leave tomorrow. Slip out the back door and head off. No more planning, no more waiting.

Geez I am a sad sack aren't I. Must take a happy pill and cheer the hell up. And maybe stop putting my sorrows all over the internet!

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday

On Tuesday, we said goodbye to our first baby. Our beautiful Ruby was put to sleep, aged 12. It was so painful and my heart hurt so much. She has been with us since we got our first house. She has been through the good times and bad times. laughter and tears. And now she is gone. 

On Monday Ruby didn't look well. She was slow and lethargic. I decided it must have been the hot weather so left her inside with the air con on while I collected the kids from school. When I got home an hour later and opened the door I found she had been sick all over the floor and was laying on her side in the lounge area looking really bad. When Craig came home from work he took her to the vet and they ran some bloods and gave her pain relief, she came home and looked a little better.

The next morning, Tuesday, she couldn't get up. I knew when I looked at her eyes that she was too sick. I knew that she wanted to tell me she wasn't going to get better. I just knew. 

I took her to the vet at 7.30am. It took myself, a vet nurse and the vet to get her out of the car. She actually managed to walk herself into the vets and I saw this as a sign that maybe she would improve. The vet suggested he run an ultrasound on her stomach to back up the blood tests as the bloods had suggested pancreatic problems. 

I left her for the ultrasound and went home at 8am to collect the kids for school while Craig went to work. As soon as I dropped them Abigail and I headed back to the vets to wait. At 10am the vet called me into his room and said he was so sorry but she had cancer surrounding her pancreas. She was sick. She would not get better, and the only option was to put her to sleep. I cried and cried. I held her head and I said I was sorry to her. She rested her head on my lap and I knew she forgave me. She was in so much pain. 

I called Craig to tell him the news. He left work to come straight over. The receptionist looked after Abigail for me (luckily I had thought to bring the iPad for the wait so she was occupied). I collected Rubys blanket from the car and lay it on the ground. I told Ruby to hop on her blankie and to lay down and go to sleep, something I had said to her every night. I wanted her to think it was night time and she was just going to sleep. I sat behind her and rested my head on the chair, I couldn't look. I tried to keep calm. I closed my eyes and patted her back as they put the injection into her leg. I felt her body change. From being alive to slowly crossing over into another world. The whole time I told her 'its ok Ruby, good girl its ok'. 

As this was happening I heard the door open and then felt Craig walk in and put his hand on my shoulder. He too knelt down and talked. Telling Ruby it was ok. The vet left us alone with her at this point. I still had my eyes closed and my head resting on the chair. I knew she was gone and I felt her spirit had maybe moved from her body and up my arm and into my heart. Craig left to go out to the waiting area with Abigail. And I sat with my dog. My beautiful girl who had been my best friend, my constant. The one thing that never judged me. 

As I sat with her in those last moments I remembered back to a dark time in my life. Five years before. After the birth of Charlotte I was suffering in a way I could no longer cope. I sat under the patio one evening and thought I just didn't want to be there any more. I thought I could just 'get rid of myself' and go to sleep. I knew there was rope in the shed. I knew the patio tubing would hold me. I was so tired, so sleep deprived, so broken. And then this warm, comforting dog came and put her head on my lap. She knew I was sad. And she told me without words that it was ok. And I patted her head and knew the feeling of hopelessness would one day go away. And eventually it did. I will never forget how she helped me that day. When even my family and friends couldn't. 

She perhaps knew me better than anyone. 

I had to say goodbye. It was so hard. 

I thanked her for being my friend and then I covered her in her blanket and left the room. Absolutely shattered.

That day was Matilda's 7th birthday. I had to put on a fake smile and carry on. Go home and ice cupcakes for school. Take Matilda and her friends to a card decorating class I had organised weeks before. Go to my mums for a birthday dinner and cake. 

Then on the way home as I strapped the kids in the car I had to tell them. Ruby was gone. 

The questions came. Followed by tears. Then more questions. 

Why did she die?
Why did I take her to the vet if they dead her?
Will she be back tomorrow?
Is she with nanas dogs that died?

I then came home to the saddest sight of all. Our Chocolate Lab Gem sitting at the gate waiting for us. Wondering where her sister was. According to my neighbour, I found out later that on that Tuesday Gem had howled like she was in pain, all day long. So maybe she knew.

Isn't it funny how an animal, a dog, can have such a huge impact on your life. Can make you hurt so much when they leave. An absence so huge that your heart aches. 

I have guilt.

I was worried about leaving her for six months while we travelled. I was really concerned. Maybe she  knew this. Did she sense there was change in the air? Did she get sick because she didn't want to leave me? Did she think I didn't love her anymore because I was going to leave her? 

I also have guilt about her last night on this earth. She had been sick in the house so I put her outside. And she lay herself in the dirt and wouldn't get up. I left her there till Craig got home. I should have tried harder to get her back inside onto her blanket. Into the air-conditioning. But I didn't realise how bad she was. I shouldn't have left her lay in the dirt. 

I miss her so much. I feel like this is all a bad dream. But its not. Its reality. And unfortunately when you love someone or something then it hurts when they are no longer with you. I guess its part of being a human isn't it. 

Craig always called Ruby 'Ruby Tuesday' after the Rolling Stones song. An apt name for a dog who died on a Tuesday.

For now I am remembering the good things. And I hope this pain will fade from being so raw to one day being a small ache at the back of my heart. 

Ruby when she was 12 weeks old

Craig and Ruby, ten or so years ago

Before kids we had this fur baby

She loved attention, here she is laying on Abigails mat

Friday 6 February 2015

Racking it up!

Before we go away we decided to get a roof rack fitted. We normally store our chairs, tables, washing line and our shade tent on top of the camper. This makes it a lengthy process of unpacking everything before we can set up camp. It doesn't matter for our longer, 2 week holidays but if we are to set up for a one night camp it will become annoying having to move things around just to set up our 'house'. So a roof rack is an easy solution for more storage. 

Craig did some reading on which was the best and came up with this one. 

A Tracklander. It was about $1,600 fitted and I was without a car for half a day while they fitted it. 

But I think it was worth the investment. 

I do feel very tall now and I opted to not park in the under cover level at the shopping centre as I wasn't sure if my new height would clear the roof! 

We also purchased a big plastic water proof box to go on the roof rack. This will store kid stuff as we seem to have a lot of toys to take! We originally wanted a tall box which would have stored a lot more. But after a conversation with a friend who has one and mentioned a wind drag we opted for a very low but long box instead. I wanted a grey one but Craig got a blue one. It doesn't match and it annoys me but I will get over it eventually. 

We were also looking at getting one of those shades that go on the side of the car but have since changed our minds. It is one of those things where we could spend our entire savings fitting the car and camper out before we have even left! So we need to stick with the basics to ensure we stay on budget for our big holiday.

Only 64 days till we leave. 

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Me, Myself and I....

Tonight I have the place to myself (well me, three kids and two dogs) as Craig is out having dinner with some mates. 

The kids are now in bed asleep and the dogs are laying quietly at my feet. I have the thermo going as I am cooking some chicken soup. The kitchen is clean the washing is folded and I've got My Kitchen Rules on in the background as I write this. And I am content. 

Craig and I have been together for 15 years now. And obviously I do love him and love spending time with him,  BUT.

I like my own space. 

I think I am being slightly brave putting this out there. So many women I know are all like 'oh I can't live without my husband' and they need him to do this and do that. I am not one of them. I can quite comfortably do most things by myself and am quite happy with my own space.

When Craig was working Fly in Fly Out I had so many other mums put in their two cents worth. The comments rolled in like 'oh my husband could never leave us' 'I couldn't be apart for that long'. 

And sometimes it was lonely and sometimes I wished Craig was home. But for the most part I didn't mind my alone time for the 8 days he was away.

I don't write this in a mean and nasty way towards my husband. I actually think its something a lot of people don't talk about because when you are married you are supposed to need your husband. Supposed to not be able to live without him.

I guess what I am trying to write is that I am an independent person and although Craig and I do lots of things together I have never been the damsel in distress type, nor the clingy type. Nor the wife who needs attention all the time type. I enjoy spending some time with Craig. I enjoy going for walks and out for lunch and hanging out at home. I enjoy his company. I really do.

But I don't NEED him and I certainly don't NEED to be with him all the time. It is going to be interesting to see how I go with my own space when we are on the road for six months. Craig and I have already discussed it and he says that we both need to do our own thing on occasion to make sure that we don't suffocate each other. 

Sunday 1 February 2015


My youngest daughter starts school tomorrow. No longer my baby, she is now a big kindy kid.  And for some reason tonight when I look at her sleeping my heart is breaking. 

It feels like an end of an era so to speak. When my first and second kids started school it was new, it was ok. It was expected and it was an exciting milestone. I understood they needed to go and I was a little sad leaving them but I still had a baby at home. I was still needed and I was still in the 'at home mum' stage. 

Having three babies in three years was hard work. And sometimes during the muddle and mess of routine and ups and downs I would think 'when they are all at school I can work' 'when they are all at school I can go have a hot drink alone' 'when they are all at school....'

Tonight it dawned on me that the moment I had wished for fleetingly through the years had come true. And I am sad. 

I don't want them to grow up. I feel strange entering a new phase. Im scared of who I will be. Im scared that life is racing by. 

It has made me more happy with our decision to travel. A selfish six months to enjoy our kids. To stop and smell the roses. To slow down the race. To just be.

So wish me luck tomorrow as I leave my little people at the school gate. And as I enter the unknown.