So, after Day 2 of our epic journey, we arrived in Melbourne safe and sound.

On the second day my fave spot was definitely the Parkes Observatory – I insisted we stop there for a look-see. For those of you who know your space history, and those who have seen the lovely Aussie film The Dish, you’ll know that Parkes was the radio telescope that relayed the majority of the 1969 moon landing to the world.

Also note the artfully placed traffic cone in the second photo.. what the?

In other news, I managed to finish my Melbourne scarf by about midday of day 2 – woot!

We have now put the van in to get rid of the %!@%^#$^ ASM system, and a new manual system installed – so that should be ready in a few days. I am off to the city tomorrow for an explore – yay!


So we finally begin!

Nick and I left mum and dad’s place last night and crashed at Doug and Kirsten’s place – got up nice and early to head off. It’s been a pretty uneventful day, apart from the following:

  • I have knitted 1/3 of my scarf. Considering we may reach Melbourne tomorrow, I really need to put more effort in here, people

  • We chanced upon the World’s Largest Virtual Solar System Drive…. as evidenced by the photos of Uranus below.

  • I almost died in an effort to retrieve my bag from under the bed while in a very contorted position. Yes, died of laughter, that is… claustrophobia, anyone?
  • We realised we lacked chocolate and snacks early on in the journey – not good
  • I discovered how FREAKING FAST my new wireless internet is… I’m never going back, I tell’s ye!

So, nothing much to report. Shall check in again when more excitement presents itself.

We are going through Parkes tomorrow, so I really want to see the observatory!

Well, after a few months of planning, building, changing our minds, making mistakes, and learning, our van – a.k.a. The Luggage, is almost ready to go!

We started with this:

And we have now transformed it into this:

It has been a very big learning curve! We’ve learnt so many new skills – and have made a lot of mistakes along the way. We’re so close to leaving now, but we just have a few last-minute changes/adjustments to make to The Luggage before it’s totally ready to go.

Everything we want to take fits in easily, which was quite a pleasant surprise!

One tip – if  you ever decide to do this, make sure you use proper drinking water hose instead of garden hose – it will save you a lot of yucky water. One of the very many lessons we have learnt so far…

The Move

Can I give you one piece of advice? Never try moving house over Christmas.

We are now somewhat settled in at Mum and Dad’s, but man, was it a hard slog!

Over one-and-a-half weeks we moved, drove, cleaned, organised, packed and sweated. Oh, a second piece of advice: never move during summer!

Our shipping container was delivered to the folk’s place, and we started filling it with trips in the van. First with non-essential furniture, like bookshelves and chest-of-drawers; then with boxes and slowly all of our worldly belongings. It’s almost full now, with some of the things we’re taking with us shoved in the front.

We are now living in one room in the shed. Sure, we’re sharing with spiders, but dad put a screen on the window, so at least we can keep the mozzies at bay! And we have a little bit of privacy and personal space.

We’re seeing it as a slow down-grading in our living space. From a three-bedroom house, garage and yard; to one big room; and soon a small campervan. It’ll be an exercise in simplifying our lives, that’s for sure!

Camper Seeking

So, we’ve settled on a Long Wheel Base (LWB), Mid-Roof Ford Transit as our camper van, and we think we’ve found the one to buy. Now comes the tricky part: working out how to fit it out as a camper!

We’ve had so many ideas as to how to plan the layout – deciding exactly what we want to include. We’re trying to decide at the moment whether we want to do a proper built-in shower/toilet compartment, or just store the toilet and have an outdoor shower. We’re putting off making the decision until we actually have the van, and can walk around and get a feel for the size and living space we would have.

So far, we need to buy/consider:

  • toilet/shower
  • where to install the gas bottle and cooker
  • where to install water/wastewater tanks – how big also
  • water heater and pump?
  • electricity – having 2 batteries or more
  • lights
  • sinks and showerhead and taps
  • bed/couch design, including matresses/seat covers
  • table design
  • storage – where and what style
  • 2- or 3-way fridge
  • are we taking the Esky too?
  • curtains/mozzie net installation
  • getting window put into the van
  • flooring and walls – do we panel it?
  • I’m sure there’s more but I just can’t think of it right now!!!

So, there is a hell of a lot to consider and plan for – but our aim this week is just to buy the van and go from there. Once we move out of our house in the next week or two, we’ll be able to start working on the van full-time.

Oh yeah – we’re also in the process of choosing and buying a shipping container to keep at my parent’s place to store all our stuff in. Whew!

If you’ve got any suggestions for the van – throw them our way please!

Well, the Aussie leg of our trip is going to be slightly longer than we originally planned!

Nick is currently applying for an Aussie residency visa, and they told us that he can’t be out of the country for any length of time while the visa is being processed… and it can take up to 6 months! So, we’ve decided to spend a bit more time travelling Oz first…

And so, we’ve now decided to sort ourselves out a campervan! We’ve looked at the options, and decided to buy an empty van and fit it out ourselves. Now, I am lucky to have a mechanical/engineering type Dad who can help us with planning and building the fit-out, so it will be a cool project we can work on as a family.

We are just doing the research at the moment – deciding which van to buy, and how much we’re willing to spend. We’re leaning towards a Long Wheel Base Ford Transit at the moment. They’re a little more expensive, but have a lot more room than smaller, less expensive vans. And when you’re considering something you may live in for 6 months or so, a little bit more space is always a good thing!

I’ll keep you all updated on our progress.

We’re both really keen to have the freedom and comfort that our own van would provide. The ability to get up in the morning and ask the question – “where do we want to go today?” Ahhhh…..

Anyone got a spare one of these?

So, the question is: What is the most economical (i.e. cheapest) way to get around Europe and the UK for 6 or more months?

There are a few options, which basically boil down to a car/van, bus, train and plane (and possibly boat/ferry, too).

We’ve been thinking about the Pros and Cons of each, and this is what we’ve come up with so far…


There are a few great hop-on hop-off bus companies throughout Europe, like Busabout.

Pros: Reasonably flexible; inexpensive; meet new people.

Cons: Limited to bus routes and times; possibly boring/annoying; not the cheapest option; need to pay for accommodation.


These days, there are heaps of low-cost airlines throughout Europe that make a short plane trip economical.

Pros: Frequent flights to most places you could want to go; relatively inexpensive; fast.

Cons: Lots of plane journeys add up; need to pay for accommodation.


You can either rent a car short-term, or, if you’re not an EU resident, participate in a buy-back scheme for longer trips.

Pros: Freedom to go where and when you want; comfort.

Cons: Slower than flying; need to drive yourself; paying for petrol; need to pay for accommodation.


Again, the options are to rent or buy.

Pros: Freedom to go where and when you want; comfort; an on-board hotel room (and possibly bathroom); (if you buy, rather than rent, you can go for as long as you want).

Cons: Slow; need to pay for petrol; need to drive yourself.


The classic Eurail pass is on the cards here.

Pros: Relatively fast; flexible and frequent; comfortable.

Cons: Expensive; limited to train lines; need to pay for accommodation.

After much discussion, we’ve decided to go for the Campervan/motorhome option for the European leg of our trip. We plan on staying a long while in the UK/Europe, and having a form of transportation that doubles as our accommodation will save us a lot of money in the long run. We also plan to buy our motor home rather than renting, as this means we can travel for as long as we want without having to worry about extra rent.

Of course, buying a camper brings in other costs such as insurance and road-side assistance that those travelling for a shorter period of time may not want to have to organise – but for us it will be worth the extra effort.

The Aussie leg of the trip will be a bit different – I’ll blog about that a little later.