It is hard to believe! We have done so much in that time, that even our Flinders Ranges visit seems like a month ago, not just ten days ago!
I have settled into camper trailer life fairly well now. I have to admit, for the first couple of weeks when we were in Tasmania, I struggled. There is a lot of tedious fiddling around when it comes to camping, and sometimes it feels like that’s all you do. Hook up gas, move solar panel into the sun, take food containers out of trailer, where is this, where is that, open up fridge, wash and dry dishes, put containers away, turn off gas, unhook from trailer, move solar panel again, put things back in fridge, rinse, repeat. When I’m really tired or the weather is crap, then it particularly gets to me. But three months in now and I’ve grown used to it and I know I will appreciate house living even more when we settle down again.
Most days we don’t set an alarm and wake up anywhere between 7:30am and 8:30am if we get a good night’s sleep. At the moment though we still seem to be on eastern standard time and are waking up at 6:30am! We are not too bothered as we get more out of the day being up early, particularly now that the sun is down at 6pm. We get out and about everyday, as we have had spectacular weather for most of the trip. I definitely expected to be lazing around the camp site a lot more and not doing much, as what I really wanted out of this trip was a rest. But now I want to get out and explore as we are only ever in the one spot for three or fours days max. If we want to make it all the way around in eleven months and see as much as we can then we can’t stay put for too long.
We have porridge with fruit for breakfast most mornings and eggs on a Sunday, so not much has changed in the breakfast routine. I bought an Aeropress for my coffee which has been the best investment! And being the coffee snob that I am, I brought along my hand grinder for fresh beans every day! We keep our teas with us in the car, as we were gifted a 12v kettle, which means we can boil some water in the car as we approach our rest stop and have a cup of tea during our driving break.
Our fridge is working well, it is our main battery drainer but as long as there is sun (which most days so far there has been) we’re good. I guess if we ever get close to draining the battery we can book a powered site at a caravan park and charge it that way, but it hasn’t been necessary yet.
Our little washing machine is working well too! We do a ‘load’ every other day and that keeps the laundry costs down as it is usually about four dollars a load. We save it for the linen and towels, which we usually do when we stay at a caravan park.
We have gotten our trailer set up time to about 25mins without the awning and 45mins with the awning and about 45mins to pack up (from unhitching to getting stuff out the trailer and car). We are pretty happy with that considering it took us about two hours and multiple expletives when we first set it up back last June! Jase had to go back to the manufacturers twice for a couple of things and looked at the demo again where we realized there were several things we were doing wrong with the set up, so now it’s a much smoother process! It’s still a bit depressing when the caravans and hard floor trailers roll in and are set up and having a beer while we’re still banging in pegs and adjusting ropes, but we’re very pleased with Mable so far, particularly with how she’s gone on some tricky off road tracks!
We also have a swag which I will admit has proven to be very useful for overnight stops. It only takes five minutes to set up, so much more efficient when we just want somewhere to rest our heads for the night before moving on the next morning. When Jason bought this I thought it was the most ridiculous waste of money and space but I take it all back! We’ve used it about ten times so far so well worth it!
So we feel like our prep (mainly Jason’s prep) and organization prior to this trip was pretty good. We feel we have everything we need to make camping life comfortable and are culling often so we’re not needlessly towing stuff we’re not using (with the exception of recovery gear). The only thing that we have been told to look into by several campers is a suspension kit for the car, as you need high clearance when doing roads such as the Gibb and the factory suspension won’t be enough. So Jason is looking into that and we will book it in for our time in Perth where we don’t need to rely on having a car as much.
This is where having a fair stash of emergency money is so important so big spends that you didn’t really think about before leaving don’t cut into the monthly budget. Budget wise we have fared well, but that is largely in thanks to our wonderful families that gifted us fuel cards for Christmas and covered a large amount of fuel expenses over the last twelve weeks. We can’t thank them enough for that! Now that we have to pay for fuel ourselves we’ll have to reign it in a bit. With WOMAD in March we definitely spent a lot eating out, plus we have bought at least fourteen bottles of wine from our winery visits that we are very slowly working our way through. We haven’t really been visiting pubs or bars or drinking too much though which is where money can disappear very quickly! We choose places that specialize in local produce or we hear are really good if we decide to eat out or else just cook ourselves and keep costs down. Lunches we also try to prepare ourselves, either sandwiches or leftovers from the previous night’s meal. South Australia I didn’t find to be very free camp friendly so we spent a lot of time in caravan parks which are on average $25 for an unpowered site. I joined up as a Top Parks member before we left which gives us a 10% discount which makes it a bit cheaper if we stay with them. We definitely try for free or National Park first, Wikicamps has been great at helping us out with that! So we are definitely more mindful with our spending these days and I use a budgeting app which keeps us on track most of the time.
So we are doing well with camping life. Sure, we have our grumpy days, but all is forgiven when we (mainly I) have a moment and we move on. Any difficulties we experience are far out weighed by all the wonderful places we are seeing and experiencing and I know I certainly will appreciate the ‘little things’ of everyday living when we return!