It is time to head home - the kids (especially Elise) have been home sick for a while and Jo and I have been talking and thinking about home and Bulahdelah more and more often these days. We are very happy with our adventure so far and have had the most wonderful trip of a life time - we have travelled essentially trouble free right around Australia! We always intended to focus our time on those places furthest from home, specifically NT and Western Australia, and I don't think there were many places we didn't visit (if only to tick the box).
There are many places we would love to return to and spend more time right around the coast line and some of the more inaccessible places, specifically in the Kimberly and Pilbara, will require a holiday of a different nature (4WD and camper van country). We have decided that Adelaide and the rest of SA, Vic and Tas can wait until next time as we can visit these places on holidays of much shorter duration- actually we plan to do another short leg through Victoria between now and Christmas.
We left Port Lincoln with the plan to drive home in 4 days of about 500km each leg, however once we started we did it in two days of 750km (Broken Hill then Dubbo) and a final half day of 450km to arrive home just after lunch on Sunday 27 November - exactly 21 weeks after we left (Monday 4 July 11). We have travelled a total of 25,709km - over 9000km being side trips without the van! We used 4600L of fuel and spent 275hours in the car towing the van - I have no idea how long we spent in the car without the van. Yes, as an Engineer I have kept a comprehensive spreadsheet of many facts and figures and anyone who is interested in the details, especially if you are thinking of doing a similar trip, give me a call and I will happily share these with you (while not boring everyone else).
The van performed flawlessly and was a perfect size all things considered. While you can always do with 'more space' (larger beds, in-built ensuite, rumpus room, lap pool, etc) this comes at a cost, not the least of which being a larger tow vehicle and a heavier / larger van. While there are a few things we would have taken with us if we had intended on doing more free camping (second water tank, generator, gas hot water, etc), our set up was perfect for our purposes. The Ford Territory AWD is the best vehicle I have ever owned and did a fantastic job. It towed the van (2 tonnes) with ease and there wasn't a single location we couldn't visit - we went everywhere the high lift / low range 4WD's went - and we did it in comfort and half the fuel useage!
I am still amazed at the number of other families doing this road trip for generally the same reasons we did it - to see the country while we are still young enough to manage the adventure and to spend time together as a family. They are from all walks of life and this sort of holiday is surprisingly affordable - if you are set up to free camp then your costs are minimal (food and fuel) - the initial outlay for the van is recouped on return with minimal loss on re-sale. You soon realise that you skip the expensive tourist attractions that you might fork out for on a 2 week holiday and instead focus on the lifestyle, the local culture and the natural wonders of this amazing country.
This trip has been the most wonderful adventure for us and brought us closer together as a family - how could it not when we spent 5 months in a box smaller than 3 queen sized beds side by side (and that includes bedroom, kitchen, living room, port-a-loo and storage)!
I hope you enjoyed reading this Blog and looking at the photo's - we certainly appreciated the interest and comments of our "readers", both on the blog and via email, text and phone call. We are glad to be home but sad to have finished the adventure.
Be adventurous and live life to the fullest - who really knows what lies around the corner (or how far it is to the next caravan park or service station....).
Phil, Jo, Elise, Aiden.