Full-time travellers Jono and Monique from Instagram @joniquelife loves hiking, mountain-climbing and taking the tougher challenges in life (if the title didn’t give that away yet) Here you’ll learn about their favourite camping spots, and how much time they’ve spent with the beloved quokka!
Do you also travel with any unique pet? Do you need to be young and fit to travel the big lap or it can be completed at any age? Learn how being young and fit helps you in conquering the challenges of the Big Lap adventure.
Welcome to Aussie Travel Stories, the series where we ask Aussie travellers questions to help inspire and educate the Big Lap community to enjoy the greatest road trip of their lives.
What’s Your Travel Story?
Jono: Hi, Big Lap Bible. We are Jono and Monique and together we are @joniquelife.
So our travel situation is we are full-time travellers, travelling here around Australia, been doing so for almost two years now.
Monique: Long time.
Why did you decide to do a Big Lap?
Monique: We decided to do the big lap just for randomness, to be honest, it was just a spur of the moment thing that we thought of. We had a unique work situation that popped up and we thought let’s take advantage and travel around Australia.
Where are you currently, the route you’re taking?
Jono: We are currently staying behind the surf lifesavers club at Penguin Tasmania. You can see this beautiful view directly behind us here.
Monique: So beautiful.
Jono: Right next to the train line waiting for that to scare us in the middle of the night. And yeah, we’re just sort of zigzagging all around Tasmania at the moment for the next 10 weeks.
What is your setup?
Jono: So our travel setup is we are towing with a Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, 2015 model and towing an essential exceed cruiser 26-foot van that’s fully self-contained as well.
Where do you stay – caravan parks? Free camps? Both?
Monique: So we generally stay at free camps and we use our lovely beloved Wiki camps to guide us through it. I would say 70% of our accommodation is free and 30% is caravan parks. We love caravan park sometimes because it lets us do our washing, have a long shower and just do our general maintenance and cleaning.
Jono: And run the air conditioner.
Monique: Oh, I forgot about that, needed, especially in Tassie at the moment it’s freezing.
What is the best camping spot you’ve stayed at?
Jono: One of the best free camps we’ve stayed at most recently is the Bunda Cliffs in South Australia, right on the Nullarbor there. That was really cool, just sort of picturesque, right on the edge of the cliffs there completely, dead that day. We were the only caravan for many miles.
And our favourite paid camp was the Cairns Coconuts big four up in Cairns Queensland. They had a spa there that we just sat and soaked in for many hours every night for about two weeks.
Monique: Every night. I swear we did not miss it at all.
Where is the best place you’ve ever been?
The best place that we have ever been on our travels was definitely Roddy Island. Sorry Rottnest island, I mean. We loved it because we could see the beloved Quokka and we literally spent two hours with them, just admiring their awesomeness, taking some selfies. And it was really cool as well to literally cycle the whole island. We would definitely want to go back there and probably stay a couple of days because we only did a day trip, but at least it leaves more to explore in the future.
Jono: Yeah. That was so fun. That was over in WA for anyone that doesn’t know where that one is.
Is there a place you won’t go back to?
Jono: Not really. Every place we visited has its own unique sort of quirks and things about it. We wouldn’t say we regret going anywhere and there’s always something you miss at the locations you go to. So it’s always good to go back a second time and have a look.
Monique: Yeah, that’s true. We miss so much and everyone always goes, oh, you should have gone there. You should have gone here. And it’s like, yes we should have, but at least for next time, we can save it.
Where can’t you wait to go?
Monique: We can’t wait to go to Lightning Ridge. I think it would just be an awesome town to go to. Cupa Pity was great as well. And this is another Opal mining town and we love the quirkiness of the places that we go to and we think that’s gonna be really quirky.
Jono: Yeah. I was looking forward to going somewhere warmer as well. It’s freezing.
Do you travel with a pet, does it restrict you?
John: We do actually. It’s quite a unique one. We have a green tree frog named Bella and she’s joined us on our travels now for almost two years as well. So it’s quite odd but unique.
Monique: It’s better because e don’t want any other pets. That’s enough. That’s our baby.
Any scary or funny moments on the road?
Monique: So we have both scary and funny moments that we need to share. So John and I were once driving on the road casually with our caravan in toe, I was sitting down and on my left air vent, a huge Huntsman spider as big as my hand literally crawled out. I jumped out of my seat and went to the driver’s seat, really close to Jono.
Jono: Pulled me off the road.
Monique: He nearly swerved off the road. I was screaming. And then thank goodness I could get the window down. And then the spider crawled out of my passenger window. That was so scary. And I have nightmares till this day, looking at the air vent too.
Tell us about the item you can’t live without
One item we can’t live without being millennials is definitely our telephones. We like our mobile phones. They keep us connected to the world and they help us with our travel blog and stuff as we go around Australia and just to help keep us connected to sort of friends and families back home, especially during COVID, we haven’t been able to fly home to home states and everything and see family too much over the last two years.
Monique: Yeah. That’s true. It’s always keeping us connected.
Tell us how you fund your Big Lap and budget – did you save before you left? Do you work on the road?
Monique: To fund our amazing big lap. We actually did sell our property. So that just helped give us a bit of a boost for our travels. But currently, at this time we do random farm workaround and we’ve been doing that for basically a year now, where we just pick up random, odd jobs.
Jono: Yeah. We find about sort of four to five months a year of work sort of covers the cost we need to get us for the full 12 months on the road.
Monique: To keep going.
Jono:: Pretty good work-life balance.
How much do you spend and what is your biggest expense?
Jono: So our annual spending roughly on the road is about the 40 to $50,000 mark. And the biggest expense is the fuel which is only getting worse at the moment, going up and up here in Tasmania averaging about $1.85, a litre for diesel. And yeah, that’s not too much fun, but if you travel quicker, you burn through a lot more fuel as well. So if we’re not on a time restraint, we do try to sort of travel at a slower pace and try and save on fuel as much as we can.
What’s something you know now but didn’t before you left?
Jono: Something we’ve learned just been on the road. Our solar and battery systems, we sort of didn’t have a clue how that all worked before we hit the road. And our first AGM battery died due to a bit of neglect on our behalf. Not really understanding how those systems worked. We’re now doing a full lithium upgrade as well about halfway through the lap. About a year ago now we’ve loved our new system ever since, but yeah, definitely learned a lot about battery systems and solar systems and how to manage those more effectively.
Monique: It’s amazing. You can charge your phone now and the battery won’t go dead. That’s amazing.
What is your favourite thing about travelling?
Our favourite thing about travelling is all the hikes and the mountains that we are climbing, we love hiking and the tougher the challenge the better, and we always are striving to go to the really hard ones. So yeah, hiking is just the best and we love it.
Jono: Yeah. Being sort of young and fit, it sort of was good to do the lap at our age now. So we can actually climb all the mountains and do all the strenuous hikes.
What has been your biggest splurge? Was it worth it?
Monique: Our biggest splurge was Horizontal Falls. And that’s off Broome and Derby in WA. The best thing that we’ve ever done. And we would never regret it that we went even though it was quite expensive and we would even recommend others to do it. We did the night tour, and the overnight tour and you could see the horizontal falls, amazing food, amazing company, best experience ever.
Jono: Yeah we love that one. Definitely do that one when you’re up North.
Is there anything you bought but don’t use as much as you thought or it wasn’t worth the money?
Jono: To be honest not really, we pack and travel quite minimalistic as it is. And everything sort of has a function within the van. If it doesn’t have a function, we sort of tend to just get rid of it. Being in a caravan you’re very weight-sensitive obviously, and we wanna make sure that we’re always towing legally and if it no longer has a function, we generally discard it.
Monique: Yeah, that’s true. We’ve thrown out a lot of clothes. I love to cook, but I don’t even have much cooking equipment or utensils. I just use my hands and that’s it.
How were you affected by the lockdown?
Monique: So we’ve been really lucky and we haven’t been affected by the lockdowns. It’s kind of just the right place, right time, I believe. And we always are doing everything the proper way. So we look at the websites for the states that we’re going into, making sure we’re doing the right things and yeah, pure luck it’s been.
Jono: Yeah. I had a couple of close calls. Almost didn’t make it into WA but sort of just got in in time. And we sort of avoided Victoria for most of this trip as well, just because they’ve had sort of more lockdowns than any other state a
What is your biggest tip to other big lappers?
The biggest tip for those who want to do the big lap. Don’t forget your doormat. We’ve left about three or four doormats in random locations around Australia and keep having to buy new ones. So have a good checklist. And don’t forget your doormat.
Monique: Yes. Have a good checklist. I have one on my phone because we are moving obviously every week we’re basically moving like a couple of times.
Jono: Every day.
Monique: Every day. That’s correct. Every day we are moving and there are some things that you can forget. So have that checklist and also just have fun. You only live once. If you do see that amazing walk that takes to you to a great place. Go ahead and do it. Take your time. Enjoy.