Turning Dreams Into Reality
Weekend travellers turned full-time travellers Nic and Andy have worked hard to turn their dreams into reality. Always trying to wait for the perfect time, they then just decided to start travelling around Australia during the middle of Covid, to have a break from their jobs. They are now taking their time seeing the country and working when they need to work.
Will you learn life lessons while travelling the Big Lap Australia? What are some reasons for not having a pet? What route should you follow on your dream big lap? Get to know these Aussie Big Lappers as they share their experiences and know how you can relate to their situation.
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?
Nicolette: Hi Big Lap Bible, We’re Andy and Nicolette and we’re from @oceantooutback_. We’re full-time travellers at the moment. We used to be weekend travellers until we made the big jump, but we’ve been full-time on the road since March this year to get to the point where we are full-time travellers. We worked in Derby, in the Kimberley region of WA for 10 months to save up enough money to actually get on the road full-time. A lot of hard work there but yeah we’re just travelling together we don’t have any pets it’s just us too and we’re loving it so far.
Why did you decide to do a Big Lap?
Andy: I guess for us we’ve always wanted to do a trip like this since we both finished school. We’ve always had full-time jobs and just sort of got into that normal adult life routine of working and paying bills and rentals and all that sort of thing. We wanted to do the trip a couple of times and we almost pulled the trigger a few times, but it was always “waiting for the perfect time”. We decided to do a lap in the middle of Covid, which a lot of people call this “crazy”, but it worked out perfectly. We got into Western Australia and as we got into Western Australia, New South Wales locked down. So there is no real perfect time but it’s been a dream of ours and we just pulled the trigger and we did it and you know it’s just worked out so I guess it’s all fine.
Nicolette: I think being a nurse, I’m a nurse sorry, and Andrew’s a chippie, but he’s also a social worker. I think being a nurse I was really really burnt out and just wanted a break and the same for Andy. We just really just wanted to have a break and just get on the road just to live out our dreams.
Where are you currently?
Nicolette: We started our journey in Derby, WA because that’s where we’re working and our journey is just travelling down south so we have been from Derby to Broome, to the 80-mile beach to Port Hedland uh Karratha, Karijini, Exmouth. I’m trying to remember everything, Coral Bay.
Andy: We’re just going to keep working our way down.
Nicolette: All the way to Tassie where we’ll pick up some work and then start to head north. So that’s the plan.
Andy: We’re currently looking in Lucky Bay, it’s about 40 minutes south of Kalbarri and we’ve probably been about in the Perth region to visit some family in about a month’s time and then we’ll keep going.
What is your setup?
Andy: We have a pretty basic setup compared to something that you see on the road. We have a 2002 land cruiser which has a custom drawer system in the back that I built myself. It has a dual-battery system where we run our 60-litre fridge. It has a basic 12-volt where we can charge all our phones and things. You know we have a little fold-out gas stove kitchen and yeah it’s pretty basic nothing too special but it does exactly what we need.
Where do you generally stay?
Nicolette: We definitely prefer to free camp as much as possible given sort of uh WA, there are not many free camps so we’re doing a bit of a mix. Caravan parks, national parks but we’ve really really enjoyed that. But again as much as possible we prefer to stay off-grid and sort of, we’ve got the setup to be able to do that so we definitely prefer that. But we’ve got to check into a caravan park every now and again just to make use of their facilities, get some washing done, have a really good shower, and get back on the road.
What is the best camping spot you’ve stayed at?
Nicolette: This is a hard one. But the best camping spot for me is in Cradle Mountain – Lake Sinclair National Park in Tasmania. Beautiful! Andy, what’s yours?
Andy: I’d have to say probably Sandy Cape at the top of Fraser Island. I think it’s remote and not many people go that far north so you kind of get the place to yourself and it’s good fishing and yeah it gets caught up by the tide.
Where is the best place you’ve ever been?
Andy: I’d say, we’re pretty lucky but I would have to say probably my favourite place I’ve ever been is on the west coast of Tasmania. I think you know being a pretty keen forward driver and doing some of those epic sorts of west coast tracks like climbing straps and heads and all those sorts of things it just felt untouched and almost unexplored which is really hard to find these days because a lot of the main attractions and all that is so commercialized and things now so yeah it was it felt like yeah and we had the place to ourselves so it was pretty special.
Where can’t you wait to go?
Nicolette: We can’t wait to get back down to Tassie. We love Tassie and we just can’t wait to explore so many more spots down there and really try and find some more off-grid camping spots as well. So that’s definitely top of our list of where we want to travel a bit more.
Do you travel with a pet, does it restrict you?
Nicolette: We don’t have any pets. We would love to get a dog in the future and travel with a pet, but for this trip, because we’re going to so many national parks, we just thought that it would probably restrict us a little bit. But hopefully, in the future, we can have a dog, maybe?
Any scary or funny moments on the road?
Andy: So it was about two years ago, we decided to do a bit of a two-week sort of trip on the road. We ended up in the Brindabella ranges at the back of Canberra, we decided to follow our Hema maps and we just followed these tracks like they were gone tracks. They were so steep, we were hanging back on the seats and we’re hanging forward. We were trying to find this little campground on the water but there was this massive storm rolling in as well and if it hadn’t gotten any rain on it, there was no way we were getting out. We’re going to be stuck in there for days. So we got lost and we were there for hours and we ended up coming out the back of it and we were trying to find another way in and the trees were down over the road yeah we ended up in Tumut and we stayed at the caravan park, which by the way, we still think has the best camp showers in Australia so far.
Nicolette: The best camp showers in Australia hands down Tumut caravan park go there just for the showers.
Tell us about the item you can’t live without
Nicolette: I think living in the Kimberley region of WA and because it was so hot up there, we definitely couldn’t live without our Yeti coasters. The minute you take a beer out of the fridge up there is warm because just the humidity and the heat were unbelievable. So that definitely for me is hands down the greatest thing I’ve ever bought. What about you?
Andy: I think, unfortunately, we’re not paid by Yeti
Nicolette: Yeah, this is not a plug for Yeti. They are genuinely good.
Andy: We just got the water bottles and things now just because we’ve tried many and in extreme conditions, they just work so yeah you know poor man pays twice and you know they do cost a bit but you know
Andy: I think we’re going to have them for years to come.
How much do you spend and what is your biggest expense?
Andy: I would say our biggest expense would be fuel. I think that’s a given. We started our trip as we had those massive price hikes in the diesel, but we kind of just knew that was going to be part of what it is and you know, you can’t run without diesel. Depending on what we do, like if we stay somewhere for a while, we probably spend a tank of fuel so that maybe that’s $200. But you know particularly up north in the Pilbara region we’ll sometimes burn through 600 bucks a week so, it kind of all just levels out. But it just is the expense of travelling. When they bring out electric Land Cruisers, I might look into it.
What’s something you know now but didn’t do before you left?
Nicolette: You definitely don’t need as many clothes as you think on the road 100%
Andy: Yeah and we’ve donated many other things to other shops but we still have probably too much, but you know, that’s life.
What is your favourite thing about travelling?
Andy: I guess our favourite thing about travelling is just exploring things that are different, and I guess that’s part of the reason why you do travel because if you didn’t want to explore new towns or new scenery, you just stay at home. so yeah it’s just that sort of new adventure and you know particularly in West Australia every stop is just so completely different you know one minute you’re in Kooba and the next minute you’re on the coast so yeah just adventure I guess.
What has been your biggest splurge? Was it worth it?
Nicolette: Our biggest splurge on the trip so far has been in Exmouth, swimming with the whale sharks. So that was about $450 per person. It was definitely worth it though. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, so we just sort of had to do it while we were there.
Andy: And just like one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. To swim with something that big in the ocean and I wouldn’t regret it. I would recommend anybody who’s thinking about doing it, to do it.
Is there anything you bought but don’t use as much as you thought or it wasn’t worth the money?
Nicolette: Yes there is something and I had to have it on the road, but we do not use it at all, and that’s our cast iron, jaffle maker. It’s bloody heavy, and it just takes up some space in the car.
Andy: How many jaffles have we made?
Nicolette: We have not made one jaffle in six weeks.
Andy: Looks good though.
How were you affected by the lockdown?
Andy: I guess this is sort of how our trip started we were super lucky. We were on the central coast and then basically we were like “Let’s go to Western Australia” and two weeks after we crossed the border, the whole of New South Wales closed down for months for lockdown and the Kimberley and Western Australia were pretty much untouched so we were very lucky we weren’t really affected by lockdown. As we hit the road there was a bit of covid in Western Australia but they kind of were on top of it and everyone was vaccinated and there haven’t really been any lockdowns or anything since so yeah we were super lucky.
What is your biggest tip to other big lappers?
Andy: I guess our best tip would be, you don’t need to have all the biggest and latest fancy gear you can do things with pretty much whatever you have as long as you’re out there having a go. As long as you can kind of cook t, as long as you’ve got something to sleep on, and as long as you’ve got plenty of drinking water, you just sort of make it work so yeah don’t stress just get out there and explore.
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