Solo Female Travel in Australia – The Reality of Travelling Australia Alone
As a registered nurse taking the heat during Covid, Indie now a part-time solo traveller, decided to take the leap when she saw how many people’s lives were affected/cut short and unable to fulfil their dreams of travelling. She sold her things at home and decided to live the van life for the next few years as she slowly travels around Australia and do the big lap. Join her in her solo travelling journey and let us know what you think.
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?
Indie: Hey, Big Lap Bible my name is Indie and I’m @_indiep_. This is my 2012 troop carrier named Zeus and I have had him for almost two years now and have built him from scratch.
I describe myself as a part-time traveller, semi-retired. When I left Queensland over a year ago the plan was to spend the next four to five years slowly travelling around Australia so there’s no rush I like to move to a state for say six to eight months at the moment I’m definitely following the summer and the sun and the heat. And then from there I just like to explore the area and yeah, really get a feel for each state and get to experience it for what it was.
Why did you decide to do a Big Lap?
Indie: I’m a registered nurse and for the first two years of my career I worked in oncology and palliative care wards. Unfortunately, I saw a lot of lives get cut short and they never got to fulfil doing their Big Lap or being able to get to travel and have their bodies allow them to do this for them. So in September 2020, not long after I had bought the Troopy, I decided I wanted to explore the country and really make the most of my body and be able to do what I could do when I can.
I basically packed up my life and sold everything I owned at home on the Gold Coast I’ve got two boxes of clothes left at Mum and Dad’s which are all winter clothes and which I clearly don’t need and from there I decided to spend the next four to five years travelling slowly around Australia.
Where are you currently?
Indie: Loop down up through the middle and then loop back around. I left Queensland in March last year so just over a year ago now. I moved to Victoria as the roof was getting converted down there the plan was only to be there for about four months however with covid and lockdowns I ended up being there for six months. I was living along the Great Ocean Road but just, unfortunately, didn’t get to see as much as I would hope due to covid and lockdowns from there I moved to South Australia for about seven months where I was based on the Eyre Peninsula over the summer and then up on the Murray region as well so I got to basically tick my whole bucket list off very very quickly.
The plan from here is to stay in the Northern Territory for the winter and for the busy tourist season before heading west down through WA and then back across, down to Tassie for the summer next year is the plan.
What is your setup?
Indie: Obviously, this is my setup as I explained. When I bought Zeus he was completely stock standard. He had eight seats in the back so I completely gutted it there’s also a YouTube video series of when I built it I haven’t added too much in a while as it’s completely changed since then. I did three setups by myself and for the last one I did pay someone to set it up for me apart from that, it’s been awesome I have a water tank underneath, and I have 60 litres of water tank.
I, obviously, have this beautiful awning, I have a pop-top conversion which is the Expedition Centre Mulgo and yeah all the rest of the details are on my Instagram as well if you want to know anything else about my car or my setup you can always just pop me a message.
Where do you generally stay?
Indie: As a solo female traveller, obviously, the biggest thing for me is safety, for my parents as well safety is a huge concern not always but whenever I am travelling usually I like to do four weeks on and four weeks off. Travelling usually my SnapMaps are on and Mom can stalk me and I try and call them every day if I have reception. For me, it’s a mix between caravan parks and free camps obviously in national parks if I try and stay in them I’ll make sure there are other campers or at least somebody else around.
Free camps are the exact same I would say I try to stay in a caravan park once or twice every week, or sometimes a little bit more frequently than that depending on where I am passing through. Through South Australia I very rarely paid for caravan parks there’s just so much free camping that’s beautiful down there so I never really had any concerns through camping down there obviously coming through the Northern Territory, you just have to be a little bit more mindful and so I did stay in a few more caravan parks making my way back up to Darwin.
Where is the best place you’ve ever been?
Indie: The best place I have ever been is probably a catch. I’ve got two favourite spots that I have visited. One would be the Uluru National Park, and the West MacDonell Ranges that whole loop. I think I spent about a week and a half going through there and it was one of the most special experiences ever. I’d waited a long time to make it to Uluru, I remember hearing about it all those many years ago in school and it was just such a special special place and we were very fortunate to be able to have access to it and enjoy it.
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Along with that loop was obviously the West MacDonell Ranges. That place was oh! That whole area is just beautiful through there. The other place that sort of has my heart a little bit is down on the Eyre Peninsula. Down in Coffin Bay National Park, there are a couple of spots in there and then along the whole coastline there, I don’t think I could even pick it but definitely, the Eyre Peninsula has just been one of my favourite spots I have ever stayed and ever got to explore as well. But I didn’t tell you that because it’s a bit of a hidden gem down there so I’ll try and keep that one a little bit quiet.
Where can’t you wait to go?
Indie: My next favourite place I’m really excited to go and see is the West Coast. I am obviously loving being up here in Darwin I’m not far away from Kakadu and Litchfield so I’m really excited to get out to see those ones as well but my next sort of top few spots is the Arnhem land. That one I’m really quite excited to go and explore while I’m in the Northern Territory and then obviously next is WA.
I haven’t done enough research about it because I don’t like to look too far ahead but definitely, WA is hot on that list to go and see up through Broome all those Cable beaches oh everywhere like that I heard. And Esperance I’ve just heard it’s just incredible, so they’re probably my next couple but while I’m in the Northern Territory Litchfield National Park, the Arnhem land and Tiwi islands as well.
Unsure where you’ll travel next? Read our Article: The Big Lap Itinerary – Your Ultimate Guide to the Top Must-See Places in Driving Around Australia to help you decide on your Big Lap Travel List!
Any scary or funny moments on the road?
Indie: My first contract, my first day of my contract I usually, obviously, go to work and you get orientated to the hospital and things and I count this as being on the road because this is what my life is you know I base myself somewhere I have a contract with a hospital, and I was based at a hospital and the first day, usually you know, I like to go for a walk and get outside and go check out the town and my first day in this brand new town that I was meant to be living in for four weeks, I absolutely stacked it down the main street and just tumbled down the road. I’d grab a rash over both my arms and I was wearing shorts so down both of my legs, and I had to go into work the next day limping a little bit trying to explain why I had grazes and rashes all down my arms, and I remember just being like “oh this is just this is the start of the next four weeks isn’t it” like if this explains how my first day in this town goes.
Apart from that, I just have some funny times all around, like I’m constantly laughing I’ve constantly got a smile on my face it’s very rare that you wouldn’t see me giggling about something.
I won’t tell you about my scariest experience because I don’t want to put a tarnish on the town, but there’s definitely a town that I’ve recently travelled through, stayed at a caravan park and yeah, definitely, definitely would not recommend staying there. I did not feel safe and I had not had that before.
Tell us about the item you can’t live without
Indie: My fridge. I have an 80-litre Bushman’s upright fridge, without that, no deal. And, my induction cooker as well because that bad boy is amazing, absolutely incredible. Well now that I say that, there are a few things aren’t there. I don’t want to start the list. But no, I’d say my fridge. Oh is it my fridge? You know what I’m just gonna say my Troopy because of everything in my Troopy. I can’t live without it it’s just it’s an item isn’t it does that count as an item?
Tell us how you fund your Big Lap and budget – did you save before you left? Do you work on the road?
Indie: So, obviously, as I said, I’m funding my Big Lap by working as I go so obviously, as an agency nurse I’m able to contact my agency and say I want to base myself in an area for 4, 6, 8, 12 weeks, they contact the local hospital they ask them what they have available and from there, we go through negotiations if I want time off my rates my hours etc. So it can go through all of that and that’s how I sort of fund it.
I decided to do it that way rather than just spending a year. I didn’t want to rush it, I wanted to take my time and really get to explore it, obviously, with this now the world’s all clearing up but pre this Covid was a bit scary and I didn’t want to travel overseas.
How much do you spend and what is your biggest expense?
Indie: When I first left, I was budgeting about $500 to $600 a week. Sometimes even less as well. I’m not a big drinker and, obviously, if I want to splurge on an experience, I will as well. But unfortunately with the rate and cost of fuel at the moment, my budget has been blown completely. I am spending closer to six hundred dollars a week and that’s purely in the last four weeks that was purely because of fuel costs. It was about two dollars, I think the most expensive fuel that I bought was $2.80 and that was in Kings Canyon or, oh, Curtin Springs which were $2.80.
So the biggest expense now has been fuel so I’m currently probably when I’m based somewhere, obviously, I don’t spend as much but when I’m on the road full time I’m spending closer to I think it was about $600 to $700 a week for the last four weeks that I was travelling before I set up here in Darwin.
What’s something you know now but didn’t do before you left?
Indie: Something that I know now before I left was that you can take your time and you can do things for yourself and you can meet up with people but you also don’t have to follow their plans as well. Obviously, there are lots of people on the road at the moment and there is so much to see. Australia is a huge country and it is one of the most special places. We are so lucky to live in a country as we do.
Obviously, taking away everything, I think I have definitely learned more than anything to slow down. Our society is in such a rat-race society. You’re always chasing something bigger something better and sometimes it’s nice just to take a step back and really appreciate what we have and be able to explore Australia and be able to work and just be able to live a life. I say I’m living the life, I really do and I think that’s something that I have had to learn to appreciate as well, and I don’t think I would have understood that unless I did do this for me.
Oh and also, the one thing I definitely didn’t know is to learn how to be okay by yourself. Obviously, I’m travelling by myself and I’m just as okay travelling with people as I am by myself and I’m very comfortable having time to fill in and all that sort of thing, I think that’s another thing as well.
What is your favourite thing about travelling?
Indie: My favourite thing about travelling, oh where do I start?
I want to say experiencing new places and seeing what Australia has to offer, but I also want to say the people that you meet, the places you stay, and the people you run into. I don’t even know. I definitely think it’s it’s seeing like it’s just exploring, getting to see, living outdoors all the time, getting out of the rat race, getting out of what everyone tells you you have to do and just taking a step back. I think that’s been my favourite thing, is just learning to be okay and my favourite thing about travelling is just, you just learn to fall in love with life all over again you have a whole new appreciation for things and the simplicity of what you need.
Everything I own fits in my car, I don’t need more than that. I often cull clothes once a month or once every couple of weeks if something goes out if I buy something, something else has to go so I think you’ve just learned to live such a simplistic, basic, it’s nothing you know, it’s just such an easy lifestyle and I think that’s been my favourite thing. Obviously, getting to explore some of the places I’ve seen in the past year and a half has been some of the best places, I think. I just don’t think you can top them it doesn’t get much better than this.
What has been your biggest splurge? Was it worth it?
Indie: My biggest splurge, is the rooftop conversion. It was about sixteen thousand dollars in total with the awning brackets and the engineering. Was it worth it? Yeah, it was. I want to say no, but it 100% was. It, obviously, is quite an investment but for the sake of safety, comfort, extra space, usability, and easiness.
Just the not having to set up a bed every night, not having to get hot it’s just, it’s there. I pop the roof, it can take me 30 seconds to get ready for bed. The roof’s up beds down, I’m in bed asleep it’s just so easy. Huge big splurge, worth it 100% worth it. I mean, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have it, to be honest.
Is there anything you bought but don’t use as much as you thought or it wasn’t worth the money?
Indie: My GoPro. I bought a GoPro 9 last year because it was my 24th birthday present to myself, and I really haven’t used it as much I try to take it on hikes or if I go swimming I’ll make sure I take it with me but I really just haven’t used it as much as I thought I would, which is okay, I suppose, but yeah that’s probably one thing.
I think once I hit WA it might be a little bit different because there’s a bit more of a water environment over there on the coast. But yeah, definitely haven’t used that one as much as I thought I would.
How were you affected by the lockdown?
Indie: Obviously, when I moved to Victoria, I was getting the roof converted and the back was getting built out. I was living with some family down there on the Great Ocean Road in a beautiful little town called Anglesea, and I was only meant to be there, I moved down in March. I was planning to leave in May or June because I didn’t want to have to go through a Victorian winter but, obviously, with lockdowns and things like that, I was there till September. It didn’t make much of a difference regardless. I had an absolute blast. It was one of those, it was just the inevitable. Every time I planned a trip I did get a job down there but every time I’d plan a trip we’d go into lockdown.
Being in regional, we had a little bit more flexibility, but you were still in lockdown. You couldn’t go anywhere so everything was shut. No caravan parks were open, no tourist places were open, it was very much, yeah it was a bit brutal. I’ve had three different isolation periods myself and I never want to isolate myself again. I had one for Covid which was ten days, which is in South Australia. I had one for two weeks when I moved to South Australia, and I had another one when I came back from New South Wales. That was at the peak of Covid and I got caught being in a red zone so I had to isolate. I’ve had three lots of isolations. I think it’s in a total of 40 days and I’m never doing it again, ever.
What is your biggest tip to other big lappers?
Indie: The biggest tip to other big lappers; my biggest tip would just be to enjoy yourself, take your time, appreciate things, obviously, have what you want to see and make sure it’s clear what you want to see, and what you want to do.
Don’t hold back on taking those chances and taking those experiences that you wouldn’t think you would otherwise. You know, you’re seeing things that some people only wish they could see in their lifetime and sometimes those people don’t get to do that, so if you’re able-bodied, if you’re able to do those things, go out and do them. Spend more time outside, spend time getting to see different places, you know.
Just doing different things and being able to appreciate Australia because, I just I think more and more people are realizing how bloody lucky we are to live here and how incredible, like, what an incredible country we live in. I think that’s something, but definitely just take your time to appreciate things.
Slow down, don’t overthink, and don’t overbuy. Don’t think you need every gimmick in the caravan store because trust me you probably won’t. I love these jerry cans, never use them. It makes the back too heavy and weighs me down too much. It’s one of those things I think you need to appreciate the life that you are living.
You are living somebody’s dream and doing a big lap, for some people is something that they only wish they could do and you’re doing it. You’re getting out there and you’re doing it and I think just taking, appreciating it all appreciating your body, appreciating your health, and saying hello to people, don’t be shy. If you see the Troopy on the road, come and talk to me. I’m always up for a chat especially if I’m by myself I’m more than happy to have a conversation. Yeah, go and speak to people, be open-minded about experiences, people, and humans and honestly, fall in love with your life again because I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t do.
Are you also a solo traveller? Do you have any additional tips for Solo Female Travelling in Australia, or would you also like to share your Troopy Setup?
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