John, Amy – parents from @raisingofthesons who are travelling the big lap full-time with their older kids, provide us with insightful experiences they’ve done while on the Big Lap. Their 12-month trip around Australia turned into 14 with no end in sight. Do you find it hard to look for more genuine content on social media? Are you looking for more inspiration before jumping into this great adventure?
See how this family isn’t afraid to share real-life content including the scary experience they had with their caravan, the educational program that they’re currently working on while on the big lap (great working/business idea for travelling families) + wise tips that will inspire you to do the big lap with your family, partner or friends!
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.
John: Good day, Big Lap Bible. I’m John and this is Amy we are part of @raisingofthesons
Amy: The other three little members that make up our team are Jimmy that’s 12. Gus who’s just turned 10 and Skipper that is 6.
What’s Your Travel Story?
Amy: We are full-time travellers. We set out from Victoria to do a 12-month lap. We are now 14 months into that lap and we don’t think we’ll finish anytime soon.
Where are you currently?
John: So we essentially started out in Echuca that’s where we’re from and then we headed up right up the East Coast, travelled up pretty well the coastline got to the cape, did the cape,
Amy: Came around the gulf.
John: and over to Darwin, down through the middle to South Australia and then across the bottom, WA and then up the WA coastline.
Amy: Yes, that wasn’t our intention to come down the middle we were just going to stay coastal and go just do a lap around the outside, but a bit of that change and I think it’s really important to recognize when you’re on the road that may be the plans won’t always go the way they think you will and you need to adapt and be ready to tackle on anything I suppose.
John: We’ve done a big figure eight.
Amy: Yeah, we have, which is cool.
Why did you decide to do a Big Lap?
John: We’ve decided to get on our lap of Australia due to the boys handling their Covid learning really well because they handled their homeschooling so well, we were in Victoria at the time, and they handled it for a long time then. We thought since they’re still learning so much through all the Covid learning we can still do that whilst we’re on the road.
John: It gave us a good opportunity to do a bit of a taste test that they knew that they could do so it wasn’t such a big and daunting task to jump on the life around the road and continue to learn.
Amy: And now, obviously, we’ve got the beautiful blend of having, we run a EUKA program, which suits our family down to a tee on the road, but we also combine that with real-life learning which is cool. It’s something that we were wanting to do, but probably what pushed us into it was having Covid and major “reassessing everything”. The kids handled it well and also I had some medical conditions that pushed me to miss out on a few things and that made us think “Hey is this what we want to be doing? Is this where we want to be”, and it’s not that we lived a shit life, we lived a great life, but we just wanted more out of it and this has given us that.
John: So to explain that Amy’s just went on about EUKA there and EUKA is an Australian-recognized program. The Australian curriculum recognizes it and they essentially give you the work that you can complete at your own pace which suits travelling families well.
Amy: It goes up to you from prep to year 12.
John: Yeah, so you can punch out what we do from a sort of 7:30 to 11:30, and then you’ve got the most of the day to then um go and explore the local area that you’re in.
Amy: And that learning continues once you’ve gone away from your school books, I suppose, as well.
John: But not only can you work ahead or you can catch up if you get a few rainy days, but you can also sort of make the most of those if you want to stay inside and complete more school work so when the weather does fine up, then you have the opportunity to explore more.
Amy: Yeah, you’re not waiting around for work to arrive or posting anything back. It’s flexible and it suits our family.
John: Yeah, so that one’s been a really good program for us.
What is your setup?
John: This is our caravan setup, which you can see behind us which is a Jayco Journey Outback, 2021 model, which has been fantastic for us.
Amy: It’s 19.6 ft in length
John: so yeah nearly 20-foot. it’s got three bunks in that. separate toilet, shower…
Amy: Big L-shaped kitchen and couch, sorry. It’s got an uh east-west, bed pull-out kitchen outside because we love doing a lot of our cooking outside. The electronic awning is cool. Just press the button, and the awning retracts and whatnot, so that’s easy. And we tow with a 2016 200-series Landcruiser.
John: The Cruiser is amazing it’s done everything that we’ve asked of it.
John: Yeah you won’t get a better towing vehicle in our opinion anyway.
Where do you generally stay?
Amy: For where we generally stay, John and I would prefer to be free camping in low-cost camping, and we would say the majority of our camping is done in those places. But, we do like to sometimes venture into the caravan park. Sometimes water access is a bit rough, or dump points can be difficult, or power just to refuel, have a long shower somewhere.
John: And not to mention we keep the kids in mind as well, because sometimes the kids need to socialize with other kids as well. So, we sometimes, even though it might be quite expensive being a school holiday or something like that, we like to go in for a couple of days just to give the kids a bit of socialization with some other kids. Going to be running around the park themselves. We have to be a little bit mindful of them and also
Amy: Especially being the older kids. The older kids we find on the road, like Jimmy and that, really crave the same-age kids so that’s super important to recognize that. However, the kids get way less bored when we’re in a free camp where they just use their imagination and find their fun and it’s cool, really cool.
John: We find that it’s way better in the free parks and caravan parks
Where is the best place you’ve ever been?
Amy: This place, is really difficult when you’ve done a lap of Australia. But, there are so many other beautiful places that we haven’t been to.
John: There are great places for different reasons so you have got to figure out, “Do you want adventure, or do you want to just chill out on a beach, or do you want to…”
Amy: For everyone different…
John: So many different places.
Amy: We’re obviously in Exmouth and we’ve got to go, what, we haven’t done from Exmouth to Darwin we haven’t covered yet. So, we can’t say that those places have been our favourites yet because we haven’t explored them. But for me, I would say hands down, would say The Old Telegraph track, up in the Cape York Peninsula. It wasn’t something that we were going to do, but then we, at the last minute, were like “damn it let’s park the van up at Laura”. We got in the swags and we spent just under three weeks on the telly track at the Cape York Peninsula up in Queensland and it was insane. There was just… I wouldn’t call us, before this trip, I wouldn’t have called us huge four-wheel drivers but that tested our skill set.
John: It’s not just for driving though. Those are the places that you see along the way, some of the natural beauty like Fruit Bat Falls and Twin Falls yeah
Amy: And Elliott. We had them all to ourselves.
John: It was just absolutely stunning. It was amazing. Some of the landscape through there is cool.
Amy: Yeah, there was Sam’s Creek, on the OTT, the hidden waterfall is breathtaking.
John: And another place that we loved was Fraser Island. Fraser Island, for us, there are so many different little ecosystems and little challenges along the way. It’s absolutely beautiful and particularly the North end of Fraser, which we liked up there.
Amy: We spent a fair bit of time up there.
John: So that were two of our favourite destinations.
Amy: Yeah, but the centre can’t be underrated, South Australia has an incredible and most underrated coastline. WA is breathtaking. Everyone says the West is best and it is breathtaking. Pick up at what you will but the whole country is phenomenal.
Is there a place you won’t go back to?
Amy: John and I are pretty positive people we try to look for the best in everything and some silver linings if it’s not jumping out at you.
John: Coober Pedy is probably a place I won’t ever do again. Coober Pedy maybe?
Amy: Yeah, Alice Springs didn’t wow me but it was a quick stop over there. A big refresh from our drive down the middle and it was the gateway to the West MacDonnell Ranges which was unreal. I think River Camp is next level to the Mourinho loop it’s cool so yeah it’s always a silver lining and for us, it might not have been our favourite, but it provided us with hot showers.
Any scary or funny moments on the road?
John: Easily the scariest moment that we’ve ever had on our trip is when we got stuck in a tide up near…
Amy: We got cocky. We got a bit cocky
John: We didn’t get stuck…
Amy: We camped a little bit too close to the water’s edge
John: Yeah, we got a little bit stuck in the tide, not that it damaged the van in any way.
Amy: No, and in hindsight, if we hadn’t just left it, nothing would have happened, but we ended up…
John: would have lapped the bottom of the tires and not gone on the rims or anything. It was just a scary moment where we panicked a little bit couldn’t, and we got the car bogged
Amy: We had to winch ourselves our car.
John: The kids thought we’re all gonna die but we’re all a-okay. We could laugh at it in hindsight but at the time it was super scary
Amy: Yeah it was. You can see that on our Instagram back in our earlier posts. I posted a little bit about that and you should go and check it out because it’s very funny. It’s funny now but not at that time.
Nicolette: The best camp showers in Australia hands down Tumut caravan park go there just for the showers.
How do you fund your Big Lap?
Amy: John worked in logistics and was an operations manager for a business down in Victoria, and worked there for over 16 years. So we had a lot of long services and a lot of holidays that we’ve utilized since we’ve gone off initially, and we saved our asses off so we both worked two jobs and we probably had enough money to go for the year. Now we’re spending a little bit of money that we had from the sale of our house, which we didn’t intend to sell, at the start, but that’s how it fell. That way we were lucky enough to have someone that wanted to buy our house and that’s exactly what we did. We did toy up between renting it out and selling it, and for us, we didn’t want the commitment of anything while we were away. We couldn’t think of anything worse. So, for us, in our situation, we were happy to let it go and we’re excited about where we’re going to end up.
How much do you spend and what is your biggest expense?
John: Continuing along on that note though, we’re very aware of what we spend. We don’t keep a really strict budget
Amy: No budget, but we keep an eye on it.
John: So, we keep an eye on, obviously, trying to save money at every possible turn that you can, like reusing your leftovers, to doing small trips in the car to…
Amy: Where you can, because, probably, our biggest expense would be fuel and food so they’re the two that we try to save money on. And you can in some places and you can’t in others and you’ve just got to be vigilant about that. And that’s a life skill, not necessarily a [10:44 – 10:46]
John: But the way we always look at it, is it’s never, ever going to get any cheaper, so you just have to cop it.
Amy: Yeah, and fuel’s out of your control in terms of what you pay, but how you use your fuel is in your control. So, just things like that.
What has been your biggest splurge? Was it worth it?
Amy: The biggest splurge on our trip would have to probably be swimming with the whale sharks and fishing charters. So, we’re swimming with the whale sharks tomorrow, and we paid just $ 2,000 for the five of us to do that. I can’t tell you what it’s going to be like, but I’m sure it’s going to be amazing it’s probably something we’ll do once in our life, and on our second trip, wouldn’t do that again. So, on that first lap, all those first things. We are tourists in our own country, and we are going to be doing those things that cost a little bit more and can’t wait to do it. So, stay tuned, we’ll send that through to you guys.
This is Osprey Bay if I can stand up and show you the ocean is here amazing drop dunny’s yardy’s just down the road it’s got some service and some um jump in see you guys peace out
What is your biggest tip to other big lappers?
Amy: Biggest tip for me, I would say is, don’t be upset if there’s someplace you didn’t go and visit because we had someone give us some great advice, and he said “You’ve got to leave somewhere to come back to”. And I think that made it okay with us if we did miss something that it is somewhere where we’ll get back to one day.
John: You can never see it in one trip.
Amy: No, you can’t. Take that pressure off yourself.
John: So, don’t worry about seeing everything. You can hit up as many locations as you can, or as you possibly can, but don’t be upset if you do miss something.
Amy: No, definitely not.
John: My tip would be just to get on the road. Just don’t…
Amy: Your tip would be to leave the wife at home.
John: Or take another car. But our biggest tip is definitely: Just don’t hold back. Don’t think about all the things, all the problems, why you can’t do it. Think about all the reasons why you can. Getting yourself on the road is the key, and what setup you have is irrelevant. There are so many different types of setups. You can always adjust yourself just to keep going.
Amy: My mum gave me some wonderful advice and it was before we left, I was a little bit stressed over what we were gonna… like, I’m taking the kids out of school, and I’m taking the kids away from their friends, and sport, and all that sort of stuff and I would say to that. My mom said “You’re focusing on everything you think you’re gonna take away from the kids and not anything that you will be giving the kids or adding value to their lives”, and gosh, it’s an enormous list of things we’ve added. So, for me, I would say, for people that haven’t gone on the road yet, and maybe tossing up whether to do this, a hundred per cent do it. Whether it’s for two months, four months, six months twelve months, or years. Just hit the road, because it’s something you’ll never, ever, regret. For those people that are already lapping, take the pressure off yourself and get into everyone and just enjoy where you are right now.
John: Like where we are right now.
Amy: Yeah! Osprey Bay baby! This is sick. It’s a beautiful cracking day today. We’ve been to Yardie to have a little walk through there this morning, which was stunning, and then we’ll go down now and have a swim, and have a bit of a snorkel. Lots of turtles here and fish it’s amazing. So, I’ll take you on a little tour.
Amy: This is our van! We haven’t cleaned up for you guys this is we’re pretty realistic, this is how it is. It’s the rig, getting a bit of suntan this is us.
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John: See you guys!
Amy: Peace out!
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