A New Adventure! Starting Off!
I’m going into detail as I hope to inspire more single women to have the confidence and courage to travel alone.
In July 2009 I set off from Brisbane to travel around Australia, just me and my soon to be adventurous Fox Terrier dog “Millie”. I had decided to retire after 21 years from my all-consuming job as a Real Estate Agent and Trainer.
Three months prior, I bought a motor home. My requirement was to have a self-contained vehicle with easy access to the driver’s seat from the living areas at the rear.
A safety aspect, in case I had to drive quickly out of an area at night. The vehicle was well equipped. It had a shower and toilet and extras like an inverter to run my sewing machine. Ample solar panels on the roof were fitted to collect power which is stored in house batteries.
The house batteries run things like the fridge, water pump , television and two fans. 12 volt connections fitted throughout charge the mobile phone and a small portable cooling system if very hot. The 700 watt Inverter will run the sewing machine, power up my laptop, allow me to use a small blender for making soups etc. I can’t operate an air conditioning unit or use anything with a heating element like a hairdryer or Iron. Until buying the Motorhome, I had never been involved with any of these things. I had grown up thinking this was “men’s business.” For a while it was tricky to understand and to be honest, more than a bit daunting.
Having independent power would allow me to stay in places off the beaten track and to be in settings surrounded by nature. I personally much prefer this way of travel than staying in Caravan Parks. People without solar panels, and the independent power, need to stay at Caravan Parks every few days to be able to plug into electricity.
In my view, in caravan parks, you are often parked very close to each other and people tend to be more domesticated, preoccupied doing things they do at home,.
I love lots of space, that sense of freedom and being in a natural environment.
I packed up all I thought I needed, said my goodbyes to my elderly mother, siblings and friends, with the idea that I might be away for about a year.
An old family friend, who I had reunited with a few months earlier had invited me to join her and three of her friends for the first two to three weeks. Each of these ladies had been widowed or divorced and all had in recent years met and formed a small group travelling from time to time.
They had individually each bought their own motorhomes, and each had a desire to travel.
This group of four women were driving north from Brisbane to Mareeba in North Queensland for a motor home rally. This was a great opportunity for me to have company on my journey for my first few weeks, and to be ‘‘shown the ropes”, so to speak!
As you can imagine, I was a novice at driving a big vehicle, over seven metres long. For the first few weeks I was consciously getting used to gauging distances in traffic, on roundabouts, highways, and getting used to parking in towns and shopping centres. It doesn’t take long, just a bit of courage, the desire to do it, and the knowing that experience makes better. The fun too of a new challenge to conquer!
Apart from the driving aspect I was getting to know how to use everything, when and where to refuel the gas bottles, needed for cooking and heating water to shower.
I was working out what to do, and where to go to fill up the water tank, and learning how the solar power worked. Other chores like finding out where I could empty the toilet cassette, every week or so.
They are called Dump Spots, designated places for disposal of grey water, which includes water from the shower and kitchen sink. They are often located on the outskirts of towns, or in showgrounds. Then everyday there was the decision about where to pull in and park at night, what was safe and so on.
There’s a book, Australia Wide Guide, that is updated annually which has been essential for my finding free or low-cost camping areas. It’s listed with every overnight camp area State by State in Australia.
It shows which spots have amenities, whether dogs are permitted, whether they are close to the highway and gives GPS guidance as well.
Life on the road with Millie kept me on “the ball” too. Millie had to be restrained on a lead a lot of the time, outside shopping areas, bathrooms and at some camping areas.
For a sense of security, I had applied for and bought a satellite phone. This gave me a feeling of safety as there are so many areas in Australia that don’t have mobile phone reception.
I was becoming focused on a new way of life, conscious all the time of not tripping, as an injury would have curtailed going forward.
I was very tired from having left work a few weeks earlier, but I felt a sense of freedom. I had decided the purpose of my journey would be to get back into my creativity and seek contentment.
The first few weeks were wonderful with the girls, sitting around camp fires at night, parked in some lovely settings, beside rivers and dams. There was lots of laughter. We all had two-way radios and could chat to each other on the long drives.
It was loads of fun and a fantastic introduction to life on the road made great by these now firm friends.
It was a hard day when I had to wave goodbye, leaving the others in North Queensland to head west to the unknown on my own with Millie. The day before my birthday.
My journey Solo begins!!!
To be continued… Keep an eye out for “Part Two”, my next Post