Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk Western Australia

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk / The Ancient Empire

While travelling Australia (as a family of 5) we just can’t do every tourist attraction. We like to keep our eyes out for the free and low cost attractions on offer. So when we stumbled across The Valley of Giants we were delighted to find they have 2 options.

1. A Tree Top Walk (roughly $60+ for our family of 5).
2. A #FREE self guided walk around The Ancient Empire forest.

We loved the Ancient Empire-
An informative walk explaining the history of the forest, the types of trees that grow and why the grow like they do. The kids loved running through and exploring the gigantic trees. They also have a nature display of all the bugs and creatures found living in the trees and forest. A fantastic option for those trying to spread the funds that bit further and a great spot for those #homeschooling on the road.

* Entry is via picturesque sealed roads and parking available for those towing 👌

#makingthefundslast #exploringnature #travellingwithkids #travelwithkidsaustralia #caravanningwithkids #australianoutback

My VW Transporter Reno

Roxanne my VW transported came across my path with no campervan qualities besides her insulated walls. Having a clean canvas to build a sanctuary on wheels left me giddy with excitement.

Her first homely feature was a bed with plenty of storage underneath to keep the van looking tidy with all our things hidden away. I didn’t want the bed to take up the whole van as I still wanted to be able to have the bench seat in when needed for visitors but also liked the idea of some space for one day establishing a bit more of a permanent wooden storage fixtures and kitchen space. Leaving this space didn’t require me to sacrifice much, I fit very snuggly stretched out on the bed but poor 6ft Angus now has to sleep diagonally across the bed or has his feet hanging off the side throughout a night in the van. We originally thought we both sleep curled up but after one night in the van, we soon found out that is not true and our feet often stretch out to bump the wall which we now find more comical than anything like fitting clowns in a clown car.

The Bed started out as a wooden frame with a plywood

top. Two deep draws were then built to pull out of the back of the van. I use one draw for my gas stove, pots and pans. The other holds a bag with all our clothes and toiletries. Both drawers are as deep as half of the bed, the other half of the bed had 2 squares cut out of the ply wood top to create hatches for more storage. I leave a gas bottle for the stove, the second battery, a folding table and chairs as well as a tool box under this part of the bed.

All of our cooking cleaning and cutlery are kept in 3 plastic draws we scavenged for my parents that where originally used for mine and my sister’s a dolls and blocks, which ironically included a doll family with a caravan! There is also a fridge in Roxanne that is hooked up to the second battery, next on our list is a solar panel to be able to go completely off the grid for lengths of time.

I have also taken Roxanne’s ply walls out and wrapped them in wooden style lino. All the vans I had been adoring online always looked like little cabins lined with wood from top to bottom on the interior. Wood style lino was lighter and more cost-efficient but still looks very effective! Giving Roxanne a much lived in cosy feel like living in a log cabin where ever you go!

The last touch to Roxanne has been a beautiful piece of art my dear friend Sharna painted for me when I first moved from my home town Caves Beach. The painting is looking off a cliff above our local beach down to pristine rock pools, caves and a pink sunrise over the ocean where we have spent most days growing up covered in sand, salt water and sunshine. This piece of art hangs in my van like a window so where ever I am I’ll always be able to look up and see where my heart calls home.

Caravan freezer hack- Making the most of it!

Caravan freezer hack- Making the most of it! Our caravan freezer while being large for a van is still pretty small for a family of 5. We have to make the absolute most of it.

When we get home from grocery shopping everything comes out of bulky plastic containers and packaging and into simple/ effective zip lock bags. Mince meats etc get squished flatter for better storage, easy defrosting and large meat packs get separated into meal size quantities. This is how we get by! I wish I did this back when we had a house.

There would have been no need for the monstrous fridge we had! 

 

 

Why families are selling everything to travel Australia

A topic quite often brought up- Why does there seem to be a massive increase in families who are packing up their lives and choosing to travel around Australia?

For us another huge reason why we did- The forever increasing age for retirement (currently 65 years old and increasing to 67 in 2023). There’s no wonder current generations are quickly realising if they ever want to travel this great country of ours (while healthy and able) we need to do it now. We see so many couples from the older generations retiring and setting up to travel only to end up selling the van and giving up on the dream due to bad health and unforeseen circumstances. It will only get worse for our generations. We will be working longer and not get any a kind of chance to properly enjoy all that we’ve worked hard for. It really is devastating. We were flat out working our bums off for years to get our house paid off until we realised- If we really want to travel Australia we shouldn’t put it off.

You’re never guaranteed tomorrow and even if you were there’s no guarantee you’ll be healthy. So we bought our rig and van, sold the house and haven’t looked back… Well it definitely hasn’t been ‘that easy’ but it HAS absolutely been worth it! #onedayweshould #travelaustraliawithkids What are your thoughts? Or if you’re travelling what’s your reason for packing up and travelling?

 

 

Coffin Bay National Park

Coffin Bay National Park

An unexpected extended stay in the Port Lincoln area lead us to explore the National Park in Coffin Bay. For a National Park we never intended to look through. We ended up staying 4 nights and loved it! Cost $12/night to camp (plus National Park fees)

Fun filled days of driving around the coast line and through the rugged bush tracks. Playing on the sand dunes. Fishing and actually catching fish!!! Friendly roos coming to our door, emus and their babies wondering around the campgrounds. Great walking tracks and the highlight being were pretty much the only ones here except for another travelling family with kids the same age 😍.

Kids had the best of times playing together. I must admit we rather enjoyed our time spent with these guys too. Extra bonus as It’s always great having others to go 4WD exploring with.. just incase 👌

I would absolutely love to come back to this place when it’s warmer. The perfectly blue ocean water with stunning white sandy beaches was so worth the hour and half 4×4 drive! It almost made me want to dip my toes in… almost. The freezing icy winds made me think twice pretty quickly! Instead we lit a fire and watched the boys catch some fish. #onedayweshould come back! Would be amazing in summer 😍

IS THIS THE BEST LOW COST CAMPGROUND in South Australia?? We think so!!

IS THIS THE BEST LOW-COST CAMPGROUND in South Australia?? We think so!!

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Picture driving down the road and seeing stunning farm land and white sand dunes in the distance… A sheep or 2 a k-kangaroo. (Yep I went there). This very Aussie ‘Mikkira Station’ had nearly everything. Wild emus, tonnes of Kangaroos and a Koala 🐨 up nearly every tree in the campsite. After just a short walk you’ll find beautiful historic sites and buildings you can even enter. There’s a real toilet and a hot shower for those who need.

This place was well and truly worth the $25/night price tag. A fantastic place for a true blue Aussie outback experience and only 25mins from Port Lincoln!

*Please note- We definitely don’t recommend approaching the koalas. We were lucky enough to stumble across one tame enough for us to touch but these are wild animals.

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Take a look inside our home on wheels

Take a look inside our home

Here’s a look inside our New Age BigRed BR21BS2 (triple bunk with full ensuite) This video is from the day we brought it home. The only thing added at this stage was our carpet runner mat (just a bit of protection for the flooring and warmth as it was freezing in Tassie)

So far we really love our van and haven’t had any major issues. We’ve had a couple small ones but currently being dealt with.

I love the whole van but these things I love especially- The sound system. It’s great. It’s like having surround sound when watching movies and if your listening to music you can easily move the sound to the outside speakers. We have also been lazy lately when it comes to story time. I YouTube #storybooknanny and play the stories through the Bluetooth and move all the sound to the rear of the van! #parentingwin

I love having a bathroom and it all being seperate. The shower is great and has a large lip that acts like a bath for the kids too.

Washing machine- FANTASTIC I didn’t realise this little machine would be a must have for our van but it really is!

Small downfalls- Length of the bed for Gibbo is a little short so we slide the mattress out every night to get that extra room near our heads.

Couch- could have been a club lounge as we just need that one extra seat when stuck inside on rainy days. Our L-shaped lounge isn’t quite big enough for 5 people

Weight- From factory the van only had a 400kg payload so once our 3 water tanks were filled, full gas bottles, and carrying our annex. Most of the weight we are allowed to carry is gone! We’ve since upgraded but definitely something to keep in mind.

*A few additions-

*Solar- 400w and a 30amp controller which all up cost us $350

*We’ve made a couple small changes like moving the magazine holder out of the loungeroom and adding a giant map of Australia vinyl sticker in its place. (Magazine holder is now under our TV and I think it suits that spot much better anyway 😊)

*Small baskets inside cupboards and fridge to stop movement of food items while travelling

*Adding cube storage at the ends of the girls beds as they are only young there was heaps of wasted space at their feet.

*Removable wall bracket to hold our Bugg beefeater BBQ

*Spare wheel removed from back of the van to under our ute. Small box added in its place.

*Carbon Monoxide detector added just in case!

*a lockable ‘glovebox’ for medicine/ firstaid items

I’m sure there’s more but these are a few of the things we did in preparation for our trip!

Why we weighed our caravan before leaving onboard the Spirit of Tasmania?

Why we weighed our caravan before leaving onboard the Spirit of Tasmania?

We are always being asked why we weighed our van before we left to go on our trip around Australia. We found most people assumed it had everything to do with going on board the Spirit of Tasmania. When in fact, it didn’t.

It’s taken many, many times for Gibbo to explain all the caravan weights to me to get to a point of ‘basic understanding’ as it gets extremely technical with so many different weights to take into account so here’s my ‘simplified version’ of explaining caravan weights without getting ‘too technical’. All these weight specifications are a legal requirement set by manufacturers for everyone’s safety!

Tare Mass- When you buy a caravan empty (no water onboard, no kitchenware, no clothes, no equipment etc). Your empty weight is your tare mass (eg. 2400kg)

ATM (Aggregated Trailer Mass)- The most your van can ever weigh (eg. 3000kg)

Payload- the difference between those^ two weights is the amount of weight that can be added (clothes, food, equipment, water, gas etc) so in this case, it would be 600kg worth of ‘stuff’ allowed – a very generous payload in most cases. *Most new vans we looked at were a 400kg payload.

Tow Ball mass- When you hitch/connect your van to your car some of the weight is then transferred to your tow Ball which makes it part of you cars weight. Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) is the most load you can have on the wheels of the caravan when hitched to your car.

You then have to look at your car/utes Tare Mass and GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass- same as ATM but for a car/ute)

Your Car can’t be over its GVM –

Your Van can’t be over ATM –

and then it also can’t be over the Gross Combined Mass (GCM) – the overall weight of the car and the van together

This is why it was so important for us to weigh our car and van before we left. 😊

*There’s a bunch of other weights to take into account such as your vehicle maximum tow rating, aggregated trailer mass, tow ball weight, towbar capacity, maximum axle group ratings but that’s when it all starts going over the top of my head and I leave it up to Gibbo 😉

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5. The Overweight Caravan

With 9 days left till we set off on our lap around Australia 😱 we decided to do the dreaded weighing of the caravan.. and just like we figured WE’VE OVER PACKED. We’ve gone over our payload for the Van. So tonight we’ve had the fun task of sorting out what we can make do without and weighing them as they get thrown out the door!!! Some surprisingly heavy items that have been sacrificed-

* 1kg YES 1KG of excess plastic shopping bags 😱 and we still have a bunch left.

* 3.7kg for our spare doona (we have a sleeping bag so the extra one was just completely unnecessary).

*large tubs under the bed (to help with sorting) came in at a whopping 3.6kg and that’s just for the containers with nothing in them!!!

*9kg for the Thermomix 👋👋👋👋 was nice knowing you 😭😭😭😭

*3.3kg worth of coins in the kid’s money boxes…. Definitely, need to just get that in notes 💵 😬😬

*5.8kg in excess clothing… I know, I know…Just because it fits doesn’t mean we need them!👋

 

 

4. Our Simple Caravan Hacks

When travelling in a caravan you soon realise it’s the #littlethings that annoy you! For instance the kids bunk beds!! I couldn’t stand the kids beds looking so messy and daggy thanks to single bed doonas being too wide and bulky to tuck in. So after just a few days of owning our van I pulled my sewing machine out of our ‘get rid of pile’ and trimmed down the doonas to suit! So happy with the results! And saved my sanity.. (for now)

* I trimmed down their current single doonas to save buying new and the kids also wanted to keep their same doona covers BUT we found you can also halve a queen doona/cover which makes x2 perfect bunk sized.

*Have also found toddler bed/cot doonas are a perfect width but lack in length. This didn’t bother us as we’ve put storage cubes at the girls feet which makes the toddler size doona perfect for us too!

*Storage cubes fit perfectly x2 across in our New Age BigRed- we purchased large cubes from Bunnings 😊👍

Here’s our finished results 😍

 

3. The Magical Washing Machine

I thought when we bought our caravan this washing machine was going to be a waste of space, extra weight in the van and never get used. But… I’m loving it. Granted it’s not huge, but it only takes 29mins to do a load. So a quick load or 2 a day we can keep up to date with our washing and then dry it for free using the sun! We had a backlog of washing before heading off on our travels and we spent $68 in $1 coins just to catch back up. That was until I finally used our machine! So glad our van came with one. It was definitely not on my original list of must haves when searching for a caravan but it should have been! So handy when living on the road full-time with 3 kids!

*The brand for those asking is a mini Daewoo 😊

2. Tick That Off The Bucket List
We’ve finally made it to one of our bucket list places- The Great Ocean Road. Stopped to check out the pole house 😍 (also on my list!). We decided to free camp for the night so headed off the main highway onto one of those hill climbing, winding, narrow roads. I couldn’t help turning into one of those annoying backseat drivers you know the ones- “there’s a car coming”, “watch out for that”, “careful of the rocks”. Gibbo finally telling me to be quiet, he can actually drive and can see everything that I can see! 😂 After setting up camp I decided to head back down the road and grab a couple things from the shops. I was able to race there and back like Peter Brock in Bathurst.. realising maybe the road wasn’t as bad as I thought and maybe Gibbo was actually capable (not that I’ve admitted that to him…. 🙊). Now to figure out how to stop backseat driving 😬
1. Crossing The Border
Whoops, arrived at the South Australian border and had forgotten about quarantine! Luckily we’d been free camping the last few days and had been eating all our fresh produce so there wasn’t too much waste. Saving a mental note for next time we cross a border to check quarantine rules!! #notetoself #quarantine #crossingborders #Australia #quarantinebinwastage

My reason to experience life to the full and travel around Australia!

Get to know Lynell from MountainSunSea

I recently finished a journal yesterday (I love to journal by the way) and the quote on the front cover says ‘Do not count the days – make the days count’. A reminder, every day, to do just that – make the days count.

So I decided I would do something different – even just the smallest thing – just something different.

It has become a habit for me to hang out the washing on the washing line from left to right; as I am left-handed, I use my left hand to clip the pegs. So I decided to hang the washing from right to left and using my right hand to clip the pegs. I thought at the beginning this was just a silly exercise – but after I finished, I was in tears and I like I had conquered my own little Mt Everest (I’m not far off the washing pile was huge!)

It sounds simple enough right – just switch things around to what you would normally do. Well for me, this was not the case. I really had to consciously think about what I was doing, like really think – and my brain hurt after it. In the beginning my self-talk was ‘this is pretty stupid, you could get it done so much quicker if you did it the way you have always done it’ and ‘I have so many other chores I could get started if I stopped this silly exercise and carry on the way I have always done it’ and ‘I am having trouble opening the peg with my right hand as it seems so unnatural’.

I persevered – and I am so thankful I did. It MADE me actually present to hanging out the washing – like picking up Nathan’s favourite long sleeve shirt that he wears, and give it a quick sniff to see if it smelt like him, (it didn’t – I can’t quite figure out if I was happy or sad about this – I wanted it to smell like him just a bit, but I also wanted to make sure the laundry powder I use does its job) and holding it up and around my body as if he was cuddling me (sounds crazy right) and realising how lucky I am that he chose me as his wife (ah warm feeling in my belly moment).

When I picked up Rainbows first full swimming costume and just marvelling at how it looks so big in comparison to what her newborn clothes were like – and how close we had come to losing her (I may have started crying at the point). As her middle name is Rainbow, I checked to see it had all the colours of Rainbow like the Rainbow song (more tears). I picked up my maternity bra; and marvelled at the fact that I am so fortunate to be able to breastfeed her and share a bond that I, still to this day and after having three children, cannot put the right words to explain how it makes me feel. To know I am one of the fortunate Mums who can give their child part of me, to help her grow, to supply her with the most nutritious most natural milk nature can give.

I picked up Harry’s Hat that he had worn for 4 years at child care (he is only 6 years old) and how even though it has always been too big for him and sits low on his forehead so that when he looks up, he has to tilt his head that bit further – to see you (more tears). His ‘Harry.H’ orange hat that is so battered and worn, but he loves it. The hat he wore when he made lifelong friends already at his age, where I met my best friend as Harry and her son are best mates, (even more tears) at a child care where the carers became like a second family and we have watched families grow together.

I picked up Savvy’s swimming costume and hung it next to Rainbows – I could picture them both there in their costumes, and how throughout life, these two sisters will be by each other’s sides for as long as this life has set out for them (tears are flowing like a river). It honestly feels like one-minute Savvy was our firstborn and we did everything by the book; our sweet little baby who giggles anytime you say ‘bum’ to Savvy being my quietly confident rock at times when Nathan has been away for work and Rainbow was not well.

Once she came into my room in the middle of the night when she heard me crying even though I tried to hide it. She comforted me just by stroking my hair and wiping my tears and saying ‘Mummy I love you, you should never hide your tears – that’s what you tell me and Harry. It’s okay to cry’.

It took me over an hour to finish this task where normally it would take 20-25 minutes.
If I had not set myself this (now not so silly) task – I would have just been like a robot and got the job done. Instead, I got to appreciate my family in the craziest way.

I even noticed at one stage I had my tongue sticking out to the side like Rainbow had when she was learning to move a toy from one hand to the next, I stood back once I had finished with my hands on my hips and a grin on my face like Harry does when he finishes building a new lego set, and a slight tilt of my head to the left like Savvy when she asks me a question.

My challenge for you is to do something different every day, even if it means starting small – because it is the small things that start the big things rolling.

Happy travelling!

Lynell

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