I always loved the idea of caravans - devoured Enid Blyton's Mr Galliano's Circus where they lived life in horse-drawn homes travelling the yellow brick road - complete with lions and tigers and bears - oh my! Rare family holidays in caravans were grim and static but didn't put me off the romantic fantasy of a home on wheels.
Two years ago tomorrow me and my sidekick set off into Australia's wild west in a Toyota Hi-Ace - pictured above at 'The Pinnacles', where you may recall Billy Connolly dancing around naked. Of course I would never do that (*whistles innocuously*).
We spent two weeks heading up the west coast as far as Coral Bay*. Western Australia is more sparsely populated than the east and so huge you could go for hours without seeing another soul - except the sadly numerous bodies of roadkill kangaroos. The Ningaloo reef on the west isn't quite as good as the Great Barrier Reef and so is largely unheard of. This happens a lot in Australia because there are so many fabulous places!
Apart from the Wicked Campers - which are basically a white van with a window and mattress - ours was the cheapest and most basic, but it still had three berths, a mini-sink, fridge, gas cooker, fold-out-of-the-side-door dining table, camp chairs and all utensils.
We got a book of campsites and hopped from one to the other along therapeutically empty, perfect, incredibly lo-o-o-o-ong straight roads.
You develop a routine - techniques for staying cool, setting up camp, cooking and cleaning, entertaining yourselves. You try not to run out of petrol in the outback - because of course the mobile phone you bought 'for emergencies' hasn't had a signal since you left Perth!
After Monkey Mia (no monkeys - but I fed the dolphins!) we turned inland to Karijini National Park. This was December, remember and very, very HOT so there was no-one else there and we did an amazing canyon walk & swim at dawn completely undisturbed. After that we had to heard back down across country, through old gold mining towns and lots and lots of nothing at all, down to the lush fruit-growing areas, wineries and forests of some of the tallest trees in the world south of Perth towards Margaret River.
This is only part of the story. We hired a second van when we eventually got to the east coast and did the trip down from Cape Tribulation to the Blue Mountains south of Sydney. This one leaked and it was 'The Wet' in Queensland. Another time.
* I was looking for a nice Coral Bay link and found the sweetest story of a kangaroo who things he's a dog and swims like a fish!