After nearly 2 years full-time ‘on the road’, I woke up this morning and said to my wife Kaye - “WOW!... finally we’ve got our life back!” – She smiled that ‘knowing smile’.
Not that life in our house of almost 30 years back in Sydney was ‘bad’. We’d managed the odd holiday here and there. Paid off the mortgage some years ago. Started a few ‘personal projects’ of interest related to pets & animals generally and to be honest we were quite happy.
The house we built is often referred to as a ‘KDR’ or Knock Down & Rebuild. Nothing fancy but then neither are we. It was originally close to our place of work then when that dried up our on-going freelance work was able to be done mostly from the house.
Nothing wrong with that I hear you say… Absolutely! – But a few years ago we bought an old 16ft Viscount caravan. We had four small dogs at the time - (3 Toy Poodles & a ‘baby’ Bichon) - and used to take them with us on long weekends and the occasional week away. Loved it!
We eventually sold that then about 3years ago bought a 20ft New Age OZ Classic. A 2013 model but new to us. It was in immaculate condition and still is thanks to my very fastidious wife. After a few ‘trial trips’ away that became longer and longer over time it became very obvious after a year or so that this was going to be our future.
But how? – Easy… JUST DO IT! – We’re fortunate that we can work online. We’re bored with staying in the house doing the same ol’ same ol’ thing and there’s this fairly large caravan just sitting in the driveway.
Well long story short, it took about another year to get organized. After all 30 years in the same place one tends to ‘collect stuff’ !
Stow or throw?... Stow or throw? That was probably the hardest thing to decide. Initially we thought we might make a few dollars by setting up a market stall selling extra clothes and ‘stuff’. Hmmm nice idea but boring as anything and not too many dollars for what was really 2 days work. Getting stuff ready then doing the market on the day.
Next thing we said was ‘ok let’s just give stuff away to Vinnies – Why not? So many people needing the basics. Vinnies were very thankful for the things we delivered … and delivered… and delivered… eventually saying – “Hey.. ummm, you know there’s a Salvo’s just down the road?”
Finally though with a professional clutter clearer called ‘Crackers Clearout’ (also happens to be a friend!) and several council pick-ups we FINALLY managed to spend 2 weeks in our driveway in the van while we put the final touches to the now empty house, ready for our first tenants.
Best part about having tenants was not so much the rent, rather the fact that we now had no choice but to get going.
With no other real plan other than to go north – it was winter in Sydney – our very first ‘full-time on the road’ trip we went a whole 71Km from home – about an hour away to Mangrove Mountain, where we stayed with friends for a few nights on their 5 acre property.
Following our first taste of ‘freedom’ – we spent the next 6 weeks overnighting (or two) with friends along the way who we have known or worked with over the years. Conveniently spread out between Sydney & Cairns. Our initial destination.
After a scheduled week long caravan event in Mackay, we eventually arrived in Cairns we thought “Ok… we’ll check it out for a few days and see what it’s like”… well 4 months later we were still there. Then another caravan event in Henty NSW came up and we thought. “Great! – let’s go there then on to Melbourne to see daughter & grandson etc then maybe swing over to South Australia after Christmas. “
As you might imagine you don’t just ‘drive’ all day towing a caravan so the trip we planned was going to take about 4 weeks. Toowoomba was one of the stops along the way - 2 nights – enough time for a quick rest.
Well – with the cancellation of the caravan event due to the COVID-19 restrictions we ended up in Toowoomba for – wait for it… SIX months! ? – Toowoomba – aka ‘The Garden City’ is a LOVELY place. Cold & very windy at times (it’s on a mountain after all!) but amazing people, recreation areas and general lifestyle is very relaxed.
But 6 months is probably a bit too long to stay anywhere unless you have some local commitment, so we (reluctantly) hitched up the van and moved to Hervey Bay – the whale watching capitol of the world.
Only been here a week and already booked until the start of the new year! But our new motto is. “3 Months – No More”
Why?... because there is SOOO much to see and do in our gorgeous country that we don’t want to be so old that we can’t do it any more by ourselves.
So finally – what do I mean “we’ve got our life back!”?
Well – the fact that we are able to do pretty much what WE want to do when WE want to do it.
Yes we still have commitments. We really do work online pretty much every day of the week, but as a longtime friend once said to me “… if you retire and do nothing you’ll die in the next 2-3 years”. Of course the other famous saying is.. “You’ll never never know if you never never go!”
So whatever you do – even if you do retire – make sure you do something for YOU. Travel like us & thousands of others, do some charity & community work like my mum did for 60+ years or simply something creative like gardening, crochet, or just being involved with family & friends or a worthwhile cause.
Life is NOT just about work. Life is about living, love, laughter and leisure. Enjoy it now.
(c) 2020 - Brian Pickering