Camper Catch-Up: The Great Escape – Australia
11 July 2018
In January 2016, Nathan and Renee Helms did what many of us dream about but can never seem to bring ourselves to do: they packed up their lives, abandoned the 9-5 lifestyle and hit the road with a ute and a Cub camper trailer. With Melbourne in the rear-view mirror and the highway stretching across the horizon ahead of them, they set out with the goal of seeing everything that this great country has to offer. It’s been two and a half years since their departure from the daily grind and in that time, their four-year-old son Ryan has seen more of Australia than many of us may see in our lifetimes. They’ve also gained an impressive following on social media, with over 36,000 followers on Facebook who are all tagging along for the ride, enjoying a virtual journey across the country.
Well, why not? There was no big catalyst for us – we were just a bit fed up with regular life and the 9-5. We felt like we weren’t getting enough time together as a family, and we decided to try something a little different. Plus we’ve always been keen travellers so for us it was an easy decision to make.
We get asked this a LOT, and it’s not an easy question to answer. How can you pick just one place out of the all the awesome places in Australia? For us the entire trip has been more about the experience than individual places. But in saying that, we revisited Skipjack Point in the Francois Peron National Park (Shark Bay area, WA) recently after having fond memories of it from a previous trip, and we reckon it’s a spot that’s definitely up there with the best!
For us being away from family & friends, and the support network that comes with it can be challenging at times. We certainly miss having babysitters for the kid!
Plus there was that little incident where someone crashed into our camper trailer in Sydney, writing it off. That was a wee bit challenging. But thankfully Cub & insurance sorted us out with a new one in record speed so we could hit the road again!
Simply the time we’ve had together as a family, and watching our child grow and learn as we go. Plus we love those little things that happen along the way. Last week a pod of dolphins came right up to shore to say hello to us. The week before, Nathan was swimming in the ocean and a HUGE seal popped up in front of him. And this week we’ve met a bunch of other awesome travellers that we’ve shared a campfire and a few drinks with.
Seriously, just do it! If it’s what you want to do then find a way to do it. Work it out as you go along. It’s been the absolute best thing we’ve ever done.
We were looking for something reliable, with full off road capability, that was easy to set up/pack up, but that was also comfortable for a family on the road full time. The Cub ticked all those boxes and because it’s Australian made we were able to customise it pretty much as much as we liked which was fantastic. Plus the Escape is a good size – big enough to fit a family, with enough storage, but not too big to take off road.
Probably the ease of pack up/set up which is so important in a camper trailer, particularly if you’re travelling long term. We often have people commenting that they can’t believe how quickly we’re set up.
It’s hard to know how much of who he is, and who he is becoming, is from his time on the road vs. how he would have been anyway. But we’re talking about a four year old who can build a campfire, identify numerous constellations, is knowledgeable about the solar system, can set up a camper trailer, knows more about rocks and geology than his parents do, and can chat all day long to just about anyone, regardless of age or background. I have complete confidence that this trip is helping to shape him into a pretty awesome little person.
People always say to us ‘but don’t you get sick of each other being stuck in a camper trailer all the time?’ Firstly, we’re hardly ever in the trailer. Cub life is outside life for the most part, which is why we love it so much. And secondly, no we don’t. Well no more than you would in a house – we all have our moments. But this trip has definitely brought us closer as a couple, and as a family. If it didn’t work for us we wouldn’t still be doing it after two and a half years.
We have plans to jump the ditch across to New Zealand next year. So the Australian part of the journey will be ending (for now) and the next leg just beginning.
Header Image By: The Great Escape Australia