Ella is off to school camp this morning. It’s hard to believe that it’s her last week of Year 7. It feels like only yesterday that we made a hurried return to Sydney for her Year 6 graduation! 👩🎓
We are reflecting on the school year that’s been since slowing our travels and enrolling our 3 kids into schools. 3 different schools in fact...🤦🏼♀️ (We’re looking forward to cutting that down to 2 schools in 2019 as Noah starts Kindy!)
Ella’s start to high school was the main reason for us wanting to take up life in our new community when we did rather than continuing to constantly be on the move. We couldn’t be more pleased with how she has settled into high school and a whole new area, making friends at school and dancing and finding confidence that prior to travelling she simply didn’t have. She loves high school and so far it loves her back!
Travel has given her so much more than memories. It has moulded her into a well-adjusted, well-connected, confident teen who has (unexpectedly to us!) embraced many opportunities that have come her way in 2018.
While the school year has been a breeze for Ella, Year 2 hasn’t been without its challenges for Ava as she adjusts to a much smaller school community and school life without her bestie, Kenzii who she still misses terribly. She has had wonderful support from her teacher and the school but we are crossing our fingers that next year is her turn to settle in and spread her roots.🤞🏼She had a great year at dancing and has made some great friends at the studio as have all of our 3 kids... They love their dancing; it was the main thing they missed whilst we lapped.
As for Noah, he is counting down the days until he starts school and just quietly so are we! He is more than ready to spread his wings and take on ‘big school’.
We couldn’t really have predicted the year would go down the way it has. We are particularly proud of the way that Ella has navigated her way through her first year of high school in a new area where she knew no one. The school year hasn’t unfolded quite the way we thought it would but nonetheless we have absolutely no regrets about our rather unique way of life with a foot in both camps... full time caravanning, part time travelling.
Bring on school holidays and some full time, family time!
JACARANDA FESTIVAL 💜
One of our most favourite pastimes travelling around the country is joining in local festivals. This regional festival definitely didn’t disappoint!
The Jacaranda Festival in the Clarence Valley township of Grafton, held each November when the Jacarandas bloom, is said to be the oldest floral festival in Australia! (Thanks Our Freedom Life for that bit of trivia!).
Driving across the bridge over the Clarence River and looking out over the sea of purple as well as driving down the jacaranda tree-lined streets is very special... and if you love the colour purple as much as we do, it’s spectacular!
The townsfolk get right into the spirit, donning purple everything... even spray painted beards for the gents!
Jacaranda Thursday is a big day for this small town as it’s declared a public holiday for the locals to go and enjoy the festivities.
We highly recommend you pencil this one in your diaries and check it out!
We'd love to hear... what’s your favourite regional festival?
Big 4 Gold Coast Holiday Park, why we loved it and what makes it stand out from the crowd!!
There are many things that make this park awesome including all the usual BIG4 Holiday Parks bells and whistles but there are quite a few things that in our many years of visiting caravan parks and resorts around the country that we had not struck all at the one premium park.
Be prepared to be surprised... this is what makes this park one of a kind!!
✔️ HUGE grassy sites
✔️ Resort style pool & spa area including private cabanas serviced by wait staff... Hello cocktails by the pool!! 🍹🙌
✔️ Licensed Cafe that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner
✔️A fire pit!! (Yes you read it right!! Toasted marshmallows on the Goldie!)
✔️ A BMX Track with bush setting
✔️ Tropical fishtanks in the camp kitchen and toilets! Say Whaat?!!
✔️Dog friendly with a large leash-free dog park, Dog Wash AND Dog-sitting! 🐶
✔️ Petting zoo with daily animal feeding
✔️ Walk to Movieworld, Wet n Wild and a variety of shops and family food outlets!
ALL THIS right in the heart of Australia's most popular holiday destination!! If you're not a caravaner or camper don't despair there are a range of accommodation options to suit your needs. If you're planning a trip to the Gold Coast be sure to consider this place as your base... you may not want to go anywhere else.
What a wonderful 10 nights we have had lapping up the luxury of BIG4 Tweed Billabong Holiday Park.
Two pools, a waterpark and a billabong with inflatable obstacle course not to mention one of the flashiest camp kitchens and lounge areas we’ve ever come across... perfect to watch The Games when we weren’t actually there!
The kids loved this place allowing us to work and play between Commonwealth Games events! Staff were nothing short of amazing and we are stoked that we finally got to visit this park that we have wanted to visit for such a long time!! Thank you Tweed Billabong, we’ll be back!!
Staying in the one place definitely has its benefits and for our girls it’s being able to attend regular dance classes. Dance is one of the few things that our girls missed whilst we’ve been on the move as it has been central to their lives since a very young age.
It has been through weekly dance classes that they made some of their closest and longest lasting relationships with wonderful teachers and friends who they worked with over years.
The bonds made, the skills learnt and the need to work as a member of a team through good times and tough times have taught them a lot about life, success, commitment, determination and disappointment.
Whilst we made and had many friends on the road it’s these ‘daily grind’ interactions with others outside of the family unit that life on the move dodges which worried us as parents. We value our kids having these kinds of relationships, to be able to work closely with others over extended periods of time on common goals and have a wide variety of face to face mentors.
Today they got their first taste of dancing in almost a year by taking a class at the local dance studio. They received a lovely warm welcome and had fun shaking off the cobwebs.
Ava’s smile says it all really 😇
#backinthehabit #dance #thesmilesaysitall #dancefriends
For 13 summers Emerald Beach on the NSW mid-north coast has been our happy place.
Last summer we decided that visiting once a year wasn’t enough and that we wanted to make a new life here after we completed our first lap of oz... and so here we are.
However as windows open, doors close and so our many years of happy holidays at Emerald Beach have drawn to a close with the last of our friends checking out as we pack to move our house on wheels two suburbs north.
We have holidayed here with most of our family at some point including my much-loved and missed late mother.
Our first visit was in 2005 and we were expecting our first child. My Mum had been hounding us to visit after she and Dad had previously stayed a couple of times. I remember sitting under the frangipani tree watching families swim and play in the pool and both Adam and I deciding right there and then that this is where we wanted to bring our children for summer holidays. Each year I take time out during our holiday to return to that tree, to sit under it and marvel at how much our family has grown (along with the tree!) and take a moment to be grateful that we started such a wonderful tradition for our family that has really lead us to something so much bigger.
We’ve had many special and memorable moments over the years and made lifelong friends. A few memories that spring to mind include choosing the name “Ella” for our first born whilst Adam read a newspaper article about Ella Hooper performing at a Tsunami benefit concert, Ava taking her first steps, singing Happy Birthday to my late Mum, all 3 of our children finally ‘getting’ how to swim as they practised in the shallow pool and me having a few too many glasses of wine in 2013 which may have even resulted in a surprise pregnancy (Noah’s!). What an awesome memory!
It’s the end of an era and there’s no denying that we are a little sad but the friendships and memories will stick with us and we will now go out and look for new summer holiday traditions.
Thank you Emerald Beach for the memories ❤️
💸📸💸🌏 6 MONTH LAP TOTALS 💸⏰💸🔌
Here are our stats after completing a 6 month lap of Australia! We hope you find them useful 🤓
Clearly we are not in the running for the cheapest lap of Aus but we never set out to be. From the start we set a BUDGET OF $35-$45 PER NIGHT and by the end of our trip had brought our average nightly spend to fit within these amounts. Did we blow our budget? Yes... a long time ago! But this is mostly due to the tours we chose to do, not the cost of our accommodation.
We want to set the record straight.... we can now say with certainty that a 6 MONTH LAP IS VERY DO-ABLE, despite what some might say. Those who have been following our journey will know the many places that we visited on our 6 month lap. In order to make the most of our time, we generally chose to stay in accommodation close to popular sightseeing areas, which does come at a cost. Free and lower cost camps are usually out of town meaning more time spent driving back and forth to see the main tourist attractions- great if you’ve got the time to do this but on a fast lap we’d suggest that you will most likely want a break from the car and more time to see and immerse yourself in what you’re there for. We have taken financial hits particularly during school holidays as our tight itinerary didn’t allow us to go bush until the holidays were over... we had no choice but to push on and pay the school holiday prices whilst in the Whitsundays and Coral Bay areas which are both very popular holiday destinations. We managed to compensate for these hits by increasing the number of stays at lower cost camps when we could and this has allowed us to maintain our accommodation budget of $35-$45 per night overall.
Having SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN has also considerably increased our costs, particularly when it comes to tours and premium parks. During our trip we became more careful to compare the cost per child for tours and in caravan park accommodation. To give an example of how quickly a ‘low cost’ camp can become not so low cost... a church-owned camp near Busselton costs a couple $25 for a powered site. This camp is in a great location and has basic campground facilities (ie. no kiddie bells and whistles). It is a bargain at $25 per couple and $12.50 a single for a whole site. School-aged children are charged at $9 each adding a further $18 to our site tariff (thankfully they didn’t charge for 3 year olds)... working out for us at $43 per night (hardly ‘low cost’ for a family)... almost double the cost for a couple! We take up the same space and use roughly the same amount of power. After all, it takes the same amount of power to run a fridge and air conditioner for a family as it does for one or two people. We don’t expect our school-aged children to be free but we have found some gross inequities in caravan park/campground tariffs during our lap. We are grateful to camps who consider fair and reasonable costs for families with school-aged children.
So here it is folks... OUR TOTAL 6 MONTH LAP STATS...
Fuel stops: 70
Spend on diesel: $7,867.16
Most expensive diesel: $1.99-Airleron Roadhouse
Cheapest diesel: $1.16-Deeragun Woolworths
Average per night: $43.63
Stops (set ups): 81
Powered sites: 100 nights- 54%
Unpowered/low cost sites: 37 nights- 20%
Free camps: 12 nights- 6.5%
Resorts: 25 nights- 13.5%
Family/Friends: 11 nights- 6%
Cheapest paid night: Kingston SE RV Park, SA - $10 for 48hours
Most expensive: Big 4 Adventure Whitsundays- $122
Supermarket visits: 42
States/Territories visited this trip: 6
Total spent on laundry: $343 (average per week: $13.19)
Fish caught 🎣:5
Fiftyby50 list ticks ✔️:12
🙂Travelling families/people met in 6 months: 🙂
Extract Black Coffee Roasting Co.
Travelling with Kids/ Caravanning with Kids
Everything Caravan & Camping
Just Caravans - Condor Caravans Melbourne - New and Used Caravans
The Blonde Nomads
The Rolling Stones in Oz
A Boundless Life
Oz Gap Lap
One day we Should
wide open wanderings
Spirited Scott Clan Roams Free
The Squishy 6
Van Life Around Australia
Hit The Road Jac
Holiday for a Marshall
Jacques on Tour
The McCabe Mob
Several fellow Condorons
And many others!
🙂Meeting others was definitely one of the biggest highlights of our trip! Sharing stories, travel plans & knowledge and keeping in touch after we've crossed paths to continue to share the travelling love! 🙂
There is no right or wrong on this travelling journey. It’s very much a respectful case of ‘to each there own’ but there’s also a need for those embarking on such a journey to enter into it with eyes wide open. It’s great to read people’s stats and see what the costs involved are but sometimes it’s hard to make comparisons due to circumstances such as the number and ages of children and preferences of the type of trip. If you have 2 school-aged children and want to do a lap of Aus over 6-7 months to SEE AND STAY near the KEY TOURIST SITES as well as partake in the POPULAR TOURS in those areas then we hope our stats will help you plan for your trip.
Want to know more? Send us an inbox with your blog/info requests or comment below 📬
🔊💬 Check out our first LIVE FEED vid here: https://www.facebook.com/galwaysgoround/videos/604608483215251/🤓⌨️
Keep up to date with our tips, pics and adventures- there’s still MUCH more to come from Galways Go Round... now in our 9th year of caravanning!
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Get writing those bucket lists and start living your dream! 😎✌️
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It was New Year’s Day exactly 1 year ago as we sat around the pool in the backyard of our Sydney home with our good neighbours (whooo became gooood friendsss 🎼) chatting about what the future held for us all. We told them of our plans to travel Aus for 3 months in 2018 before someone posed the question... ‘Would you ever sell up to travel?’
We gave an honest and resounding ‘No way!’ with Sharon adding ‘You’ll be carrying me out of this house in a pine box, I’m never moving!’
We knew a change was coming as we felt a change within ourselves and our priorities but didn’t know what it would be or where it would lead us. We clearly had no idea that our life in Sydney was about to be completely turned on its head!
Exactly 28 days later we made an instant and certain decision that we were ready to make a drastic change and chase our dream of living longer on the road and settling in another part of NSW which has had our hearts for over a decade.
And so we did it! Three weeks later our house went on the market! And here we are...Today marking 7 months on the road and 7 and a half months of calling our caravan ‘home’ with not one single regret! Do we miss our home? Nope! Do we miss living in a big city? Hell no!
So what will 2018 bring for the Galways? Next week we will land on the Coffs Coast where we will set up camp and begin to establish a new life there. Adam is starting a great new job with Cooking the Books as the General Manager of Implementation and On-boarding and later this month the kids will begin at new schools.
Travel and adventure will remain a priority for us with many places along our favourite stretch of coastline and hinterland yet to be explored! Our caravan will remain a place to call home for the time being. There’s still much more to come in 2018 from Galways Go Round!
Thank you once again for joining us on the journey and we look forward to continuing to deliver great stories, inspiration and pics as well as caravanning tips and tricks in our 9th year of caravanning!
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and wonderful 2018!!
To celebrate the closing gap to our lap we decided to stop a few days in Merimbula on the far South Coast of NSW to take in the enormity of our journey and relax and renew before we catch up with our family and friends over the Christmas season. What better way than to relax and enjoy some time away from the kids than to visit an NRMA holiday park! Our time here was made even better as we celebrated with our good friends the Wandering Woodies.
We highly recommend this park for great value and fun for the whole family!
If there’s one sure-fire way to ruin a good day whilst holidaying this summer it’s getting caught up in the scrum at the laundry! It’s bad enough that you need to wash whilst on holidays but courtesy from your fellow holidaymakers can help ease the annoyance of this necessary evil. Similar grumbles can be heard echoing from within laundry tubs from one side of the country to the other but none more so than during the Christmas holiday peak when parks are at their busiest.
Granted that there are varying ideas on this issue mainly centred on whether “to remove or not remove” (ie. another’s laundry from a washing machine or dryer) however common courtesy can help you navigate the awkwardness of having to handle someone else’s smalls or someone handling yours!
After decades of frequenting holiday parks during January we’ve compiled these top tips to keep you smiling all summer long despite the chores!
1. Be present or risk having someone man handle your smalls.
If you don’t want someone touching your clean washing after your load is done, set the timer on your phone as a reminder to return on time or wait at the laundry until your load finishes. The machines and dryers in parks are there to share. It’s completely unfair to your fellow holiday makers to expect them to hold up their holiday until you’re ready to return- after all they too are on holidays and want to get the chores done and get on with fun in the sun. Guaranteed they also didn’t want to be put in the situation to have to make the awkward choice to remove your washing or not, nor did they want to handle your washing, so do the right thing and be there if you can. Most machines will tell you how long a load takes or there will be a sign. Set your timer approximately 8 mins prior to the load ending... this will give you time to finish your morning cuppa and walk back to the laundry in time- some machines are quicker than what they say too so it’s a good idea to be a few minutes early.
2. Leave a basket or bag.
We all know that at times the best laid plans to get back to the laundry before the loads finishes can go pear shaped. Very few people would want to dump your clean load on the floor but I have seen this happen when there is no owner to be found, no basket or bag left and no side table or ironing board on which to place the clean load. Leaving a basket or bag on top of or in front of the machine or dryer where your load is can avoid such situations. It says to your fellow holidaymakers... if I’m not here and you need the machine please put my things in here and not on the floor. If you are tight for space and can’t fit a basket in your luggage then throw in a striped bag that you can pick up from a dollar shop for a few bucks or buy yourself a pop up basket from a camping store.
3. If you need to remove someone else’s washing, respect it.
If you arrive at the laundry only to find it deserted of people but all bases loaded with machines that have gone full cycle then it’s only fair that you continue to wash as you’d planned. This leaves you with the dilemma of what to do next. As you’ve probably already gathered, in this instance I’m a “remover” but a respectful one. Hopefully there’s a basket or bag to place the washing in or there may be a sorting table where you could leave it. If there’s nowhere clean to leave it then put it into a garbage bag so it stays clean. There could be a good reason that they didn’t come back to get their washing on time so a little consideration here goes a long way.
4. Clean up after your load!
Most caravanners and campers would agree that sandy bedsheets are pretty annoying... especially when you’ve just washed them! Summer is best when it’s sandy but not when holiday park washing machines are full of it; so if you’ve had fun at the beach try to shake as much sand out of your clothing before washing it. Take a packet of wipes or some wet paper towel with you to the laundry and when your load is done and removed, give the machine a quick wipe out so it’s clean and sand free for the next user. Similarly clean the lint filter in the dryers after use... having to empty it after someone else has used it isn’t much fun... Eeek!
5. Share the lines.
The only line we should be holding this summer is a fishing line, not a washing line. If you are holidaying in a park where there are limited clothes lines please consider removing your washing from the line as soon as it’s dry. Once again you risk someone man handling your washing in the fight for facilities if there are no other available washing lines free and yours is the driest load. The “but I got up and got in early” argument doesn’t always stand to reason here as many travellers are in transit and part of their reason for stopping at a holiday park is often to wash. These travellers will often pull in later and leave early. They too have paid to use the facilities and it’s only fair to share them.
A trip to the laundry doesn’t have to become World War III, by following these simple tips, you are on your way to a harmonious holiday. Enjoy your washing-war-free summer break!
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