Can you believe I have been on this incredible journey for 1 year now? I can’t. The time has gone really quickly. Life fly’s by whether you are busy working or not so I am happy to be doing what I am loving doing. Seeing this beautiful country, having new experiences and meeting some wonderful people.
Geographically I am probably half way through my big lap. I am currently on the Sunshine Coast. Due to the “north in winter” aspect of my trip, I envisage I won’t be back in Western Australia for another 2 years. (I will of course fly back from time to time).
When I set out I had a 1984 Toyota Coaster named Rhonda. I still have her. She is fully decked out for off grid camping. I can comfortably camp without power or needing to top up water or food supplies for at least a week. I set myself a budget of $500 per week made up as follows:
Food & Drink $155 made up of Groceries $105 Dining out $20 Takeaways $10 Alcohol $20
Accommodation $ 50 Allowed for an average of 1 or 2 nights in a caravan park each week
Fuel $100 Diesel 100litre tank. I have an extra tank which I have never used
Entertainment $ 20 Entry fees to tourist attractions, museums etc
Transport $ 14 flights home, hire car, public transport
Gas $ 10 Inside gas burner, BBQ and cost of gas cylinders for portable stove
Medical $ 50 I have private health insurance at $82 per fortnight
Rego/Insurance $ 30 Can’t escape the on road costs
Service & Repairs $ 40 Allowed for service every 6 months
Clothes $ 5 live in shorts and a t shirt most days
Laundry $ 5 One of the few household chores I can’t escape from
Phone/Internet $ 21 On a plan with Telstra but also have a satellite phone (never used)
Miscellaneous $Nil Tight budget that I didn’t allow for any “extras”
On top of this I put I put away separate savings for Big Ticket Items for sightseeing (like Lake Argyle trip, helicopter over Bungle Bungles etc) and also if something major major happened to Rhonda. Which has just happened in the last couple of weeks. Major surgery required like a new motor!
So how did I fare?
Over the 12 months I am $2,340 over budget so that’s 10% over. All can be attributed to additional repairs and the inverter I brought in Geraldton. So I am pretty happy with that.
Food and alcohol came in $122 under. Grocery bill was way under and dining out was higher than I expected so it balanced itself out. Alcohol was about on par, that is $20 per week.
Transport costs were way over but then I had an additional trip back to Perth and I have already paid for my next trip in April/May.
Repairs and Services were $3,664 over budget but everything else was close enough to ball park.
One thing I learnt was that if you stay out in the bush far away from towns and shops then it’s really hard to spend any money. Having a list and sticking to it when you go grocery shopping also helps. As does not driving too far each day. I made a conscious decision not to drive more than 300km in a day and to try and spend longer in one place. Fuel costs totalled $4,505 which was $495 under budget.
I have covered 18,790km so far (plus about 1,230 in hire car).
Over the past 12 months I have read exactly 50 books, so about 1 per week. My favourite books still remain autobiographies and I have managed to read a lot of books about people and places through which I have travelled.
There have been too many to list. Lake Argyle and Fraser Island are standouts but there have been just so many. And you know what? Waking up beside a river in the morning or watching the sunset over the horizon in the late afternoon are just as special. On top of the list would have to be the people I have met along the way. Some I knew before and others I met along the way.
Few and far between. It’s always an anxious time when something goes wrong mechanically with Rhonda but I have never been stranded. Even the morning I went to take off from Maroochy River and discovered I had a flat tyre wasn’t devastating. A phone call to my Roadside Assistance company (Ken Tame) and a truck was out within the hour. He even repaired the tyre on the sport, put a new tube in and I was on my way within the next hour. Pretty good service. Even the cost of the tube wasn’t extra cost. So I lost 2 hours. I was only heading 15km up the road so no big deal.
I miss my family and friends back in Perth and Collie. Especially my 2 new grandsons. One born just before I left and the other just last month. I flew back once during the year (for my son’s wedding) and I have another flight booked for April/May. Phone calls and messenger and texts keep me in touch with loved ones. They all support what I am doing so that makes it a bit easier.
While I miss my friends both in Collie and Perth, my trip has allowed me to catch up with old friends along the way. The first 29 years of my life were spent on the east coast so it has been wonderful so far to catch up with old school mates and people I associated with as a teenager. It is really amazing to meet up with someone you haven’t seen for in excess of 40 years and feel instantly comfortable and as though it was only last week. Friendship, true friendship is like that. I feel blessed.
So what is next?
More travel. I will slowly head south to Coffs Harbour and then fly back to Perth for my mother’s 90th birthday and a month catching up with family and friends and then when I fly back I will head back up to Northern Territory for the winter, heading up inland to discover new places.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog as much as I have had fun writing it.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.