Home away from home
I’m currently sitting in our bus and the kids are both asleep in the double pram, Sam is working for the first time in four months and it’s strange not having him here. That said, I’m also relishing in the quiet, alone time. It’s sacred silence and since living in the bus, it’s very rare. It’s peaceful here; we’re parked beside the ocean and looking out to the most magical views - the perfect spot to write while sipping coffee.
We’re in Lorne at the moment, a little seaside town in Victoria along the great ocean road, it’s the most breathtaking place. I feel like now is a better time than any to talk about what life on the road is really like - the obstacles we’ve overcome and how we’ve settled into this new way of living.
It’s been four months since we sold everything and headed off on our big adventure. We left home (Cabarita Beach, Northern NSW) with open minds and hearts, ready to experience whatever our journey had in store for us. We always knew we wouldn’t travel all the way around Australia but instead stop in places that we loved - no schedules or solid plans. But in all honesty, this whole life change was a spontaneous decision inspired by Netflix documentaries and the end of our rental lease. We literally bought the bus and drove off into the sunset. We didn’t have much money but we had all the freedom we could wish for.
We’re not the type of people to make plans so our decision to live and travel in a bus didn’t come as much of a surprise to our family and friends. Granted, our spontaneity can be a really good thing but it can also lead to unanticipated challenges.
There is so much to love about this lifestyle - we have no routines, we follow the sun and search for the best surf, the kids sleep when they need to and on most days our biggest concern is what we’re going to eat for dinner. We are spending so much time together, raising our boys and soaking up all the little, everyday moments that pass by so quickly. All those moments we so easily take for granted.
But the challenges…money! We hit the road with close to $9,000 and honestly thought it would last us a good, long while because we didn’t have to pay rent or bills. But boy oh boy does travelling Australia soak up your money! After spending $3,000 on bus repairs and then paying for an expensive boat trip back from Tasmania, we were left with a third of what we set off with. We avoided too much discussion on the lingering money topic because we were open to working and thought we still had a few months up our sleeves if we stuck by a strict budget and caught food ourselves. Sam planned to spear fish and we would buy big bags of rice and bulk fruit and veg from a local store in Lorne. We had gone from eating slow cooked curries and enjoying a nice bottle of wine everyday to counting every dollar and omitting all luxuries - even packaged food!
Regardless of our situation, Lorne is a beautiful place to be. It’s magical! We live by the sea, we laugh with the most incredible people and we explore the most amazing beaches. Sam is relishing in the sickest surfs of his life, the air is fresh and salty and the roads hug the mountains. It’s paradise! We have been here for almost two months now and we’ve made new friends that I know will be friends for life. These kind, generous souls have made our challenging situation bearable because even when we’ve been down to our last few dollars, they’re looking out for us.
The caravan park is really expensive ($75/night) so we’ve been sleeping by the beach each night and we move the bus at 6am everyday to avoid the council rangers. That said, we’ve had some good chats with them and I think they’re well aware that we’ve been sleeping here most nights. But I honestly believe that they know we’re good people; they’ve seen us cleaning up rubbish from the beaches after the tourists flood here each weekend.
Regardless of supportive new friends and a beautiful location, the stress of having such a small amount in the bank was really starting to stress us out! Then we received a call from a friend of a friend who offered Sam some work. He was offered a full-time job as an electrician and we were delighted (well, I was delighted, Sam not so much as he wanted to leave his electrician trade behind and embark on a new career but work is work so of course he took it!). Our rough plan is to head to WA so we need a good amount in the bank before we set off.
In between all the chaos of Sam starting a new job, our friend went on holidays and offered us her little cottage by the sea for 10 days. It was so lovely to be in a comfortable, beautiful home with ocean views. A mini holiday which is exactly what we needed. And it was so good to have hot showers, a flushing toilet and a full kitchen. It’s the simple things!
One evening, while discussing our plans to drive to WA, we worked out that Sam would have to work for another six weeks for us to save enough money. But Lorne was getting cold and so on a whim we booked cheap flights to Bali, knowing that we could live there for a month on a lot less money that we could here. Plus I could meet regularly with my sewing team for Oak Meadow and really connect with the lovely people who bring my designs to life.
The first morning back in the bus after house-sitting was gloomy. The rain had arrived and it was only 10 degrees. It rained solidly for over a week, there was mud everywhere, the dog was wet, the kids were stir crazy and I was alone…trying to run my online business when the kids slept, which they rarely did.
So I walked into the Lorne Caravan Park and pleaded my case. I was honest with the woman at reception: “I have two kids and we have no family here, we need help. We cant afford $75 a night, we don’t have enough money and I need heating for the boys as the night temps are below 10 degrees.”
She smiled and knew our story and organised a deal of $140 a week on a powered site so we could run heating and have warm showers. We parked right at the playground and we were so happy - all of us! We stayed there for four long, wet weeks and I trudged through each freezing cold day.
And then just like that, I couldn’t function anymore. I was feeling so alone, cold and miserable. I felt like we were on Survivor! Why the hell would I move into a bus while my husband worked everyday? Raising two young boys was hard enough in a house let alone a bus! What was I thinking?!
I found myself very quickly reaching breaking point; I couldn’t think clearly, I didn’t feel present and Oak Meadow was really overwhelming me. It was just all too much! I kept on pushing myself and then bang…I was in the local doctors room being advised to stop, slow down and nourish myself. But isn’t living in a bus the epitome of slow living? Well, I don’t really agree with this concept - it’s non-stop with little kids. There’s no fences, no boundaries and you’re practically chasing kids all day. Granted it’s fine when you’re on a white beach with endless sunshine but doing it in the cold, rain and mud is a very different story!
But what to do? Do I close Oak Meadow? Was it stressing me too much or were our living circumstances just too overwhelming? I had a lot to process and I’m really grateful for my best friend and our new Lorne friends who helped me work my way through it all.
I called my nan and cried and told her that I just wanted to be home. I knew we had Bali to look forward to but it wasn’t enough at this stage - I was so unhappy. So I booked flights for the boys and I to the Gold Coast and Sam decided to stay in Lorne and finish up work before we flew to Indonesia. Leaving Sam was so hard - I was wracked with guilt and I felt like I’d failed us all. But we went and I was instantly healed by the sun and beautiful home cooking and love from my nan.
All in all we will look back and know these where the best days of our lives. We don’t have much but we have each other and I have you - my beautiful and loyal customers and friends. I’d be so lost without Oak Meadow and its kind family. The support, love and guidance from you all is really what keeps me going and flowing. And Sam’s constant encouragement and love is just priceless. Because let’s face it, somedays I was up and I’m like: “All I need is a shower and what the hell am I doing living in a bus?”
Although bus living has been overwhelming it has its moments like everything in life. The reality is we must live in each day and appreciate each moment. It’s easy to get caught up in wondering what’s coming next. But trusting, making good decisions (and sometimes not so good ones), embracing spontaneity and adventure and being true to yourself….it’s the best way. And lastly, be honest with yourself and those around you.