Seeing Australia one posting at a time
We are a down to earth Aussie Defence family of four who love a good laugh and have a passion for outdoor adventure. However we’re not your usual big lappers, instead we are a Defence family exploring Australia one posting (move) at a time. And whilst they don’t seem to be standard-issue we’ve found a sense of humour definitely comes in handy!
Willow has spent over 20 years working for the Australian Army. His career in Defence has seen us posted to a number of different locations throughout the country. We have enjoyed (or endured – it’s a fine line sometimes haha) stays in Brisbane, Sydney, Townsville, Darwin, back to Brisbane and now we’re currently in Perth. We’ve certainly clocked up some mileage.
So as you might’ve guessed we aren’t grey nomads, nor are we twelve month big lappers. Instead our travels and exploration are more an ongoing lifestyle and something we do all the time in whatever new location we find ourselves.
As a Defence family we’re simply embracing what we can’t change and making the most of it (turning those pineapples into pina coladas) by seeing as much of Oz as we can on every posting. Unlike many big lappers, we get to spend 3 years on average in each location so we’re not simply passing through and seeing the tourist hotspots. We actually become locals ourselves every posting and discover some absolutely amazing spots.
It can certainly be daunting moving every few years – that comes with a whole host of challenges on its own – but thanks to our love of camping and 4WDing we’ve been lucky to have met plenty of awesome people along the journey not to mention we’ve discovered some truly spectacular places. Sometimes you literally have to be a local to find the best spots and we’re happy to share our adventures and photography with you, not to mention the tips and tricks we pick up ourselves along the way. Hope to see ya round the trax!
…he’s pretty much what you’d get if you combined Russell Coight, Malcolm Douglas and an urban dictionary all into one! Oh and there’s no filter, so like it, or not, you’ll always get his honest opinion.
Willow is a little 4WD obsessed and doesn’t mind going off road; because let’s be honest that’s where you’ll find some of the best locations!
Willow had a Nissan Pathfinder when we first met which got us over to Fraser for some early adventures, later we bought a Toyota Hilux when living in FNQ but it would be fair to say the 4WD bug didn’t completely take hold till he was deployed overseas where he’d eagerly await the fresh copy of 4WD Action mag in his regular care packages. From there it was basically a case of hitting home soil and purchasing the Toyota Prado straight away… well after we convinced the seller it wasn’t a scam and that he truly had been out of the country when inquiring about the vehicle! Over the following six years, that rig got kitted out with just about everything we needed till we upgraded to the 76 series Toyota Landcruiser in 2018 and kicked off the process all over again.
Over the years Willow has pretty much criss-crossed the country getting us from one home base to another, and that’s not even taking into account all the additional exploring we’ve done in between. I’m certainly biased, but personally I couldn’t think of anyone better to take a road trip with. From his seemingly endless arsenal of inappropriate catchphrases to his campfire karaoke/dancing, he’s certainly a loveable character and keeps everyone he meets entertained.
After all, we’re not here to “fornicate with arachnids”
(yeah ok, we’ve put a PG spin on that one for the site haha!)
One “show pony” in the family is plenty enough so it’s almost a case of opposites attract. When it comes to Ally she’s perfectly comfortable being behind the lens rather than in front. She has a passion for photography and loves capturing our family adventures. She’s witty and loves a good pun but above all she’s a nature lover and conservationist at heart. If there’s not a camera in Ally’s hand there’s usually a bag of other people’s rubbish that she’s collected from some track or campsite.
Sometimes our family adventures might appear like she wasn’t even there (we’re both working to fix that!) but she definitely plays a huge part not only as co-driver and navigator but as the family organiser. I’m sure other Mums can relate but there’s a whole lot to be done behind the scenes to ensure there are enough snacks, drinks, jumpers, sunscreen, hats, and whatever else you can name just to make family travel happen…well to make it happen smoothly anyway! For that we’re all very grateful.
The mini explorers
Kids offer a legit excuse to stay at places with wicked waterslides, or to hit the games room, purchase glow sticks and have marshmallows over the campfire. Jokes aside, we are fortunate to have two amazing kids and they simply love joining us on our camping and outdoor adventures. They’ve literally been camping ever since they were just babies and to be honest, they don’t really know any different.
Miss 10 is our mini wildlife warrior, our animal enthusiast and quiet darling who takes after Mum. It doesn’t matter at all whether a creature has feathers, fur or even scales, she’s keen to get up close. She loves to sing and is currently learning guitar so she can teach Dad a thing or two apparently!
On the other hand, Master 8 is our daredevil. Usually found with a stick in his hands and a pocket full of rocks, he’s a magnet for mud but beyond the dirt and skinned knees he has an enormous heart. With energy you simply wish you could bottle, he’s fast, active and always up to some type of mischievous fun. If you hadn’t already guessed, he takes after Dad.
Suzie the Staffy
Last, but certainly not least, we have our girl Suzie who we got as an adorable pup from Ally’s brother. She is a blue staffy and was named by our daughter (who was only 3yo at the time). She has an amazingly gentle temperament. She’s fabulous with the kids, loves joining us on any adventure and she’s also partial to a paddle on the stand up paddle board – all the paddling done by us of course haha. We take her camping with us whenever we can but obviously we can’t take her when visiting national parks etc but in every other respect she’s certainly a part of the family.
In The Spotlight
In 2018, our family were fortunate to tag along with CAMPER TRAILER LIFESTYLE for a Queensland Beaches adventure. We used our own travelling and camping experience to test and review three different hybrid campers for their television series. We appeared in three separate episodes that aired on One HD as we explored our weekend favourite Bribie Island and also picturesque Fraser Island. You can read more about the filming here.
Our little family was very excited to be approached to feature in an article by Caravan RV Camping. They were interested in our background, our travel experiences and tips for travelling with a family. The interview occurred just prior to our relocation from Brisbane to Perth and we discussed our move across the country, plans for future adventures and also some travel tips that work for our family. Have a read of the interview here.
Fellow travellers MYRIG Adventures complied a list of 40 Australian Travel Blogs to follow. We were stoked to be featured alongside a quality bunch of like minded people all hitting the road to explore our beautiful country.
Check it out and see what we had to say and perhaps find some inspiration to get out there yourself.
We were also humbled to share a chat with Defence Families Australia (DFA). As an Aussie Defence family we aren’t on a ‘gap year’ nor the typical ‘big lap’ but instead this is an ongoing lifestyle for us. We make the most of moving interstate every couple of years by seeing as much as possible in each location throughout our beautiful country.
Read some more about our journey and offroad adventures here.
Willow has always been an avid 4WDer, whilst Ally grew up in country Far North Queensland, so we both love the outdoors in general. We reckon nothing quite compares to pulling up at a stunning campsite to discover very few others around or better yet sometimes no one at all. That’s what we consider a perfect getaway as opposed to a swanky hotel.
As a couple we loved our offroad camping adventures and when the kids came along they simply joined in the fun. Way back when we lived in Darwin, we started adding our family adventures to YouTube. Afterwards we created a Facebook page around mid 2016 whist we were posted to Brisbane as a way to share our family adventures.
Sharing on socials initially kicked off as we always meet lots of people on the tracks or on our camping trips and we wanted to share with everyone but also maintain some privacy on our own personal profiles.
We hope to motivate other families to get out and explore the great outdoors. We love receiving messages and helping people out with questions about our gear or seeking some further info on the locations we’ve visited.
We also want to showcase to people that you don’t need to set off on a ‘Big Lap’ to discover some beautiful places or to teach the kids about the great outdoors.
Wow, that’s definitely a tough one that we get asked. To be fair, each and every place has so many special qualities that it’s hard to narrow down as we’ve seen so much.
Having said that, Ally’s favourites are probably Kakadu, the Cape and K’gari (Fraser Island). Not so much the tourist hotspots in those places but moreso taking in a sunset on Ubirr or Indian Head, or having a beautiful freshwater creek all to yourself on the Tele Track, it’s the sense of tranquility/spiritualism and connection to nature that nurtures the soul.
For Willow, his choices largely reflect the mantra that it’s all about the journey rather than the destination. The Gibb River Road was a highlight for him, not merely the stunning gorges and remote waterfalls but the tracks and adventure simply to get there.
Although we’ve ticked off some amazing places like conquering the Cape, the Gibb River Road, Kakadu, Litchfield, Fraser and Moreton Island there’s still an ever growing number of destinations on our ‘To Do’ list. It seems the more we see the more we want to see. Stay tuned for more new locations as we continue our adventures.
Willow is full time Army and that’s been his job for the last 20+ years whilst Ally is a business analyst with experience across a range of industries.
So how do we manage to get away so much? It’s more the case of taking every opportunity we can to get out exploring. Whether that’s weekends, public holidays, school holidays or long service leave we get out and about at every possible opportunity.
We also generally road trip to our next ‘home’ when relocating which most recently saw us kick off a half lap from Brisbane to Perth across the Nullarbor.
One of the best things of course is that when we get to a new location we spend a few years on average in each location so we’re not simply passing through and only seeing the tourist hotspots. We actually become locals ourselves each posting and discover some absolutely amazing spots. What an adventure!
We purchased our Jayco Outback Swan camper trailer in late 2013 whilst living in the Top End. Other than weekenders to Litchfield and Kakadu our first big trip with it in tow was the Gibb River Road which is a heavily corrugated track through the Kimberlys.
The only issue we encountered was a fluke rock bouncing up and sheering a break line on the camper but fortunately Willow was able to fix it himself with the tools and supplies we had packed for the trip.
Our little pop top has also done numerous trips to Fraser Island. We managed to clock up four one year! We’ve also taken it over to Moreton Island to ‘escape the fake’ as they say.
The most epic trip we’ve probably taken it on however was to Cape York, the tip of mainland Australia. Again, it proved worthy over the corrugations of the Peninsula Development Road. We left the camper at Bramwell Station to tackle the Old Tele Track – can’t go that far and pass that up! – but then we hitched back up and towed it all the way to Loyalty Beach at the Tip.
We’ve actually been asked about home schooling on a number of occasions which usually catches us by surprise. We’ve found people are genuinely shocked when we respond “What do you mean? The kids go to a regular school!”
We guess people see how much we travel and assume we are on the road full time or they’ve seen us for instance post locations in one state and then another but the variety comes from where we might be living at the time.
On average our postings are 3 years per location so the kids integrate into the local school. Moving does have its challenges and that’s potentially becoming more apparent as the kids grow up (from our experience they seem to be forming stronger bonds with friends/classmates the older they get) but on the positive side they have become very adaptable and we are constantly impressed by their ability to thrive in new situations. Some of that we guess is due to the Defence lifestyle but we attribute much of their social skills and resilience to our regular camping and offroading adventures where they meet a whole range of new people.
So whilst we aren’t experienced in that arena, there are loads of great resources online for those that are homeschooling.
In need of some travel inspiration?
Check out these posts: