April 29, 2019

What We Learnt on our Trial Run in our Campervan

We have a camper van!!!

A ~very~ mini home!

We were thinking about getting a camper van way before we even flew over to Australia. And to say that we actually have one now seems so surreal. We have our very own home! A very little one, and a very very cute and cosy one at that! 

When I pictured George and I buying our first home, I pictured a cosy little two bedroom house in Manchester with an open plan kitchen/dining room with a lovely garden. I most definitely never thought it would be a one bedroom fit with a steering wheel and a literal open plan kitchen that can be as big or as small as you want it to be. 

On Saturday we left Mollymook, a town in New South Wales that we have been living in for just over 6 months, and we have just started our biggest adventure yet. 

It’s going to be a real test on so many levels. It will for sure be test of our relationship (if we can survive 24 hours a day for 6 months we can pretty much survive anything!) Living in such a small confined space after being used to a bedroom, proper storage and a real kitchen for so long will be crazy and to say I am slightly nervous would be a humongous understatement. Living a life where the only two big decisions will be 1) what to have for dinner over the stove and 2) where to park up to sleep that night, is going to take a lot of getting used to but will for sure be so freeing and amazing. Neither of us have ever experienced anything like this before and I am so excited for it! 

Three weeks ago we travelled to Merimbula which is 3.5 hours south of Mollymook, and took our beloved van for its very first spin. We thought it was a good idea to test the waters so we could get a feel for life on the road, figure out if we had everything we needed, and we could also take the time to visit a really beautiful spot nearby before we head off. Here are the few things we learnt during our trip! 

A Deep Cycle Battery is Essential

When we bought the van, for some reason we thought that it already had a second battery. There was a power inverter and plug sockets that worked, and we presumed that if there was power, there must be a second battery. Oh how we were wrong! The inverter was inverting power from the car battery, which meant that if you leave the inverter on, the car battery will go flat. Which happened to be the case for us. Twice. TWICE! In two days. In the very same spot. Thank goodness for the call out NRMA and then the lovely electrician that happened to pass by our van at 6am. $80 and two jump starts later, we released we did not have a second battery and we came up with the conclusion that if we wanted to survive driving through the middle of Australia in the desert with next to no people passing by, we were going to have to get an external source of power. 

George took a few calls to local electricians and did a bit of research, and we eventually got a deep cycle battery fitted last week. This one also has a better inverter so all of our appliances work (my laptop wasn’t working on the other one.)

With the old inverter-car-battery set up, to avoid the car battery going flat, we would have only been able to run power to our appliances when the car was running. Which meant that the cooler would basically never be able to keep our food cool enough. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be opening our cool box, possibly in the middle of nowhere to find mouldy cheese and get into a panic knowing we have nothing for dinner. Now we will be able to have fresh food on the go. Perfect for someone who has annoyingly ridiculous dietary needs like me. lol.

Merimbula is Beautiful

Oh. My. Goodness. If you are ever in Australia and happen to be in the south east coast of New South Wales, please visit Merimbula. It was absolutely amazing. the views on a clear day are the most beautiful I have ever seen. Head over to Mitch’s Jetty for beautiful views, shallow crystal clear water and paddle board and kayak hire. And go to the Bar beach kiosk for food with a view. There are a few spots around this kiosk and Bar beach with a beautiful view from the hill. 

You Can Find Beautiful Camping Spots For Free

Both of the two nights we stayed in Merimbula we didn’t book a campsite. There are plenty of free spots to set up camp with beautiful views! Most beaches will have clean toilets by them and most will also have showers (possibly quite cold though especially in the winter.) We stayed in the carpark next to the boat ramp in Merimbula. It was so quiet all night and the view in the morning was lovely. Although there were a lot of boats setting up early int he morning so we found somewhere else to eat breakfast.

For breakfast, we at the car park at short point beach, which had the most incredible view I’ve probably ever seen. It was so beautiful we decided to sleep there the next night. We woke up to the sound of the ocean and sunrise peeking through the curtains. It was pretty incredible! There weren’t any showers so we took a natural bath in the ocean which was an experience!

We Needed New Curtains 

We knew when we purchased the van that we were going to have to replace the curtains. They were one sheet of fabric each and were unable to open, so when we were chilling in the van even in the morning, we were in darkness. And when we woke up at sunrise, I was too tired to get up and see it (I know, I know what a waste) and we couldn’t see it from the van. With the curtains so stationary, the blackout fabric ended up sticking to the window, and the only way to un stick it was to rip it all off. With this the curtains totally fell apart, so it definitely meant we needed new ones! 

Luckily, our friend Sharon had some spare fabric that I could use to make some new ones. So now, instead of black polyester fabric, we now have a lovely peachy cream patterned set of curtains, that we can now also open and close to our hearts content! 

Everything is SO Far in Australia

In England, having to travel 30 minutes to a relative on the other side of Manchester feels far. And if you drove for four hours down to London just for two days you’d be considered some sort of maniac. But four hours is a short trip over here. Round the corner if you may. Its mental. It took us three and a half hours to get to Merimbula which seems to be pretty standard over here for a lil holiday. 

Long Drives Can Be Fun

When we travel through the middle of Australia via Uluru, it might be a different story. But you can definitely make long drives fun. Aside from a slightly numb bum, its not really that bad. The key is a good, solid playlist and good company, which we obviously have with each other. You an always rely on a good eye spy if you need to. We also recently picked up a crossword book with 200 crosswords in it, so that should keep us busy for the majority of our journeys! 

Drinking Whisky in The Van is a big NO

We were just getting comfy on our first night in the van, with brand new bedding and an episode of Brooklyn 99 ready to play on the laptop, when George spilt his whisky all over the bed (luckily on his side and not mine lol.) Just what we wanted – our whole home smelt like alcohol. Turns out not having bed side tables is a little bit of an issue. Its safe to say it will be best to drink our fluids either outside of the van, or sat in the front of the van.

We’ve got the travel bug

The few days we spent in Merimbula gave us a little taste of what we will have longterm in our van. It felt so free and wonderful. The world is literally our oyster. Aside from a few stops we have planned, like visiting Georges friends in South Australia, and farming in Yarra Valley, each day will be a mystery until we wake up and do it. We loved the feeling of being able to camp up and eat wherever we liked and the fact that our back garden can have a different view every day. Plus, I wrote this blog post on our way out of Mollymook, on the first day of our adventure, so you should hopefully expect to see lots more blog posts during our trip and long drives (spoiler – it’s been an amazing few days so far!)


Thanks for reading this blog post, speak soon,


Laura x

Laura Frances Heitzman

Part time designer and illustrator and full time traveller. Thanks so much for stopping by. If you want to find out more about me visit my about me page :) Laura x

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