The great outdoors

Having spent the best part of a year building our campervan in preparation for lots of mini-breaks in the great outdoors, a thought suddenly occurred to me: I hope we do actually like the great outdoors. In 13 years together, our experience of campsites has extended to one short holiday travelling around New Zealand a few years ago – a campervan trip we enjoyed so much it encouraged us to build our own.

Limited experience of ‘the outdoors’ (in NZ)

The main reason we’ve never truly embraced this quintessentially Australian lifestyle is probably due to a complete LOVE of hotels. Whether it’s a city centre spa nestled in a quirky cultural quarter, a boutique B&B perched on a clifftop, or, quite frankly, a Holiday Inn on the M1, if there’s ever a chance for a weekend away, you can put our names down.

It’s such a treat staying in a hotel; a real feeling of escapism. I love the sense of anticipation when you first pull back the curtains and peak at the view. The excitement when you prise open the mini-bar and involuntarily gasp at the price of the Pringles. The thrill when they replace all your toiletries the next morning (when actually you’ve just stashed the first lot in your washbag). The indulgence of hanging the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door, just because you can. (Much to my sister’s embarrassment when I was sharing a room with her.)

While room service and complimentary smellies might be harder to come by at a campsite, it’s the sense of freedom we’re hoping to capture in the campervan. The chance to escape after work on Friday, put a pin in the map and then just rock on up to somewhere new – particularly somewhere with a beautiful view. (Of course the fact we’ll be able to open the fridge when we get there and not have to pay for Pringles is an added bonus.)

And having devoured every episode of Bear Grylls in recent years, I feel we’re fairly well equipped to deal with anything nature might throw at us. I will be quite content to sit under our awning and twirl a twig for three hours to produce a spark for our stove. And if ever a cold front moves in and we get caught in a storm, I will be instructing Paul to immediately strip off all his clothes and perform 20 star jumps naked to get his (and everyone else’s) heart pumping.

<I won’t be inserting an appropriate picture here.>

Anyway despite these useful skills, for all intents and purposes, we are definitely camping novices. So we thought we should conduct a trial run before our van is finished, just to brush up on our camping etiquette and basically check that after 12 months’ work, our enthusiasm for an outdoors mini-break is still intact.

The opportunity arose a few weeks ago when we visited some friends in Mackay, 1000km north of Brisbane. We decided to break with tradition and, after spending one night in ‘a nice hotel’, we checked into the Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort for the next night. I’ll do a quick review of the campsite and our experience in the next blog post – not that it particularly warrants the added suspense, but from a ‘technical perspective’ I can separate it out from blog posts about the campervan conversion.

Thankfully though, we had a great time. And suffice it to say, star jumps are so last year.


7 thoughts on “The great outdoors

  1. Very musing story…………….perhaps each morning Paul can take the toiletries you have accumulated and place them on the bed !!
    Thank goodness you have canned the idea of star jumps!!
    Just think of all the fantastic views you will have from your loo!!!
    How are the curtains coming along?

    • I like that toiletries idea very much – will suggest it to Paul.
      Curtains… well it’s going to come down to the wire but I’m still hopeful. I think I’ve finished 5 and started 3 more. We need 11 though argh!

  2. Hi Rach
    I have followed your blog from the 2nd or 3rd post and have really enjoyed reading about your project.
    In April this year I bought an aging Toyota hiace that was already converted to a Campervan and it was the best thing I have ever done.
    At every opportunity I load up Sophia and take off, after about 10 minutes on the road I am singing my head off.
    I have just got back from 2 days in Hill End and even though I was freezing this morning I had a great time. While I love staying in hotels the freedom of camping wherever i like and whenever I am tired of driving is fantastic.
    And my new curtains that I made recently look great.
    Hope to see you on the road one day.
    Miss Della

    • Thanks very much for your comment Miss Della! Your van sounds great, and that’s what we’re most looking forward to, being able to stop whenever and wherever we like. Well done on the curtains, they’re taking me forever – Hiace windows are not the easiest to dress!


      ps Sophia’s a great name – we really must decide on one for ours. I’m thinking it’s a boy van though ;o)

  3. Rachel
    A scary thought; but now I can’t get the mental image of Paul doing star jumps in his birthday suit!
    I’m sure the curtains will be ready by the weekend.
    Must catch up over the festive season.
    Renata and the girls would love to see the campervan.
    Great work by you both.

  4. I am hesitating showing the post to the girls – I fear it may give them nightmares about their Uncle Paul!

    Good luck with finishing the curtains. It is really impressive what you and Paul have done.

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