Realities Of Van Life: Week 2 Fails & Successes
This blog post is the second in a weekly series sharing real experiences of van life, as I travel Australia in my camper, Roma. Each week, I publish a post with the previous week’s failures and successes (you can read about week one here). I’ve committed to this van life diary for my entire four-month tour, so it’ll be interesting to see how my perspective changes in that time! To know when each post goes live, sign up.
I can safely say that by week two of van life, the novelty has worn off. What initially felt like a fun camping holiday, now feels like a long-term reality. As you’ll find with every form of travel, the overall experience is fantastic, but it doesn’t come without the odd trial and frustration.
At this point, Dave and I are seriously trying to perfect our experience by picking up important hacks that will improve our comfort. You see, in all those wistful and scenic #vanlife Instagram posts, there are a fair few details of this lifestyle that aren’t revealed.
Perhaps it’s because we are travelling northwest Australia as it enters the wet season, but the heat is our nemesis right now.
Given that our van is a budget renovation job, we don’t have the luxury of air-conditioning when we aren’t driving. This means when the temperature tops forty degrees celsius, which it does daily, there is literally no escape from the intense heat.
At night, the temperature drops no lower than twenty-three degrees, and this combined with two adults sharing a small space with virtually no breeze, can lead to sleepless nights (and mildly irritable humans the following morning).
Another detail missing from the social media portrayal of van life is the inability to sit outside after dusk, thanks to moths, flies, mosquitos, and other flying creatures.
Before we left Perth, Dave and I stocked up on fly-repellent candles and spray, which seems to help a bit, but it’s still insanely annoying to have flies land on you repeatedly. Most evenings, by 8pm, we’re forced to relax inside Roma, which then means she’s pretty hot from our body heat by the time we want to sleep.
Anyway, that’s enough of the negativity!
Alongside these challenges, I’m so appreciative of the fact that we’re able to get up and go wherever we want, whenever we want. The long drives between destinations sometimes mean eight or nine hours on a single straight road, yet the backdrop is so phenomenal in places, that this is actually a part I really enjoy. Although, Dave might say differently, as he does the majority of the driving…
This week, our trusty campervan has taken us from the adventure playground of the Karijini National Park to Broome, Halls Creek, and Kununurra.
Just like the first week of our travels, it’s been eventful in good ways, and ways we’d rather forget.
Van life fails
- Having the van invaded by a massive red spider 😱
- Discovering that head torches cause crickets to jump at your face
- Sleepless nights because of the heat – last moan, I promise!
- Realising that many activities are already closed for the wet season – serious bummer
Van life successes
- Banishing the horrendous red spider from the van, thank god
- No accidental killings of birds or other animals whilst driving
- Having our first campfire (not for the heat, of course, just the ambience)
- Another week of no engine troubles – quick, touch wood!
- Spotting a freshwater crocodile right next to our camp
Fails = 4
Successes = 5
All in all, a good week, and that’s not even taking into account the incredible sights we’ve seen along our route.
The ultimate highs of week two
Watching the sunset from renowned Cable Beach
Cable Beach is a 22km stretch of beach in Broome that is famous for fast moving and contrasting tides, as well as picturesque sunset views. Fringed with palm trees, it offers 4WD owners the opportunity to off-road on kilometres of flat sand at low tide, but even if you can’t do that, it’s a novel and stunning place to take in the beauty of Western Australia.
Discovering how pearls are farmed at Willie Creek Pearl Farm
Until I saw this as a tour option, I had no idea that pearls are actually farmed off the coast of Broome and the surrounding Indian Ocean. In fact, I had no idea pearl farming was an actual industry! I guess I’d never really considered where pearls came from, other than knowing that they exist in oysters. After taking an affordable and fascinating tour out to the Willie Creek Pearl Farm though, my knowledge of pearling is pretty good. Plus, I can say I’ve worn a string of pearls worth AU$20,000.
Finding a genuine dinosaur footprint
I kid you not, preserved dinosaur footprints exist on the rocks at Gantheaume Point, in Broome. At the lowest tide of the day, it’s possible to climb across red sandstone rocks in hunt of these footprints, though it’s not a very easy job to find them! Luckily, Dave and I discovered one very clear three-pronged imprint, but that was our lot. Supposedly there are plenty more out there, so if you ever visit, see if you can do better than we did.
The next seven days are bound to be unbelievable, as we plan to visit Lake Argyle in Western Australia, before crossing the state border into the Northern Territory. I’m eager to see what this next state has to offer, so sign up to hear all about it!
If you know somebody considering living in a van, or travelling the breadth of Australia, give this post a share so they can read it too.