So my husband and I have been talking about going on an extended camping trip. We live in the South West of Western Australia, and it seems like everyone and their dog does this on a regular basis. Literally.
As soon as winter hits, which is June/July here in the southern hemisphere, everyone heads north to the warmth and sunshine en mass. I think owning a caravan is part of being an Australian. I don’t think they issue your passport unless you can prove that you or someone in your direct lineage owns a caravan, massive tent or camper van of some sort.
My husband was dead set on showing me ALL of Australia when we moved here in 2009. So while waiting for my residence visa to come through, we travelled around Australia for 2 and half months in our massive 4-wheel drive, with our massive tent and did loads of camping, as you do here in Australia.
And it was…. Fine. In fact it was quite the adventure. The difference is, we didn’t have children then.
Now we have a camper. You know one of those little boxes that you tow on the back of your car, and you wind up and two beds pop out of either end. It has a mini sink, a mini fridge and a mini stove. Everything is mini. Yep, we bought one. We’ve taken it ‘camping’ a few times over the last 2 and half years for a few days each time.
And then we decided this year to join the flock and go north for 2 and a half weeks.
I knew it wasn’t going to be a holiday from the start. Bringing a 2 and a 3 year old anywhere where you have to cook every meal, clean every square inch of your living space, and do laundry is not a holiday. It’s called life away from your house. Never mind when your kitchen is the size of your linen closet, and you are sleeping on a foam mattress 10 feet away from your kids, separated by a mini curtain, and the communal toilet and showers are at least 100 feet away from your ‘living space’.
All that to say, after the ridiculously stressful 2 days of packing everything we own, pots, pans, Tupperware, cutlery, enough food to feed the four of us for 2 weeks, clothes, towels, blankets, basically everything but our kitchen sink, because our Rubbermaid laundry bucket doubles as a dish bucket… we were off.
1200 kilometres of mass torrential rains, one fuel line explosion, and a couple other obstacles later, we arrived… a week late, but we arrived. It was everything all my mum friends said it would be…. warm.
We saw heaps of wildlife, and got to spend lots of family time together which is very precious to us, since daddy works 3 hours away and is not home 3 nights a week.
All in all, our trip was lovely, but in all honesty, it was far from a holiday. We didn’t stop for a second. When we weren’t at the beach, or in the national parks, we were cooking or cleaning, bringing the kids to the toilet, or doing laundry, or fetching water for the mini sink to do the dishes. By 7pm when we put the kids to bed we were so tired we usually both crawled into bed 10 minutes later, because we knew the lady on the site next to us had just put her 6 month old down and he’d be up in 3 hours crying for another feed (and every 3 hours after that)….
Would I do it again? Yes. Would I change anything? Absolutely.
The bottom line is, we don’t go camping with young children to have a holiday. We go with them to teach them about the ocean, animals, wildlife and living life without all our crap. We didn’t have TV, or swimming lessons, ballet class, or fairy dresses, Lego or their Barbie house. We had 2 colouring books, 2 dolls, a bucket and spade, and a snorkel and mask. That’s all we needed. And I have to say that part was lovely. Don’t get me wrong, I very much appreciated my dishwasher, and king size bed and toaster when I got home, among other things; But camping was a good reminder of how lucky we are to have all the things we have in our home that make our life and the day to day tasks, easier.
Needless to say, the next trip will probably require a plane to a warm tropical island where they hand you drinks upon arrival and bring you breakfast in bed everyday, especially since we all feel we need a holiday from our ‘holiday’.