We’re heading home; Our Lap of Australia is coming to a close

We’ve now been on our Lap of Australia for a year and a half, and have just made a call on when we’re heading home. In this post, we’re talking when we’ll be back in Perth, and why we’ve made the decision.

Camped on the Murray River in the Upper Snowy region
We’re calling it a day, and heading home

It’s been absolutely sensational

I guess I’ll start this off by saying that our Lap of Australia has been everything we’d hoped for, and more. The family time, stunning locations, epic 4WD tracks, mind blowing camp grounds, experiences and people we’ve met along the way have well and truly made it worth the effort, risk, financial cost and emotional expense.

In many ways, there are no words that can really explain what we’ve seen, done, achieved, learnt, felt and appreciated. The memories we have made are absolutely insane.

In terms of the cost (not financial) we’ve written about this before; the Lap of Australia is harder than it looks, and there’s a false perception that its all sunshine and rainbows. We’ve had lots of high highs, and quite a few lows, and that’s the reality of travelling with young kids on the road. I wouldn’t change what we’ve done for quid’s, and that’s a pretty good testament to our Lap of Australia.

We’ve all grown in different ways, and return to Perth the same, but different. Our Lap of Australia has opened our eyes, changed us and shown us more of what’s really important in life. None of us would take it back if we could.

Devils Hollow at Sunset
No words can really express what we’ve experienced

Our travel length was always a bit unknown

When I resigned from my role in Perth, we’d planned to go for at least 12 months, and maybe longer. It wasn’t long into the trip when we decided it had to be more than 12 months, and with no real commitment to be back in Perth, we kept travelling. I didn’t have a job to return to, our house was rented out and we had the financial things covered, so there was no official end date, until we’d had enough.

We’d been talking about when we would return home for a couple of months prior to deciding on an end date, and we were wondering whether to book Tasmania for 3 months (12 months in advance), or to leave it, and wait and see.

Committing to another 16 months on the road is a fairly big choice to make, and we weren’t really swayed in any particular direction, and kind of let life flow, to see where the tides would take us.

Our lap of Australia has been a giant zig zag so far, and if we extended to 3 years the plan was to do Tasmania, then go up the centre and then follow the coast down in Western Australia for the end of 2025, or we’d shorten it and head across the top and down for the end of 2024.

Mid walk with our family
We never really had a formal end date in mind for our lap

When are we heading home?

Whilst staying at a magic free camp near Eden, Sarah and I had two days of doing basically nothing except schooling, cooking, being present with the kids, reading books and swimming in the beautiful river. We spent a lot of time talking, and decided that we’d return home near the end of 2024, and not book Tasmania.

This wasn’t an easy choice, but it was one that we both felt was right, and the time away from the hustle and bustle, in a semi remote camp site by ourselves made it more forthcoming. In truth, we had said after our trip home for Christmas we’d give it a month to settle back into the travel routine, before making a firm decision.

That means we will have been on the road for about 25 months, which is no small feat, and no small privilege.

Free camp at Eden
Our free camp at Eden gave us lots of opportunity to decide

Why are we returning home?

We could easily travel for an extra year, and it was 50/50 as to whether we actually would, but we’ve decided just over 2 years on the road is enough for us, and here’s why:

Kids schooling and socializing

For the last year and a half, both of our kids (now 5 and 7) have been doing schooling through Kalgoorlie School of the Air, and its been as good as it could be. I’ve got zero concerns with their level of understanding, as they more on the road than you’d ever be able to convey and the home schooling has taught them a lot.

What they’ve lacked though, is the social side of life, and the routine that goes with it. Our youngest has never been in a formal classroom, and the idea of sitting still in a seat amongst his peers and taking directions from a teacher who he does not know from a bar of soap is about as foreign as another language to him.

Home schooling is also hard work, and it only gets harder as your kids get older and learn new things. We’ve managed just fine up until now, but it’s certainly a very different experience to sending your kids to school!

Whilst Sarah and I have never thought that education is of the utmost importance in life, we feel that heading back and getting the kids into a regular schedule of schooling will help them grow in a number of ways, particularly when it comes to socialisation as we have two very shy kids.

Our Lap of Australia has not been like many others. We don’t hop from Big 4 to Big 4 Caravan Park, and hang with dozens of families. Yes, the kids have met quite a few kids on the road, but you’d be surprised how little are out and about in the more remote parts of the world, and that level of interaction has been missing for the majority of our travels. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not, but we both feel a bit more socialisation isn’t a bad thing.

We want our kids to develop strong relationships with friends, and they’re getting to the age where this is more important than ever.

Kids in snorkels
We want our kids to have more social interaction

We want a bit of land, and our forever home

Our current home is a whopping 380m2. No, that’s not the house, that’s the block size, and its got a puny backyard that you literally couldn’t swing a cat in. Sarah loves gardening, and we’re keen to sell up and move out a little bit to get a larger block for the kids to run around, and to grow up.

We’re not after a fancy house, or anything massive, but just a decent size yard where we can grow some vegetables, have fruit trees and some chickens, and not hear our neighbour making kids.

This takes time and effort, and I don’t want to be doing this when our kids are ready to move out, as it defeats the family time we could have.

Family and friends

We’ve got a fairly close family, and I know we’ve pulled more than a few heart strings by being away for such a long time. We were incredibly privileged to travel with my parents for several months during our Lap of Australia, and to catch up with a myriad of other family who flew in, or we stayed with, and its been amazing.

However, the regular coffees between Sarah and her sister have been missed, as has time with our kids cousins who are quickly growing up, and their best friends, who we only saw when we returned to Perth for Christmas in 2023. We’ve missed our fair share of get togethers, birthdays and meals, and that’s really important to us.

They say you only miss something when its gone, and it couldn’t truer. We always knew we’d miss our family and friends, and they would miss us, and it will be nice to spend more time with them once we return home.

Our family photo
We’ll be glad to be back with family

Our perspective has changed

Too much of a good thing is dangerous, or so they say. It’s funny how after so long on the road one can sometimes take amazing places, experiences and camp sites for granted. This might sound funny to those looking on, envying the places we’ve been, and amazing times we’ve had, but human nature is a strange thing.

When amazing becomes the new norm, its very easy to lose the joy, and gratitude for what you’re doing. No, we don’t dislike travelling Australia. We love it, but we are finding it easier than ever before to take it for granted, and that concerns us. On a personal level, I make myself think daily about where else we could be, and what else we could be doing, and that helps to bring a more accurate level of appreciation and gratitude, but it gets to a stage where it is easy to just take it all for granted.

You forget the itch, and the amazing feeling of heading out of work on a Friday afternoon to go away for two short days of camping when you live on the road and it’s the norm!

Boundary falls are stunning
We’ve seen so many incredible places that you start to take them for granted

The kids have been asking about home

When you put yourself in the minds of a 3 and 6 year old (when we left Perth), they really had very little understanding of what was going on. It took a good couple of weeks for them to realise that our new home was the camper, and that we wouldn’t be returning to their bedrooms, toys and family for an extended period of time.

They missed some things, but for the most part fell in love with the travelling lifestyle, and asides from specific events, we never really heard them talk much about going back to Perth.

However, as time has gone on, there’s been more and more comments made about catching up with friends and family, asking about what others are up to, and asking us what we will be doing back in Perth. Sarah’s very keen to grow a garden, and Oliver has been drawing, watching videos and in some cases, talking non stop about ‘our block’, and fruit trees, and so on.

Of course, they don’t fully understand that this is the trip of a lifetime, and once we’re back in Perth a 2 year lap of Australia isn’t likely to be on the cards again, but we do our best to explain it all.

Our tolerance level has changed

Travelling Australia with kids is hard work, and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it. In the earlier days, when things would go wrong, or we’d have a bad day we didn’t let it get to us, but our level of tolerance has certainly changed.

It’s easy to get frustrated when you live in a tiny box, and its even easier when things go wrong. We both feel a bit worn out when it comes to the ongoing (and never ending) planning of camp sites and getting things fixed on our Isuzu Dmax.

We had a bad run of events in the last 6 months, with cracked inner guards making us pull up stumps for 7 weeks, rats eating our coolant lines and windscreen wiper sprays, some poor quality workmanship in Camden resulting in stripped captive nuts, cracked body mounts not long after, and then a broken air conditioner in the high country not too long ago. The actual failures aren’t the end of the world, but organising to lose the vehicle for a day or two is time consuming, costly and annoying.

You have no choice to take it in your stride, but it doesn’t mean that the frustrations aren’t felt, and don’t take away from an otherwise amazing travel experience. 

Coolant hoses for our Dmax
Life on the road isn’t easy, or always fun

We’re keen to work on our long term future

Resigning from a senior management role at a big manufacturing plant in Perth was no small decision, and it shocked a substantial number of work colleagues. We’d been working towards that moment for a long time, and whilst Sarah and I knew it was coming, only a handful of others did.

In my mind, I was intending on doing 4WDing Australia full time, but Sarah and I are keen to set ourselves up with a good work/life balance for the next 40 odd years (assuming we make it that far!), and that means we’re going to have to knuckle down, make a few sacrifices and set ourselves up.

This very blog has been hit incredibly hard by recent search engine updates, and the level of hurt that brings is beyond words, but its out of my control, and all I can do is sit and wait. Thanks Google, for virtually destroying 15 years of hard work.

I’ll be looking for a new role when we return to Perth, with a few ideas in my mind, and Sarah might even pick up some part time work too, so we can get things snowballing. On that note, anyone got a job on offer?!

In all seriousness though, 2 years is a fair chunk of time to be out of the industry, and I don’t want to leave it too long that I can’t slot back in easily.

Aaron and the boys
It’s time for a new chapter

We’ve got a few bucket list ideas

There’s not too many families that can say they’ve done a lap of Australia, and especially one that’s two years long. This was a big bucket list item for us, and Sarah and I have a few more that we’d like to do, at time frames that suit our health, and the age of our kids.

We’ll be doing a few international trips, and would love to take the kids on a Cruise somewhere, along with other bits and pieces so we’ll see how that goes.

It feels right

I guess I could waffle on all day, but for both Sarah and I we agree that it feels right to head home to Perth, to take on the next chapter in life. We’re returning the same, but very different.

Did we consider relocating?

Yep, absolutely. We loved so many places on the East Coast, but with the family we have, it didn’t seem like the right move. We also love Perth, and are very comfortable there!

What does it mean for 4WDing Australia?

Hmm, now we’re starting to get into the detail. This very blog has been a labour of love for the better part of 15 years, and I’ve spent tens of thousands of hours getting it to where it is today. Our YouTube is still coming out, but its not taken off much (and we sort of expected that), but we’ll finish our Lap of Australia series, and still make a few videos from time to time.

In terms of the blog, we have two options, and I’m not really sure what path we’ll take. I received a random email a few months ago from someone asking to buy our blog, and whilst it was never really on the agenda, its something that I’ll think more about in the future. If you’re interested in this, let me know.

The second option, and probably more likely one is that we’ll just keep running it. There’s more than 1500 articles that need regular updates, we’ll continue doing trips from Perth and there might be a different style of travel coming up, involving a different vehicle. Who knows.

I still love writing, helping people out, taking photos and learning about 4WDing and Camping, but I’d be lying to say it hasn’t taken its toll too.

Driving up Blue Rag Range
I absolutely love writing and helping people travel, camp and 4WD

7 months left

I guess, in simple terms, it means we’ve got just over 7 months left on the road, travelling around Australia. That’s a long time in anyone’s books, and we’ll be doing our best to make the absolute best of it. We’re heading through Canberra and up towards Fraser Island and the section of coast that we missed when our Dmax broke, and then we’ll cut across into the NT, and down the WA coast, covering as many great 4WD tracks and camp sites as we possibly can. 

I know we’ll miss the travels badly, and want to suck the life out of every last minute on the road!

How can we help you?

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for your attention. When I sit down at night to write new posts for the blog, I genuinely look for ways that we can help those travel, 4WD and camp better, easier and more economically.

If you have any questions, comments or things that you want clarified, please let us know. I’m keen to write more posts that are helpful to our audience!

Beyond that, if you see us around, say hello. It’s always nice to have a chat!

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  1. Hey David,

    Thanks for the insight, and kind words. We just try and share what we experience and feel, with as little filters as possible!

    Sounds like a fun adventure overseas, and that you’ve got the balance working well for you too!

    All the best!

  2. Hey Nicki,

    Thanks so much for your kind words!

    I don’t even remember helping you head to Carrarang, but I’m glad it worked out very well. It’s certainly an incredible part of the world!

    We would have been on the Gibb in 2018 with my parents – if you see us again, feel free to say hello!

    Thanks for the well wishes, and all the best too

  3. David Merchant says:

    As someone who has been travelling for just over 2 years I get so much of what you had to say in this post. Our travels in Australia, my wife and I, will come to an end in July. We then plan on 12 months international travel before returning to Sydney to renovate our house.

    We traveled around Australia for 6 months back in 2007 with our 7 & 9 year olds. They are now fully independent and following our travels. However, they both love to travel with one currently in Asia and the other looking for a job in London.

    So you have given your children a great start to life.

    All the best and I look forward to reading how the rest of the trip goes.

  4. Hey Aaron & Family,

    As a long time follower and reader of your blogs, I’m super excited for you and your next stage in life. I’m also a little selfishly disappointed that you’re coming home to Perth as I’ve greatly enjoyed following you on youor adventures around Australia, but you have cast iron reasons for doing so, and I’m sure all your followers will appreciate that.

    You gave us a huge amount of help in planning a trip to Cararang Station around 7 years ago (little did you know the importance of that trip for us – a sister a year younger than me, who I never knew existed until being close to 50 years of age, coming out to meet us for the first time from the UK, along with her husband and daughter, and a whole bunch of randoms they had never met and taking them to a very remote part of WA – camping on the beach, the drive to Steep Point – ah the memories). The help you gave us at the time, had a massive impact on us planning and leading a trip that everyone loved – we will be forever grateful.

    As long as you are blogging, we will be following.

    Enjoy the remaining 7 months on the road and we will be sure to say hello if our paths cross again (side note – we were on the Gibb at the same time in 2018, I think you were with your parents at the time – we didn’t want to come and disturb you).

    Take care and keep enjoying life.

    We wish you all the very best.
    Nicki & Jase

  5. Hey Mark,

    We’re not going anywhere just yet!

    Thanks for the support!
    Take care

  6. Hey Corinne,

    Thanks for the kind words! We aren’t going anywhere just yet, but we will see what the future brings!

    I know what you mean about extended travels; its not a decision made lightly, and it affects different people in different ways.

    There’s certainly benefits to travelling, but you are right; lots of people ignore, or never talk about the downsides.

    The idea of ‘running away from normal life’ is certainly something I’ve thought about, and whilst there’s no right or wrong way of going about life in general, I suppose we should all be mindful of building a life you don’t feel the need to run away from. The work/life balance is hugely important, and society can be quite draining if you follow the ‘normal’ way of life.

    Everyone has to find what works for them, and its a good thing we’re all different or life would be awfully boring.

    Thanks again for the support, and all the best!

  7. Hey Phil,

    Thanks a lot for your lovely words. I’m glad you’ve found our information useful!

    Sounds like quite the adventure up at Cape York for you; isn’t it funny how you look back later on in life and chuckle about mishaps that you’ve been through?!

    Thanks again, and all the best in your future travels too!

  8. Hey Paul,

    Thanks a lot for the kind words mate.

    Have a great afternoon!

  9. I hope you keep up the blog Aron as I think your posts are the most unbiased out there and I suppose as I also have a dmax and a hybrid camper I relate to a lot of what you post ( I also live in WA) thanks again and enjoy the next 7 months

  10. Corinne Reside says:

    It is so refreshing to read your blogs, that tell you how it really is, and I will miss reading them. We do have an amazing country, and my husband and I have done extensive travel in our camprite to most corners of Australia and Tasmania, but we have never been able to go for extended periods at one time as the heart stings were too big for us, even though our daughters are married but we would see them every single day, and the two grandies. All you hear from the enormous amount of travelling families now, is how much the kids benefit from the experience but I also wondered about how much social skills they lose out from not mixing with friends their own age, so it is interesting that you have touched on that. I also agree that the beautiful sights and sounds would end up getting taken for granted, you also touched on that also. Sometimes, I wonder if families are running away from normal life’s responsibilities, when they continue to travel for year upon year. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  11. Phil Adams says:

    Hi Aaron, Sarah, Oliver and Cooper.
    I started looking at your blog about 18 months ago when I bought a 4WD ute and was looking for ideas on equipment I should consider. Although I don’t go offroad much now, I wanted an independent opinion on what I was considering. I certainly found it in your info. Thanks for that.
    Those decisions are all done, and we have had some lovely trips in our new hybrid van. More to come!
    I catch up occasionally when you send an email about your latest trips, events and locations. They really are informative, even though we are unlikely to experience anything like what you have, as we are both retired, in our early 70’s. I love the straight-forward, no fuss way it’s presented.
    I particularly loved the one a few months ago where you had the vehicle out of commission and detailed the ups and downs of that process. Great tips for anyone going through that sort of thing on a trip. It can be so draining on your soul unless you tackle it like you did. I had a taste of that in the late 1970’s on a trip to Cape York from Geelong, where we live. Broken wheel studs, tire delamination, stalled engine in the middle of the Jardine, etc. Great learning experience!

    What REALLY prompted me to start this letter is how much I was impressed by your explanation of the decision process behind ‘turning left’ going up to FNQ. Your family have had a great experience that will stay in your hearts and minds forever. Stepping back to look at the bigger picture and what the rest of your life will look like (somewhere in the back of your brain is a retirement picture!) is something everyone should do every few years, if they want to have a satisfying life.

    So, what I’m trying to say is, great work! A well considered decision is always more satisfying , regardless of whether it turns out to be the best decision or not. You can look back and be assured that you didn’t rush in to it, and was the best process at that time.

    Have a great journey up, across and down. Let the kids know this is all part of the journey of life and the happiest person is one who can adapt to change and use it to their best advantage, and sit back occasionally and smell the eucalypts (better than roses!)


  12. Hi Aaron, I’ve been reading the blog for many years and really appreciate the effort you put in. Keep up the great work.

  13. Cheryl Robl says:

    How wonderful for your children to have this wonderful experience
    We are grey nomads and just love it
    Can I ask if you are related to Robyn or Sandra Schubert , their father was Ted Schubert
    Also what is the name of the free camp near Eden

  14. Hey Greg,

    Thanks a lot for the kind words mate. I don’t expect it will be too hard to slot back into full time work!

    All the best

  15. Hey Kate,

    Yep, it will be amazing to catch up with everyone again, often. I don’t think I’d make much of an influencer, sadly!

    All the best

  16. This is a really well written and considered blog, thanks for letting strangers into your lives and for providing valuable level headed and considered advice, thoughts and insights. Most of the benefits that blogs like this provide will never be fully appreciated but exist nevertheless. Thank you and well done to you all. Look forward to reading the last 7 months. Plenty of work around in Perth currently and cannot see it changing much by the end of the year. Cheers Greg

  17. Selfishly, we can’t wait to have you all home ha ha but what an adventure it’s been!
    Job offer, have you considered Amazon influencer!? (Joking)