If at first you don’t succeed … the Big Lap or bust!

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New caravan for grey nomads
Peter and Angela knew what to look for when they bought their new van.

While they had been travelling more or less full time for two years, Peter and Angela Brown found that circumstances always seemed to prevent them from doing the complete Big Lap in one hit.

“We’d started on it before, but something always seemed to crop up that brought us back,” said Peter. “We have parents in aged care, and we are fortunate to play an active role in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives.”

However, in July last year, all the stars finally seemed to align and the couple set off from Canberra in their Ford Ranger towing a second-hand 18’ Supreme Spirit Eclipse caravan ready to do the ‘big one’. The plan was simple.

“We were going to travel clockwise around the coast, and to take our time doing it,” said Peter. “We had our savings and a modest pension to support us on our travels and we already knew some of the tours we wanted to go on and many of the places we wanted to see.”

The Browns knew their finances meant they could not do everything, so they picked out some special activities to ‘bust the budget’ on. These included cage diving with Great White Sharks at Port Lincoln, a cruise to watch killer whales off Bremer Bay, a fly/drive visit to the Horizontal Falls north of Broome, and swimming with manta rays and humpbacks near Coral Bay.

“Our budgeting and planning had to be flexible, not only to allow us to get the most from our trip, but also to accommodate less welcome surprises along the way, such as the leaking transfer case seal in the Ranger ($1,200),” said Peter. “We also experienced a refrigerator breakdown in the caravan while in Victoria.”

As it turned out, the fridge mishap also prompted the pair to fast track a plan to buy a new caravan.

“Having decided that the grey nomad lifestyle suited us, we had been looking to upgrade for a while, and had invested some money for this purpose,” said Peter. “Having caravanned full-time for over two years and done our homework, we already knew exactly what we wanted in ‘our’ caravan.”

The couple traded in their old Eclipse and were soon continuing their coastal odyssey in a brand new New Age caravan. They travelled through Victoria, South Australia and into Western Australia, having the time of their lives as they went. However, fate was once again to throw a temporary spanner into their Big Lap plans.

“Unfortunately, two weeks after entering Western Australia, Angela developed rheumatoid arthritis and was in considerable pain much of the time,” said Peter. “Treatment of this condition is not straightforward, and often takes some time to get right.”

It meant the couple had to stay in Perth for six weeks Peter and Angela kept returning to their journey despite the interruptions before getting the all-clear to proceed north, on the proviso that Angela returned to the specialist within three months. Things were looking up again.

“Our trip along the west coast was one of our best experiences ever,” said Peter. “The Pilbara and the Kimberley sceneries were breathtaking!”

Back home in Canberra, the Browns now look back with immense pleasure at having finally had a real crack at a complete Big Lap.

“The highlights were the sights we saw, the adventures we had, the variety of foods and wines we tasted, and some of the photographs we captured,” said Peter. “And, of course, the friends we made along the way.”

  • What special events or activities do you ‘bust the budget’ for? Comment below.

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9 Responses to If at first you don’t succeed … the Big Lap or bust!

  1. That’s what it’s all about

  2. Why bother going overseas, so much to see and do here in Australia plus our dollar is worth a dollar.

  3. RA is horrendous. My wife is doing it in a wizzbanger, what a trooper!

  4. Do we take our Hobie kayak or just hire boats along the way for fishing. We have do e Victoria, at present doing Flinders Ranges, York Peninsula. Within next year or so will go from Victoria (home) to Port Augusta and continue the Big Lap

    • Take the Hobie. There are many places where you can’t hire a boat.

  5. This sounds like us! We are from Canberra, we drive a ranger and own a 8 year old Jayco outback. Everything has been pulling us back, our parents, our extended family and the kids. And the unpredictable budget breakers, flat tyres, aircon gaskets links, broken awnings you name it. We only managed half a lap this time, so your story gives us hope to one day to the whole lap of our beautiful country.

  6. To Angela & Peter Brown from Canberra,
    Just wondering Angela what Dr did u c in Perth. We left home in April this year from Wagga up coast across to Darwin & down west coast & have had the worst year pain wise – inflammatory arthritis & fibromyalgia & few other problems as well. Home in 2 weeks would love to hear from you & have a chat.
    Warm Regards Jean

  7. Sounds like a great trip with typical mishaps, congratulations, you should do it again ,we did, cheers

  8. What made you choose the brand New Age?

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