‘Our rig is in the shed covered in spider webs’

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Big Lap on hold
Phil and Lorraine took a short trip to test their new rig ... but their planned Big Lap is still on hold

While grey nomads in many parts of the country get back on the open road, Victorians Phil and Lorraine Gracey can only look on enviously.

The couple who live in a regional area of the state have saved for many years while dreaming of the adventures they would have on their longed-for Big Lap. Finally, they were in a position to make things happen and they bought a 20-year-old Evernew 21’ caravan.

“We fitted new tyres and suspension, got a new air conditioner for when we were up north and a diesel heater for the colder weather in Tasmania and Victoria,” said Phil. “We took care of the electrics by fitting new solar and battery and were set up for off-grid camping.”

They also chose their tow vehicle carefully and plumped for a petrol LandCruiser Prado V6.

“After months of work on the rig, we were ready to go and our daughter moved home to house sit for us while we were away,” said Phil. “And then the virus hit!”

When the first wave of the pandemic was brought largely under control in this country and lockdown restrictions were eased, Phil and Lorraine started to feel hopeful again. They said it felt great to see the vans in their storage facility get pulled out and used, and they tested the waters themselves by taking a trip to Mildura.

However, the surge in Covid-19 cases over the past few weeks has put paid to any hopes the couple had of taking off on the ‘big one’ any time soon. Borders look set to remain closed to Victorians for the foreseeable future.

“Our van is back in long-term storage and is mothballed and my 4WD is sitting in the shed covered in spider webs and looks abandoned,” said Phil. “I charge the battery every two weeks … it is very depressing and we really feel trapped by circumstances beyond our control.”

Both Phil and Lorraine have health issues, so they are doubly frustrated at potentially missing out on a year or two of their trip.

“So, the plans have changed … instead of lying on a beach in Queensland we are hand sewing face masks for family and friends,” said Phil. “We are worried about going to the local supermarket and people look anxious when they come close in the shops.”
While they are obviously disappointed for themselves, the couple remain keenly aware of the bigger picture.

“Victoria is in a state of fear and small towns are very aware of who the locals are and do not want tourists and I don’t blame them,” said Phil. “I fully support closing the borders and not spreading the virus to healthy states.”
For now then, the couple will leave their van in storage and content themselves with plotting, planning and dreaming of what is to come.

“I suppose we could travel within Victoria but do not feel welcome and worry about spreading the virus,” said Phil. “So the Big Lap will have to wait for things to get better … I think regional tourism will take years to recover and may not come good until a vaccine is available.”

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3 Responses to ‘Our rig is in the shed covered in spider webs’

  1. Unfortunately we are all in the same position, all of an age where a whole year is hard to lose! But Health wise It is unfair to compromise small townships with an influx of tourists at a time like this, they could not cope. Sure we all hate it but it’s better to sit it out and stay alive. At least we know we are not guilty of spreading this deadly virus.

  2. Hi Phil and Lorraine.
    We are in the same boat as you as we live in Melbourne area to. Our van and Pajero are fully serviced and ready to go but like you we must abide by the rules in order to get this Virus under control. Don’t get yourselves down good things come to those who wait.
    Stay well that is the most important thing we can do.

  3. A number of lessons to learn here, sadly which one is right. Retire earlier, thank God or a higher power for being blessed you can stay home, be lucky you’re alive, be lucky you have a home. I don’t know, its not all that bad. Maybe a bit of exaggeration with the spider webs on the car, changing batteries etc. If that the case, go and buy a good battery charger and leave it on. After a long life, it will happen.

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