Vida

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Solo grey nomad
Greens Lake is one of Vida’s favourite camping spots

Vida, 65, comes from New Zealand  but is most at home on Australia’s open roads. She normally travels alone but can accommodate visiting family members in her 2006 Jayco Expanda.  She manages to find space for essential like golf clubs and yabbie net … but will soon be getting rid of ‘luxuries’ like her iron!

What do you travel in?
2006 Jayco Expanda 18’ with 2006 Nissan Navara double cab d40 manual.

Why does it suit your lifestyle?
It’s not too big to tow or set up but, with beds either end, I can have ‘company’ – eg my sister travelled with me for three weeks. I sleep inside when alone now – drop the table down between couches. The side wall expands out as well which means plenty of room inside, and a combo shower/toilet for when needed. Room in the ute for the generator, second spare wheel, golf clubs and all the rest of the bits I am finding I may need – blocks of wood, yabbie net. Need to get rid of more stuff eg don’t need an iron!

How long do your trips last?
How long is a piece of string? Left Perth in April intending to spend three months driving to Mackay over the top. Decided to keep going and maybe go around again – and again!

Where do you camp?
Mostly caravan parks up to now because I was new at this and was still working so needed power and security. Getting braver and using free camps more.

Likes of the lifestyle?
Exploring Australia, freedom, interesting people, and driv­ing. I took the van around Bathurst! Drove up Gillies Highway.

Dislikes?
Cities. Trying to find some­where to get fuel and groceries easily if just passing through. Traffic! At least in WA you knew the dot on the map would be a roadhouse with fuel, food, heaps of parking space and probably somewhere to camp!

On the-road hobbies?
Computer games, photog­raphy, reading, (now have Kindle). Was going to work on family tree but time seems to fly … golf – if I ever find some­where cool enough to play.

Favourite camping spot?
Greens Lake – lots of others here, Mary Pool (the company, shady riverside), Hamelin Homestead (new, great facili­ties), Joe & Jo Mt Surprise (so­cialising around dinner tables). Longreach – volunteered at the Hall of Fame for a few weeks and parked at the back.

Scariest nomad experience?
Driving along a ‘tourist route’ off the Palmerston Highway. A single-sealed winding lane among towering rainforest, long grass on the verges and deep gutters, with nowhere to turn around, no idea where I was going to end up – but did have another car at a distance behind me (still – I hoped). Finally, I came out on to the highway again after about 10km. Spooky. Also driving from Gordonvale on Gillies Highway to Lake Tinaroo – 300 hairpins, second gear all the way up the hill, nowhere to turn around, roadworks. So many handbrake starts on the hills … amazing drive but not when towing!

Tips for other nomads?
Ladies – please learn how to drive the rig – or at least take the van off if needed – and MEN – teach your ladies how to tow or at least unhitch. You are not all bullet proof and she may save your life one day.

Advice for wannabe nomads?
Just do it! It takes quite a while to learn to slow down, maybe 3-6 months of travelling. I only travel 200-350km a day, and quietly – no rush. I have finally stopped at a free camp for more than two nights and am loving it!

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