While there is no shortage of grey nomads who started their camping lives in a tent and then graduated to a caravan, there aren’t many who have done it the other way around.
In that regard then, 62-yearold solo traveller Julian Kevin can certainly claim to have bucked the trend.
After a decade of spending three months of every year on the road in a ‘well-travelled’ Coromal, Julian says he heard the call of the canvas one day.
“Don’t get me wrong, I had some great adventures in the old Coromal,” he said. “But, for a genuine, at-one-with-nature camping experience, you can’t beat a small tent like mine!”
Nonetheless, Julian is quick to admit that he still misses his caravan sometimes … especially in a La Niña year.
“It’s impossible to top sleeping in a tent when the sun is shining and the weather is good,” he said. “But I cannot believe the rain we have copped this year and, believe you me, there are plenty of times when I’ve been kept awake by the noise of the rain, things have got damp and I’ve thought to myself ‘what on Earth have I done’!”
The other downside to the tenting life that Julian has found is the perceived lack of security.
“In the van there were quite a few times when I heard voices at night or hoons roaring past when I was very glad to be behind a locked door,” he said. “I’m definitely more wary in a tent but, as long as you don’t let your imagination run wild, travelling in this country is very safe … whatever you’re sleeping in.”
Julian travels with a campchair, a PortaPotti, a gas cooker and a radio and says that’s all he really needs to set up a ‘comfy camp’ … as long as the weather is good.
“I guess I look a bit scrappy sometimes but other grey nomads are still pretty friendly as a rule,” he said. “But for those who don’t want to say G’day Julian swapped his Coromal for canvas … and he couldn’t be happier because I’m in a tent, that’s their loss … I’m happy to chat, but I’m also happy to enjoy my own company.”
Julian is looking forward to spending the Dry season in the north and, a full year after ‘upgrading’ to a tent, has no plans to return to van life.
“It may not be quite as comfortable, but there’s a lot less hassle travelling this way,” he said. “And I’ve certainly noticed the difference at the bowser when I fill up the ‘Cruiser … I’m a tenter for life now!”