A huge factor in making a holiday so enjoyable and memorable to me is the people you meet along the way. As a couple on a 3 month caravanning road trip this can be particularly so. Having just the two of us to please and make decisions had its bonuses but a little extra company now and again was welcomed. I loved hearing other people’s reasons for being on the road and finding out just how kismet had led us to cross paths.
We met so many interesting people that in everyday life we may never have encountered. The beauty is that you already have something in common whether you are caravanning in a park or free camping, up at dawn taking photos, hiking on a trail somewhere, fishing or beachcombing, you’ve got a conversation starter just by the fact that someone else is doing the exact same thing as you.
Amongst the happy folk we met on the road were a couple who had been caravanning around Australia for 2 years with their dog and cat. They would take the cat for walks on a harness and the dog would walk with them and be a bodyguard for his cat. The cat would happily sit inside the caravan at other times during the day taking in the views of the outside world and the dog would give a warning bark if another dog came around.
At other times we met Aussies who were on the road moving to a new destination for another chapter in their lives and taking their time getting there. These included a young couple and their toddler who were moving from Darwin to Queensland but were taking the long way round via Western Australia and South Australia, then heading through inland New South Wales to their eventual destination in Mackay Queensland. The time they were giving themselves was 7 more weeks from where we met them in Geraldton WA.
The other couple we met were moving from Tasmania to Broome (from practically one end of the country to the other). We met in Monkey Mia because of our common goal (amongst others) to enjoy ‘happy hour’ at the bars. In discussing our travel plans we realised that we were heading in the same direction and planning roughly the same stops in about the same time frame so with a friendly wave and cheers we thought we might bump into each other again. Happily we did and enjoyed ourselves so much that over the next 10 days or so we went out to dinner together, moved on, met for happy hours, moved on, decided on where we would meet next, moved on, watched sunsets and took photos, moved on and before you knew it we were planning on where to meet next. We all made it to Broome, us enjoying discovering the town for the first time and for our new friends re-discovering a place they’d been to before. While we were all still in holiday mode we were able to enjoy days of discovering beaches, having bevvies and food at the brewery, and watching camels at sunset on Cable Beach, until eventually we had to move on and they had to put down some roots and settle into Broome life. However, we are still in contact with Megan and Tony and no doubt we will meet up on the road again in time.
There were brothers we met, both of them on motorbikes, one from Perth in the west, the other from Melbourne in the east, who met in the middle at Port Augusta in South Australia, then headed ‘up through the centre’ making their way to Darwin and then back down the west coast. For them it was mostly about the ride and catching some sights along the way.
Then there were all the international travellers we met along the way, most barely into their 20s, enjoying our country with fearless enthusiasm. I loved the way that many of them were discovering Australia head on and experiencing it in a way a lot of Aussies haven’t, in tents, free camping under the stars with only the basics. We met a couple of girls, one American, one Canadian, tripping around the country together, who were lucky enough to have found the same National Parks camp ground that we had. It had views over the ocean, pristine waters where you could swim with turtles and during the day you could watch kangaroos in the scrub around us. The stories they will have to take home!
At this same spot we also met Alessio who, on seeing our caravan, wandered over to introduce himself and ask if he could borrow a fork. Yes a fork. He was from Italy, currently working at a hot and dusty mine site in WA and was on holidays at the moment. He was so glad to be away from his day job and had just come for the day to do some snorkelling in the cool clear water. He was also completely over the limited menu, a lot of meat apparently at the mine and had been missing his pasta, so the first thing he did once away from the mine was to cook up a huge amount of it, some of which he brought with him that day for lunch. Unfortunately he had forgotten his fork to eat it with. How could we deny him his basic right to eat his much longed for pasta!
As our holiday moved on we noticed more holiday makers on the road. With peak season just around the corner finding free camps that we could have all to ourselves were getting rarer. We stopped at a spot called The Pebbles in the Northern Territory to stay one night in one of the designated camping areas. When we arrived in the afternoon we found three other caravans already corralled together. Not perturbed we moved to another area but here too were a few tents.
One last look and yes at the end of the camp ground we found a quiet, serene, secluded area and not a soul in sight. What luck! We settled ourselves in for the night, started preparing tea and watched the last of the rays before the sun set. Next thing a 4wd roared into the camping area in a flurry of dust and was soon followed by another. Hmmmm, I ominously mentioned to my husband that one car had the number 4 duck taped on its back window and the other the number 6. “I wonder where car 5 is?” Within minutes that question was answered when not only car 5 blew in but also 1,2,3,7,8,9 and 10! All 4wds, all with numerous occupants and all spewing out camping gear, tents, swags, tables and chairs. Luckily there was a spokesperson amongst them who came over to us as we were no doubt looking half bewildered, half petrified (we were surrounded.) As it turns out it was Joel and a friendly bunch of young German backpackers (and 1 token pom, his self-description) who all decided to travel as a convoy and discover this huge brown land together. They are still at it and you can follow them on social media including Instagram at #offroadconvoy2k17 Good luck and safe travels.
And finally, who would think we would meet royalty on a road trip. We were lucky enough to do this at the appropriately named Coronation Beach in WA. Here, thanks to Edison (who we had also just met) a keen windsurfer himself and a fan, put us straight as to who was at the beach that day. So thanks to him we met Sarah Quita Offringa, world freestyle windsurfer from Aruba, also known as the ‘Freestyle Queen’.
To us Coronation Beach was a must stay free camp but little did we know it is also a hotspot for windsurfers from Australia and around the world because of its perfect wind and wave conditions. A queen she was, very graciously taking time to speak and have photos taken with everyone who approached her before she hit the water and showed everyone just why she is a champion.
Take time to speak to the people you meet on the road, you just never know who is out there and the interesting stories they have.