Katie and Paul Guerin from the Gold Coast recently set off on a two-year adventure around Australia with their three-year-old son, Jasper. This growing trend is seeing young families like theirs overtake the grey nomad market as the major growth sector for the caravanning industry.
We’ve been on the road now for three months and this full-time travelling family lifestyle is finally starting to feel like our norm. We’re still pinching ourselves that this is our reality.
Let’s rewind two years to when this crazy idea was born...
It was the start of 2018, during a five-hour road trip back from Coffs Harbour to our hometown of the Gold Coast. Paul and I are never stuck for good conversation and can often spend hours blue sky dreaming, so I decided to throw out the big question: “What would you do if you had no restrictions, if money wasn’t a deciding factor?”
Our then 16-month-old son Jasper was sound asleep in his car seat, and at its core is the real basis behind Paul’s answer: “I’d travel full-time with you both.”
Our little miracle, as we refer to him, had been a long four-year journey, with six rounds of IVF, multiple doctors, and a lot of emotional and financial strain on our relationship.
It was an easy, almost automatic response from me — “Let’s do it!” — and so set the wheels in motion to bring our dream to fruition.
For the next few months, the time that we spent together outside of our very full work and social lives (Paul held a state management role and I was juggling a toddler and my own health and wellbeing business) did a complete turn toward the attainment of our goal.
Our conversations and focus shifted. We sought out other families, both in Australia and overseas, that had made this lifestyle their normal. We purchased a large whiteboard that we sat in front of our TV, and we formed a new habit of getting out of bed an hour earlier to workshop our goals, breakdown our individual actions, and create a solid plan.
Taking a leap of faith and letting go of the things that provide a feeling of security — a steady income, roof over your head, and the stuff that somehow makes you feel complete — can be downright overwhelming and very confronting, but also incredibly rewarding.
It’s as though each ‘thing’ we own creates a small amount of pressure that collectively wears down on our shoulders. Letting go of this stuff is incredibly freeing, and the pressure it releases allows you to hold yourself in a clearer and lighter state of mind. It helps you to take a step toward the best version of yourself, because you have more time to focus on the real rewards of life: time with your family and time for yourself.
The new stresses of our lives became the unknown, the uncertainty, and the skill of adaptability that we would all need to acquire in the months that followed. However, these feelings also bring the joy of stretching yourself to learn new things and the excitement of waking up to new horizons, new places, new people, and new experiences.
What we quickly learnt is that Australia is an incredibly diverse country with more to see and do than we could have ever imagined. It is difficult to highlight the standout destinations as we have already experienced so many breathtaking sights and know there are thousands more to come.
On a more personal level, watching the growth in Jasper and experiencing the world through his three-year-old eyes full of wonder and awe has had a direct and beautifully positive effect on Paul and I individually, as a couple, and collectively as a family. We’ve adopted the mantra ‘a life lived in fear is a life half lived’, and taking a leap of faith as we have certainly sums this quote up perfectly.
So, with our Toyota 4x4 and our newly purchased Coromal caravan in tow, our first destination was to explore the Central Highlands of Queensland. We always try to spend a week in each region so that we can experience not only the diverse landscapes and environment, but also the people who make up these communities.
Taking time in each location allows you to meet the true characters of a place and hear first-hand stories about its history and culture.
Our new jobs, if you can call them that, have been to become full-time storytellers, creating weekly travel and destination video content for YouTube and our social media platforms. And while we are documenting our family’s experiences and in effect creating a time capsule for Jasper, we hope that we can inspire other families to take their own leap of faith in the direction of their dreams and be able to spend more time together as a family.
As far as a family-friendly travel destination goes, Queensland has it all, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. The look on Jasper’s face when we watched a platypus swimming in the creek at Carnarvon Gorge, let alone the feeling it created for Paul and me, who had never before seen one in the wild, will be a moment that will stay with us all forever.
We have explored 400-million-year-old Capricorn Caves, fossicked for 120-million-year-old thunder eggs, found a small haul of sapphires at the southern hemisphere’s largest sapphire mine, and felt like we were starring in a David Attenborough documentary when visiting the World Heritage-listed Lady Musgrave Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef.
It has been eye-opening and humbling to spend quality time with some of our Aussie farmers who have faced incredible hardships and now find themselves in the midst of what seems to be a never-ending drought. Sharing a moment of raw emotion with someone you barely know can have a defining impact and certainly creates a new appreciation and level of respect.
We set off on our adventure of a lifetime to create lasting memories together as a family, and our experience is absolutely delivering on this. What we didn’t account for was how much of an impact it would make on us individually as we all stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone, learn so much about each other, and create new perceptions on the world around us.
The Feel Good Family are proud brand ambassadors for Coromal caravans and the National Trust of Australia Queensland. You can follow The Feel Good Family on their two-year journey around Australia by visiting their website www.thefeelgoodfamily.com.au and subscribing to their YouTube channel, The Feel Good Family.