The End of An Incredible Era

Coming out of a life changing journey such as our 12 month trip around Australia, you would like to think that we learnt a thing or two along the way. Through hardship, happiness and mishaps, somehow we still managed to stick it out together and come out the other end as a couple even more in love and understanding of each other than ever before. So, what was it that made Oz360 change our lives forever more?

Well for Tom...
He mastered the art of changing tyres, four to be precise. Each time with a loving (nagging) girlfriend asking stupid questions and giving useless advice along the way.

He learnt that if you creep up on a 4 foot sea lion while it's sunbaking on the beach, it will turn nasty and could possibly tear you to shreds if you're not fast enough on your feet.

Having now serviced a Troopie four times and being in charge of any vehicular maintenance along the way, Tommy is now a very talented token Bush Mechanic.

Tom learnt that if you wear a khaki akubra, faded blue shorts, a khaki King Gee work shirt and a pair of hiking boots, you are bound to be mistaken for the Park Ranger on at least more than one occasion. (The big bushy beard didn't help the situation either).

He discovered a new found love for fishing. He transformed from being one of the most useless fisherman who threw back his first fish ever caught in Australia only to later learn that it was infact a nuisance pest the size of my pinkie with strict orders to kill on the spot and never to return to the water. Even after a bumpy start, he still managed to find a love and yearning desire to fish every waking minute of the day.

He never fished in the hopes of food at the other end of his line, Tom fished because he loved evaluating the water, the type of fish present, adapting his rig depending on his predicted catch, and standing for hours on end gripping onto that rod so tight as he stood back and just watched the day go by. When I think of Tom fishing, I recall his return to camp after each outing. I could tell just by the stride in his step, the weight of his bag and the look on his face whether or not he had an amazing catch to speak of. It is now safe to say that fishing has become a direct rival with the geology of the land for Tom's attention & affection. He has without a doubt, unveiled a new found love.

And considering how useless I am behind the camera, thankfully he also managed develop quite the eye for photography...

And for me? What did I learn after a whole year of living on the road? 

I realised how extremely lucky we were to be able to do it in the first place. The hardest part about buying & setting up a vehicle, saving up, quitting our jobs and actually set off on our adventure was making that commitment & following through. Having a dream will always remain a dream until you make it a reality. Once we had made the commitment to go, there was no turning back. Once we  had finally set off, you would like to think that all of our cares went out the window and we could just drive the open road for the next 52 weeks without a worry in the world. Well, quite the opposite really. There were days when it was just plain shit. Times when we would be so worried about our spendings after calculating that we had blown our weekly budget by 250%, or when the weather was so miserable that we all we could do was coup ourselves up in the cramped confined area of the Troopie cabin praying for the rain ease the following day, or when the Troopie blew a head gasket and we risked possibly having to call off the trip altogether or source an alternative vehicle. Those times were admittedly testing but in reflection, I now realise that they only made us stronger. So many times I remember Tom turning to me and saying "While this may seem really horrible right now, it sure beats working 9-5 Monday-Friday sitting behind a computer in an office somewhere"... that made us feel better everytime.

I love thinking of all of the people we met along the way, those special ones that shaped our journey and gave us stories to share for years to come - 

We made friends with Ned & Tren in Eden, NSW by default really, thanks to the terribly rainy weather we crammed ourselves under a tarp the first day we met and enjoyed endless pots of tea & pancakes for the whole day.

This was the Troopie Trio at Swimcart Beach, TAS. After spending a few days with Maria (in her Troopie called Norbit) and Jess & Dave (in their QueensLandCruiser), we instantly decided we must keep in touch. It wasn't until 4 months later that we literally bumped in Maria in Monkey Mia, WA and we caught up with Jess & Dave not long afterwards in Darwin, NT.

Our generous mate Aaron & his family in Tassie, who took us in, fed us, donated an abundance of fresh honey and took us out shooting. Such an awesome experience, one with many stories to tell for years to come...

The pub in the outback - Mungerannie Hotel. WOW! I am so glad we worked there. There wasn't one day during our whole three weeks there that it ever felt like a day at work. Pam and Phil just made us feel like we were part of their little family. I can't wait for the day that Tom and I go back there, even if it's ten years from now - it's definitely worth a revisit.

Co-founders of the Coward Springs Cup - Tom and I met Denise & Sparks on the Oodnadatta Track, damn smack in the middle of nowhere. Even after three days in the outback, we still managed to keep ourselves very well entertained...

Our second and last time we worked - at Lake Argyle Cruises in WA. And by 'work' I of course mean socialised with Greg & his family and answered a phone calls in between :)

After hours at Lake Argyle - our neighbours in the Caravan Park - Don and Fina were the ones that kept our sanity (and the only other non-grey nomads in the whole park). We were so lucky to be camped up next to our new found friends...

After now returning to my home town of Brisbane, we have been thrown right into the deep end to return to 'reality'. Both Tom and I are really excited to be normal once again, there were certain aspects that we used to take for granted during our normal life. Fresh, running & drinkable water. Hot showers every morning without a 100metre dash to the ablutions - and no need to wear thongs in the shower!! A hot cup of tea within minutes after the initial flick of a kettle. No artistic gymnastics every morning to roll the bed up with only one metre head clearance from the base of the bed. Comfort in the knowledge that we knew exactly where we'd sleep that night and how much it'll cost. Access to a washing machine that doesn't need to be activated by endless numbers of gold coins. And a bank account that gets topped up on a weekly basis. 

Even after being in a home for over a week and jogging my memory of all of those little quirks of living on the road, I realised I've already begun to take it all for granted once again. We loved everyday on the road and while the list above may identify all of those little things in life we missed, not having them there didn't bother us so much. We had comfort in the knowledge that we were free, travelling the open road, we had each other and always enough fuel to get us to our next campsite. That was all that mattered. 

Through all of the ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and not-so-good times, I wouldn't change a day of our adventure. Oz360 taught me to be thankful for what I have, to appreciate every second of your freedom and above all else that stress is purely a state of mind and so too is happiness.

Oz360 changed our lives.

The day we left.

"Locked in Love" on the Seacliffe Bridge, NSW

It was a pretty tough life.

The day we got Charlie back after he blew a head gasket.

Just the three of us.

Sunshine & Happy times.

 Looking towards the future.


Andrew said...

I think I started reading as you were leaving Tasmania. I always looked forward to a new post arriving. It was some adventure. While I am sure your writing was for the benefit of your families, I have enjoyed the journey. Cheers.

Ben said...

Your blog posts are going to be sorely missed though they will be an invaluable resource and something I will be referring back to for my trip.

Good luck with selling Charlie and I hope you manage to get yourself another 4wd so you can keep the dream alive even if it is only for weekend outings. There are so many beautiful places to explore in QLD.

All the best for the future.



The Retro Roamers said...

Thanks for the fantastic ride over the last 12 months. I will sadly miss your updates and adventures.

All the very best to the both of you, and you never know we may run into you somewhere in the great outdoors.

Good luck and cheers & beers

Oz Troopers said...

Hi All,
Thanks so much for the kind words. Believe me, we had more fun creating & writing the blog than you had reading it. Thanks for following our adventure all of this time!

Amy & Tom.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to accept that 12 months has passed since you began your adventure. Of course with that acceptance is the realisation that we have just completed a little over 12 months of our adventure. The difference is we do not have a timetable to return. As one of those Grey Nomads we are on the road until one of us says, "ENOUGH"! I looked forward to your semi regular posts and suggest that maybe you can keep on posting. Life is still an adventure and there are things to learn even at home.
Thanks for the photos.
Good luck for the future.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Hey, sorry to hear it's all over - but is it EVER all over?? I bet you don't settle for standard suburbia for too long (although the hot showers, flushing toilets and freshly laundered clothes are a pretty good drawcard!!). After all, what's the point of having a life-changing experience if it doesn't actually change your life??

It's been great following your trip - but I'm sure you can squeeze out a few more posts! What about revisiting the answers to the questions you asked each other at the beginning? And it's always fun to do a 'best of/worst of' retrospective ... AND ... I bet I'm not the only one interested in seeing that final budget!!! Go crazy!!

NSWCamper said...

Thanks for the fun...

It has been great following it right the way through, and once I get a bit of spare time I'm going back to have another look. We will be looking at your blog to get some inspiration and ideas about where to go and what to do.

Next time you head off for a camp don't be shy - post the details for us...

Cruise Victoria PL said...

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Caravan_Fanatic said...

What a fantastic adventure! Love that you explored fishing, there are so many amazing places to fish in Australia. I actually stumbled upon this article that outlines the best places to fish and what to expect you'll catch:
I reckon my next stop in my Roadstar is NT for some barra!