Goodbye, Brisbane! Hello… hello?
After a few weeks in Brisbane, first finding and then equipping our “camper-truck”, we set off into the unknown of Australia. We were sad to leave our friends Debbie and Mark, their hospitality, generosity, and the comforts of their home, but we were ready to start the adventure we had come to Australia to embark on: one long road trip around this amazingly massive country.
Our plan was to head north within Queensland; after all, we had arrived in Australian “winter” and the warmer weather was to be found in the northern half of the country. We really had no other plan than that. We knew of a few specific places we wanted to see, but really we were just following the highway “up”.
When we reached Rainbow Beach, after having spent some time in Noosa, we were getting a little tired of $12 avo toasties (a slice of toast with avocado, maybe an egg) and the general expense of EVERYTHING in Aus. We hadn’t purchased any camping supplies yet, so we thought WELL! It’s time to get a little rough now. No more $20 breakfasts and $30 lunches. It was time to experience Australia like a true backpacker. This is going to be great!
Oh, man. Did we ever get smacked in the face with the reality of this trip. After an innocent check-in with our finances on the way to pick up more supplies, we had our first sting of the financial screw-ups we had made. Credit card billing is not up to the minute, let-me-help-you-keep-track-of-your-spending-so-you-don’t-rack-up-too-much!, so what we thought we had spent up to this point was pretty much laughing in our faces. OKAY THEN. So, not buying spoons? We’ll share one, big plate? I don’t think we really need cups, eh? Great, we’re in agreement.
We were scared, and upset with ourselves. How could we have mismanaged our money so badly? Are we going to have enough to survive? Where can we find jobs NOW? We were rationalizing to make ourselves feel better – start-ups are expensive! The truck! Supplies! Accommodation until we found our vehicle! These are all reasonable expenses, right? Right?! Well, yes, they are. And yes, there were going to be start-up costs, of course. It takes money to purchase a vehicle (ha, obviously) and then set it up as a place to live. But we did what nearly everyone does when they come to Australia on a working holiday, as we found out later. We vacationed: we ate at restaurants, we went to the amusement park, we bought a surf board. We blew through some money thinking we had an endless supply because we were excited and a little out of our element. But as they say, you live and you learn. And we learned, hard.
Not sure where to go and feeling really down, we turned to what would become our BEST FRIEND: the WikiCamps app. Plug in whatever you’re looking for (e.g. free accommodation, toilets, showers, power, caravan parks, places of interest, etc.), and your options appear as icons on a map. Follow the map to your destination, and voila! Somewhere to sleep, shower, or pee not outside behind a bush.
We showed up to a nice, free caravan park one night and were immediately greeted by a friendly Aussie couple. They invited us to sit with them around a campfire, offered us wine, and asked us about our journey so far. They were so sweet and parental, giving us tips and advice as if we were their own kids. Soon afterwards, a campervan with three French backpackers came rolling in – and ended up changing our lives. Really? So dramatic, I know. But really. We shared with them what we were currently going through, feeling lost and worried. They were incredibly kind and understanding, telling us they experienced the same feelings after they arrived in Australia a month earlier. Now, things were all good. They didn’t worry and they had tricks to help them save money. They breathed new life into us by teaching us how (and why) not to worry, and reassuring us that we DID have enough money to keep going, as much as we thought we didn’t. All we needed was some perspective and a few lessons on how to live cheaply.
They invited us to travel north along with them and, as we pretty much took their arrival to the campfire that night as fate, we happily tagged along! We believe we had to be a little bit scared to learn some valuable lessons about life: not to worry, live in the moment, and trust the universe to have your back. ALSO (and very importantly) how to live like a backpacker!
Read about how we learned to do that 🙂