31 Jul 2017
This family swapped their bricks and mortar abode for life in a tent.
There’s nothing like waking up to the sound of a tent zip opening. As the condensation shifts and the first of the morning sunlight hits your face, it brings promise of an exciting new day ahead.
Just ask Shelby Jager, the mother of two from Mandurah who turned her back on suburban living to hit the road with her family of four. Shelby, her partner Stephen and their nippers Jessica (4) and Melissa (3), have been travelling since 10 July 2016.
“We were renting before that. We lived in a house and didn’t like the lifestyle. It was too boring. Every day was just the same and I hate that. I love new challenges,” Shelby says.
First, they had to downsize.
“We had a house full of brand new furniture we’d only bought six months before and we just let it all go. We don’t need it. We put the money we got from that into buying new tents.”
They kicked off their journey at Lane Poole Reserve in Dwellingup. Over the past 12 months they stayed in and around city caravan parks and out bush for two and a half months in Marrinup.
The wind took its toll.
“This is our fourth tent, our second gazebo and our third car. I crashed the first one and overheated and ruined the second one. This van is the new addition.”
They travel with an eight-person tent, a gazebo with built-in lights, a trailer, kayak, the children’s bicycles and an ensuite toilet.
“We use that for showers when we go out into no-man’s land.”
When they’re at a powered site, they have a television to keep the little ones entertained at night. Otherwise, it’s all about quality family time and getting close to nature.
“The kids love it. They’re not school age yet and I can’t imagine them being anywhere else.”
Hand feeding wild kangaroos at Lane Poole Reserve was a highlight.
The children also have tablet devices to keep them busy during long trips in the car.
“When they know we’re going somewhere new, they can’t wait. If we tell them we’re going somewhere they’ve already been they say ‘I thought we were going travelling!’ They’re not impressed. They just want to keep moving.”
“We’ve all become so much closer since doing this. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
The biggest challenge is the weather.
“Other than that, it depends where we are. At city parks it’s pretty cruisy because we have a full kitchen and ablutions but when we’re out in the bush it’s a different story. We did two months in the middle of nowhere – completely self-contained so we had no power.”
The hardest of times are the best of times.
“It clears your head. We often camp away from camping: we have our main set-up in a park and when a long weekend comes up we take our little two-man tents and camp out in the bush.”
What do they miss about their former life? Nothing.
“We have no end date… we’ll keep going until we’re ready to settle. I’m not looking forward to settle day but it will eventually come because we’ll have to for the kids.”
The proud mum grins. “They’ll definitely have some stories to tell when they’re older.”
Did you like Shelby's story about life on the road with her family? On your next family adventure, try these tasty jaffle recipes and keep everyone fed and happy.
If you’ve got a story from the road travelling Australia we’d love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
This travel feature was published in G’DAY Magazine.