19 Jan 2018
WATCH: Meet the Wehrle family and see inside their home on the road.
The Wehrle family invites us in for a peek inside their stunning caravan that lets them live five-star remotely around Australia.
When Darren and Lucinda Wehrle were on the hunt for a new caravan they went to the Sydney Caravan Camping Lifestyle Expo four days in a row. They did so armed with a detailed checklist. “I had an A4 book that had all my requirements in it,” Lucinda says. “I had different pages for the four vans we were considering.” She laughs. “There’s a bit of a joke with Jayco Sydney because they know what we’re like.”
They decided on a Jayco Adventurer. “The new model, just released,” Darren says. “We looked at a number of different brands and the Adventurer was the one we came back to. This is our third Jayco so we knew what we were getting into. The Adventurer was the step up from the previous models we’ve had. It ticked all the boxes. Jayco had never done a full off-road van until The Adventurer. This was the first registered in New South Wales.”
The 25-foot beast has an outdoor kitchen, gas heating, a full ensuite and shower, and four beds for the family. “I can’t travel without a washing machine,” Lucinda says. “Washing and drying clothes when you travel can be very costly so that was number one on my list. “Air conditioning, fans for air movement and a good bed is essential.”
The van also has three solar panels, a generator, and LED lights. “We wanted to live five-star… remotely.”
They pull it with a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series. After 14 years of caravanning, the couple from Sydney have learnt a few things along the way.
“When we first started we were three years into being married,” Lucinda says. “When we first bought a caravan, we’d watch the grey nomads. The husband and wife would always fight when they were backing the caravan in. We made a very conscious decision that we were going to communicate and help one another. We had walkie talkies and Darren would be in the car and I’d direct him in. It helped us learn to communicate very early on in our relationship.” She smiles. “Backing your caravan is not easy. A lot of people can’t do it. Reversing a van into a tight spot between other vans and cars can test your marriage.”
Darren grew up in Myall Lakes near Newcastle and has fond memories of camping holidays over Easter and Christmas breaks. Lucinda didn’t get into it until she met her hubby. Now, they get away from Sydney whenever they get a break. “We have a commercial air conditioning business and we’re quite busy from Monday to Friday so weekends are the time we can get away and have some time to explore.”
They’ve had four vans in their time, each one matching different stages in their life. “The first van we had was a Compass. A small pop top. That’s when we really found our love of caravanning and the little luxuries: a nice bed and being in that hard shell as opposed to a tent.”
From there they moved on to the first of three Jaycos. “We go to every show and we know a lot about our vans.” They have two daughters Sophie and Ellyssa, aged 14 and 12. “Over 10 years ago it was difficult to find a van for families. In the end, we went with a Jayco Expander. It was an outback and we took it on a trip around Australia. Elly was 18 months and Soph was four.” Lucinda smiles. “We came home and sold the car and the caravan because we were building a new house and wanted to settle down a bit. We lasted six months then had to go and find another van!”
Their next purchase was an Expander with bunk beds. “We eventually sold that van to good friends of ours (they still have it). Then we got an Outback 25-foot van with the bunks. It’s massive. We’ve just sold that van and it is currently on its way around Australia with another family.”
Memorable trips include Uluru, Devils Marbles, the Mereenie Loop into the West MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon, Kakadu, Litchfield National Park, and the Blue Mountains. “The best was probably the West MacDonnell Ranges,” Lucinda says. “Being able to explore and go hiking during the day and come back and swim in the gorges. It’s beautiful.”
They love the social perks of caravan park holidays. “You’ve pretty much got an apartment on wheels so you get to enjoy caravan parks and the kids can run around. At the end of the day, you’ve got a good bed, walls around you, an ensuite, a toilet, and everything you want is there behind you.”
Their current van makes entertaining a breeze. “We can’t do without our Weber Q,” Lucinda says. “Last night we had friends come to visit. We cooked a potato bake, a sweet potato, feta and pine nut salad and Scotch fillet.”
Joining a Sydney District 4x4 club connected them with likeminded people. “They have about 240 members – lots of families. We went away with them last year to Yamba. They’re lovely genuine people who have the same interests: family and the outdoors.”
Inspired by the Wehrle family’s kit, new mates met through the club have since purchased vans of their own. “We’re all going to the Victorian high country over Christmas.”
Fancy gear aside, it’s all about making precious memories.
“It’s not going to be long before the girls start driving and living lives of their own. These are memories that they will remember forever.”
This family of four’s caravan is enough to turn the average camper green with envy.
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.