16 Aug 2018
WATCH: MEET THE O’REILLYS AND COME INSIDE THEIR DECKED OUT HOME ON THE ROAD
The O’Reillys have seen the inside of every different type of tent, campervan, and caravan; but now, see their new Dirt Road Xtreme Caravan in all its rugged luxury.
As far as Kevin O’Reilly is concerned, it doesn’t matter how you get around Australia, as long as you’re out there seeing it. He would know too, having driven and slept in every type of tent, campervan and caravan imaginable in his lifetime of travelling the Aussie landscape.
“I started off in the big green marquee canvas tents because my folks come from a family of five kids. And then mum and dad eventually upgraded to a caravan and the caravan turned into an on-site van,” he says.
Kevin has continued on the tradition with his own family - wife Heidi and son Benjamin, 14. Originally from Newcastle, the family moved to Queensland in 1993, and have been travelling around here ever since.
We caught up with them in Discovery Parks - Boat Harbour Drive, Hervey Bay.
“When we moved to Queensland, we started off in tents. I remember the first tent - it was like the Taj Mahal - a big dome tent. And we went from the tent to our first little van and sort of made our way up from there basically over the last 20 years.”
These days, they’re set with their JB Dirt Road Xtreme Caravan, a recent dream purchase they’re only too happy with. With all their experience, we think these guys know their vans. “Since Heidi and I have been married - it’s been 23 years - and this is our fourth caravan now. We’ve done two and a half years travelling around Australia, too, so we had good practice,” he says. “Our first van was a 16ft expander, and a couple of months into our trip around Australia, we realised because toilet training and everything in the van, we had to boil the kettle for hot water and that was a bugger so we thought ‘no’...”
After upgrading to a larger 18ft van with hot water service, they’ve never looked back. “All of a sudden it was like moving into the Tardis as far as we were concerned. We had a toilet, shower, and that was awesome.” Since then, they upgraded to a Jayco, and most recently moved up to the JB Xtreme. It’s the latest and greatest to be brought out by JB, and the O’Reilly’s have had their eyes on it for the last 18 months.
Not only does their new van have all the whiz-bang tricks of the new-age vans these days, but it’s also got all the trimmings of an extreme four-wheel drive vehicle. It’s like extreme-caravanning, with almost every corner of Australia now accessible to this adventure-loving family.
“I love getting out on those dirt roads and outback tracks and stuff,” Kev says. “This is the dream van. I’ve always wanted the big chunky off-road van.” The van not only features tough wheels, it’s also got a luxe interior, with all the comforts of home, in a fraction of the space. There are separate bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, living space and plenty of nifty storage too. But it’s the spacious bathroom the family has fallen for. “I guess we’re a little bit spoiled now by the nice toilet and big comfortable shower. Having a decent-sized shower and a decent bathroom where you can brush your teeth and what-have-you, is really important.”
But it’s not just the inside that makes for all the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ with this impressive van, it’s the outside living space, too. The van has its own large canopy that extends their living space out to almost double. Kev’s added his own touches to make the most of it. “I’ve got a full slide-out alfresco kitchen outside that slides out from under the van which is pretty cool. That’s one thing I would say - if you’re getting a van, I recommend an outdoor barbecue, a slide-out barbie or something...it just makes life a little bit easier, you don’t have to do all your cooking inside.” This comes in handy on those balmy, humid Queensland nights.
While Ben plays a quick video game inside as we take our van tour, Heidi is outside in the alfresco area watching the pizzas.
“The family life is great in a van,” Kev says. “The people you meet, like these guys around us tonight...we’re having a pizza night tonight. You meet some really good people.” As the family prepares pizza with some neighbouring caravanners in the park, we get down to the nitty-gritty - the important things in life. While they love their van, Kev says it’s really all about the things you see and the people you meet. “As far as the van goes, it all comes down to personal choice I guess at the end of the day, and what you can afford. Obviously everyone’s different finance-wise, but the way I look at it, whether you’re in an old bummed-out campervan or a tent, as long as you’re out there doing it...mate, that’s the important thing.”
So what’s next for the O’Reillys (after pizza)? “We’ve been around the outside of Australia, and up the centre and we’ve seen lots of cool things,” Kev says. “We did 60,000km on our big trip and we’ve barely scratched the surface. If I had my way I’d be travelling forever around Australia, just with the van on the back. One day.”
Want to take a sneak peak in to couple who live full time on the road? Click here
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.