28 Feb 2019
Watch: Sit riverside with this flock of friends and hear their yarns from the road
These fun-loving friends from Victoria share their tips, tricks and favourite bits of a good ol' group road trip.
It doesn’t get much better than rallying together the best crew for a caravanning convoy. These two couples from Victoria have done just that, meeting through their children and now continuing on their friendship with regular caravan trips around Victoria and beyond.
Annie, John, Rick and Joanne, all from Gippsland (VIC), are lovers of the road, planning as many trips as possible, from Daylesford to Port Fairy and Alexandra and everything in between. While most still work full- time, they make sure to fit in trips in between the working weeks. “We go out every couple of months lately,” Annie says, “but quite often it’s just for the weekend. We love it.”
Starting with overseas cruises, the couples decided that seeing Australia together on the road was more important. “We’ve had our van for seven or eight years now,” John says, “I grew up doing it.” But it wasn’t until a year ago that Rick and Joanne made the plunge to buy their very own home on wheels.
“We thought when we can afford it we’d buy one, so we can go on trips, too, and that was a year ago now that we did that.” Since then, Joanne and Rick have ventured out on nine trips - an impressive feat in their first year of owning the van. “We go separately as well as together,” Joanne says, “but we love planning trips with the four of us. We mostly go in Victoria still at the moment, but we love it.
People say three is a crowd, but not for this foursome, who think everyone’s got their perfect place in the road trip gang. “I’m an idiot fisherman,” John says with a laugh. “I was an aerial skier back when I was a teenager, and now I love going up into the wild Victorian High Country and into some of the wild rivers up there.”
With fishing sorted, Joanne and Annie prefer to kick-back camp-side and have a read. “I like reading and a glass of wine occasionally,” Annie says. “I like reading, too,” Joanne says, “and going for strolls, and I do like baking as well.”
Joanne’s baking is much-loved by the group, a sure-fire way to wrangle fans in any campsite. “Rick is celiac, so it’s gotta be gluten free so that can be a bit of a challenge,” she says, “but I just like cooking anything really.” While Rick is biased, he’s got his favourites. “Joanne’s cupcakes have gotta be my favourite,” he says with a smile. The group agrees, nodding all-round the campfire.
Reading and cooking aside, they’re a busy caravanning bunch here, especially passionate when it comes to card games. “We play a lot of cards.” Annie says. Their favourites? “‘Connive’, which is also called ‘May I’, and also ‘Killer Bunnies’. It usually brings out the worst in people that game!” They all laugh, bringing out the deck of cards to show us.
But Rick has a different hobby to keep him busy on the road. “I like prospecting,” he says with a laugh. While the rest of the group play cards and relax around the campfire, Rick is more often than not out and about finding treasures. He’s found an interesting collection of trinkets in his time, too. “I pick the spots where most other people don’t think about prospecting...that’s where you find the good stuff. People go into the sand dunes for funny business, so why not try there,” he says laughing. “I found about 4.5 ounces of gold in a little area last year, but the weirdest thing I’ve found would be a squid jig. I found a penny last week, too, from 1940.”
Whatever they busy themselves with while they travel, and wherever they go, it’s all about having fun. Their top tips for travelling in a group of friends? “Make sure you get along with the people you’re travelling with, and have a few marshmallows along the way,” Annie says. “Bring the giant marshmallows from America,” Joanne says, “not the tiny little sweet ones. I can get about 10 skins out of one of those marshmallows.”
On the practical side, John says it’s all about planning the journey right. “My biggest tip for the drivers is to make sure there’s not too much distance between the two stops.” Joanne says it’s all about what you pack. “You don’t need to bring a lot with you either, really. I always bring too much but you can really be a bit daggy.”
Most important, John says, are the supplies. “Above all, just don’t forget the wine and the chocolate.”
This story from the road was published in G’DAY Magazine.