17 Sep 2019
WATCH: Cosy, customised creature comforts
Meet Peter and Deb, the G’DAY REWARDS ‘Best Mates’ who travel around the country for half their year, and get rewarded for doing it.
They might be from New South Wales, but Peter and Deb certainly don’t play favourites when it comes to Aussie states. “We’ve just done Western Australia, we love South Australia, we’ve done lots of Queensland,” Deb says as they recount where they’ve been. “Northern Territory was pretty special, too,” Peter adds. “We live on the coast, so we love going inland.”
After buying their first caravan in 2001, Deb and Peter began travelling and learning the ins and out of caravan life. Starting with just little trips, they eventually graduated to months of travelling at a time, after Peter retired in 2004. “From then onwards, we’ve been travelling,” he says. “We usually go for about five months every year, leaving in late March.”
It was friends that inspired them to have their own van, and then fate that led them to buy their dream van when they did. “We had heard about one going up for sale so I said to Pete, ‘you can go and have a look but don’t buy it, I don’t want to buy one just yet’, but soon enough we went to have a look and we bought the van,” Deb says laughing. “We weren’t quite ready to travel but we started just going on little trips until we were able to finish work.”
After some time, the pair moved on to a new and improved van, equipped with a shower and toilet, and just two years ago, they invested in their current van - a Sunseeker Desert Storm. “We went to a caravan show in Rockhampton and came across this one,” Peter says. “We saw this van and we knew it was the one for us, but this one was built for us. Jason, who builds them in Victoria, was there at the show so it was great to talk to him on the day.”
Some of their customised additions included a linen cupboard, plugs outside to plug in portable solar panels, and a number of storage alterations inside. “For us, this van gives us the ability to be in parks, but it also gives us the ability to free camp and be out in the bush if we need to be. We’ve got fantastic solar power, we’ve got fantastic battery power, water that we carry, a grey water tank so we keep all our dirty water...we’ve got a washing machine and shower, we’ve even got gas heating in there so we don’t have to rely on power.”
The travelling duo have become so used to their home on wheels that they don’t even miss their home back in New South Wales. “We actually get very used to it while we’re away and then we go home and think ‘why do we need all this space for?’” Peter says. “It’s good because it’s cosy and it’s nice and easy to clean,” Deb says.
Peter and Deb have a joke that’s gone around the country with them and induced many a laugh from neighouring campers. “There’s pink jobs and blue jobs when you’re travelling in the van,” Peter says laughing. “Deb does the cooking and cleaning and I make sure that I set up all the outside and make sure it’s looking nice and clean...give it a polish.”
Jokes aside, the pair are proud as punch of their home away from home, and passionate about seeing more of Australia and making friends along the way. After staying several weeks at a time in parks around the country, they’ve even been awarded ‘Best Mate’ level with the G’DAY Rewards program, a level given after 20 nights (split over at least two stays) in Discovery Holiday Parks or Top Parks throughout the year.
With a number of discounts both within the parks and in a growing list of partner programs, it’s well worth joining up, according to Peter and Deb. “We really use the benefits in- park,” Peter says. “Once you become self-funded retirees, any way to save a few dollars really makes a difference. We’ve even signed friends up who were travelling with us, too.”
With early check-in opportunities and discounts with every stay, Peter and Deb have more time to get back to the important stuff. “When there’s sun, I’m mostly outside reading,” Deb says. “I like to go and have a look at the books in the park office too...when they do the book swaps. I’ll check out the op-shops around town for books, too. We like to support the communities that we’re in.”
“You’re pretty well always outside chatting to people,” Deb says to Peter, laughing. “That’s what it’s all about here,” Peter says with a grin.