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Caravan diaries

Caravan diaries
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A couple, four children, a van, a term off school and a dream to see Central Australia. What could possibly go wrong? Words and photography by Leonie Marsh.

Dear Diary

Tomorrow, we set off in a caravan for 12 weeks. I am excitedly terrified. It’s my long-held dream to visit Uluru and since none of us has camped a night in our lives, we’re keeping the travel goals simple. We have Term 3 off school; we will take the laptops to continue working remotely and we’ll learn everything else as we go. How hard can it be? 


Dear Diary 

The adrenaline-fuelled high of the first week has well and truly worn off and we are now just cold, wet and lonely. Who in their right mind decides to camp in northern Victoria in July? Last night the baby woke up coughing in a van suffocatingly dark. Our free camp in this bush-facing showground is beautiful, yes, but power and water, no. I settle him on my chest and berate myself for being a negligent parent. We google “croup” on the phone. At daybreak I brew an extra strong pot of tea and book a motel. 


Dear Diary

The baby has made a full recovery in charming Swan Hill, host to the best Vietnamese meal I’ve had outside Vietnam. We finish the Murray-Darling Basin leg and make it to Broken Hill. Finally, compelling red dust and a far-reaching horizon. “We’re doing it,” my husband Jono and I whisper to each other. “We’re actually doing it.” 

We celebrate our third son's birthday in SA. I stick a No.5 candle into a cake from Woolies.

Our campsite, wedged into a cliff face in Coober Pedy, is run by Des, a local for 30 years. “It’s the greenest I’ve ever seen it,” he says, as we stand around a communal fire in a barrel, the grey nomads cradling their second red. The dusks and dawns are spectacular. 

The boys spend all morning at the local skate park; we’re slowly realising it’s the small things they enjoy the most. No opal mine tours for us.

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