Saturday, August 6, 2011

The secret life of caravaners.

Three and a half weeks into this trip I would have to say that for me the strangest part of caravan living is the intimacy you share with your neighbours.

On our farm in Daylesford, if I were to go outside and scream as loudly as I could, no one would hear me. Yet here we are usually a couple of meters away from another van, sharing bathrooms, and washing machines and outdoor living spaces with perfect strangers.

In my real life my best friends have never seen me first thing in the morning before I have had a chance to look in the mirror, or last thing at night brushing my teeth and washing my face. Yet my caravan neighbours have had the pleasure of witnessing these things as well as my dash to the toilet in my jammy pants first thing in the morning, they have heard me discipline my kids, they have seen us cook and eat our meals and hang out our washing. If they cared these neighbours could see from our laundry what colour knickers I wear.

I am sure most caravaners don't care or notice. They go about the details of their own lives and leave others to do the same.

I notice though.

I see the woman in the kitchen area with her pin curlers in. I see that most people hang their washing in an orderly manner, socks in pairs, tops with tops, pants with pants. I see that most people don't care about being seen in their hot pink elephant jammies or dying their hair in the sink. I hear people planning their trips and menus and dividing up the chores. I see the old man waiting patiently for his wife ouside the ladies toilets very late at night.

I love these details of other people's caravan lives.

My family voted me craziest in the family for taking these pics, but truthfully this aspect is as important to me as the tourist sights. This is caravan living.

Over time I might care less and notice less. It might feel normal when the guy next door interrupts my bowl of cereal to ask if we think the petrol will be cheaper in Mataranka or Katherine. It might not feel like an invasion when I return to the communal laundry to find mine out of the washer and dumped on the nearest table. It might feel regular to hear other people's kids crying well into the night.

In the meantime I guess the saving grace is that within a few days we will all be moving on and be strangers all over again.

This is such fun!

Happy travels.



  1. I was so hoping to see a pair of Jodie's undies on the line.

    1. Love your take on Vanlife - so true and so revealing how it is the great leveller.
      Australian Campervan Life

  2. hey, i have those saggy pink undies ;)

    xo em

  3. I love this post Kate. Glad you're travelling well, with clean undies and all.


  4. Haha all so true! Yes, done the early morning dressing gown dash to the amenities many times while camping. Feeling totally unsociable but putting on a happy face and saying hello to neighbouring fellow campers. Hope it gets a little easier with time. And don't stop taking washing line pics - they are quite amusing!

  5. As a teenager who was dragged on caravaning trips and had my teenage undies on display....I LOVE this post. And one of my parents' 'grey nomad' friend's insists on getting up at 4.30 in the morining to make sure her hair and make up is done before anyone can see her !
    I am loving reading about caravaning adventures. keep enjoying and please keep taking the rest of us along with you.
    Dee x

  6. You are blessed with a true talent for writing, Kate. Did you know that? Seriously. Perfect photos and a wonderful post.

    I didn't know most people pair their socks on the line. Is that just people moving around, do you think? No time to go back and find the odd socks when you are at the next night's campspot.

  7. There are so many (innapropriate for blog) things I want to ask...

  8. ha ha ha your post made me laugh so hard! The photos are just so precious and you are not crazy!! I would be doing the same thing... other peoples laundry is just so fascinating!! happy travels and laundry!! :)

  9. This is very cute. I grew up in the city and used a laundry mat, I can relate! Have fun!

  10. Laundry on a clothes line tells a story on its own. I am hugely fascinated and extremely in love with laundry drying outside. Can't take my eyes off them, always imagining who is actually wearing the items, what their life is like... Family members? What do they do for a living? How many years have they worn those washed out jeans, V-front undies, big mama bra... How longed for was the little baby who wears all the pink onesies, burp into all the pastel burp cloths? I love your pictures and the story your telling with them. Sound to me you are having a great caravan time.

  11. God Jodie's the devil I wasn't even thinking any inappropriate thoughts and now she's got me distracted. I love this post, and what a funny thing it must be from being so far away from people to living in strangers pockets almost. I would notice too, and be like you love the details of others peeps lives,
    My only slightly similar experience to this was when I moved house, from being in a house more spread out from the others, to where I am now where I'm very close to my neighbours, so I hear lots of conversations, fights, and they can see everything I do in my backyard ( so no nudey runs to the washing line)
    PS I love all the Hills Hoist shots!

  12. I am so loving the postcards of your journey...I love the twist on the tourist thingy...I am sure you are not crazy just doing what most of us would love to be doing.
    Love the fact that you can tell a lot about people from their washing.

  13. Oh Kate your observations are marvellous, you have such an eye for 'stuff'. Hey who's that bloke sitting in the shade of the tree in your last pic? Is he travelling light therefore guarding his duds? I love observing too. Huge Hugs Darlungheart ♥♥♥♥♥

  14. I enjoyed these quirky photos, you are inspiring me to add another adventure to my bucket list, caravanning.

  15. Socks must be with socks, pants with pants! It took a little while to get used to such close proximity (and those who asked could they show their wife inside our motor home!). I don't like to be the bearer of bad news, but in my experience of travelling 'round Australia, you will meet these strangers again at the next or the next caravan park!

  16. i love this about caravaning. you don't have to worry. you make do. i love the simplicity. happy travels.

  17. I hear you loud and clear, we live in quiet and with acres around us and when we stay at holiday houses or friends places I find it really hard to have people that close to me... I feel like they can hear everything and I find myself whispering.

    it is what is annoying me most about the builders being here... no privacy I feel like they are listening to us all the time- us arguing with each other or giggling... it just feels so weird to me when we usually walk around naked half the time ( not so much in Winter ) but you know...

  18. It's all very interesting how other people live. Now if I were doing what you are, I'd have a bucket with a lid for those night time toilet stops and empty it out in the morning. I wouldn't be keen to walk around in the dark with snakes etc around! Keep up the fun and great posts.

  19. Reading your posts makes me so, so, so want to be on the road again! But alas have to wait until August 2012! I was incensed when someone dumped my laundry (half dry) onto the table in Tennant Creek 'cause this was something I never did...just waited patiently until a washer or dryer was available.
    I never got used to any of it! I wanted to go home over and over but as soon as I WAS home...asked myself WHAT AM I DOING HERE?
    Just enjoy the experience...go with the flow...which of course you are doing, this is something all of you will look back on with fondness for the rest of your lives.
    (Hope none of your fellow campers recognize their laundry - lol).

  20. That's hilarious, what a great observation! I visit my family in our local caravan park everyday over the christmas time, isn't it funny that I've never noticed all those intimate pieces of peoples lives out for all to see. I love it! My Mum loves it, she's such a people watcher, it fascinates her & we all just laugh at how much she takes in & knows about these complete strangers!

  21. hear you loud and clear. it's a whole new world. lovely post kate. your peg bag will be in the mail tomorrow.♡m

  22. I love this about caravanning too, it is community and eccentricity all rolled into one.
    I don't hang my washing in an ordered way at all.
    I can't wait till we set off.

  23. I love this post, I love following your trip too!

  24. Love your blog kate. I love to get away with my husband in our caravan but we , like many more, are limited by work! We spent three loveyl weeks in the north of SA and Alice Springs, Uluru, Kings Canyon. It was wonderful and I would love to travel where you are now. Great post on laundry, such simple things we take for granted. Cheers kaylene

  25. Its the ones that don't have laundry that you need to worry about!
    Love your blog - Happy travelling

  26. I know the feeling...I've done a bit of touring with an opera company, where after a week or so on the road, you are simply forced to hang up your unmentionables in the hotel room you share with a friend, and in which tonight a large number of company members have chosen to congregate...

  27. Love that post! Keep the stories coming - they are fab.

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  29. I love your photos Kate. I wonder if that's abit like me loving going to supermarkets when I am overseas as much as the 'tourist attractions'- it's like a glimpse into life!

  30. Hi Kate..isn't it amazing what you can learn about people from their clotheslines..I love the obviously single fellas line at the bottom! We have single blokes laundry on the line here on Mondays or Tuesdays, married couple laundry on Wednesdays and sometimes other days, older ladies laundry..all undies on the inner lines..on a separate quarter on Mondays or Saturdays and once a month, older man's work gear on a Saturday..when my mr w comes home for a weekend from working away! We all do our own bits of laundry!

  31. Ha, ha, I had to laugh - I peg out my washing with all trousers together, undies together, socks, etc., but then I go over the shop (opposite my house) in my PJs and slippers too! Looks and sounds like you are all having a fab time.
    Jak x

  32. I attend a music school in Victoria and staying at the caravan park is one of my favorite parts of the whole week.
    I so dig your comments.
    I'd love to do an extended trip.
    Have fun. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Fabulous insight into the life of caravaners Kate... and many of the things that I think I would be noticing about my neighbours too! But I still like the idea of doing what you're doing... reading all about your trip gives me itchy feet ;o) xo

  34. Bottom picture is after a man has hung the washing out LOL

    Safe and happy travelling :)

  35. I love this too! What a great post! It must be surreal - that closeness and yet so different and apart... laughed at the kids' opinion but also wondered what your 'neighbours' thought of you taking pics of their washing! :)) Kx

  36. this is my favourite post so far.

    insightful and funny and so beautifully written.

    when i was in sth east asia, the people i travelled with filled their days with trying to see as many buddhist temples as possible. me? i'm like you. all i wanted to do was take in the domestic sights around me.


  37. I love these pix! perfect!

  38. I am so enjoying reading all your observations. People watching is so grand... and yes - lots can be told from the way a person hangs out their laundry.

    I always find myself feeling awkward when I need to discipline my children and I know others are listening. I think it is irrational - but nonetheless it is.

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