Monday, November 14, 2011

Friends, road trippers, caravanners...

Yesterday we spent the day with three other road tripping families celebrating a friend, Ali's, 40th birthday. Between us we were eight adults and 10 kids. All of us around the same age, all having left the comfort and security of home and work for a six month trip around Australia and all of us having met one another in the past few months.

In his birthday speech to his wife, John spoke about how originally Ali had planned to fly home with her family for her birthday. How she had planned to spend the important mile stone celebrating with family and life long friends. But as the weeks grew nearer she realised that what she really wanted, was to spend the day somewhere on the road with her caravanning friends.

I totally get that.

Road tripping is intense. Road tripping friendships are quickly intimate and true. They are based on an experience in common and they share a language of adventures and memories.

All down the west coast of Australia we have bumped into the same families again and again. The kids have formed packs and have spent hours bike riding, playing at the playgrounds, swimming, exploring and adventuring. More than once a child has been dragged kicking and screaming on a family outing when they would much rather have stayed at the caravan park and played with their friends. 'Who cares about dolphins when I can do handstands with Grace and Tom!'

And to an extent its the same for us. In the absence of our families and community, our new friends have shared the journey with us. They share newly made memories and similar experiences.

They remember camping under the air force flight path in Darwin, the grumpy four-wheel driving cleaner in Broome, the wind in Geraldton, the heated shower floor in Busselton. We commiserate over stories of snoring neighbours, fighting couples and crying babies. We empathise over blown tyres and wet beds. We share the experience of parenting in public, of bathing and laundering in public, of wearing the same thing day in-day out in public, and letting our hair cuts and colours grow out in public.

We share our camping secrets, we copy the movies off each others' hard drives and we swap books

We share stories we've heard of the best camping spots and places to visit and the must nots.

And over time we share bits and pieces about our real lives too. Who we are at home, what we do and why we are doing this trip.

Sometimes I think that in the days and years to come, it will be the friendships and camaraderie that we remember as the highlight of this trip. The excitement of watching a car and caravan full of friends pull up at a caravan park, nights spent chatting and laughing and drinking, trips together to tourist spots, having the van full of kids watching a movie, and the long sunny days filled with children running back and forth between vans and jumping pillows.

I guess in life the friends you relate to are often those experiencing the life stages that you are when you are. School friends, uni friends, work friends, friends with little kids, school Mum friends, craft group friends, road tripping friends...

Happy travels my friends. xx

ps. This night eleven years ago was my last as a non Mother. Wowee!!


  1. Gee making friends along the way, what a bonus for you guys and the kids. I love that she choose to spend her 40 th with you all, that is really special and intimate.Your story continues to inspire me.

  2. Sounds idyllic! What a wonderful way to spend a birthday.

    11 years a mama; simply precious. Hope tomorrow is amazing.

  3. Lovely post, Kate. I love the words and the pics.
    P.S. In the second photograph, look who's the only one eating. (Guess he's building up his strength for the ukelele playing to come.)

  4. these friendships, across both generations, sound so wonderful. all in such a unique time and place at the same time. . .

    . . . but i'm sorry, i'm completely distracted trying to take in the details of those little tiny tea cup treats (lifesavers? marshmallows? iced biscuits? )

    hope you're getting some sunshine for the closing chapters of your adventure.

    rachel xo

  5. So true! You have expressed what we have been feeling beautifully. What a great day, one to be remembered and treasured. So delighted to have met you and your gorgeous family, and to have had you there to share it. Xo
    PS. 40 rocks!

  6. Makes me want to pack up the house and go right now!

  7. That's brilliant Kate,I would not have imagined so many wonderful friendships would be made on the road, it's fantastic!
    ...11 years, oh my goodness!

  8. Like tea with lucy, I had to stop at the life saver to add that one to the mental party notes!
    Happy Birthday to your lovely eldest. It's a good month for birthdays :-)

  9. I can relate, as it was like that when we were travelling overseas. During our six months of backpacking through the UK and Europe we ran into the same people several times, or changed our plans to follow them on a wild adventure, or stayed longer at a hostel, knowing they would be arriving. Our trip was as much about seeing the world as it was about meeting people, building those friendships with others who were like minded and interesting. If we hadn't there would not have been as many laughs, nor as many hangovers. We would not have though to go to Croatia or Budapest. And countless times we would have taken the more expensive option, the longest train etc, without their shared wisdom. Travelling opens up a whole new world in so many ways I believe.


  10. Lovely post Kate!! So true, our kids had a 9 hour stint playing in the van park at Kalbarri with friends, good wholesome fun games with no bickering, heaven!!

  11. what a special and beautiful thing these friendships built along the way.
    A sure highlight from the trip.

  12. A timely post. This weekend I am attending my 25 year school reunion and I have found my self remembering close friends who disappeared along the way as new people have become friends in different stages of my life.

    I am wondering if any friendships will be renewed...

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  14. i love this post kate, almost as much as i love the fellowship of the caravanning family

  15. My husband, best friend and her husband went on a road trip in 2000, when the Olympics were on and for us, it wasn't the places we went but more the people you meet and you realise people are people no matter where they come from!

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