Every Friday we will feature fellow binge-explorers/adventure seekers who are living the ultimate Australian dream of exploring the amazing country in a camper. Our aim is to get an insight on the lifestyle of this idolised community. Salty Summits takes no responsibility of severely increased FOMO!
WHEN YOU LIVE IN A BUS AND SURFBOARDS, A MOTORBIKE AND A CAMERA ARE YOUR 3 ‘GO TO’ ITEMS,
YOU KNOW YOU ARE LIVING ONE HELLUVA LIFE!!!
Q1 – Lets start with the lowdown; who you are and why you have chosen the idolized lifestyle of exploring Australia in a camper.
We are Liam and Ali, both 24 year olds from Melbourne, with commerce degrees. We had an epic dream of travelling around Aus in a converted school bus. We both had just finished uni and didn’t want to jump straight into corporate jobs. We also both wanted to travel for a long time without spending huge amounts of money. We knew Europe and America would mean expensive quick holidays, so we decided we’d do something different, so we bought a bus, made it into our dream adventure vehicle and took off to explore the great coastlines that Australia has to offer.
Q2 – Your home is named Bilby? Where did the name originate?
Unfortunately, there is no glamorous story behind the name. We really just wanted to name it something starting with ‘b’. We tried a few names out when we first bought him and couldn’t decide. I guess after we came up with Bilby we never came up with anything else and it kind of stuck. We’re pretty glad now though because we think it’s pretty cute.
Q3 – Apart from the obvious ‘there is so much room for activities’ ;), why did you guys choose a bus over any other option?
Choosing a bus was a hard choice. We were pretty adamant we wanted a bus as opposed to a van. We weighed up all the pros and cons of both. Some of the cons of a bus were things like, an increased difficulty in parking, the extra height and weight mean we probably run a little more petrol (although we are running at around 13L/100km, which we think is pretty damn good for our size), We find it a lot harder to illegally camp in the street as we stick out a lot. HOWEVER the extra space we get out weighs these problems 10 fold when you’re up North and the rains hit and they don’t stop for a week. The ability to still be able to cook inside, sit on the couch, walk around and still have your bed set up so you don’t have to worry about packing up is amazing. We have 4 seats, we can sleep 4 and we don’t have to fold anything away, set up or pack up, so we can always be on the go. We are stoked with our decision so far.
Q4 – We all froth on van fit-outs and yours looks pretty damn cosy!! What was the most challenging aspect of building the bus fit-out yourselves?
We were very lucky to have some very kind friends give up a lot of time helping with the build and giving advice along the way, so the building side of things wasn’t too hard. Where we got things really wrong and found incredibly difficult was the electrics side of things, and the engineering side of things. We are currently writing a little eBook to download from our website with everything we now know to help others with their build to ensure no one has the trouble we did. Bilby is now fully solar powered and we run most household items in the bus purely from the sun, but this set up did not come cheaply due to the large amount of mistakes we made and it was put together in about 15 different car parks of Jaycar and Supercheap Autos. We strongly recommend getting professional help when it comes to the Solar side of a camper build and doing a lot of research first. The engineering side of things got really tricky because there isn’t a lot of information out there about it. A lot of the engineers we spoke to were telling us different things to what VicRoads were and things got tricky in the end.
Q5 – If you had to do it again, would you? And would there be anything you would change?
ABSOLUTELY!! There is no doubt in our minds this has been the best experience of our lives so far. We have met so many amazing people, we’ve had so many amazing friends come up and join us. We’ve seen parts of this country of ours we never could’ve imagined existed. The one major thing we would change if we could would be to get our timing right. We left Melbourne in the middle of winter, which meant that the leg between Melbourne and Sydney was too cold to enjoy so we basically skipped it. We thoroughly enjoyed the Sydney to the Sunshine Coast leg as the weather was perfect and then by the time we got north of the Sunshine Coast things got really hot and humid. We left the Sunshine Coast towards the end of September and by October there was a lot of rain and the humidity was starting to make things quite difficult in the bus. If we could have our time again we would have left Melbourne on the 1st of March as things were starting to cool down at home and enjoyed the sunshine further north, and aimed to be at the top by July. Then headed home as things heated up and ended in Melbourne again for summer.
Q6 – There is no doubt you have had your fair share of ‘loo with a view’. What has been the best so far?
Haha, unfortunately Bilby doesn’t have a loo on board so we mainly use public loos, but more often than not in the middle of the night you can’t be bothered walking to the toilet so Ali will pop a squat outside the bus. This means that most nights we are camped by the water and the moonlight and stars create the perfect Loo with a view.
Q7 – What are your 3 ‘go-to’ items?
Our motorbike has probably been the best thing we brought with us. When we have ended up in places like Byron and Noosa where the parking situation is atrocious it’s hard to find a park even in a car, let alone our big rig so its always great to know we can park a little way out of town and scoot on in and park where ever we want and not have to stress too much.
Our camera equipment is another we couldn’t have left home without, we are constantly taking photos of what we’re up to and making sure we document our trip for our own benefit to give us something to look back on. We are fortunate enough to have with us a drone, a gimbal, a GoPro, a DSLR, and a water housing so we can shoot whatever we need.
Our surfboards are also pretty important to the trip. Liam got a bit sad once we left the Sunny Coast as the Great Barrier Reef blocks majority of surf up north. Part of the reason behind the trip was to try and get much better at surfing, so making sure we have plenty of toys with us to keep us entertained is really important.
Q8 – Living a mobile lifestyle means that almost nothing will go to plan and although it is one of the best parts, it can also be the toughest! Have you had any disasters yet? What happened?
Oh gosh have we ever, as previously mentioned we had some very costly mistakes with our electrics. In the first week we had our front solar panel fly off the roof while driving and smash the back one. So we lost both our solar panels in one hit and were without power for about 3 weeks while we waited for the new panel to be sent. This cost us in food wastage and powered campsites we didn’t want to be paying for. In the end it probably cost us about $2000 all up. Nothing ever goes to plan when your living like this, and we’ve found the best way to overcome this is to never make plans. Every day we get up and decide what we’re doing first and then we take the day as it comes.