Caravanners living on the road for infinity and beyond

The day Miriam Blaker left her city life behind to explore Australia in a caravan, she saw an enormous rainbow arching across the sky.

"Maybe this sounds a bit woo-woo, but I felt like 'this is the start of something really big," Ms Blaker tells AAP.

"I really felt that in my bones."

The sign in Melbourne's skies turned out to be prophetic.

What was meant to be a three-month escape from the city's COVID-19 pandemic doldrums in July 2021 became a two-year road trip with no end in sight.

Ms Blaker and her husband Doug left their professional jobs and sold their family home, swapping the daily grind for Western Australia's sweeping coastline and the muggy tropics of far north Queensland.

Along the way, they've swum in crystal blue waters, explored cliffs and gorges and watched the sun set over the ocean on isolated white sand beaches.

Ms Blaker says the trip changed her perspective on life, as the stresses of a mortgage, bills and the complications of city living faded into the rearview mirror.

"When you're on the road, the worries you have are very different to the ones at home because it is about survival: where to stay, food and water," she told AAP.

"It really is just getting back to the basics.

"When we wake up the view is always different, and I love that."

The couple has met an increasing number of young professionals working remotely from their vans or families homeschooling their children on extended trips around Australia.

"COVID really made a lot of people reassess their lives, their values, their struggles, the things they were paying for at home, the way they were working," Ms Blaker says.

"More and more people are realising there is a different way they can live."

Australia's caravan parks have become the unlikely nexus of post-pandemic life, as the nation's population moves more than ever.

Parks are not only rest stops for people exploring a new life on the road, but refuges for those who have been pushed out of the rental market or lost their houses in disasters.

Luke Chippindale from the Caravan Industry Association says parks have responded by embracing their social purpose.

"What sits at the heart of caravanning and camping is connection," Mr Chippindale says.

"We get away because we want to feel connected to our regional and rural areas, and with the country, and we want to feel connected with the people we're travelling with.

"So how we respond to disasters is quite often just an expansion of that.

"We're trying to wrap our arms around people as much as possible."

Caravan parks may also evolve as rural Australia leads the nation's renewable energy transition.

Some operators have the potential to house solar panels, batteries for energy storage and electric vehicle chargers, in a technological boon for both locals and visitors.

Mr Chippindale says a community-minded focus on sustainability is just one way that caravan parks are changing to support a decades-old tourism sector that adds billions of dollars to regional economies.   

"Rocking up with the caravan is still just as applicable today as it was 20 or 30 years ago," he says.

"Now you can get what they call a 'divorce-saving' service where the park manager will help reverse your van, all the way through to being able to pull up in an EV and stay in a three-bedroom cabin."

Martin and Kylie Ledwich were among the many caravan and camping adventurers who collectively poured $10.45 billion into regional Australia during their travels last year.

The Ledwichs, former public servants, have been on the road for much of the last five years, having sold their house in Craigieburn, Melbourne, in 2018 ahead of what they thought would be a 12-month trip.

Since then, they've slowly done a lap of Australia and crossed through the middle in their Roadstar Infinity caravan named Buzz Lightyear, after the superhero action toy character in the Disney–Pixar Toy Story franchise.

They've traversed the outback on the Great Central Road from Western Australia to the Northern Territory and the Plenty Highway through to Queensland, and once towed their van up to Cape York.

Their dogs Poppy, a white terrier, and Chorizo, a sausage dog, have kept them company.

"It certainly doesn't feel like we've been on the road for five years - we don't really keep track of the time," Mr Ledwich says, from a camp spot near Gladstone, Queensland.

"That's one of the beauties about it - sometimes we look at each other and say 'what day is it today?'

"It's a great way to live."

Mr Ledwich said they have noticed a surge of people travelling in vans in recent years and parks book out months in advance.

"If you can put up with living together inside 20-odd foot of caravan and not get on each other's nerves, this is a fairly cheap lifestyle to lead."

The couple has no firm plans to return to their normal lives.

"On the back of our van, it says our names and 'to infinity and beyond'."  

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store