I’m Elise. My husband, Domenic, and I have done a lot of van travelling over the past two years, but just recently made the move into our van full time. She’s a 72 Westfalia Kombi van called Scout, and she has absolutely changed our lives for the better. We plan to travel right around Australia, as slowly as we can, and keep running our business while we do. We’ve started in SA and will soon head across the Nullabor to the West.
I think something that rings true for all of us who choose this lifestyle is that we are seeking an alternative way of living that allows us to strip back, and step away from, the social structures and the expectations around how we should live our lives, and instead start to live how we want to live our lives. There is something about being on the road that allows us to tap into a slower gear in how we live and think. For us it provides clarity, perspective, and an incredible sense of freedom, as well as endless opportunities to experience new things and meet new people.
On many occasions I’ve found myself laying on a rug outside the van late at night, staring up at the most awesome starry skies. It’s almost like being inside a snow globe, you can see the curve of the night sky because of how densely littered it is, right to the horizon. You need a clear night, no moon, but most importantly, to be in the middle of nowhere to experience skies like this.
The first time I experienced it I remember thinking; “these stars are always here, we just can’t see them.”
There is so much artificial light pollution in our lives and the societies we live in, that we actually miss all of THIS. Some people would go their whole lives without ever experiencing it.
This might all sound a bit random, but I kind of think that life on the road has allowed something similar to happen in our lives, on a personal level. And if you’ve experienced this too, maybe you’ll agree with me.
We got Scout two years ago from a lovely man who purchased her back in 1972 in Germany, just after he and his wife had married. They travelled all over Europe in her, and then moved back to South Africa and took her with them. When they moved to Australia, twenty seven years ago, and couldn’t leave Scout behind, so she came too. They had children, and gave their daughters a childhood interspersed with Kombi trips and travels all over the country. This van was part of their family, well looked after and very well loved. It had been places, and seen things, he told us, that would make the most seasoned traveller envious.
When we went to look at the van, we couldn’t afford it. We had just started our winery, Down The Rabbit Hole. Starting a business from the ground up left us short on cash and time, which put the brakes on my big travel dreams. Our solution was to find an affordable van so that one night a week we could get away together, somewhere close, and travel affordably. But I couldn’t stop looking at the ad for this quite unaffordable, but beautiful, van.
Despite getting offers for what he was asking, Peter told us he was only selling the van because of all the memories attached to it, as he had just lost his wife. He asked us what we could afford. We told him we meant no offence, but we could afford about half of his asking price. He told us that he would give us the van for that price on one condition, we had to promise him we would have adventures. With many tears, we promised him we would.
And so we began to explore Australia in Scout, and quickly fell in love with life on the road and the simplicity it offered. Little trips turned into big trips, and it wasn’t long before we decided to pack up and get rid of as much as possible and move into the van full time.
We’re excited for what this year will bring, but today we’re parked with a nice view, the water is boiling for another cuppa, and life is good.
You can follow along with our travels at:
And our blog:
I’ll be an Australian contributor for Vanlife Diaries this year, so I look forward to chatting with and hopefully meeting some of you :) Feel free to get in touch and say hey!