Back in 2000, Phil and I were planning to book a two-week package holiday to the sunny Mediterranean.
I came home from work one evening and Phil asked me how I fancied going to Australia instead! Three days later, we were flying halfway around the world.
My brother, David, moved to Australia when I was six months old and I’d only seen him once since, when he visited the UK in 1990. Meanwhile Phil’s son, Paul, was spending a year living in Australia, so this was an ideal opportunity to visit both of them.
We flew into Sydney and spent a few days catching up with Paul, while marvelling at those sights we’d only seen in films: the Sydney Opera House; the Harbour Bridge; they were all amazing. The three of us planned to hire a car and drive through New South Wales to Melbourne, in Victoria, to visit David and his family, stopping off at hostels along the way.
Suddenly, the idea of motorhome hire popped into my head. We realised that although it would cost more than a car to hire and fuel, it would save us money in the long run as we would be able to cook in the ’van instead of eating out. It would also mean that instead of starting to look for our nightly accommodation sometime in the late afternoon each day, we could drive on until we wanted to stop.
A few days later, we went to collect our chosen vehicle – only to find that it was double-booked. We were offered a smaller campervan, which was disappointing, but I’m not known as the Rottweiler (in certain circles) for nothing – we ended up driving away with a higher spec motorhome for the same price as our original choice.
Our tour from Sydney to Melbourne was, to quote my Australian relatives, ‘awesome’. We visited the Blue Mountains and marvelled over the rock formations known as the Three Sisters, then followed the picturesque coast road, past long unspoilt beaches of golden sand and surf.
If you drive the A1 Princes Highway between these two great cities yourself, look out for Ninety Mile Beach, and Croajingalong National Park, lakes in Gippsland and forests along the county border. It's around 640 miles and you need to allow three days, or more if you feel like taking spontaneous diversions.
We loved the freedom that touring gave us; we could stop when and where we wanted – to eat, sleep or take in the sights. We also tried wild camping, with one overnight stop being in a cemetery car park, 200 metres from a spectacular blowhole.
Having enjoyed our visit with David and family, we returned to Sydney via Canberra. Hiring a motorhome in Australia had been a brilliant success and the touring seed was well and truly sown.
When we got home we decided to sell the wooden boat we'd owned for twenty years and buy a used motorhome of our own.
Now we live full-time in our beloved Monty the Motorhome, a six-metre Ford Herald Squire 400E motorhome, touring Europe and the UK, and we just cannot imagine living our lives any other way.