Halfway House
This website follows the Grigaliunas Family, Leigh, Yasmin, Layla and Libby, as they take a year off life to travel around the great country of Australia.
family gap year, family holiday, grigaliunas family, grigaliunas family gap year, caravan, caravanning, australia, big lap
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Halfway House

Halfway House

While it may technically not be exactly halfway, it’s as close as it’s going to get, especially given we don’t know exactly when we’re going to get home. At least on the map it looks like half way with most of Tassie done, the eastern half of VIC, a good proportion of NSW, ACT, QLD and the top half of NT are officially done and dusted.

So how are we going you ask? Is it what we expected? Are we ready to come home? How much have we spent? Check below for these and more…

How’s it going? It’s awesome! It’s not without it’s challenges, however for the most part it’s what we expected, that is, an adventure. Most days aren’t completely planned for (something that is rare in our city-dwelling lives) and at best we know what we’re doing for the next week. For the most part we are unplanned, unstructured and the complete opposite of what we were like in Brisbane.

Is it what we expected? Hmmm, yes and no. Certainly not as we expected when we left, however we learnt to adapt pretty quickly. Structure, the foundation of family life in the city (and probably the country for that matter) was gone. Kids weren’t going to bed or waking up on time, exercise wasn’t as regularly or at least not as structured, meals weren’t the same and there just wasn’t the same control as you have in your normal, structured, dare I say it, predictable life. Neither is right or wrong, but the transition between the two was brutal (on us anyway), but manageable.

Are we ready to come home? No. I think this is unanimous and most days. Some days we’re all ready to come home, some days the idea repulses us. I think we’re thinking of home, but it’s not quite done yet. Now we’re able to achieve the whole lap, or at least or variant of it, I think we want to achieve it. I could see it getting old though it it went past the lap, at least if we were to do it again straight away.

How much have we spent? Aha the $64,000 question. Well I’m glad to say, and I’m sure a few of you will be happy to hear, it’s cheaper than we thought, well at least on the accommodation front. We’ve been on the road for nearly 300 days as I write this and for accommodation we’re at a little over $4500. Now bear in mind this includes trips home to Brisbane where we stayed with friends and family, staying in the front, back and side yards of friends, relatives, acquaintances, friends and family of acquaintances, etc, but that’s part of the beauty of a trip like this. I found myself asking questions and favours of people I would have never dreamed of before leaving, but did in the context of what we were doing and it was great; stronger relationships were almost always the result.

Fuel (or diesel in our case)

While I haven’t been perfectly accurate on this figure with a down to the dollars and cents appraisal of the trip so far, I’m a numbers Nazi and as the chief filler-up-er in the family, I’m always doing the sums as we hit the boswer and I’m confident in saying Larry (the Landcruiser) hits 20l per 100km when towing and approx. 14l per 100km when not. Given we’re towing more than not, I’ve used 18l per 100km as my average and used $1.30 as the average diesel price since we set off (closer to a $1.00 in major capitals and more populated areas and up to $1.75 in more remote areas). So the grand (estimated) total over the the 30,000km is $7800. I have most receipts, but truth is this is as accurate as I can be bothered to be right now (and probably for the future too).

Maintenance

It’s an unavoidable cost wherever you are and until we hit Mt Isa we didn’t see any discernable difference in pricing having done tyres, 3 services on the car and 2 on the caravan. Mt Isa saw the price the price jump by $200 for no obvious change in manpower or parts for a car service, but that followed us to Darwin where some basic maintenance stung us quite a few hundred dollars more than we expected. Perhaps we just went with the wrong people? Maybe we’re starting to look like travellers? Who knows. The downside with travel like this is you can only rely on Google for your referral to services like this and you’re really crossing your fingers you don’t get robbed blind or worse.

LPG Gas

This is something that I started to track, but lost track of at some point. It can add up, especially when you choose to free camp with a 3 way fridge. The fridge chews up gas pretty quickly, sometime getting us through a 9kg cylinder in less than a few weeks and prices for a refill or swap vary massively from under $20 in price sensitive capital cities up to $45 or more in more remote regions. In saying this we’ve been stayed in more and more caravan parks across the north of the country, mostly to run the air con for comfort, however that means the fridge has been running on power too and there aren’t as many gas bills.

Shopping

Again this is a work in progress. It’s probably similar to what it would be at home in Brisbane, overall. Some days you win with specials, others you don’t. Surprisingly IGAs and other independant grocers offer good value. Not surprisingly the more remote you are, the more you’ll pay for your groceries. Over the whole trip, I can’t remember too many real dud shops, with the exception of perhaps Lightning Ridge. Most of the time we carried supplies of staples purchased at lower cost outlets and went with them when the locals were ridiculously priced. One thing we have ramped up during the trip is happy hour nibbles. While Yas doesn’t like a drink during happy hour, she’s a fan of anti-pasto (as am I) and that’s not cheap anywhere! Souvenirs have been kept to a bare minimum, not just because they’re usually crap, but mainly because we can’t accumulate too much more stuff with the space available in the caravan.

Experiences

While there has been hundreds of core memory moments for all of us, I don’t think we’ve indulged in the typical holiday maker experiences all that often. We have to a degree, but when you get faced with the exorbitant prices being asked for these day in, day out, you quickly realise that it’s just not possible to do everything and stick within a reasonable budget. An example was Kakadu and surrounds boat cruises – it would cost us approx. $800 for a 2 hour cruise, any joy flight options in excess of $500 for mere minutes in the air and guided tours of anything including lunch most of the family (the kids) wouldn’t be interested in would again set us back $400 minimum for 2 or 3 hours. Would these be as memorable as the free or low cost experiences we’ve chosen? Maybe, maybe not, but it was a punt we’d have to take as we can’t have this trip send us to the poorhouse. In saying this, we haven’t skimped on the important stuff, but we’ve been frugal on the less important stuff.

Well that’s it for now. We’re loving it and it’s very doubtful we’ll look back on this year from our deathbeds and regret it. We’re seeing positives in all individual members of the family and in the unique relationships within. If you want more info on anything discussed, email us as we’d be more than happy to provide info (the good, the bad and the ugly) to anyone considering a similar adventure.

NB: Check out the full photo gallery here

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