My adventures took an exciting turn at the beginning of this year. I was travelling through Laos when I crossed paths with a German man, who was also exploring Southeast Asia. Fast-forward eight months and we now have plans to cruise up the East coast of Australia together in a four-wheel drive van!
After purchasing an old van from a suburb on the outskirts of Melbourne, we spent a few months creating a travelling home. It was a long, cold Winter, so this van received lots of loving care and attention. The interior of the vehicle was fitted out with a wooden framework suitable for a mattress, plenty of storage space, a roll-out table and an incense burner to rid the van of any bad luck. Hopefully we will not have any more troubles with loading zones, leaking tyres or flat batteries!
The Van (born in 1987, resurrected in 2015):
Things to keep in mind when buying a cheap van:
- Ensure it has a Road Worthy Check (RWC) prior to purchase – ours didn’t and it cost quite a lot to get it up to scratch)
- Be prepared to add on another $1000 in registration, appointment fees and insurance (a nasty shock for a backpacker on a budget)
- Take your passport and any other important documents with you to the registration appointment or you will need to reschedule and pay the extra fee!
A photo journal of the process so far:
Sewing the curtains and gearbox covers:
With the greatly-appreciated help of my sister, we spent a day at her place in Geelong cutting out the moroccan-patterned material, sewing hems and attaching all pieces to the stretch wire (screwed to the top and bottom of each window). Where the van door opened, we just attached wire to the top, and velcro to the door so that when we sleep, the material covers the whole surface of the window. Despite the fact that the material isn’t lined, it provides plenty of privacy – we allowed double the length of the windows and used a busy pattern so you cannot see through it.
It was a great team effort, though I had nothing to do with the woodwork, electrics, painting, installing a second battery, attaching back speakers and cutting and laying new carpet, amongst many other jobs. I was employed to make curtains for the windows, sew the custom-sized mattress cover, help paint the cupboards and provide high-quality moral support! It is now Spring and we have our own little traveling home, complete with jungle quilt cover, multicoloured strobe lights and Moroccan-patterned curtains infused with myrrh incense. Obviously, we are still adding some extra details, but it is starting to feel very real. I am thoroughly looking forward to packing up all my belongings for storage and hitting the road again. Just a few more months of work and we will be off!