We made the trip to El Questro and Home Valley Station with the main aim of seeing some of the wonderful scenery out that way (especially Emma Gorge!) but as always, it’s the people you meet that really put the icing on the cake.
While bumping along The Gibb River Road we encountered Al and Trish and their daughter Holly. They had decided to spend some time seeing Australia, and were having a ball… despite a few breakdowns that kept life interesting! We first met them when fording the Pentecost River near El Questro, then again at a deeper ford close to Home Valley Station. We waved goodbye as they headed on up the road, then turned into HVS… where, later that day, we were surprised to see them taking refuge from the heat in the pool!
It turned out that their car had broken down on the Gibb River Road when they were about two kilometres past the Home Valley turnoff, and Al was faced with the unenviable task of arranging repairs, a tow truck, a hire car etc etc… everyone’s dread! But, as he said, “We were lucky it didn’t happen a hundred k’s further along the road! And people are so good.” Just a few minutes after the car gave up and stopped, another caravanner happened along and asked if they needed help. Within minutes he had unhitched his own camper, hitched up Al’s Jayco, and transported the family back to HVS to arrange repairs. This good Samaritan left his wife on the side of the road to look after their own camper, with just an umbrella to protect her from the fierce inland sun.
Trish and Al are home-schooling Holly along the way. We’ve encountered more and more families doing the same thing: rather than waiting for the kids to grow up before they start to travel (or just taking the family along on short trips, over weekends or the school holidays) younger families are taking to the road for six months, twelve months or more.
At first Trish was a bit dubious about how she’d go with home schooling, but she has found that the lessons are well laid out with clear instructions to parents, and the pack sent out by mail is full of interesting activities. Al and Trish have also noticed the difference in Holly: her confidence has grown in leaps and bounds, and she has metamorphosed from a shy child who wouldn’t venture more than a few metres away from Mum and Dad to a little girl who quickly makes new friends everywhere they go.
Another couple that we met at Kununurra (and encountered again at Zebedee Springs and Emma Gorge) was a young German couple who were spending several months touring Australia before they left to go back home. They had their little boy (about two) with them, and were supremely content living in their small tent: essentially living out of the back of their car.
They used an iPad to stay in contact with friends and family, and as a bonus used it to entertain their son, putting a few fun games on it! We were amazed at how good he was… he stayed close to Mum, Dad and the tent, and seemed to enjoy whatever he was doing. (Mind you, we noticed that he had the best end of the deal when we ran into them at Emma Gorge, being piggy-backed by Dad!)
We really enjoy meeting up with all the different people we see on our trip around Australia. Contrary to popular belief, the circuit is not just filled with ‘Grey Nomads’, but by a wonderful collection of retirees, backpackers, families, semi-retired people, people on holidays and younger couples who choose to travel for years at a time, finding work all the way around Australia.
In fact, we’ve decided that there is no such thing as a ‘typical grey nomad’. In an upcoming blog post, we will explore this topic more!