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Caravanning Conversations: Daneka and Jordan from @wheelsbytheocean

Caravanning Conversations: Daneka and Jordan from @wheelsbytheocean

Caravanning Conversations is the brand-new blog series from Caravanning Australia, where we get to know more about the people road tripping around our beautiful country!

We recently interviewed Daneka and Jordan from @wheelsbytheocean on Instagram, who travel with their kids Kaydan and Ava, and their furry companion Finny. Make sure to follow the family on Instagram for amazing travel pics, inspo, and all things caravanning!

Caravanning Australia (CA): What drove you to deciding to do a big lap around Australia in your caravan?

Daneka and Jordan (D&J): We were doing lots of small trips in our old caravan and kept joking about how good it would be to do the ‘big lap’.

We have had some family members pass away quite early in their lives, so we started thinking, ‘What the heck are we waiting for?’ You never know what’s going to happen, so we made it work. We sold everything, bought a new GWM Cannon and a Goodlife Caravan, and off we went.
 
CA: What advice would you give to others who are considering caravanning? 

D&J: Just find a way to make it happen and do it – everything else will fall into place. Don’t over plan, and don’t buy everything ‘Trip in a Van’ has – you don’t need a $20,000 battery system to stay off grid.
 
CA: What has your favourite caravanning destination/trip been so far?

D&J: Exmouth/Ningaloo! Considering it was somewhere we didn’t even have on our list (we had no clue it even existed), we absolutely fell in love with this place. From how easy it was to access the water and reach the coral despite being snorkelling beginners, to the atmosphere that comes from that place, the Exmouth trap is real! We were booked to stay for nine nights, but ended up stayed for seven weeks!
 
CA: What are the most challenging aspects you’ve found when caravanning in Australia, and how have you overcome them?

D&J: Homeschooling is hard. I think there are a lot of people selling the idea of homeschooling like it’s a walk in the park. Teaching your own child is very challenging, as you are their safe space and as they are very fine with telling you off. You can find all the fun ways to teach them, but those ‘boring’ bits still need to be done. Finding the right way of homeschooling is key.

Our first 3–4 months was full of rain and/or wind, so we’re also glad we didn’t completely cull all of our winter clothing.
 
CA: Are there any hidden gems or lesser-known destinations that you’ve uncovered?

D&J: Moonlight Bay, just below Tumby Bay in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, is such a beautiful free camp right on the beach. It was ultimate beachfront (on the sand) free camping, and we couldn’t believe we stumbled across it!
 
CA: Could you share your most memorable encounter/interaction with fellow caravanners, locals, or unique wildlife over the course of your travels? 

D&J: We were at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort when a lovely fellow camper pointed at a concrete bollard on the ground and asked me very seriously if I had dropped my hat, then looked at me extremely embarrassed and slowly walked away. This was the start to the best friendship on the road ever! I think we have made some friends for life. Shout-out to Dwaino, Elisha and Brody!
 
CA: How do you typically go about planning your itineraries for both long and short travels? 

D&J: When we were doing our small trips, we used to keep a whole packing itinerary of all the items we needed on the Notes app on our phones, and we would cross them off as we went. There is so much stuff to pack! As we are currently living in the van … just pack everything!

CA: Have you ever encountered any unexpected issues or emergencies in your journeys?

D&J: We feel we have been very lucky! Taking a ute that wasn’t designed for the Australian landscape (GWM Cannon) around Australia with 3T on the back, we definitely thought we would have faced more issues, but this set-up has definitely proven itself as a very capable Aussie adventurer!
 
We did have one self-inflicted issue: As I (Jordan) fit the lift kit to the ute while at a caravan park in Lancelin, Western Australia, using a bottle jack, I accidentally fit one of the rear shocks around the wrong way, so the nitrogen canister was able to chop the ABS wires on one of the huge potholes on the Gibb River Road. I thought, ‘OK, shit, the ute has given up; but it ended up just fixing a wire and turning the shock around. It was a very easy fix, but at the time we thought we blew the transmission or differential as every warning light ever came up on the dash. 
 
CA: Have you found any cultural or educational opportunities during your travels that you and family found insightful? 

D&J: To be honest, we thought there would have been so many cool cultural experiences to check out. But the only one we really came across was in Katherine, but it was almost $300 so we had to give it a miss.
 
CA: How do balance being spontaneous with being organised when on the road? 

D&J: We wing everything. Every part of our trip has been unplanned, and just went with what came along.
 
CA: What are your go-to dinners when cooking for the whole family? 

D&J: We are pretty terrible cooks … meal planning is not an area in which we’re experts. Burgers, nachos, chicken wraps, pesto pasta and home-made pizzas would have to be our main go-tos.
 
CA: Are there any financial or budgeting tips you’ve found particularly useful while caravanning and being on the road in Australia? 

D&J: We didn’t budget any of our trip, and felt we didn’t do many of the experiences that others did. We spoke to so many travelling families that were doing every experience under the sun, and we couldn’t work out how. We spent between $80,000 and $90,000 in 12 months while being ‘tight’ compared to others, so who knows.
 
CA: With technology playing a huge role in travelling, could you share some of your favourite gadgets/tools you’ve used while on the road? 

D&J: We set up a projector and screen in front of our bed! Using a $89 projector from Big W and a $17 1.8-metre roller blind from Bunnings, we managed to set up a little cinema in our bedroom. We got so sick of watching the little TV and we missed the big screen. It’s so much better! It’s a game changer, and everyone should have one!

CA: How do you stay connected with family and friends while you’re on the road for extended periods of time? 

D&J: We use Facebook messenger. Our family loved watching our YouTube channel and Instagram updates, but when we were out of reception it was pretty bad – StarLink would have been very handy!
  
CA: What does the future of travelling look like for you?

D&J: We have just finished a whole lap of Australia. We left from Redland Bay, Queensland, and went south first, and have looped back to Redland Bay. We have a few small trips planned for the rest of this year, then it’s back to work for a bit next year. We want to do a few months back on the west coast – Exmouth is unreal, and we can’t wait to snorkel with the turtles again!

We do want to change our set-up. We are looking at larger caravans or something with a slide out – we just need that little bit of extra space. Kaydan is 11 now and he’s getting very tall, outgrowing his bunk. We wish there were more options for bigger kids in new caravans today. We’ve checked out some of the 2015 Spaceland and Cell Caravans, which are just amazing!

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