A Fanatical Sabbatical | Part 1 - 12 months around Australia

The Norton family have just 6 weeks to prepare for their 12 month Big Lap of Oz . . .

Holy mother of plastic crapola, how did we manage to accumulate such an excess of STUFF?!

I’m sitting on the floor amidst kitchen ware, books, clothes, cables, and piles of paper, trying to keep my sanity from bubbling over into IN-sanity. Straddled between ‘Still living in our house and needing everything we own just-in-case’ and ‘Living in a camper trailer with only the bare minimum of worldy possessions’ is a confusing time. One foot planted firmly in the normal routines of school, work, house, social life - the other foot vaguely hovering somewhere in an imaginary campsite, an idyllic combination of beach, bush and desert sunsets…

So whose grand idea was it to pack up our entire lives and travel the country together for a year, with only 6 weeks notice? (Oh yeah… mine.)

And who decided it would be good to do this over the Christmas and New Year period, with 2 kid’s having a birthday, a new born niece arriving and the end of school term to boot? (ah, me again.)

Hands up which silly duffer thought we could work out the itinerary on the fly, as despite dreaming of this trip for years now, we never imagined the opportunity would crop up so soon. (Me!).

I admit to the role of instigator. The itch to do a ‘Big Lap’ was there ever since a school friend had this lump of a bus parked in his family driveway - he explained his family lapped Australia when he was in primary school and they were some of the best memories of his childhood. I had no idea then of the true enormity an expedition like this would entail for a young family but the seed was firmly planted. Later on, when we eventually started having a family of our own and ventured into camping, my husband and I discussed it as a faint notion for the future but acknowledged there was quite a few ducks that needed to be in a row before shooting at a plan such as this. As my babies grew into toddlers then preschoolers, so too did the idea grow on us. We upgraded our car and started venturing further afield. I began getting serious about how to implement such a crazy idea. We watched the ‘Big Lap’ series on DVD and my husband exclaimed a camper trailer would suit us more than a caravan, and so we upgraded the old tent to a beauty of an off-roader. Yet, still - the actual departure date was ‘somewhere’ in the future. 'In a couple more years, when they can both read and write better, when we've paid ‘x’ amount off the home loan, when the business is in a better position to manage without us’. On the procrastination continued.

Big Lap Budget Spreadsheet - 2018

Until a week ago. Out of the blue, a lovely family we know moaned at the struggle to find a property in our area to rent for a year - and their house was up for auction that weekend, so they were getting anxious. I jokingly offered up our place while we hit the road and did a Big Lap. They accepted without hesitation and asked if we were serious. Were we?! Were we anywhere near ready? Did we have ANY ducks in a row? We looked at each other and burst into smile. Nope. No Ducks. No Rows. We had squirrels. And they were at a rave. But we decided to shoot anyway.

Will there ever be the perfect time to leave? I can’t imagine so. Always, something holding us back, lives entwining with commitment, obligation, and responsibility. Its so easy to stick to the straight and narrow, conservatively deferring retirement, only to find the kids have already grown up our comfort zones narrowed. We didn't want to keep pushing it back until it was too late. We wanted to see this beautiful country we live in with our children by our side. Our own little family bubble of memories to carry into the future together, just like my high school friend had. But did I really need to put such a crazy time constraint on our pre-planning?!

Ah, there’s nothing quite like a deadline looming to get you moving. As my head spins with the growing to-do list pre-departure, I can’t help but smile to myself as I plod along, sorting, shifting, chucking out stuff. I am SO excited. The kids are chattering non-stop about it, even if they don't really quite understand just how big a trip this is actually going to be. With only two days left of the school term to get our life in order in relative peace, I ponder how I’ll have to arrange some play dates in the school holidays so I can er… ‘declutter’ their bedrooms before packing them up. I glance sideways in amusement at my husbands attempt to prepare: He threw 2 pairs of jocks, some board shorts and a long sleeve top in a tub and proclaimed ‘well, I’m packed!’. I pop yet another guidebook on the ‘bring in the car’ pile, knowing it will be posted home when I realise I have packed too much. I sigh with the overwhelming scale of the tasks at hand - happily.

Now whose idea was this again?!

A Fanatical Sabbatical

‘Mark, Kim and the kids are leaving behind their home in the Adelaide Hills to jaunt around the country side while they manage their arborist business remotely. Normally enrolled in ‘bush school’, they thought they could push the kids outdoor eduction experience a little further by living outside for a year.

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Kim, Mark, Caspar (8) and Stevie (6)

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