lost in the wilderness

Submitted: Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00
ThreadID: 2557 Views:1426 Replies:12 FollowUps:13
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My wife and I pushed off from our home town a little over a week ago for an initial stop in Melbourne to visit family and friends just before our trip around Oz. We'll be leaving Melbourne within the week towing a terrific little van and with our two small kids (5 & 3) plan to venture off without any real set plans or expectations.

The year leading up to this point has been possibly our most difficult to date (married for 10 years) with the sudden death of my Father, 3 house moves and recently finished contracting in a position I desperated disliked. As a consequence to this and other things my marriage has suffered to the point of almost no return however having said this we are committed to each other and our kids and consider ourselves tremendously fortunate to have what we have.

Many people asked me what was I going to do when travelling in terms of work and I simply replied that my only wish and expectation from the trip was to try and re kindle something within our relationship that seemed to have been lost and try and love my wife better than I have done in recent times.

It's an incredible feeling for me on the eve of this trip as apart from this I haven't the slightest idea as to what I would like to do with my life, were I want to be and what I want to do to provide for my family into the future. At 35 I feel as though I am starting all over again.

I would be very grateful in hearing from people that have perhaps found themselves in a similar situation and woken one morning to the realisation that they are lost within their own wilderness (albeit that they have a family, a good job, house, car etc.) and subsequently undertaken a trip similar to what I have mentioned above in an attempt to re focus on what is important and how the trip helped or hindered that process
Kind Regards
Chris

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Reply By: Member - Cruiser1 - Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00

Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00
Chris,
I have no such experience of my own but I applaud your forthrightness in sharing your story and your grief. I can only wish you and your family all the best and hope you find what you are searching for.
AnswerID: 9437

Follow Up By: Smed - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Thanks Cruiser1, I appreciate your feedback
Chris
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Smed, the loss of a loved one can be more devastating than one could imagine. Take everything a day at a time, and make sure you have fun along the way.
Am sure with your honesty, you will find jobs to keep finances going, you might find you don't get right round the first time. Don't over extend yourselves, travelling etc, as this can create tensions, especially in a small van.
Am sure you will get plenty of helpful advice from this forum - theres some good people use it. Keep us aware of your travels. safe travelling...
AnswerID: 9441

Follow Up By: Smed - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Bob Y, Thanks for your return post, I'll endeavour to use this forum whenever I can to share my experiences. I very much appreciate your advice and good wishes.
Best regards
Chris
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FollowupID: 4810

Reply By: OziExplorer - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Chris, having time together to relax and get things back on track could work wonders. I have been fortunate, in that I have never had any relationship issues, and have travelled extensively with my wife and children. I always found that it was most important to share the work load, and have sufficient comforts to keep her happy. The importance of sharing the cooking and things like that ensures the trip is not all work for her and rest for you. Now I quite enjoy cooking and like to experiment. Some of the best times we have had have been in the middle of nowhere, parked up by a stream by ourselves.
The other thing while travelling, was we were well setup up with basics like gas/electric refrigeration, power, hot water etc. so nothing was ever a chore, and think that is important for the women. I found with other people travelling, those that were reasonably well setup with the basics kept the women happy. If you can keep the women happy and comfortable, that is number one thing.
In normal non-drought years, there is usually quite a lot of seasonal work around. A truck driving licence can be a real asset, as they are always looking for truck drivers. There are also quite a number of husband and wife fruit pickers around. The first week will nearly kill you, but after that the improved fitness and health and mental levels work wonders. My wife worked in the packing shed on many occasions and enjoyed the change. I just love the change, then looked forward to getting back to challenging work again. We always allowed time for breaks between contracts, and in many ways we worked to travel and still do. We would go back to the same places we had worked previously, and often got paid work in our field in the local area, as the small rural towns find it hard to impossible to attract well qualified professionals. People were always most surprised when they found out what we did in real life to be farm working. We love and enjoy meeting the people and young travellers from all over the world. I don't think now we could go back and live in suburbia at the same place full time, and would never ever go back and live in a capital city.
Nothing wrong with the feeling of starting all over again. Probably a good thing and more should do it. To many people rot in suburbia not prepared to take the step to change things. Nothing like a change. Will either make or break things, and with your apparent determination you will make it. Have fun and a great time.
AnswerID: 9445

Follow Up By: Smed - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
G'day OziExplorer, Firstly thank you so much for your post, it's fantastic to hear from so many people with such genuine encouragement.

Our van is a 17ft pop-top which is about 12mths old. I had it fitted with with A/C, Hot water, colour TV&VCR and is honestly like a compact motel room on wheels (even better when the annex is up) Everything's either AC or DC or gas so I'm hoping it's as comfortable as can be.

I'm not adverse to donning the 'apron' but having said this I'd have to say that my wife has always been the predominent one when it comes to home duties. Perhaps I can 'up the anti' whilst away but prior to this trip I honestly didn't get the time. (I was out working the business and my wife was home with the kids)

We envisage being away for a minimum of 12-18mths and have no plans to rush. I'm reasonably open to different work opportunities and don't have any preconceived ideas about what to expect. I'm certainly no genius at anything specific but have two trades (fitter/turner & gas fitting) have a heavy ridget truck licence, D.Goods licence and forklift licence.

All in all I'm just the most average of blokes with the hope that our travel will galvanise our little family and together my wife and I can truly enjoy our time together and tackle whatever the future holds as one. Thanks again for your letter, I'll endeavour to update you with our progress.
Sincere regards
Chris
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Reply By: MikeyS - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Smed, without getting all soppy, biblical or sounding like a therapist, believe me, go unto the wilderness and you will find yourself. For me that is much of the attraction of going bush, away from advertising, newspapers, customers and stress of modern life.

You have probably made on of the hardest yet best decisions of your life, and I think that incredible feeling, while being scarry as hell, is actually the feeling of real freedom. As they say, today really is the first day of the rest of your life, and you literally have the freedom to take whatever road you choose.

I'm more inhibited about spilling my guts in public, but I can relate to your situation only too well. Welcome to the age of the mid-life crisis. I learned more about myself on a six week trip up north and my children who were the same age as yours are now learned things school can never teach and we are all the richer for it.

Congratulations on being that committed to taking stock and seeking your direction in life. Let us know what you learn.

MikeyS


AnswerID: 9460

Follow Up By: Smed - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
MikeyS, Just loved your post! Although was alittle worried when you told me that I was experiencing my mid life crisis.

I've always been a 'wear your heart on your sleeve' type of person so I'm not backward in telling people how I feel. (although I've gotta say sometimes that gets me into trouble) but interestingly I've found, like your comments that generally we are all very similar and are searching for the same sorts of answers.

The funny thing is that strangely I'm sure the trip will provide me with the realisation that all I have and all I need are already in my grasp.

I'll keep in touch
Best Regards
Chris
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Follow Up By: Mikeys - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00
Smed I know kids are growing up a lot faster these days so I think its only fair that males in our age bracket and situation are allowed to have our "what the hell am I doing with my life" crisis a little earlier than half way through our estimated lifespan. I think we get to have another one at about 55 when we start chasing 18 year olds. By the way, a friend announced to me this afternoon that he and his wife and 2 kids are going bush for 6-8 months. Bugger. There won't be anyone in their mid to late thirties living in cities soon. Cheers

MikeyS
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Reply By: Zippy - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Chris,
It sounds as though you are well on your way to finding the balance that was missing in your life. What is important is your commitment to your family, you've got the right instinct and have shifted your priorities accordingly.
After my mother died, we also made big changes. As we like bike touring, we took a year to see the United States (home). We liked it so much that we took another year to see Australia, including some challenging outback tracks. We never went back. Our life now is as wanderers. Home is a small motorhome in the states. Financing comes from investments and writing and photography, but our needs are small. We've met families along the way who've grown together from the challenges and joys of being together for extended periods. Some in motorhomes, some in caravans, some in sailboats, some, lifetime gypsies, some, short term. Who knows what is down the road for you. That will become clear later. Focus on and enjoy the moment. No one on their death bed has ever said: "Gee, I wish I'd spent more time at the office."
Good Luck, please keep in touch,
Claire and Bob
AnswerID: 9465

Follow Up By: Smed - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Hello Claire and Bob,
Thankyou for your reply, I'm not entirely sure I feel 'balanced' at the moment having just left my 'life' for a caravan and the highway but beyond the nerves and feelings of uncertainty I must say that our decision to travel and focus on our family and relationship is one that feels right. I'm still no closer to knowing what it is I want to do with my life but maybe as you say it comes down to just enjoying the moment.

I would be very interested to know that if after your travels and experiences you found yourself torn between the life you once had and the new life you created as a result of your travel.

Thankyou again for your post and good wishes, I too would very much enjoy hearing from you again as it sounds as though you have a mountain of wonderous advice and friendship to offer people starting a travel adventure.
Sincerely
Chris
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Reply By: Member - Trevor - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Hello Chris - if you are heading up the coast from Melbourne drop another email when you are getting close to Nowra and we can catch up. We can make sure you see all of the top sights around here.
Good luck,
Trev
AnswerID: 9470

Follow Up By: Smed - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
G'day Trev,

Thanks for the offer however unfortunately we are headed the other way and plan to be in WA for the majority of the trip. Having said this if we end up in or around your part of the world I'll let you know.

Regards
Chris
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Smed,
Interestingly enough, our personal experience is in many ways similar to yours and the next 2 years travel resulted in the launch of ExplorOz.com

Although we didn't have a death in the family, David had a terrible cancer scare and we were at a critical point in our relationship. Some other site readers have been reading our personal story since 1998 when we launched www.beachandbeyond.com.au (now not running but most of the content moved to the journal under ExplorOz) that explains this.

Our story began when David and I met (both of us had recently been through divorces and were working our guts out in corporate jobs in Sydney - both early 30s.)... anyway, after the honeymoon stage of our relationship was over we feel into the recognised pattern of too much work, late nights, not enough time for one another, consequent arguments and neither of us wanted to go down that path again. It took us 2 years to prepare ourselves and our families for what we intended to do (take off for an indefinate trip around Australia, minimum 18tmths ...and here we are 4 years later).

Lucky you for recognising the need to get away from the hassles of civilised life where family, friends and work commitments take over our own lifes to our own detriment. ExplorOz is all about encouraging others to take a chance and we really hope that ExplorOz has helped you prepare for this adventure.

When you reach Perth, you are welcome to give us a call and drop in for a vino and a chat!
AnswerID: 9486

Follow Up By: Smed - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Michelle,
Thanks for your letter sharing detail of your own life journey and how it has unfolded to create such a wonderful site.

Thanks for your invitation once we reach Perth, you never know we may take you up on your offer and even follow in your footsteps and forever be on the move around this great country.
All the very best and congratulations on the site.
Best Regards
Chris.
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Reply By: Member - David - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Chris , My wife and i will be leaving Adelaide Mid Jan 2003 on our trip around Aust . If you are heading this way let us know and i will give you my Mobile No if you'd like to catch up
Cheers and happt travels Dave & Barb
AnswerID: 9489

Follow Up By: Smed - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00
G'day Dave,
I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that 'burns the midnight oil'. We aren't exactly sure as to when we will be in/near Adelaide but I reckon it would roughly coincide with your departure date. It'd be great to catch up, thanks mate
Regards
Chris
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FollowupID: 4839

Follow Up By: Member - David - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Chris , it would be an honour to meet up with you mate , my email Address is borgy@ihug.com.au if you contact me i'll give ya my home No and Mobile ....looking forward to hearing from ya ...Cheers Barb & Dave
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Reply By: Member - Geoff - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00
Hi
Just a short note to add to the support you have received,good luck and safe travelling
AnswerID: 9495

Reply By: WILLO - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00
Chris,
After going through a similar scenario with my own relationship, we decided to bite the bullet and are also taking off into the wide blue yonder. January 25 we leave cosmopolitan Melbourne bound for the sun starting in the west. We are excited, but also nervous as we have never done something like this before. Out of our comfort zone you might say.

It took my wife 8 years to convince me. I've always been worried about finances, mortgages, where my next pay check was coming from, and where it was going to. My health deteriorated, my relationship with my wife, friends and family was also strained. Is this how everybody lives?

Then I got the bug. I check this website daily (mmm must join soon!!) and I found everybody doesn't live like this. They take each day as it comes, they love life and all the experiences that come with it (good and bad) and they travel this vast brown land because its just sooo goood looking!!!!

When I'd lost direction last year a friend of mine likened a story they'd heard to my own life. It was about a trapeze artist who was working in the fog and couldn't see the next swing. They couldn't jump for fear of missing so they just stayed where they were, swinging. Then they heard the voice of the person on the other swing. They had to trust their instincts and jump. As soon as they let go the fog cleared and there was the other swing right in front of them.

I don't know if that makes any sense or if infact the story's any good second time round, but I guess unless you try something new you'll just sit there swinging. Once you jump I'm sure things will become clearer and present themselves.

Who knows maybe we'll run into each other in the west.
Good Luck,
Willo
AnswerID: 9523

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00
Nice analogy - I get it!

Very true too. Life is what YOU make it. And so many of us get caught up in what society wants us to do. It is very brave of anyone to break the norm but when you do you will discover that you aren't alone. Go talk to anyone in the regional/outback caravan parks/road houses etc and you will discover people so different from you in background and experiences but so similar in life aspirations and hence the common desire to "go bush". This becomes the most inspiration incentive to keep travelling (and I speak from experience) that you soon recognise a "trend" in the "dumped my old life and trying to find myself" scene. There are thousands of "us" out there. This does not dis-credit Smed's adventurous plan but qualififes that modern civilisation is not the be-all and end-all. Those who take the break away (and I mean really "break" - sell up, discard, lose the baggage) really feel a sense of freedom. It is the most sole searching experience left to a modern Australian human. Modern life can certainly deplete your energy but getting back to basics (boiling water, selecting where to sleep, making choices, quality time together) is the answer. It took us 2 years until I desired some civilisation again but only on the condition we could still travel for some 2-3mths per year and that's how we concepted ExplorOz. Having a child was also not in the plan of the old me, but certainly become important to the new me and what a wonderful life change that became. You never know what a life is waiting for you to get out there and grab it until you take the plunge!
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Reply By: John - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2002 at 01:00
Smed,
All I can say is this - Every thing always seems to work out in the end.
Its funny how people with a good attitude towards life and the importance of their family always seem to move on to the next stage......
You will be fine.....the fact that you are doing this already says that you are...even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment.
I wish I was as sure of winning the loto!!

Cheers and good luck to you and your family.

John
AnswerID: 9533

Reply By: kezza - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2002 at 01:00
Smed its not till you actually jump off the cliff that you actually can find the first safe ledge just below.
What you are doing is what I have been doing all my life and its a fantastic life.
Many times I have jumped into my vehicle at 2.00am setting off for the other end of the country marvelling at our good fortune, - freedom and choice - nobody was going to stop me at a border, work is plentyful, fuel is cheap and love and friendship is abundant. In any other country it may be a struggle but in australia you will never set a foot wrong.

In fact from my mid teens to my early 30 I got stuck in a rut - summers in victoria picking fruit driving trucks and forklifts and mechanic-ing and adventuring in the times in between - winters in north qld plenty of work even had a business or 2 that I could leave for 6 months and walk back into as if Id been there all year!! (not to mention the 2 bob millionaire lifestyle I had exploring the whitsunday islands and the tropical north)
I found people who I would come back and work for year after year and each year I would get offers of more work from people I met, I even managed to complete a Degree from the Uni of New England in the middle of it all (best educated truckie in the country LOL)

I even got paid for my love of the bush by running programs for offenders, unemployed and homeless youth for 9 or so years.
The reason I was so passionate about these programs in the bush?? It was repairing people and their relationships. Just as you will.

Miraculuous thingsjust happen once you jump off the cliff and do what you need to do, I cant say how many times fortune has favoured us in ourtravels - nor can I say how often Ive done the impossible with nothing.


In 1966 my parents took off from sydney on a 3 month working holiday (I was 9) They are now in their mid 80s still on that same trip, no kidding they just got back to our place after spending 5 months in north Qld on their annual trip - digging for gemstones - they dont look 83 they dont feel 83 they dont act 83. It has been their adventure that has kept them young and sane abnd especially healthy. They dont even own a house - they had one a few years ago that they lived in for 6 months of the year but sold it to do what you are doing now, only they are 50 years older than you.
Go for it - just live each day as it comes and trust that you will be in the right place at the right time as our family does.
Have fun - by the way our story may feature on the Idlers on the ABC when it goes to air next year

kezza
AnswerID: 9556

Follow Up By: Kezza - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2002 at 01:00
sorry bout the spelling and the rrrush (its 1.30am - but...) there is just so much to be gained from this lifestyle - just had to say something when I say your topic
kes
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Follow Up By: Kezza - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2002 at 01:00
oops when I "saw" your topic
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