My van trip across Australia

In Travel
19 July 2020
4 min read

A year ago I set off on my epic van trip across Australia….

T’was a crisp winter morning when I posed for this pic in my van, a moment before setting off on my 14,000 km road trip. After a flurry of last-minute packing, Geisha’s loaded up and we’re hitting the road.

Shannon Gordon happy to be leaving on her epic van trip

My plan is to drive from the Gold Coast to Perth and back. Yamba will be my first port of call, and I know I want to do the Great Ocean Road, spend time in Adelaide, and drive the infamous Nullarbor. Beyond that, I have no plan. I’m gifting myself 3 months of freedom.

My mates Ben and Nick have spent many hours fitting out Geisha for me – transforming her from a humble 8-seater people mover into my o-so-fabulous home on wheels.

Making sure everything fits by testing layout of main items inside the van
Layout testing, with sink, fridge, solar inverter and camp chair
Shows slide out sink at back of van
Sink slides out for easy use, cooker sits next to it
Shows inside the van with custom cut foam matress bed in place
Clark rubber foam mattress cut to fit
Ben’s Mum sewing the matress cover

From the outside Geisha looks inconspicuous – there’s no sign she’s a camper, so I can freecamp without drawing attention. (My plan is to do lots of free-camping to save money.)

A wafer-thin solar panel on the roof charges my 12volt WAECO fridge, laptop and phone via a second battery. Geisha has a sink, a gas cooker and storage lockers for my clothes, food, camping table and chairs.

Looking down on the roof as solar panel is glued on
Flexy solar panel being glued to the roof

Ben’s given me a refresher lesson in changing a tyre and I’ve made notes that I shove in the glove box should I need them. I’m confident I can change a tyre, although not too sure I can lift the heavy flat tyre to secure it under the car, it’s too heavy to lift on my own. (Amazingly Geisha is puncture free the whole trip!)

I’m leaving later than I intended, smack bang in the middle of winter. But curtains create a very cosy space when I snuggle into my comfy double bed at night. (I don’t like the cold, so leaving in winter was one of my biggest concerns. Turns out it wasn’t so bad)

For safety I have my SPOT locator beacon, which lets friends and family know exactly where I am. I click it each night to reassure myself, and them, that I’m parked up safely for the evening.

I have a Telstra mobile plan, which actually gives me coverage for 99.9% of my trip (even for most of the Nullarbor I’m in range). I have a printed map, though I rely entirely on Google maps to guide me during the trip.

I’ve downloaded the travellers best friend – the WikiCamps app – which I use a lot during the trip. It’s Australia’s largest database of campgrounds, caravan parks and backpacker hostels. It includes points of interest, visitor information centres, water taps, toilets and showers. And the best part is everything is rated by travellers, so you get up-to-date reviews on places to stay.

I also use the MotorMouth app to check for the cheapest fuel in each town. It’s very handy, although it sends me off on a wild goose chase a couple of times.

As I drive off, I feel so grateful for my boyfriend. While he’s not that happy at the thought of 3 months on his own, he knows how important travel is to me and has given me his blessing. He’ll be flying down to meet me in Adelaide in a month, as I’ve somehow convinced him to join me for the Nullarbor (he doesnt like deserts, too dry and boring and dusty.)

This adventure has been a long time in the making. I yell out a few big woops of glee as I drive off. I decide to celebrate the start of my trip with a cheeky gin at Husk Distillers (only 30 mins down the road – note to self – must not stop at every gin distillery on route).

Glass of purple ink gin with sprig of rosemary as garnish
Ink gin from Husk distillers

First stop Yamba!

shannon the travel blogger

Hi, I’m Shannon, a travel and food blogger living on the Gold Coast in Australia. My hobbies are gin, road trips and food tours. Sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Instagram @_eatwelltraveloften_ for more of the good stuff.

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