I’m Paul. I’m 53 years old, happily married with three kids and I live about 45 minutes southeast of Hobart, Tasmania.
I’ve lived in Tasmania all my life. After I left school at 15, I began my career working on fishing vessels on the South and West Coasts of Tasmania. I think this was where my love for adventure and travel began.
In 2012 I got a new job working on offshore vessels. This job allowed me to see a lot of Australia and made me realise how much more there is out there. I started thinking about how good it would be to travel around Australia, then in 2016 we bought our first caravan. We were fortunate to have family and friends who owned vans as well, so for the next couple of years we did short trips around Tasmania to get used to the van. We loved it! I have not had to make any alterations to our caravan. I have put a stool in the shower to sit on and I bought an extra step for outside the door. I could probably do with a rail just inside the door to hold onto as I get in and out, but apart from that, I find getting around the van quite easy.
We had been discussing the idea of doing a trip around Australia for a while, then in 2020 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Great… now I’m an amputee and I have Parkinson’s. After getting my head around what this meant for us and getting my attitude back in order, we decided life's too short we're going! We went online and booked the boat for the 20th of March 2022.
Our trip around Australia was without a doubt, one of the best things we have ever done. We've seen some amazing things and met some wonderful people. We were away for nearly seven months and travelled approximately 28,000 km from the coast to the Outback. To tell you what our favourite part was is impossible. We parked our van in some amazing places, at Outback stations, on the edge of the great Australian Bight and on the banks of rivers. We walked endless beaches, snorkelled and swam in the gorges of Ningaloo Reef. In the Kimberleys, we caught mud crabs, saw some incredible aboriginal rock art, dingoes, donkeys and buffaloes.
We went to lots of beaches and swimming at beaches without a wet leg isn't easy. I used my crutches to get in the water and a pool-noodle or swim ring to help hold me up once in the water, that way I didn't have to bounce up and down on one leg!
We did a lot of walks ranging from easy up to grade 4 level walks. The only aid I used was a good quality hiking stick and 3B anti-chaff cream is gold! I'm lucky that I don't have much trouble with my stump in the way of pressure sores so that is a bonus. Some of the walks into the gorges were challenging with large boulders and some steep hills but the rewards at the end was worth every cent.
For anyone thinking of travelling Australia or anywhere else for that matter, just do it. Plan well and make it happen while you still can, we’re already planning our next one. You won't regret it!