Our return to Australia didn’t see our lives as Grey Nomads return any time soon. We commenced the renovations on the old house in Deloraine. Our plan was to complete the inside of the house during the winter, give the outside a bit of a paint and get the gardens into some sort of shape during the summer. Then we’d be ready to get on with our travels.
There was a lot to do, and we were up for the challenge. We purchased some basic furniture to make it comfortable. We even purchased a second car so as I had something small to drive. I think we had a vague notion that we’d probably return to the house for a bit of domesticity between tenants. We had it in mind to sort out some storage for the household goods and car on the property. We could then leave our rig on the mainland where ever we happened to be and fly to Tassie, saving the expensive fuel and ferry costs to get there.
My sister, a member of one of the non main-steam religious sects, lives nearby in Launceston. We’ve always been close, and despite some internal pressure from her religious brotherhood not to associate with her worldly sister, we were enjoying spending time together. To spend time in Tassie between tenants, catching up with her from time to time was something I was looking forward to. A post script to that is that her brotherhood have since won out and she can no longer associate with her worldly sister. Something that subsequently influenced a decision down the track not to keep the Tassie house. Going there for visits between tenants had lost a lot of its appeal!
But first, back to the house. Shortly after commencing the renovations I slipped over in the garden while doing some pruning and broke my right wrist – yes, I’m right handed. This slowed down the renovations considerably. News from the UK indicated Paul’s dad was going down hill. We were doing the best we could to get on with house, and hoping Paul’s dad would come good, or at least not get worse. My wrist came out of plaster around the same time Paul’s dad went back into hospital. The news wasn’t good. Friends in the UK advised us that we needed to put plans in place to get over there. He was stabilised and then placed into respite/care.
It was clear we weren’t going to have time to chip away at the renovations at our leisure. It was also clear no time frame could be estimated for the time we were going to need to spend in the UK. What to do – we employed help to finish off the house quickly. Paul lined an existing shed on the property which was big enough to store the household goods we’d purchased, and with no time to set up storage for the car, we sold it. A quick sale meant a considerable financial loss, but at least it was something less for us to worry about. A tenant was found. We put the rig into storage and and in October 2015 we headed to the UK. October is the end of the Tassie winter and the start of the UK winter, so back to back winters!
A couple of months with good food, and company and Paul’s dad was a different person. It was clear that having company, and someone to care for him was giving him a quality of life he couldn’t sustain on his own. We wanted to stay for however much time he had left, and my six month visa was nearing its end. I applied for an extension but that was denied. They saw no need for me to stay longer… (sore point).
We did what we could to make it easier for Pauls dad. We found him a small flat for the elderly that had some support, and we arranged for the sale of his house. We had done all we could.
We returned to Tassie at the end of March, picked up the rig, and tried to book our fare on the ferry to return to the mainland. The earliest confirmed booking was July. We tried daily for cancellations so as to get out before the winter, and eventually one came through. At an additional cost of $500 we sailed away from Tassie on Anzac Day 2016. It was only a couple of weeks before some dreadful weather hit the small island state with record flooding. Finally, a stroke of luck! We had managed to get out in the nick of time.
We were back to our Grey Nomad travels. We moved up the East Coast trying to remain always within internet and phone cover so as to keep track of what was happening in the UK. Our travel funds were poorly depleted. Part of our original travel plans had included doing some seasonal work as we travelled. We’d had more than twelve months not working and needed to replenish….
We found work in the Gulf of Carpentaria working on a cattle station. The internet cover was dismal. We’d do a 200 km round trip once a week to Normanton so as to check emails. It was awful. Pauls dad went into hospital once again, then back into respite care. We left the job after only three weeks. The job was pretty crappy anyway – or at least the boss was.
We moved onto Katherine in the Northern Territory where our son lives, planning to stay for some seasonal work. If another urgent trip was needed to the UK, Paul was to go on his own, and I would stay with Kelvin nearby for company.
The stress of the past year had taken its toll though. A house came up for sale at a good price in Busselton, and somehow to have the security of living in a home was outweighing our dream life of travelling around like vagabonds. We bought the house, sight unseen, and our dream of Grey Nomading our way around Australia for a minimum of seven years came to an end.
Postscript: Paul’s dad passed away four months after we moved into our Busselton house. We’ve since sold the house in Tassie to the tenant, and even made a very small profit. Our big rig has been replaced with a smaller rig for part time travel only. We’ve now lived in Busselton for two and a half years, and have made some great friends here. It’s not the life we had planned for ourselves back in 2013. Perhaps it’s a better life, who knows! All’s well that ends well – we’re content.