Discovering the quirky things you find in small towns and never see in big cities is among many reasons GemLife Maroochy Quays residents Carol and Graham Kelly have devoted much of their leisure time to travelling Australia.
“There may not be a lot of history here compared to England and Europe but there are things in small Australian towns you don’t see anywhere else in the world, and we just love discovering them all,” said Carol, who together with Graham has visited every state in Australia, except for the ACT.
Originally from England and having also lived in South Africa, the couple believe Australia has much to offer caravan and motorhome enthusiasts like themselves and say travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on the best travel destinations.
“There are just so many. We were taken by Adelaide and areas such as the Barossa Valley and the historic town of Hahndorf, which is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement,” said Graham.
Carol also cited the New South Wales town of Junee as one of her favourite spots.
“It’s a little town with so much to offer including a haunted house, a great chocolate factory and the Roundhouse Museum which is home to one of only a few working railway roundhouses in the southern hemisphere where locomotives and rolling stock are re-conditioned.”
The couple are prolific travellers and take any opportunity to hit the road towards a new destination, many of which they say are so beautiful they can take your breath away.
“You feel so free. You don’t have to get up for work or worry about anything. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the things that make Australia so unique. There is nothing like it,” said Graham.
The couple also love the excitement of seeing a new place, making new friends along the way, and tasting the vast array of foods which differ so much from place to place.
“A vanilla slice on the Sunshine Coast is different to one you would buy in Adelaide and other parts of the country.”
Carol said the couple eat well when away.
“We have a lot of barbecues and take a slow cooker which is brilliant because you can put everything into it. The cooker makes delicious lamb shanks and stews. Combine it with salad, fresh bread and a glass of shiraz or sauvignon blanc and you’re in dining heaven,” she said.
Before moving into their new home at GemLife Maroochy Quays a year ago, the couple enjoyed an eight-month road trip to Western Australia via NSW, Victoria, and South Australia.
Since arriving home, COVID-related travel restrictions have dampened their ability but not their passion for travel.
“We don’t have our caravan anymore but are still itching to get out and start travelling again, with the Kimberley the first place we want to head,” said Graham, who is keen to hire one of the new Explore by GemLife motorhomes.
He said a motorhome is ideal for long distances, is more economical than towing a caravan in terms of fuel and is easier to stop and start. “You can pull up, put the park brake on and set up within a couple of minutes in a motorhome. It takes longer with a caravan and then you have to pack it up again.”
He said there is also the added convenience of being able to drive the motorhome up on a slab in a caravan park and roll out the awning, a process that is much easier than in a caravan where you need to reverse and unhitch the van from the vehicle before you can start setting up. “Motorhomes are also more stable in crosswinds or when trucks are passing you on the road,” said Graham.
The dedicated travellers said before they set off on a new adventure, they do their research, plan the route and a list of things they want to see.
“We also consider the distance, where we can stop at night, facilities available, fuel stops and other points of interest. However, we don’t necessarily hold to the plan. If we see something interesting on the day, then we will do it. That’s the freedom of travel.”
The couple, who celebrate 50 years of marriage on 8 October this year, admit they are feeling a little penned in due to COVID.
“We arrived home from our last trip on 23 March last year and haven’t been able to travel since. COVID has clipped our travel wings and we are really feeling the need to get away again soon. Next destination, the Kimberley!”