Wide open roads – A life-long love for exploring Australia

Wide open roads - A life-long love for exploring Australia

Fossicking for gemstones in emerald, walking the beautiful white beaches of Woodgate on the Queensland coast near Bundaberg, and wading in the natural pink lakes of Western Australia are among many travel highlights shared by GemLife Highfields couple Kaye and Bernie Beutel.

Travelling has been a part of Kaye and Bernie’s lives since they were first married 52 years ago and, two daughters and three grandchildren later, they are still discovering some of the great wonders of Australia.

“I was on my way to New Zealand when we first met but Bernie talked me out of it. We were married a year later and then went over and lived there for a year, so I still got to go,” said Kaye.

Bernie, a mechanical engineer by trade, spent most of the past 25 years working overseas.

“When he came home, the first thing we would do is travel around Australia, including really remote areas like the Great Central Road from Alice Springs to Western Australia which extends some 1200km to reach the nearest town of Laverton. It is a rocky and corrugated road. We have never broken down anywhere on our travels but did have our one-and-only flat tyre when we finished this trip,” said Kaye.

Although the couple have travelled around America, Canada and New Zealand, it’s the lure of the Australian outback and the fabulous sights on offer in their own backyard that has provided them with the most pleasure.

“We both love going to the outback. We are not city people. We prefer smaller communities, bush camping or free camping. It’s relaxing and you meet some wonderful people. You get to appreciate what we have here in Australia and how lucky we are to have such great open spaces. Thank god we live here in this wonderful country,” said Kaye.

The couple agree Australia is full of interesting places and sights including some unique, awe-inspiring natural pink lakes.

“There are about five around the country and we stopped at one in WA, walked around it and wet our feet. On a bright day it is really pink, so beautiful and very interesting. In fact, the entire coastline of WA, including its magnificent beaches are a `must see’.”

Since 2003, Bernie and Kaye have bought three different caravans, upgrading for more luxury. Toowoomba locals since the 1980s, they joined the Toowoomba and Golden West Caravan Club which hosts regular monthly trips away for members to destinations within 200 kilometres such as Kalbar, Blackbutt, Wondai, Stanthorpe and Pittsworth.

Having recently purchased their latest caravan, which they park on a nearby property which they still own, the couple say they are fully self-sufficient apart from needing to fill their three water tanks occasionally.

“We could go for weeks and weeks without needing anything,” said Kaye, who also has a talent for catering. “When I was 18, I cooked for the workers on a cattle station. I had a wood stove and a kerosene fridge powered by a generator and cooked four meals a day.”

Needless to say, Kaye is a great cook and always prepares meals in advance for their travels.

The hours travelling fly past, according to the couple, with Kaye enjoying audio books and CDs, and Bernie listening to the music of country artist Slim Dusty while also enjoying the beautiful Aussie scenery that surrounds them. Life on the road could not be better!

Kaye and Bernie’s travel tips:

  • Don’t overload your caravan or motorhome. There is a legal limit to how much a car and caravan can weigh.
  • If you are new to travelling, stick to the bitumen roads until you get a feel for towing a van or driving a motorhome.
  • Avoid taking too many clothes and incidentals, they only get in the way, and you will find many won’t be worn at all.
  • When planning a trip, think about what interests you most such as the beach or visiting inland towns and sights. Plan your trip around that by looking at a map. There are lots of Wiki camps around so check these out on the internet and find out where the camping areas and free camp sites are located.
  • Don’t travel more than 300kms a day if you want a leisurely holiday. Anymore, and everything aches when you get out of the vehicle and all you want to do is sleep.
  • When you arrive at any destination, go to the information centre to discover the best spots to check out in the area.
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