Adventure | 12th December
From full time van-lifers to professional weekenders
Elise Taylor and her partner explore the surrounds of their new home in Noosa.
23rd of April, 2017 - the momentous day that saw us hug our family goodbye and jump into our self-converted home on wheels, ready to hit the road. Chugging along at our maximal speed of 80km/h, with the sun gently setting on the horizon, we were blissfully unaware of the life-changing adventure ahead of us. My man, Josh, and I didn’t have a plan, we only knew a few things, these were to 1. Head West first, 2. Follow the sun, and 3. Take each day as it comes. In the past 2 and a half years we’ve clocked up over 50,000kms in our van named Donovan, chasing summer around Australia. We’ve hiked to the top of mountain peaks, descended into ancient cavernous gorges, soaked in naturally occurring thermal springs, showered under waterfalls, trekked world-heritage rainforests, snorkelled reefs alongside turtles and whale sharks, relaxed beside campfires under the Milky Way, surfed till dusk and spent many days simply enjoying some of the world’s best beaches. Every waking day a different adventure awaits.
Fast forward to present day, after crisscrossing our way around Australia, we find ourselves parked up for a while in idyllic Noosa, The Sunshine Coast’s golden child. We’ve transitioned into a somewhat ‘normal’ routine for a while - saving our pennies for the next chapter of this life. As soon as we rolled through Noosa we fell in love with the region. One of the many perks of living on the road is that you have an active choice in where you want to settle. For us, Noosa was the perfect spot - 5 world class point breaks (5 mins down the road!), a climate that sees sunshine year-round, lush rainforest quite literally at our doorstep, weekly farmers markets, a health conscious community and an all-round relaxed vibe. Donovan is parked outside our little studio, enjoying a well-deserved break, waiting patiently for the next journey. It’s a good balance - travel, work, travel…I find it gives me an even greater appreciation for life. It keeps me motivated, moving, inspired and grateful.
One Sunday we decide to explore the area a little further. 5 am and the alarm chimes, an early start means soaking up nature without the crowds that the afternoon generally brings. We haul a few of the essentials into the van - fresh fruit to snack on, swimming gear, our trusty Teva sandals, plenty of water and some good tunes for the drive. Before the sun rises we are on the road, back where I feel right at home.
A half hour drive later, we find ourselves in an empty carpark nestled in the rainforest. A short hike under strangler figs and through native vines takes us to the base of the aptly named ‘Serenity Falls’. There’s nothing quite like sitting down, closing your eyes and just simply being. Tuning into all the life around you, focusing your attention on the various sounds that transpire… The water flowing down the waterfall, bubbling into the stream below, the birds singing, the insects chirping, the canopy rustling in the gentle, humid breeze. Forest bathing - it’s a thing. The practice originated in Japan, where it’s called “shinrin-yoku” and is embraced by those seeking to de-stress and boost happiness by connecting with the naturally rejuvenating power of nature. We’ve spent majority of the past few years knee-deep in nature. Living in a van means that you are at mercy of the elements, you essentially live outdoors. For me, it is vital to dwell right alongside nature, even more importantly now whilst I work, to recharge my batteries and reconnect to my roots.
The morning is getting on, we’ve climbed up, down, through and around the falls. We’ve rock-hopped downstream to uncover even more waterfalls cascading below. Now, the sun is starting to break through the canopy - the humidity is rising, the mosquitoes are beginning their orchestra around us and our tummies are starting to rumble. We follow the dirt track back up through the forest and emerge on the other side, where it all began. We mosey on back to Donovan, pop the boot open and climb into the back. Into our home. The fruit is pulled out the fridge, washed and devoured in no time. The clock strikes 9am and we are back in the front, refreshed and ready to hit the road again.
The route home tightly hugs the coast, it is yet another beautiful day, the ocean glistens in the morning heat beckoning us over. We pass one of our favourite coastal towns, Peregian beach, pull over and make a beeline straight into the water. The beaches here are some of the best I’ve seen on our journey around Australia. Crystal clear, warm water, where dolphins, whales and turtles come to play regularly. A rainforest hike followed by an ocean swim, well, it really can’t get much better than that. Here, in the salty ocean, I take a moment to acknowledge how incredible this life is and how blessed I am to call this magnificent place home for a while.
We aren’t finished with life on the road just yet - I’m not really sure when we’ll exactly ‘finish’. This lifestyle always tempts me back. For me, nothing feels better than life on the road. It is pure freedom, in the simplest form. If van life has taught me one thing, it is to keep it simple. Less is best is something that has resonated with me for years, but van life really cemented this idea. A simple Sunday morning spent in the rainforest and ocean is pure delight. I find the universal elements enough. I find the air and the water exhilarating, I’m refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter, enthralled by the moonrise and stars at night. A life lived simply and intentionally is the life I’ll always strive to live.
Written by Elise Taylor.
Instagram - @elisehalina
Winter Car Camping Essentials: Everything You Need To Prepare
Our winter camping guide has all you need to know about cold weather gear, cosy footwear, and how to stay warm.
Off The Grid: How I Discovered Less is More on the Trail
Designer and creative Micah McDermott shares how hiking and recharging in nature with his uncle inspired growth and self-care.