Meet Yindi, our companion and Protector
Dernière mise à jour : 27 févr. 2022
On January 2nd 2022, we pulled out of Tim’s farm near Albury (NSW), towing a 3 ton, 22 feet (7 meters) semi-offroad caravan. Our plan is to be on the road for the next 5 months throughout Australia, sometimes in remote and unsealed areas. We are not experienced campers or caravanners. Actually, we have never done any caravanning, nor have we ever towed anything with a car. Boris had towed the kids in a Chariot behind his bike, but not sure this counts. Needless to say, we need someone to watch over our souls, for we may have been misguided.
As one travels through Australia, one is constantly reminded of the cultural heritage of its ancestral proprietors, the Aboriginal communities. They are the original owners of the land, and we plan to spend some time learning more about the culture, the people and the history of Australia. We wanted to acknowledge the importance of the Aboriginal community by giving our home away from home an Aboriginal name: Yindi.
The Mother, the Sun
There are literally hundreds of Aboriginal languages and some words may have various meanings. Yindi most often stands for “Mother” in Yolngu. Being nomads for 6 months, our caravan is providing us much appreciated shelter, comfort, food and a place where we are united. Another meaning for Yindi is “Sun” in other Aboriginal languages. The sun brings us life, light and heat. It reminds us of the time that passes and it delights us as it rises and sets, just like we happily wake in our home on wheels every morning and set in for a good night of sleep.
Also, we encourage you to learn more about the legendary Aboriginal-Australian music band, Yothu Yindi.
Our caravan is our protector. We look after her and we depend on her every day and night. We call her Yindi.
How to choose the right caravan?
Short answer? We are not sure... Again, we have zero experience and are only learning as we go. So as you read this, consider the next paragraphs with caution. You may even laugh at our ignorance if you wish (we will not be offended, for we will never hear you). Make sure you do your own research, you will learn lots.
How we did it? For almost 3 years, we read zillions of blogs, watched heaps of videos on Youtube and looked at them in caravan parks when we were travelling in Western Australia in 2019. The most accessible information is obviously how the van looks, how big (long) it is, and how much people like theirs (they all love theirs more than any other…). But let’s be serious. The color of your van and the funkiness of the brand name are not the most important features. There are basically 3 things to consider.
How do you plan to sleep in it when you have a family with 2 kids (and their 1m95 father). The caravan set-ups vary, but you will find that there are not a thousand ways to put some elements in a rectangle. The main parental bed can however be in two configurations: across the van (side wall to side wall), which is unsuitable for Boris and his big feet used to sticking out from the bed. Or is can be in the long direction of the van, with space at its foot. This is what we needed. The kids have bunks, and some vans come with 2 or 3 bunks. Obviously the size of the bunks matters and must be sufficient for your kids. We do not plan to keep the van for many years, so we are not concerned about Stanley and Miles outgrowing (quickly) their bunks. The rest is pretty standard and comes in all variations: kitchen equipment, AC, toilet/shower, lounge area, storage, etc… Some of these are really hard to analyze as you browse the internet. You really need to start using it to see how well it functions and is designed.
How heavy it is and how you can (safely) tow it. Boris spent hours trying to figure out all the weight terminology and calculations. I see the smile on the faces of those familiar with caravanning/towing lingo (GVM, tare, GCM, tow-ball weight, payload, etc…). Now you add the search for an apt car in your equation. Here come the other zillions of towing cars reviews, opinions, and blogs. You quickly get tangled into silly debates: do you really need the fancy cup holder or not? Well after gathering ample knowledge on the eternal SUV vs Ute debate…., we cheated our way through this one, by buying the van and the car combo that had already done the loop around Australia.
Where do you plan to take your caravan. Are you planning to do some off-road or not? Australia has so much to see. You can decide to stay on sealed roads, or you may like to have the liberty of exploring a bit further, taking your vans on dirt tracks, beaches and other not-so-flat terrain. We like to have our choices open, so we went for what is called a semi-off-road. High enough, good suspensions, but not the full off-road features.
Kokoda Cadet II ticked all our boxes
The research phase over, we have decided on a small Australian company, Kokoda caravans. Why? Because they looked cool, of course! In understanding more about the challenges caravanners face, Facebook has been a huge help. We found a FB group of Kokoda caravan owners, who kindly accepted us onboard before we had actually made a purchase. This is where we were able to connect all dots. We had our basic theoretical knowledge, and now these actual owners added the extra layer of experience in real life situations.
We could follow families who had travelled across Australia in it, get advice on towing vehicles, insurance policies, places to go to, and lots more. A huge thank you to that online community. We are honoured to be part of the group, and look forward to meeting members IRL in some caravan park.
Our trip had to be postponed by a year (thank you COVID), which gave us ample time to monitor the caravan market and consolidate our choices. On our FB group, we found the combo we were looking for. Ben and Alesia had done their loop of Australia with their 2 kids, Kokoda Cadet II and Ford Ranger (best towing car - that is not an expensive Toyota Landcruiser - in many reviews), and were now looking to pass the torch to another family. This is how one ends up buying a car and a caravan on Facebook from the other side of the Earth. Luckily we had Melissa’s brother Tim who facilitated the sale and picked the two perfectly functionning items (!) for us, thanks Tim!
One month under our eight wheels
Our brave Ranger has now been on the road for a month, and Yindi has been the perfect protecting Mother and guiding Sun for us. We are learning as we go and meet the helpful nomad community in parks.
So far, the choices have suited us perfectly, but we are also part of the group who love their caravan more than any other (confirmation bias, hello).
We look forward to discovering more about the Aboriginal people and Australia, and are thankful to be able to travel respectfully in this beautiful country.