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  • Photo du rédacteurborisgojanovic

Yardie Homestead, after 14’000 km, we reach the starting point

As you drive along some of the World’s most luscious beaches in the desert-like Ningaloo Coast, an inviting road sign sucks you in like the chant of sirens. At the end of the path lies a little oasis: Yardie Homestead. It took us a mere 14’000 kilometer to get here since the start of our road trip, yet it feels like we have finally reached the place where an essential part of our trip began.

Georgie’s 70th, a family reunion like no other

In July 2019, we were extremely fortunate to have managed to get the Australian family together for a 2-week trip in Western Australia. The occasion was Grandma Georgie’s 70th birthday, and the trip took us from Perth to Exmouth, where we would stay a full week. Melissa’s two brothers Tim and Andrew made it with their respective families, making it a party of 7 adults and 8 kids (3 yo Chloé, the youngest, and the 6 boys aged 5 to 10 yo).

From Exmouth, we would venture daily into the Ningaloo Coast, exploring Turquoise Bay and other incredible beaches. We snorkeled, we swam with the whale sharks, we went on a fishing trip and saw countless humpback whales and dolphins, we had our fish snapped from under us by fierce sharks waiting for us to reel the line in, and we had a jolly good fun of a lifetime. Wonderful memories and experiences, all thanks to Grandma Georgie’s generosity.

The idea of our caravanning trip had been growing gently on us, but I must admit that it seemed to lie in a distant horizon, like a mirage at the end of the road. Would we ever eventually get there?

There so many unknowns. Starting with the fact that we had no camping nor caravanning experience as a family. Melissa had done a fair bit of camping in her maiden days, but we were still a long way away from having any sort of plan. One day, I decided I needed to get my hands dirty. I would start with the rig. What are people actually travelling with?

When coffee calls, good things can happen

Keen as we are for a good coffee, we drove into Yardie Homestead one day, and discovered a nice little quirky and welcoming coffee shop at the back of the camp office. All with the touch of dust and wilderness that one would expect from a remote place like this. I felt this place somehow held more for us.

A few days later, with my thoughts spinning around and trying to understand what car can tow which type of caravan (not that I have really understood this yet, except that the 200 series is always the right choice), I did something very un-Boris-like. I ventured into the heart of the caravan park. From a distant and passive observer, I became a curious and pesky enquirer. Walking along the camping sites, I would look intently at some car I had read about, check the caravan sitting next to it, and engage with the bloke who owned the rig.

This is Australia, these are caravanners. Happy, cheerful, uncomplicated and passionnate people who love to roam their land, and above all, talk about their rig. I learnt a lot in 1 hour, but there was a catch: each and every person I talked to had made the best choice and had the best combination possible (except when they could not afford the 200 series…). Part of my concern was the legroom in the cars (I am 6’4’’, or 194 cm). I wanted to go for an SUV, but I kept hearing that a “dual-cab ute with a canopy” would be a better choice. It tows better. Now, there were a lot of words in that statement that I could not find in the Cambridge dictionary. Notwithstanding that, for a Swiss bloke who is used to European street cars, a ute (read: utility vehicle) is not the sexiest of rides. Mind you, people offered me to sit at the wheel and see what the space feels like.

I’d like to thank these families who shared their choices and stories, enlightened my ignorance, and above all, brought me a few steps closer to the road.

The first guy I talked to was from Perth, but after a few words, I sensed he might be from somewhere closer to where we live. French from Haute-Savoie (next door to us). The French have their accent, you know... Yes mate, if you ever read this, that’s you with the blue Mitsubishi Triton ute. Thank you! I think this geographical proximity made the whole thing more realistic.

I repeated the experience in Exmouth at the caravan park, this time Miles was with me. One more step closer to making this happen one day. “Papa, are we going to have a caravan?”…

Yardie Homestead, the homecoming

Fast forward almost 3 years. After 98 days caravanning in Australia, having covered 14’000 km over 5 states, we pull into Yardie Homestead Wilderness Camping. This time, I feel somewhat more legit, bringing the family and our new additions: our very own ute towing the 3T Yindi.

As we pulled in, parked the van and set everything up, we took the time to take it all in.

Yes, we have come a long way. Beyond the kilometers, it is more the mindset that has travelled and grown the most since our last visit. I am still unsure about the towing weights and optimal car to van specs, but there is one thing I know: if anyone comes asking, I’ll let him/her know how awesome our rig is. I can talk about it for a long time. After all, the kids have run off to the pool, I might as well have a chat.

But don't forget, we have now our very own biases, as we have been on the trip of our lifetime for the last 3 months. We tend to see everything positively (as we should).

As the sun set down on us (and what a sunset it was), a deep sense of gratitude penetrated us.

Thank you Georgie, you made it possible.

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