I love, love, love roadtrips. I love the road unfurling beneath the tyres, and looking around the towns and villages I pass through. I particularly love those long stretches of landscape that you can get on Australian roadtrips with few signs of civilization.
Most of our roadtrips are done in a very basic way: a four wheel drive with a platform bed in the back, a fridge, a camp stove, and a couple of chairs and a table. The small and unobtrusive nature of the four wheel drive allows us to take very small tracks, and camp in very out of the way places, just pulling over quietly beside a track. In thirty years of doing this, we’ve only been moved on a couple of times, but our footprint is small: no tents, no paraphernalia strewn over a wide area and no campfire. I don’t think it would work to travel that way if we weren’t unobtrusive.
The other sort of roadtrip I love are campervan ones. We don’t own a campervan, but we often do campervan relocations. The companies that hire these mobile homes often need them moved from city to city. In Oz, typically at this time of year, they need them moved south as people want to drive north for the winter. For as little as $1 a day, we rent a van and have a few days to drive it to where it needs to be. We drove from Brisbane to Adelaide (about 2,200 kilometres) in a week, passing through the outback communities and the mining town of Broken Hill (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert anyone?). We’ve gone from Airlie Beach to Brisbane, and several times we’ve done the Brisbane to Sydney run.
I’m just back from such a trip. We had four days to drive the 1,000 kilometres to Sydney, which is a nice cruisy pace. The van was super-comfy, and easy to drive, and we took a winding route, part inland, part coastal, to reach the metropolis.
I can usually write on the road too. With one of those laptables, and a small laptop, I can usually average a thousand words on a stretch of smooth highway. It’s not as easy as at home–there’s always bumps and resultant typos, drama when something gets accidentally highlighted and deleted, and of course the distractions out of the window. I averaged 1,500 words a day on the most recent trip.
The main character in my novel Not-So-Straight Sue buys a campervan and takes a winding trip around the Queensland outback before reaching the small town that will be her new home. Certainly, my campervan trips were the basis for writing Sue’s experiences on the road. Sue’s trip, though, is part of her story of coming to terms with her identity and accepting herself. Each kilometre of dusty road settles the landscape deeper into her psyche, each long night of solitude and stars reaffirms her decision to return to Australia.
You can read about Sue’s campervan trips in Not-So-Straight Sue which is available from Ylva Publishing and the usual suspects. You can also hear me read an excerpt from the book on Bookchats, part of The Lesbian Talkshow podcast.
My own campervan stories pop up from time to time. I’m only back home for two days, but I’m already planning the next one.
“Not-So-Straight Sue” is available from Ylva Publishing and from: