Living the Van Life | 3 short stories from our first month

admiring the beautiful sunset at strathgordon from the hood of our campervan enjoying living the van life


It’s our first night In Tasmania. After a spectacular day gallivanting around the north of the state, it’s time to lay our sleepy heads to rest. Unfortunately, this time has come way before sunset. Which happens at a staggeringly late 9:00pm this far south!

enjoying an evening walk along the beach at low head tasmania, enjoying a beautiful sunset living the van life

Seeing as we’ve chosen a tiny coastal village to call home for the night, we are confident there won’t be any trouble sleeping in a car park. We choose one near a toilet block, about 2 minutes out of town and jump in the back to bunker down.

A couple of seconds later comes the first knock from an obnoxious passer by. Who on earth would come and knock on somebodies front door at this time of night?! Thanks to our tinted windows, we can see him but he can’t see us so we play dead and wait for him to leave. It doesn’t take him too long and we are too tired to worry so we forget about it and jump into bed. Who said living the Van Life would be easy??

An hour later, we have happily drifted into the land of sleep when another knock wakes us with a start, scaring the socks off us. How on earth could we be so unlucky on our first night!? Afraid of getting a fine, we lay silently until he leaves. Which takes him a good 10 minutes this time. How persistent!

We creep out of the van and jump into the front to make our quick escape. On the drive out, we notice that we were parked right next to a caravan park…. ah, it’s all making sense now. I guess a nosy neighbour was quite unimpressed that he paid to camp when we didn’t, most likely alerting the caravan park manager. We aren’t about to stick around to find out though.

We choose our new destination at the end of a dirt road overlooking the sea. And what a sunset! Yes, this is all happening before the sun has even set completely. Boy we are exciting sometimes.

beautiful colourful sunset over low head bay while living the van life in tasmania

We enjoy a completely undisturbed sleep in our new ‘campsite’ and wake to a beautiful sunrise. Everything happens for a reason right?

We have learnt a couple of lessons from this situation… 1. Don’t try and sleep in a car park before dark. 2. Don’t try and sleep in a car park directly next to a caravan park. 3. Try to avoid sleeping in a car park that has toilets – they’re much more likely to be monitored! Oh and maybe make some sort of plan or research for sleeping situations?? Nah!


It’s 10pm, late for us. Time to go to bed and watch an episode of the Peaky Blinders. I jump over to my side and grab the covers. I look down and see little black things all over the doona. Intrigued, I take a closer look. I inhale dramatically and leap off the bed, catapulting into Dylan who has no idea why I’ve just acted like a crazy person. He yells at me and I point at the doona and splutter at him to go and look.

There are about 10 spiders on the bed. Confusingly, they’re not moving and look perfectly intact. We assume they’re dead and Dylan – the hero he is – gets rid of them all for me. That’s when I see something brown on the curtain. I freak out again, thinking it’s big mummy spider. Dylan takes a closer look and realises it’s a half built wasp nest. This is getting weirder by the second!

Dylan then remembers a strange noise he heard earlier in the evening, one that he put down to a dumb march fly trying to get free. It must have been a wasp making it’s nest. We probably shouldn’t have left the back doors open all afternoon without the fly screens intact – especially when parked so close to the thriving wilderness!

living the van life at strathgordon, enjoying a beer watching the colourful sunset

Still confused, we up end the whole bed to make sure there aren’t any other spiders lurking anywhere. With no reception and no idea as to what the go is, we try and sleep. I make Dylan sleep on the side of the spiders of course. 

The morning comes and we haven’t been eaten by spiders. Win. We manage to find reception and research wasps and spiders. To our surprise – and possibly yours as well – wasps collect spiders by stinging them and paralysing them! Super creepy and interesting. We were happy there wasn’t a nest somewhere in the crevices of our van. We will however be stocking up on Mortein at the next supermarket we find.

If you’re wondering on the lack of photo evidence for this hellish experience, you mustn’t be as afraid of spiders as I am.

Thankfully, this is the first – and one can only hope the last – spider experience we’ve encountered. All else has been perfectly peachy, learning the ropes of living the Van Life… Kind of.


As I’m writing this, it is our 30th day living the Van Life. I’m sitting on the bed with a crook neck, looking out the dirty back window at the moody ocean and cloud covered, vibrant green mountains.  I am in a slightly sore heaven. The scenery is spectacular and I absolutely love the sound of the waves crashing madly into the rocky coastline, smelling the salt spray in the air. However, it has been raining almost consistently for the last 7 days. I haven’t done any yoga and we have accomplished 90km of downhill mountain biking and 43km of hiking in this time, including the summit of 3 mountains. It’s safe to say I am super stiff and Dylan is aching to spread out. If we haven’t been out conquering viewless peaks and muddy downhill tracks, we’ve been cooped up inside the van. Do we regret our decision to live like this? Thats a hard no, maybe the only regret is not buying a van with a high roof!

rock scrambling up cradle mountain summit, climbing over a field of boulders while living the van life in tasmania
Candace covered in mud at maydena bike wash station after a muddy day mountain biking while living the van life in tasmania

I would be lying if I said that rainy days aren’t a slight strain on our sanities. Especially because we are such active people, we tend to snap more when we’re in a confined space. But these experiences have just helped us to learn how to work together and be understanding.

watching the massive surf crash into the rocks at trial harbour beach while living the van life in tasmania

We’ve become pro’s at manoeuvring around each other in a tightly constricted space, taking turns to cook on the floor or the table – depending on the amount of space needed for preparation. Spending most of our down time coming up with floor plans for our next high roofed van.

cooking inside our van while living the van life

Currently our van has been converted to resemble something similar to a Chinese Sweatshop, with all our wet and muddy clothes either hidden in a tub or hanging over the bikes. We’re holding out on washing until we meet up with my parents in Strahan and have a cheeky respite for a couple of nights. It couldn’t be coming at a better time. Some of you may say this is cheating but I say poor old Percy the van needs a good airing and deserves a break.

We have learnt a lot so far on this epic trip through the impressive state of Tasmania. But maybe our biggest lesson has been this; in the West if it’s forecasted to rain even 10%, it will. If clear blue skies are on the forecast, you’ve got a good 50% chance that it will rain. This is where all our much needed rain for the rest of the country is falling.

For this reason however, the countryside is absolutely stunning. Every drive we’ve taken has been through rich, green forests with huge rocky peaks. It’s a scarcely populated area, which makes for parking up on the side of the road without interruption an easy task. Perfect conditions for a Van Lifer.

cleaning dishes infront of a beautiful sunset while living the van life in trial harbour