Living The Van Life | The Best and Worst Days of our Australian Road Trip


My muffled delighted screams can be heard by all in the cage as the mighty jaws of a Great White Shark swims straight towards me, turning just in time to avoid a hefty collision with the bars I am hiding behind. I turn to Dylan and my eyes say it all – “This is the best day of my life!” He’s return gaze agrees wholeheartedly…

Our day starts at 5am with adrenaline buzzing. We get ready faster than ever recorded in Van Life history, before and hit the road towards Calypso Star Charters. The instant we step into their offices, they offer us complimentary coffee. We are going to get along swimmingly. We load onto the boat at 6am and set off in almost darkness towards Grindal Island.

Enjoying a coffee at Calypso Bay Charters before embarking on Great White Shark Cage Diving while living the van life

Anchoring just off shore, we slip into wetsuits and dive into the crystal clear waters. Dylan and I get in first and are greeted with over 20 bobbing heads looking curiously our way. Absolutely delighted, we swim straight over to the raft of Sea Lions.

Calypso Bay Charters Snorkelling adventure in Port Lincoln, swimming with Sea Lions while living the van life

They disperse immediately and start to circle us, sizing up who will be the victim of their next play date. We are tumbling over each other to be the winner. An hour is not long enough to dive and roll through the waters, having the adorable puppy like Sea Lions follow us around, cunningly trying to drag us further out to sea.

swimming with Sea Lions, Snorkelling adventure with Calypso Bay Charters while living the van life

We reluctantly drag our butts back onto the boat, gulping down more coffee to warm our numb fingers and toes. With a quick transfer to the Shark Diving boat, we settle in for our 2 hour drive out into the middle of the deep and dangerous ocean.

Arriving at Neptune Island with anticipations high, the cage is thrown in to the waters and all 40 of us have our eyes peeled for the first sights of a Great White Shark. An hour ticks by and one by one, we start losing hope. After the second hour, Dylan and I retreat inside to tuck into a delicious lunch. Happy to of at least spent the morning with our new favourite friends – the Sea Lions.

Before we even manage to down the first bite, an excited collection of shouts from outside immediately lures us to the boats stern. We are welcomed with our first sighting of the mighty Great White Shark.

We watch impatiently from the deck while the groups ahead of us enjoy their encounter under water. FINALLY we are called to get into the cage. Not even 2 minutes after we settle in, the monstrous 3m shark swims majestically beneath us. HOLY MOLY! You’ve got no idea how intense these ocean dwellers are until you are less than a metre away from them, with nothing but a couple of bars on a metal cage between you!

Great White Shark Sefie, Cage diving with Calypso Bay Charters while living the van life

My heart is beating like crazy, I’ve never experienced such a feeling of terror mixed with excitement. This feeling heightens when he – yes we know it’s a he – successfully grabs the bait and sends it to the depths beneath us in mere seconds. Instead of feeling satisfied, this only makes him even more determined to get another feed. As is Calypso Stars regulations, no more burly is thrown in for 15 minutes. Our friend Mr Sharky doesn’t like this and gets quite boisterous with us. Swimming full pelt straight at the cage, only veering away at the last moment. Now that’s a sure way to make us all scream with delight and fear… and maybe a sly chuckle from Dylan.

close up of a great white shark Cage diving with Calypso Bay Charters while Living the Van Life

The guides bang the cage indicating our time is up, 40 minutes has gone by without us realising. We all clamber out, talking over each other in a mess of excitement. THIS WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE EVER! We hardly even notice our fingers are numb and our bodies are shaking uncontrollably from the freezing ocean waters… Or maybe the shaking is from the amount of adrenaline running through our veins!

peeking through the mouth of Great White Shark with Calypso Bay Charters while living the van life

While we warm up with a hot shower and more coffee, the remaining groups have their turn in the cage. But Mr Sharky doesn’t put on nearly the same quality show, he kept the best for us. An afternoon spent sun-baking on the deck of the boat with a beer, watching the sun set is the only way to top an already PERFECT day.

An experience like this makes you close with strangers in a way nothing else can. Reminiscing on the day and sharing stories of other wild animal encounters has us drinking into the late hours of the night.

Calypso Star Charters, you guys are absolute LEGENDS!


An epic day of mountain biking in Maydena is done and dusted. It’s uncharacteristically warm for this part of Tasmania, prompting us to crank the air con on our drive back to the campsite. We wait, and wait, and wait… it’s not getting any colder. We turn, seeing mirrored confusion and worry building in one another’s eyes. It can’t be broken, we’ve just resolved the god damn turbo under boost – whatever that means. Why is this van falling apart all at once!?

Trying to fix our camper van's mechanical issues in the rain while living the van life

Sure enough, after Dylan’s 50,000th attempt at checking whether the thermostat can’t be set lower than the cool Tasmanian weather, we accept it’s broken. Calling a mechanic in Melbourne, we book in for the day we arrive back on the main land. A week in Tasmania with no air con is as easy to handle as sipping an ice cold beer on a hot summers day.

There is no good news waiting for us when we return to pick up little old Percy the Camper Van from the mechanics. A rock had flicked up past the bash cover, embedding itself in the condenser… Here we go, our European van requiring special parts will surely suck us dry of our savings. Receiving a quote for $1,500 confirms our predictions. It’s the worst case senario for a couple living the Van Life… Seperation from our beloved with a day for the part to arrive and the remainder of that day to install the new part. This is too much time in the city of Melbourne, spending money we don’t have. We can make it to Adelaide with no air con no worries…

Trying to cool off inside our campervan stranded with no Air Conditioning while living the van life

It takes less than a day to regret our decision. Have you ever tried driving a big arse camper van down an open, flat and extremely barren highway with the windows down? It’s loud and the wind is ferocious. We endure intervals of gale force winds blowing between our ears, and sweat trickling down our sunburnt skin in the suffocating confined heat. Ok I may be exaggerating, but only slightly… We take every chance we can to stop, gaining any possible relief from the humid environment inside our camper van. Dragging the half day drive to our next destination into a whole day is our consequence. The reprieve however, is well worth it.

pooring water over head to cool off while living the van life with no Air conditioning in our Camper van

Adelaide is a welcomed sight. The van goes in for the operation as early as possible and we return to pick it up just hours later – partly due to Dylan’s stern words to the lovely mechanics who believe they need two days for this small job. The only silver lining for putting ourselves through the miserable 800km’s of an Australian summer road trip with no air con, is the fact we saved $500. Matlin Mechanics, you rock.


We wish we could be as positive about our public transport experience in Adelaide as we are with our South Australian Mechanics. I think we have taken Percy and the ease of Van life for granted and forgotten what it’s like not to have everything you could possibly need right there with you, every minute of the day.

The introduction to public transport cards has been great… for the most part. But what happens when you’re in a part of a new city you’ve no clue about and your phone is telling you the closest store to buy a card is a half hour bus ride away?

In our case, our phone tell’s us we could purchase a card at the Bus Depot just a 10 minute walk from where we dropped good old Percy. Off we trot, chatting happily about the promise of air con for the rest of our road trip. We arrive to what is certainly the Bus Depot, but the only building is the Licence Registration Offices. We are a little sceptical but walk inside and take a number in any case. Our doubt heightens when we see what the staff are dealing with. Dylan goes up to ask out of turn – naughty Dylan – and finds out what we expected the whole time… Google had f***ked us over AGAIN. The lovely staff told us we can in fact pay for a ticket on the bus. We roll our eyes at the hassle so far and thank them before leaving.

Jumping onto the bus towards Glenelg, I politely hand over my credit card to pay for our tickets. “What am I going to do with this?” Says the rude bus driver. It takes all my strength to stop Dylan from retorting in the only manner this driver deserves. Questioning what he means – politely I might add – we eventually get the answer that they only accept cash or the transport card. Great. We ask where we can purchase this card, hoping this man has at least a bit of kindness in him, and get a “how should I know?” answer. Exasperated with the situation, a kind man yells from the back seats that we can purchase one at the Service Station down the road. We thank him and get off the bus.

Walking to the Service Station, we are losing our patience. It has already been an hour of trying to get out of this desolate industrial suburb. Our luck is yet to turn however, the sales lady sadly informs us that we cannot buy the card here but there is an ATM. This is where the new age world screws us over. We’ve only got our Google Pay and credit cards with us, and there’s no way we’re paying the fees to withdraw money from a credit card!

By this time we are DONE and revert to our good old friends Uber. And honestly, we only spend an extra $10 for the trip there and back than we would have by taking the bus… Where have the days gone when you could take public transport for a dollar!?

Walking along the Pier in Glenelg, Adelaide while living the van life

On the plus side, Glenelg is totally worth the hassle. It is beautiful, with so many cute coffee shops and bars overlooking the beach. Wandering along the streets and jetty makes us forget the mornings problems completely.


If you ask us what our favourite thing about living the Van Life is, we would have to stop and ponder for a while. However, the forever changing scenery and the sunrises that accompany it are fighting for the position at the top. Can you tell us of a better morning than waking up, looking out your ‘bedroom’ window and seeing the glimmer of yellow peaking over the horizon? I can, when that horizon changes almost every morning.

We’ve woken to the sun glinting through rain soaked forests, shimmering over the ocean’s rocky cliff edge and lighting up the pastel coloured shores of a deserted beach – just to name a few. And the best thing about these experiences? They’re almost always enjoyed in solitude. Just Dylan, me and the start of a new day. Somehow the feeling of complete solace encompasses you and insists you slow down, just for that fleeting moment before the rest of the world wakes up and the bustle begins again.

I believe images speak louder than words can, so I’m going to leave you with some of our favourite mornings to date on our whirlwind trip around Australia.

living the van life at Thredbo Diggings Campsite, enjoying a beutiful Sunrise through the frosty trees over mountain tops
Beautiful Sunrise in the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia while living the van life
Sunrise on a mountain top deck at Falls Creek, Australia while living the van life
Beautiful sunrise at Two Peoples Bay Little Beach, Western Australia from our campervan while living the van life
Waking up to a beautiful sunrise in Lake Jindabyne while living the van life
Sunrise on the Boat with Calypso Bay Charters in Port Lincoln while living the Van life
Beautiful Sunrise on the Beach in the Bay of Fires Bicheno, Tasmania while living the van life
Sunrise yoga on the beach at Swansea Campground in Tasmania living the van life
clowdy and misty sunrise at Mount Wellington in Hobart, Tasmania while living the van life

And those moments you sleep atop a mountain in below 0 degrees for the incredible sunrise view… Not everything works out, however the stories are always memorable. What is your favourite Van Life story or sunrise? Tell us in the comments below.