15 months after we first began to think about travelling Australia in a caravan, the day finally arrived, and after making the short trip north from Wilston to Burpengary, we’ve picked up our brand-new Rembrandt Nightwatch caravan. And what a journey it’s been, with a few little hiccups along the way, our adventure has now begun. Our first thoughts? We absolutely love it! It’s all a bit much to take in at the moment, and what we’ve done, and what we’re doing, is far from having sunk in, although when it does, hopefully we’re met with the realisation that we’re embarking on and something unforgettable. There were, of course, things that didn’t go quite to plan, and we’re far from happy with parts of the process and the handover, but now’s the time to be talking up the good things—the things that, at first glance, we love and are excited about.
The first thing we noticed was, it’s big—it’s a 21.6-foot van so, whilst not really a huge van, at 21.6 with an extended drawbar, it makes for a decent sized box to be pulling around. We reckon it looks awesome, and whilst the dark colour choice is probably going to draw in the heat, it really does look great. The splattering of red colour, whilst not our number one choice, looks good too—we thought teal would look good, and having since seen pics, can confirm it does, but with being a dark van, we considered that the red on the van might help it stand out a bit more when on the road, not for aesthetics but more of a road safety thing. That seems a bit of a stretch now that I’m writing that thought down, but we’ll be spending a lot of time on the road and perhaps a bit more visibility is important. You could argue, that being the case, that we should have gone with a white van, but this is our home and the personal choice of aesthetics plays a part.
We opted for a composting toilet rather than a cassette—not being an option at the factory, we requested the standard cassette toilet, along with the external hatch for the cassette, not be put into the van, and had the van supplier install the toilet we’d purchased ourselves. There are a few things there that we’re unimpressed with, but I should say that these seem to be at the fault of the supplier, rather than the manufacturer. We’ll talk about whether a composting toilet was a good choice for us sometime down the track, but I’m sure there are a pros and cons to either choice anyway. And so, I was going to bang on about all the things we love about this van, but it’s been all of 2 minutes and, being new to caravanning, we have nothing to compare against, and it’s fair to say that we’re absolutely buzzing, and that everything seems awesome right now— a review of what we like and dislike might have to wait until we have half a clue as to what we’re talking about. Our handover was a whirlwind of information and, to be completely honest, left a lot to be desired, and so before we knew it, it was time to hit the road, albeit with a fair degree of hesitation due to the fact that we’ve never towed a van before. Alicia and I are nervous, for both similar and different reasons—we’re both a little nervy about this final step to a new beginning, meanwhile I’m also a little edgy about the thought of pulling out of the driveway with up to 3.5tn trailing behind.
And with that, we drove off toward the sunset, quite literally—first stop, south-west to Lawnton showgrounds. We’re towing with a GCM upgraded 2016 Ford Ranger and, I have to say, once it got up to speed the van was barely noticeable, even with full water, gas, and fuel tank. All the same, for most of the drive I couldn’t help but think about the fact that, very soon, I’d have to be trying to reverse and park this thing. It turns out we had nothing to worry about, this time. With plenty of space at the showgrounds all we needed to do was swing around, straighten up, and reverse in a straight line—well, it was semi-straight, but not bad for our first time.
There we have it, day one pretty much done and dusted, and we’re now left with this weird, surreal feeling while we try to wrap our heads around the fact that this is our life now. I suspect it will take some time, but that is definitely something we have plenty of, right now. As for welcoming a new-born into the World, along with Alina, well that’s something else, and an entirely different challenge.