Living out a life we would all envy, Pete and Di Browne, originally from Cromer on the northern beaches of Sydney, have spent the last year living on the road in their Vista Crossover XL, enjoying as much of Australia as they can cram in while staying clear of rushing from place to place.
Di is fifth generation Australian while Pete is a more recent addition to our population, calling Ireland his homeland.
In Ireland the Browne’s had a small yacht in which they’d sail across to Scotland, visiting the many small islands and fishing ports and so, in a sense, they’d been camping for close to 40 years. They began their camping in Australia about 10 years ago, then moved to hiring softfloor and hardfloor campers before finally purchasing a second-hand Kimberley hardfloor. They enjoyed many remote trips with it but in the end it was the canvas that drove them to look for something that was easier to manage. After being badgered by a grumpy and pushy salesman trying to sell them a time-share unit on the basis that they needed to think of their future and their retirement with better and easier accommodation, the Brownes agreed and went looking for a suitable hybrid camper. They’d purchased a third-hand Vista within three weeks.
They had been planning their round-Australia jaunt for some time, but it was nearly all derailed two years ago when their recently purchased Vista broke a stub axle while touring in central Queensland. The incident drove the wheel up into the side bodywork, causing enough damage to write the camper off.
However, the Brownes had come to so enjoy life in the Vista and they received so much assistance from the factory while negotiating the issues of insurance and possible repair that they bit the bullet and bought a brand new Crossover XL. They haven’t regretted a minute of it and are still madly in love with their home on the road.
After only a couple of weeks of short shake-down trips at the end of 2017 they hit the road, heading first to Tasmania for 10 weeks and then off across to WA, up around the Kimberley, across through the Territory and over to the Atherton region of far north Queensland, then back down the centre to South Australia, then back up to Sydney to touch base with family over Christmas before heading off for at least another six months.
“The trip has been everything we dreamed it would be, and some more,” says Di. “We did some wonderful trips along the way, like the Horizontal Falls, and plane rides over Lake Argyle and the Bungle Bungles, and then we went back into the Bungles Bungles by road and camped there, and camped on the beach at Cape Leveque. It’s just been a wonderful time.”
Somewhere ahead they have to figure out whether they stay on the road, sell their house in Sydney and move to somewhere else, or give the travelling bug a pass for a while and stay on in Sydney. “I’ll be ready to settle down for a bit,” said Di, “but I’m sure Pete would go on for another two years.”