Jess and Jonny from Australia have been a happy couple for 16 years! Van life helped them find a better life balance and do more of what they love. Jonny is touring the country with his band Dusty Boots and Jess has a passion for hiking. With a few friends, they launched the popular @vanlifediaries Instagram account so we reached out to them to know more about their lifestyle and the Australian van life movement.
Can you introduce yourselves, how you’ve met and what led you to this nomadic lifestyle?
We are Jess and Jonny! We met when we were both teenagers through our love of surfing and camping. We became best friends and eventually got married. We did the fairly normal routine of full time work and annual holidays for 7 years. Over the last four years we were struggling with stress, anxiety and expectations of normal society. So we decided we wanted more out of life and to simplify work vs life balance. So we bought a van and started doing adventures on weekends and school holidays. We are both part time high school teachers.
We loved it so much that we decided over the last couple of years to live full-time in the van. Jess loves her long distance hiking and I (Jonny) am a musician that travels around Australia. We share other passions such as surfing, snowboarding, exploring new places, connecting with like minded communities and just being in nature!
The camper van culture is pretty huge in Australia, can you tell us more about it?
It’s such a growing van culture in Australia and it’s really exciting! We have an amazing coastline with beautiful little towns and isolated beaches. Then if you go inland you’ll find a lot of opportunities to camp and explore as well. There are definitely groups of people that do road trips together in their vans and love exploring roads they haven’t taken before.
The @vanlifediaries project has grown really fast! Can you tell us more about it?
It has been such an exciting movement and project. Three Australian mates (Sam, myself & Jared) got together in February 2015 and brainstormed about how to connect and interact with the international #vanlife community. We now have vanlife gatherings to connect face to face and promote positive brands and organisations to our network. We also share stories, tips ideas from fellow vanlifers around the globe.
What type of van do you have and can you tell us about the building process ?
We have a Mercedes Sprinter long wheel base high roof. We put a bed and wardrobe, pantry for a year and now we are currently working with vanlife to fit out so it is more homely and everything has it’s place so it supports our adventures and lifestyle better.
Is there anything you don’t like about #vanlife ?
The lack of space sometimes, however the outdoors is our home. Also getting laundry done and hanging out our clothes! Sometimes the small space gets a bit chaotic when Jonny is messy with all his music gear haha!
Which itinerary would you recommend to foreigners renting a camper van in Australia ?
Starting on the East Coast like Byron Bay and driving all the way around Australia for 6 months to a year would be the most amazing trip. Also getting inland to see our desert and remote areas.
Can you share with us a great beach to park the van and surf?
We love the South Coast of NSW, there are so many beach towns which are more remote. You should also look for National Parks on the coast or in the mountains, they are our favourites. And finally the bottom of Western Australia is amazing with a lot of free camping.
Follow Jess and Jonny here: