Making Australian van-life home and finding peace
Nothing. Nothing is what I had, and yet ‘nothing-ness’ was what I searched for most. I had dreamed of empty space, and had decided that the land of vast open plains- Outback Australia- had to become my home.
‘Home’. My suburb was a sparkling speck on the glowing orange horizon. The window was down and my feet dangled in the humid Queensland breeze as we drove as far as we could away from everything we knew. The first few days were tormenting, traces of humans stalked us at every camp we made. From the low hum of ACDC blasting from a shitty ute across the fields in which we pitched, to ciggie stubs and XXXX cans littered on the croc riddled river bed. We needed to go further, we needed to find Australia- the land, the wilderness, and the outback.
Anxiety and frustration tangled with excitement and curiosity as the first few days flew by in a heartbeat. I had my tasks –swag set up and damper prep, as did he- fire, chairs and wood collection, and without exchanging words we worked like ants at each glorious sunset.
North-West Queensland was unlike any country I had seen before– the land was harsh and dry, the dirt was a patchwork of rich red that pierced through fields of sharp rocks and dead grass, and the sky was a dull blue haze with not a cloud in sight.
He drove in silence, simply following the highway, as I was lost in my mind daydreaming about what great discovery lay ahead. We camped in dry creek beds and at the edge of fields off the highway, constantly aware of a human presence lingering. With every dirt track, we veered off the road in the hope of driving to ‘nothing’ but were continually met with fences, closed aboriginal land and sacred grounds in which we could not cross. Where was this vast land we dreamed so much of?
As I sat, defeated, on a derelict park bench overlooking the Gulf of Queensland, I realised that my expectations had drowned my experience. It felt as if my great adventure had consistently been so far from my reach, and that whole time I had been simply chasing my exploration of a lifetime. That was it, the last straw- this was not the life I wanted yet I had nothing to go back to. Maybe it was the bottle of Chandon I was drinking, or the fact that I turned 22, but that day I let go of all control and expectations. I was already on my journey, and it was goddam magical. My great Australian van-life home is complete.