After many hours of research and dragging the kids around saleyards & camping shows, we decided that the van for us was an Expanda. Obviously there are many things to consider when buying a caravan (budget, weight, bathroom/no bathroom, tow vehicle, sleeping arrangements etc etc) and believe us we went round and round in circles trying to make a decision. Eventually our much coveted 18.57-7 popped up for sale on good old Gumtree and everything fell in to place.
The van belonged to a gorgeous family with 4 children who had just returned from a 9 month Australian Odyssey. They had loved their trip and their enthusiasm was infectious. We couldn’t wait to hitch it up and take it home. It was heartbreaking, however, to see their youngest son cry to see someone wanting to take the only real home he could remember away. All 4 kids were taken inside the house as we drove off and I still wonder what happened when they finally discovered the awful truth.
Funnily enough when we got the van (fondly known as Stan, or if trying to impress, Stanley!) home, our kids of course wanted to sleep in it. They lasted a grand total of 10 minutes outside before they ran inside screaming because of all the scary noises they could hear. Not a good start!
Our first trip away was 3 hours South to Busselton. A familiar destination we had been visiting most years, although now we were really flash having upgraded from our tent. It is entirely possible that we had the smallest caravan bay in the park – nay, the universe! It was a steep learning curve for us to work together as a team to get the bloody thing reversed in just right. I will leave it to you to decide who got the hottest under their collar!
We all had a great time, however were quick to realise that washing for 5 people in caravan parks was going to be very expensive. Hence our first mod to the van:
Ta Da! Our very own fully installed washing machine. Isn’t it great? Hopefully this will help stretch our budget a little further on our travels.
Our next trip away was to Toodyay, approx 45 minutes East. A good time was had once again, the van towed beautifully and this time it was a drive through site, AWESOME!! Toodyay had some weeks previously experienced some devastating bush fires and tourism had dropped, which is partly why we decided to go there – we wanted to try to boost numbers a little. We even took our niece along! While we were there the temps hit 45 degrees! It was so dry, dusty and bloody hot – luckily there was a pool and ice cream. Not to mention it gave us a chance to test out the air con. Stan didn’t let us down – it was beautiful and cool inside. I even had to get up and turn it off overnight. I am sure this is going to come in handy more than a few times.
When cooking in the van we noticed a few oil stains on the splashback which wouldn’t budge when washed. This preempted the next modifications to Stan:
A stainless steel splashback! We think it will make things much easier to clean and also like the look. It certainly gave the Stan a fresh modern feel. This has been helped by the horizontal blinds we put in at the same time. They are less bulky than the curtains and pelmets already there.
The kids will be sharing the queensize bed with Paul and I down the other end – although musical beds is likely! I dusted off the sewing machine and have made some curtain type dividers, so the kids all have their own space. It’s a bit hard to describe so I will post photos when I have taken some. Another bed can be made by converting the table if need be.
Stan also has a slide out lounge which makes a bit more room inside and will allow us to spread out as we tackle schooling. I figured trying to do schoolwork outside might be a little distracting – I’ll let you know how that goes.
An annex came with the caravan, which is great. We used it for our week in Busselton although are less likely to set it up for shorter stays. It is quite heavy and I have read of some people dragging their annexes around inside the van, adding quite a bit of weight but hardly ever using it. In two minds about whether to take it or not. Suggestions?
There is also a bathroom in the van with shower & toilet. The kids are already practising taking short showers in readiness for water conservation and Paul has the dubious honour of being the one to take the walk of shame (empty the toilet cassette)!
Paul came across an unused whiteboard somewhere (I don’t ask too many questions) and he cut it to size to fit the front panel of the fridge. It is also magnetic and should come in handy. The kids love drawing on it and it might even keep them quiet for the odd 30 seconds here and there!
Here are some more photos: