Much to my surprise, I have found many women travelling alone on the roads of Australia. Some have no homes and are on the move full-time; others do regular trips to catch up with family and friends. Some travel with their friends and some leave their spouses behind, and enjoy the great outback of Australia.
In 2016 when considering travelling alone in a campervan I discovered Rolling Solo Australia, a group of over 6000 members who tour around Australia in cars, motorhomes, caravans, and tents, and enjoy meeting up with other members.
My first outing with them was to a beautiful campsite near Chinchilla in Queensland. Soon after, an event was organised for August 2017, at the Ross River Resort just out of Alice Springs. On my bucket list was a visit Uluru, formerly called Ayers Rock, so I bought an old Toyota Coaster which was fitted out for camping and set off on an epic journey at the beginning of that month.
The return journey was 7500 kms. From Brisbane, I travelled west to Morven and up the highway to Mt Isa, across the Barkly Highway, down the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs and later down to Uluru. It was a huge adventure, staying in my van in caravan parks and learning about Free Camping, where you park your van for the night in a spot with no facilities, for free!
Members of Rolling Solo came from all parts of Australia and there were 490 of us at the campsite at Ross River! Can you imagine so many women camping together? We had events and workshops, and opportunities to travel in and around Alice Springs and the West MacDonnell Ranges. We also created a Guinness World Record with over 1800 camp chairs along the highway! It was five days of fun, adventure and friendship, before we all set off on our respective ways!
My adventure was not without challenges. For the most part I drove the ancient manual vehicle alone without the benefit of radio, as the old engine was so loud I worried it would damage my hearing – and I could not hear the radio anyway. Murtle the Turtle, as the van is called, certainly lived up to her name. She’s not the fastest van on the highway; she rarely let me drive more than 80 kms an hour.
The trip to Alice Springs was relatively uneventful, but after arriving, Murtle gave me some grief. Some days she just would not start. Another day she lost all her water and oil. I still don’t have an explanation for that!
I serendipitously met the most amazing diesel mechanics along the way. Who would have thought that the cook at the oldest hotel in the Northern Territory was also a diesel mechanic? Or that the man who camped near my van with his family in the Barkly Homestead camping ground was a diesel mechanic in the mines in central Queensland? Without these men, and other helpers along the way, I would have been stuck in the outback with an expensive repair bill looming.
I managed to visit the Lark Quarry out of Winton, and the Age of Dinosaurs Museum, to explore the amazing relics of these ancient monsters from thousands of years ago. I attended the famous chicken races at the North Gregory Hotel, where Banjo Patterson recited his poetry each night. At least it looked like him!
So many places of historical significance are located along the highway. I even had to stop at the Teddy’s Crossing at Tambo and camped beside the Barcoo River, which looked more like a pond. They so desperately needed rain out there!
I have ticked so much off my bucket list as I have travelled alone. I have been to Uluru and I rode my bike around much of it. I’ve visited the Olgas and the Devils Marbles and taken so many photos that my camera begged for a rest.
Another women’s groups which encourages their members to travel independently is 5W (Women Welcome Women World Wide), an international friendship organisation that connects women who travel. There are over 2000 members in 72 countries around the world, and members share their information and arrange to meet with other members, or stay with them. I enjoyed an Irish member’s hospitality in that country in 2015.
That group also holds ‘gatherings’ around the world, and in Australia there are members in every state, with Queensland having a large membership. Brisbane members meet every two months for lunch at Women’s College at Queensland University, and there are coffee and chat groups, or book clubs where members get together. Most of the conversations are about travelling!
So, if you want to travel and you want to do it alone, hook up with these groups or other similar ones. You’ll be surprised what fun you have as you travel and meet others who enjoy hitting the road too.
Where will my next adventure take me?