Well, today I have a real treat for you. The lovely Natasha Lowe from @vintagewardrobetas is here and she’s sharing her story about Maudie her vintage caravan. I can’t tell you how much I am loving getting to know all of these fellow vintage van/bus people. Like I said in this post about Emmy’s vintage bus dream, vintage van people seem to be really nice types.
Natasha is no exception. Her and her husband and 3 young kidlets have been travelling around Australia since March this year, enjoying getting to know their country and selling vintage clothing via etsy, markets, facebook and instagram along the way. Natasha shared the story of life travelling around with 3 young kids in a vintage caravan with me just recently and now I’m sharing it with you. It’s such a lovely story.
Over to you, Natasha….
My vintage caravan story began about 6 years ago now with my beautiful 10 foot 1964 crusader. It popped up on gumtree in Tasmania close to where I live. It was so cute and unlike any vintage van I had ever seen, so on impulse I jumped at the chance to have it.
In those last 6 years our family grew from 2 to 5 and the 10 foot vintage van got minimal use because we could no longer fit in it! So as sad as it was, in December last year, I sold it on but I was determined to purchase something unique and something I loved just as much to replace it.
My partner, Simon and I always planned to travel with our kids. Simon’s work contract finished up and I still had extended leave from having the kids so we took the opportunity while we could. A health scare for Simon gave us a different view on our existence and a carefree attitude, we became focused on quality family time.
We had about 3 months to plan our trip and to buy a new van.
Buying a new van was not easy. I obsessed over gumtree every day without any luck. We looked at 2 vans in Tassie that were clearly, on inspection, unsafe for a road trip. Through social media I found a small business called BBs Boutique Vintage Caravans in Adelaide. BBs revamp vintage caravans as a service as well as buying and selling on. Most of their vans are in exceptional condition ready for a lick of paint and new tyres but this one was not. He sent me a pic of this van, the 15 foot 1962 Carapark Astronaut. From my knowledge Caraparks are a South Australian made van, better know for the shiny square “toaster” vans. It had been left in an overgrown paddock, in a sad and sorry state. Corrugated iron and laser light covered the missing windows.
I like the idea that something can be given a new life, a new story. As I do with the vintage clothes I sell, I wondered Who purchased this brand new? What did they buy if for? Where did they live? What was their first impression that made them buy it? How excited did they feel buying this?
From the photos, I liked the silver aluminium on the outside and the shape of the van. Originally it was just silver with a thick blue stripe. It had a real “rockabilly” style about it with angled windows. It had a door at the back which was not common. The interior pics looked more like a fishing shed than a van. Inside, 2 single beds in an L configuration at the back with the kitchen dining area at the front. It sounds so spacious doesn’t it? Ha ha. The set out of the 2 single beds allowed for them to be converted into 1 double and a set of bunks. After a mechanical and safety inspection in December last year, without actually seeing the van, we purchased it.
We gave no input into the revamping of this van, only that ‘Maudie’, a family name, would be suited. BB’s sent me a few picture here and there just to fill me in on how things were going with Maudie’s revamp. With anticipation and fear I waited, hoping that I had made the right decision. After all this was going to become our home for the next 6 months!
While we waited for Maudie’s revamp to be completed we organised tenants to move into our actual home in Tassie and had arranged for all of our beloved animals to be farmed out to family and friends. This was a big deal for our family, Simon and myself, Daisy 6, Elliott almost 4, Solomon 1!
On New Years Day we collected our beloved Maudie. She was silver aluminium, pink and black. Inside she was white with multicolored pastel cupboard doors, eclectic knobs and handles and new dark grey upholstery. My 6 year old was pretty happy about having a pink van….. I was not as impressed! We spent a few days frantically tweaking the set up, making this tiny space look and feel like our home. I built a cot on one of the kitchen bench seats for the baby and we replaced the double bed foam mattress with our innerspring. . We packed the essentials, left behind what didn’t fit, and the kids adorned their bunks with their special things. This tiny space now resembled our home, only a compact version. On Jan 4th we drove off our 5 acre property on Tasmania’s East coast, our family home. Looking back now, what seemed to us as normal, others perceived (and still do) as unique, gutsy and a little bit crazy. 3 kids, vintage caravan and an old car!
We have been living in Maudie the vintage van ever since. We stayed in Tassie while Simon finished his busy summer band commitments and hit the big Island early March. Our adventure has taken us through Victoria, South Australia, up the centre to NT and across to the East Coast. We are currently descending our slow trip down the East Coast and will arrive back home in July. As we travel we are planning our next trip. Apart from seeing our amazing country, we have met some wonderful new friends and caught up with some dear dear lifelong friends. We are blessed to be collecting memories and great people into our lives as we travel.
When it comes to adjusting to limited space, we all have our moments.
Simon does most of the cooking and cooks outside of the van. The kids have learned to respect each other in this confined space and are able to go to bed at night without waking each other. We do however all wake quite early thanks to Solomon the now 17 month old!
Our van has an annex which gives us a whole separate space, it is frequently transformed into a games room, lego pit and theatre. We have been blessed with great weather and haven’t spent too many long days cooped up inside. The kids and I op shop to buy books and games to keep us entertained. We have a “one in one out” rule as to not accumulate too much stuff. A healthy ritual of decluttering is an important part of van living.
Maudie the vintage van is our mobile home for now. She is also my market space for my little home business “Vintage wardrobe”.
I like things to be unique and different. Not to make a statement but rather because I’m not a fan of following the herd, I cant stand mass production and the waste that comes with it.
I have an arts background so I’ve always searched op shops and tip shops for materials for art projects. This evolved into appreciating and collecting vintage, heritage and antique stuff. I love the quality of materials and techniques and quality of such objects.
Having 3 small children, the vintage wardrobe is my creative outlet. I hunt, pick and gather new stock from op shops and tip shops. I creatively photograph the items, hand print my labels and price tags using authentic vintage letter stamps and hand made stencils. The vintage stock is loaded into Maudie and I am selling on the road. I look forward to joining the vintage markets in Lismore in a few weeks. If you see the pink van feel free to flag me down. I’m always up for markets, vintage parties and dress ups!
I find it interesting speaking to people as we travel, everyone is drawn to the pink van. We really stand out in a caravan park. The majority of van travellers are retired, or are young foreigners. Only a tiny percentage are people like us taking time out with their family.
I met a beautiful old man staying next to us in Adelaide. He was taken by the van and couldn’t help but touch it and inspect it closely. He proceeded to reminisce about his “Carapark Astronaut” that he purchased from the factory in 63! It was identical to Maudie! He could even tell me about selecting the upholstery colours and furnishings for his van all those years ago. A fantastic story and lovely nostalgic moment for him.
Recently in Alice Springs I was approached by an older traveller from Hobart who was so excited to tell me that he had seen our van in Huonville Tasmania in January this year!
Because the population of caravan parks are predominantly over 60’s, our children are adored by a lot of grey nomads missing their own grand children. We are told how brave we are for traveling with kids in such a small van, and we are commended for doing so most days. Back in Adelaide I was going through this common conversation with a fellow while holding my 1 year old. When I mentioned that I had two more children he literally gasped and smacked himself in the face with disbelief!
If we were at home things wouldn’t be that much different would they? Not every day is perfect and some days do require a lot of energy, but that is the life with children no matter where you are. For now, for us……… “home is where you park it.”
The best thing about travelling in a vintage van is the simplicity. Old vans are basic and simple. Maudie has good bones, her frame is steel. She tows amazingly well at only 850-kg tare weight. Mechanically she is great so there is not a lot that can go wrong really. Vintage van living is simple living. Stripping back to basics, making do with what you have and travelling slowly. I have huge respect for our caravan. To date she has travelled over 10000 kms, kept my babies safe, warm and dry. I do miss my pets and my garden. I miss having a fence so I know where the 1 year old is at all times!
All van life is about living in the moment and being present. I’m literally watching the kids grow and change before my eyes. It’s remarkable. Vintage van, tent, car, camper….I would recommend to anyone to travel!
Thanks so, so much, Natasha. What a pleasure to have you here on Feather & Nest sharing your beautiful story and how inspiring you and your family are. I love hearing about families living more simply and connecting in the way you guys have. The childhood memories that you are making for your kids are priceless. What a beautiful tapestry of life they are journeying through. Oh dear, though, it has not helped my itchy feet. They are becoming red raw from all the scratching!
I hope you all enjoyed Natasha’s story about life with Maudie the vintage caravan. Maybe Natasha might come back and share some more of her adventures one day? That would definitely be lovely.