Fancy travelling Queensland solo for two months - while towing a caravan? Sydney woman Melissa J Scott did just that; travelling from the red centre in Birdsville to the Gulf of Carpentaria, across to the east coast and all the way up to Cape York. Here, she shares her adventures with Lifestyle News.
Q: Why did you decide to travel on your own for two months?
A: I have been camping all of my adult life, in particular with my late husband and kids. My husband passed away unexpectedly seven years ago, and I thought that all of my camping days were over.
I had a few different partners that all said they enjoyed camping, but when it came down to it, nobody was interested!
So when another relationship ended earlier this year, I took the ball by the horns and locked myself into going to the Big Red Bash in Birdsville, and other adventures which might come my way - turning into a two month journey around Queensland.
Q: Was it hard to tow and set up a caravan on your own?
A: Yes! And no! It really just comes down to mindset and having a caravan that you can handle and that isn’t too big for you.
It’s like anything that is new, you just need to learn the new skills to go along with it. Having said that, I can’t reverse a trailer to save my life!
The next time I take it away, I will learn how to do that better. As far as towing goes, that’s really a piece of cake if you just do the basics right.
I can’t emphasise enough that if your desire to travel and see Australia is real, then you won’t let a simple thing like telling a caravan intimidate you and stop you from living your dreams.
Q: What were the highlights of your trip?
A: Definitely being in convoy with the MDC owners group, which is a group of people that I know from Facebook.
As a solo female traveller I did feel safe when I travelled out to Birdsville in convoy with the group. I made friends with a couple from that group, and met up with them a month later and did Cape York in convoy.
So for me, definitely the people that you meet along the way and this shared experiences that you have. I feel closer to some of the people that I met in two weeks then people that I’ve known back home for 20 years.
When you’re all camping together and spending so much concentrated time in the one space, you really do get to know and rely on each other.
And aside from all of the beautiful scenery that I got to enjoy in the Outback, Big Red in the Simpson Desert, Karumba in the golf country, driving along the Savannah Way and coming across a herd of 1000 Brahman cattle.
The wonders of the Daintree, the remoteness of Cape York, the nightlife of Port Douglas … for me it’s all about the people that you meet along the way and the friendships forged.
Q: Were you ever lonely?
A: Not as much as you would think to be honest. In total I did about five weeks completely on my own, and a lot of the time I was out of mobile range because the coverage is so poor in the outback.
However, there is always somebody that you can talk to and connect with when you put yourself out there! One of the best conversations I had was with a fellow traveller who was staying next to me at a campground on somebody’s property near 1770.
It was surprising and comforting to see just how many more people you actually meet when you travel solo. So in actual fact, I was never really lonely.
Q: Would you do this again?
A: Absolutely. I hope that I can do solo trips like this every year for the rest of my life! I enjoyed it so much that I’m actually relocating from my hometown of Sydney, up to the Gold Coast, because I have taken regular work with MDC Campers and Offroad Caravans. That is how much I enjoyed this trip!
Q: Is there any advice you have for women thinking of doing the same thing?
A: Just do it. There’s so much information available to you through YouTube, that you will always find somebody that will inspire you, educate you, and give you the confidence to try this solo holiday thing for yourself.
If you’re interested in a trip like mine, there are a heap of videos that I made on the MDC campers YouTube page. But honestly, you will find so much information that is relevant to you, you just have to lose the idea that it’s unsafe to do things alone, and learn how to be safety conscious.
There are plenty of Facebook groups that you can join that have other solo travellers in them, just exercise normal common sense around your security in these.
Probably the best advice is that if you do purchase a caravan, or a camper from a company, to enquire and see if they have a camping group that also goes out.
For ladies, there is a wonderful online community called Rolling Solo that organises so many events for female solo travellers.
There really is no excuse, just arm yourself a little bit of education and you will feel far more confident about getting out there and just doing your own thing.
Q: What are your top tips?
A: I rarely posted on social media in real time. I would say where I was after I had left, and rarely mentioned where I was heading to, until I was leaving.
I usually stayed in caravan parks when I was on my own because the security in them is better than free camping.
It’s not to say free camping is dangerous, and I did that the whole time we were in convoy and we never had any problems, it’s just when I was on my own I did feel safer when I knew there was a caretaker on the property and I slept like a baby every night.
People will really notice that you are travelling on your own, and will bring it up quite frequently, and sometimes this really disarmed me because it made me feel vulnerable when I was in remote places.
A handful of times I actually would say to people that I just popped into town from our free camp, and I was headed back out to my group.
As much as I like to fly the flag for the solo traveller, I was always really conscious of just being smart. My last tip is do not listen to people and their fear around doing a trip like this solo. There are women, and men all over this country camping solo. If you exercise a normal common sense, you will be fine.
I ran my business the whole time that I was away for two months. I have a small marketing and branding agency, and with the help of a mobile Starlink, I was able to travel and earn income at the same time.! I know there are a lot of people travelling around this country doing something similar.
You can find out more about Melissa here.