Ever dreamed of travelling the great southern land in a beat-up Kombi?
Austinmer locals Meredith Schofield and husband Sean Brokenshire did just that, packing their lives (and their rescue pup Bandit) into their 1975 yellow bus and simply hitting the road for nearly four months.
More than three years later, thousands have read about the couple's journey in Ms Schofield's best-selling guide-book-cum-memoir Around Australia at 80ks, following the highs and lows of life on the open road.
From swimming with whales in Western Australia to crossing the Nullarbor plain, they covered the sunburnt country from tip to tail in four months, and said the variety of what it had to offer continually surprised them.
"You think you know Australia, but as soon as you get into South Australia or the Northern Territory and head west, its a whole other world," Mr Brokenshire said.
Ms Schofield, a photographer and photography teacher at Wollongong TAFE, said turning the trip into a book never crossed her mind when they set off in 2019, but when COVID struck and Ms Schofield lost work, the idea sprung to life.
"I thought 'OK, I have all these photos from around Australia, I have this awesome story about the three of us - maybe I'll just write a story," she said.
Around Australia at 80ks came out during lockdown when millions of Australians were missing the freedom of travel, and Ms Schofield said the book's instant popularity was tied to this craving for escapism - even through the pages of a book.
When restrictions lifted and people set out on trips around Australia, Ms Schofield began receiving messages from readers following in her footsteps, and bringing their pets along for the ride.
"People started contacting us saying I never thought I'd take my dog with me," she said.
Now back in Austinmer, the pair's travel plans are brewing, and they're yet again tied to an old Volkswagon - a little 1972 Beetle called Ziggy.
"We rebuilt his engine about five years ago - Sean had to learn how to weld," Ms Schofield said.
"We're hoping he's going to be our next journey - travelling around NSW in a beetle."
Despite travelling far and wide in their yellow Kombi van and seeing so much that Australia has to offer, the road home was still one if the most beautiful, they said.
"Australia is so amazing and so beautiful, but there's nothing quite like coming down Bulli Pass and looking out across the Coal Coast," Ms Schofield said.
We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on the Illawarra Mercury website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. Sign up for a subscription here.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.