MONIQUE AND JASPER: @SALTYTRAVELLERS
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orca’s – 7/30/18
For the eighty forth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orca’s, we are very excited to share the story and photography of Monique, Jasper, and their furry travel buddy, Bowie. You might know them as the @saltytravellers.
I recently discovered the @saltytravellers through Instagram and I am so happy I did. There are times when social media can wear you down, but after taking a quick gaze at their gallery, I was immediately reminded that accounts like theirs are why I joined Instagram in the first place. And ultimately why I wanted to share story’s like theirs on Dirt Orca’s.
They take beautiful travel photography that distinctly highlight the adventure vehicles and the landscapes that inspire us all to travel. To spend less time day dreaming about that trip and more time taking it. To spend more time living and less time working.
The Salty Travellers also have a personal blog you can check out for more information about them and their travels.
I enjoy learning about their travels and I especially appreciate the inspiration I gain by watching them take hold of overland travel in such a personal way.
Please check out our interview below and enjoy.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
For the last 13 months we haven’t had to work on the road. We have been enjoying the freedom to explore as much as we can and make the most of our trip. We knowingly planned to have this much time off by working harder and saving extra before we left on our adventure. But like all good things, they eventually come to an end so we will be looking for work on the West Coast very soon and we’re open to just about anything!
Tell me about your vehicle. What do you call it?
We’re traveling around in our 1989 Toyota HJ75 series Troopcarrier and she’s our beautiful ‘Big Ol’ Bell’. It’s actually a bit of a weird story of how she got her name. We had only just bought her and couldn’t think of something that suited, So I randomly went on a ‘name your car website’ where all you do is type in the details (like year, model & make) and it comes up with a random name for you. Big Ol’ Bell was the first one to pop up and straight away we felt it suited her because she’s big, loud and super slow!
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
We were considering some other Toyota 4×4’s such as the 60 & 80 series however we felt the extra height and length of the Troopcarrier was more suited to our needs. Plus traveling around Australia in a troopy felt more iconic and was something that we would enjoy looking back on when we got older.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
When we first bought Big Ol’ Bell, she was something of a clean slate. Only having 160,000kms on the clock, she came with a bulbar, diff lockers, standard rhino roof racks and a custom made rear swing bar.
So far we have added the following:
Spotties & lightbar
Cage roof rack
Terrain tamer shocks
Rear bed fit out (changes from a double bed to a lounge)
Awnings (side & rear)
LED headlight conversion
Dual battery setup with C-TEK DC-DC Charger
What is your favorite part about it living/working out of your vehicle?
Our favourite part would be having the freedom to explore wherever and whenever we like with no time frame. Also, having a 4×4 allows us to access some really awesome spots and doesn’t restrict us no matter what the terrain is!
If eventually we’re able to work whilst living out of Big Ol’ Bell, then that would just be the perfect combination! Hopefully one day we’ll get there!
What is your least favorite part about it?
I think the hardest thing for us is when we’re experiencing rough weather conditions like strong winds, storms and rain. It makes it extremely difficult to cook, get dressed or hang out. If it’s raining, we usually spend most of our time hanging in the back of the troopy waiting for it to pass, which can sometimes take days… That’s when cabin fever really starts to kick in!
How many miles have you put on your vehicle?
Since we purchased Big Ol’ Bell we have done over 56,000kms. At least 50,000kms (31,000miles) of that has been from traveling around Australia!
What is the best place you have taken it? Is there just one?
There definitely is more than just one, however if we had to choose it would be crossing the Bass Straight on The spirit of Tasmania and touring the great Van Diemens Land for almost two months. If your super adventurous and haven’t been to Tasmania, we highly recommend it!
Favorite road you’ve driven?
This is a tough one, there’s so many adventurous roads around Australia. However our favourite so far would have to be The Great Beach Drive, a 325km stretch along white sandy beaches, starting from the Noosa North Shore, along the Rainbow beach stretch and all the way up to the tip of Fraser Island (Sandy Cape).
The drive offers incredible scenery of coloured sands, pretty pandanus palms, rockpools, fresh water lakes and streams plus some of the East Coasts best fishing and surfing spots!
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living from a vehicle, what would you tell them?
Preparation is key! It’s important to really think about the setup of your vehicle and make sure it suits your needs. It should be practical yet accommodating and easy to live out of, so remember less is more and don’t be afraid to make it cozy!
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those people?
To be honest, we didn’t really recognize that until we were finally on this trip. Traveling Australia has taught us to enjoy the journey no matter what happens and that sometimes you just have to let everything fall into place the way it’s supposed to. It’s amazing how much your life changes when you learn to appreciate the little things.
You have found a strong place in the community of travelers. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
We’re both very lucky to come from incredible families that support us in everything that we choose to do. They have always taught us to follow our hearts and pursue our dreams as individuals and as a couple. Our mums have always taught us about patience and how to keep an open mind while our dads have instilled strength and have always showed us how to think on our feet!
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourselves as people who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
We definitely took a leap of faith. This was something that we had always dreamed of doing and it took hard work, dedication and planning to make it happen. Selling just about everything we owned and letting go of our materialistic values to live in such a small space was a big decision for us. We had no plans other than to live free and wild for as long as we can, letting fate lead the way to new experiences.
Where do you want to go next?
At this stage, we have plans to head back down the West Coast of Australia and hope to continue travelling and see more of our amazing country. Who knows, maybe one day we can even go further and travel internationally to experience other parts of the world.