WRITTEN BY KRISTA BEAUVAIS
David was one of the men we met prior to Wodara ever being an inkling in my mind. He’s one of the people who, unbeknownst to me at the time (and still unbeknownst to him), inspired me to start this site.
This is therefore sadly amongst the amazing stories that slipped from my fingers before I realised I would end up sharing the experiences and advice of inspiring people who are out there bringing their dreams to life, proving to all of us that it can be done; we can live the life we want.
I’ll have to tell it you as I saw it. The only reason I can do this is because I wrote the whole thing down immediately in our journal. Erik was driving us to our next destination and I was sitting in the passenger seat typing this all up so I wouldn’t lose the experience in a dusty memory.
We met David on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at a small campsite on the East coast of Australia. We were on our round the world trip, which we’re still on. We had spent two nights at the free campsite on Carmila Beach in Queensland. David was already there when we arrived, his plush motorhome parked next to our little tent.
We only met David as we were packing up to leave the site. Although we had been camped beside him for all this time, this was the first we spoke. There is no reason, really, just that we’d spent most of our time inside the tent reading and hadn’t been out and about for socializing.
David approached us while we were packing up our things, readying ourselves for departure. Our tent was left sitting, deflated, on tarps while we chatted.
What’s So Special About David?
David is 95 years old! That in itself is incredibly special. But there’s more.
David is also a veteran of World War 2, with a very lucid mind and vivid memories about that time.
Not only that, but he’s been motorhoming all over Australia for 32 years – BY HIMSELF!
I kid you not. His home is a very comfortable-looking motorhome of 9 metres in length, a two-wheel drive diesel Mercedes. He has been all over the country and has no plans of stopping. It’s the second motorhome he’s had in that time and there are still things he’d like to do differently with his next purchase!
What David Looks Like
David is a short man with relatively fine features. His small but sparkling blue eyes are shadowed by bushy grey eyebrows that you can see he actively tries to keep under control. His eyes completely captivated me as they danced with his stories.
He is upright and appears of firm frame, but there is a slight weakening in his posture near his shoulders that is not nearly as bad as one would assume would befall a man of his advanced years. His white hair is thin on top, but thick and slightly unconventionally long in the back, cut in a straight line below the bottom of his ears.
He wears wide-legged, beige, shin-length trousers. On top, he wears a very thin shirt of fine plaid design over a white t-shirt that is easily seen through the thin outer fabric. He’s a casual man who instantly emanates relaxation and gentle amiability.
Experiences as WW2 Soldier
He was a corporal and told us how he’s the last one left of his unit. They were an ‘independent’ brigade, now called ‘commandos.’ He told us that this means they got deployed into places to get a job done. They had little support and didn’t really have to answer to anyone; being told to just ‘get the job done.’
They would ‘lure’ the ‘Japs,’ as he called them, out and then ‘take care of them.’ They were working in conjunction with the Americans who allied with Australia, knowing that the ‘Japs’ would ‘own’ the Pacific if they were able to take Australia, thus leaving America in a rather vulnerable position. This outcome had to be avoided at all costs.
He told us stories of guys he lost and how the war was actually good for helping him to quit smoking. He tells of one night when some of his guys stepped out of their tents to have a smoke. They were machined down. The glow of their cigarettes immediately gave away their location in the blackness of the night and their carelessness cost them their lives. He immediately banned smoking and told anyone who wanted to smoke to find another group as they weren’t going to put him or his guys at risk
He has one son who is now grown. He lives in Sydney and plays a lot of golf, much to the chagrin of David, who seems to think this is both a waste of time and money. When his son runs lows on money, he gives his dad a call.
His son’s wife is into show cats, travelling all over the country entering competitions and showing her cats. Again, David talks of how ridiculous he thinks this is, saying these cats are the reason they’ve not had any children.
How he Pays for his Life on the Road
David tells us how lucky he is to have his pension. He’s very well cared for financially as a result and he’s grateful that he needn’t worry for money. But he is also well aware that he won’t ever be able to spend it all.
I had assumed that he and his wife were travelling together, however I learn that he sadly lost his wife when his son was aged 20. He doesn’t say how and we don’t ask. Instead I ask, of course, why he’s chosen life on the road over the past 32 years. This means he would have hit the road at age 63 after retiring from service.
It doesn’t seem like he’s trying to live economically; it seems he has enough money to buy his comfort wherever he wants it. And so I wonder precisely why he’s been on the road for so long. Many retirees choose to travel around at leisure. But I’ve never before met anyone of this age doing it; they normally site health reasons for sending them back to a normal life again.
His answer is inspiring.
Why David Chooses Life on the Road
He says that, if he were living in one place, what would he do? He’d probably sit around watching television and he’d only ever know the people around him.
‘What sort of life is that?’ he asks us.
He has travelled all over this country and now knows people everywhere. His home is always with him; his bed, his belongings, his lounge, his kitchen, his toilet, and his shower. He can go where he wants and always has the comfort of his home with him.
Australia is the Perfect Country for Doing This
Erik and I understand this after travelling with Mom and Dad for quite some time in their motorhome.
And, actually, Australia is the perfect place to do this. There are plenty of free campsites and there is a book called ‘Camp 7’ (last year’s was called ‘Camp 6’) that shows where all of these free sites are; it’s the book all the locals have. With that, you can live a life on the road over here at very little cost.
Health and Other Issues?
What about health, you ask? He has doctors in various places and if he needs something done medically, he simply visits them wherever he is. His son collects his post and forwards it to him wherever he is. He has a cell phone and calls around to people as and when he needs.
David’s Simple Yet Powerful Words of Wisdom
We tell him we’re on our way to The Whitsundays to get married. He tells us:
‘You’re doing it the right way. You have lived together so you know what you’re getting into. If you just remember to give and take then you’ll be fine. That’s all there is to it: give and take.’
We reflect on this, chat a bit more, and his parting words to us are:
‘Enjoy life. It’s that simple. Enjoy life.’
He reiterated, fearful we hadn’t heard him the first time:
‘It’s important in your old age to have good memories to enjoy. Life goes by very quickly and we must always remember how important it is to ENJOY LIFE.’
Reflecting on David’s Words
It’s so true. It’s so simple. But so many of us get it all wrong. We focus too often on the wrong things and not enough on the important things.
This trip has caused us to reduce our lives dramatically. We no longer have a real bed; we have sleeping mats. We no longer have a solid ‘home.’ We have a tent. We no longer have the wonderful jet tub that Erik installed for me. Or the built-in espresso maker. Or the enormous TV. Or the full wardrobes. Or the cupboards of food.
No. We simply have the basics. We have what we can fit in our little rental car, which reduces to bags when we fly. But, let me tell you, we couldn’t be happier!
We now have time to reflect. Time to read. Time to chat about anything and everything. Time to meet new people. Time to feed the birds. Time to stare vacantly at the water. Time to ponder new ideas and explore potential future projects.
Each and every day we are happy. We don’t go to bed to the sounds of a movie, TV, or traffic outside our window. Rather, we fall asleep to the sound of trees swaying, birds singing to one another, or waves crashing beside our tent. We sleep only slightly raised above the earth and sleep within the climate of its night.
It is so easy to see why David still chooses life on the road, even after 32 years. I could too! I would just insist we upgrade to a comfortable motorhome. 🙂
KRISTA HAS ALSO SHARED
- See Krista’s profile page for the full list
- Written, formatted and edited by: Krista Beauvais
- Campsite where they met David: Carmila Beach, Queensland, Australia
- Date of meeting: Saturday, May 11, 2013
- Use the Wodara Contact Form
- Email directly at krista [at] wodara [dot] org