(03) 9357 8914

How prepping paid off for ‘literally everything’ paid off for Down Under Wanderers

The moment Jack Cherry and Shenee Botha decided they were going to do a lap of Australia in a caravan was the moment they started prepping.

And boy did they prep. It took them just a year to save enough and in that time they learned A LOT about life on the road.

The couple were so excited about their adventure they put all their free time into researching, planning the trip of a lifetime and “saving like crazy”.

“We researched literally everything – what we needed to go in the car, what kind of van, the layout, we looked at storage hacks, what to pack, places to go… Every night we’d be watching YouTube videos,” Shenee, 29, said.

“It was so motivating and we were excited. It helped us get through the year of saving.”

Shenee said she and Jack, 33, who were based in Perth, didn’t want to wait until they reached retirement age to be Grey Nomads.

“We wanted to get out and explore while we are young; we want to enjoy the everyday, get out and explore and see amazing places,” she said.

Jack and Shenee are on the trip of a lifetime. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers

They were inspired to finally take the leap by friends who had returned from completing their own lap during a New Year’s Eve camping trip.

“Talking to them and hearing about their experience made us want to do it even more,” Shenee said.

“We went back to work for the new year and that first day back we both said to each other, ‘let’s do it!’ We both love the outdoors and Australia is such a beautiful place. We are so lucky to live here and wanted to go see more.”

Once they’d settled on what they wanted in a van, armed with their list of non-negotiables, they visited “every caravan dealer” in Perth. Eventually, they settled on a NextGen van. Jack already owned a Landcruiser, so he had it kitted out with new suspension for going off-grid.

After a couple of practice trips, going away for weekends at a time not too far from their home base in Perth, Shenee and Jack set out on their grand adventure in November last year.

“It’s unreal, we tow our home around to some of the most incredible places,” Shenee said of living in the van full-time.

“It’s so comfortable and really is our home on wheels. It’s not different to any other house really, it’s just smaller, we have everything we need. We have an ever-changing garden and new views out of the windows. It’s always exciting knowing we are going to a new place.”

Jack and Shenee watching the sun rise at Bluff Knoll Peak in the Stirling Ranges National Park. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers


NextGen Caravans ticked all their boxes when it came to deciding what was best for their new home on wheels.

Jack and Shenee decided to go with a NextGen van, which they tow with their Landcruiser. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers

Jack and Shenee looked at every brand before settling on their van, which they bought from WA Caravans and Boats. They wanted a double axle and cruise master independent suspension, as well as heaps of storage, a kitchen that allowed them to enjoy cooking, a separate toilet and shower, all the features they needed to stay off-grid and an off-road van made in Australia.

“We had been looking at slightly smaller vans (18ft) but when we walked into our van, we knew straight away this design was perfect for us. Even though it’s just the two of us, having the 20ft is awesome, having a bit of extra space since we are living in it full time and plan to be for the next few years,” Shenee said.

“The build times were good, especially when it came to other brands and the staff and salesperson we dealt with at WA Caravans and Boats were so informative and helpful. And we love our hot water unit. Hot showers every night!”

She said they both liked that it was like a “modern apartment on wheels” and that it took them wherever they wanted to go, allowing them to have “the whole of Australia as our back garden”. 

Jack and Shenee pick up their NextGen caravan from WA Caravans and Boats.


Jack and Shenee aren’t the only ones living life to the fullest – so too are their precious pooches Kida, a six-year-old labrador-kelpie cross and Tilly, an eight-year-old English staffy.

“We wouldn’t have it any other way. We wouldn’t have gone without them, and we wouldn’t let them stop us from travelling Australia,” Shenee said.

“There are a few things we miss out on with national parks, but we can organise pet sitters if there is something we really want to do for the day that the dogs can’t go to.”

Shenee said their companions absolutely loved their new life.

“Every day they have an awesome adventure, there’s been so many beach trips and we get to spend so much time with them. It’s not like when we were back at work and would have to leave them for 10 hours a day; I feel like we are giving them the best life possible.”

There’s so many places to explore in Australia. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers

As for work, when they left on their trip, the company Shenee worked for gave her the option to subcontract, so she works about eight to 10 hours a week.

“I don’t have locked in hours. If we’ve got nice weather, we’ll do something or if it’s rainy I’ll sit and do some work. It’s not a lot but it’s enough to pay for diesel or food if we’re stopping somewhere nice,” she said.

Jack, a bricklayer by trade, said he’d like to eventually work on a farm for a time.

“I’m not scared of finding work and if we find a country town, we might just stay there for a time and explore,” he said.

And explore they do. The couple said they liked to spend their time taking the dogs for walks along the beach, exploring new places, hiking up trails, fishing, and four-wheel-driving. They also liked to speak to locals (usually getting some good tips on places to visit) and meeting other travellers and finding out where they’d been.

Driving off-road is a great experience. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers


As for the plan – well, there is no plan. Shenee said they didn’t like to plan too much in advance and just see where the moment took them.

“Australia is so beautiful and we’re so lucky to live here. I’ve been to Europe a few times and it’s awesome, but we thought why not explore our own country? We really are so lucky here,” she said.

She said the couple liked to travel slowly, not rushing. Spending plenty of time in a place before moving on. They said they didn’t like to put any time limit on where they were visiting and didn’t want to spend massive amounts of time driving.

“It’s taken us two-and-a-half months just to go from Perth to Esperance and there is still so much more you could do and see in the region,” she said.

Experiencing some amazing views at Kalbarri National Park. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers

“We haven’t even left WA yet, it’s so different from like two hours apart. It’s crazy, one of my favourites was Karijini, we went there in September on a practice trip. We did the gorges early in the morning and had all of Dales Gorge and Fern Pool to ourselves! Then you drive from Karijini to Exmouth and have crystal clear water and great fishing. We saw whales every day. It was unreal, it was like a different planet.”

For that trip, the couple visited Karijini National Park and drove to Exmouth, making their way back down the Coral Coast and Ningaloo before returning home to Perth.

What an incredible shot of Karijini National Park. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers

They also spent five weeks in the Margaret River region, from Busselton to Augusta and took two months to see Pemberton, Walpole, Denmark, Albany and to Esperance, where they are now.

Another memorable part of their journey was taking their caravan onto the beach for the first time at 14 Mile Beach (“You have the most pristine beach as your back garden”) and hiking Bluff Knoll for sunrise.

Western Australian beaches are unbeatable. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers
The couple’s dogs Kida and Tilly love days at the beach. PHOTO: Down Under Wanderers

Jack said they loved exploring unexpected places that weren’t that well known which turn out to be amazing – like Monkey Rock in Denmark, for example.

They think they’ll cross the Nullarbor into South Australia next, then maybe head up through the Northern Territory.

“But who knows! We don’t want to miss the stuff in the middle, our lap might be a bit squiggly,” she said.

Jack and Shenee are documenting their journey on their social media channels. You can see more photos and videos of their adventure via their Instagram page, The Down Under Wanderers.