Owner and cat travel around Australia in a Campervan.(QP)

Over 8 years ago, I left my old life in Hobart, Tasmania to travel around Australia with my cat, Willow, in a camper van we built. Since then, we’ve visited every state and covered countless kilometers in our adventure story, but it wasn’t until I met Steph in Perth in 2016 that I could begin to call my life entirety.

In 2015, I gave up a promising career in IT and sold my house and all my belongings to embark on the journey of a lifetime. I was depressed and could see my mental health decline, so I knew I had to change, and what I came up with was to put my life in a camper van and travel for a while. .

It was months of research and organization before I was ready to hit the road. I like to call it the best-planned midlife crisis in the world. The only problem was that I promised to take care of Willow. It felt crazy, but I knew I had to take her with me. I have no regrets about making that choice as I look back on our memorable journey together and our friendship. It was great to see Willow bouncing on the road, to see her rolling in the desert sands, to see her enjoy the experience as much as I did. Willow keep me away.

It took months of research and organization before we were ready to hit the road

That was over 8 years ago and although we were hired for a short time, we were mostly out exploring the wilds of Australia. We saw the Great Barrier Reef, the tropical savannahs of northern Australia, the wildflowers of Western Australia, and many forests in between.

I’m not sure what I was looking for when we started hitting the road all these years ago but things started to make sense when I met Steph in 2016, although Willow wasn’t so sure at first. Steph is on a working holiday visa from the UK and although our path has not been determined, I have invited her to travel with Willow and I for a few months.

The rest is history with us soon falling in love. However, our future remained undecided until a full moon evening in Rainbow Beach, Queensland three years after I asked the question. Not the usual do-it-yourselfers, we got married on paddleboards standing among water lilies on a Brisbane reservoir. My heart stopped at the thought that if I hadn’t married Willow, I wouldn’t have continued to travel, which means I would never have met Steph.

We’re back in Hobart, and I guess people are expecting us to settle down, but we have bigger plans. I found work at a local cat shelter, which happened to be the same shelter Willow had been adopted from years ago. I helped them with marketing and fundraising activities that involved a bit of my IT knowledge. It was an “aha” moment when I realized that a career isn’t necessarily what I thought it would be. I realized that I could use those skills to help animal welfare organizations around the country.

For a while I was working at a local cat shelter, which happened to be the same shelter Willow adopted years ago.

Now the three of us are inseparable and have left Hobart on a new adventure around Australia in our tiny home on wheels. Like anything, living in a such a small space together requires a lot of trust and communication, and that goes for Willow too. We have to be in tune with how Willow’s feeling to make sure all her needs are met. Inside our campervan, Willow has a vented litter box, access to her food and water, and of course a stockpile of cat treats at the ready. Willow has a choice of nap spots to choose from throughout the day, but at night she can be found snuggling up on either my or Steph’s legs.

As an introvert myself, Willow has helped me connect to the world around me. I have made lifelong friends that I would never have met if it wasn’t for her. We have met up with lots of traveling cats along our journey and those friendships with their humans have developed because we have that common ground. Willow and I are very similar in that we need lots of time to ourselves to recharge, but she also shows me the importance of connecting with others.

Often, we meet up with people who will want to come and say hi to Willow at our campervan. It’s a joy to watch her crawl out from underneath her blankets, jump down onto the floor and introduce herself to her new friends. Willow has shown me that there is a lot of good in the world, a lot of kindness. But to find it you have to look for it, you have to go outside your comfort zone. She’s taught me that. But all that adventure, outback sunsets, and dust mean nothing for one thing. She taught me I could love again – and most of all be loved. So, when Stephanie entered our lives my heart was ready for her and the rest is history, so to speak.

Willow’s living situation is unusual, but that doesn’t stop her from doing all the usual cat things like stealing our seats when we get up or scratching everywhere but her scratching post. When I tried to count how far we’ve been I lost count at 100,000km. But over 8 years, that’s not actually that far. We like to go slow and really enjoy our time together. Over a week, we rarely travel more than 350km.

Cats have this innate ability to teach us how to live in the moment. I think that’s their greatest gift to us. I’m not really sure what the meaning of life is but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with spending more time with our pets.

For me, Willow is that once-in-a-lifetime cat. From the depths of depression to building this new life on the road exploring Australia, to finding the love of my life and helping other cats, she’s been with me every step of the way and I’m so grateful for everything she’s given me. Right now, the three of us are currently exploring outback South Australia on our way through to Exmouth, Western Australia. We don’t really know what the future holds for us, but I know that the three of us will be together.

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