How Melbourne couple Bryan and Lyndel did it!
Have you ever dreamed of packing it all in and exploring Australia with a caravan?
Melbourne couple Bryan Crow and Lyndel Harris did just that—quit their jobs as a florist/funeral director and business administrator to chase their dreams of adventure.
After six amazing years on the road, they’ve set up a home base on a riverside property near Bundaberg in Queensland, but won’t be stopping for long.
They’re now launching adventure tours for other New Age caravan owners who want to find out how they too can live on the open roads.
So, if you’re looking for some travel inspiration or tips, why not join the New Age Caravans Social Club on their adventures?
But first, let’s look at how they got to where they are now.
- Bryan: Funeral director and florist
- Lyndel: Queen of Can-do
- The ‘bizarre’ story of how they crossed paths
- Retirement started looking more luxurious
- Why they hit fast forward on their retirement plans
- Get insider tips through the New Age Caravans Social Club
- Explore unknown places in your caravan
- Adventure tours designed for busy people
- Explore Australia with friends
- Bryan and Lyndel, living on their terms
Disclosure: As a Booking.com affiliate, Jocelyn earns from qualifying purchases made through links in this post.
Bryan: Funeral director and florist
Bryan’s florist business led him to funerals—an interesting pairing, but one that makes sense when you consider the common ground they share.
After growing up in a flower market garden, it seemed a natural choice for Bryan and his sister to go into the floristry business.
“We had florist shops for years. In fact, we still own a flower shop on the Mornington Peninsula,” Bryan said.
“I started out doing floral arrangements for funeral directors.
“I’d be delivering flowers to the funerals and the directors would say to me, ‘Bryan, can you get here a bit earlier so you can help me unload the coffin and put it here, or there, and do, this or that?’
“So, my funeral business evolved from that. Even when I was a funeral director, I was still doing all the floral tributes that go on top of the caskets.”
Lyndel: Queen of Can-do
Lyndel was a real force in the business world. She worked in administrative roles and even took her career one step further by co-owning a computer franchise.
“I preferred to work behind the scenes, where other staff would ask: ‘Lyndel, can you book that? Lyndel, can you follow this up? Lyndel, can you get me this, or that?’
“So, I became known as the Queen of Can-do!”
Ballroom dancing was also part of her life in Melbourne for many years—an enjoyable pastime she was passionate about.
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The ‘bizarre’ story of how they crossed paths
A funeral parlor might seem like an odd place to meet, and Bryan and Lyndel’s story of how they crossed paths is nothing short of bizarre.
“How we met was bizarre really,” Lyndel said.
“It was in December 2001. My dad passed away and as a family, on Christmas Eve, we contacted the funeral director we’d driven past. That was Bryan’s funeral home.
“We walked in there as a family, and Bryan did all the arrangements.
“I found I could talk easily to Bryan, but I didn’t have a thought in the world about meeting up for, you know, coffee or anything afterward.
“Anyway, some years later, again as a family, we walked into Bryan’s funeral home again. He greeted us at the door, and I could see him wondering about who was missing.
“That was my eldest brother, 52. Bryan did the arrangements for his funeral too.
“On the night before my brother’s funeral, I had a phone call saying my brother’s partner’s son had also died.
“He came from Queensland to support his mum at the funeral, but he died in a trail bike accident.
“So, here I am, on the phone at 11.00 pm on the night before my brother’s funeral to Bryan, trying to say, hey, listen, this family will be in turmoil tomorrow.
“We had two family funerals within five days of each other, but got through it ok.
“Then about a week after that, or thereabouts, Bryan rang up and said if I’d like someone to talk with, to just come and have a coffee.
“So, we did the following day, and basically things progressed from there.”
Retirement started looking more luxurious
Bryan and Lyndel are no strangers to adventure.
“As a scout leader, I’ve done lots of camping, but I got to the stage where I’d had enough of tents and thought if I’m going to be camping in retirement, I’ll do it with a bit more luxury,” Bryan said.
“At that stage, Lyndel had an on-site caravan out in Daylesford, Victoria, but it was not getting enough use.
“We just looked at our lives and thought, ‘We should get out and enjoy life while we’re still young and healthy enough to do it.’
“So, we sold Lyndel’s van and then talked about the funeral business going up for sale.
“We started looking at big motorhomes, but people said don’t buy a motorhome—you’ve still got to tow something.
“Then we looked at caravans and they all seemed to have that horrible old brown timber inside.
“Eventually we looked inside a New Age caravan that had full white laminate inside and… wow!
“At that stage, they were building New Age caravans in Melbourne, but the only place you could buy them was on the Gold Coast, and we weren’t going all that way just to buy a caravan.
“So, we kept looking at other brands and talking to other companies, asking if they could make us something.”
“They said yes, but some time down the track, we still hadn’t heard from them.”
Eventually, Bryan and Lyndel spotted a showroom being set up in Epping, just out of Melbourne.
“It was a humongous, purpose-built showroom, and they were rolling out the red carpet as they were pushing caravans into position.
“We were the first to see it; two weeks before it opened. They invited us to the grand opening, and there we placed our order.
“The 21-foot New Age caravan we bought was their top-of-the-range model.
“When we picked it up, they were having an end-of-year sale and asked us if we’d take it home, dress it up, and bring it back to put on display as a showpiece. So that’s what happened.
“We were there on the Saturday and Sunday, talking to people and telling them how wonderful the lifestyle will be, before we’d even slept in it ourselves!”
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Why they hit fast forward on their retirement plans
Bryan, then 62, and Lyndel, 58, had planned to work well into their sixties, but buying New Age caravans inspired them to make their retirement plans happen sooner rather than later.
“So often in Bryan’s industry, he’d see a brand-new caravan sitting in a driveway, and the bereaved partner would say, ‘Oh, we were going to do the big lap next year’,” Lyndel said.
“Well, we’d rather have the pleasure of walking on grass than pushing it up.”
They’ve been on the road now for over six years, travelling an average of about 20,000 kilometres per year, and have no regrets.
Bryan said they take breathers from travelling occasionally.
“Last year we settled down in Sydney where I worked at a dealership for six months, just as something a little different.
“We knew 2022 was going to be a full year on the road with the number of vans that were being sold.
“So, we stayed off the road and away from the mayhem and earned some money.”
Bryan predicted that with international travel now resuming, there’d be a gradual return to the normal number of RVs on Australian roads.
“When Covid shut down international travel, people spent a lot of money on caravans, some about $80k, plus brand-new cars to tow them.
“Their investments have been huge, so they’ll probably get four or five years out of their vans, then it’ll be back to cruising… if their health allows it.
“If you see a guy that’s out there still towing a caravan in his 80s, you know he’s been doing it a long time. That’s about the age when they downsize to a smaller motorhome.
“We’ll probably keep doing it for as long as our bodies let us.”
Get insider tips through the New Age Caravans Social Club
Bryan and Lyndel knew little about caravanning when they first started out.
For six years, every weekend off, they’d take their New Age caravan to the Mornington Peninsula, where it was an exciting learning experience meeting other caravanners in the area.
That’s how their idea of forming a social club/owners’ club came into being—they believed that with other experienced folks around, they could learn valuable lessons from them.
And voilà… they sent out invitations asking owners to register their interest in the new venture.
Next, the fledgling club became known as the New Age Owner’s Club.
“We organised an event to be held at Phillip Island and catered for breakfast and dinner,” Bryan said.
“We had to advertise it, and because I’d done a website for my sister’s florist shop, I built a website and registered it. Nearly 30 caravans attended that event.
“The next event was a few months later, and the numbers skyrocketed to about 120 from different parts of Australia.”
Bryan said they started going to major caravan shows throughout Australia.
“New Age would fly us to Adelaide, Brisbane, Launceston, Sydney, and Perth for weekends so we could talk with people who were buying caravans.
“Basically, we’d say, ‘We’ve got a social club and these are the benefits of membership. It’s a way to learn, to meet new people, and get out and see the country.
“Today, the club has over 2000 caravans throughout Australia and holds regular events.
“This year, Victoria alone has seven events happening, plus a New Age Murray River Adventure Tour.
“Initially, we’d get 20 to 30 vans together at one place for a weekend, but now most people try to rock in on a Wednesday and leave on a Tuesday, so it’s grown from two-day events to four or five-day events.
“The caravan parks love it because it means people are booking in for several days.
“That makes it worth it for retired people because, say in Queensland, they might never have been to Bundaberg, or have just passed through.
“So now, they have more time to do the turtle things, or the Hinkler thing, or go to the Bundy rum or Kalki Moon gin distilleries.
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“Or, if people just want to sit under their annex all morning and chat, that’s fine too.”
Lyndel said joining the club was a great way to meet new people or rekindle old acquaintances.
“We wouldn’t have met the people we have if not for this club.
“For example, we were in Charters Towers speaking with other club members that were there, and one of them, as an 18-year-old in the final year of her hairdressing apprenticeship, used to cut my hair!”
- To find out about the New Age Caravan Social Club visit https://newagecarasvans.com.au/social-club
- There is also a Social Club Facebook page for New Age caravan owners only https://www.facebook.com/groups/newagecaravans
Explore unknown places in your caravan
Whether you want an immersive three-week holiday or just a quick two-night trip, New Age Adventure tours have something for everyone.
Bryan said caravanners joining the tours would explore Western Australia, and South Australia, and then start a breathtaking journey along the Murray River in June/July.
Soon after, they’ll embark on another adventure that takes caravanners along tracks less travelled to Bathurst in time for the 2023 legendary motor race.
Plus, Bryan said early indications were that a gathering may happen at the Bundaberg Showgrounds in August 2023 (yet to be confirmed).
So, there’s plenty for New Age caravanners to get excited about in 2023.
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Adventure tours designed for busy people
Bryan and Lyndel have come up with an exciting way to make joining New Age Caravans Social Club events easier.
They’ve developed tours that allow folks to hop on for a weekend or commit longer, visiting pre-selected locations.
Bryan said people would often say they’d love to join the club’s events, but wouldn’t be in the particular area until the following week, or it wasn’t worth travelling to for just a weekend.
“So, we approached New Age management about running adventure tours, or tag-along tours, so people could join for just a weekend or for a week or more, whatever suited them,” he said.
“They’re not like traditional tag-along tours where everyone hooks up their vans at 9 o’clock in the morning to form a convoy of 15 to 18 vans and drive to the next town just 60 kilometres down the road.
“It’s about people being able to choose where they want to go and what to see.
“Nor is it free camping. We call it ‘off-the-grid’ camping, which means we’ll stay at venues like showgrounds where there’s a small fee of $10 to $15.
“If we say it’s free camping, people think there’s no money involved, but there are small fees. Caravanners just need to be self-sufficient, with their own power and water.”
The company agreed and the tours are getting underway this year. Among them is the Murray River Adventure in June / July.
The tour will journey from Albury/Wodonga to Chiltern, Howlong, Corowa, Rutherglen, Yarrawonga/Mulwala, Tocumwal, Picola, Nathalia, Tongala, Echuca/Moama, Cohuna, Kerang, Lake Boga, Swan Hill, Robinvale/Euston, Mildura, Wentworth, Berri, and Renmark.
For more details visit https://newagecarasvans.com.au/social-club
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Explore Australia with friends
Bryan and Lyndel prefer the company of other caravanners when they explore new destinations.
“Nothing beats seeing our country with some caravanning friends,” Lyndel said.
“About five years ago, we did a three-month trek around Tasmania with five vans.
“Two years ago, we came up to Bundaberg in Queensland. There were three of us Victorians plus a couple from Bundaberg and we travelled up to Townsville, across to Darwin, and down to Alice and Uluru.
“Because of Covid, two on the trip returned back to Bundaberg, and we kept going to South Australia.
“That was a four-month trip. Each year, we’ve basically spent 8 to 10 months on the road.
Lyndel said that going back eight years ago, she never would have imagined herself living the grey nomad lifestyle.
“If anyone said I would, I’d have thought they were crazy.
“Doing this off-the-grid style camping in tours, we’re able to encourage others that have never done it before.
“They might be unsure of what to do away from caravan parks or know how long their water or power is going to last.
“So, it’s not just about seeing the towns, but it’s also a learning exercise, and we love meeting people if they want our advice, helping them get the best from their caravans.
“For example, there was a single guy driving across to Perth who asked us to check out his van.
“He called himself a keen cook and was travelling with many cast-iron pots, cookers, and a lot of other stuff he didn’t actually use.
“He would say, ‘I’m a chef, you know’.
“But he was actually living on takeaway or frozen food!
“So, we looked through his caravan and suggested he get rid of a lot of the stuff he wasn’t using.
“It’s about travelling minimally while maintaining comfort.”
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Bryan and Lyndel, living on their terms
Bryan and Lyndel’s story is one that exemplifies courage and resilience—traits we could all use more of these days.
Despite having no prior experience living full-time on the road or organising caravan tours around Australia, Bryan and Lyndel jumped into their current New Age caravan without hesitation—and made it work.
Their journey serves as an inspiration for caravanners everywhere who are considering taking a leap of faith themselves, proving anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
WANT TO BOOK AN ATTRACTION IN THE MURRAY RIVER REGION? VISIT BOOKING.COM
Where to next?
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