Ever wondered what it's like to travel Australia in a bus? Well meet Mark and Madie, who have created the most beautiful home on wheels to explore this amazing country in. We hope this inspires you to do something similar one day!
Mark & Madie
Hey! We’re Madie and Mark, aged 24 and 29 from the Central Coast NSW! We’ve been travelling around Australia in our self converted motor home called Salty for almost a year now!
What made you decide to travel Australia in a bus?
We always had the idea that we wanted to road trip around Australia but never went further into it, until one day we said ‘let’s just do it’! We looked at vans, and although it’s easily done in a van, we knew we were going to be away for a while and wanted to be as comfortable as possible! So that’s when we decided on a bus. When we found out that the Toyota coaster bus was the right size, and super reliable, it quickly became our target. We searched for ages for the right one, snapped one up and never looked back!
How much did it cost roughly to buy and fit out your beautiful bus?
We bought our bus for a bit under $10,000. It was a school bus, with all the seats and wheelchair ramp still inside! We spent around $7000 on it in total for our entire setup. We are fully off-grid and self-contained. We had a long time before we started the build to seek out second hand supplies and materials which made it sooo much cheaper, as well as doing everything ourselves besides the gas plumbing (thanks dad)
If you went back in time, would you choose the bus again or something else?
We’ve actually talked about this a lot and our answer changes every time haha!
We LOVE the bus, we have so much room, can hide away when it’s rainy or windy and we can run down our hallway if we want haha. But, we are sometimes limited to the roads we can go down. We’d love the extra freedom of having a 4x4 to roam the dirt and sand roads that often lean to paradise - Without getting bogged like we did recently, oops.
Do you have a budget and how do you stick to it?
We do have a bit of a budget, nothing too strict as naturally we do stick to it without trying too hard! Living on the road you can’t really save money on petrol, so the next best thing to budget is food. Luckily before we left on the trip we had to save really hard as we didn’t have much money after the build, and that put us in savings mode!!! We don’t really pay for touristy things (although sometimes we wish we did!) and try to stick to $50 a week on food for both of us, This generally works for us.
How much money would you recommend someone saving before hitting the road?
As much as you can, but don’t stress if you don’t hit your goal! We spent longer building the bus at home and chewed into our savings, so hit the road wellllll short of what we were hoping for. But, you can always find money on the road and make it work. There are plenty of jobs around if your willing to do anything!
Often less money you have the tighter your budget will become, you just make it work with what you’ve got! It aaaaalways works out.
What jobs have you done before?
Mark was a teacher and Madie worked in retail before we left home,
Not long since we hit the road, we worked in a cattle yard in the Northern Territory, and also delivered phone books in Perth! We never would’ve imagined working in these fields but we loved it and are glad we experienced something so different!
How do you find jobs on the road, and what is usually available?
There are plenty of different ways to find work on the road. We’ve been successful by posting a gumtree ad looking for work, and the backpacker job board is quite invaluable! But you also find that word of mouth is one of the most powerful techniques, just ask around and you’ll often stumble into something!
What would you say to someone who wants to hit the road but is too scared?
Just bloody do it!
There will never feel like a perfect time to do it, don’t think about the reasons for it not to work, just get your vehicle and go! Plan for a shorter stint, commit 1-2 months if you’re worried. Next thing you know it’ll be a year later and you won’t want to stop! We’ve made some amazing friends and memories on this trip that we couldn’t have made anywhere else, it’s been one of the best years of our lives!
What are your go to meals?
Wow great question we looooove our food and mix it up heaps in the bus but super strict on our food budget and try to find ways to bulk/spread meals out.
But we can’t go past burritos, bangers and mash, and the old homemade fried rice. Something we’ve learned on the road is making our own bread, it’s so easy and yummmmmmm!
Follow their journey on Instagram at @saltythebus