Leslie Carvitto
by Leslie Carvitto
Posted January 28, 2019

When Malinda and Darcey moved back to Australia after living in the U.S., they weren’t sure where they wanted to settle down. So they didn’t. They bought an off-grid coaster and have been on the road for 18 months with their son, Thyme. With long term plans to live in the bus, they’re slowing down on travel and focusing on expanding their knowledge of living off the land and practicing zero-waste principles. Follow along on their family journey @yellow.like.sunshine.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and where are you going?

“We are a small family from Australia. Darcey is a carpenter who loves cooking and climbing coconut trees, Malinda is an artist who loves to walk and forage and Thyme is an adventurer who loves swimming and jumping off rocks.

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on Nov 1, 2018 at 8:39pm PDT

Our bus journey started a couple years ago. We’d been living overseas in Philadelphia for a few years and when it came time for us to move back home to Australia, we had no idea where we wanted to live, so we bought a bus instead of a house and now live nomadically.”

What kind of vehicle are you traveling in and why did you choose it?

“It’s a 1997 Toyota Coaster. We chose it because they are pretty common in Australia and have a great reputation for being reliable. Also (or mostly) because it was bright yellow.”

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on Jul 29, 2018 at 8:16pm PDT

What was your main inspiration for hitting the road?

“To explore Australia, to have more time together, to feel free in terms of how we spend our time and where we spend our days.”

What has your route looked like? What places in Australia are you most attracted to?

“We bought the bus in Adelaide, drove it back to Victoria to do the conversion, took a quick trip along the Great Ocean Road and then headed back East, following the coast all the way up to Far North Queensland. So far we’ve been on the road for around 18 months. We tend to like hidden away places and we are always seeking out fresh water swimming holes and waterfalls. Far North Queensland has been our favorite place to spend time so far. The lush green landscape and tropical vibe won our hearts.”

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on Jun 23, 2018 at 3:31am PDT

What are some of the challenges about living on the road?

Darcey: “In the beginning it was a bit hard feeling like an outsider all of the time. There are a lot of social prejudices around not having a home and we do encounter that at times. We care a lot less now and embrace the sideways glances as a sign we are doing something right.”

Malinda: “The lack of personal space. We mostly manage to give each other regular space/time alone, but there are times when this can’t happen easily and I really feel it.”

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on Oct 9, 2018 at 11:19pm PDT

In contrast, what are the best things about living on the road?

Darcey: “It costs a lot less to live this way, so we have much more time together as a family and time to explore the things and places we love.”

Malinda: “It’s also liberating to have fewer possessions. Everything we own is in the bus so there is less to maintain, less to think about.”

Thyme: “Riding bikes every day.”

How did you learn about foraging and what kind of plants typically make it into your meals?

“We mostly learn from books, from locals who share information and tips with us and from experimenting. When we are in towns we eat a lot of weeds as they are abundant—The Weed Forager’s Handbook is excellent—and when we are in the bush there is always a huge variety of indigenous wild foods. We also just got back from the tropics where mangoes, lychees and jackfruit grow on the side of the road. Darcey climbs coconut trees so coconut, in all its forms—milk, water, flesh, flour—has quickly become a staple.”

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on Jun 15, 2018 at 8:53pm PDT

How old is your son Thyme, and what lessons do you hope to teach him through travel and foraging?

“Our sweet Thyme is three. We want him to know that this earth can sustain us, for free, if we educate ourselves and care for it. We hope that this lifestyle shows him an alternative to the mainstream western norms of consumption and over-work. When it comes time for him to make these choices for himself, we hope these experiences will help him make choices from his own heart and know that he can have freedom, in whichever form he wants.”

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on May 29, 2018 at 7:14pm PDT

How do you practice zero waste principles? Do you think it’s easier or more challenging to do so when living on the road?

“It can seem a little harder initially. When you are always moving around, it’s not always possible to buy plastic-free in bulk, for example. Our work around for that has been to buy our dry food in bulk, enough for around 3 months and store it in large tubs, under the bed. We make sure we have all our staples—nuts, lentils, beans, buckwheat for making bread and pancakes etc. Then we only need to shop at farmers markets or farm stands for our fresh produce. This is really easy in Australia where things grow year round. Once we made changes like that, we’ve been finding we are easily moving closer to our zero waste goals while being on the road.”

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on Dec 19, 2017 at 7:15pm PST

What tips would you give someone who is trying to adopt zero waste living?

“Start slow and simple. Choose things that are quite easy to change initially and then, as they become the norm for you, start to add in some more challenging changes. Darcey and I are both a bit ‘all or nothing,’ so taking it step by step is something we’ve had to work at—but in the end, it’s more sustainable and it reduces the chances of it feeling too hard and of giving up.”

Out of all the locations you’ve traveled to, what’s the one you could see yourself calling home?

“We’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We’d love to find a block of land where we can park the bus up from time to time and grow some fruit trees. There are so many things on our list for “home” though—likeminded community (including families that are “unschooling” or “lifelearning” as we are planning to do that with Thyme), plenty of wild, untamed space, warm enough climate for coconuts, not too close to town but not too far, close to swimming holes, affordable, etc. The place that comes closest to that for us is the Sunshine Coast hinterland.”

What does your day-to-day look like?

“It changes from week to week. When we are working, our days are filled with building buses for others and right now we are parked up in a driveway, renovating a house. When we are not working, it’s foraging and gleaning fruit, learning earth skills, playing with Thyme, making meals together, finding beaches and waterfalls, swimming and talking long walks, laying low and reading books.”

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on Oct 9, 2018 at 11:19pm PDT

What are your 5 must have items for living in your bus?

Malinda: “You can do without so much more that you realize. The things I most appreciate on a daily basis are a comfy bed, bus plants, good book, our fridge and, with a toddler on board, the composting toilet has made our lives so much easier.”

Darcey: “Machete (for coconuts), tool kit, good paper maps with all the small tracks, good recovery gear as some of those tracks aren’t always made for us, local tips on watering holes.”

Thyme: “Bike, ukulele, hammer, patch of dirt, puddle of water.”

What’s surprised you the most about life on the road? What have you learned about yourself in the process?

Darcey: “When you live in a house, you think you know what’s going to happen day-to-day. In this lifestyle, you are really aware that you have no idea what’s around the corner. It can be both painful and amazingly beautiful at the same time.”

Malinda: “That the novelty of seeing new places can actually wear off! I’m much more interested now in exploring places more intimately, using the free time we have to learn new skills and focus on the finer details of living and loving.”

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on May 29, 2018 at 7:14pm PDT

Do you have long term plans to live in the bus?

“Yes, we love our little home on wheels so much. As we mentioned above, we are keeping an eye out for land at the moment but we do still want to continue living in Sunny once we find it. We love being minimalists by necessity, due to the size of the bus and we also love having the freedom to move on whenever we feel like it.”

What advice would you give to someone wanting to travel Australia via bus or RV?

“Go slow. It’s a huge place and you often only get to experience the real magic when you stay in one place long enough to get know it more intimately.” 

 

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A post shared by Malinda, Darcey and Thyme (@yellow.like.sunshine) on Dec 1, 2018 at 7:26pm PST

Rapid Fire Q&A

What book can you read over and over again?

Malinda: “Right now I’m re-reading The Art of Frugal Hedonism, but the book that has stayed with me the longest (since I was a teenager) is Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.”

Darcey: “The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle”

Thyme: “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth by Eric Carle”

Mango or coconut?

Malinda: “Coconut!”

Darcey: “Coconut!”

Thyme: “Coconut!”

Go-to meal?

Malinda: “Roast vegetables. We have a tiny oven so we can throw them in, drive somewhere and they are ready to eat when we arrive.”

Darcey: “Home baked fries and salad.”

Thyme: “Chocolate smoothie.”

Rainforest or ocean?

Malinda: “Rainforest”

Darcey: “Rainforest”

Thyme: “Rainforest and ocean!”

Early riser or night owl?

Malinda: “Early riser.”

Darcey: “Early riser.”

Thyme: “Early riser.”

Leslie Carvitto

 

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