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Gear Patrol: Australia Van Life in the Pandemic

This adventure started out surfing with the setting sun before the ocean swallowed it, or me, each night. Camping along craggy cliffs, cooking up curries under star-swathed skies. Waking up to laughing kookaburras. Spending my barefoot and bikini-clad days plucking my ukulele on the banks of red tea tree lakes, roving through rainforests, stripping naked in waterfalls and journaling about my epic solo expedition across Australia in the converted beater I call home. It was a lifelong dream, until it devolved into the stuff of nightmares…

When I bought my 1991 Mazda E2000 van off a backpacker in Byron Bay — Australia’s hippie haven — I’d anticipated some hiccups. For one, burgeoning bushfires were wreaking havoc across the country, and most of the land I’d wanted to explore was, well, on freaking fire.

Roads were closed, and much of the notoriously deadly wildlife that lures us vagabonds here was… dead. The country was in crisis.


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