Meet Wes Berg, his wife Jade Sutcliffe, and their three children – Mila May (8), Tally (3) & Billie (6)! You may know them as the Ironman family of five based on the Gold Coast, who for the last 18 months have travelled the east coast of Australia in their newly purchased Jayco Expanda Outback. The “van life”, as Jade coined it, began for the Berg family in mid-2017 following Wes’ surf injury and his farewell from competing. They vowed to themselves to never leave the caravan in their driveway for longer than four weeks’ at a time, and so far so good. If you’re thinking of taking a caravan adventure yourself, we caught up with Wes, Jade and the kids to hear all about it…
What made you buy a caravan?
Having a young family, we always want to take them away and do something special together. Initially we though we’d get a pool, but then we talked about getting a caravan and now the rest is history! We bought our Outback Expanda about 18 months ago, and it’s absolutely worth it’s weight in gold, we just love it. It’s comfortable, we’ve got all the luxuries we need that a tent doesn’t have, and it’s so nice having our little family all under the one roof when on the road.
What do you love about your caravan?
We always have it sitting in the driveway fully packed and ready to go, that way it’s easier to head off on the weekend and to not worry so much about packing. Our caravan has two double beds and two bunks beds, so it comfortably houses all five of us. We actually had visitors over the Christmas break, and it was no problem for us to accommodate an extra couple!
What trips have you taken so far?
Our first trip away was actually to Tallebudgera, which we know is just down the road from home, but it was just a trial over a long weekend, so we had about three days there and we fell inlove with the van lifestyle – we even named our son “Tally” because we love that area so much.
Since then, we’ve been away every month for a small trip with the whole family, and so far we’ve covered Queensland’s south east, the north coast of NSW, and even gone as far as the south coast… but our favourite local trips would have to be to either Yamba or Evans Head.
What do you take with you?
We take SO much. Activity-wise, we’ve got five surfboards (sometimes more), clubby boards, bikes, skateboards etc – I mean you could say we’re pretty loaded up, but that’s the fun of it, I’m probably forgetting other stuff we take as well!
As an Ironman/woman family, do you think the kids will inherit this love for the water?
The girls began to surf from the age of two, and Wes has always taken them out. He knows the ocean so well and is confident with it, so it’s almost become second nature for our children, although sometimes I would have to close my eyes! We’re really water savvy people, but for us it was important to get the kids into swimming lessons early on as we wouldn’t let them surf unless they had their lessons. I think the idea for any parent is for their kids to go to the beach and to know they’re safe, so the more time you spend in the water with them, the more they will learn.
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What does an Ironman/woman family of five eat while on the road?!
Well having a fridge in the caravan is a dream. Normally I’ll cook up stir-fries before we leave, or some kind of meat like pulled pork, that way everything is cooked and ready to go before we even leave home, allowing more to be spent out and about and to watch the sun go down over being inside and cooking – it’s all about the memories!
Have you thought about hitting the road full-time?
I think it’s the ultimate idea for any family with a caravan… we actually would’ve gone by now if Tally wasn’t so young, but until he’s older, we’re definitely considering taking an 8-12 month trip on the road, so I guess we’ll see what’s around the corner!
Written by Samantha Cheney