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Real Life

REAL LIFE: Why swapping our couch for a van was the best decision we've ever made!

Leah Clements, 48, shares her vantastic story with Take 5's Mitchell Jordan.

By Mitchell Jordan
Tears rolled down my face as I looked at my favourite green couch fondly.
"I really don't want to sell this one," I said to my partner, Mark.
Months ago, we'd decided that enough was enough of working all week just to pay the bills – there was so much more to life.
So we'd quit our jobs, put my house on the market and sold everything except for a plastic tub containing my photos and mementos, and bought a van for us to travel around the country.
But for some reason, I had an emotional attachment to my couch, which was snapped up by a buyer in no time.
But once Mark and I were on the road, we quickly forgot about our nine-to-five lives.
We loved exploring Australia. (Image: supplied)
Heading for the Northern Territory, we hiked through Uluru and caught sight of no more than a handful of tourists, trekked through canyons and marvelled at the sight of Sturt's desert peas blossoming in the rich red desert.
We'd spend our evenings cooking in the van and eating dinner under the stars.
"You know," I began, "back home, I'd still be commuting back from work at this time."
Mark smiled knowingly – we'd definitely made the right choice.
But neither of us was rich, and to keep living like this meant we'd need to pick up some work along the way.
That's how we found out about working as caretakers on remote stations.
Mark came from a dairy family, while most of my work had been in offices, but what did we have to lose?
We ended up on a 95,000-acre sheep station three hours north of Broken Hill where we'd run the property while the owners were away for three weeks.
It was a big change – there wasn't a single neighbour for hours and the only company we'd have were the sheep and owner's pet dachshunds.
We spent time at a sheep station. (Image: supplied)
The vastness of the land meant if either of us went out somewhere, one needed to stay home in case of emergency.
But one day, a pipe had burst and Mark suggested I come with him to check it.
We fixed it in no time, but as we drove off, our Land Cruiser got bogged!
We didn't have a phone and, even if we did, there probably would be no reception.
"Maybe we have to walk the 30km back," Mark suggested.
We used a shovel and found some timber sleepers in the paddock which we used to get the car out of the mud.
"Lucky," Mark said. "If this wasn't a V8, we'd still be stuck."
Bogged! It was all part of the adventure. (Image: supplied)
It was a close call, but this whole experience was all about getting out of our comfort zone.
And we've got no plans on going back to our old lives.
Things can change so quickly that you've really got to take life with both hands and run with it while you can.
If that means giving up my favourite couch, then I'd say that was a small sacrifice to make for being part of Australia's wild outback.
Follow Leah and Mark's adventures on Facebook @vantasticaus

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