Real Life

Our relationship was all but over until we hit the road together

Now we've got a baby and have raised $80,000 for charity!

Amber Ryan, 31, all over Australia!

Lying awake in bed, I looked around at the packed boxes and sighed.

How did we get here? I wondered.

My partner, Hayden, was also in bed, facing away from me. From the outside, it looked like we had a really great life.

We rented a nice house on the Gold Coast, Qld, and lived a luxurious lifestyle, dining at fancy restaurants and riding jet skis.

But after five years together, the spark had disappeared. Hayden and I weren’t communicating with each other anymore.

We were just going through the motions and trying to keep up with our busy corporate careers. We’d also been struggling to fall pregnant for the past three years.

By January 2021, we were finally ready to admit it wasn’t working.

Hayden and Amber were ready to call it quits. (Image: supplied)

“Maybe it’s best to go our separate ways,” I suggested.

“I agree,” Hayden said.

We worked at the same company, so I left my contracts job to avoid seeing Hayden every day.

His sales manager role came to an end soon after, so we were both jobless.

The house was packed up and I was preparing to move out soon.

That morning, as we lay in bed, Hayden rolled over to face me. “Do you want to go travelling together and try to work things out?” he asked.

This took me by surprise, but I loved the idea.

With no jobs or house tying us down, it seemed like the right time to give this one last shot.

We borrowed a box trailer from Hayden’s auntie and set off on our adventure a week later with no set plans other than to spend the next few months travelling around Australia.

Swapping office jobs for stunning outback scenery was the best decision ever. (Image: supplied)

After we arrived at our first destination, Jackadgery, a beautiful, rural NSW town that overlooks the Mann River, I knew this was exactly what we needed.

Being out in nature and enjoying the simple life put us in a happier place.

A week later, it started raining so heavily the river overflowed and flooded the campground.

The hill we were camping on turned into an island, and we were stranded.

But Hayden and I couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.

“This is just our luck,” Hayden laughed.

We had so much fun living off baked beans and chasing mice and snakes out of our tent, and cuddling under a tarp.

It made us realise our flashy lifestyle wouldn’t make us happy. Spending quality time together was what mattered most.

As the floods subsided a few weeks later, I began to feel sick.

Our beautiful little girl Freya was born on the road! (Image: supplied)

We travelled back to northern NSW to visit my mum and I decided to take a pregnancy test.

You’ve got to be kidding me! I thought when it came back positive.

I was so happy to finally be pregnant. Hayden was excited, too, but also nervous about having a child with no jobs.

However, we both agreed being on the road was good for us, so we decided to keep travelling.

“We need to give ourselves the best chance to keep working on our relationship,” Hayden said.

We bought a caravan and started travelling up north, sharing so many special moments.

Hayden started singing and playing guitar around our campfires – a passion he hadn’t pursued since his father had passed away in 2013 – and shared his live performances on his Instagram page, @therealaustraliandream.

Along the way, we met a man in his 60s who was riding from South Australia to Cape York, Qld, to raise money for charity.

“He’s really inspired me,” Hayden said.

After six months, we made it to Cape York.

Walking over slippery rocks to reach the northernmost tip of Australia while seven months pregnant wasn’t easy, but it felt amazing.

Hayden now uses his love of music to raise money for sick kids. (Image: supplied)

It’d been such an epic journey and we’d rekindled our love along the way.

Two months later, we travelled to a hospital in Lismore where I gave birth to our daughter, Freya.

Hayden and I were both instantly besotted with her.

“I’m so grateful that she’s healthy,” Hayden said.

“I don’t know how families with sick kids cope.”

A few days later, Hayden had an idea. He wanted us to keep travelling so he could play music live at campgrounds to raise money for Make-A-Wish Australia.

I was hesitant as we had a newborn, but I quickly warmed up to the idea.

It was an opportunity to make a real difference.

Within days, Hayden had organised 50 shows over 50 weeks, all around Australia.

In March 2022, we headed to Urunga, NSW, for our first show and left so excited and humbled by the supportive crowd

Daddy’s little sidekick! (Image: supplied)

As word spread, hundreds of people began turning up to the shows and donating generously.

Freya adapted beautifully to life on the road and loved waving to the crowds.

A year later, we’d exceeded our $50,000 goal and donated $80,000 to Make-A-Wish Australia.

Hayden and I are so proud of each other for the hard work we’d put into the tour and our relationship, which is better than ever.

We’re now travelling on the road permanently and planning our next tour.

Hayden works remotely in marketing to keep us afloat and we make a small amount from the merchandise we sell.

Financially, we aren’t nearly as well off as we were before.

But this lifestyle has given us a real purpose, and that’s so much more rewarding.

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