Wherever I hang my hat…
After more than a decade on the road travelling across Australia, Maria Augustus-Dunn and her husband Brad Dunn have hung their hats in Sunbury.
The couple moved to the town following 12 years touring the country with a 4X4 towing a caravan. They gave up life on the road in September last year following Mr Dunn’s cancer diagnosis.
“We retired in 2011, aged 50,” says Mrs Augustus-Dunn. “Brad had spent 33 years serving in the military, and so we decided to retire to the road to do something different. We sold and gave away everything we couldn’t fit in the caravan.”
The couple’s original plan was to spend 10 years on the road, but come 2021 they decided to keep going.
“So we did two more years, and then Brad was diagnosed with cancer – so that changed everything,” says Mrs Augustus-Dunn. “We needed to find somewhere to put down some roots and decided on Sunbury as we have family here.”
Mrs Augustus-Dunn, who was born in Melbourne, says being on the road wasn’t such a shock as the couple had travelled extensively while Mr Dunn was serving.
“We lived all over Australia and overseas while Brad was an active soldier,” she says. “So going from military life to nomadic life wasn’t a wrench. We don’t have children either, so we were free to travel.”
With 12 years of travel memories, Mrs Augustus-Dunn says there are plenty of stories to tell, but the sights of South Australia come to mind when she thinks back.
“Kangaroo Island, the Barossa Valley, Coober Pedy…You’ve never seen places like it… They are just unbelievable,” she says.
“One of the greatest experiences was swimming with whale sharks off the coast of Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
“We’ve been to the most extreme regions of the country.”
And Mrs Augustus-Dunn has put her travel experiences to good use, sharing them in her book Dunnarunna: A Retirement Dunn Right.
“The book follows our first five years on the road, 2011 to 2016,” she says. “It answers lots of questions for people who are looking to live and travel in a motorhome or a caravan.
“Lots of people asked what we did without a permanent postal address, that really did seem to be a concern for lots of people.
“On our travels people asked why we weren’t sick of each other, how we made a budget, and strangely; where do you go to the toilet! Everybody seemed to want to know.
“Then there were more serious questions about what to do if the car breaks down, and how do you find a doctor. The book covers all the practical stuff.”
Mrs Augustus-Dunn says the places she enjoyed most are the remote areas of the country – “in the desert with nobody around, enjoying an uninterrupted night sky – for me that’s just magic, I love it”.
“Australia was our backyard and we didn’t have to mow it,” she says.
Despite being on the road for more than a decade the couple have settled quickly into their Sunbury home. Although not having a stick of furniture when they first moved in presented some challenges.
“It’s very different, but the time was right for us,” she says. “We absolutely love our house, we’ve been busy decorating it.
“I have family close by, which is why we came to Sunbury. We’ve been visiting here for years, so it just made sense to settle here – and we have had lots of family get-togethers. We already feel like locals.”
Mrs Augustus-Dunn has also published a light-hearted book called Married Quarter: Boots, Berets, and Bloody Uniforms looking at her life as a military spouse.