A family of five who transformed a 58-seater bus into a self-sufficient home to travel across Australia say ‘no plan is the best plan’ when it comes to off-the-grid living.
Rob and Peta Basile, their three children Indiahna, 15, Santino, 12 and Angelo, 10, and their Golden Retriever Maple have been on the road for almost eight months in their custom-built bus.
The 12.5-metre coach, which consumes a whopping 33 litres per 100km, features a fridge, gas oven, cooktops, sink, washing machine and dryer, shower, bath, king-size bed, lounge area, air conditioning units, two flat-screen TVs and huge storage units.
It also tows a 4.5-tonne trailer carrying several motorbikes and a Ford Everest for when they want to be nimble.
The Basile family (from left: Santino 12, Rob, 40, Maple the Golden Retriever, Indiahna, 15, Angelo, 10, and Peta) in the kitchen area of the former 58-seater bus they transformed into a self-sufficient family home
The coach, which consumes a whopping 33 litres per 100km, features a fridge, gas oven, cooktops, shower, bath, king-size bed, lounge area, air conditioning units, two flat-screen TVs and a huge outdoor awning area
The family rented out their Gold Coast home in November and have travelled over 10,000km across NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, often having no idea where they might end up spending the night.
‘No plan is the best plan: every time we plan, something goes wrong,’ Rob, 40, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We just wing it the whole way. We’ve got nowhere to be, so if the road’s closed we will go another way. We are fully self-sufficient.’
The Basiles bought a second-hand, 58-seat 2001 Mercedes bus during the pandemic from a tour company in Sydney that was looking to offload some vehicles.
Peta, a former sales manager, said they had always dreamed of travelling the country as a family, and wanted to do it while their eldest Indiahna was still young enough.
The couple have home-schooled their children for the last five years, so there was no concern about them missing class time.
‘We got the bus shipped up to Brisbane and at first we thought, “What have we bought?”‘ said Peta.
Every member of the family helped rip out the 58 seats in the coach
Tables in the lounge area drop down to create a cinema room (pictured)
‘Rob gutted it. He spent a good couple of months taking everything out of all the seats and luggage compartments and then we got it professionally built inside.’
The custom build, which took almost a year, was carried out by Gold Coast Campervans, a company specialising in smaller van and 4WD conversions.
Jack Watt, the firm’s director, said they had never encountered a job that size and were initially daunted by the ‘massive task’.
‘A lot of my staff members were a bit frazzled by the size of the job but we just broke it down into different parts of the build and worked with Rob and Peta, who were great, to make their dream a reality,’ he said.
‘It’s certainly one-of-a-kind.’
The bus is fully self-sufficient and its massive solar panels, consisting of six 300-volt lithium batteries, can keep their electricity going for two weeks.
The bus tows a 4.5-tonne trailer carrying several motorbikes and a Ford Everest for when they want to be nimble
‘All the appliances inside are what you would get in a normal house: it has a fridge, gas oven, cooktops, toilet, bath, shower and king-size bed,’ explained Rob.
They try not to use caravan parks as they don’t need power or water: all they need is the space to park the bus.
The parents sleep in a king-size bed at the room in the back, while the three kids bunk in the centre of the bus.
However, the Basiles are the first to admit their mammoth Australia-wide trip did not get off to the best start.
‘On day one, we had just left the Gold Coast and there was a really bad smell so I pulled over to the side of the road and there was darkness everywhere,’ said Rob.
The project was a real labour of love and took over a year to complete (pictured: Rob ripping out the old seats)
The bus features a king-size bed at the back of the bus where Rob and Peta sleep (pictured)
It also contains a washing machine and dryer (pictured)
The bus’s 550-litre ‘black’ tank, which carries human waste, had split at the seams.
The other two tanks, for grey and clean water, suffered the same fate and they later had an ‘extremely expensive’ breakdown outside Melbourne where they were attending a wedding.
‘That hurt but it’s all part of the adventure,’ said Peta. ‘These things are sent to try us.’
The family were blown away by the natural beauty of South Australia, where they travelled with another family for a month.
‘My favorite place is definitely Rapid Bay,’ said Peta.
‘We planned to stay there for two nights, ended up being there for seven. It was just absolutely spectacular.’
Rob at the wheel of the 12.5-metre bus that guzzles 33 litres of diesel every 100km
The family’s favourite spot so far has been Rapid Bay in South Australia
Rob and Peta claim the best plan is to have no plan when it comes to life on the road
They then journeyed up to south-west Queensland to attend the Big Red Bash, the world’s most remote musical festival, with 30 friends and family to celebrate Rob’s 40th birthday.
Peta admitted they might ‘still be in the honeymoon phase’ with life on the road but they have no immediate plans to stop.
Maple gazing out over a sunrise
‘The best thing has been being able to be together as a family,’ said Peta.
‘We were obviously always together at home but you’re so busy. You’re still off to dance classes, you’re still off to to footy, doing this that and the other.
‘Our life was very fast-paced so it’s been so nice to relax and just spend time together.’
Rob, who works in security, said the only thing he occasionally missed was the space in a home.
‘But then we’ve got our own room, the kids have got their own room, there’s the lounge area, we’ve got a massive awning we can sit out under,’ he said.
And their advice for families considering a life on the road?
‘Don’t wait. There’s plenty of work out there. Just make it happen,’ said Peta.
‘Any little steps towards the end goal are steps in the right direction.’
The Basile family bounced back after a bad start – involving an expensive breakdown and a burst water tank – and have travelled over 10,000km with no desire to stop exploring