Written by Kerrie Alexander
It was two years ago that Greg and Donna Hollier gave up their jobs, sold the family home and almost all their worldly possessions to travel around Australia with their three children.
The adventurous Hervey Bay couple decided that the traditional 9-5 fulltime jobs and mainstream schooling for their children, now aged 15, 13 and 8, just wasn’t for them anymore.
Greg was the owner of a local photography and marketing business, and Donna was a full-time mum and accounts keeper for both her father’s and Greg’s business.
However, for eight years prior to taking the big leap, Greg had also been working on a website and app that has now changed the course of how Australian traveller’s search and compare caravan and camping facilities and bookings, plus find exciting activities, and things to see and do all on one site.
Greg and Donna are the founders of Campedia.
The couple have always been passionate about travelling and the exceptional experiences it offers their children but over time found it difficult to navigate user-generated apps that often lead them to camping area that didn’t exist or weren’t dedicated sites at all.
One horrible incident set the wheels of Campedia in motion.
“The app we were using was user-generated so a lot of the backpacker market were putting a lot of gravel pits and dirt tracks in as campgrounds,” Greg said.
“We pulled into one with our caravan travelling north and got met by a very angry farmer with a shotgun slung over his shoulder because we pulled over to feed the kids.
“The free apps can be fantastic but when it allows someone to put a campground on someone’s private land, that is just crazy!
“There was a trucking bay for this guy to load his cattle in the mornings and he was having no end of dramas at 4am because he couldn’t get his truck in to load his cattle.
“It was full of backpackers and caravanners that had stopped in there thinking it was a free camp for the night.
“So, I thought there had to be a way to vet locations to make sure they are real but also then from the caravan park and campsite owners’ perspective, give them the ability to have control of their photos, descriptions, what facilities they have and their pricing.”
Greg focused on developing Campedia on the side until six years later when it came time to either stay as they were in Hervey Bay or make the ultimate decision to sell everything, live on the road and work on Campedia fulltime.
They decided on the latter!
“We were a normal Hervey Bay family with a house, and kids going to school, and all while developing Campedia I had a photography and marketing business.
“We got to the point where we needed to get out into the caravan and camping world, so we decided to hit the road and go and speak to travellers, get amongst the industry, and find out what’s happening.
“We wanted to get into the industry and experience it for ourselves.
“One of the biggest reliefs we felt was once we packed up the house and pretty much sold 90% of our possessions. We felt free of having all this stuff!
“We have everything we needed or wanted and then to get out there and explore and enjoy everything we’re doing, has been amazing!
“It was a massive step for us though, especially with three kids.”
The couple’s mission was to make the App and Website easy for members to use while searching and comparing camping and caravan facilities all on one site, plus adding their own real-life experiences of the places they visit.
Donna is the data entry and accounts whiz and Greg is the digital guru.
With their hard work and dedication, the website now has over 6000+ businesses registered across Australia.
Members are also contributing to the Campedia community by adding YouTube and TikTok videos of the locations, adding photos and sharing content with friends on social media platforms.
Campedia appeared in 233,000 online searches just last month.
“Our guests now have a one-stop-shop to look at availability, check rates and make bookings without having to go to each individual caravan park website to make the booking.
“I will go and look at what’s been added during the day by our followers and users and then we verify that it’s a real location.
“I might call the local council and ask if there’s an RV area there, and if its’ 24 hrs etc. They might say no, we’ve been trying to shut that down or it doesn’t exist and then we don’t approve.
While there’s plenty of stories out there about families selling up and living the great Australian dream of travelling full-time, Greg said it’s not always “rainbows and sunshine”.
He said living, working full-time and home schooling in a caravan with a family of five certainly comes with its challenges.
“We weren’t the most popular parents around, taking the kids away from their friends to start with.
“It did take about four months to settle into a routine and shake off the feelings of our old lifestyle.
“You have five people living in a box effectively. Personal space disappeared and privacy disappeared.
“Everything seems to get amplified. When it’s good it’s really good but then when it’s bad, it seems really bad because you are in a little pressure cooker with five people in a caravan.
“Say if you get four days of rain everyone is getting a bit antsy, sometimes Donna and I send each other to time out,” he laughed.
“I’ll say here’s the car keys I’ll go to a café and work half a day from there and you take the car and get away.
“It’s about working out that balance and communication. In between the home-schooling, working full-time, travelling, and exploring and managing socials, it is full-on and that can sometimes run a bit of interference.”
If you take a peek at the Campedia Facebook page, website and Instagram posts you will see that there are of course more good times than bad.
Since leaving the driveway of their old home two years ago the family has travelled more than 20,000km, waking up in different locations across our great country every few days.
The sunsets in Kakadu, swimming holes and waterfalls in Litchfield, Cape Tribulation, The Daintree, Berry Springs and the incredible countryside of Darwin and Broom are just some of their favourite destinations.
Greg said they have also made life-long friends along the way.
“We met one of the guys that were racing in the Finke Desert race last year and got invited to go out and stay on a farm and watch the cars getting tuned up.
“It wasn’t an experience that we planned; it was spontaneous because we got the invite from someone we met at a roadhouse on the way to Northern Territory.
“The kids got to meet a whole new group of people that we’re still friends with now.
“It’s a whole sense of community out there for people that are travelling full time.
“It’s amazing how many people are actually doing it.”
Their eldest daughter Sienna has also been recognised through the @_SiennaHollier Instagram account with various companies sending the 15-year-old clothes to promote on her travel posts.
Greg said they would do it all again in a heartbeat.
“It’s been a great lifestyle and experience and it’s funny; it would almost be hard to go back to living in a house.
“Having the ability to wake up in a different location every couple of days is amazing.
“This country has so much to offer, there’s so much to see and there are so many people out there that are like-minded and are about the alternate lifestyle of living and working remotely that you’re certainly not alone in doing it.
“The Daintree, Berry springs, getting to see crocodiles in Kakadu, Litchfield with beautiful waterfalls and all the history of the places we visit, you can’t learn that from school. This is life experience!
“Do your research, plan it well, realise there will be an adjustment period and just take it all in.”
Follow the family on any of the Campedia social pages on Instagram and Facebook and be sure to visit Campedia.com.au to plan your next adventure.