After realising they shared the same vision of a "dream life" whilst attending a business course, Laura and her husband Joel packed up their suburban life in Geraldton and moved their young family to the Tropical Christmas Island. We chat to Laura about raising her children up on a tropical island, where every day feels like an adventure, and their slower-paced, non-materialistic lifestyle.
Who is in your tribe?
Myself, my husband Joel, and our four children Sam, 12, Max, 5, Olivia, 3, and nine-month-old Leo.
When did you move to Christmas Island?
We moved here in July 2016 when our baby Leo was two months old.
Where were you living beforehand and was there a catalyst for the decision to seek a simpler existence?
We were living in a beautiful, big suburban house in our hometown of Geraldton, WA. Although we were happy, we felt as though we were not living an authentic life and always seemed to be searching for something more. While attending a business course, my husband and I had to do a deep visualisation of our dream life. Funnily enough, we had identical visions. We were bringing our children up on a tropical island, where every day felt like a holiday and we could spend our days at the beach and have a slower-paced and non-materialistic lifestyle. I would say a big catalyst for wanting this life was a trip around Australia we did when we had just the one child, spending many months living on remote beaches around in a tiny little van. After going back to suburban life, we found ourselves somewhat unsatisfied. We would often reminisce back to the simplicity of life in the Van, having limited possessions gave us a sense of freedom. Without all of the ‘stuff', our minds felt clearer and allowed more time to be outdoors in the fresh air, exploring, fishing and being together as a family.
Why did you choose Christmas Island specifically?
After working out we wanted to live on a tropical island, we spent many months searching. We had to consider things like an income, schooling and safety. Life went on, until one day, we came a cross a job advertised for Christmas Island. I had not even considered the island or heard much about it, and work-wise, there was no incentive for us to go. In order for us to make it work financially, we would have to leave all our belongings behind, live in a little two bedroom unit and jump into the deep end moving the whole family over hoping we would like it. We made this decision when I was pregnant with our fourth child.
Can you share with us what an average day looks like on Christmas Island?
We start and end most days with a swim in the beautiful crystal clear waters of Flying Fish Cove. As we make our way to the beach, we pass wild chickens and crabs roaming freely around the island and wave at the friendly locals. After years of FIFO life, we love that Joel comes home for lunch everyday and in between the normal family life of cooking, cleaning, work and nap times, we find ourselves making our own fun doing things like diving, surfing, fishing, spearfishing kayaking, jetty jumping, hiking, exploring the island and collecting food from the jungle.
I read that you said materialism means nothing on Christmas Island. That must be exceptionally refreshing?
Absolutely. No one cares what clothes you wear, what car you drive or how nice your house is. We drive an old rusty '60 series Landcruiser that is rarely cleaned and always filled with all our beach belongings, shells and sticks the kids collect from the beach. Island clothes are casual - thongs and boardies usually - and the kids often run around barefoot. Being incredibly isolated, everyone goes above and beyond to help each other lending or handing down clothes, baby goods and toys. It is such a wonderful feeling not having to worry or think about materialistic things. Living this way makes you realise how little you actually need to live a happy and fulfilled life.
What do you love most about your new lifestyle?
So many things! I love the laidback, slower lifestyle and the simplicity of island life. The beautiful, warm climate means even if it's raining we are able to be outdoors doing something. I love driving around the island, taking in all its breathtaking views and most importantly seeing the children playing in nature, being connected to the Earth, barefoot, free, safe and grounded. It is wonderful being in a place that we can provide this on a daily basis for our kids.
Have you noticed a change in your children since moving to the island and if so, how so?
Having come here with only a couple of toys each, it has been incredible watching how the younger children's imaginations have grown. They make toys out of sticks, shells and boxes and have learnt a beautiful and deep respect for our natural environment and where their food comes from. Also, their confidence has grown dramatically. Our 12 year-old goes spearfishing with sharks and spends his days out cruising around on his bike with friends. It's such a wonderful feeling being able to relax and let your kids be ‘kids' knowing they are safe and, being a small community, someone always has their eyes on them.
Can you share a special moment or memory you have shared with your kids since living on the island?
After a few months of living here, we bought an old Landcruiser. Driving back from the beach one day on a palm tree-lined road, thick tropical jungle on one side and ocean on the other, one of our family's favourite songs, Xavier Rudd’s Follow The Sun came on the radio. The whole family was singing and happy. Joel and I looked at each other and although nothing was said, we smiled knowing in that moment, we were living our 'vision' .
Do you catch and grow all of your own food? How do you access other supplies?
Food shopping can be expensive here. Although we thought this would be a challenge initially, it has actually turned out to be one of the greatest things. Without an overwhelming abundance of choice, it makes life simpler. Our fruit bowls are often filled with fresh bananas, coconuts, pumpkins, limes, chillies and avocados all sourced from the jungle. We also eat a lot of seafood. My husband and 12 year-old love spearfishing and fishing and often go out night diving for crayfish and Moreton Bay bugs. We try and base our meals around what we have available as well as growing our own. We are also lucky to have an amazing sustainable farm here that sells local organic lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Your video of the red crab migration has been viewed 36 million times. What was it like to witness that?
The Red Crab Migration is a natural phenomenon that only takes place on Christmas Island. With millions of red crabs migrating to and from the ocean, we often find crabs in our house and coming out of our drains. Roads were closed, garden rakes and blowers are used as the whole community works together to protect them. Being able to see our children witness this was a remarkable experience we will never forget. We were able to get some amazing footage of this and by chance someone saw it on Instagram. From then it was made into a video that went viral. We woke up one morning and it already had over 10 million views. We were shocked and then inundated by media and viral companies wanting our footage. It was an amazing experience and we found ourselves overwhelmed by the whole thing.
Do you plan on staying on the island permanently?
We like to take life as it comes but Christmas Island would be a hard place to beat. Joel and I often joke and say, 'where do we go from here?’ Christmas Island feels like home to us now. It ticks so many boxes for our family and we feel so incredibly blessed to be able to bring our children up here.
Check out the Thomas Tribe on insta