Meet Richard East and his rescue cat Willow.
In 2014, after almost a decade in a corporate job, Richard decided that he needed more and decided to sell up his life in Tasmania and travel around Australia in a camper van.
“I was at work for 10 years, and I needed a change. I didn’t want to go overseas for six months, and then return to a similar job, with the same situation. That’s why the van came in, so I could make a change for the longer term.”
However when he was selling his house and belongings, there was just one thing he couldn’t bare to leave behind – his adoring cat Willow.
So he decided to take Willow with him.
“It’s amazing, because we just rock up anywhere, and if it’s a safe area… I don’t have Willow on a leash. She just explores, comes back to the van and usually climbs up onto the roof to have a nap.
“She knows the van is her home, but the only thing that changes is her backyard,” Richard said, who adopted the cat from the Hobart Cat Centre.
The pair have become a huge hit on social media where their adventure is chronicled. On Instagram, they have over 18,000 followers alone.
“For me, I don’t want to make money off it,” Richard said. “I just see that people are enjoying the photos so much, that I want to keep it 100% pure like that… It’s a place where people can log on and forget about the shit in their day, without people trying to sell to them. I’m trying to make good of social media.”
While there story seems pretty unique, it turns out Richard and Willow aren’t the only human-cat duos travelling around Australia together. The pair have met plenty of other travellers with felines along their way.
“Every night there are hundreds of little cats tucked into bed in camper vans across Australia,” Richard explained. “People are often surprised that a cat can be a travel companion but they are probably easier to travel with than dogs as they don’t require as much attention.”
The pair have no plan on where they are going next, instead they just live each day as it comes and take recommendations from the people they meet along the way. Richard also has no indications of when he will return to a “normal” life and end his travels.
“I sold my house in Hobart, so it’s not like I can cruise back into town, you know,” he said. “I think it’s unlikely I’ll be back in Tassie at the end of this year, or early next year.”
We wish them all the best!