Man Quits Job To Travel Around Australia In A Van With His Cat

Richard East and his cat Willow packed up their possessions and are traveling around the country, one Instagram post at a time.

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Richard East and his cat Willow pondering where they might travel to next. Via vancatmeow/Instagram
Richard East and his cat Willow pondering where they might travel to next. Via vancatmeow/Instagram
Cari Jorgensen

I once took a leave of absence at work and left the United States for Australia alone. I brought my laptop so that I could write, rented an apartment in Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, and spent the next month doing whatever struck my fancy.

That is nothing compared to what Richard East of Tasmania, Australia, is doing. East quit his job, sold his house and packed what possessions he had left into a Volkswagen van to travel around the country. Oh, did we mention he also brought his cat, Willow, along with him?

“I knew I had to change, but I wasn’t quite sure what that change would be,” East told 936 ABC Hobart. “[Willow] was living in my house but was no longer wanted, so I vowed to look after her for the rest of her days. At the time I was making that commitment to her, I didn’t realize what my future plans were. I did the obvious thing and took her with me. You’d be surprised how many cats are traveling around Australia as we speak. I’ve met quite a few people traveling Australia with their cats.”

Traveling and living out of their van since December 2014, according to the VanCatMeow YouTube page, East documents his travels with Willow on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

A photo posted by Rich & Willow (@vancatmeow) on

He and his cat have traveled in Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland, and plan on tackling the Northern Territory next, followed by Western Australia, he told 936 ABC Hobart.

“I definitely will be [back in Tasmania],” he said. “Maybe I’ll spend a summer there and then come back to the big island. At the moment I’m setting up a business and if that succeeds I’ll be able to travel forever… It’s a cozy campervan with everything I need. All the snacks I need and a cat falling asleep on my chest. That’s all I need.”

We think lots of people would agree.

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    Carole Jackson June 1, 2016 2:12 am Reply
    • That’s one thing I’ve noticed too – Cat People are the nicest and friendliest people ever.

      KatWrangler June 1, 2016 12:26 pm Reply
    • Happy Trails to Richard and Willow.
      I just love stories about men and their cats – shows the world that Real Men Love Cats! <3
      Best of everything to you both <3

      KatWrangler June 1, 2016 12:28 pm Reply
    • Totally agree!

      maria June 1, 2016 2:37 pm Reply
  • I love my cats so much, but don’t think mine would be as adventurous as yours! God bless you both!

    Chrissy June 1, 2016 2:49 am Reply
  • I LOVE this story…. What an awesome thing to do, especially with your fur- baby by your side

    Diana June 1, 2016 3:05 am Reply
  • Whoever partners with this guy will have a very happy life. Any man who loves a cat has many beautiful qualities.

    Benita June 1, 2016 3:41 am Reply
  • If I had a daughter, this is the man I would want for her. He is compassionate and knows how to love.

    Diane June 1, 2016 3:47 am Reply
  • I’m a retired fulltime RVer and my 2 cats travel with me. They have alwaya been indoor cats though so they alway stay in my 30 foot motorhome and watch the world go by though the windows.

    June June 1, 2016 4:06 am Reply
  • I’ve driven from NY to FL and back with four cats in my car, and they were great. They always seem content traveling as a family unit, and the second trip also included a mini dachy!

    Eileen June 1, 2016 4:12 am Reply
    • Wow, good for you. We travel with 3 cats back and forth from Fla to Colo every year. I believe my cats have seen way more of the country then most people.
      I don’t know if I could add a dog tithe mix????

      Karen June 1, 2016 6:59 pm Reply
  • Would have loved that, but only 1 maybe 2 of my 11 black cats would have loved that if they were still here. Great story. Want to find you on FB, even though I only have FB for a game.

    Kris Griggs June 1, 2016 4:33 am Reply
  • I don’t think our pussycats would like travelling around the country but I think it’s great that some people do take their furbabies with them. We really miss our furbabies when we go on vacation (which isn’t very often) and it’s REALLY important to us that we make sure they are boarded where they receive proper care and attention.

    We humans are so very fortunate to have pets as valued members of our families. They enrich our lives immeasurably and the companionship and love they give us is priceless!

    May our Heavenly Father bless ALL animals, their environments and the people who are truly passionate about them! xo xo xo xo xo xo

    Wendye Kolles June 1, 2016 5:05 am Reply
    • I agree! Our pets make life so very much richer. Dear God, please bless all the animals and everyone who loves them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

      ginger k. martin June 1, 2016 2:01 pm Reply
  • I think it’s great that you are so devoted to Willow. You two are lucky to have each other.

    Debbie Zarr June 1, 2016 5:24 am Reply
  • “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” Mark Twain

    Karolion June 1, 2016 5:42 am Reply
  • “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade without further introduction”………… Mark Twain

    Bill June 1, 2016 5:46 am Reply
  • This is making me tear up. What a special story of companionship and commitment. Love that these two are enjoying their adventure together. I would love to do the same one day.

    Karen June 1, 2016 5:48 am Reply
  • Nice trip with friend. That guy is great. I would love to do something like that, but im sure my cat will hate. Have a nice trip guys.

    Maria Reis June 1, 2016 6:22 am Reply
  • Beautiful cat, cool guy! He did not QUIT is job, however. He took a leave of absence, Thai is not the sme thing!

    Aimee June 1, 2016 7:41 am Reply
    • Read it again, Aimee. It was the author of the piece who took the leave of absence, not Richard. He did, indeed, quit his job.

      Aimee June 1, 2016 8:24 am Reply
    • Oops. Put the wrong name on my reply to Aimee. It was me.

      Lenore June 1, 2016 8:25 am Reply
  • What a fabulous adventure & what a fun & exciting journey for you & you wee fur-baby!

    Iffat Ahmad June 1, 2016 8:28 am Reply
  • Love the cat lovers. I have a huge cat, four dogs and a horse. I love all animals. Great adventure you are having.

    Nola June 1, 2016 10:54 am Reply
  • Wunnerful! I have several pals who have taken their furables sailing for long periods. It has always worked out purringly for them. Richard is merely on a land yacht. Greaet goin’! Keep goin’!

    thstlebud June 1, 2016 10:57 am Reply
  • My cat Chama and I had the adventure of a lifetime traveling through the U.S, Canada, Mexico and Central America in my motor home all the way to Panama City!!! My beloved Chama was a good champion along with my lab mix dog Elliott. I had the scare of my life when I thought I had lost Chama in the jungle of Tikal Belize. After a exhaustive search, she turned up hiding in the back bedroom closet. Chama and I ended up retiring in the Yucatan, Mexico, where I now share my casa with 9 rescue fur babies. She lived a long and wonderful life all her 16 years!!

    Cynthia Biestek June 1, 2016 12:17 pm Reply
  • A man is not a man unless he loves cats This man in my book is a one-of-a-kind real man! Showing his love to his cat is unconditional love that the cat gives back. This cat gets love and an adventurous life from someone that loves him very much. I loved reading this beautiful story. Thank you!

    Gailyn June 1, 2016 12:42 pm Reply
  • What a great story. Anyone who loves a cat is a good person and is a friend of mine. Have a wonderful time as you travel.

    Best wishes for a wonderful life and a safe trip for both you and Willow.

    H Ollon June 1, 2016 12:58 pm Reply
  • Wow, A man of my dreams…..A man who could love a cat to that degree has to be a special soul….it is NOT effeminate to love cats…or prefer their company to dogs. It suggests self-confidence and a generous heart……a real man in my books !

    Sharon June 1, 2016 2:30 pm Reply
  • Real men DEFINITELY do love a fine cat.
    It DOES depend on the cat.
    Safety concerns has led us to have indoor
    Our favorite was a black shoulder-sitter
    & good mouser, so loyal that when a
    visiting friend let the fraidy-cat second cat
    out by mistake, Inky ducked out to find her.
    In 3 days they reappeared, the first one
    apparently terrified in the forest, treed
    in a pine.
    Some real men such as a fireman relative
    (& his wife) rescue strays & rehabilitate them
    (yes, cats can be rehabilitated).
    May your adventures ever be mutually
    companionable & pitch-free, Richard & Willow
    — from fans now in USA.

    Dunham's June 1, 2016 3:18 pm Reply
  • That sounds wonderful!

    Shelley June 1, 2016 3:21 pm Reply
  • BEAUTIFUL story,of Friendship and Love! So Happy Willow has a Good Human that Loves her,and is taking her on a Trip of a lifetime!! AWESOME !!! Richard your a Great person thank you for including your kitty Willow,in your Adventures!! Willow is a Pretty kitty,looks like my kitty Lacy,kitties are Wonderful Snuggle Buddies !! I Hope both of you have a FANTASTIC ADVENTURE !! 🙂 🙂

    Trina Hawkins June 1, 2016 4:13 pm Reply
  • I’ve lived with my cat Abigail for almost 16 years weakening almost daily hearing her purrs.

    Maxine? Fultz June 1, 2016 5:16 pm Reply
  • What a great guy????

    Linda June 1, 2016 6:25 pm Reply
  • So Happy for both of you, Blessings and may you both enjoy Great Health, Happiness, Love and joy You are an inspiration to many

    A June 1, 2016 7:32 pm Reply
  • Richard, what a great idea you had! You will never regret taking the time to do this and spending it with Miss Willow. I wish you both well and if you’re ever in Seattle, WA, USA, you’ll be warmly greeted (both of you)! Many blessings and keep us posted. Please pet Miss Willow for me too 🙂

    Lisa June 1, 2016 10:00 pm Reply
  • It is always so refreshing to see men that cat lovers. I have always been an avid cat lover, but find that the majority of men I meet do not like cats. Good on ya, Richard. Good on ya, Willow, too. 🙂

    Amy June 1, 2016 11:58 pm Reply
  • Cari, great piece and I have another angle you might want to cover. Richard submitted Willow’s story for Black Cats Tell All, a nonprofit anthology seeking to rebrand black cats as more adoptable. The campaign is currently on

    Layla Morgan Wilde June 28, 2016 3:16 pm Reply
  • I think it is great you can travel with your cat. but what about the quarantine restrictions in the various states and countries? HI used to have a 30 day quarantine restriction for pets but I don’t know if they still do. Happy traveling!

    Carol June 28, 2016 4:40 pm Reply
  • This is just awesome! Definitely a wonderful man to be that devoted to his furbaby!

    Lisa June 29, 2016 10:21 am Reply

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