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Moment Aussie family watch their entire world go up into flames during once-in-a-life-time road trip

by Staff

By Kylie Stevens For Daily Mail Australia

07:39 29 Jan 2024, updated 08:39 29 Jan 2024

A young family has recalled the horrifying moment they lost all of their possessions when their car and caravan burst into flames while travelling around Australia.

Nathan Goncalves and his wife Lauren spent months saving for and planning the year-long adventure with their five-year-old son Ezra and eight-month-old daughter Ocea.

The NSW Central Coast family set off on the road trip of a lifetime in November and with Ms Goncalves’ parents in tow, got almost as far as Whyalla in South Australia.

That’s where the road trip came to an abrupt end and turned into a nightmare.

The family had stopped at a campsite in nearby Fitzgerald Bay to cool off with a swim and search for crabs in the crystal blue waters.

Ms Goncalves was inside the caravan with baby Ocea when she noticed smoke billowing from their Nissan Patrol.

Nathan and Lauren Goncalves have returned home with five-year-old son Ezra and eight-month-old daughter Ocea after they were forced to cut short their year-long road trip (pictured together)
The family could only watch on as the 4WD, caravan and possessions went up in smoke

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The couple leapt into action with the help of other campers but were unable to extinguish the blaze.

The flames quickly spread and totally destroyed their new caravan.

All of the family’s possessions bar the clothes on their backs were gutted in the blaze, including the children’s Christmas presents, their toys and Ezra’s beloved teddy bear which he has had since he was a baby.

Irreplaceable possessions such as sentimental jewellery, Mr Goncalves’ wedding ring and family photos were also destroyed.

‘We got to a point where we exhausted everything to the point where I was just throwing sand … I just had to tell myself there was nothing we could do,’ Mr Goncalves told

His wife added: ‘The hardest part for me was when I saw the roof of the van cave in, and I knew that was it and our lives were about to change forever.’ 

Almost three weeks on, their young son is still traumatised by the harrowing scenes he witnessed that day.

The cause of the blaze is still being investigated.

Mr Goncalves suspected the blaze was caused by an electrical fault in their 4WD.

He now urges everyone to always have a fire blanket and extinguisher accessible, which may have reduced the extent of damage if they had one.

The car and hopes of continuing their adventure are now left in ruins. Pictured: there burnt out Nissan Patrol
Nathan Goncalves and his wife Lauren had spent months planning for the year-long adventure

Mr Goncalves also pleaded with other road trippers to regularly check batteries and electrical equipment.

Good Samaritans at the campsite offered the family clothing and money to cover the first few days rebuilding their lives.

The Goncalves have since returned home in NSW.

Insurance will cover most of the cost of the caravan and car.

However, the couple only had $1000 worth of content cover. which will only cover a fraction of the cot of their lost possessions.

‘It’s one of those things you never think is going to happen,’ Mr Gonzales said.

Friends have rallied around young family and set up an online fundraiser, which has already exceeded the original goal tally and raised almost $5,000.

The family had stopped in Fitzgerald Bay (pictured), just north of Whyalla, South Australia when their road trip turned into a nightmare

‘This beautiful little family lost everything in a tragic fire while travelling around Australia,’ the page states.

‘It was their dream to travel for the year and they worked hard to make it happen.

‘This is a really challenging chapter for them and I am hoping we can help by taking away the burden of replacing essential items and help them regain the resilience and optimism needed to navigate the hurdles ahead, as there was no contents insurance to replace what they lost.

‘I am hoping we can make them smile again and illustrate the strength of community kindness.’

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