Posts Tagged With: Travelling around Australia

OzTrail Lockyer Swag

As many of you will know, we won a bit of a big prize from OzTrail with this photo:

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The major prize was an excellent tent, some top of the line camp chairs, and a bunch of really great gear from OzTrail.

Not being ungrateful in the least, but recognising that we actually would not use just about anything from the prize, we very humbly asked OzTrail if they would consider swapping the prize pack out for a few swags, being that we had been wanting to buy all the kids a swag each for some time now, in fact, we had pretty much made our mind up on the OzTrail Lockyer and it was only a matter of saving more pennies until we bought them.

We were over the moon to be told that OzTrail were more then happy to send us out the swags instead, I really wish we had of videoed the kids reaction when we told them the news, priceless. When they arrived, we set them up, in their bedrooms, and they slept in them for a week! Continue reading

Categories: Camping, Modifications, Planning, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Led Lenser SEO7R LED Headlamp

Following in the theme of our “reviews” only being for truely stand out products, here is another essential bit of kit in our camping box.

Led Lenser SEO7R

Led Lenser SEO7R

So like everyone, we have all bought the $5 LED torch at the counter of BCF or the local hardware, right? (go on, admit it). Well, how long did it last? How long did the batteries last? Oh, and here’s a good question, did it actually put out ANY light??

Ok, so after swallowing your pride and realising a $5 torch is actually worth about -$50 (time to buy new batteries, time spent banging it on the side to make it work, time plastering your shin from that half wall you fell down because you couldn’t see jack whilst using it) you splash out and buy a $30 torch. Things are great, life is grand, and you can see on the “bright” side again, yeah for you……. So you put that torch back in the camp box only to pull it out again 6 months later on your next camp, only to realise the batteries are flat, they have leaked everywhere inside the torch, and you are now 7 hrs from the nearest store.

Enter, the SEO7R. Continue reading

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Joolca HotTap. Hot water, anywhere, anytime

Here it is, our first review, the product that made us even consider doing reviews in the first place. No other product has made us so confident in being able to recommend it, I can guarantee you that if you were to go and buy one of these, you will be supremely happy with it.

So without further adieu, it is none other then our Joolca HotTap!

If you have been following for some time, you know that we simply cannot live with out our HotTap, yes, we are completely spoiled now, we have travelled first class and no sir, we will not go back to economy! Continue reading

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Waeco 80L 12V Fridge (CF80)

Another standout performer in our stable, the CF80 Waeco fridge. Being we don’t tend to take many photos of our fridge, this post will not be as photo heavy as usual.

The Waeco is easy to whip out for a lunch time stop

The Waeco is easy to whip out for a lunch time stop

During our trip round Oz, there were only 5 of us back then, and we had a 3 way fridge in Karen Camper, and a CF50 in the back of the car. This worked quite well once we began using the fridges correctly, i.e., we used the 3 way in the camper as a cupboard for storing tools and recovery gear, and anything we actually wanted cold, in the Waeco.

We did find that the 50L was a touch too small for us though, so when we bought Black Betty, and the rather tall CF50 would not fit in the trailer, it was time to upgrade the fridge.

The biggest complaint we had regarding the CF50 was the orientation of the storage, it was very tall, therefore requiring everything to packed on top of each other, and no matter how much time or effort went into packing the fridge with the next needed items on the top, guaranteed the next time we went to the fridge, the things we actually needed ended up being at the bottom. Other then the inconvenience factor, we were expelling a lot of energy unpacking the fridge overtime to get to things on the bottom, and then having to repack now rather warm items back into the fridge.

So when we looked at the CFX65  (65L fridge) we immediately ruled it out because of the tall layout again, and then we saw the CF80, short, wide and long. Sue this of course results in a greater foot print, but as it turned out we didn’t have a choice being the new Camper didn’t have a lot of height in the trailer area, but did have oodles of space otherwise.

So now, about 3 years on and this is the best fridge we could have possibly bought. It is so easy to pack, to find things, to clean,  it is a Tardis that just seems to absorb more and more food we through in it, it reliably holds temperature even when we pack it to the brim, it has the little “dairy” section above the compressor that doesn’t get anywhere near as cold, yet still cool, perfect for the lettuce so it doesn’t get chill burn in the main section, it has the dividers to keep the drinks away from the food, the wholly removable basket is great, the big sturdy latches (with reversible lid) are handy, its just a great great fridge.

It fits nicely in the kitchen and its often used as extra bench space

It fits nicely in the kitchen and its often used as extra bench space

As always, nothing is perfect, so here are the things we would change if we could:

  1. There is a little trap door on the floor, in there is a sponge, I assume it is the soak up condensation and beetroot juice. It would be great if this was bigger then a postage stamp, like, half the size of the floor would be great because the beetroot juice always gets everywhere
  2. Thats about it!

A little tip when packing this fridge, do not pack it full of frozen things at the compressor end, I think the thermostat is at that end so what happens is the fridge thinks it is happily below temp so doesn’t switch on, mean while the things at the opposite end are now above temp. Try and spread the frozen things around through out the fridge when packing.

Oh, power consumption is actually really really good as well. This was probably my biggest concern going to such a big fridge, I don’t have official amps vs temp vs atmospheric pressure, I do not have pie and bar graphs, but I can tell you that, sitting in the back of our dark grey Prado, for 3 days, in January, being opened and closed every couple of hours, it only just tripped out on low voltage late on the third day, and that is drawing from a 105aH AllRounder battery that is not a true deep cycle because it is also used as a back up cranking battery, no solar, and no driving.

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All Terrain Camper Trailer

So after our little trip round Oz (yes we were stopped half way), we ended up in Mareeba FNQ as farmers. Thats another story. But one of the first things we did was to sell poor karen Camper, our beloved Goldstream Camper. Karen was good, no Karen was great, and served as very very well, BUT, there were no doubt a few times on our trips that we would be making decisions about where we would go, or what route to take based on if we thought Karen could handle it……. often we took the easier way, and still managed to break Karen a few times.

We loved Karen Camper, she was just a bit soft...

We loved Karen Camper, she was just a bit soft…

 

So when we decided to sell Karen it was because we wanted a camper that would never hold us back ever again. After the usual 12 months of Matt researching and talking to, inspecting, as many camper as possible, he came up with 2 options, a “Cameron Camper” or and “All Terrain Camper”.

After witnessing the set up of every type of camper imaginable whilst on our trip, it was very clear to us, that if it was not easy, quick, and involve the least amount of poles/pegs/ropes possible, it would become one of those campers that gets parked beside the garage never to be used again.

Again, it also had to comfortably fit all of us, and you know, there are a lot of us.

It did not need bells and whistles, as we have always found bells tend to break and whistles tend to waste valuable beer time requiring constant fiddling and tweaking, only for them to eventually break, just like the bells.

Being both these options are made down south, we didn’t like our chances of finding a good second hand one up in FNQ, but as luck would have it, an All Terrain came up in Laura of all places, so after some wheeling and dealing, we bought “Black Betty”

Introducing Black Betty

Introducing Black Betty

Kitchen and Annex

Kitchen and Annex

Inside

Queen Bed for us, and oodles of room for the kids

At this point I’d like to just point out a couple of things about the All Terrains that make them different.

  1. 1 night set up (no annex) requires NO additional poles, pegs or ropes, nada, zilch, zip, zero!
  2. It is built for lifted and modified 4WD’s, in fact even with the aggressive lift kit on the Prado, it still sits a bit higher then the car.
  3. These 100% made in Australia, every last bit (except for the little plastic kitchen drawers I believe)
1 night set up take 10mins

1 night set up takes 10mins if that,

This thing is an absolute Tank, and there is no way it will stop us going anywhere. The whole thing is steel, there are no timber cupboards, no plastic fittings, no fancy pants add ons, just steel and canvas.

Black Betty will go anywhere Peter Prado will go!

Black Betty will go anywhere Peter Prado will go!

One of the cool things about the story behind the All Terrains is that it basically came about from a family who enjoyed camping, but were constantly being let down by inferior camper trailers that were difficult to set up and use, so, HE decides to build a bullet (mortar shell) proof trailer, while SHE designed and created a practical, simple tent.

So what resulted is a trailer made by man with a tent made by woman. Trust me, it works.

Trailer: 100% aussie steel, 100% seam welded, everything over engineered, huge thick automotive door seals, solid 50mm square axle, simple leaf/shackle suspension (independent suspension is not all it cracks up to be, believe me), 2tonne genuine Trigg Hitch (not a Chinese knock off), mechanical override disc brake (electric brakes were the bain of my existence on our big trip). The trailer area is seperated into 2 parts, I’d say about 70/30. whilst I have to admit, this can sometimes be annoying because I cannot fit very long things in the trailer area, I soon realise how great a design this is once we have been camping at the beach, in the rain, for a week. The ability to seperate all the wet dirty stuff from all the clean dry stuff is a godsend.

Steel box up front, seperate box behind it, and then the big trailer area accessed from the back

Steel box up front, seperate box behind it, and then the big trailer area accessed from the back

Tent: No peg/pole/rope 1 night set up and the annex remains zipped on at all times, it just folds back over the tent and fastens to the other side with little velcro tabs (essentially means you have 2 roofs). For the annex set up, only 8 pole/rope/pegs are needed for the full annex, thats right, 8 poles is the FULL set up. All windows are true midge screen, and they all have a clear plastic layer on the outside so that you can actually still have light (i.e. all the windows open) during a storm/rain because the clear plastic layer is water proof. All windows can then be “shut” from the inside by zipping up a canvas layer inside, no need to go outside to drop a rolled up window down, PLUS, each window has a full sized canvas layer as the final outside layer as well that doubles as a little awning from each window if you like. There are big stitched pockets everywhere inside the tent (happens to be exactly 4, one each for the kids) for storage of books, iPad, headphones, teddy bears etc, along with a little table, full access to the front box, ventilation screens at the bottom, windows everywhere, and the pièce de résistance, a “moon roof”. Yeah, the entire roof above the queensize bed opens up so you can still experience sleeping under the stars, while knowing you have midge screen and zippered doors for the boogy man.

Windows and ventilation everywhere, and that moon roof!

Windows and ventilation everywhere, and that moon roof!

Window flaps can all be set up as annex

Window flaps can all be set up as annex, with a few more poles of course.

The Kitchen is a beautiful, full stainless steel jobby, with meters of bench space, sink, 4 burner, great storage, cutlery drawers….everything in its right place, even with a sunroof!

Kitchen

Kitchen

 

She’s not perfect, we have made many changes to Black Betty to really make her our own, and to also address a couple of design flaws, which, the new owners of the business have actually addressed in the new models, but the basics still remain, that this is an unbreakable, simple, very comfortable Camper that we can highly recommend.

 

Gone are the rather flimsy "scissor" legs

Gone are the rather flimsy “scissor” legs

Now Black Betty has long, strong, sexy wind down legs

Now Black Betty has long, strong, sexy wind down legs

Original poles on the right, the bent spigot was supposed to line up through a hole in the canvas to a hole in the steel frame for putting up the Annex. It never lined up.

Original poles on the right, the bent spigot was supposed to line up through a hole in the canvas to a hole in the steel frame for putting up the Annex. It never lined up.

So I used eye bolts and these nylon pole ends and now the annex take half the time to set up.

So I used eye bolts and these nylon pole ends and now the annex take half the time to set up.

And it is a bit more stable

And it is a bit more stable

Heavy gauge Anderson cabling for battery charging

Heavy gauge Anderson cabling for battery charging

Led strip lights in both compartments in the trailer

Led strip lights in both compartments in the trailer

Dual USB, ciggy plug and volt meter 3 way box at the end of the bed

Dual USB, ciggy plug and volt meter 3 way box at the end of the bed

Fuse box

Fuse box

New power outlets

New power outlets

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The only way into camp sites like this, is with a camper that will not hold you back.

The only way into camp sites like this, is with a camper that will not hold you back.

 

 

Categories: Camping, Modifications, Planning, Reviews, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post – Sarah & Malte

Today’s post is the first ever ‘Guest Post’ to feature on the Are We There Yet? blog.  I asked Sarah & Malte if they wouldn’t mind sharing with us the adventure of their time travelling around Oz.

Sarah and Malte were the first ever backpackers to work with us on the farm at Blue Sky Produce for three months last year.  They set the bar pretty high for all our other workers going forward. They were two of the most hardworking and lovely people we have ever met!  Added to that they enjoyed teaching us ‘Wizard’ – a really fun German card game and then whipping our butts at it!! Lucky they taught us a few German swear words too!!  Malte and Sarah are just about to head back home to Germany and we are sad to see them go – they spoilt the kids while they were here at Blue Sky and we loved getting to know them and learn a little about their lives in Germany.

They have seen so much during their time in Australia – more then most of us Aussies will ever see!! Thank you Sarah & Malte for sharing your travels here and best of luck for your futures ahead – I hope we get to see you again sometime!

Sarah & Malte after a hard day of mulching - not the most fun job!

Sarah & Malte after a hard day of mulching at Blue Sky – not the most fun job!

Continue reading

Categories: Camping, Travel | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Charleville to Isisford

Me publishing a blog entry while the kids played in the playground at Augathella

Me publishing a blog entry while the kids played in the playground at Augathella

Finally getting a chance to post this entry from last night!

It is warm – I only have 2 layers on tonight – wahooooo!  We couldn’t believe it when we hopped out of the car at Isisford at 6pm tonight and didn’t have to instantly reach for the beanie’s and extra jumpers!
We have had a looooong day today!  We set out from our free, beside the road camp, just out of Charleville at just before 9am this morning and only pulled in to Isisford at 6pm.  We survived the ‘night in the middle of nowhere’ free camp without any incidents except something had a chew on my thongs and our rubber floor mats during the night!
Our first stop was at Augathella for a toilet stop (as a side note all the public toilets we have used have been really clean out here – and it is a nice feeling knowing I won’t be cleaning a toilet for the next 7 or 8 months!) and to have a look around town and publish last night’s blog while we had reception.  Augathella was such a pretty, tidy little place but very quiet – the kids wanted to know where all the people had gone as lots of shops seemed to have closed down – perhaps as the highway no longer goes through there.
The next stop was Tambo for lunch where the kids were spoilt at the Visitor Information Centre with new colouring in books and a packet of smarties each!  We had a little wander through the historical post office and telegraph office in Tambo which was free and quite interesting for the kids who learnt how to send their names using morse code on an old telegraph system.  We checked out the ‘Tambo Teddies’ store – beautiful teddies but very expensive!
Another hour further down the road we stopped at Blackall which is where my uncle was a bank manager and lived with my cousins for a few years – we even tracked down their old house!  There was another great information centre in Blackall which the kids enjoyed and we loved seeing the Jack Howe statue – unbelievable that he was able to shear 321 sheep in 7.5hrs – a world record that has never been broken!!!!
Things went downhill a little after Blackall as about 20minutes out of town we ran into another muster happening in the middle of the road.  (Uncle Murray I’m blaming you for this because you said it makes for interesting reading!!!)  We were being very touristy taking photos and I was worried that I was in trouble when one of the men rode over the car, but he had come to tell us that while we were stopped to let the cattle pass by he had heard air hissing out of our left hand camper tyre.  Aaaargh – sure enough the valve on the camper tyre was split and leaking all the air out of the tyre!  So we pulled over – of course right in the middle of all the cow poo which Matt proceeded to stand in and put his hand in – and spent the next half an hour changing the tyre – but we are at least pleased to say we had all the right equipment this time and managed the change without drama!!  However, this now meant that it was getting late and it was kangaroo time on the road – not ideal for us still to be out driving!  Luckily though we ended up behind some grey nomads with their caravan and they hit all the kangaroos first (well – they only hit one, but that was one more than us!).
So when we arrived in Isisford it was quite dark.  We drove down to look for a spot on the river but it was quite crowded so we just kept driving along the river track, and driving, and driving because we could not find anywhere to turn around with the camper!  Needless to say we were all tired and grumpy by this stage, and hungry!  Eventually Matt had to reverse the camper in the dark with me walking and guiding him until we found a tight spot to turn around!  During all this Lexi wet her pants because she was busting to go to the toilet and couldn’t hold on any longer.  When we finally just went back to the entrance to the campground and pulled up beside another caravan (they will probably be grumpy that we are camped so close but we will sort that out in the morning!) we were not happy campers!!!
However, we are now all fed and have had our first hot shower in 3 days and we do not need to go to bed all rugged up so we are all feeling much better!!!  I think we have done some big driving days and would just like to stay put for a few days now, but we will have to try to work out our plans in the morning.  Once again we are very tired – this sightseeing and driving stuff is hard work it seems hehehe!
So, off to bed for me!  Here’s hoping QLD has a win in the State of Origin – we had thought we might find a pub to watch the game in tonight but it just didn’t happen!!   Go the Maroons!
Favourite Parts of the Day
Lexi – hopping out of the car and it was warm
Toby – playing in the Augathella meat ant park
Jack – having dinner (we were hungry), seeing the wild pig run across the road
Jess – not feeling cold for the first time and having a hot shower!
Matt – having a look at Tambo – a town trying really hard to attract the tourists and is a nice, friendly place

Meat Ant Sculpture in 'Meat Ant Park' Augathella - made by Ang Graham's Aunt for any Malandarites reading this

Meat Ant Sculpture in ‘Meat Ant Park’ Augathella – made by Ang Graham’s Aunt for any Malandarites reading this

Augathella - the home of 'Smiley' - we will have to get a movie for the kids to watch!

Augathella – the home of ‘Smiley’ – we will have to get a movie for the kids to watch!

Beautiful mural in Augathella

Beautiful mural in Augathella

Great visitor information centre in Tambo

Great visitor information centre in Tambo

Great information centre in Tambo - kids loved the 'Are We There Yet' book pictures that were on the wall in front of the kids table

Great information centre in Tambo – kids loved the ‘Are We There Yet’ book pictures that were on the wall in front of the kids table

Jack in the old telegraph station house in Tambo

Jack in the old telegraph station house in Tambo

Pretty standard old Queensland home in Tambo

Pretty standard old Queensland home in Tambo

Blackall is famous for being sheep country

Blackall is famous for being sheep country

Jack Howe statue in Blackall

Jack Howe statue in Blackall

Blackall - where the saying 'beyond the black stump' originated

Blackall – where the saying ‘beyond the black stump’ originated

Uncle John and Aunty Marie's house in Blackall where my cousins Melissa, Sarah and Michael lived for a few years

Uncle John and Aunty Marie’s house in Blackall where my cousins Melissa, Sarah and Michael lived for a few years

We drove through another muster on the road to Isisford

We drove through another muster on the road to Isisford

Loved the sound of the muster, cattle mooing, cattlemen whistling, horse with bell clanging, dogs barking - wish I had of videoed it!

Loved the sound of the muster, cattle mooing, cattlemen whistling, horse with bell clanging, dogs barking – wish I had of videoed it!

Matt changing the camper tyre - a success!

Matt changing the camper tyre – a success!

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

The ‘Worry’ List

IMG_2677At this point in our trip preparations I am flipping between being totally excited about heading off and the places we will see, the time we will have to spend all together and the adventure of it all, or like today – totally freaking out about what on earth we have gotten ourselves in for!!

I know I am a stressor and an over thinker.  I know we are heading off on the 1st of June no matter what and that our reasons for doing our trip are important to us.  But I’m worried and just a bit scared and nervous. Not helped by the fact that today the kids were little terrors – misbehaving, fighting and making so much mess!

So here’s my ‘worry list’.  I’m concerned ……………………………………

  1. About how on earth we are going to get our 1 acre block, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 5 person house all packed up and cleaned in time.
  2. That we will be so freezing cold and miserable for the first few months of our trip as we are heading off in the middle of winter.  I’m worried our sleeping bags won’t be warm enough and nor will our clothes!
  3. About our kids thinking that life is just one big holiday and not knowing the value of hard work!  I’m sure with all the camping/travelling we have done with them it seems like all we do is go on holidays!
  4. I feel a bit guilty, that maybe we don’t deserve this trip.  Some people work their whole lives before they get to go off on an adventure like ours.
  5. I’m worried that after 8 years of shift work and crossing paths like ships in the night most of the time, that Matt and I won’t know how to spend so much time together anymore!
  6. About the kids fighting ALL of the time and driving us all nuts!
  7. That we haven’t had enough experience with 4-wheel driving or travelling in remote areas.  I’m not sure what we are in for!  We really wish we had of joined a four wheel drive club a year ago.
  8. That by probably getting to the Kimberley in August we have left it to late and won’t get to see the true beauty of that area.
  9. I’m worried about leaving behind all the great friends and community we have here in Brisbane and not finding anything like that again!  It has taken us this long to finally start feeling like we belong!
  10. About the kids schooling and that we won’t do enough with them while we are travelling and they will get too far behind and have to repeat a year.
  11. I love routine and organising.  I’m not sure I will like not having that.
  12. That something major will break down on the trip or on our house that we are renting which will throw our whole budget for the trip out!
  13. About our little car not selling and having to offload it for whatever we can get, therefore significantly reducing our fuel budget for the trip.
  14. That we are not going to fit everything in the 20ft container we have ordered to store our house.
  15. I’m worried that our dog is losing his marbles and is going to be a burden on those who look after him for us.

And there are so many more little silly things but those are the main ones!  What on earth are we thinking doing this trip?!?!

I’m taking myself off to bed, I am sure it will all seem better in the morning and hopefully in a few months I can laugh at all these worries.

Nothing Great is Easy, Nothing Great is Easy, Nothing Great is Easy …………………………………..

Categories: About Us, Planning | Tags: | 11 Comments

Words from the Wise

As you can imagine, we have spent hours and hours of time on the internet researching (yes – ‘researching’ not procrastinating to avoid folding the washing or to avoid the million and one jobs that actually needed to be done!) places we’d like to visit, joining online groups such as ‘My Swag’ http://www.myswag.org and ‘Prado Point’ http://www.pradopoint.com and pouring over their forums and posting numerous questions hoping for feedback, as well as reading blog after blog written by others who have undertaken trips similar to the Trip Around Oz that we are planning.  Oh, and I have joined way too many to mention, Facebook Groups relevant to our trip!!

One blog in particular really stood out to us as being the most informative, easy to follow and totally captivating read that we came across in our hours on the internet, and that is the story of Lyndon, Bec and Charlie’s trip around Australia.

Their blog ‘1 year Off’ can be found here http://www.1yearoff.com.au.  It is worth checking out just to see their beautiful photos of many of the amazing places that we are hopefully going to visit on our trip!  We aren’t the only ones who think the ‘1 year Off’ blog is pretty great – Bec, Lyndon and Charlie actually won the Explore Australia Road Trippers Hall of Fame competition in 2012!

http://www.exploreaustralia.net.au/Competitions/Road-Trippers-Hall-of-Fame

Anyway – we liked the Blog so much that we decided to get in contact with Lyndon, Bec and Charlie and after a few emails back and forth, Lyndon was kind enough to send through a stack of tips for us that they learnt first hand from their trip around Australia.

And you, our loyal readers – probably all 3 of you – Mum, Dad & Gayel, are lucky enough too that Lyndon has ok’d that we share these tips on our Blog.

So, below is the email we received from Lyndon – we feel very grateful as most of these ideas are ones that we would never have thought of ourselves!!!  Thank you Lyndon for taking the time to send them through to us!

“Hi Jess,

Here are a few tips we picked up along the way, you probably have thought about quite a few of them already; 

We found a few things very handy that we kept in the car.

  • A wrench and spanner to check the wheel nuts on the car and trailer almost daily. The amount of people we met who had lost a wheel all because they didnt check.
  • A compass in the glove box, was very handy for when we were lining the trailer up in the campsite so we didn’t face west.
  • A small spirit level to ensure the trailer is level.
  • Tyre pressure gauge in the glove box. So much easier grabbing it out of the glove box to check the pressure than finding it in the back drawers each time.
  • I saw on your last post you were wanting a HF radio, we bought a satellite phone instead, thankfully we never had to use it but it was always there in the front seat in case we did. I entered the Royal Flying Doctors numbers in there for each state.

For the Camper

  • If you can fit a heater in, take one as it will be freezing cold in certain parts.
  • We took too many clothes, especially tshirts and shorts.

For the Car

  • I see you have the bull bar and snorkel as a “want”, see if you can move them up to “essentials”. There is a lot of wildlife on the roads and a bull bar will protect that radiator which means you can hopefully drive away from the accident. A snorkel will keep a lot more dirt out of your air filter than where the current air intake is positioned which is essential on those dirt roads you will be travelling on. If you have a compressor, get an attachment that allows you to easily clean the air filter after a day on the dirt and always carry a spare filter.
  • Spare fuses, also spare fuses for the caravan.
  • Hide $1000 cash in the car somewhere for emergencies. You never know when eftpos will be down in the middle of nowhere and you need to get fuel.
  • Top up on fuel whenever you see fuel in remote areas. When we crossed the Gibb River Road, there were 3 places that sold fuel and only 1 was working. We were even at El Questro for a week and their system was down for that entire time.
  • Pack a set of wheel bearings with grease for the car and also your caravan and wrap them up really well so the grease doesnt leak. (If you dont know how to do this, get a mechanic to do it for you). If wheel bearings arent checked they will cease, and even if you dont know how to change them over, at least you have bearings for your outfit and someone will be able to fix it for you. You dont want to be packing the grease in on the road as chances are it will be on a dirt road and grease and dirt dont mix well together…

A few other things I thought of that we took.

  • A pack of 20 occy straps from Bunnings, its amazing how many uses they have…
  • A pack of 5 small super glue tubes, they come in one pack and at least then you don’t go and use the glue and it has dried up…
  • A small tarp had a number of uses, laying it on the ground to get under the car or trailer in the wet or dirt, extra shade etc.
  • Spare radiator hoses and fan belts for the car.
  • Gloves from supercheap auto, were great for setting up and packing up the trailer.
  • Fly and mosquito nets to put over a top of a hat and cover your face. The mosquito ones were very handy in Kakadu as they swarmed there in the evenings.
  • A mallet for bashing in pegs (I need to get my index finger reconstructed this year from hitting it at Kings Canyon, it was such hard ground there…) plus very good pegs for your annex, and also sand pegs for places like Ningaloo Station.
  • Make sure you get good head lamps as it gets very dark out there.
  • We took quite a few other spares also such as battery terminals, wheel nuts and bolts, spare headlight globe, soldering iron, engine oil, diff oil, oil filter, plenty of tools, fencing wire, maxtrax, axe, car recovery kit such as a snatch strap, tree protector, pruning saw etc, a very good first aid kit.”

We are now slowly working our way through these tips to make sure we are as prepared as we can be when we hit the road!  We all know that I love a good ‘list’ to tick off!

So, does anybody else have some good advice for us to keep in mind as we get organised over these final few countdown months??  We’d love to hear it!!!

Categories: Camping, Modifications, Planning | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Why Are We Doing This?

When we tell people that we are heading off around Australia, travelling with 3 kids aged 7 and under, with a camper trailer to live in which is probably smaller than the size of your average bedroom, for the next 6 or 7 months – many people think we are totally bonkers!!

I know that perhaps it does seem crazy to jam a family together in such a confined environment for over 6 months, and maybe financially irresponsible to put the mortgage on hold, a step backwards to sell many of the possessions we have spent so many years accumulating, and perhaps even detrimental to the kids schooling ……… the list goes on.

We are very lucky that our family and friends have been very supportive, positive and genuinely excited for us. However, we do still get a few – ‘you’re nuts!’ or ‘I’d rather chew my own arm off” comments and these make us think – eeeeeek – are we doing the right thing??? Are we crazy????

The answer for us is always YES, we are NUTS, but we feel 100% this trip is the best thing we can do with our lives right now and here’s why;

1. To Celebrate our Success
In my younger days I was a swimmer and at one point, our little country swimming club ended up with a very loud, diet-coke drinking, American swimming coach called Dave. I learnt a lot about working hard, goal setting and dreaming big during his time with us. Something else he tried to impress on us (big shout out to any Malanda Aquatic Dragons reading this!) was the importance of celebrating your success. He believed that if you won a race or swam a PB (personal best, for the non-swimmers out there) then you must celebrate – with a big fist pump or huge yell or even just a big grin & jump. Now – for a pretty shy, small town ‘aussie’ farm girl – this sort of behaviour didn’t come naturally. It seemed very ‘American’, very boastful and loud. It didn’t feel right and unfortunately I never went on to be an Olympic swimmer. However, I now believe that Dave was right. It is important and OK to ‘celebrate your sucess’. You’ve got to do something to make your self feel good, amazing even, after all the hard work …… otherwise, why on earth go back for more/to do it all again????

So, this trip for us is a big ‘fist pump’. It is a chance to celebrate the hard work Matt has done to get to the point of 10 years long service leave, to shout out ‘we survived!’ the sleep deprived baby years of raising three kids, to ‘jump & grin’ about the home we have managed to create and the life we have built that is pretty darn good so far! This trip is the reward and the motivation to start out on the next chapter of our lives – and it feels great!!

2. Time to ‘Smell the Roses’
We believe that sometimes it is important to stop, slow down, and ‘smell the roses’ a little. We feel like the last decade for us has passed mostly in a blur of shift work for Matt, buying and shfting houses, part-time work for me with a ‘hi/bye’ at 2pm as we swapped over work/house manager roles, sooooo many nappies and school pick ups and drop offs. We want to use this trip to spend time together as a family – cementing our bond, sealing in our family values, instilling a love of this beautiful land we live in and generally ‘loving’ each other!

3. Simplifying Life
Our current life has been too busy, we have accumulated too many ‘things’ and our kids have no idea that you can actually wash dishes without a dishwasher! We want to change all that on this trip. We want to make life simple and re-programme some better habits for our life. On the trip we will only have 4 sets of clothes each and the kids will only be bringing some Lego and colouring books with them. There will be no TV. Our aim will be to eat healthy, fresh, yummy, basic meals (coke and chocolate addiction be gone!), exercise every day, read lots, sleep lots, see lots, sing lots, draw lots, write lots, talk lots, laugh, and probably, fight and cry lots. Idealistic maybe, but it’s worth a shot!

4. Time out to Plan the next step in our Lives.
I’m an eldest child. I’m a Virgo. I am an accountant. And Matt & my sister’s will tell you – I’m a bit ok, a lot Bossy.

It is well known that I like to Plan, Set Goals and Make Lists – end of story. (yes, yes, family – I know it can be very annoying, but stuff gets done ok – so quit the ‘eye rolling’!!).

So – Matt and I have been married 10 years this year, it is time to set the new 10 year plan. We have been fortunate that the last one was pretty straightforward.

Establish careers – tick

Buy a house – tick

Travel lots – tick – just missed the living/working overseas thing due to the step below arriving a little ahead of schedule!

Have lots of kids – getting there – tick.

Be Happy/Live life to the full – mostly, tick.

This next 10 year plan though, is much harder ………..

We’re not sure where we now want to live and raise our family, we’re not sure our careers are really the ones we want, we want to do more with our lives, to make a mark on the world – something GOOD, useful, fulfilling and challenging that will carry us far into our futures, but we have no idea how or what that should be!

We’re hoping this trip will give us the time out to clear the mind and allow room for the mud map for the next 10 years to come to life ………….. we’re open to suggestions!?!?

5. Making the Most of Our Life
Pretty self explanatory – we want to live life to the full and to show our kids that they can do that too!! We want to get to the end of our life journey and know we filled it in to the brim with love, family, adventure, and that we gave everything we wanted to do, and even some that we didn’t, a ‘red hot go’. Travelling around Australia with our 3 young kids in a camper van is definitely one of those ‘must do’ things for us.

So, in the words of Mary Oliver ………….

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems

Categories: About Us, Camping, Planning | Tags: , , , , , , | 44 Comments

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