Posts Tagged With: Travelling with kids

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

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

Getting the Kids Involved with the Trip

A big thank you to everybody for their lovely comments on our first blog post!  I’m a bit nervous about blogging and hope that you will find our posts not too boring!

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few things that we have been doing to get the kids involved and excited about our trip.

The first thing we did was buy a big map of Australia from RACQ (about $9.95 from memory) and pin it up on the wall beside our dining room table.  The kids quickly became good at picking out the capital cities, Uluru, and working out North, East, South and West.  Matt and I have often referred to this map as well when trying to work out a basic plan of our route, sometimes it is easier when you can see the ‘big picture’ all in one go rather than the more detailed state by state maps.

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A friend (thanks Stella!) then leant us a copy of her children’s book ‘Are We There Yet’ written by Alison Lester.

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It is a great story about a family who travel around Australia with a camper van very similar to ours!  The kids love this book and I am pretty sure Matt and I can just about recite it from heart as we have read it many, many times over!

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We have now purchased our own copy and will definitely take it with us on the road as I think the kids will enjoy re-reading it when we find ourselves at some of the destinations which feature in the book.

We have also been lucky enough to score a big box of ‘4wd Action’ Magazines and DVD’s from the Engo’s (thanks Craig and Michelle!) and the whole family has gotten heaps of enjoyment and advice from these!  On our last camping trip we were flooded in at Sandy Creek for 4 days and we spent lots of hours together as a family watching ‘Roothy and Milo’ having lots of fun on the 4wd DVD’s (although I am hoping not to do such extreme four wheel driving on our trip!) and flicking through the magazines!

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Other than that the kids have just been doing lots of ‘our big long trip around Australia’ play.  They have made numerous lego four wheel drives and camper prototypes!DSCF1685

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Camper set up at Uluru

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And even set up camp down the back yard pretending to be ‘camping out in Western Australia’.

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Camping in WA ‘backyard style’

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Our next step now is to start printing off from the internet some pictures of places that are must see’s for us and sticking them up on the wall around our map of Australia.  Then I think we will transfer them all into a scrapbook before we go.

These things have been great for getting the kids involved and excited about the trip as well as giving them a bit of an understanding about where we are going to go – the only problem is that Lexi has asked every time that we have gone camping for the last 18 months – “are we off on our big trip round Australia now?’  Poor little thing – it has been a long wait for her!!!!  If only it where that easy to just pack up and go!

Does anybody have any other ideas on getting the kids involved with the planning and organising for the trip???

Categories: Planning | Tags: , | 5 Comments

12 Weeks To Go!

So it is time to just bite the bullet!  I have been wanting to try to really make this blog look beautiful and professional and perfect but it is now time to just get it going and hope that it will evolve into all of those things over time!  I can’t believe I set this blog up over twelve months ago and this is only my second post – eeeek – so much for keeping you all up to date with all of our planning and ‘goings on’!  Oh well, a brief summary to bring you up to speed – it is my intention to go back and do some blog posts in a bit more detail about what we have been up to for the last twelve months but for now, a quick update;

  • In June 2011, we began talking about Matt’s 10 years of Long Service Leave and what we would like to do when that time came.  We tossed around a few ideas – renovate the kitchen, pay a whack off the mortgage, take the kids to Disneyland, go to Bali, sell up and move back to the country etc, etc.  However, after a weekend away camping and some talking around the campfire, the idea to take 6 months off and travel around Australia with the kids was born and the talking, planning, talking, dreaming and researching (ok, and maybe a bit of arguing!) began!
  • In February 2012 we purchased ‘Peter Prado’ a 2008 model Toyota Landcruiser Prado with just under 100,000km’s on the clock.  Many thanks to Mum & Dad for driving all the way to Alpha to collect him and then delivering him to us in Brisbane!Image
  • In September 2012 we purchased ‘Karen Camper’ a 2003 model Goldstream ‘Goldstar’ Camper Van (there was lot’s of too-ing and fro-ing about the decision of what ‘style of accommodation’ we were going to choose for our trip – we looked at everything from tents, caravans, camper trailers and combi vans – I think we need a whole separate post on why we finally settled on the Goldstar – stay tuned!).

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  • Since then we have managed to fit in one camp a month to some great places like Bribie Island, Somerset Dam, Elanda Point, Flannagan’s Reserve and Sandy Creek.  Oh, and we also took the camper all the way home to Far North Queensland and back over Christmas!  We are hoping to squeeze a few more camps in before we leave in June.

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  • We have done a few modifications to our ‘rig’ – mostly UHF installed, suspension lift, new iPhone compatible stereo unit, new ‘hitchmaster DO35’ hitch for the trailer, dual battery system, Anderson plug, heavy duty power outlet in the rear, roof racks and side awning.  Matt will have to do a post for more details on those things!
  • And we have also bought a Waeco fridge/freezer for the back of the car and an air compressor.
  • And in amongst all of this – we have had Jack start Grade 2, Toby finish kindy and start Prep as well as lose his first tooth, and Lexi start Kindy.  I had a trip to New Zealand for Nana Bell’s funeral ): Matt is working full time, I’m working part-time and I think that is about it?!?!

So that pretty much brings us up to now – 12 weeks until we leave Brisbane on the 1st of June and head off towards Longreach and Winton as our first major port of call.  We are hoping to meet some of the family in Winton as a nice kick start to our trip.    At the moment we are feeling a little stressed with all we still have to do before then – rent the house, sort out the kids schooling, pack the house and work out where to move it to/store it, keep working to earn as much money as we can, pack camper, sell as much of our unwanted/unnecessary household items as we can to increase our $$$ for the road, get our blog up and running, remember to not yell at children when it is all feeling too stressful, sell our second vehicle as this is our fuel money for the trip, declutter the house, cleaning and tidy up jobs around the house so it is ready to be rented, research places we ‘must’ see …………….. oh the list is endless!

But nothing great is easy right???  And we are soooooooo excited at the prospect of seven or so months on the road all together and getting to see and experience some amazing parts of Australia …….. bring it on!!

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