Monthly Archives: March 2013

Agnes Water Camp

In attempt to cheer myself up from the fact that we are not spending Easter with all the family this year and Matt is off at work trying to do as many hours as he can over the long weekend, I thought a bit of blogging distraction might help!  Oh, and I can guilt free let the kids scoff themselves on chocolate so they are happy and I can type uninterrupted!

On our way home from Easter at Emu Park last year, we stopped in and had two nights exploring Agnes Water and 1770.

We camped at the Agnes Water Beach Caravan Park which was a lovely spot right on the beach.  The caravan park was packed given that it was the Easter school holidays and Matt doesn’t like camping in caravan parks at the best of times, especially not when we are jammed in like sardines!  However, the park had nice grounds, clean amenities, a very basic camp kitchen and the kids really enjoyed the outdoor movie at the park where they got to see ‘Mr Popper’s Penguins’ lying on grass in their sleeping bags with the sound of the waves crashing in the background!

Our tiny little camp site - we had to leave our travel in a designated trailer area.

Our tiny little camp site – we had to leave our trailer in a designated trailer area.

View from our camp site

View from our camp site

The camp kitchen had a great view!

The camp kitchen had a great view!

Agnes Water and 1770 are about 5-6 hours drive north from Brisbane.  They have the northern most surf beach on the east coast of Australia.  The beach at Agnes Water was a bit too rough for our littlies while we were there – the kids just kept getting dumped and swept towards the rocks, but the beach at 1770 did look much calmer with lots of boats moored there.

On the beach in front of the Agnes Water Caravan Park

On the beach in front of the Agnes Water Caravan Park

Walk on the beach Agnes Water

Walk on the beach Agnes Water – Tobes had the kindy monkey visiting on this trip!  Thank goodness the monkey made it back to kindy in one piece!

We walked along the beach for an hour one morning and hardly came across another person!

We walked along the beach for an hour one morning – very peaceful

The townships are very small and quiet and are nestled between two National Parks; Deepwater and Eurimbula.  We spent a whole day exploring Deepwater National Park http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/deepwater/about.html#features  and wished we had more time to explore Eurimbula.

Four wheel driving in Deepwater National Park

Four wheel driving in Deepwater National Park – I need to improve my 4wd Action photography skills!

On the beach in front of Middle Rock camping area - bush camping only - no facilities

On the beach in front of Middle Rock camping area – bush camping only – no facilities

A walk along the beach - Middle Rock

A walk along the beach – Middle Rock

We spent most of the day relaxing on the beach in front of the Wreck Rock camp ground.  The Wreck Rock campground has 14 numbered and defined sites which are all quite shady. There are picnic tables, composting toilets, rainwater and bore water (must be boiled) and one cold shower.  Unfortunately no open fires are allowed otherwise the spot would be just about perfect!

Wreck Rock

Wreck Rock

Kids playing on the beach

Kids playing on the beach

The boys loved playing in the sea foam

The boys loved playing in the sea foam

We found a nice shady spot in the dunes for a picnic

We found a nice shady spot in the dunes for a picnic

And an even nicer spot for an afternoon nap!

And an even nicer spot for an afternoon nap!

Definitely a place to add to your ‘must visit’ list.  I think 1 or 2 weeks here would be a great way to really wind down and enjoy the slow pace for a while.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Oh – and just a photo of the wedge tailed eagle we spotted on the way home – quite an impressive bird!

Wedge tailed eagle somewhere on a country road outside Bundaberg

Wedge tailed eagle somewhere on a country road outside Bundaberg

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Trip to Melbourne

We arrived home this afternoon from a very cheeky extra long weekend away in Melbourne, so while I am fresh and still on my post holiday high, I thought I’d share some photos from our trip.

Matt travels to Melbourne every couple of months for work and when he booked this trip in about a month ago, we decided to see if we could convince Grandma to come down and look after the kids so I could go with Matt this time and make a little holiday out of it!

We figured that it would probably be the last city trip we would get to do for a long time due to our Around Oz trip, and the fact that we are pretty sure we won’t be returning to Brisbane at the end (so time to use up all the frequent flyer points!).  Added to that it was a month out from our 10 year wedding anniversary and Zac Brown Band (yeah – if you hadn’t noticed already – we are big fans!!) happened to be doing their first ever Australian concert on that weekend.  Plus – Melbourne has a little bit of sentimental value for us as it was the first ever holiday Matt and I took together as a couple way back when we were 19!!!

Our first ever holiday together - Melbourne January 2000

Our first ever holiday together – Melbourne January 2000

Yeah, yeah – you can stop laughing now!  We were young and skinny and had hair!!

Me at Luna Park - January 2000

Me at Luna Park – January 2000

Anyway, some photos of our time away.  A big thank you to Grandma Gayel for babysitting for us – we are very lucky!!!

Revisiting St Kilda which was where we stayed 13 years ago!  Luna Park's still there!

Revisiting St Kilda which was where we stayed 13 years ago! Luna Park’s still there!

We stayed at the 'Blackman Hotel' St Kilda - really lovely, but the service wasn't the best (I know, I know - such hardships we have!)  Huge step up from the dodgy, dodgy apartment we stayed in when we first visited Melbourne!

We stayed at the ‘Blackman Hotel’ St Kilda – really lovely, but the service wasn’t the best (I know, I know – such hardships we have!) Huge step up from the dodgy, dodgy apartment we stayed in when we first visited Melbourne!

Beautiful, Beautiful view from our room!

Beautiful, Beautiful view from our room!

I'm a sucker for the hotel beds and bathrobes!

I’m a sucker for the hotel beds and bathrobes!

The band at 'The Local Taphouse'.  We really enjoyed them and had such a fun night we didn't get home until 1am!  Such party animals we are!

The band at ‘The Local Taphouse’. We really enjoyed them and had such a fun night we didn’t get home until 1am! Such party animals we are!

Matt's Beer paddle - five different craft beers for tasting including the green one made using squid ink!  It was refreshing apparently!

Matt’s Beer paddle – five different craft beers for tasting including the green one made using squid ink! It was refreshing apparently!

We borrowed bikes from the hotel and went for a ride to Brighton along the water from St Kilda.

We borrowed bikes from the hotel and went for a ride to Brighton along the water from St Kilda.

Just thought I'd squeeze in an IronMan while I was down there hehehe!  Apparently the Melbourne Ironman had just finished when we went for our bike ride!

Just thought I’d squeeze in an IronMan while I was down there hehehe! Apparently the Melbourne Ironman had just finished when we went for our bike ride!

I needed a rest - it was a beautiful ride until we had to ride home into the headwind!

I needed a rest – it was a beautiful ride until we had to ride home into the headwind!

A stroll along the Yarra River

A stroll along the Yarra River

Federation Square - bit different but I liked it!

Federation Square – bit different but I liked it!

I loved all the beautiful old buildings and churches in Melbourne - really pretty!

I loved all the beautiful old buildings and churches in Melbourne – really pretty!

Flinders Street Station

Flinders Street Station

I couldn't convince Matt to take me for a spin around Melbourne in a horse and carriage - maybe for our 20 year anniversary!

I couldn’t convince Matt to take me for a spin around Melbourne in a horse and carriage – maybe for our 20 year anniversary!

Ok - so I may now have a Gelato addiction now - sooooo yum!  This was dessert after dinner on Lygon Street

Ok – so I may now have a Gelato addiction – sooooo yum! This was dessert after dinner on Lygon Street

We took a walk home through China Town.

We took a walk home through China Town.

While Matt was working on the Monday, I spent the day tripping around on the Trams with a stop at DFO at Dockside - soooooo fun!

While Matt was working on the Monday, I spent the day tripping around on the Trams with a stop at DFO at Dockside – soooooo fun!

Zac Brown Band Concert = Awesome - we even managed to go backstage and meet the band and have our photo taken with them!  Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take our own photos so will have to wait for the official photo to be emailed to us!  Definitely a highlight!

Zac Brown Band Concert = Awesome – we even managed to go backstage and meet the band and have our photo taken with them! Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take our own photos so will have to wait for the official photo to be emailed to us! Absolutely a highlight!

So, back to work and reality tomorrow. It is definitely time to knuckle down and start packing up/de-cluttering the house and finalising the equipment for our trip!!!

PS. Apologies for the quality of the photos on the post – they were all taken on our Iphone 4’s as we forgot to take the camera with us – no kids = don’t even think about the camera hehehehe!

Categories: Travel, Zac Brown Band | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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: , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Easter at Emu Park

DSCF0595With Easter just around the corner (I confess to cracking open my first sneaky Easter Egg tonight!) I thought I would share with you my favourite camping trip (to date) – Easter at Emu Park.  For the last two years in a row we have spent five days camping at Emu Park which is on the Capricorn Coast, 45km east of Rockhampton.  We picked Emu Park because it is about halfway between Brisbane (where we live) and Far North Queensland (where most of the extended family live) which meant that it was about a day’s drive for all us to be together.  It is also very close to Yeppoon which is where my Mum’s family camped many times when they were growing up, so a nice bit of family tradition continuing.

Beautiful, beautiful spot!

Beautiful, beautiful spot!

We camped at the Bell Park Caravan Park;

http://www.bellparkcaravanpark.com.au

We had about 6 families – my Mum and Dad, my sisters’s family, my cousins and their families and the Thom Family – friends of my sister who are brave enough to join our family mayhem – last year we had 15 kids between us!!  The caravan park has lovely big grassy sites which were fantastic for accommodating a big group like ours.  The amenities are clean and well looked after and the caravan park is right on the beach – so only a short walk down for a swim and no crossing roads with kids!  It is also a short walk into town to the IGA for groceries, or to grab a coffee and the paper, or some fish’n’chips!  There is also a great park beside the Caravan Park with a kids playground, skate ramp and the markets are held there every Sunday.

Emu Park is famous for its 'Singing Ship' which sits up at the lookout - spectacular views from up here!

Emu Park is famous for its ‘Singing Ship’ which sits up at the lookout – spectacular views from up here!

The beach is perfect at Emu Park for younger kids as there is enough ‘surf’ for the kids to learn to Boogey Board, without fear of them being dumped and rolled and dragged out to sea by a big wave!  At Easter the water is just sooooo perfect – not too cold – not too hot!

Kids learning to ride their Boogey Boards

Kids learning to ride their Boogey Boards

the kids would spend hours digging on the beach

the kids would spend hours digging on the beach

As if all of this isn’t enough – there is also plenty to do only a short drive from Emu Park.  We loved heading to ‘The Causeway’ in the afternoon – only about 6mins drive away – to grab an icecream and fish and go yabbying.

Yabbying

Yabbying

Fishing

Fishing

Last year we also took a daytrip to Byfield National Park http://nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/byfield/index.html and Sandy Beach – both spots were absolutely beautiful and we will definitely be stopping there again on the final leg of our ‘around Oz’ trip!

Byfield National Park

Byfield National Park

Sandy Point - Byfield National Park

Sandy Point – Byfield National Park

I’m going to apologise in advance if there are too many photos in this post, but they show better than I can say, how much fun we have at Emu Park!  I am sooooooo disappointed not to be heading back there again this Easter, but Matt is picking up a stack of overtime over the long weekend to top up the piggy bank for the big trip.  Oh well – might just have to spend a few weeks there on our way home next year, that’s something to look forward to!  What are you all doing for Easter this year?

Camp Central - we had a big communal tarp set up for cooking & eating together - tents all around the outside of it

Camp Central – we had a big communal tarp set up for cooking & eating together – tents all around the outside of it

The camp 'train' the kids loved playing this game!

The camp ‘train’ the kids loved playing this game!

After spending the morning at the beach it was always craft time/nap time after lunch

After spending the morning at the beach it was always craft time/nap time after lunch

Grammy's craft corner under the shady tree

Grammy’s craft corner under the shady tree

Sarah's playdough was a hit!

Sarah’s playdough was a hit!

Afternoon Fun

Afternoon Fun

Kids working together to build a camp fire on the beach

Kids working together to build a camp fire on the beach

Campfire with Grunda on the guitar

Campfire with Grunda on the guitar

Gotta roast some marshmallows!

Gotta roast some marshmallows!

Easter Egg hunt on Easter Sunday which finished with the kids digging for treasure on the beach

Easter Egg hunt on Easter Sunday which finished with the kids digging for treasure on the beach

Digging for treasure at 'X' marks the spot! (Grammy & Grunda sat on the beach to guard the loot until the kids found it - true grandparent dedication!)

Digging for treasure at ‘X’ marks the spot! (Grammy & Grunda sat on the beach to guard the loot until the kids found it – true grandparent dedication!)

the Easter Egg 'haul'!

the Easter Egg ‘haul’!

Camp kids Easter Sunday

Camp kids Easter Sunday

Sarah & Chris driving into Byfield

Sarah & Chris driving into Byfield

The water at Byfield was freezing!

The water at Byfield was freezing!

Sandy Point

Sandy Point

Girl fun on the beach

Girl fun on the beach

All sorts of fish for the kids to check out!

All sorts of fish for the kids to check out!

Swimming at 'The Causeway'

Swimming at ‘The Causeway’

Cousie Bro's - icecream at 'The Causeway'

Cousie Bro’s – icecream at ‘The Causeway’

The early bird kids get taken out of camp in their PJ's for a walk to let the rest of camp have a sleep in!

The early bird kids get taken out of camp in their PJ’s for a walk to let the rest of camp have a sleep in!

A game of 500 is always a must!

A game of 500 is always a must!

'The Family' - yes we are a bit of a herd!

‘The Family’ – yes we are a bit of a herd!

Emu Park Easter 2012

Emu Park Easter 2012

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Preparing Peter Prado to be our Trusty Stead

So after working out (thankfully quickly) that getting a brake controller installed was a must, it came time to work out what modifications to Peter would have to happen, and the ones we want to happen. Again I had planed to blog as these decisions happened, but I will have to do it retrospectively. I will break them down into separate posts though, so don’t worry, you are not going to noticeably age by the end of this post.

Essentials:

Suspension, Electrics (Dual Batteries, Anderson Plug, Fridge plug in the rear), New Stereo and UHF, Second Spare Tyre

“Wants”:

Roof Racks, Awning, Rear Drawers System, Spotties, Snorkel, Steel Bull Bar, HF Radio.

I think we were pretty realistic about the essentials, except some of you may say the new Stereo is a luxury, but I challenge anyone else to attempt this trip without a working stereo. Only the AM radio was working on the Stereo it came with, fine for Jess and I who have finally given in to the ABC and Radio National (and accepted our transcendence into our 30’s, not necessarily gracefully!) but 2 hour discussions on the emerging economics of China vs South America and how it will effect the taste of milk is not exactly engaging content for sub-7year olds. And yes mum, before you say it, I know you drove across the country in a non air conditioned Sandman ute with NO stereo, and a baby on your lap, but, well, “Kids these days are soft”……there, I said it….

So time to raid the piggy bank, who had already run off squealing for the hills after the purchase of Peter Prado. We had to coax him back with the lure of 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards and a promise that we would not have takeaway ever, ever again.

Well, Piggy came back…… We celebrated with some Pad Thai and Yellow Curry…….silly Piggy!

Categories: Planning | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

For Rent – Our Home

DSCF3321

Yesterday the real estate agent came and took photos of our house to email on to a prospective tenant and then advertise on the Web if needed. I am a little surprised to find myself quite a bit sad to be saying goodbye to this house – I’m not really the emotional type for ‘things’ and our house is by no means modern or flash or fancy – in fact I’d pretty much describe it as a ‘do-er upper’, but it has been Our Home. We have been here in this house for nearly five years now, which is the longest time Matt and I have ever stayed put in one place (we have lived in 8 different homes in our 11 years of living together in Brisbane!). Our kids have all been babies in this house ………….

DSCF3658

We’ve actually made a few changes to this house to make it our own, with the help of our parent’s manual labour!

Gayel clearing out the overgrown garden

Gayel & Mum cleared out the overgrown gardens

Dad helped rip up the old deck

Dad helped rip up the old deck

Dad, Matt's brothers and Luke from next door helped build the kids fort

Dad, Matt’s brothers and Luke from next door helped build the kids fort

We are not renovators by any stretch of the imagination, but we have enjoyed doing a few things to the house. We have added a deck on, put in a laundry, fitted out an office, convinced the council to bitumen the road to our house and got them to sort out the drainage problem that was causing major erosion down the side of our block, put new front doors on, along with a few other little ‘tidy’ up bits and pieces.

We have really loved living here. The space has been great for the kids, we have the BEST neighbours (we’ll really miss you Seaborns and Sheils!), we have a great little Village with shops and school only 2minutes away as well as the train station 5 minutes away, and we are only 25minutes from the Brisbane CBD. As far as city living goes – this is as good as it gets – we think.

So – thank you to ‘Our House’ for the great memories – we hope a nice family will move in and enjoy it as we have (and if not – the neighbours will be keeping a close eye on them hehehehe). We know that the heart of the house, our little family, is still here and moving on, but it is a bit sad all the same.

So, a little photo gallery to share some memories of our house ‘before and after’. If anyone is interested in renting our house please contact us! It will be available in May 2013.

Hit the ‘play’ button below while you are watching the slideshow 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Zac Brown Band ‘Goodbye in Her Eyes’

http://www.zacbrownband.com/welcome.html

Categories: About Us, Zac Brown Band | Tags: , | 12 Comments

Archer Creek Camp

Ok – a break from the nitty gritty of the around Oz trip – now a post to prove that we do actually do some camping!  When we brought ‘Peter Prado’ we decided to try to get away at least once a month to get our value for money out of owning a 4wd.  Our first trip was to Archer Creek Campground in the D’Aguilar National Park. http://nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/daguilar/camping.html#archer_camping_area

Our setup - yes this was pre 'Karen Camper'

Our setup – yes this was pre ‘Karen Camper’

Archer Creek was great as it was less than an hour from home, there was a creek for the kids to play in (albeit the creek in front of our campsite was pretty yucky at the time we were there but it was only a short walk to the Broadwater Day Use Area with a lovely spot for the kids to swim around in), we could have open campfires and there were heaps of four wheel drive tracks and waterholes/walking tracks and lookouts to explore.  Oh – and a bonus – there were toilets and taps!

We had Matt’s brother and the kids’ cousins join us on this camp which always makes for a good time!

Swim/Bath Time

Swim/Bath Time

Campground footy game with the kids from the neighbouring campsite

Campground footy game with the kids from the neighbouring campsite

And the best bit about camping - the kids do the washing up!

One of the many good things about camping – the kids do the washing up!

Toasting marshmallow time!

Toasting marshmallow time!

Our first creek crossing!  Off to explore the 4wd tracks

Our first creek crossing! Off to explore the 4wd tracks

Rocky Hole - beautiful swimming spot!

Rocky Hole – beautiful swimming spot!

Somerset Lookout

Somerset Lookout

Bulls Falls - easy 1km walk in

Bulls Falls – easy 1km walk in

'The Gantry' - old logging shed.  Great picnic area with some easy walks around and the kids loved playing in the dirt under 'The Gantry'.

‘The Gantry’ – old logging shed. Great picnic area with some easy walks around and the kids loved playing in the dirt here.

The 'Grandkids' photo for Grandma

The ‘Grandkids’ photo for Grandma

And the best bit - tuckered out kids on the way home!

And the best bit – tuckered out kids on the way home!

This was definitely a fun and easy weekend camping trip not far out of Brissy!  Has anyone else been there? What did you think?

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Decision No. 2 – The House on Wheels

Wow, you are strapping yourself in for another of Matt’s monster retrospective posts? Crazy!

So, yes, like the decision of which car to get, there were plenty of lessons learned in choosing a camper.

If you have stumbled upon this blog searching for camper recommendations for a ’round Oz trip’, then let me save you some time, I came to the same decision as so many others. It went something like this…

Tent …are you kidding me? No way…if we wanted to come home with the same number of family members as we left with, we were not tent-ing it.

Softfloor camper…. Love the space, but the set up and pack down time, along with not being off the ground, wet canvas, and having to set up virtually the whole campsite every time, no thanks. We decided early on (and after some good advice from others who have done this/similar trips in the past) if it is not easy, you will avoid doing it, it will effect your decisions along the way, and you will end up skipping over/missing things because of the dread of the set up/pack down.

Caravan…. easy tiger…. The kids might keep reminding me when they see ‘pre-kids’ photos of me of how much more hair I had, but we are still a good 30 years away from caravans thank you very much.

So it was easy, it was going to have to be a wind-up camper-van. But which one? Jayco? Coromal? GoldStream?

Again let me save you some time, we came to the same decision as you will find 100’s of others have done throughout the interwebs…

Jayco: Love the presentation, love the price, love the colour schemes etc. Don’t love that the cabinetry is held together with staples not much bigger then what is in my office drawer. Don’t love the live single axle (ever followed one and watched it over bumps, dirt road, potholes?)

Coromal: Loved everything about the Coromals, except the price. Very well built, many with independent suspension, but I think because there are just so very few of them around, they hold their value really well. Had I found the right Coromal for the right price I would have bought it.

GoldStream: Just do a google search and have a read of all the Goldstream owners reviews and comparisons to the companies above. The Goldstreams are a very well built piece of kit. Cabinets are stapled, bracketed and glued. Independent suspension, rock solid camper.

So it came down to Coromal and Goldstream, after over 12months of watching the camper market, it became clear that immediately after major holidays/school holiday is the time to buy. I guess anyone with a camper they are wishing to sell figure they will get one more camp out of it before they sell.

So watching for 12months I knew the market and values very well, so I knew when we saw a 2003 Goldstream GoldStar, with independent suspension, 120ltrs of water storage (and 2 x jerry holders on the rear bar) 120W solar, Gas Hot Water, external shower, external pull out BBQ, Fiamma, dual gas bottles, Generator box, full oven and Microwave and a TV to boot, in our price range (well…. within ‘upsell’ range I reckoned I could get past the accountant) I knew that as long as it actually had wheels then it was a go-er.

So off we went and had a look. Turns out the owner had just completed their family ’round Oz’ trip in it and needed to off load it. Lovely people they were, and a great source of info regarding the trip as well. So after a little negotiations (and upselling to my accountant – who may or may not have been in New Zealand at the time!) we purchased Karen Camper.

Here she is about 3 mins after we got home with her!

Image

And here is the kids first impressions (press ‘play’ for the video):

You might have heard me say “we’ve got some learning to do” Well, well, well…. we certainly have done some learning.

It should be noted at this point that I had only ever towed anything a couple of times before in my life – namely the neighbours trailer (thanks Luke & Dunc) to the dump and back – so I was as ‘green’ to this towing/trailer stuff as it comes! (Please keep this in mind and be kind when you hear what I have to say next!)

For example, here is a trap for young players, maybe I was just being blonde, but the way I read what I read about brake controllers, electric brakes etc was that any trailer over 750kg needs to have electric brakes…check (it has electric brakes) but brake controllers were just for more efficient braking (ie proportional braking, brake hard in the car, camper brakes go on hard, brake soft in the car, camper brakes softly) So while I thought we would definitely get a brake controller for the trip, I had NO IDEA that without a brake controller…….the camper has NO BRAKES.

I towed it all the way home, and that weekend to Flanagans Reserve with no brakes!

Like I said……we had some learning to do, and you know what, geez life would be boring if we didn’t learn something new everyday! Anyone else game to fess up their ‘rookie errors’? Oh – and we do now have a brake controller!

A few photos of Karen Camper to finish off.

Karen Camper

Karen Camper

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen

indoor Kitchen

Indoor Kitchen

First Supper (yes - it is comfy Lexi can attest to that!)

First Supper (yes – it is comfy Lexi can attest to that!)

Categories: Planning | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Decision No. 1 – What Car for the Trip?

Warning: Looooooong Post!  The idea was to update this blog as we made these decisions as separate chronological posts, now I have to cover it all retrospectively, so grab a cuppa and dive right in!

Originally we had planned to get the camper first, give ourselves time to pay it off, and then get the 4wd. I guess this was where we learned our first lesson, tow ball weight.

We had ‘Graham Grandis’ (Mitsubitshi Grandis 7 seater van) at this time

DSCF5251

and while the Grandis had an 1800kg tow rating, it had a ridiculous 45kg ball weight limit. Working on the general rule of thumb that the ball weight will be approximately 10% of the camper weight, there was absolutley no way we were going to be able to buy and safely tow home/use a camper while we had the Grandis.

As you can imagine, I was pretty upset about ‘having’ to go and buy a 4bee! I had already made a short list for when the time came, I was looking at, in order or preference:

1. Nissan Pathfinder

2. Toyota Prado

3. Mitsubishi challenger.

In my heart I wanted the Prado, but, we could buy a brand new fancy pants Pathfinder with swanky heated leather seats and all sorts of bells and whistles, for the price of a 4-5 year old Prado (bloody Toyota tax!) The Challenger was really only in the list as a baseline to keep the accountant happy. (See, I tell her the price of the Challenger, and she can deal with it, I then down sell it and how for only $xx all those issues can be sorted by stepping up to the Prado/Pathy)

I test drove a brand new ST-L Pathy, and yeah sure, all the bells and whistles are cool, but to be honest, I found it was ‘not my cup of tea’ to drive. It was pretty clear that the Pathys are based on the Navara drivetrain, it felt very big, very cumbersome and everywhere I looked I saw blind spots (can you ‘see’ blind spots? If a tree falls in a forest…..?) Also starting to look at the availability of spares on the road, the multitude of electronics involved and the Pathy was beginning to lose it’s sparkle.

So it was time to seriously consider buying a car that would be older then the one we already had, also a good chance of having almost double the amount of klm’s for a good $15,000 more then what we could sell the Grandis for! Something just didn’t add up!

Anyway, off to test drive a Prado. 1st was a Petrol 120Series (because they are just so much cheaper). Well, I just loved it from the second I drove it 100mtrs down the road, somehow it felt no bigger then the Yaris, everything was where it should be on the dash and it was so nimble (considering it would still be an every day run about for Jess and the kids to school, shopping centres etc)

I did some figures on the fuel consumption under tow and it became pretty clear that the diesel was going to save us considerable money in the long run (approx 19L/100 petrol vs 14L/100kms diesel). This was based on getting one of the the post October 2007 Diesel Prados when Toyota introduced the new ‘D4D’ engine with considerably better power/torque and economy. It was time to down sell the petrol and up sell the diesel to the accountant.

After considerable research, and watching the market for a number of months, I started calling and making ridiculous offers for available Prados virtually anywhere within 500klm of Brisbane. Reality set in and we were beginning to think that while we have come up with the right car for our requirements, we were simply not going to be able to afford one. I extended my range to anywhere in QLD and NSW and we found a Dec 2007 120Series D4D Prado waaaaay out in Alpha QLD.

Turns out Jess’ parents happened to be baby sitting a station in Moranbah at this time, ‘only’ about 5 hrs away. “Nah” I said to Jess, “we can’t ask your mum and dad to drive over 400klms just to look at a car we might not even buy”. “Just call them and see” Jess said.

Well, I got a hold of Stewie and thought I would just ask the question. The conversation when something like this:

Me: “Hey Stewie, how’s things, how’s the Station?”

Stewie: “Yeah, not bad, getting a bit bored”

Me: “Hey we found a car in Alpha that might be a go-er……you don’t feel like a drive do you?

Stewie: “Yeah sure we’ll go and have look if you like”

Me: “Are you sure? Well let me get an address and find out when they might be free and I’ll give you a call back in about an hour yeah?

Stewie: “Ok”

Well, I spoke to the owner, got an address and called Stewie back in about 20mins…

Stewie: “Hello”

Me: “Geez it’s noisy there, where are you?”

Stewie: “On the way to Alpha”

Seems after 2 weeks out in Moranbah any excuse for a change of scenery was all Stewie needed and he was out the door and on the road!

Well, Myra and Stewie, we can’t thank you enough, because that was how we found Peter Prado. They collected him from Alpha a week later and drove him all the way back to Brisbane (We did have to pry the keys from Myra’s hands when she got here!)

DSCF2327

So he arrived in virtually stock condition, other then the factory bull bar, the set of SandGrabba floor mats, full set of sheepskin seat covers and 5 x Brand new Yoko Geolandars, it was stock. I will do another post on the modifications we have now made, this post is plenty long enough, congratulations to all 2 of you that made it to the end (Mum because you are mum, and Jess because she had to proof read it!)

Categories: Planning | 16 Comments

Our Theme Song

So there’s been a few references to this song in the comments already on here – it’s a bit of a family anthem since my Mum & Dad did their trip in 2011.  When played by Grunda on the guitar, all family members must join in – we love Zac Brown Band!!
‘Free’

(Violin playing)

So we live out of our old van

Travel all across this land

Me and you  (we add in, & you, & you, & you for the kids!)

We’ll end up hand in hand

Somewhere down on the sand

Just Me and you

 

Just as free

Free as we’ll ever be

Just as free

Free as we’ll ever be

 

Drive until the city lights

Dissolve into a country sky

Just Me and you

 

Lay underneath the HARVEST moon

Do all the things that lovers do

Just me and you

 

Just as free

Free as we’ll ever be

Just as free

Free as we’ll ever be

And Ever be

 

No we don’t have a lot of money

No we don’t have a lot of money

No we don’t have a lot of money

No we don’t have a lot of money

No we don’t have a lot of money

No we don’t have a lot of money

No we don’t have a lot of money

 

All we need is love

 

Were Free as we’ll ever be

Just as free

Free as we’ll ever be

Ever be

 

So we live in our old van

Travel all across this land

Me and you

 

Categories: About Us, Zac Brown Band | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: